DEAR MARY: I have been reading your column and implementing your ideas for years, with varying degrees of success (my fault, not yours). The one thing I bless you for every day is eMeals.
I just subscribed to eMeals (everydaycheapskate.com/emeals15) at the start of the school year. I am a teacher and have two kids in high school. After 22 years of marriage, grocery shopping had become a dreaded chore. I like cooking, but I hated the planning. My son is a picky eater, which made it even harder.
My mom always used to write up a menu and make her grocery list from that, so I have always tried to do the same. I even used my local grocery store's weekly ad to plan my list. It was still something I dreaded.
Using eMeals has completely liberated me. It sounds very dramatic, but I really feel like my chains are gone and I've been set free. I just go to the grocery store and buy what is on the list. I prepare the (easy) recipes. If my son doesn't like it, I say "Too bad! It isn't my fault -- blame eMeals."
I never realized how much of my energy was spent DREADING meal planning and grocery shopping. It was a negative mental and emotional vibe that was clouding my weekends. I used to go to the grocery store nearly every day to pick up something, which increased our spending dramatically.
Now, I go to the store ONCE a week. I always have what I need on hand. We have tried lots of new foods. My son is actually eating more and more of what I prepare. I have recommended eMeals to a lot of people I know because it's like a ticket out of jail. If we don't need 7 meals in a particular week, I just cross one or two off the shopping list. My husband and daughter want to compile a "best of" list, because some of these recipes have been fantastic!
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I love, love, love this service. It is 100 percent worth it! -- Coleen C., email
DEAR COLLEEN: Thanks for the great feedback. Sometimes readers mistake my personal excitement for a product or service as an audition to become a late-night infomercial pitchman. I only recommend and endorse products and services that I truly believe in and use myself. I am so happy that you have found eMeals to be all that I believe it is, and perhaps even more. I don't have the feedback from picky teens! My husband and I have never gotten to the point of wanting to rate and review eMeals recipes, but now that I think about it, that's not such a bad idea! In fact, I love it. I am so proud of you for the progress you've made with simplifying meal time in your home and freeing yourself from the tyranny of "What's for dinner?!"
DEAR MARY: Your new book "The Smart Woman's Guide to Saving for Retirement," (everydaycheapskate.com/books) sounds so interesting. My question is: For someone my age (70) who didn't plan well and lives on Social Security alone, is there something in it that would be of a help to me? Thanks. -- Georgette, email
DEAR GEORGETTE: I cannot promise a magic wand in my new book. However, I do believe that it will give you help and understanding for how you can maximize your resources and perhaps even boost your income. I have to say that 70 is looking a lot younger to me every day. I just read somewhere that 80 is the new 60, which I think would suggest that 70 is the new 50! See how young you are? I want to encourage you in every way I can to not only improve your own situation, but to influence your daughters and granddaughters to begin their own planning now, no matter how young or old they are. I wrote this book for you and them as well. I pray that all of you will read it and take it to heart. Watch your mailbox because I'm sending you a copy, with my compliments.
Mary invites questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.