I decided to keep track of what I spent and how our first meals turned out.
First, a disclaimer.
I am a NON-COOK. Seriously. We had nothing in our house for basics - no garlic salt, no brown sugar, no vinegar, etc. I do not cook box-meals, but I also cook very simply....on the rare occasion I actually cook. So our first week of groceries were more expensive and we live in New York City where coupons are challenged by the cashier and groceries are expensive. I also bought EVERYTHING on the list (aside from the one meal we knew we wouldn't make due to personal taste). Even the $8 chopped pecans. It was not easy for my frugal self to buy those! I also buy some things organic.
Key Food: $63.82
Berry Fresh: $51.05
I hated going to 2 grocery stores. But that's life here. One grocery store NEVER has all I need. Even before e-mealz.
We had the ingredients to make 7 meals. That's $16.41 a meal, with some leftovers and extra ingredients for future use (brown sugar, salad dressings, $8 pecans, etc.)
So how did it go?
WAY BETTER THAN I EVER THOUGHT!
Kudos to the e-mealz writers. Most of these recipes are easy enough for a non-cook to follow. I do not LIKE to cook either, and most didn't leave me twitching and annoyed in the kitchen.
The first night I made Lemon Chicken & Broccoli with brown rice.
I followed the recipe exactly.
The result: We (2 adults, 1 4-year old) all ate happily and had leftovers. This recipe had quite a few little ingredients; a tablespoon of that, a bit of this...so I did start to get annoyed and twitchy by the end. I just wanted to be d-o-n-e already, but then at the dinner table my 4-year old declared the chicken "the best ever!" and even asked for more BROCCOLI. I'd say we had some success here! It was worth the twitching I did while making the meal. I don't think it will make it as a normal recipe in my life, but it's fine for once in a while.
Next up, Apple-Pecan Pork Chops. Using some of those $8 pecans. To be served with rice pilaf and broccoli. We did brown rice and asparagus.
The result: We (3 adults, my sister-in-law was added to the crowd, 1-4 year old) porked out and had a weeeeee bit of pork chop for leftovers that ended up in the garbage eventually. Upon first look my husband said, "Oooh, fancy!" and it's true. I felt like a cook this night! I even shared the picture on Facebook and e-mealz's Facebook as well. I was totally impressed with myself. This was DELICIOUS and more importantly in my world....easy! So easy!!! No twitching tonight!
I was feeling confident in my sudden cooking skills, so I decided to walk on the wild side and try the Molasses Pork Tenderloin the next night...but I adjusted the recipe.
Dum, dum, dummmmmm!
I decided to put the meat and seasonings in the crockpot and let it cook all day. I have had success with my crockpot in the past, so I was fairly confident. The pork was to be served with parsley potatoes and balsamic green beans. I followed the potatoes recipe exactly, and only changed out fresh green beans for frozen ones (and a smaller quantity).
As expected, the pork tenderloin was easily shredded with a fork, so it ended up looking like this:
Does that look nasty?
Because it WAS!
The potatoes were awesome. The rest was a giant failure. I don't believe this is the recipe's fault. I didn't follow directions by using the crockpot and the pork ended up overcooked as well. I also bought white cooking wine instead of the white vinegar that was called for. I have NO clue if this changed the taste, but it might have. For the green beans, of which my child gagged on, I used about half the amount of green beans but failed to half the vinegar and other ingredients that flavored them.
We ended up with pizza that night!
I didn't let my one failure stop me. Next up was Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup. I have made chicken noodle soup before, this had to be easy, right?! The soup was to be served with a basic side salad of spinach and other goodness. The only thing I changed in the soup recipe was, instead of canned peas and carrots, I used frozen. I also didn't measure the pepper or garlic salt. I'm kind of a rebel sometimes. And lazy. I didn't want to wash the 1/2 teaspoon. A couple shakes had to be good, right?
The result: Yumm-o! My husband really enjoyed the flavor of it all - I think it was the unmeasured garlic salt personally. As you can see by the pic there isn't much fluid. The recipe called for 3 cups of chicken broth and 1 of cream of chicken soup. I think I might add 4 cups of broth next time. Regardless it was delicious and we had leftovers after 2 adults and 1 child eagerly ate on it. Getting a child to eat vegetables that taste that good is easy too.
Next we have the Easy Oven Southwest Chicken. "Easy" in the title says it all. This was SIMPLE. Throw everything in a pan and cook. Momma likes. To be served with a side salad.
The result: This was good! The entire thing was soupier than I preferred, so I used a slotted spoon to pull out the goodness then opted to throw it all on my salad with a bit of corn tortilla on the side. Making a sort of southwest salad. My husband really enjoy this one. He suggested it go into our "regular rotation". I am more than fine with that, it's seriously easy. Plus, 3 adults (sister-in-law is back) and my son all ate on it with a bit of leftovers. Another winner. I think I'll drain at least one can of the beans next time though.
Next we have Garlic Meatloaf, to be served with warm potato salad. I was skeptic of the warm potato salad, but the meatloaf sounded awesome. My husband cooked this one, he followed the recipe except we used turkey bacon in the potato salad instead of normal bacon. We also made a vegetable. I'm a big veggie eater, and a potato, while yummy, is not a vegetable. Hubby steamed some carrots and cauliflower.
The result: HECK YES! Holy deliciousness! 3 adults and the 4-year old all gobbled this down. We DEVOURED that warm potato salad. It was freakin' awesome. We all ate and ate. This is a "Portion Controlled" meal, but it certainly was not followed that night. I couldn't stop myself! We had a bit of meatloaf left over for a future delicious lunch. This was my favorite of the week!
Now, as I said in the beginning, I had bought ingredients for 7 meals; however, we only ended up making 6 due to eating some of the ingredients for lunches! However, we still had enough on hand to easily put together more meals for the rest of the days before we went grocery shopping again. One of the meals was to be a ham and cheese scramble. We adapted this a bit to just be ham and eggs (with zucchini shredded in) and sausage links. I didn't take a picture - it was a basic, but good meal. We also had pasta ingredients on hand, so we made a simple pasta one night that was not on the schedule.
Overall this has been fantastic. Way better than I EVER thought it could be. It's glorious to not have to think about what will be for dinner, or what to buy at the grocery store. Myself, my husband, or my sister-in-law can easily look at the chart and make dinner, knowing we have all the ingredients on hand. And I can cook. That in and of itself is pretty amazing.
One drawback. We will miss our friendly waitstaff at the local diner! We actually saved enough in our budget this week to buy the very expensive ink for our laser printer!
Another week has begun. I went grocery shopping yesterday and only spent $63.69 for 6 meals, that's $10.62 a meal for a family of 2 (sometimes 3) adults and 1 child. I'm looking forward to another week of goodness!