Meal Planning for Newbies {week 1 recap}

meal planning - week 1 recap -

Just to let you know how these recaps will work – I will be updating the draft as I go through the week, and when you see it here on Thursday, it’s for the previous 7 days.

Tonight is New Year’s Day – and the first night I actually started the meal planning for newbies journey.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure where to start. See that photo above? I grabbed the sales fliers, a notepad, and just stared for a bit after we put the kids to bed.  I signed up with eMeals for one of their blogger campaigns – for a year – to try out how their plan works.  I was late in registering and didn’t realize you can only make updates to your profile on a desktop, not the mobile app.  So last night I got the email for the weeks’ meals – but it wasn’t tied in to my local grocer.  I’m not sure how that might influence it, if the recipes change according to what’s on sale. So I fixed it, and I’ll update you on that later.

The cool thing about eMeals is you can access past weeks’ recipes.  I first looked through those and jotted down ones that sounded good.  So that was my first official step.  I’m planning Thursday-Wednesday for meals instead of the traditional Monday-Sunday or Sunday-Saturday.  If you’re shopping against what’s on sale – this can only be the real way to do it.

I picked out the following recipes to make: White Bean Chili, Chicken Pot Pie, Curry Chicken, and Beef Taco Casserole.  Then I took that blank notepad and started writing in the items I’d need to purchase.  I had a lot of the staples already (spices – which can add up if you’re having to buy new) and then I plotted them in on days to eat them.  I picked one night – Monday – to be a leftover night.  The eMeals program I signed up for is for 3-6 people.  Plenty to have for lunches & one leftover night to clear the fridge.

Meal Planning - week 1 recap -

Once I had everything mapped out, I added what we were having in the Dinner section of my Simplified Planner.  Below the menu, I also added what I needed to take out to defrost for thenext day. I’m AWFUL at defrosting. I never remember. Hoping this helps.  So this wraps up week one! Check back next Thursday for week 2 recap! Hoping by the end of the month this becomes easier and less daunting of a task.

The Dishes:


BBQ Flaming Chicken, BBQ Broccoli Crowns, Mashed Potatoes

The chicken was a pre-marinated pack I bought ages ago from Albertsons.  The name is because of the marinade – each time we grilled it, we received EXTREMELY BURNT CHICKEN.  The last time we mentioned it in our Marriage Oneness class at church – the guy in our group suggested turning the grille on super hot, then turning down and putting the chicken on the top rack, on top of tin foil. Genius. It was perfect and crispy. The cost of this meal was approximately $5 (I bought a huge amount of that chicken and broke it out into 3 piece packs for easy defrosting & grilling).


White Bean Chili

This was the first time I used eMeals for dinner prep.  It should be called White Bean Chicken Soup as it is a lot less chunky than traditional red bean chili.  I simmered it a lot longer (recipe said 5, I did 45 minutes) but it was amazing.  If you sign up for eMeals soon – you should still find this in the archives under the Classic section.  But they only keep a few weeks on there so sign up now!  This meal cost $10 (minus the staples of spices).  I also added carrots and it was delicious!


Tri-tip, Grilled Cabbage, Mashed Potatoes

If you’re not from California, you might not have heard of tri-tip. But google it, it’s an excellent meat cut for the grille! The Grilled Cabbage was a last minute decision and a flex of my creative muscle. I’ve seen other items grilled, so I thought – why not.  It was delicious!!! Cut in quarters along the main stem so it stays together, drizzle with olive oil, dust with garlic salt, pepper and about half way add a tiny bit of butter.  I lined the top rack with tin foil and had them cook there about 25 minutes. Great crunch!


Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Another eMeals recipe. I improved with adding Pillsbury Crescent rolls on top vs their pie crust recommendation.  Aubrey LOVED it! And I was happy to see that there was such a minimal amount of dairy in this dish.  Since Luke is still having problems (he’s getting better it seems!) I really have been missing pot pies for (what I thought would be) a lot of butter & milk.  This had 1/2 stick of butter and 1 cup of milk for the entire thing.


Leftover Night – aka – fend for yourself

I made breakfast tacos for me with the leftover tri-tip.  Aubrey had the eggs & tri-tip along with some veggies. Jon – this was the first day he was feeling better (he had the flu all weekend) ate some of the past meals he didn’t get to try.


Chicken Curry over Rice

This dish – omg.  I had written the title, but not the directions, and realized on Sunday it was no longer in the archives. I emailed eMeals and they sent me over the PDF.  Their customer service has been amazing with the questions I’ve had. Twitter is also top-notch!  For this dish, I ended up using almost the entire can of coconut milk. The recipe called for just over half.  I like extra sauce for my rice!


Taco Casserole

We use ground turkey over beef, but this still had a tremendous amount of flavor.  But, be weary on the salsa you buy! I apparently but the “omg my mouth is on fire” one, and I couldn’t serve this to Aubrey.  But Jon loved it. Definitely adding to our rotation.  I also added a can of black beans & can of corn to try and make the fire less. It slightly worked.

Because of the way eMeals operates, I am unable to share the actual recipes with you.  But, you should sincerely think about signing up for their 3 month membership to test it out.  The meals I’ve made have been easy, affordable, and tasty.  With all these recipes, I averaged around 10-15 a meal that fed 2 adults, a very hungry toddler, and had 2 small lunches the next day.  The Taco Casserole was the most expensive due to the cheese, guac, and salsa.  Now, on to the next week! That recap will include how I pick which grocer to use for my week’s shopping.  It’s very scientific (ok, no it’s not)

If you want to get sneaks of what we’re eating, follow me on Instagram.

I am a blogger for eMeals. I have received their 1 year subscription free of charge in exchange for mention on my blog. My opinions are the truth. No lies from me! This post also contains affiliate links.


  1. says

    This still seems like a lot of work on the front-end but I’m also one who doesn’t like to cook at all. I have made the chicken pot pie in a pan, but I don’t remember using any milk or butter. I think I used cream of mushroom soup and gazillion vegetables.

    Looking forward to reading how eMeals is working out!

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