Meal Plan 09/18/2017 - 09/22/2017

We're slowly getting into the swing of things. Grady is settling back into the school routine and we're desperately holding onto the last remnants of summer weather. The nights are getting darker earlier and there's a definite chill in the air. I'm not ready.

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Monday: tacos with crockpot shredded chicken (prepped Sunday, reheated after work) served with quick and easy refried beans

Tuesday: chicken quesadillas (to use up the leftover shredded chicken) with guacamole 

Wednesday: Lemon Chicken served with roasted broccoli and wild rice

Thursday: Maple Salmon served with garlic sautéed green beans and wild rice

Friday: breakfast for dinner (steak and eggs, pancakes, fruit salad)

What's on your meal plan this week?

Fade

I used to love that moment in between sleep and being awake, when my brain would stretch and my body would unfurl and for a minute or two I could enjoy the silence of the day. Lately, though, as soon as I am conscious, my thoughts explode in a whirlwind of what needs to get done, and who needs to go where, and how much time I have to do it all (spoiler alert: not enough time, not even close, hang on tight, things are about to get bumpy).

The mental load of motherhood is not a new concept, and is certainly not unique to my situation. I know I do not come even close to winning the Misery Olympics, and to be honest, I am not interested in competing. I love my life. I’ve got an attentive partner, an amazing support system, privilege oozing from every crevice of my duct-taped-together days, and yet here I am, exhausted and overwhelmed.

I’m trying to make life less chaotic. I’m writing lists and creating routines and constantly “prepping” (oh my vodka, so much prepping) to try to make my days run as smoothly as possible. I am one “10 Ways to Hack your Morning Routine!” listicle away from keeping a stash of protein bars beside the shower so I can fuel up and get my 28 essential micronutrients while I get ready for work at the same time.

But I am not more organized. Our days are not running smoothly. I am left feeling like I can’t take a full breath because my chest cavity is full of “what ifs” and “what nexts” trampolining on my heart.

Maybe I should get back into meditating, I think. Or yoga. I should dust off my juicer and fill my face with spinach juice instead of Skittles. I should up my protein intake. Cut carbs. Lift weights, go for a walk, get a massage, read a book, light a candle, start a bullet journal, clean out a closet. Maybe then I will feel like I’m in control, like I’m not careening headfirst toward disaster.

I don’t want my kids to remember me as the crazy lady who was constantly hissing at them to walkfasterthesecondbellisabouttoringdoyouwanttobemarkedlateagain?. I want to be serene. I want to go with the flow. I want the flow to not be so soul-crushingly unpredictable and tumultuous. I want to able to accept this season of life for what it is: messy, noisy, and fleeting.

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Get Dinner on the Table with HelloFresh Canada

My maternity leave ended and I went back to my office job in July. We're still trying to find the right balance of prep and organization (and checklists and to-do lists and Clipboards of Fun) to make our family unit run as smoothly as possible.

One area that's been challenging is food. Here's the thing: I try very hard to not ascribe moral value to food. I don't think it's naughty to order pizza. I don't feel like a bad mom, or a bad woman, or a bad human, if we eat takeout every night.

However. My bank account doesn't like it very much. Nor do my guts. So while I'm all for ordering takeout food to make life easier, it's not a long term solution for our family. You do you, babies. This is a safe space. No judgment here. It's just not something that we can swing three nights per week, indefinitely. 

I had the opportunity to try a HelloFresh Canada box last week and it was life-changing. I realize how dramatic that sounds but stick with me, things are about to get magical. (Pssst...if you're curious and already know you want to give it a go, HelloFresh Discount Code HILLARY60 gets you $30 off your first and second boxes.)

HelloFresh is a subscription recipe kit delivery service. You subscribe to the service and then every week, you choose three meal kits to be delivered to your door. On your delivery date, a cooler box of fresh, delicious ingredients, plus detailed instructions on how to create your meals and specific nutritional facts, shows up at your address. 

