I've been using eMeals for a few weeks now relying completely on it. I wrote up a full review here, but there were a few things I did not address, that I felt like needed to be added.
I use the Quick and Healthy plan. I will say that if I buy the ingredients that they call for, it is indeed quick and definitely healthy, but my grocery bill was over $350 one week which is unacceptable. I had to rethink how I did "quick".
The main cost problem comes in two parts. One, the quick ingredients are pre-prepared items that you're paying someone else to do and that gets expensive fast; and two, the produce ingredients can be pricey. Let's look at a couple of things to explain.
Nearly every week it calls for 1 or 2 dinners with packages of pre-cooked rice. While convenient because it's already cooked, it gets expensive very quickly. Walmart sells a single package (all cost the same, but this example is the Spanish rice), at the time of this writing, for $2.74. I have the family plan so I need two packages of it so that will cost me $5.48. Each package yields 2 cups of rice, so that's $5.48 for 4 cups of rice. Now for Spanish rice, that's probably okay. If I had to make homemade Spanish rice it would likely cost about the same, but what about brown rice, or basmati or jasmine? Absolutely not! That is very expensive for just plain rice.
You can buy one 32-oz bag of Mathama brown rice for $2.16. A 32-oz bag yields 16 cups of cooked rice. You see the price difference there, right? Now imagine having to buy 4 of the pre-cooked a week. That's a huge money loss by the end of the year.
Next it's the produce. This past week it called for 6 bok choy. Each bok choy was 96 cents each, so that's roughly 6 dollars. Six dollars for only the side dish! We're not talking the main dish. That is very expensive. I ultimately went with plain 'ol cabbage, which was 46 cents, total. That saved me 5 dollars.
I went through my list for this past week and had to substitute a number of items. I bought a bag of jasmine rice instead of pre-cooked, cabbage instead of bok choy, fresh bell peppers and onions than pre-cut frozen, etc. My food bill dropped to an amazing $147. Well, I did spend $75 at the Asian market buying sauces and such it called for, but only part of that was for this past week. Some was for my son's Japanese cooking and some were for the week before. I had skipped one recipe from the week before that I'd use this past week instead. Either way, that's still way less than the $350 it was week before last.
Oh and I almost forgot about the tenderloins! Last week the list called for chicken tenderloins, which would mean that I wouldn't have to do much with it. However it was 4 times more costly to buy them and then I was incensed when I opened the package. Each package had 6 and of those 6, 6 had tendons from the breast. Basically, I had to spend time slicing the tendon out and by the time it was all said and done, it would have been cheaper and just as fast if I had just bought breasts in the first place. I felt like hitting Walmart's butcher with those so-called "tenderloins". What a rip off!
In the end, you have a choice. You can either spend a lot of time in the kitchen or save money. You cannot have both.
I decided to compromise. I shop on Wednesdays (which is one reason I wish the list would come out earlier in the week, I have to plan their plan and that irritates me to no end) so I spend more time in the kitchen on Thursday than I do the rest of the week. I slice vegetables that they told me to get frozen. I slice up breasts that they told me to get as tenderloins, or whatever. I cook up rice and freeze them in bags.
Then the rest of the week, dinner is pretty easy. I get the convenience of a fast meal without that fast cost. I looked at the plain healthy menu to see if it would be more economical, but it really isn't. It still calls for things like bok choy and other expensive produce or ingredients. Sadly, eating cheap is what it is.
I'm a little saddened because I had looked forward to a variety of foods and not having to eat the same thing over and over again. However if I do it their way, I'll be homeless when I retire. I can't stand liberals who say "Well you'll just die young then if you don't spend the money on good health now." My retort to that is "Well good, because I'd rather be dead than eating out of trash cans because I'll have to live on the street." Liberals don't understand simple economics, but I digress.
We'll see how long I continue to use eMeals. Perhaps the company will read this and offer a solution, but for now I don't see one. If I have to constantly edit, make changes, buy cheaper and on and on, then what am I paying them for?
I want to give them a fair shake though and see how this plays out.