Meal organization

I have found that menu planning is the best way to save money on the food bill as a whole, and is a great way to keep calories in check. When I have a loose menu planned for the week everything else just goes more smoothly in my house.
Earlier this year (around February) an online meal planning service, Relish!, asked me to review their service and I was thrilled to try it out.
Here is basically how it works:
Each week you choose the dinners you would like to make and you print out the grocery list and recipes. They even offer comprehensive freezer meals. [See how it works here]

  • Each week you choose from a new list of delicious recipes. Choose kid-friendly, quick, simple-gourmet and vegetarian options. They even offer special brunch and lunch options to add to your menu.

  • The comprehensive grocery list cuts down on your grocery bill and makes shopping a snap! [View a grocery list]

  • 5 dinners and sides cost less than $90 per week at the grocery store. You will notice substantial savings by sticking to a list!

  • A Relish! subscription is only $7 per month.

Here's what happened on my first try.

The instructions said to choose 5 meals and 1 dessert. In one box were 5 meals called "Dime and Dash". These meals are suppose to be quick and inexpensive. I chose Slow Cooker Lasagna/Garden Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing and Chicken Parmigiana /Classic Italian Salad form this menu. Yes, the menu includes sides.

There were about 10 more suppers on the menu to choose from. I chose Naked Chicken Burrito Bowls/Chips and cheese, Fish Tacos with Guacamole/Corn and Black Bean Salad, and The Best Mac & Cheese (this side was Brussels Sprouts but I made something else). I chose mac and cheese because nothing else sounded any better or cheap (later I discovered an archived list where I could have chosen from a long, long list of recipes). I chose monster cookies with store-bought cookie mix as a base for dessert.

They also offer the ability to scale the recipes 2-4-6-8, but some are not scalable.

I liked being able to click on the recipe title and seeing the recipe on another page. Once you choose your menu, you view and print your grocery list along with your recipes. Both the main course and the side dish prints on one sheet of paper.

The only thing I didn't like is I couldn't figure out how to delete items off the list which becomes a pdf. It would be nice if I could delete what I don't need off the list and add what I do need so that I only go to the store with one list. But maybe it's just me...I am NOT a computer pro.

Once you use this site a few times it becomes even easier to navigate and becomes more fun. I enjoyed almost all of the recipes I tried. I still make the easy version of their monster cookies for my family. In my opinion the best recipes were all fish recipes which is great since fish is a healthy protein choice.

For someone who has trouble deciding what's for dinner, this is a good option for you. One family I heard about (with 7 kids) uses this service and then she faxes her grocery list to a supermarket that offers free delivery. She lives in New York, that sounds like a great plan for her. Grocery shopping and putting them away is something Simply Organized offers as a service and being able to combine the convenience of Relish! and our grocery delivery would easily enable you to have a home-cooked meal with your family!

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