Category Archives: emeals

The Hardest Part: Food

To start out – I think the hardest part is going to be not buying snack foods that I love. I enjoy snacking on the following (often weird) more expensive items:

*Smoked Oysters

*Parmesan Cheese

*Sharp White Cheddar Cheese

*Pickled Beats

*Marinated Artichokes

*Green Olives & Greek Olives

*Beef Jerky

*Roasted Garlic Hummus with pita chips


Items definitely NOT on the Emealz plan.

Some of these items might stay (such as hummus as it’s a fairly healthy snack and enjoyed by both of us).

Some of these items might make an appearance every once in a while.

Some of these items may show up in a homemade version which is much cheaper (love me some homemade Beef Jerky!).

Some of these items are probably going to disappear until the debt is gone.

What foods can you not live without?
What would be your Budget Buster?



Filed under debt, emeals, food

Anniversary Meal for Less

When we celebrated our first anniversary late last year, we took a lovely weekend trip to Hot Springs, AR.  We wanted something affordable and within Driving Distance, but somewhere new.  Since I’ve never been there, and the hubby hadn’t been there in years, Hot Springs was a perfect fit.

We stayed at a B&B, hiked, saw the Hot Springs, learned lots of history,  window shopped, played “adventure” golf, and eat really yummy food.

We made sure to eat at least one fancy, slightly expensive,  scrumptious dinner.  My menu item of choice was Salmon with some type of Lemony Butter Sauce, with Capers.  I’m sure there was additional ingredients, but these are the parts that stand out. It was phenomenal. The husband had Seabass with a similar sauce – also delectable.

Fast forward to dinner two nights ago, where an incredible fish dinner was on the menu.  Basically, fried Tilapia with some type of buttery, lemon and caper sauce.  I subbed in Salmon, because we were fresh out of Tilapia.

Um…. all I can say is … WOW.   The hubby was actually slightly distracted by the incredible aroma of the dinner.  It may not have been an exact replica of our Anniversary Meal – but it was certainly very close. And I am absolutely certain, it was  1/5 of the cost.

Oh – and did I mention it wasn’t straight-up real butter? The meal itself was off of the Emealz Low Fat plan.

So 7 months in, and we are still thrilled with Emealz. We’ve amended the plan a little, trying to make at least 3 meals a week (instead of all 5) since I started working full-time.  I get home late in the day; sometimes there isn’t enough time in the evening to make a new meal.


One other thing I should mention though regarding Emealz (full disclosure), when people use my Emealz link, and from there decide to purchase a subscription, I do make a small commission.  That being said, I would never recommend it (or anything else for that matter) if I didn’t truly love it.

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Filed under emeals, food, travel

Hello 2012. Goodbye Debt.

Yes – it’s been a while. We’ve been busy in part, starting in on the entire point of this post.

For 2012 – we are getting out of debt.  Everything but the house. How are we going to do this?

1. Go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University — I made a request late last year via facebook if anyone had an unused kit they could lend us. Turns out a very kind friend gave us their old textbook & cds. The kit was practically brand new – several pieces still wrapped in plastic.  Yesterday, we started out strong, listening to the first 3 lessons, so we are in the middle of putting together our monthly budget

2. Make a budget and stick to it — (something we are learning from FPU) We’ve always been good about not spending money we don’t have on a regular basis (our debt is typical student loans, along with medical bills and one HVAC system), but we don’t have a written monthly plan. This step is tricky since the one member of the household is self-employed. It’s tough to try and write down hard numbers (which are still kind of based on estimates). The goal, plan for lower than expected. If we continue to live below our means, see it spelled out as such on paper, we’ll have a much easier time directing everything above the expected amount as available to use in our debt snowball.

4. Use the debt snowball — We are planning to pay off several smaller items right away, leaving one Large Student loan. Because the other debts will be gone, what we would have used for those monthly payments can now all be used against the one remaining loan.  Can you imagine paying 3 times the monthly minimum on something?  Just think – the extra amount (equal to 2 addition monthly minimums) will all go DIRECTLY TO PRINCIPLE.  Sweet! This is the key.  By knocking out chunks of the principle, the payments pick up speed each month, with less and less going to interest, and more and more going to principle. Ultimately knocking out the debt much quicker and saving us thousands in what would have been interest through the years if we just stuck to the minimum.

5. Continue to sell unneeded / unused possessions on Craigslist — The last portion of 2011 saw us raising around $430 from selling items on craigslist.  The plan is to use this extra money to toss into the debt snowball – for even more principle deduction.  (as part of this same plan – really any extra, unexpected money will be used the same – even some of our cash Christmas presents. It may be “boring” but ultimately, it’s a fantastic Christmas present. Think of all the future stress that will be eliminated.  Thanks to all of our loved ones who inadvertently helped us with this cause!)

6. Food, Envelops, and Emeals — We are going to continue using emeals (Highly Recommend them! Save money & time planning out your meals – Check it out Here).  Even when we are busy, three planned meals a week saves us time and money. Plus, we are going to work on using a cash / envelop system to buy all groceries and when we eat out (or order in).  It’s a proven method to make you keenly aware of how much you spend on food – which in turn will help us make wiser choices.  Keeping in mind, every dollar we can cut from the food bill moves over in the budget to chip way at debt.

So there you go. That’s the plan.  By the way, it’s not a resolution, it’s a goal. Something we started working on ending off 2011 and we are making great strides as we start out 2012.