As the leading recipe kit delivery service in Canada, HelloFresh knows a thing or two when it comes to getting dinner on the table. Designed by our team of trained chefs, each HelloFresh recipe is delivered with the exact farm-fresh ingredients needed to make a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal in under 30 minutes. Every week HelloFresh members choose three meals from a selection of award-winning, constantly-changing recipes (say goodbye to recipe boredom!). HelloFresh then utilizes its network of local, family-owned purveyors to source the freshest ingredients possible for each of those recipes and ships the exact amounts straight to your door. No more grocery shopping, no more food waste. Just delicious, healthy, and fresh food guaranteed from pan to plate in less time than it takes to order takeout.

I was skeptical. No one was home the day our box was delivered, and it was a hot summer day. I wasn't sure I would feel comfortable eating food that had been outside for hours. I was convinced I'd be opening up a box of spoiled food but I couldn't have been more wrong. The insulated cooler box and ice packs kept everything cool and fresh. My inner hippie cringed at the amount of packaging waste I thought I'd end up with, but almost every piece of waste created was recycled or composted. HelloFresh even runs an ice pack return program so you can save your ice packs for a few weeks and send them back in an empty HelloFresh box.

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Our life is not quiet. I do not come home from work to a clean house and a hot meal on the table. It is not our reality at this point in life. And that's okay! There is plenty of time for relaxing evenings. Our weekday evenings are chaotic and rushed. Shawn picks Poppy up from daycare on his way home. I walk in the door and head straight to the kitchen to get dinner going. Between kid shenanigans and forgetting to hit the grocery store on the way home from work, Shawn or I will often reach for the phone to order a pizza to try to make things less stressful.

HelloFresh eliminates the stress. The meals come individually wrapped so you don't even have to think, you just grab one of the meals out of the fridge and get cooking. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was able to cook my HelloFresh meals faster than I could have had a pizza delivered to my house. I was able to make nutritious, home-cooked meals on busy weekday evenings, and it didn't take a lot of complex planning or organization on my part. The least enjoyable parts of cooking (for me) are the prep: thinking about what to make and going to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. HelloFresh does both and I just had to do the parts I actually enjoy (the cooking and the eating).

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The Nitty Gritty

What does it cost? There are different meal plans (family, veggie, pronto) and different levels (2 or 4 people) so the cost caries from $73.99 - $139.99/week (that includes delivery). HelloFresh Discount Code HILLARY60 gets you $30 off your first and second boxes.

Can I skip a week? Absolutely! There is no minimum subscription length and if you want to skip delivery for any reason you can. You just have to log into your account before the weekly cutoff and skip the week.

What if I don't like one of the scheduled meals? I kind of like the idea of trying new foods and cooking outside my norm, so I didn't  request any changes to my box (and I was rewarded with Halloumi! I didn't even know Halloumi was a thing!) but you can make switches if you see something you don't like. As long as you sign into your account and make the request before the weekly cutoff, you can swap out one of your meals for a recipe you'd rather try from one of the other boxes. You can also set general meal preferences like "no seafood."

So was the food any good? Yes! The food was delicious. The ingredients were fresh and the recipes were easy to follow. I liked trying new food and learning new techniques. It made weekday dinners more exciting and less stressful. It was convenient and saved me time and sanity.

What's the catch? The only cons I encountered were: no leftovers! This could definitely be a pro for some but I like having leftovers to pack for lunch. The other con I found was the tiny bottles of vinegar were difficult for me to open. It made me think there's more work to be done on the packaging to make HelloFresh more accessible. People with disabilities, or seniors who aren't as mobile as they once were, could really benefit from having a service like this bringing fresh, nutritious food to their door, but there's no way anyone with impaired hand function could open those teensy tiny bottles. Overall these are two relatively minor things and they in no way diminished my enjoyment of the meals or my appreciation of HelloFresh as a service. 

Use promo code HILLARY60 and see for yourself how HelloFresh Canada takes the angst out of dinnertime. 

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Meal Plan 09/11/2017 - 09/15/2017

Life continues to be chaotic, my blog continues to be neglected. Another week of craziness, ahoy!

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Monday: Sweet potato black bean enchiladas for Meatless Monday. Served with a simple purple cabbage lime slaw.

Tuesday: Black Bean Pumpkin Soup served with roasted broccoli. 

Wednesday:  Crispy Sriracha Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken and waffles

Thursday: Grilled flank steak served with Mexican Street Corn Salad.

Friday: BLT sandwiches with avocado if I can find good ones at the green grocer. 

What's on your meal plan this week?