A menu for meals linked to area store

Posted March 08, 2010, at 12:58 a.m.

For many of us with busy families, dinner presents a problem. You rush home and stand in front of the freezer, fingers crossed, hoping something that resembles a nutritionally balanced meal will materialize magically. You reluctantly close the door on half a bag of frozen peas and two crystallized masses that appear to be some kind of chicken and hope you can figure out what to do with a bottle of barbecue sauce and a box of Hamburger Helper gathering dust in the pantry. Something has to change.

You need a plan and a daily menu. Food in the pantry that matches your menu would be nice, too. At this point in your frazzled week, you’re ready to consider anything that promises a solution for the 6 o’clock feeding frenzy.

Enter a distinctive online service that would like to become that solution. E-mealz (http://www.e-mealz.com), founded by two very busy mothers, sisters Jane DeLaney and Jenny Cochran, helps you save time and money by preparing your weekly meal plan for you, including a specific shopping list, menus and recipes.

Here’s the best part: The menu and shopping list follow the week’s sale items at the supermarket of your choice. You pick the store, print out the shopping list, pick up the sale items, then simply follow the meal plans. E-mealz also gives you the option of choosing dinner menus based on particular dietary criteria.

E-mealz follows the weekly sales at Wal-Mart, Publix, Aldi, Ralphs and Kroger, to name a few. If your store is not on the E-mealz radar, E-mealz offers a plan for “Any Store.”

The thing I like about E-mealz is that it offers a consistent, week-to-week tool for budgeting and the convenience of a print-and-go grocery list. But that’s not the end. E-mealz tells me exactly how to use those sale items in the coming week to prepare quick and easy dinner meals. You won’t find complicated gourmet cooking re-quirements with the E-mealz plans, which makes this a service that is especially inviting for many families. E-mealz really does take the work out of feeding a family on a budget.

The cost for all of the on-sale grocery items required to create seven dinner meals a week varies; it depends on the plan you choose and where you live. You can expect to pay about $75 a week for grocery items for a family of five. But possibly the best payoff comes from knowing for sure what’s for dinner.

The cost to join E-mealz is negligible — about $1.25 per week, paid $15 for three months at a time.

Just think; for less than 20 cents a day, your “what’s for dinner?” dilemma just might become a thing of the past!

Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 18 books, including her latest, “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?” You may e-mail her at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723.

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