Sunday, January 01, 2017 A Full Review

I have a love/hate relationship with To begin with, I love the service they provide. They plan the meals, they look at what's in season so it's cheapest and they give you recipes to make. A lot of meal planning books and websites give you the main dish but never any sides. Thankfully, includes sides! There is no more spending time trying to plan what your family will eat.

They also have several different plans. Eating cheaply, paleo diet, low carbs, quick meals, quick and healthy, etc. They have different sized meals. They have cooking for two and family size meals for 4-6. The possibilities are endless and you can switch meal plans if you want to anytime.

Then there's the grocery list they have for you. You can print it, or open the app on your Google Play Android phone or iPhone, you cannot open it in a Kindle without hacking your Kindle. It has it's problems, granted. You need to not be in a hurry the first time you use it else you may buy three times as much parsley like I did, which I'll explain in a bit.
As you can see, there are a number of problems with it too. I went by the grocery list and only picked up a few extra things not on the list. I spent over $300 (not including the extra stuff) to feed 4 adults in this house. I am using the quick and healthy family plan. The part is that I didn't even get 7 days, I only went with 6. I selected meals from last week and this week, so there is no actual week number (they assign numbers for each week).

Let me also be clear here. I went to Walmart and I only bought one or two organic items. Most of the time I purchased the cheapest things they had. For example: for this recipe, I bought Great Value ziti pasta, instead of a healthier version due to cost. Also, I didn't buy some items that were pre-prepped like what this recipe called for. I just bought an onion (I mean, it takes me 1 minute to mince/chop an onion).

As you can clearly see, that is a LOT of money. I remember back in the day when I made that much in two weeks and I'm a nurse, by gosh!

So let's lay this out with pros and cons.

Pros (in no particular order):
  • Has a number of meal plans to choose from.
  • Servings are plentiful, there are usually leftovers, so there is enough for lunch the next day for at least one person.
  • I don't have to spend time meal planning and creating a shopping list.
  • If you have a quick meal plan, they are usually very quick. Some have been gourmet and I have them ready in 20 minutes! This recipe is amazingly fast and delicious. Even with my modifications it was quick and easy. I used Rotel's Chili Fixin's instead of tomatoes, subbed zucchini for olives (I hate olives) and used cilantro instead of parsley and WOW!!! It was so good! 
  • Pricing is fair; it's not overly expensive if you use the yearly plan. If you pay every month or every 3 months, then it's value is very much diminished.
  • You have a different meal every single day.
  • Most everything you can get, you can get at Walmart. That's a plus for many of us dollar challenged families, but as mentioned already, it can still be very expensive, even when you're using Walmart.
Cons (also in no particular order)
  • There is no Kindle app, only Android at Google Play. There is no reason not to give us an app on Kindle. I cannot fathom the reason behind it. It would make my life so much easier as you will see.
  • There is no cheap, healthy and fast. After all, isn't that what we all want? We want to eat as cheaply as possible but eating healthy without a lot of time in the kitchen. 
  • There are no URLs to each recipe under My Account. I'll explain this more fully in a bit, but this is a very serious con for me. It wouldn't be either if I could get an app on my Kindle.
  • Sales at stores are not included in most plans.
  • Coupons may expire before being used.
  • It can be very expensive, depending on the plan you choose.
  • Grocery lists have several of the same ingredients separated (in the app, I don't use the paper one so I haven't paid much attention to that one) so I find myself going back to the carrots (for example) 3 different times. For example: I'll have a list that says 1 bell pepper then 4 carrots then 1 onion then 3 carrots then 4 tomatoes then 2 carrots. It would be nice if they grouped same items into one entry because if not, then I have another problem....
  • The second one is that they round items up and tell you buy several of the same item. For example, one list carried 3 entries that said "1 bunch of parsley". That's 3 bunches of parsley. However, 3 different meals only called for about 2 tablespoons of parsley. The list rounded each parsley up to a full bunch when a full bunch wasn't really needed for the entire week. One would have been plenty! I ended up with a ton of fresh parsley wasted because this was the first week I ever used the app. I was not happy.
  • If I could edit entries, then all would be much easier. Better still, if I could view them online and edit the list then sync it to my phone, that would be best! You cannot edit items it provides you, but you can add items you want. That said, you cannot place them where you want and in the order you prefer. 
  • Speaking of order, and this is a minor con, but a con none-the-less. I would prefer to arrange my list in the order that my favorite store is laid out. For example, it starts with Canned Goods. Well in my store (and pretty much every store) the first thing you shop for is produce. I would prefer Produce be first. However, if you scroll down to the category you need and you turn your phone off, when you turn it on, it'll still be where you left it, which is why this is minor. It still needs fixing, but would probably be last on my list. 
  • For military folks, it's not really very small commissary friendly. If you're lucky enough to be Army most of your commissaries are large. However if you're Navy, they tend to be very small with not a lot of variety. It makes it hard to shop for the list and you may find yourself having to substitute. 
In case you're wondering, my first husband was Army. I was an Army wife his entire career; we were married before and after his 15 years in the Army. He got a medical discharge and then things went downhill after that. I raised my children in the Army culture so they're military brats. The commissaries for Army are SO much better than for the Navy.

My second husband is Navy, retired. They have a whole different language that I'm still trying to learn. Their culture is so very different than Navy. 

Okay, we have that out of the way. Moving along...

Each week they show a page like the one below. Go ahead and click on it to see in full screen. You'll see my current subscription and two download links that say this week's plan and last week's plan. Those are pdf documents where you can view the whole thing at once. The menu and the shopping list. Well, what if I am on my Kindle, viewing the website since there is no app for Kindle, and I want to view the recipe in my kitchen while I cook? Kindle doesn't like pdf documents. It wants to read it like a book, which isn't the way I want to view them sometimes.
Now if I could use the website to view a recipe, it would look much better and be easier to follow. The problem is that there are no links to view the recipes online, without downloading the pdf. 

For example, I shared two recipes above. Those are links to actual recipes on my plan. I cannot get those links anywhere on the website. Yet, how do I have those links? Well, let me explain.

I have to go into the app on my phone (because I can't use Kindle) and take the following steps:

First, using my phone, I open the app and see this:

Then I select the week (in this instance, it's last week) and see this:

Then I select the recipe and see this:

Then I tap the share button and see this: 

Then I email myself the link.
Then I turn on my Kindle.
Then I tap on the Web.
Then I sign into my email (I have to use my web mail because Kindle's email client stinks.
Then I have to find the email I just sent myself.
Then I tap on the link. 

Phew! That's a lot of trouble for a single link, wouldn't you say? Why can't they just make them available to me via My Account? Then I just have to log in and view them. It's much easier than all of that. 

As you can see, it's clearly not without its problems, but sometimes the benefits outweigh the problems. It's convenient and creative. Naturally not every recipe is a hit. We made these night before last and the family hated them. It sounds delicious but for whatever reason, the flavor was just not that good. In fact, I couldn't stand it. I ate them, but was disappointed. Hey, that's life. We don't always love what we make. The next night was the ziti which was delicious. 

In the end, you can try it free (as of this writing) for two weeks. Yes, it says Paleo but you can switch it after you sign up. If you don't like it, you can cancel it. Just be sure to cancel. That's the key to free.

I personally find it very helpful and on a scale of 1 to 10 I'd give this service a good 7. I'd give them an 8 if they would fix the app/link/Kindle issue; a 9 if they would allow full online/sync editing and a 10 if they would give us cheap, healthy and fast meals. 


You may be interested in my updated review, located here

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