Friday, August 28, 2015

Meal Delivery Services

A few weeks ago I jumped on the latest trend and signed up for a meal box delivery service!  Yep, I ordered dinner prep kits with veggies and meats that came in a box on my door step.  Sounds a little strange, but it was super helpful for this family of 4.  I was tired of meal planning and let's face it, it was just not happening anymore. When I went to the grocery store on Mondays, I was grabbing whatever looked good off the shelves without any planning.  Turkey spaghetti again mom??

So I researched a few of the delivery options and decided to go with Blue Apron (and FYI, this post was NOT sponsored or paid for by the company, so these opinions are ALL mine ;)

First off, one of the reasons I chose Blue Apron was the price.  You get 3 meals a week for 60$ (including shipping) for 2 people.  Other companies out there are Hello Fresh (70$ for 3 meals a week for 2), and Plated (72$/week for 3 meals).  But they all seemed to offer the same thing: using the freshest ingredients, with 30 minutes or less preparations and easy to follow recipes.

Secondly, I loved how Blue Apron let me CHOOSE which meats I wanted. Because uhm, you could say I am what they call a 'picky eater'.  I don't eat red meat, game, or pork. Yes that means no bacon, hot dogs or hamburgers.  The horror.  Not to get into it, but I have my reasons. Soo, I was super happy to find out I could pick what I wanted.  I ordered the 'Poultry' and 'Seafood' recipe options.

The only drawback to all of these services, was that the service was delivered to my area on Thursdays. Hmm. Because honestly, I don't cook much on the weekends. Most of my cooking is Sunday-Thursdays.  So I worried my fresh produce would start to whither and decay, but they guaranteed it fresh for 6 days.

After signing up online (with a good cancellation policy of 6 days notice), I was so excited when my first box arrived.  It was packaged amazingly well with frozen ice packs and everything was fresh, including the little bags of fresh herbs.  The packaging was really cute with everything labeled.  I threw the chicken and salmon in my freezer since I knew it would be a few days before I made it. And my box came with 3 huge recipe cards with pictures and step by step directions. 

Fast forward to Monday, my first meal.  It was Seared Salmon and Panzanella.  I assembled all of my ingredients and got right to work.

The directions were very easy to follow.  Things like, "cut the stems off your onion and peel it.  Then coarsely chop."  "While the salmon is cooking, chop the zucchini", etc.  Even my husband could follow these directions.  Of course the only complaint I had, is that I wish the veggies came pre-chopped, but I think they wouldn't be as fresh.

After the step by step directions, my meal was ready to serve and I honestly did the whole thing in less than 30 minutes!  The food was really good and tasty and actually we had left overs for the next day.  It fed both of the adults and my 3 and 5 year old ate some as well.  But if you have super eaters, I may go with the family of 4 meal options.

My photos don't compare to the ones online, so click here to see an example of Thai Chicken Burgers and the recipe cards close up and the wonderfully photographed finished product.


Here is my not sponsored or endorsed review of 2 weeks of the meal service...

+Food was tasty and easy to prepare
+The box arrived when expected and packaged well in frozen ice
+Price was great
+Great recipe card, step by step instructions and pictures
+I LOVED by-passing the meat counter at the grocery store and most of the produce section
+LOVED not having to meal plan Sunday night

+Delivery is on a Thursday (wish it was a Monday or Saturday if possible)
+Too much packaging.  It really bugged my husband that there was a lot of waste.  Besides the fresh produce, everything came in baggies, containers and paper goods that you can not recycle.
+None of the food was organic and this was a BIG ONE for me.  Since I've become a mother, I am very into eating as well as we can to live longer and healthier lives.  So for our family that means no antibiotic animal products and hormone free meats/poultry AND we eat the dirty 13 produce.  It was hard for me to eat the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplants that were I'm guessing, full of pesticides.  The organic produce I buy at the store is not that much more in cost either.  I know restaurants don't use organic products but when I cook at home, I want to make sure our meals are healthy.

So unfortunately I cancelled my subscription.  I had a hard time with the Thursday delivery and things not being as fresh 4 days later, and I also could not get past the non-organic products.

I did find an organic meal delivery service that I may try at a later time called Green Chef.  I saw online that they are running a special of 6 meals for only 9$ in shipping if you sign up.  Stay tuned... :)
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Preparing for Kindergarten

My almost kindergartener had a few friends over for a playdate the other day and we were talking about how slloooow our kids take to get ready in the morning.  And how on earth are they going to make it to Kindergarten?  Like asking them 5 times to get dressed, 6 times to go to the bathroom and brushing their teeth in the mornings? Forget it.  We were all wondering what the heck was going to happen when they went off to Kinder next month and they have to be at school at 8am?  The mornings are not going to be pretty, so it made me start thinking about how to ease into our new routine. Sigh..don't get me started on how school is now going to be the norm of the rest of our lives. No more 'we can do whatever you want today' kind of days like we had in preschool.

