how i meal plan: hello fresh!

several months ago (maybe a year?) my friend emily posted about a meal plan that changed her life.  i laughed, but read on anyway, thinking “really?”

one of my most dreaded mom duties is feeding my people, and all thats involved with that: meal planning, grocery shopping, making meals that get complaints & groans, not knowing what i’m doing in the kitchen, making the same meals on repeat and throwing out wasted food.  i thought that meal planning was the way to go and it would solve all my dinner-making woes.  my kids are old enough that they take care of their own breakfasts and lunches for the most part, but dinner was my nemesis.  for sean’s christmas present a couple years ago, i created 6 months of meal plans, with a variety of new and favorite meals (i know, super romantic).  i thought if i knew what we were going to eat each week, grocery shopping would be much more simple, and i wouldn’t dread dinner time.  it seems like a silly thing, but this area of my life was a huge stressor.  after just a few months of following the monthly meal plans, i ditched them.  i was going to 3 different stores to get all the ingredients i needed each week, and i often forgot ingredients i thought i had – almost every meal – grrr!

hello fresh was a breath of fresh air.  it is chef curated recipes based on seasonal farm fresh ingredients delivered every week to your doorstep.  there are several plans (choosing the number of meals each week), you can choose from a weekly meal menu, get pre-measured seasonal ingredients, and prepare amazing home-cooked meals.

when i read emily’s post about hello fresh, i immediately shared the idea with sean.  i think he felt as desperate as i did (he was tired of all the money we were spending eating out as a result of me not being prepared for dinner), so he said, “go for it”!  i was able to use a discount code for $40 off my first box which would feed my family for 3 nights, so it absolutely felt worth the try.

was it worth the try? um, heck yes!  we have continued to order weekly boxes from hello fresh for nearly a year now and love love love it! IMG_7418

so here’s how it works:  each week i get a box shipped to my front door.  i know what day it comes so i am able to plan out my meals according to when the box comes.  i have a little routine when the box comes – i lug the box to the kitchen (its pretty heavy since there are a bunch of frozen ice packs keeping the food nice and fresh), then make sure my fridge space is open.  we have a dedicated section at the top of our fridge for our boxes – 3 sit on the top shelf with their proteins tucked on top of the boxes.

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before i put away the boxes i just do a quick check to see if all the ingredients are there or if any have spoiled. *quick disclosure – i have had several times over the course of many months, where an ingredient was missing or a bell pepper was soft, etc.  a quick email to customer service ALWAYS got me an apology and a discount on my next box – several times i have been given a completely free box because of their minor mistakes!  all that to say, nobody’s perfect, mistakes happen, and the hello fresh customer service ROCKS!

so when it comes time to make dinner, i pull out a box.  the only decision i have to make is which of the 3 meals i want!  we leave our recipe cards on our counter all week, right where we prepare our meals.

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i take out a box, empty all the ingredients on the counter, and use the box now as a trash can for meal prep (did you ever watch rachael ray cook?  its like her ingenious garbage bowl she kept on the counter).  the recipe card tells me exactly what to do.  and there are pictures, too.  i also have the hello fresh app on my phone, which sometimes has extra videos to explain techniques that may be new to me. IMG_7426 (2)

the great thing, is i can start the meal, then if i need to take over with the kids, i can tell sean what step i’m on and he can easily step in.

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or even better, i can have my kids help with the meal, too, since it really tells you everything you need to know!

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my favorite routine after a long day, when i used to dread having to make dinner because i was drained, i pop in my earbuds, turn on a podcast, and cook in peace and quiet.  if i’m not too drained, i’ll put a fun station on pandora and turn the speakers up.  usually a kid or 2 will join me at the counter, and if i’m lucky sean will pour me a grown up beverage ;)

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i call everyone to dinner and they help me plate everything (it always looks beautiful, like take-my-picture beautiful).

here are the pros and cons for you:

pros:

i don’t need to decide what to make 3 nights a week

the box for 4 feeds my family of 5 (and sometimes 7 if we have parents in town)

we have loved every single meal with the exception of one so-so option

cooking unique meals that we never would’ve tried on our own

i can choose 3 out of 5 or 6 meal options each week if i want (or they’ll choose for me)

no wasted ingredients, everything is perfectly proportioned

quiet meals – everyone is savoring each bite

lots of appreciation from the family for yummy meals

learning new skills in the kitchen

easy to stop meal deliveries for vacations – or take them with!  we just did that for a road trip and it worked out great because we had all the ingredients we needed, all packed into one box!

the meals are all pretty healthy.  we tend to skip the options with potatoes or pasta.

the sauces.  oh the sauces!  so so good.

fresh herbs in almost every meal – i never knew what a difference fresh herbs made!

cons:

cooking takes a good chunk of time, generally 45 minutes or so.  i often need some alone time by that point in the day so i don’t mind too much.

not super cheap, but its definitely been worth it for us.

its only 3 nights a week.  but the other nights we either are eating with friends, eating out as a family/on a date, or have something super simple, like a premade frozen meal or leftovers.

sometimes the prep requires more dishes and pans than i feel like washing.  but then again, sometimes it just takes a few things!

