Product Review: Meal Plan Services

Hi everyone,

Kiran Dodeja Smith

I’m Kiran and I’ve known Lisa for years…I’ve watched her start this blog from Day 1 and have been thrilled to see her success – not only for her, but for others as well. I don’t have to tell you what a great resource it is!

Unlike Lisa, I’ve been reading food labels for almost 20 years. Hopefully that won’t date me too much! All kidding aside, eating “healthy” has been a longtime goal of mine; eating “real” has come in more recently.

I have a family that includes four kids under the age of 8. Getting a healthy meal on the table is always a goal, albeit not always an easy one. So after seeing so many meal planning services, I decided to try out a few. I’ve checked out and tried five of the big ones that appeal to me.

If you’ve ever been curious about meal plans or wondered which one may work for you, I’m hopeful that this can help. I’ll start with a summary chart, but be sure to read on for the details of each plan!

Meal Planning Service Customizable Ease of Preparation
(5 is easiest)
“Real” Food Rules Changes Required Regular Price

No More ‘To Go’

no 4 out of 5 Few $6/mo. (for 3 mos.*)

Deliciously Organic

no 4 out of 5 Very few $9.99/mo.*

Plan to Eat

yes Depends (you choose your own recipes) Depends (you choose your own recipes) $4.95/mo.*

The Six O’Clock Scramble

yes 5 out of 5 Moderate $7/mo. (for 3 mos.*)

The Fresh 20

no 3 out of 5 Very few $5/mo. (for 3 mos.*)

*Additional options available (i.e. 6 months, 1 year, etc.)

Meal Planning Service Shopping List Included Shopping List Cost/Week
(5 is easiest)
Free Trial Number of Meals Provided Available Meal Plan Tracks

No More ‘To Go’

yes $100-$125 Free week sample 5 plus snack Classic

Deliciously Organic

yes N/A Free sample plans available 5 plus desserts and snack Classic, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free (paleo)

Plan to Eat

yes Depends (you choose your own recipes) 1 month free trial Unlimited N/A
(choose your own recipes)

The Six O’Clock Scramble

yes $70-$80 2 weeks free trial 5 Classic, Customizable (to special dietary needs)

The Fresh 20

yes $75 Free sample plans available 5 Classic, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian


No More ‘To Go’

History:

Though this service may be the newest player on the block (on my list), meal planner Stacey Stabenow has been planning meals for years. Friends of the Texan mom of three were always amazed at her meal organization that included a whiteboard in her kitchen with the week’s meals planned out. After being urged by others to offer up her service, her business was up and running with quick success. Stabenow tries all of the recipes ahead of time to make sure they work and admits that she doesn’t do casseroles. “I don’t do canned or boxed,” she also says.

My take:

No More ‘To Go’ is a great happy medium of the plans, if you will. Though it errs on the healthier/ “real” side, it’s still a great realistic plan. Weekly meals within the plan include one pasta dish for the week and one ethnic (think Tex-Mex/Italian or Chinese) dish as well. Each meal has photos (a fave of mine) and each also has a Kid Note (great for us moms – includes suggestions on spices/etc.), a Vegetarian Tip (how to make it vegetarian) and Gluten Modifications for those who are gluten-sensitive.

Personal likes:

  • Great “clean” feel.
  • Love that she tries each meal with her kids first.
  • Enjoy the photos.
  • Each recipe has a meat, starch and fresh vegetable.

Would like to see:

  • One of the weekly recipes with fewer ingredients for the super busy nights.
  • A few less “real food” substitutions needed.

The real deal (my meal):

It didn’t take long for me to choose my meal; one look at the Crispy Fish Flatbreads with Spicy Tarter Sauce with a Spinach and Bacon Sauté and I was sold. Per Lisa’s suggestion, I substituted whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs and used ghee instead of canola oil. I was actually able to find some whole-wheat flatbreads at my grocery store, which I incorporated. Relish (in the homemade tartar sauce) needs to be without high fructose corn syrup or artificial dyes, and I used a local egg in preparing my fish and local spinach in the salad. The preparation was straightforward and while my husband and I enjoyed the sandwiches, my kids were actually more fond of the spinach sauté!

Crispy Fish Flatbreads with Spicy Tarter Sauce with Spinach Bacon Saute
Crispy Fish Flatbreads with Spicy Tarter Sauce with Spinach Bacon Saute from No More ‘To Go’

Deliciously Organic

History:

It all began with a 25-year-old mother of two who was suffering from debilitating migraines. After beginning to slowly change her foods to organic, she noticed immediate changes. But switching to all organic food wasn’t that delicious to begin with. Over time, Carrie Vitt adapted recipes to make them tastier and more desirable … this turned into a blog, which she began in 2009, and then a cookbook, which she released in January 2011. Vitt shares her successes of her family overcoming severe asthma, eczema, IBS and migraines in her blog, where she also offers meal plans.

