Disclaimer: I HATE it when companies spell things with a "Z" when it should be with an "S." That's just stupid. So is "lil" instead of "little." Dumb.
I'm a big fan of Groupon and subscribe out of both Ft. Wayne and Indy since I access both cities on a regular basis. I haven't bought a lot of Groupons in the 2 years or so where I've subscribed to it, but I have scored some deals on parking for a football game, popcorn for the boy who dearly loves it, a birthday party for the female members of my family at a tea house, and more. My most recent purchase is one that I'm particularly excited about today. (And, I think that this deal is still good for another day or two if you're interested.)
Ben and I decided to use Groupon to subscribe to an on-line meal service called E-Mealz, which sends you weekly menus catering to your food preferences/ needs as well as the store that you choose as your primary grocery spot. We got our first menu this morning and I admit that it was enjoyable to take shopping this morning; I felt like I was at the store with a purpose instead of a couple of hazy ideas about what I might make for supper throughout the week and randomly purchasing items so that I could figure out what to do with them later. We have a couple of goals in utilizing this service:
*Ease of menu planning. This is a pretty genius idea, I think. Very little expense for the people who own the company. They set up menus which and shopping lists which you then access and print off. That's an awesome business model in my opinion. But seriously, some weeks it's a struggle while other weeks I have 6 ideas about what I want to make. It's mentally time consuming as well. I'm hoping to free up that part of the process, which I don't not enjoy but would really not mind skipping during the school year when I'm consumed by many other things that I need to do or think about.
*Ease of preparation. It's really nice to have a grocery list made for you so that you can get what you need and, theoretically, don't miss anything. I inevitably do. That could cut down on return trips later in the week to the store as well. And, I still get to do my favorite part--cooking, which is absolutely more fun when it's not something that I'm throwing together haphazardly at 5:15.
*Variety. I have a decent stockpile of go-to dishes that I know we all like and are easy to make as well as full of ingredients that I often have on hand. That's nice, but some variety is welcome indeed. We chose the vegetarian option in E-Mealz because it's a lot easier to add meat into a meatless dish than it is, generally, to take meat out of a meat dish. And, we don't meat in the grocery store anymore. Instead, we bought part of a cow and have that stocked in the freezer and I have a source that I splurge on chicken once in a while. Yeah, splurge. It's the good stuff, not the factory farmed chicken, and it's pretty pricey per pound. I'd prefer to have meals planned for me that don't require me to buy a lot of meat each week.
*Timing. Ben's track season starts in about a month, which is a big burden during the spring semester as he's out of the house QUITE a bit in the evenings around dinner preparation. I could definitely use some mental relief in that department with an active Abby around. And, with another "vanilla bean" on the way, it could really help us both in the summer when our lives will be otherwise occupied. Plus, the recipes print out with the menu, so that will make it easier for either of us to be able to choose a recipe and put it together without hunting through cookbooks or searching on-line.
*Future use. These are downloadable menus and grocery lists. Which means that they're easy to save on the computer so that a one-year subscription can theoretically last beyond one year. In other words, we're thinking of it as an investment in a cookbook. With the Groupon price, it really is.
Shopping was a little more than is what I think of as our "normal," but I'm not so sure that this will be the way that it usually is. You do still have to buy all of the things that don't necessarily apply to dinner--toothpaste, a loaf of bread, milk, etc. But I also think that I bought more food than we'll need this week. I'm hoping to get a better understanding of how much to use out of the planned menus each week. But right now, I'm trying to decide whether we should have baked tomatoes and pasta or chilequilles tonight. Either way, I'm getting excited!