The following is an article from the August 2017 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at or subscribe for free at

Just a note to say we don’t receive any compensation from any of the services named here. I just wanted to share how we manage to run a business and eat well at the same time. (To all the parents out there, frankly, I don’t know how you do it!)

Jackie and I love to eat. We try our best to eat healthy, and we both like to cook. Even so, by Wednesday or Thursday night, it can be hard to keep that enthusiasm going. And neither of us enjoys grocery shopping.

We have tried a few different meal services (ModPaleo, Metabolic Meals, Factor75) and meal kits (Blue Apron, HelloFresh). They’re all pretty good, but after a while, we get burnt out on the options, and there’s so much packaging that I end up having to make a special weekly trip to the recycling center, so it doesn’t save as much time as it nominally should.

Recently we started meal planning with an online site called Cook Smarts. For $8 a month, they send us a weekly meal plan. We can log in to the site and swap out meals that don’t interest us. (FYI, Jackie does not like beets.) And there are Gluten Free, Paleo, and Vegetarian variations of each meal. Once we’ve made our meal plan, the site produces a grocery list and instructions for weekend preparation and day-of cooking.

Here’s the awesome part: Once Cook Smarts makes the grocery list, we go through the kitchen and check off all the ingredients we already have. Then, for the ingredients we still need, we click a button to send the list to Instacart. With Instacart, we order groceries from Whole Foods or Publix. Then, at the time we scheduled, the groceries are delivered to our front door.

After that, we do prep work for a couple hours on Sunday, and we rarely need to spend more than half an hour cooking on the weekdays. Having good, home-cooked meals, while skipping our least favorite parts of cooking, has really made a big difference in how the week goes.

By the way, Instacart is available for several other local stores. Some stores, like Costco for example, have an additional surcharge. While it costs more to use Instacart than it costs to pick up the same ingredients in person, there’s no temptation to buy things we don’t need for our meal plan. That, and we really value the time we save and the stress we avoid by not going grocery shopping on the weekends.

How do you make the best use of your time on the weekends and during the week? Send us an email at [email protected] and share your ideas.


Dan Bedard
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