My take:

If you’re looking for “real food,” Deliciously Organic fits the bill. While going through recipes, many sounded appealing to me. Three meal plan tracks are available: Classic, Grain-free and Gluten Free. I went with the Classic route and was pleased to see a variety throughout the weeks that I viewed. One of the five meals was a vegetarian meal (think Penne with Spinach, Peas, Goat Cheese and Walnuts), and I was pleased to see a fish dish or perhaps one incorporating pork chops or something out of the “norm” that we (ok, I) generally get stuck in. Chicken breasts can only get so exciting after a while!

What I loved about Vitt’s recipes was that she spiced up something that could be basic with a few key ingredients to give it a fresh, new twist. To change things up around the house, I opted for Baby Greens with Avocado, Oranges and Red Onion and Baked Sourdough Bread with Olive Pesto.

Personal likes:

  • Beautiful photography.
  • All meals sound appealing.
  • Follows real food rules – not many substitutions needed.
  • Dessert and snack recipes included are a great bonus.

Would love to see:

  • Search function.
  • While I love the variety of ingredients used, costs can add up.

The real deal (my meal):

I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of preparation of this meal. Most of the ingredients I already had on hand, aside from Pecorino Romano cheese and black olives. While Lisa would surely suggest using whole-wheat sourdough bread, I could only find white sourdough from my grocer’s bakery. Unfortunately my kids were not crazy about the pesto – I think I have the only kids in the world who are not a fan of cheese. But my husband loved it and I was overjoyed to have a solid salad recipe that my kids enjoyed. The dressing made the difference, no doubt.

Baby Greens with Avocado, Oranges and Red Onion, Baked Sourdough Bread with Olive Pesto from Deliciously Organic

 

Plan to Eat

If you’re anything like me, you have a plethora of recipes that you like to make. Sure, you add some to your collection – but you have those that stay in the rotation, and some that you’re really fond of but you somehow forget. Enter Plan to Eat, a website that lets you store them all, import new ones, and plan your monthly meals. It’s a disorganized head-of-the-kitchen’s dream-come-true, a service I can’t believe I only recently found out about.

History:

Developed by a husband and wife team, Plan to Eat has been noted as a site that has revolutionized meal planning. As opposed to sending you meal plans each week, this is an organizer that lets you organize and plan your own meals.

My take:

Personally, I love this service. I became a member of a CSA (a.k.a. Community Supported Agriculture) program this summer at a local farm and therefore have seasonal vegetables to work with each week. Though some of the other meal plan services utilize seasonal fruits and veggies, searching for and uploading recipes that can incorporate my weekly selection is a necessity for me. I also have finally found a place to store all of my recipes that I’ve been making for years. Oftentimes my husband will comment on a dish that I made at some point, which of course I have completely forgotten about. The various cookbooks, cutout recipes, and printed papers now have a place where I can store them and find them – and not forget them.

Recipes can be added from over 100 websites and blogs. A brand new component allows you to add recipes from any site/blog with a bookmarklet. You can share recipes with friends on the site and see their recipes as well.

One of my girlfriends and I always discuss cooking and meals. We “friended” each other on Plan to Eat and now I can see the meal that she referenced earlier in our conversation, and she can see mine. Once you have recipes added, you can easily drag and drop them into a calendar to make your monthly meal plan. From your calendar, an automatic shopping list is made.

The real deal (my meal):

I received a large head of cabbage in addition to kale from Poplar Ridge Farm and was in search of a meal where I could utilize both. I remembered a meal that I had made with chicken and cabbage a few months back but was unsuccessful in finding it again. Determined to not let this happen again, I uploaded this new recipe that I found into “My Plan” and put it on the schedule.

Sesame Braised Chicken and Cabbage through Plan to Eat


The Six O’Clock Scramble

History:

Aviva Goldfarb started The Six O’Clock Scramble back in 2003 after struggling to put a nutritious dinner on the table for her own family. A mother of two, she created the site to provide easy recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less.

My take:

The site is great for anyone who needs to get dinner on the table in a hurry and also those who may not wish to have to buy 15 new ingredients for one meal. Let’s be honest: some of us are more excited about cooking than others. If you’re not in love with it or you don’t have the time you’d like to devote to it, this is a great meal planning service for you. It’s the most comprehensive of the bunch, offering search functions, reader ratings, and such.

Personal likes:

  • I love the search function. For example – I had two large zucchini’s that I needed to cook up. I did a search of “zucchini” and came up with numerous options.
  • I personally really like the rating system. Why is it that seeing 4 or 5 stars somehow makes a recipe more appealing?
  • It caters to many different diets – Vegetarian, Food Allergies, Gluten Free, Kosher, Dairy-Free, Low Sodium, and Weight Loss plans available.
  • Nutrition information. While Lisa doesn’t talk a lot about this, I liked finding this information.
  • The recipe box is great for saving recipes.

Would love to see:

  • In terms of eating “real food,” I found myself having to make a number of substitutions. Maybe a “real food” track?
  • With so many extra features/choices being offered, options abound. If straightforward simplicity is your thing then this service may not be for you.

The real deal (my meal):

With a busy week up ahead, the Turkey and Spinach Enchiladas seemed the perfect fit for our family. My family is a huge fan of anything Mexican, and I loved the fact that it incorporates spinach within. With just 7 ingredients, all which I had on hand, it was simple to throw together.

