Meal planning service face-off: No More To-Go vs 5 dinners, 1 hour

For several years I had a subscription to eMeals, and tried several of their plans. They were always more oriented toward other parts of the country with their grocery store choices, and toward families with small children (read: boring ‘white people food’ without much spice or variation). So when my subscription was up last year I let it expire. During the same period I got several deliveries from Blue Apron (which I wrote about a little here) that were a little too fancy and involved for what I wanted to cook on a weeknight. What I was looking for was something in-between: recipes that were interesting but not too involved.

Around Christmas there was a discount offer for the meal planning service No More To-Go* on Amazon Local, and I decided to try it out. It’s similar to eMeals in that there is a new slate of recipes each week, and it includes a grocery list. They’ve recently revamped the site so you can tweak your plan before you print it out, with the ability to remove meals or add meals from the recipe archives, and see the changes reflected in your grocery list. It’s easy to use and all the recipes I’ve made have been tasty.

My only issue is that there’s no choice in type of diet included; however, everything is reasonably healthy, no crazy Paula Deen stuff here, but there are a lot of starches. I’m still trying to eat mostly low-carb without grains, so that’s less convenient for me personally. However, the recipes have really hit the sweet spot of being interesting enough without being too complicated, so I will likely continue to subscribe once my initial deal is over. In my opinion, No More To-Go* is worth checking out if you have a more adventurous palate but like the idea of a weekly meal plan.

[*Both of these links are affiliate links; if you visit NMTG and decide to subscribe, I get a small cut. I paid for my own subscription and am writing this review of my own volition because I like the service.]

5 Dinners 1 Hour is a new website that offers a weekly plan like eMeals or No More To-Go, with the difference that everything is prepped beforehand so that it can be cooked quickly on the night of. As you might guess, the claim is that you can do all of your grocery shopping and prep on the weekend, the latter taking less than an hour, and then have five meals ready to be cooked when you get home from work. Basically it’s intended to be like Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day, except actually save you time instead of keeping you in the kitchen all day long.

Unfortunately, I was less than impressed with the recipes. The built-in grocery list was handy, but the way the recipes printed out was a bit confusing, and overall most of the recipes were super-dull and obvious. I realize that novelty isn’t necessarily the prime factor that you might be looking for in this situation, but the recipes have to be at least as decent as my old standbys, or I might as well just make the same four things over and over, you know?

If you’re really tight on time, 5 Dinners 1 Hour might be right for you. They do have a 14 day free trial that you can try out, without having to give your credit card info, and during the trial you can see the archive of the current month’s recipes as well as the previous month’s, so you can get a pretty good idea if it’s going to be the service for you.

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