Meal Delivery Services: Are they worth it?

So a few weeks back I signed up for Hello Fresh, Plated, and Blue Apron.

Over kill much?

Well yes, but I wanted to really do my research on the best meal delivery service.

I rated them on a couple things.

Recipes.

Ingredients.

Organization.

Price.

If you are not sure what these companies offer I will give a quick synopses.

Basically, you sign-up for the service, pick the recipes you like that week(3 max), the frequency of ingredients delivery, pick your food preferences (vegetarian, gluten free, no seafood etc) and the day you prefer it to be delivered.

The ingredients and recipes come packed in a box with lots of freezer packs to keep everything super cold.

You unpack the box and cook the meals at your convenience. The only ingredients you are expected to have on hand are salt/pepper, butter and oil.

And you can cancel your subscription at any time. No extra fees etc.

Hello Fresh

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Plated

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Blue Apron

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And here is how they rated in my opinion.

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 So are they worth it?

I say yes, but with a few disclaimers.

If you are feeding yourself and one other person, this is for you! I throw out so much food that my husband and I never get around to eating. I love that they give me exactly the amount I need and no more.

If you would like to learn new cooking techniques or new recipes, this is for you.

If you would like to learn to cook lighter dishes, this is for you.

If you are single and don’t mind eating leftovers, this is for you. Or use it as an excuse to host someone for dinner!

If some weeks the thought of meal planning, grocery shopping and THEN cooking makes you want to cry, this is for you.

If you are feeding a bunch of hungry teenagers, this is not for you. The ratio of portion size to price is not worth it.

If you are a bargain or coupon grocery shopper, this is not for you.

If you are not much of a foodie, this is probably not for you.


So which service did I pick?

I really like Hello Fresh. It was also the first one I tried.

While some of the recipes are not my favorite it does get me in the kitchen rather than in a drive-thru line for dinner.

And for healthy convenience food it’s totally worth it.

I won’t do it every week because there are certain recipes that my family really enjoys that I still want to make, but as a filler for weeks when the thought of thinking through a grocery list makes me want to pluck my eyes out this meal delivery service is perfect!

If you want to try it out use my discount code 6QLT9N for $40 off  your first box from Hello Fresh.

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My sister gets photo credit for these hello fresh meals she prepared. :)
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Entertaining: A Cuban-style Meal for $30, Serves 8-10

wpid-wp-1442096374706.jpegI have talked about my goal to entertain more this year.

Yall, I am overachiever with this goal this year.

I need to make more New Year’s resolutions involving food, because I EXCEED at them. :)

Anyway, I forgot how much I enjoy entertaining.

And our house is not even ideal for hosting many people because of our super small eating area, but we are making it happen anyway.

I have made this meal 3 times now, and it’s just so dang good.

Simple food at its finest.

The whole meal can be made a day in advance and reheated before serving.

It is dairy free, gluten free and can even be made for vegetarians/vegan if you leave out the chicken stock in the black beans/rice. 

A crowd-pleaser for sure. 

Cuban-Style Pulled Pork

  • 4-5 lb pork roast (fat trimmed)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • cumin

Place all the ingredients in a large bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.

Then place the roast and marinade in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low. Let the roast cool on a cutting board and then shred pork with two forks. Remove the lime slices from the slow cooker and discard. Place the shredded pork in the cooking juices in the slow cooker. Re-heat in slow cooker when ready to serve.

Black Beans

  • 32-40 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup salsa or Rotel
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

In a large skillet cook black beans, salsa and stock in a skillet. Heat uncovered at med high until the liquid is reduced almost completely. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. Serve warm with hot sauce.

Rice

  • 3 cups rice
  • 2  12 cans coconut milk
  • 1  cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, combine all the ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 5 minutes or until boiling. Reduce to low and allow to cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave the cover on until ready to fluff and serve.

Mango salsa

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cups diced mango (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients and serve cold or at room temperature.

Note: if you are not a fan of mango, pineapple will work too.

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A Food Storage Solution That Won’t Make You Lose Your Mind (or your paycheck)

Do you know what drives me nuts?

Garden hoses.

They get tangled and kinked.

And it causes me to want to be the kind of person who cusses(only slightly kidding).

Well the other thing that drives me nuts is plastic food storage containers with all the mismatched lids.

It is enough to drive a woman mad.

Seriously.

Anyway, recently I discovered the cheap solution- freezer safe, top shelf dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and BPA free.

And the BEST PART is that they all use the same size lids. Hallelujah!


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 The bonus is that when I take meals to new moms etc I don’t feel bad sending these containers because they are so cheap, and I can even write the instructions for serving on the lid- using a sharpie and masking tape.

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I recently made a huge batch of chicken stock using the 8oz containers.

The price and availability make them perfect to use in kids’ lunch boxes too.

Click each photo for the specific links on Amazon.

This is the size I use for chicken stock, wine for cooking and condiments.

The cost breakdown on this size is 35¢ each which is even cheaper than the dollar store brands.

16 oz- individual salads and pastas as well as leftovers
32 oz- this is the perfect size for big batches of salsa, soups and chilis

They also offer this super large 1/2 gal size, but it has a different sized lid to I opted out.

This post contains affiliate links to help pay for the costs associated with this blog.

A Green Smoothie Challenge- April

In addition to striving to be more active (see this post and this post), we are also trying to get healthy food in our bodies on a regular basis.

And while doing some research on recipes, I came across this challenge for a month of green smoothies.

All you need is a blender.

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Here is how it works:

You sign-up on the Simple Green Smoothies website and they send you the recipes and instructions via email.

Note: each smoothie recipe makes enough for 2 people.

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It’s as simple as that.

I will try to do at least one update throughout the month to let you know my thoughts and how I am doing.

