I learned a long time ago that meal planning is the best way to help me stay on top of feeding my family of six. And when I follow through, I feel like the Domestic Goddess that can tackle any task that comes my way.
Tummy feels yucky? Here’s an oil. Can’t find your socks? They’re right behind your bedroom door … where you left them. Hungry? Here, let me check the meal plan and grab you the snack I had planned for the day. Boom!
But when I don’t approach meals intentionally?
Everything basically falls apart and I have a house full of hangry people, namely me. Ok, so it’s not that bad. Well actually it is. Which is why I’ve been
obsessed hyper-focused on food for the last few months.
See, things have been busy around here. We started homeschooling again in November. All four of our kids. And three of them go to swim team every afternoon. Plus my husband and I have started interning at our CrossFit gym so we can become coaches.
That isn’t much compared to the schedules of lot of our friends, but for us, it’s pure madness (how do you do it, friends???). Hence the food obsession and trying to figure out how to save as much time (and money) as possible in the kitchen.
So when my friend mentioned HelloFresh after a workout a few weeks ago, I was very intrigued and asked her to tell me more about it.
HelloFresh is a meal service that sends fresh food to your door once a week. Awesome, right? It gets better. They don’t just send food, they send all the fresh ingredients you need to make complete meals, plus all the instructions for making said meals. The food goes from farm to table, cutting out the middleman.
You can choose anywhere from two to five meals per week for two people or you can opt for a family box, which can be two or three meals.
She offered to give me her link with a discount for the first week and I was all over it.
I got the link, signed up and waited impatiently for my box to arrive. When it did, I tore into excitedly, stopping every few seconds to take pictures. Apparently this is how I do everything now.
Our box had two meals in it: Lasagna-Baked Fusilli with Kale and Mozzarella and Jammy Apricot Chicken with Potato Wedges and Green Beans.
I made the pasta dish the night it arrived and ended up feeding it to my family (myself excluded because I had dinner plans with friends) AND my brother and his three boys. We then had enough leftovers to last us a few days. Win.
My husband thought it was great. The kids didn’t like how much kale there was, however, they still ate it.
I made the second meal a few days later and oh my goodness, it was delicious. Like, there’s no way there will leftovers because it’s just so good right now, delicious. The balsamic apricot pan sauce made the meal and it was really quick to prep and cook. And, as it turns out, my youngest son, who hates gravy, LOVES pan sauces. Weird.
All-in-all, a good experience. But. Is it really worth it for a bigger family?
There were several pros:
- The meals were delicious and, as my culinary artist brother says, they had depth.
- The little bottles they include are adorable.
- They were quick to put together with excellent (and pretty) instructions to follow.
- We got to try things we wouldn’t have eaten normally.
- I really looked forward to trying the food – it was a fun experience.
- Because they send you everything but cooking oil, salt and pepper, I didn’t have to go to the grocery store. Big win.
- The jammy apricot chicken is being added to my meal plan. It’s super easy to make and it was great to test it without having to buy all the ingredients.
- Almost all of the packaging was recyclable and we plan on reusing the ice packs that were in the box. HelloFresh focuses a lot on sustainability.
There were some cons, though:
- Even if I didn’t have plans the night I made the pasta, I couldn’t have eaten it. There are a lot of foods my gut just can’t handle, wheat being one of them. If I’d been home I would have had to make something different and they don’t have a gluten-free option.
- Because I’ve gotten pretty good at feeding our family healthy food on a small budget, these meals are more than I normally spend per meal. By a bit.
- There wasn’t quite enough meat for our second meal. Everyone got a good first helping but two kids wanted more so I pulled out some leftover pork and heated it in the pan sauce.
So is it worth it for a big family? It depends.
If I know there’s a super busy week coming up where I won’t have a lot of time for meal prep, yes. It’s a great alternative to take-out that costs a lot and isn’t very healthy.
I also think it’s a great treat every once in a while. We don’t eat out much as a family very often so I think this would be fun to add to the mix every couple of months.
I don’t think it’s something we’ll be using on a regular basis, though. As mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten pretty good at food budgeting and using this each week would really increase it. Consistent meal planning is my best bet for saving time in the kitchen (I’m trying out a meal planning service right now – I’ll let you know what I think next month).
Am I glad I tried it, though? Absolutely.
Have you tried HelloFresh? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. If you haven’t tried it and would like to, click here to give it a shot and get $40 off your first box.