And you know what – I’ll allow for a bit of realism to creep in that says “you never know what unexpected events are going to happen in 2012.  Some of that “extra debt snowball” might realistically be needed to pay for other items in order to prevent accruing new debt. So – don’t be too disappointed if some of your debt carries over to 2013.”

Yep – I know.  But even if that ends up being the case:

1. We didn’t go into new debt to pay for unexpected events & 2. We still made SIGNIFICANT forward movement. That momentum will be so empowering and encouraging.

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.


Filed under by the numbers, debt, emeals

Blackened Salmon on Greens

That’s what I’m making tonight.  I’m very much looking forward to it.

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Filed under emeals


So… I’m getting more spam comments. (Yeah for WordPress automatically weeding them out!)

Does this mean my readership has increased? Or perhaps with my E-mealz and “Human Preservation Project” (Mission Ice Fly) posts means I’m coming up more often in searches.

Also – in other Spam related news.  I listened to a recent “Stuff you should know” podcast about SPAM (7/28/11 broadcast). It was really interesting.  I’ve never eaten the stuff, but the podcast made me kind of want to try it.

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Filed under arg, blog, emeals, food

Still hot…

It’s still hot. Looks like our ‘lowest’ predicted High for the next week is 104.  That will take us to 38 consecutive 100+ degree days.

In other things, I changed our E-mealz plan today.  We switched over to the Low Fat meal plan.  We’ve noticed now that we are eating dinner regularly, we are eating more.  So, we probably need to watch a little better what we are eating and the low fat plan, while encouraging you to purchase Fat Free, Low Fat, and reduced fat items, also creates meals that use less products like butter, cheese, and creams. The first week of recipes, they look pretty tasty, so we’ll see how it goes.

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Filed under emeals, weather

Emealz week 7

We just went to the store and purchased our groceries for this week.  As our items rang up, and we paid the total:  $33!  I realized that one thing I didn’t factor in during my week 6 post is that we’ve been purchasing bulk items.

Things like frozen chicken breasts, fish filets, and ground beef, either at the grocery store, or bulk stores (both Sams & Costco). So that would have made our bills higher this last month, for food we have not really eaten or factored in yet.  We didn’t need to purchase any meat today, so that made our bill much smaller.

All that to say, the ultimate money savings will be easier to factor out when we are able to take a couple of months and average them.

But don’t just take my word for it, check out E-Mealz for yourself.

** bonus side note, we swung by the grocery store after church and it took about 30 minutes. LOVE quick trips to the store (and knowing I won’t need to go back until next week)!

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Filed under emeals, food

Emealz 6 weeks in

We’ve been trying EMealz for 6 weeks now and basically, I Love it!

It saves me so much time trying to figure out what to make.  I go into the grocery store armed with my list and I’m usually back in the car in less than an hour.  For a girl who hates shopping, this is spectacular.

We are enjoying how much variety we have for meals.  We usually eat left overs for lunch, which helps us actually use up the food I buy at the store.  And because I’m not staring in the fridge without a plan, we don’t go out nearly as much.

That being said, I’m trying to keep track of what we’ve saved – and overall, it’s been hard to tell specific numbers what we’ve saved.  I think this is due to the fact that I have to buy most of the ‘basics’ that are in the meals. I expect that this will drop off.  (my first stop at the store on week one was around $98 – the last couple of weeks have been around $60)

One other change we’ve noticed (and this affects the fact that our first Emealz budget was not that far off from pre-Emealz) is that we had a few nice meals out.  So rather than several 5 & 10 dollars of fast food, we had only a couple of nicer meals.  So, outside of Emealz, we’ll be working on that.   And I’m expecting over time, there will be a noticeable difference in the monthly amount we spend on food.

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“Talked” e-mealz today

Well – chatted via twitter.  They are good people. It really is a shame they are in Alabama and not Texas or I’d be knocking on their door wanting to work for them. 🙂

Check out the story of their founders:

E-Mealz Blog

Anyway we are in week 2. I did some prep work this week after I went grocery shopping (things like boiling eggs, cubing some ham, & cooking sausage). Overall – this has saved me time when it comes to actually making dinner.

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Filed under emeals, food

E-Mealz – Week 1 review

Just finished up our first week with E-meals. Loved it!

Not only did I save time and energy not having to plan, but we were able to enjoy 5 meals that I would not have made on my own.  They were unique, and not the standard “Debra’s crock-pot stew” that is my go to dish.

My hubby’s tastes and my tastes are very different so it makes our final agreed upon review a little tricky, but we did both try at least something this week that was new, enjoyable, and even going in the ‘repeatable’ category.  Plus, I think we ate more complete meals than we’ve had in a long time.

Each following day, we eat the left overs for lunch, and because the proportions were smaller (meals for 2) we wasted much less food than normal.

I’ve already reviewed my shopping list for next week, making sure I don’t buy what I already have – and I’m actually looking forward to shopping tomorrow (when does that happen!?!).

We don’t know if/how much money we are saving yet – that one will tell with time.

Last, I’ll end by saying that tonight’s grilled salmon salad was amazing. I didn’t think that a meal using salmon, soy sauce, honey, avocados, and peaches all in one dish would work out well- but it was a surprisingly delicious and wonderfully light meal.

If you are interested in trying it for yourself just click on the image below.

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Filed under emeals, food