There are a ton of meal planning services on the market today, but one that you may not have heard about is The Dinner Daily. A one-of-a-kind, weekly personalized dinner planning service that dishes up meal plans based on your food preferences.
The Dinner Daily can help you save money and time and make dinner dilemmas a thing of the past. Although I was never one to follow a formal meal planning system, I’ve been using The Dinner Daily for a few months, and today, I’m sharing my honest review.
In this blog post, I’ll be covering…
- What is The Dinner Daily?
- How The Dinner Daily can help save you money, time, and make dinner time stress-free.
- My honest review of The Dinner Daily.
But first, let’s talk about the benefits of meal planning.
MEAL PLANNING BENEFITS
Before I discovered The Dinner Daily, I didn’t create weekly meal plans.
One of my friends swore by it, and although it piqued my interest, I just didn’t think I needed it.
I also didn’t think I was a meal planning type of mom.
I had a few simple meals that I kept on regular rotation and I was doing just fine getting dinner on the table every night while working full-time.
My approach was like this: pop a piece of salmon in the oven, sauté some broccoli, and dinner was done.
While it worked, my family and I were getting very bored with the same old meals every week.
I love to cook and would love nothing more than to pour over new recipes each night, but with a job, two kids, and everything else that had to get done, there simply wasn’t time. Any new recipe I wanted to try was reserved for the weekends.
As it turns out, however, there are a ton of benefits to meal planning:
No guesswork: when you meal plan, you won’t be scrambling at 5 pm to figure out what’s for dinner. At the beginning of the week, you know exactly what you’ll be making each night.
Saves time: with all of your recipes at your fingertips, you know exactly how long it will take you to prepare and cook each meal.
Meal planning also allows you to plan ahead. For example, if you know your kids have soccer on Monday night or you have an appointment after work, you can choose recipes that take 30 minutes and reserve those that take 45 or 50 minutes for a day of the week that you’ll have more time.
Fewer trips to the grocery store: if you typically go to the grocery store several times a week to pick up more food or pick up ingredients you realize you don’t have, meal planning is the solution.
When you look at your meal plan for the week, you have a list of all the ingredients you’ll need so you can buy them all at once.
Cuts down on food waste: Did you know the average family of four in the U.S. wastes about 25 percent of the food they buy, costing as much as $2,200 a year?!
With meal planning, you’re less likely to buy more food than you’ll need. When you know what’s for dinner and how much of each ingredient ahead of time, you won’t discover that you have vegetables that have gone bad and have to be thrown out.
As you become more adept at meal planning, you’ll also figure out what your family likes to eat and how much they eat.
Saves money: Meal planning saves money in more ways than one. For starters, restaurants mark up their meals on average 300% so eating at home can save you money.
If you create your weekly meal plan around the sale items instead of pricier cuts of meat, for example, you’ll also save money.
Finally, if you’re throwing away less food, you’re throwing away less money.
Healthier meals: If you call for take-out more times than you care to admit, meal planning can help you eat healthier. Studies show eating at home and focusing on real food is linked to healthier food choices and a lower body mass index (BMI).
Turn picky eaters into foodies: Studies show that sharing family meals and modeling healthy eating habits is an effective way to raise healthy eating kids.
In fact, an April 2013 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found kids who ate meals with their families consumed more fruits and vegetables (1.5 portions worth) compared to families who never ate together.
Even better—kids who had family meals only once or twice a week ate 1.2 more portions.
Studies also show that children who eat with their families at least 3 times a week are more likely to be in a normal, healthy weight range and less likely to engage in disordered eating.
More meal variety: meal planning allows you to get creative in the kitchen.
If you’re out of ideas for chicken and bored with macaroni and cheese, meal planning can help you explore new recipes and bring variety to your meals—something studies show can also help kids make healthy choices.
WHAT IS THE DINNER DAILY?
The Dinner Daily is the only weekly, personalized dinner planning service that creates menus based on your individual food preferences and your local grocery store’s specials to help you save money and time and make weekdays dinners stress-free.