To follow the “real food” rules, I made a few substitutions: I used whole-wheat tortillas, local ground beef (in lieu of ground turkey), my own recipe for homemade salsa (what a great way to get some seasonal, fresh tomatoes incorporated) and fresh tomatoes as a side and topping.

The consensus was unanimous: the meal was a hit. So much so, that my husband made sure to tell me to keep the recipe and to make it again.

Beef and Spinach Enchiladas from The Six O’Clock Scramble

The Fresh 20

History:

The Fresh 20 was created in 2009 when Melissa Lanz quit her day job to promote good eating habits for her family. The former Internet marketing exec was tired of takeout and thus created a solution for her family, which in turn has been eaten up by tens of thousands of others.

My take:

There’s something about The Fresh 20 that just appeals to me. The branding is spot on, in my opinion. It’s clean; it’s simple – just like the recipes it offers. The claim to fame for this meal plan service is that you use only 20 ingredients to create 5 healthy meals each week – no preservatives, processed food, or frozen ingredients. The estimated cost of each meal is $15.

Each week you get a pdf file that includes 5 meals, your “make aheads,” a shopping list, and your recipes. There are three options available – Classic, Vegetarian and Gluten Free. I chose the Classic plan and from that I chose Oven Roasted Salmon with Rosemary Canneli Beans with Kale and Tomatoes, though I was very tempted to try the Fried Farro with Crispy Fried Egg and Kale.

Personal likes:

  • Almost all of the meals sound appealing.
  • I love that they use seasonal foods.
  • I already have most of the ingredients on hand.
  • It’s just enough ingredients where I’m not psyched out.
  • The archives are available for members.

Would love to see:

  • Photos of the meals. Not necessary, I know, but I find them appealing.
  • A search function.

The real deal (my meal):

The meal I prepared actually looked nice enough for me to serve to company, so I prepared it for 6 adults and 5 kids. With that being said, I was very impressed with the turnout …and perhaps I’m slow in the kitchen, but it took me a while to prep and cook. I’m not sure I could personally spend that much time on a regular weeknight every day of the week. In terms of “real food” rules, I only substituted olive oil for grapeseed oil.

Oven Roasted Salmon with Rosemary Canneli Beans with Kale and Tomatoes from The Fresh 20

 

Well there you have it! Providing real food for your family can definitely be easier with a little help from a meal planning service or pre-planning of your own. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below … are there any meal planning services you personally love? What meal plan features are most important to you?

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105 thoughts on “Product Review: Meal Plan Services”

  1. I tried PrepDish for 4 months but it was not a good fit for us. If you are thinking about it, make sure you love it before you subscribe for a year! I was naive enough to take the recommendation of a friend who loves it and sign up for their annual plan. The way I read the refund policy it seemed to me that a full refund was offered in the first 14 days but you could still request a refund after that time frame. I wrote to PrepDIsh and explained this but they were not willing to refund any of my money even though I had been in communication with them along the way that it really was not working for us. Our family had never tried Paleo before but we gave it a try. It just was not the right fit for our family and if I have to come up with grains and dairy to add to the meal, I might as well plan the whole thing. The inability to swap out meals is also big. There are lots of meal planning services out there so make sure you research them well before you make a commitment. I also found some of the other services much more Customer Service friendly than PrepDish.

  2. I get why you like Plan to Eat, but it’s worth mentioning that the Paprika app does the same thing and you only have to pay once ($4.99 for phone, $14.99 for tablet, and $49.99 for desktop). I have all 3 and they’re well worth it! In my opinion, it’s way better than paying $4.95/mo indefinitely. I just started the scramble also. So far, I really like it! (Plus, I can import everything into paprika). It’s similar to another service I had called cooksmarts. I liked them also, but their recipes were a bit more complicated. What’s great about Cooksmarts is that they have little instructional videos on almost everything (how to chop an onion, julienne a carrot, etc.)

  3. Hi. I use 6 o’clock Scramble and like it a lot. I have also used emeals, but it’s a bit pricy compared to others, but there are even lunch options available. Thank you for the article. I’m going to check out some of the others mentioned here.

  4. LOVE Plan To Eat. I have been using them for over a year now. Easy to download new recipes and easy to tweak recipes. Has allowed us to go from weekly shopping to bi-weekly shopping and we are now looking at doing bulk shopping for a month at a time to save time and money. Plus we never fall into mealtime ruts where we are eating the same thing over and over again. It was a real game changer for us.

  5. Wow ! Thank you for sharing these. I had no idea this typenof help existed! I love like the whole concept of Plan to Eat and think I am going to subscribe. So many recipes I want to try, yet continue to use the same 15 family favs over and over. We have one vegetarian child, 2 vegans , and two adults who are now eating 100 Days of Real food. This information was perfect.

  6. Love Plan to Eat!!! Have used it for a little over a year now. For the past two years, they have had a half price Black Friday special which also applies for renewals. :)

  7. We have used Weelicious Menus, Super Healthy Kids, and The 6 o clock scramble. Weelicious does a great job, it’s the most simple and wholesome.

