So meal planning and I have this sort of weird relationship. Like I know I need to do it. But I just don’t wanna. Because my family is so blasted picky when it comes to food. Some *ahem* Hubby *ahem* are worse than others.
And it just makes meal planning boring. Because seriously, who wants to eat pasta with butter and Parmesan every. single. week. I like variety. Unfortunately, the rest of the crew doesn’t agree.
Which made $5 Meal Plan a gamble. Would there be ANY recipes my family would eat? Was even $5 a month too much to pay for meal planning help when my family’s idea of wild and crazy is pairing boneless skinless chicken breast with rice instead of mashed potatoes?
I figured at just $5 a month, it was worth it to at least try. Plus, you get a free trial, so what do you have to lose? And here are the results…
What Is $5 Meal Plan?
But before we get into the $5 Meal Plan review, let’s dive into what exactly $5 Meal Plan is. Basically, it’s a monthly subscription program that handles the meal planning for you. Every week you get an email with a link to printable dinner menus plus bonus breakfast, lunch and dessert recipes. The recipes come as a printable PDF document, so it’s super easy to print, shop and cook your meals.
But perhaps the best part? That PDF also includes a shopping list that spells out everything you need for all of the week’s recipes. And it breaks it down by category (pantry staples, dairy, produce, etc). How handy is that? I think making the shopping list is one of my least favorite parts of meal planning. You forget one little ingredient and you either have to make an unexpected trip to the store or forget the whole meal and order pizza. So having the shopping list right there already created for me is a win.
The meals each week are creative and unique but not too weird or complicated, which helps keep things fresh in the kitchen. But what about families like mine with picky eaters? I can guarantee there will never be a weekly menu that everyone in my family would eat. I probably couldn’t even find an entire menu that one of my family members would willingly eat with me. They might try one or two dishes but never a full menu.
If you’re living with ridiculous eaters like I am, you have options. You can search through all sorts of recipes to create your own custom menu. What? Yep! They even have gluten-free meals that are clearly marked so you can find them easily.
- By the type of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- By cooking method
- By ingredients
- By dietary preferences (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)
When you find meals you want to add, you just drag them over to a box on the right. You can also click on the meal name to preview the recipe. If you like what you see, click the Add Recipe button and it automatically goes onto your meal plan. Then you can download, save or email the menu. It looks just like the weekly menus they create for you, except you get to pick the meals yourself. It instantly creates a printable PDF with the recipes you choose plus the ingredients/shopping list for all the meals at the end.
What I Like About $5 Meal Plan
There’s a lot to love about $5 Meal Plan (assuming you have a relatively normal family that likes variety or is at least willing to try new things.)
Here are the good things about $5 Meal Plan:
- Ready-to-go meal plans: The meals for the week are all ready to go without searching, filling in a calendar, etc. You don’t have to think about what you’re having. Just print the menu for the week, and your planning is done.
- Premade shopping lists: I already mentioned this, but I think it’s worth mentioning again because it’s just so handy. Not only do you get the ready-to-go recipes, you also get a grocery shopping list. Just mark the things you don’t already have in your pantry, and you’re ready to go grocery shopping.
- Variety: Ever feel like you eat the same meals all the time? Using $5 Meal Plan means you get variety without losing hours of your life getting sucked down the Pinterest rabbit hole. Each week is something new. Boom. Instant variety without the work.
- Easy-to-make meals: You know how you see a really yummy looking recipe on Pinterest so you click on it but then you see that it has about 500 ingredients and 3,000 steps and you’re like, “Nah, I’ll just order pizza.” Well, you don’t have that issue with the recipes in this program. The ones that I looked at seemed easy to make with a reasonable number of ingredients, which also means a cheaper trip to the grocery store.
- Affordability: Sometimes it’s worth it to pay someone to do things for you. In this case, someone else handles all aspects of meal planning for you. And it’s just $5 per month to get those plans delivered to your inbox (and to have access to the recipe archives). Or, if you want the $5 meal plan for less than $5, opt for the semi-annual option for $27 ($4.50 per month) or the annual option for $48 ($4 per month). Definitely worth all of the time you’ll save meal planning no matter which billing option you choose.
- Detailed information: The printable recipes feature symbols at the top to provide more info. You’ll see things like symbols for 20-minute meals, freezer-friendly meals, one-dish dinners and recipes you can make ahead. That helps you choose the specific meals you want to make on a given night.
- Specialty menus: Have specific food restrictions or preferences? You can find recipes within the program that fit various diets. You can also choose a gluten-free plan instead of the classic plan (or get both for an extra $1 per month). Another option is to search the recipe archives for specific types of recipes.
What I Don’t Like About $5 Meal Plan
As with any review, this $5 Meal Plan review needs a balanced approach with the pros and the cons. I think from a normal family’s perspective, there’s not a lot to dislike about $5 Meal Plan. It’s customizable. It’s easy. You get shopping lists provided to save time. The only way it could be better is if little dinner fairies shopped for you, put everything away, cooked the meals and cleaned up your kitchen.
But, as I mentioned, my family is anything but normal when it comes to meals. I looked through all of the recipes to customize a menu, and I had some trouble finding enough meals to even fill up one week that all of us would eat. I found several recipes that one of my kids would eat with me but not much that everyone would eat.
If it were just me (or if all of my family members would just realize how awesome it is to be like me and would start eating more of the things), I think it would be great. As it stands, it’s not a good match for my family. But, seriously, my husband is SUPER picky. Like let’s talk about what he will eat instead of what he won’t eat because the list will be WAY shorter.
Do I Recommend $5 Meal Plan?
So what’s the verdict?
For my family, it’s a no-go. There just weren’t enough recipes that my family would eat. BUT I do think this program is awesome if your family is a little more open to new food experiences than mine.
So here’s my recommendation.
People who should try $5 Meal Plan include those who:
- Love variety in meals
- Hate meal planning
- Don’t have time for meal planning
- Aren’t afraid to try something new
- Are normal
People who may not find it worth the money include those who:
- Hate variety
- Have lots of ingredients or types of food (like casseroles) that they don’t like
Not sure if it’s worth it for your family even after reading my $5 Meal Plan review? You can get a free 14-day trial, which gives you 2 weeks worth of menus, to test it out for yourself. You can easily cancel at any time, so it’s really no risk at all.
Have you tried $5 Meal Plan? If so, what do you think? If not, why not?