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i’ve been wanting to share about hello fresh for so long, but i really wanted to make sure we loved it and didn’t get tired of it first.  i can honestly say that this meal system has changed our family for the better.  it sounds silly, but meal time is an every day occurrence and it is a mostly peaceful time for our family now.  the cost has been worth it for us, and our time spent at grocery stores has been severely cut down, as has our grocery budget.

so here’s the cool thing: you can try this too, with a $40 discount on your first box just like i did!  you can cancel at any point.

use code Y34NWA for your discount.

and if you really love it, you can refer hello fresh to friends and get $20 off your next box for each friend that tries it out – not a bad deal!  every couple months they also send me codes for completely free boxes that i can send to friends, which is really fun and feels generous even though i’m not doing anything at all!

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try it, you’ll like it! (yo gabba gabba, anyone?)

Comments

  1. 1

    Meal Planning is so important! I plan my meals and do most of the cooking on Sunday.
    Stop by my blog today for a great giveaway!
    xo, Lee
    http://www.wineandcouture.com

  2. 2

    We’ve been doing Blue Apron for several months now, and I totally agree : life changing! I mirror every single pro and con you listed!

    • 3

      i mentioned this in the comment below, and thought you might be interested:
      i have been interested in trying blue apron, but i have been so happy with hello fresh that i figured why switch! one thing to keep in mind, as far as my research has turned up, hello fresh is the only meal service that allows for referral credits towards your future meals – you get $40 off your box, i get $20 towards my next one. they also send me coupons to give to friends about once a month for entirely free boxes as well! it is so nice to be able to bless families with that gift!

  3. 4

    We do Blue Apron & Love it! My middle son is my helper. I only get the 2 meals a week for a family of 5. Sometimes it isn’t enough for my hungry boys or sometimes there is plenty. Either way, its still an amazing deal when dealing with our schedule.

    • 5

      i have been interested in trying blue apron, but i have been so happy with hello fresh that i figured why switch! one thing to keep in mind, as far as my research has turned up, hello fresh is the only meal service that allows for referral credits towards your future meals – you get $40 off your box, i get $20 towards my next one. they also send me coupons to give to friends about once a month for entirely free boxes as well! it is so nice to be able to bless families with that gift!

  4. 6

    So how exactly does the charging work? Am I charged per week or per month? For instance, the family box for 3 nights a week is 105.00 (if you don’t have the discount) is that 105.00 each week? or 105.00 for the whole month? (I’ve got to think it’s for the week..but I just want to clarify) :)

    This looks like a fantastic option! Thank you for sharing!

    • 7

      yep, they charge you per week, and the price varies depending on the number of meals and type of meals you choose. its great because you can choose to stop for a week if you’re heading out of town, and not worry about being charged! i hope you try it – we really do love it!

  5. 8
    Julia VanderPol says:

    Yes! I LOVE Hello Fresh! My favorite is that as a single person, I get the variety of three different meals (with leftovers for lunch) instead of making one meal and eating the leftovers of it all week long.

    My one question is, what do you do with all the ice packs?! I hate feeling like I’m throwing so much away! My freezer can really only handle one or two at a time and who really needs a million huge ice packs?

    • 9

      ha! those freezer bags are huge! we save some to use as ice packs, but toss most of them. actually, we’ve given lots of them away, too!

  6. 10

    Oh, how super is this?! I’ve often thought it would be a life saving expense that in a round about way would pay for its self. Not as many trips to store, no worries, headaches, stress, lack of time, etc. I think it would even help with waste in purchasing things I planned on making but didn’t. xoxo

    • 11

      you are so right! it really has reduced the amount of food waste in our house! and yes, its a bit pricey, but we are eating great food, not shopping for the ingredients, not wasting anything, and eating together as a family. for us, there are so many benefits that make it worth it.

  7. 12

    I have been interested in trying this. My kids are 13 and 15. One only eats chicken (not red meat), neither are fond of fish so I feel limited. Do you get the family or classic meal? I am not seeing an explanation of the different except family is to be kid friendly. Neither of my girls are big eaters so I was thinking blue apron might be a better choice since you can get the two meal option and I could make some extra sides to stretch it. It would be awesome but the cost is a concern for our budget.

    • 13

      we get the classic meal. we easily feed 5 with the 4 person meals. you might possibly be able to do the 2 person meals if your kids aren’t big eaters. each week you are given choices of meals you’d like. you can choose a couple veg options and one chicken (sounds like that might work for you). my suggestion is to try it out – try ordering the smaller box and see if it works for your family. you can always cancel after the first box if its not the right fit. if you try the meal plan for 3 meals for 2 people (which might stretch to 4 for your smaller eaters) its only $69. then take off the $40 discount and you are getting 3 meals for only $29 for your family – not a bad investment to try it.

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