    1. In comparing Weelicious Menus, Super Healthy Kids, and The 6 O’Clock Scramble, I have some questions for you:

      Which service do you feel is best for the mom that isn’t a good cook or feels lost in the kitchen? Which service will provide the most affordable shopping list? Most importantly, which service will provide weekly menus that the pickiest of eaters is most likely to eat? Overall, which service did you use most?

      Thank you for your help.

      1. I’m sorry. I apparently am still tired. It seems as though you are saying that you used Weelicious overall. Again sorry for the “Mommy’s still tired from getting woke up a couple of times at night and from getting up at 4:30 AM to spend time with Daddy before he heads to work brain.” Thank you.

      2. Ha! You poor thing, I hope life has slowed down a little for you. My mantra with little ones is “It won’t be like this forever, if you can just get through today”. I alternate between Weelicious and 6’o clock scramble. Weelicious is very simple and the recipes have a lot of instruction on how to cook, so I think in your situation it might be best. There are a couple of staples you get used to in her menus and as long as you have those on hand the shopping lists aren’t terribly expensive overall. I do the custom menus at 6’o clock scramble at times so I can taylor the recipes to what I have in the pantry on slim months. Good luck!!

  8. Do you have a review of e-meals? It sounds appealing with mulitple meal “tracks” to choose from one of which is clean eating.

  9. Grape seed oil is actually healthier to cook with because it has a higher flash point than olive oil. Olive oil should not be used to cook with, as at higher temperatures it turns carcinogenic. Both grape seed oil and coconut oil are safe to cook with.

  10. Don’t forget about emeals.com. They have lots of variety: clean eating, whole foods, gluten free, etc. The list goes on and on.

  11. I have a general meal planning question. Isn’t one of the big perks to planning that you have no wasted food? Say, one recipe calls for half and onion then one of the other recipes that week should use up the rest of it so you don’t have half an onion going bad in the fridge? Do these services do that for you? Because I’ve been picking out 3-5 recipes and shopping once a week for years but I’m terrible at using everything and sick of wasted food and money.

  12. Aleksandra Till

    I’ve been curious as I pour over these meal-planning services, do families really regularly prepare five meals a week? We are a family of two children (another on the way) and two adults. I find that when I make more than three recipes per week, we end up throwing food away.

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Hi Aleksandra,
      You can tailor them to however they best fit for you. Perhaps you just want to choose 3-4 of the meals that sound best to you and make those? HTH!
      Kiran

  13. I enjoyed reading your review of meal plans …a friend of mind introduced me to Fresh 20 so I was considering it.

    Although, after reading the ‘Wheat Belly’ book by William Davis, I wondered if there was a meal plan for this ‘diet'(may be very similar to the Paleo diet).

    Thanks for all the effort you put into researching various food plans.
    Much appreciated.

  14. Just want to comment that I was looking for meal planning services last night so I googled “meal planning” and found my way here! Thank you for this article. I was still able to use the 100days code at the six o’clock scramble to take $5 off my 3 month subscription.

  15. I have been using fresh 20 for a little over a month. I like it okay. The prep can be time consuming. The only thing I’m not too happy about is that my grocery budget is $50 more a week now. Their price per meal is not very accurate.

  16. i came across this post as i was eating my fresh20 salmon with canneli beans & kale left overs. i am on week 2 and love it so far. its has pushed me out of my comfort zone without being intimidating. i did not substitute the grapeseed oil because i didnt know it doesnt meet the “real food” requirements. oops, im still new to this.

  17. Kiran Dodeja Smith

    Amy,
    Your response made my day! I’m so happy that you’ve found success with the Fresh 20. I love her concept and it sounds like it’s made your transition into baby #2 somewhat easier. I have 4 kids 8 and under so I know how difficult it is to get organized, make your lists, shop, cook, etc.
    KUDOS TO YOU for making the effort to still eat “real” with your new (and wonderful!) life change.
    Cheers! :)
    Kiran

  18. Kiran, thank you for this wonderful information! I know it’s been awhile since this was posted, but I just wanted to say that we subscribed to the Fresh 20 just after you published this, and we LOVE it. It has made our eating life so much better. We have a new baby (our second!) and keep a very busy schedule, and I’d been thinking I had no idea how I was possibly going to keep up our good eating routines. I saw this article, looked at all the plans and decided to give the Fresh 20 a try, and I’m so pleased. If anyone else is considering the Fresh 20, I can say that for us, every meal has been a complete winner. We’ve made few “real food” substitutions (the main substitutions have been to use more of our CSA produce) and we’ve loved each and every recipe so far. With so much going on in our lives now, it’s a relief to have one less thing to think about. We’ve expanded our horizons between what we usually cook, and kept our fridge full of delicious leftovers and lunches (we have two adults, one toddler, and one new baby in our family). I never would have considered a meal-planning service before seeing this post, but it’s made all the difference for us. Thanks so much!

  19. I have only tried saving dinner, her recipes are very tasty and the freezer meals quite handy, Some have stayed in my permanent rotation. She does try to accommodate different goals like lo carb, paleo, weight loss, etc. and you do get a lot of good recipes. But after using for a while became somewhat repetitive. She also has gotten quite commercialized but that is to be expected.