It’s starts April 1st. Want to join me? 

Follow Simple Green Smoothies on Facebook and Instagram for daily smoothie inspiration.

And if you prefer to get all the recipes and shopping lists in printed form at the beginning of the month go here. 

Meal Planning- Week 4 and 5

whats for dinner

I promise I have been cooking.

Just not blogging.

Sometimes I have to choose between blogging and washing dishes/laundry.

And I feel like clean clothes should be somewhat of a priority.

And between us, sometimes I just use paper plates.

So here are some recipes I have tried in the last 3 weeks or so.

  • Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice (gluten free)
    • This dish was SO good and easy, and gluten free. We ate it for three meals. I did use brown rice instead of white. But it turned out SOOO well. I made it a day in advance and then reheated it with a little water in the oven. Also, it’s not spicy, just really flavorful. Perfect for kids, or grownups who are wimps.
  • Bang Bang Shrimp with Cabbage Slaw (gluten free)
    • My husband is not a huge fan of shrimp. But we both ate this up. I loved how light it was, but it tasted really indulgent. I will be making this one again and again. I used a bagged slaw mix and a bag of romaine lettuce to give it a little more of a salad flair.
  • Pineapple Fried Rice with Pork Chop
    • This was the 3rd time I have made this recipe. It is really quick and tasty. The recipe would work well with chicken or shrimp too.

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  • Shrimp Alfredo Bake (gluten free)
    • I was not too sure I liked this recipe immediately after I made it on Sunday, but after I baked it on Monday the flavors had combined and it was really good. I used cornstarch and corn pasta to make it gluten free.wpid-img_20141130_121236.jpg
  • Black Bean Corn Tacos
    • I added chicken to this recipe because I was feeding hungry men, but even still it is incredibly cheap to make. There is something about adding the carrots that make it sweet and spicy.
  • Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Cheddar Cheese
    • I made this last night. I reduced the cheese, used dried Italian seasoning and frozen cauliflower because it was cheaper. It tastes like a thin potato soup with lots of flavor. Don’t skip the roasting step.
  • Chocolate Zucchini Bread
    • Technically, this is not a meal but I ate it for breakfast for 3 or 4 mornings. It is the best zucchini bread recipe I have tried to date.
  •  5 Cheese Roasted Red Pepper Spread
    • This was like the tastiest pimento cheese I have ever tried. I took it to a church potluck and it disappeared. I made a second batch and used it in a grilled cheese sandwich. DEVINE!

Meal Planning: Week 3

whats for dinner

 

Day #1 Baked Chicken topped with Brie and Prosciutto and Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino (with gluten free pasta) with Peas

If you have never made this Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino, you need too. Reduce the red pepper if you don’t like spicy food. I love this as a side. It does not look like much, but it is such a perfect accompaniment with some many proteins. So so tasty, CHEAP and I think it’s best served at room temperature.

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Day#2 Creamy Tomato Soup with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms (similar to this recipe) and Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches (gluten free thanks to Great Harvest)

My husband loves this soup. I have made it several different ways depending on what ingredients I have on hand. The base is one box of Tomato Red Pepper Soup, milk (or cream), chicken stock and Italian seasoning. Then I add whatever else I feel like- garlic, onion, mushrooms, sausage, kale, spinach, diced chicken, tortellini etc.

Day#3 Grilled Tuna Steak topped with Sriracha Cream Sauce, Brown Rice and Creamed Spinach

Simple Creamed Spinach

Day#4 Beef Barley Soup with Quick Corn Bread Muffins

I was scared of barley until I tried this recipe. As scared of a whole grain as someone can be. My stepson was home from college over the weekend so I tried out this hearty soup that I thought he would like. The recipe was perfect for a Saturday when I was busy and didn’t have time to stand over the stove.  I ♥ good simple food.

Easy Corn Bread Muffins

Meal Plan Review- Week 1

whats for dinner

I always love when I see other’s meal plans because it inspires me to get a little more organized (at least in my dreams) when it comes to cooking.

 So I am going to attempt a new (semi) regular post.

I am going to post my “meal plans.” But I am not going to post what I plan to make, but rather what I made the previous week and why it worked/didn’t work mainly because my meal plan usually gets developed as I push my cart around the grocery store.

Sound okay?

Well here goes.

  • Day #1 Country Fried Steak with gravy, creamed spinach and roasted potatoes

I don’t really have a recipe for this one. I just make it like my mom does. If you need a recipe this one is pretty close.

I totally cheated by using frozen creamed spinach. The roasted potatoes were simply bite-sized potatoes with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Baked at 425 for 25 min.

  • Day #2 Steak Fajitas with grapes and baby carrots

I basically threw some onions and thin steak strips into a skillet with some store bought fajita mix.

Quick easy meal, but nothing to write home about. I forgot how much I dislike prepackaged seasoning mixes.

  • Day #3 Sriarcha Roast Chicken with grapes and romaine salad with Yum Yum dressing

We really liked this meal. It was incredibly easy, and I soaked the chicken in the brine the night before. Beware: this is probably too spicy for kids.

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I told my husband he would live a long time after eating this meal because it had so many preservatives. After all was said and done I really did NOT like this meal. It was so rich and cheesy that it actually made me feel ill, even though I reduced the cheese in the sauce. I will stick with my old mac and cheese recipe from now on.

I use this diced ham in so many things ( soups, quiche, pizza etc). The packages frequently goes BOGO at my local store. I always keep an extra package in the freezer.

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I make this on a regular basis using whatever veggies are on sale. It is really quick and so tasty.

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We love the rice noodles because they are great as a substitute for rice, but they are also great in soups. The noodles cook up SO FAST. I buy them at my local Publix. This one package will cover 2-3 meals for us.

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