Their meal plans are developed around recipes that use as many sales items as possible to make the most of the savings opportunities.
The service works with over 16,000 grocery stores including Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Walmart, and more.
HOW DOES THE DINNER DAILY WORK?
Getting started with The Dinner Daily is easy.
You simply create an account, add your credit card, and choose your state and your preferred grocery store.
Next, you’ll select your family size. You can choose between the family plan which serves 4 to 6 people (5 adult servings) or meals for two, which serves 2 to 3 people (2.5 adult servings).
Then, you set your food preferences.
For example, you can say you only want recipes that call for red meat up to twice a week and vegetarian meals up to 4 times a week. The Dinner Daily also has food preferences for a heart-healthy diet, reduced carb, dairy-free, tree nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, and peanut-free. Here’s what it looks like:
Each Sunday, you’ll receive a new weekly meal plan with 5 customized recipes. The recipes are for a main dish and sides, include all the ingredients you’ll need, and easy, step-by-step directions that anyone can follow even if you don’t know your way around the kitchen.
You’ll also receive a shopping list with all of the ingredients you’ll need, which are color-coded according to the corresponding meals, and denoted as sales items so you’ll know which brands to buy, for example. You can easily add, edit, and delete items.
In my experience, most of the recipes took just 30 minutes or less, but there were some that took longer—about 50 minutes.
There were also recipes that I made in the slow cooker, which saved me a ton of time.
Most recipes have 10 ingredients or less and in my experience, many of the same ingredients are used throughout the week so you’ll save money and cut down on food waste.
If you love a recipe, you can add it to your favorites.
If you decide that you want to go to a different grocery store for one week, you can easily select the store and get a new weekly meal plan.
The Dinner Daily also includes a list of coupons for that week’s meal plan that you can access from the food company’s or third party site.
If you’re having a [socially distanced] party, you can access dinner party menus for 10-12 people. Likewise, if you’ll be traveling or want to get a head start on dinner for the week, you can access their make-ahead menus.
The Dinner Daily also gives you a ton of options. You can print your grocery shopping list, use their app, or order your groceries through your store’s online shopping and delivery service.
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT THE DINNER DAILY
Initially, using The Dinner Daily took me out of my comfort zone.
As I said, I had relied on simple, easy meals, and batch cooking.
I was apprehensive about sticking to certain recipes because although I’m a serious foodie, I’m a bit picky about meals. I’m not a fan of stews for example, and as an Italian-American, I have my go-to tomato sauce.
At the same time, I wasn’t adventurous in the kitchen at all and everyone was getting bored with the same meals every week.
I quickly discovered, however, that The Dinner Daily was so easy to use that I realized it was just a matter of changing the way I did things.
Instead of deciding the night before or in the morning that we’d have meatloaf, I knew exactly what was on the menu for the week on Sunday morning.
I also got into the habit of putting the menu on our kitchen chalkboard so my kids knew exactly what we were eating for dinner too.
One of the best things about The Dinner Daily were the recipes. I started using the service during a week my kids were at their grandparent’s house and made a shrimp dish that my husband and I loved.
My kids loved most of the recipes too. The vegetarian taco salad was a huge hit and my kids have asked me to make it for dinner several times since.
They also loved the recipes for tomato and mozzarella fish, garlic steak with feta, confetti corn with peppers, carrot and parsnip mash, and lentils with sweet potatoes.
Last week, I made sweet and sour chicken which I enjoyed but the kids? Not so much.
I don’t usually make dishes with sauces so that could be why, but everyone has their food preferences and they’re entitled to theirs.
Another great thing about the service was that I learned how to use different types of marinades which were so quick and easy to pull together and absolutely delicious.
I found that all the recipes were healthy and balanced, which makes sense because The Dinner Daily has a team of registered dietitians.
HOW THE DINNER DAILY CAN HELP YOU SAVE MONEY
The Dinner Daily can help you save money in a few ways.
For starters, the service creates menus and recipes using your local grocery store’s specials.
So if salmon is on sale that week and fish is your food preference, you’ll see it on the menu.