    Liking the look of fresh20 because of simplicity, I can always use my paprika app to customize meal plans, but I like one that maximizes the use of select ingredients in a week and cuts back on waste. With saving dinner the weekly menus had variety but the grocery list could get quite long, this was solved if willing to do the freezer entrees which were a lot like Let’s Dish, etc, and that is real handy for sports practice nights with very limited cooking time.

    Also looking for faster recipes for busy or late weeknights.

  20. After reading this a few weeks ago I signed up for a free trial of Plan To Eat. I absolutely love it and have signed up for a full year. Thank you so much! It is just what I need to get back in the swing of meal planning.

    1. Lee,
      That is fantastic! I’m so glad it’s been a good fit for you. It’s just the thing to help get organized, I agree!

  21. Would you suggest choosing only one? Or, if I sign up for more than one service, is there a way to pick and choose from them and save the unused suggestions for a later date?

    1. Marty,
      It’s completely up to you. Some people do a combination and some just do one. I do think that if you want to be ultra organized, you can definitely double up Plan to Eat with one of the other services so that you can import recipes into your calendar. Just a thought. Remember that the discounts are only good through tomorrow so if you want to try one (or more), be sure to get the savings!:)
      Best of luck!

  22. Great article, thank you! The hardest thing I find with the meal planning services is finding the right “track”. Seems a lot of sites have “gluten-free” and “vegan” tracks, but not a track that combines both. Perhaps the Plan to Eat option would be best as it is your own recipes, but would love to hear any feedback or suggestions…thanks!

  23. Great review! I’ve been using Plan To Eat for awhile now and love it. Deliciously Organic is also great and the meals there have made it into the permanent rotation at our house. I like Plan To Eat’s ability to store recipes from various web sites and change the amount of servings for the recipe in the planner. It’s a great service. I just use occasional others to supplement my recipe collection.

  24. This is really great information! Thanks for sharing it. Do you know if any of these services allow you to keep track of what’s in your pantry already, and match meals accordingly? I need to start meal planning, but know that there are probably some viable options already there that I’m just missing…

    1. Hi Amy,

      As far as matching your pantry, I’d suggest Plan to Eat (since you plan your own meals) and maybe The Scramble since you can search/substitute out a lot. The Fresh 20 has a list of ingredients to stock your pantry with but if you are working the other way (based on what you have) I’d check out the other two. All of the plans have a grocery list for you to buy for the upcoming week so you can stock your pantry accordingly.

      HTH!!

  25. Very cool – thanks for the post. I’ve been debating trying a meal planning service for a while now. Now I’ve just got to browse each of the websites a little and decide which to try. I live in a very rural area [nearest grocery store is 20 miles away in a town of about 14,000 people – not a huge selection! :D] and sometimes have a difficult time finding all the ingredients called for in many recipes so will have to see if I can find one with more basic ingredients. Thanks again! :D

  26. Random question having nothing to do with your actual topic :-) Why sub out grapeseed oil? I’ve been subbing IN grapeseed oil because I read it is more stable at high temperatures. Just curious if I missed something…

  27. Your reviews are great, I love the comparison charts. It was so timely for me as I was just checking out meal planning services this week.
    I am unsure which to use, however because they all look good. Did you have a service that you preferred?
    I realize you couldn’t review all the services out there but I am curious why you didn’t include emeals.com; they have gluten-free, vegetarian, clean eating and even Whole Foods options.
    Also is there a reason you didn’t review the whole food/real food menu plans that many of our favotite bloggers offer?
    Thanks for you assistance.

    1. Hi Staci,

      So glad this has been helpful for you.

      As far as which to use, I truly think that there is a plan for everyone. With that being said, not everyone’s situation/needs/desires in finding one will be the same. My suggestion would be to use the info above, check out their sites and even try out a meal or at least check out the recipes. I honestly liked them all for various reasons, but one may be a better fit for my family than another.

      We initially were going to only look at 4 services and then expanded it to 5. While we would’ve liked to include more, we were afraid it may become to cumbersome and overwhelming.

      Good luck with your search; let me know which works for you!

  28. So thankful for this post! I have tried Emeals, Fresh20 and Plan to Eat – just have not found the right fit for us yet. I am a beginner with eating “real” foods and cooking in the kitchen for that matter! Excited to try Scramble, RelishRelish and many more. Hope to be an expert in the kitchen soon!

  29. I love all the research you have done. Truly amazing! Are these dinner only plans? I am a stay at home mom and would love to find meal plans similar to Lisa’s, which include all meals. In addition to our switch to real food, we want to explore vegatarian meals. Any recommendations?

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Hi Falon,
      I believe they are all created with dinner in mind, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use them for lunch as well. If your family is ok with leftovers, you can also use some of the leftovers for lunch the following day? Just an idea.
      Most of the plans had a vegetarian meal each week and The Fresh 20 and The Scramble offer a vegetarian track. No More ‘To Go’ also offers vegetarian substitutions for each meal.
      Hope that helps!!
      Kiran

  30. I should also add we are a family of 5, my kids are 12, 10 and 6 and I found I prefer sites that I can scale to 6…..just a personal preference. Relish allows for it as does 6 O’ Clock if I remember correctly.

