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It’s a Wednesday night, and I have no idea what to cook.
I have burger patties, but no bread. I have taco meat, but no lime or avocado.
I have dozens of different ingredients, but none of them seem to fit together into a proper meal.
Does this sound familiar?
This is where services like the $5 Meal Plan can help. Their subscription service sends you a week’s worth of meal recipes along with a handy grocery shopping list.
As I am always on the lookout for ways to save money on groceries and streamline the shopping process, I decided to take a peek at this service and write up my $5 Meal Plan Review. Hopefully, it can help you decide if a Meal Plan is something your household needs.
- Things to Consider Before Using $5 Meal Plan
- How Does the $5 Meal Plan Work?
- Features & Benefits of the $5 Meal Plan
- $5 Meal Plan Alternatives
- Is $5 Meal Plan the Best Option?
Things to Consider Before Using $5 Meal Plan
If you have been looking to save time or money on your grocery shopping, a Meal Plan can be a good solution. Meal Plans can also prevent that mid-week ‘I have nothing left to cook so let’s order takeout’ scenario.
$5 Meal Plan’s service provides you with a week’s worth of recipes as well as a grocery shopping list to go along with it. And many of the recipes they offer can be prepared quickly or are freezer friendly.
This can make the service great for busy families, as a slow cooker meal or a 20 minute meal can save you from stopping at McDonald’s on your way home.
Or if you find that you are cooking the same meals over and over again every week, either because you lack inspiration or you have picky eaters, $5 Meal Plan might be able to help you out of that rut.
$5 Meal Plan offers the time-saving solution of premade meal plans, as well as a way too custom-create a weekly plan that best suits your family.
Have a kid who hates broccoli and loves cheese? They have plenty of delicious cheese-filled recipes with no cruciferous vegetables in sight.
Who Won’t Benefit From the $5 Meal Plan
There are certain individuals or families that will not benefit from $5 Meal Plan’s service.
If you are solo, then their 4 servings entrees are going to leave you with a fridge and freezer full of leftovers each week. You might be better offer purchasing one of their 6-week plans or going with a different meal planning service.
Also, if you have very specific dietary requirements or food allergies, then the $5 Meal Plan might not be a good fit for you as they are limited in the dietary restrictions they support.
Some other things to consider include:
What is your shopping style
If you live for couponing, shopping the sales, or shopping in season, then the meal plans and accompanying shopping lists may give you more trouble than they’re worth.
Do you own a slow cooker?
At least one meal every week is a slow cooker meal. So if you don’t own a slow cooker, you’ll need to either purchase one or adjust the recipe accordingly.
How often are you away from home?
If you and/or other members of your family travel a lot, then a meal plan service might not be a worthwhile investment.
The good news is, if you’re not sure whether the service is a good fit for your family, $5 Meal Plan offers a risk-free, free trial.
How Does the $5 Meal Plan Work?
The goal of $5 Meal Plan is to help you plan and prepare affordable meals for your family without spending hours looking up recipes and making out grocery lists.
For a small monthly subscription fee, the service will send you premade weekly meals plans and shopping lists directly to your inbox.
Or, if you have picky eaters at home, you can use their Meal Builder tool to create a custom meal plan for your family.
This weekly meal plan subscription service can be a lifesaver for busy families or those who have gotten stuck in a rut of cooking the same dishes every week.
$5 Meal Plan can help you save money and time as well as teach you a few new recipes along the way.
In fact, the only thing $5 Meal Plan doesn’t do for you is buy the groceries or cook the food.
Features & Benefits of the $5 Meal Plan
The $5 meal plan service is designed to take the stress out of family meals by providing you with recipes and grocery lists that should save you time and money each week.
- Free trial
- Satisfaction Guarantee
- Customized meal plan
- Shopping list
- Simple recipes
- Pre-made plans don’t reuse ingredients
- The cost per meal can be higher than $5
- Doesn’t leave you much time to grocery shop
Premade Meal Plans
$5 Meal Plan offers two options for helping you plan out a week’s worth of meals. The easiest option is to just use their premade weekly plan.
This weekly plan includes 5 dinners with side(s) along with at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one snack or beverage.
Each weekly plan is also guaranteed to include one slow cooker meal, one that can be cooked in 20 minutes, and one that is freezer friendly (leftovers can be frozen).
This weekly collection of recipes is sent to you each Friday via an emailed PDF. Each pdf also includes a detailed shopping list.
The recipes are straightforward and simple and often include tips, substitutions, shortcuts, and more.
You also have the option of requesting a premade weekly plan that is gluten-free
Meal Builder Tool
While the premade weekly meal plan is great for a no-hands approach, what if you have picky eaters in your house? Or what if you have certain dietary restrictions?
$5 Meal Plan offers a customized meal builder tool that allows you to build a weekly plan that suits your specific tastes.
The Meal Builder tool has several categories to choose from to help you find the perfect meal.
The search filter options include:
- Type – breakfast, lunch, etc.
- Preparation – grilled, baked, slow cooker, etc.
- Main Ingredient – eggs, beans, chicken, etc.
- Dietary restrictions – dairy-free, paleo, gluten-free
As you find a meal you like, you can click and drag it into the My Meal Plan box to create your custom plan for the week. Once you’ve added all of your recipes, you can download or email a pdf file that contains all of the recipes as well as a shopping list.
The meal builder also includes features for favoriting certain recipes and saving whole meal plans. This way, if your family has certain meals they love, you can quickly add them to your next weekly plan without having to search for them every time.
