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Local Woman Develops Healthy Online Meal Plan On A Budget

LOS ANGELES ( — A local woman has developed an online meal plan for four that requires 20 fresh ingredients for five weeknight dinners that cost less than $3.75 per serving.

CBS2's Amber Lee was with the Anderson family of Pasadena, devotees of the plan, when mom Lisa was going over the weekly offerings.

"And then Friday is your favorite: asparagus and mango fried rice," Anderson told her delighted children.

Their meals are mapped out each week. And all rather simply.

"I'm not going to lie. Getting five meals on the table every week is pretty ambitious, and when I do it, I feel very accomplished by Saturday," Anderson says.

Anderson subscribes to the Fresh 20, a weekly online plan. The service emails her five healthful recipes and a shopping list for the required fresh seasonal ingredients to whip up five dinners.

The plan also says there are 20 ingredients every pantry should always have on hand "For Stress-Free Cooking."

"Either I'll do the grocery shopping on Sunday night, or if I can't make it, he'll do the shopping on Monday night and start the prep," Anderson says.

The meals are not only designed to be healthful but cost-effective and efficient, as well.

The pork shoulder she bought, for example, will make two meals: Thursday's braised pork with corn fusilli and another evening's carnitas tacos.

The plan costs $6 a month, not counting the cost of the groceries.

Lee reports the plan can also be designed around a variety of special needs and wants, including vegetarian, kosher, singles, gluten-free and dairy-free.

In the end, the meals are not hard to make and Anderson says better for her family and her wallet.

"It's much cheaper than takeout. It's certainly much healthier, that's for sure," said Anderson.

The service was designed by Burbank resident Melissa Lanz.

"The idea is that you buy a limited amount of ingredients and buy better quality ingredients and still stay within a great family budget," Lanz explains.

The idea was born from this mother's necessity.

"I was in a corporate job working 60 hour weeks and coming home eating frozen burritos over the sink at 8 o'clock at night," says Lanz.

Now, more than 100,000 families follow her online and also are devoted to her cookbook.

"It's not like it's dinner in 10 minutes," she says. "But, you know, maybe it's dinner in 25 minutes. That dinner is going to be so much better quality because you planned ahead and you're using quality ingredients."

Not only do the Andersons enjoy dinner time a lot more, Lisa enjoys the savings.

"I feel like we're really significantly saving on our grocery bill every month," she says.

More information about The Fresh 20.

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