  31. Great post! I too am a menu subscriber lover and have used most of the ones listed with the exception of Deliciously Organic and No More ‘To Go’, both of which I’ll be subbing too after reading the review here. So thank you!!

    I’d also like to mention http://www.RelishRelish.com, I’ve subbed for over a year. You get an email every Thursday morning with a link to select up to 7 of 16 different meals (entree and side!), they have a HUGE database you have access to, they have a featured article every week, the website is extremely user friendly, they also include freezer meals they update once a month so you can incorporate those too. Oh and don’t let me forget about the dessert they include each week! The customer service is stellar!! I can’t say enough about them.

    I’ve tried Fresh 20 which I found to be a little outside our food tastes, on average I’d like two or three of the five provided. That and the fish used was so expensive! And I live on the West Coast not in the middle of the country. I’ve also subbed to 6 O’Clock Scramble, this I think is my second favoirite, actually I can’t really say that, I think I love it just as much as Relish but it was more expensive if I remember correctly. My famliy LOVED the menu’s each week, they were simple enough to prepare and called for fresh food which is important to me. Emeals wasn’t very user friendly for me, and I felt it used a lot of processed foods. I’ve tried the free trial at Plan to Eat and while I love the concept, it’s far too labor intensive for me.

    Hope you ladies enjoy the services you decide on. The great thing about it is, there’s one out there for each one of our needs. And thank you for the heads up to Grocery Shrink, they look promising!!

  32. GREAT post! Thank you so much for putting all info into an easy to read post! There seems lime a tons of options out there but I feel good about being to sort through them!

  33. I subscribe to both the Fresh 20 and No More To Go, and one feature that I really like of the Fresh 20 is the access to the archived recipes (I think this is if you have a year subscription). I frequently forget to print out the No More To Go recipes, and then they are gone a week later. I wish she would add an archive!

    1. Hi Megan,
      Thanks so much for trying No More To Go. We’ve made a lot of changes in the past year. And one of the updates is access to all the menus all the time. In other words, menus never rotate off the site. We’ve also added nutritional information and a search function to help you navigate quickly to your favorite meals. Thanks again!
      -Stacey

  34. We use The Fresh 20 and absolutely love it! There hasn’t been a recipe yet that we haven’t liked. I really enjoy it because it has gotten me to eat foods I never would have tried before. We’re a family of six, but 2 of them are little. There is plenty of food for our needs. I agree with Kiran- prep and cook time take a bit, but for me it’ s worth it!

  35. I’ve been thinking of signing up for a meal plan service; it sounds like it would really be useful in the kitchen department–when I don’t have simple, quick things to eat, I tend to eat terribly in general. So this sounds like a great idea to allow me to expand my cooking ability, let me dabble in the kitchen, and give me some quick ideas.

    My thoughts? Which meal plan would be the best at accommodating food allergies? In my own family, seafood, dairy, coconut, eggs, and some fish are right out. There’s also vegetarian considerations to take into account at least 2-3 nights a week. I considered signing up for a meal plan (possibly Fresh 20), but the very helpful person who responded to my inquiry told me that with all those various food issues–their meal plan might not be the best fit because I’d be ignoring it for half the week or more.

    I guess what I’m looking for is a meal plan service that provides lots of ideas–and the ability to find a backup dish (or three) if say, Monday’s dish is a no go because of allergies and then Wednesday’s dish is a no go because of something else.

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Hi Maggie,

      I’d be curious to hear the meal plan creators chime in here … but my first answer would be with the variety of needs you’re dealing with, I’d look to The Scramble. In the case that you can’t use one of the recipes, there is a huge database of others that you can search through. The meals are customizable and there is a vegetarian track. Remember you can try it out for two weeks free!

      HTH~
      Kiran

    2. Hi Maggie, I can only speak for The Six O’Clock Scramble, but we do make it very easy to customize your weekly plans and you can also search very easily for recipes using a lot of categories, including dairy free, vegetarian, etc. I hope you’ll give our free 2 week trial a try to see if it is right for your family. We do have so many customers with food allergies, so I hope it works for you, too.

  36. Great post! This is a terrific review. I’ve used The Fresh 20 and Deliciously Organic before with good success – when I’m too busy to do my own meal planning, they are a lifesaver. However, I tend to really like to create my own weekly meal plan – just makes my life easier, and I find I can put together something my family loves quite easily in half an hour a week (or sometimes less).

  37. This is an awesome post! I’m addicted to meal planning services. They make my life in the kitchen SO much easier. I have been using emeals for about 2 years now and they just came out with a “clean eating” meal plan. I highly recommend them also. It is recommended by Dave Ramsey for it’s budget-mindedness. Thank you for this very informative post!!

