by Nicole Loughan Utter
My food life changed completely three months ago and the habit is sticking so well I’m ready to gush about it. I’ll start by saying healthy eating with children is a nearly impossible chore. The food pyramid in my house is dominated by macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs and fish in stick form. I’ve heard of parents who manage to get sushi in front of their children without pained gagging sounds, but I’ve never managed it.
This is why my latest eating upgrade is so spectacular. Every week I used to sit down with a pen and paper and try to draw up a weekly menu, it had to have a few taco nights and pizza nights in order to leave enough leftovers to be eaten by the kids on a meatloaf or non-stick fish night. When we started upping our veggie intake the menu making got even more difficult. One Sunday, I was sitting down at the table getting ready to figure out which five meals I could make and sneak a veggie in when a friend called with a lifeline. She said, “Four meals have just arrived at my door and we are getting ready to leave for vacation. Do you want it?”
Until that moment I had largely ignored meal ordering services. Moms at drop off swore by it. The internet thought I was the sort of person who should do it, as Blue Apron ads always pop up on my screen. I even had a free code sitting in my inbox from a friend who swore by it. When I got the code I poked around on the site, saw the prices and thought they were just too decadent and too pricey. I had never turned in my free code for fear that I would be eternally hounded by e-mail for a service I wouldn’t like.
However, when the prospect of a completely free, no e-mail required box came my way I was more than happy to accept. My friend dropped off her box of Hello Fresh meals at my door and flew away to some island paradise. I had no idea what was in the box. It was huge, I lugged it into the house and loaded the contents into my fridge and went to make my dinner schedule and realized between Hello Fresh and planned dinners out we didn’t need anything except kid stuff and breakfast. My shopping list that week was short and the grocery bill, which is typically over $120, was down to $40. I merrily skipped away from the store feeling a little richer.
I’m a very picky eater and I was nervous that I wouldn’t like the food, I started with the most adventurous meal in the box first, pork and cabbage tacos. I was blown away. We warmed some dino nuggets for the kids while we warmed the tortillas and everybody had something they liked. Other nights we had meals like steak and veggies, prosciutto wrapped chicken and pork with asparagus. The food was enough that we could slide some sides over to the kids to accompany their fish sticks and everybody was happy. When my week of Hello Fresh was over, I thought, “Well that was nice.”
But I sort of missed it. Then I got a code. A code for $20 off my next box, making my next box $60, between that and a $40 kids grocery bill I was going to be saving money. So I did it again, and that’s how they got me hooked. I’ve now been a regular Hello Fresh user for several months. I see my neighbors across the street getting their Blue Apron and my other neighbors go to a local class and prepare the meals with groups to take home. There’s also the Bucks County based company at ModernPalate.com. When I looked around it seemed like all the signs that I would love it were all there. Meal services are not just decadent, they are actually a savings for my family. Saving money, time and the options are healthier than eating out. I’ve learned 10 new ways to cook veggies at least.
I went away for a vacation last month and actually missed my meal service. My husband said the same thing. We were giddy when we got back from our trip and had a box waiting on the porch for us. We couldn’t wait to open it and see what was in store for us. If you’ve been on the fence about a meal service, I recommend you give it a try. And if a free code comes your way don’t be stubborn like me, give up your e-mail and try it.