There is also a feature that lets you start with that week’s premade plan and customize it by removing and adding in recipes as needed.
Whether you use the premade meal plan option or the Meal Builder tool, each weekly plan comes with a custom shopping list.
The ingredients for each recipe are listed categorically. For instance, all of the dairy items are listed together, all of the meats, produce, etc.
Each item has a box that you can check off as well as an indication of which recipe or recipes that ingredient is for.
There is also an Additional Items section where you add your own ingredients. This is especially important as some of the recipes may suggest optional additions, and these optional items are not automatically included in your shopping list.
For instance, a pizza pocket recipe has some suggestions for what kinds of toppings you can use, but none of the suggested items are added to the shopping list.
The $5 meal plan offers a limited set of dietary restrictions that you can customize meal plans with.
For the premade meal plan, your only options are regular or gluten-free, so if you have a different dietary restriction, you’ll need to use the Meal Builder tool to customize your meal plan.
The Meal Builder tool allows you to filter recipes by certain dietary restrictions:
- Dairy, gluten, and soy-free
Selecting a category will display only the meals that fit the restrictions of that diet.
While the Meal Builder tool does support certain dietary restrictions, it is missing some important dietary needs like nut-free, low calorie, or low-sugar.
6 Week Plans
In addition to weekly plans, $5 Meal Plan also offers individual 6-week guides that you can purchase for a one-time fee of $10.
Located under Specialty Plans, there are a variety of options to choose from including 30-minute meals, paleo meals, and slow cooker meals.
Each plan consists of 6 meals a week for 6 weeks, so 36 recipes in total.
These meal plans are sent in one file instead of weekly, so you can review them and choose which ones you want to cook each week.
Both members and non-members can purchase these individual specialty meal plans which are guaranteed to feature some recipes available to subscribed members as well as brand new recipes not available in the meal builder tool or subscription-based weekly plans.
Free Trial & Satisfaction Guarantee
You can start using $5 Meal Plan’s weekly service for free for up to 14 days.
So, if you are unsure if the program is going to be a good fit for your family or your diet, you can try it before you buy.
Once the trial period is up, the subscription price is just $5 a month. At that price point you’ll be getting weekly shopping lists as well as up to 10 recipes a week!
If at any time, you decide the service is not for you, you can cancel your subscription without penalty.
And, if after a few weeks you come to believe that you received zero value from the service, $5 Meal Plan offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, meaning that they will refund your last payment, no questions asked.
In addition to their meal plans, $5 Meal Plan also offers other benefits to their paying subscribers.
One of these benefits is access to free coupons directly through their website. Here you will find a multitude of grocery coupons that can help you save money on shopping for your weekly plan.
This coupon tool is sponsored through coupons.com and contains the same coupons you could find on their website, but without the need of opening a separate browser tab.
Another feature unique to their service is their private Facebook group. This is a group full of like-minded meal planners sharing their tips, tricks, and yummy food pictures.
When you sign up for the $5 Meal Plan service, you get lifetime access to this group for free. So later, if you decide to cancel your subscription, you can still stick around in the Facebook group.
$5 Meal Plan Alternatives
The $5 meal plan won’t suit every family and every budget. And that is okay because there are many other meal planning services out there to choose from.
If you have strict dietary requirements, or picky eaters in your household, then Platejoy might be an alternative worth exploring.
When you signup for their service, you go through a detailed survey that covers everything from taste preferences to the appliances you have in your kitchen.
And in addition to the recipes and grocery lists they provide, Platejoy also offers their customers estimates on the cost of groceries, and supports grocery delivery through Instacart (separate fee).
Platejoy versus $5 Meal Plan
- The subscription fee is a little higher at $8/month if you pay for a full year in advance, $12 if you pay monthly
- The Platejoy subscription can be tailored to your dietary requirements
- Grocery shopping directly through Instacart can save you time
This service is very similar to $5 Meal plan in that they offer the same 14 day trial, access to a custom meal builder, and shopping lists all at the $5 price point (if you signup for a 12 month subscription).
Additionally, this service supports a few more dietary restrictions, i.e. vegan and diabetic, and they offer grocery shopping directly through their app/website.
eMeals versus $5 Meal Plan
- Order your groceries from the app through Walmart, Kroger, and more
- Commit to as little as a 3 month membership
- Offers a specific budget friendly meal plan
If you’re looking for a low-cost meal plan service, then maybe Prepear will suit your needs.
Prepear offers many of their basic features for free, though you will have to endure ads.
They offer a premium membership for $9.99/month that includes shopping lists, recipe customization features (i.e. adjusting number of servings), and integration with social media allowing you to share your meal plans with others.
eMeals versus $5 Meal Plan
- Offers a totally free version of the Meal Planning tool
- Membership is at at higher $9.99 price point
- Supports multiple social media channels (not just Facebook)
Is $5 Meal Plan the Best Option?
When you are trying to save time and money with feeding your family, Meal Plans can be a great way to go. But is $5 Meal Plan the best option out there?
In my opinion, no. There are many other meal planning services that offer better support of specific diets/tastes, as well as companies that have partnered with grocery delivery/pickup services so that you can take care of meal planning and grocery shopping all in one place.
There are even alternatives that offer a version of what $5 Meal Plan provides, for free!
Each meal plan service is a little different in what they provide, which means not all of them will be the best fit for your family. So be sure to look at all of the options out there before you signup for one.