  38. Great post! I have been using Plan to Eat for a couple of weeks, but I enjoyed learning about the other options you reviewed! We are part of a CSA as well, and I need the flexibility of Plan to Eat for sure. It is more time- consuming upfront in that it takes time to enter recipes, but I am sure it will save me time in the long run. I am so excited about being able to look back at my meal plans in a year so that I will have all the ideas for how to use those veggies in one place!

  39. Thanks for the review! I have been using Plan to Eat for about 2 years now and I love it because I can use whatever recipe I want. Often times when using other sites that planned the recipes for you cause problems in my family because we didn’t like what was made many nights of the week. Using my own recipes makes it to where I can try out one or two recipes instead of a bunch a week so all of my family is happy with most if not all the meals that week.

  40. LOVE Plan to Eat! I also use Once a Month Mom…..30 days of freezer friendly meals, 6 different menus to choose from, and it is FREE!

  41. I used to use saving dinner but stopped because it seemed like she was not into using real foods – canned broth, canned beans, low fat this and low fat that. It was starting to bug me. I love she has been into promoting smoothies, but hate she pushes the protein powder with them. I really liked some of her things, maybe I will check her out again.

  42. I would also throw out the service called Saving Dinner. When you subscribe, you get 4 weekly menus (for the price of one!) which include a low-carb, regular, paleo & heart healthy version – plus breakfast & lunch options as well. I tend to bounce between the different menus depending on what’s on sale and have to make minimal changes for “real” food eating. I love all the services listed as well.

  43. I’ve been using Nourished Kitchen and really like it. There are only 3 planned meals in a week with supplemental recipes (like homemade ketchup, saurkraut, snacks, etc). Recipes are really nicely laid out with prep tips on the side and budget tips as well. Highly recommended!

    I tried Deliciously Organic and like their recipes as well.

  44. Kiran Dodeja Smith

    Go to their home page and look on the right hand side – under their social media tabs, you put in your name and email address and whey will send them to you.

    Good luck!!

  45. Thank you for this post! And the comments from those using/past users of these services are also helpful! I’ve been doing the 30day free trial of Plan to Eat and I think it’s pretty great, although it does take work to set up while putting in my own recipes/linking recipes. That said, I love that it is customized and it’s a great place to take all those recipes I pinned on Pinterest and actually put them into action and try them out. I’m really intrigued by Fresh 20 and The Six O’clock Scramble from this list/review. I really wish the free sample plans on some of the sites were easier to locate – it’s a huge help to see an example of what you’ll be buying – I’m still searching Fresh 20 for the sample recipes, etc. mentioned above.

  46. We have been using the Fresh 20 for almost a year now and we love it!! My only complaint is that I live in the south and the recipe authors are on the West Coast, so what is “seasonal” for them is not always the same for me. I try to read the recipes ahead and see if I can subsitute okra or some other local seasonal veggie for something on the menu. Overall though, we are very pleased. My husband has even lost a few lbs since we started this.

    1. Also, Fresh 20 good for working mom’s because of the 20 ingredient limitation most of the recipes are simple and quick. There is usually one slightly complicated recipe a week and the rest are easy. I like the challenge though and i like trying something new.

  47. Thank you for such an in-depth review. I had to go to a couple of them to narrow it down but decided to give the No More ‘To Go’ a shot. Thanks again!

  48. Love this post! It doesn’t seem like Lisa uses meal plans, and with so many now available it is hard to choose.

    I am not sure if I missed it in the post, but how many people do they feed? What are the portion sizes? Will there be leftovers? So many just say “will feed four”. There are six of us and if I am using a meal plan I don’t want to have to figure out how to fix it so there will be enough for us.

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Thanks Sharon!
      As far as feeding people, most do say “feeds four”. We also have six in our family; my kids are young (8,6,3.5 and 15 months) but they have decent appetites. The meals that I prepared fed all of us with no problem. My husband is a big eater and all of the meals were enough and some we had some leftovers. Hope that helps!

      1. That was quick! My kids are young, too (8, 6, 4, and 2), and they definitely love to eat. The days of them being satisfied from my plate have faded all too quickly.

        Thanks so much for replying. You were very helpful!

      2. Kiran Dodeja Smith

        LOL, sounds like we have the same ages almost!:) So glad it was helpful; please let me know if I can answer anything else regarding. Take care!

    2. Hi Sharon, The Six O’Clock Scramble recipes are completely customizable for the number of servings you want to make for your family. Hope you get a chance to sign up for our free 2 week trial!

  49. I use grocery shrink. So far, its my favorite. You get bfast, lunch, dinner & snack for 7 days. Suggestions are for gluten, dairy, fit mama, & picky eaters. Its $5/mo. Everything is very organized. Its a great deal.

  50. Andrea – I am a vegetarian and a HUGE fan of the 6 O’Clock Scramble. I’ve been a member for over 3 years, and it has made my veggie transition flawless. Each week, she includes 3 vegetarian or vegetarian option meals. (Most do not rely on fake meat, or if she suggests it, she also usually suggests beans as a substitute too.) OK, that may sound disappointing, but her menus are completely customizable! So, since I’ve been a member for so long I’ve built up a HUGE recipe box of favorite vegetarian meals, so I just build my own custom menu each week, using the 3 current week’s meals and 2 favorites. It takes zero time at all. Then you print the recipes and grocery list (or just refer back to it on the computer, iPad, etc.). If you are new, her search function is awesome! You can search on ingredient, or even leave it blank and check a bunch of options including vegetarian and dairy-free.

