Sounds Good, But...
I would like to ask your readers if any of them have any experience with companies like Rich Plan Foods and if these plans save money? My husband and I were going to sign up with the company. We would have received nine months worth of meat and vegetables and a few "pantry paks". The meat is all natural and does not contain any steroids, hormones, etc. and the vegetables are flash frozen and do not contain added salt. It would have cost us $218 a month. I was really sold on the meat and vegetables, but don't know if this is a cost saving plan. Can we ask your readers?
The Plan Worked Well
We were once on a similar "food plan" and it worked great for us. To preface this however, both my husband and I worked outside the home. When I would go grocery shopping it would usually be at the end of a long day and I would have 3 hungry kids with me. Most likely I would be tired and hungry, too. So, I would break the #1 rule of "never shop when hungry!" I would buy things that were not on my list, and also because I was in a hurry, I would not necessarily get the best value for my dollar. I recognize there are those who can feed their family for dimes on the dollar as opposed to the rest of us. But I hate spending my entire Saturday hitting every grocery store to get the best deal. I would rather spend my time playing with my family while they are young.
This said, I will share my observations:
We received a quarterly delivery of the meat, vegetables, juices, frozen fruit, etc. We chose what we wanted. The delivery also included the service of stocking the freezer in our garage. So while we were at work, our "shopping" was done and put away, so to speak. The meat was a little more expensive than at the grocery store, but the quality was far superior to anywhere else. That is excepting maybe at a butcher's, where in my experience, to get the same quality meat you would pay the same price.
The vegetables, fruit and juice worked out to be about the same price as anywhere else. The packaging of the meat was excellent, we never had a problem with freezer burn and the portions were frozen individually, then packaged in a way that you only had to pull out what you were going to cook, i.e.: 2 pork chops, chicken breasts, or steaks per package. This was great, because with active, school-aged kids and a husband who travels occasionally for his job, we didn't always have everybody home for dinner and there was less waste. My family isn't great about eating "leftovers" except for dessert!
While with the service, I found that we spent less on groceries because the bulk of my shopping was done. I would shop once a month (or less) for our non-perishable canned/boxed pantry goods. At that time I would find the best bargains and purchase lots of that item if it was something we used regularly including household things like soap and toothpaste. We shopped once a week for milk, eggs, produce, etc., but not with the kids and never while hungry!
Keep in mind, I was a work-away-from-home-mom at the time. Some of you work-at-home moms and homemakers may have the time and energy to be a little more resourceful than I was. Now I work at home and although I have the time and energy to be more resourceful I recognize my weaknesses and I am an impulse shopper, so I am thinking about getting back on the program!
Shopping On Your Own
I also joined a food plan a few years ago. Though the food was excellent and certainly convenient, I soon found that I could save more money shopping on my own! I was able to spend less buying from the sales and using coupons in the store than the monthly fee I was paying the food company. Matter of fact, the last time a very persistent food plan salesman came to my home, I showed him my grocery budget compared to the items I would order from him. He was surprised and said his company couldn't compete with my shopping habits! It's been a while since I've used one but I think the food plan will cost you more!
The Plan Worked For Them
When my children were teenagers I had the Rich Plan. I couldn't have survived without it. Two very active growing boys and a daughter with a zillion friends. Divorced, one income, I had to really cut corners. The Rich Plan did it. I bought a freezer from them and made a small monthly payment until it was paid off. The food is excellent. I never ate so well! When they deliver the food, they even load your freezer for you! When I belonged, you did not have to pay to join. But I heard you do have to join now and that it is quite a bit. Keep that in mind. I loved their frozen peaches the best! If anything isn't up to standards you just let them know, but I never had anything that wasn't really good.
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Let The Buyer Beware
My husband and I belonged to a food plan and it was not only expensive but not at all worth the money. I had a bad experience with the food and felt like we really got ripped off. Another friend of mine had no trouble with the food but after one year did some research on the prices and found out that no matter what it looks like on paper you are actually paying at least 75% more for every item. They make it look like a great deal but in reality it isn't. You can save much more money shopping wisely. Please be careful these plans look wonderful but they are not worth the money. These companies have to make money somehow. If you are adamant about subscribing have or "make" the company provide you a list of what each item costs per lb., most of them will tell you they can't do that because it is all figured into your plan. If they can't give you proof I would walk away.
Found a Better Way to Buy
My husband and I decided to give Rich Plan a try after our second child was born. I was working full-time and was very "sold" on their convenience theory. I still went to the grocery store as often since milk doesn't keep forever. I found myself spending at least as much money, if not more. So after 3 years and I was now staying at home, I tried shopping early in the morning at the warehouse club since they mark a lot of their meat down that is going out of date. I then repackage it in dinner sized quantities. I was saving money and still had the convenience of lots of food and variety in the freezer.
We purchased our freezer through Rich Plan. So we were obligated to stay with them until it was paid for or I don't think we would have stayed with it so long. I will not fault the quality of their food. It is very good, but in our experience and that of our friends, it does not keep as long in the freezer as they say. They will replace it as they did for us during Hurricane Fran, but some things are more work than it is worth in the long run.
A summary of our total experience was that with careful bulk shopping we could do it cheaper. Also we did not suffer a whole lot on quality; but we definitely think having a freezer has been a good way of saving money.
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