So after talking to lots of moms, researching and soul searching, I found a few tips to help get us started off to Kindergarten:

1) Sleep

Yep, this is a big one. On one of the school tours I went on last year, the Kinder teachers all said whether your child has been in full time day care or they stay at home, they will be coming home completely exhausted. Like falling asleep at the dinner table at 5:30pm tired.  And if not falling asleep then they will look like an over tired, major meltdown devil zombie creature.  The answer?
  • Put your child to bed early starting 2-3 weeks before school starts. Early like 7-8pm. Yes, it's still light outside, so you can maybe get some blackout shades to help, a calm bath before bed, keep the room cool, read some good yoga kid books (see below), rub some lavender on them, etc.
2) Getting dressed

I know this is a HUGE problem for all kids. I don't know of a single 5 year old child that will go and get dressed by themselves, brush their hair and teeth on the first reminder.  So here are a few tips moms have suggested:
  • Start waking them up early for school 1-2 weeks before school actually starts
  • Lay out their clothes the night before, including socks and shoes, bows, etc
  • Have them practice getting dressed the first week before school as a practice run
  • Don't laugh, but if your child really struggles with getting up and dressed, some moms have their child sleep in their clothes the night before
  • Make a reward chart for getting dressed with 1-2 reminders, etc for the first month
  • Also work more on self care like how to toilet themselves without help, and washing hands
3) Lunch

Packing lunches the night before is a major time saver. If your child does hot lunches then you don't have to worry about this one. But if not, even if you don't think it will take long, it always takes longer so pack everything the night before including drinks/cups.  Believe me, your life will be so much easier getting out that door.

4) ABC, 123's

  • Don't worry if your child can't read yet. I hear more and more moms worried that their child can't spell, write all their letters and add and subtract or read. It's going to be okay. Remember, Kindergarten is like an extension of preschool. Back in the day, it was more like PreK. Preparing you to go into real school like 1st grade. Kindergarten is their last year of fun times doing art, play dough, running around, singing silly songs and being a kid. They have the rest of their lives to be book worms.
  • But if you want to help them get ready to be classroom ready, you can always work on scissor skills, lacing cards and holding a pencil more during the summer. This can help with gross and fine motor skills.  Also help them with words the teacher will use like, 'focus' and 'paying attention.' Ha, with 5 year olds it's kind of impossible to get them to sit still, but they should be able to pay attention for 1 minute per age, so 5 minutes at a time. And the best thing you can do as a parent now is read, read, read to them. This teaches focusing skills, introduction to letters and reading, it's engaging, and teaches them the importance of learning.
5) Routines
  • Kind of along the lines of practicing getting dressed a week before, you can also drive the route of the school or walk your route.  Show them the way they will be going to and from each morning, how carpool will look like, and pick up. Also, you can go up to the building a few days or week before even if it's locked to show them the outside of it, walk around it, show them the playground and get a good feel for how it will be before the big day.

6) After school activities

This one mom said it best: "my quick input on this topic, my approach to starting full time school is to totally clear the schedule of any after school commitments for at least the first semester. They are just exhausted from school. We also let them take a ‘mental health day’ once a term or so."

I personally think picking 1 activity is good this first year.  When I was a child, most kids didn't start doing all these advanced sports and were not prima ballerinas at age 5.  And taking a day off here and there is OK.  Perfect attendance? What's that?

5) Book recommendations: You know me, I love books for kids. It really helps them visual things better. 

Relaxation for bedtime, a great book to help them learn to slow down and breathe. (click on picture for description)

Kindergarten Books: 

Okay, so I feel like there aren't the best intro to Kindergarten books out there. I was at the book store and read through all of them and wasn't too impressed. Most of them tell you things to be scared of so if your child is excited, then I wouldn't buy them because it will cause them to fear things they so far aren't afraid of yet.  But these 2 books below do the best job of explaining what Kindergarten will be like.  
The Night Before Kindergarten (2.99)


Welcome to Kindergarten (6.50$)

I hope this information helps a little. I didn't want to overwhelm you all with tons of tips and suggestions to make it even more stressful.  And hopefully your school will have a Parents and Tears coffee station you can stop by after drop-off that first day, so you can all cry together!