    The Scramble has made me a cooking STAR! I have never had a meal that wasn’t great. I have had meals that didn’t appeal to everyone, of course, but if I follow her recipes exactly, it always turns out well. My husband never wants to go out to dinner anymore! My in-laws think I’m a gourmet chef.

    As to the real food issue, I’m actually a bit surprised it isn’t rated more real food friendly. She has you making many things from scratch (pesto, marinades, salad dressings) and has really taught me how easy it is. You can always choose whole wheat over white, and most times that is what she suggests. Tons of fresh seasonal produce also. Yes, with the promise of dinner on the table in 30 minutes, you aren’t soaking your own beans, or making your own tortillas, but you certainly can if you have time.

    I’ve tried other menu services (including Fresh20) and always go back to the Scramble! (And No, I do not work for them, just one happy customer!!!)

    1. Thank you so much for your response Sandy–I just subscribed to the 6 o’clock scramble! I’m excited to get started!

    2. Wow, Sandy, reading your comment here completely made my week! Thank you so much for recommending The Six O’Clock Scramble so wholeheartedly. We do work very hard to make The Scramble work for our members and their families. Thanks, 100 Days, for reviewing us!

      1. Aviva, meant every word! :-) Your service truly changed my life and made my transition to vegetarianism very easy.

        I forgot to mention that my husband and kids are not vegetarian, but 2 years ago, my husband told me I could stop making the meals with meat because your meals were so hearty, filling, and most of all – tasty! Every time we come back from vacation he mentions how happy he is that he’s eating your meals again!

        Andrea, hope you like it as much as I do!! It may be a bit more work in the beginning as you find favorites to save, but after a while, it is a breeze.

  51. We have been using Fresh20 for about 8 weeks now and LOVE it! The meals are flavorful, easy to prepare and budget friendly. I have referred a couple of friends as well and they are just starting the plan.

    I personally find it difficult to find time to plan all our meals so Fresh20 has been a great time saver!

  52. I have used Fresh 20 in the past, and am still currently using the Six O Clock Scramble. I LOVE it! I honestly can’t imagine going back to not using it. I don’t eat 100% real (yet), so that hasn’t been an issue for me. I love that I can customize the plans and grocery lists (that was the primary reason I stopped using Fresh 20, plus I just didn’t find the vegetarian meals as kid-friendly). I don’t think I’d make all of the recipes every week in any meal planning service, since I incorporate my own favorites (many of which are also previous scramble recipes). I create a custom menu, export the grocery list to ZipList, add in the rest of the groceries I need and I’m off! It’s also a great benefit that the recipes are quick, a must for working moms. I was just thinking today that I was glad to be reminded that grapes is a perfectly acceptable side dish, that is healthy and requires no cooking, coordinating finish times, etc.

    1. Amy,
      We have some exciting upgrades coming up that will include searchable archives, customized shopping lists and a mobile app for easy shopping. Our plans only get better from the amazing feedback we get from our subscribers, so thank you!

  53. Elizabeth Williams

    Fantastic post! Thank you for the reviews. I’m trying the Fresh 20. Super excited about my newly reduced grocery list!

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Thanks so much, Elizabeth. Glad you are enjoying it AND that your grocery list (and hopefully your associated bills):) are reduced!

  54. I have been a subscriber to The Six O’clock Scramble and I love it. It makes menu planning so easy. The website was recently upgraded with a bunch of new options including being able to leave comments on recipes with suggestions for other members to see. I love seeing what changes other have made to make recipes better. I too, made the beef and spinach enchiladas for the family last night. I did make a few changes such as whole wheat tortillas and I added some organic corn and organic black beans to the enchiladas. They were great. I do change things in the recipes to satisfy my family and I love that I can customize the menu. I highly recommend the Six O’clock scramble.

  55. Emeals just had a special on a deal of the day site, $26 for a year. They have a clean eating and portion control choice, both need to be slightly altered to make it real food, but usually just substituting for an organic brand or local meat. I love it because you choose what grocery store want to shop at and they use the weekly circulars at your grocery store to plan the meals, therefore you save money, because a lot of what you purchase is on sale! I’ve been really happy with it and has definitely been exciting to see what new meals we get to try the next week.

  56. Great post. I have been looking into meal plans for a few months. This was a big help I nailing down a plan!

  57. This is my second time using emeals – first time with the clean eating plan and I love it. It’s affordable and for the most party, we’ve like the meals – and we’re a picky family.

  58. Thank you for this post! I just signed up for emeals (my husband has been suggesting it for months) and am going to give that a three month try but I love the info you gave on these and will re-evaulate in a few months. Thanks for doing the research!

    1. Happy Herbivore does weekly vegan meal plans at getmealplans.com. you can do individual. Or family and she provides all meals and shacks and a grocery list. She also gives calories info.

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