Their meal plans are developed around recipes that use as many sales items as possible to make the most of the savings opportunities. When you sign up, you also get a list of coupons for that week’s meal plan that you can access from the food company’s or third party site.
To be perfectly honest, I can’t tell you how much I saved. I didn’t track how much I spent on dinners using the service and compare it to weeks that I didn’t use the service.
Also, like most people, my grocery bill varied from week to week because my items for breakfast, lunch, and snacks varied. For example, I might buy pricey items like almond flour or fermented pickles, or stock up on sardines and quinoa one week and then not have to buy them the following week.
Sometimes I also bought organic fruits and vegetables, even if my ingredient list included conventional varieties, which made my grocery bill more expensive.
Still, I definitely think I saved money in several ways.
For starters, I was shopping the sales items, which I never did before.
Also, because of the way I set our food preferences, we ate less meat which is usually more costly.
Since I was meal planning, we ate less overall, but still had healthy portions and often had leftovers.
WHAT IF SOMEONE IN MY FAMILY HAS FOOD ALLERGIES?
My daughter has food allergies so I was thrilled that The Dinner Daily has menus with safe options. You can select recipes that are dairy-free, tree nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, and peanut-free.
If you’re like me, you’re still going to read labels and contact the brands to ask about their facilities and shared lines, but I love that this option is available because it’s important to so many people.
A WORD ABOUT THE DINNER DAILY INGREDIENTS
As I said, the great thing about The Dinner Daily is that the recipes call for minimal ingredients—10 or less. Many of the ingredients can be used throughout the week or are those that won’t go to waste quickly—such as soy sauce or vinegar.
The ingredients are also simple and easy to find so you won’t be scouring your grocery store for arrowroot powder or cacao butter, for example.
Since I do my best to focus on all real food ingredients, however, I wasn’t totally keen on using some of the prepared ingredients like salsa or canned diced tomatoes. Most of the time the ingredients are fresh, whole-food ingredients but when they weren’t, I’d simply make substitutions and buy fresh tomatoes, for example.
Of course, using these types of ingredients makes the meals more affordable and quicker to pull together so it’s your preference.
THE DINNER DAILY COST
The Dinner Daily has three subscription plans that start at less than $1/a week, which is totally affordable and with the savings you’ll get, it pays for itself:
- 3-month membership: $6/month ($1.50 week)
- 6-month membership: $5/month ($1.25 week)
- Annual membership: $4/month
Plus, all of their memberships include a 2-week free trial.
WHO IS THE DINNER DAILY NOT FOR?
If you’re a pro chef, enjoy the freedom of picking your own recipes every week, or don’t like the idea of following a recipe, then The Dinner Daily probably isn’t for you.
Likewise, if you have a ton of time to make healthy, delicious meals and saving money isn’t a priority, then it’s probably not what you need.
The Dinner Daily has menus available for 16,000 grocery stores, but depending on what’s near you, your local grocery store may not be available.
DOES THE DINNER DAILY OFFER GIFT SUBSCRIPTIONS?
The Dinner Daily’s gift subscriptions are thoughtful, personalized, and useful.
They make a great gift for the holidays, new parents, or anyone who doesn’t know how to or doesn’t like to cook.
WHO CREATED THE DINNER DAILY?
I discovered The Dinner Daily when I interviewed the founder, Laurin Mills, a busy working mom of two for an article.
Like most parents, Mills wanted to make healthy, delicious meals that her kids would eat while also saving money at the grocery store.
She couldn’t find an easy solution so she designed her system around recipes that were healthy, easy to make, affordable, used simple ingredients, and that her family enjoyed.
What started as her own simple, organized solution eventually turned into The Dinner Daily of today.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re looking for a personalized dinner planning service that creates menus based on your individual food preferences, helps you save money and time, and makes dinner time stress-free, then sign up for The Dinner Daily.
Again, you get the first two weeks for free so you’ve got nothing to lose.
Have questions? Leave me a comment or send me an email and I’ll get you the information you need.