Make Weekday Meals Convenient and Stress-Free with HelloFresh

I've told you about my overall love for HelloFresh. I've told you how to hack your HelloFresh box to get yummy leftovers. Now let me tell you about how HelloFresh has eliminated mealtime stress during the week (weekday dinners are peak stress times in our house). 

I love to cook. I love exploring new recipes. Food is a passion of mine. But mid-week, rush in the door after work, scramble to put together a nutritious meal before we have to start the bedtime routine cooking? Is the actual worst. I am not at my best when I'm hungry (Shawn nods vehemently). I get snippy snappy and irritated. It's not a good scene.

HelloFresh has transformed our weekday meals. Before HelloFresh, our go-to on busy nights was ordering pizza. Now, there's no shame in the pizza game. Having a hot, delicious pizza delivered to my door is one of life's greatest joys. But it was becoming less of a treat and more of a habit. An expensive - nutritionally void - habit. 

HelloFresh gives you three meals of either two or four portions, and it works out to be cheaper than eating out for three meals. "But I still have to cook the food?" you ask. Yes, you do have to cook the food. But the ingredients come straight to your door, pre-portioned so all you have to do is open the bags and throw them in the pot as the recipe instructs. It's foolproof. You don't need any special tools or skills; if you can read a recipe, you can rock a HelloFresh box. 

One of the perks we've enjoyed is the ability to control the salt. Takeout can often be too salty but HelloFresh puts the seasoning decisions in your hands. You add the amount of spice you want. You salt to your taste. You follow the recipe but make it your own. Faster than if you picked up the phone and ordered takeout. 

Use code HILLARY40 for 40% off your first box. Try it and see how it can transform weekday meals from stressful and annoying to quick and easy. 

Do you use HelloFresh? What do you love or not love about it?

{Disclosure: I received product in exchange for this review; all opinions stated are my own.}

Hack Your HelloFresh Meals for Yummy Leftovers

I recently had the opportunity to review HelloFresh Canada's recipe kit delivery service and I fell in love. The only major drawback I found was the lack of leftovers. I love leftovers. I love cooking once and getting two dinners' worth of food. I'm all about minimum effort and maximum reward (hashtag: millennial?). 

HelloFresh Canada generously sent me a four-person box (so three dinners that each have four portions) so I could try to hack my meals to give me yummy leftovers. I'm not talking about reheating the same meal twice in a row. I wanted to supplement with common kitchen ingredients to transform my leftovers into something new without a lot of effort. 

One of the meals I received was Turkey Milanese with Pesto Green Beans and Creamy Potatoes. Sounds good, right? Well it was. Shawn and I thoroughly enjoyed it as our pre-Thanksgiving warmup, and we were left with two servings of turkey, a bowl of mashed potatoes, and a generous serving of pesto green beans for our leftovers.

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I decided to transform my leftovers into two additional meals. It was the Thanksgiving long weekend and we had time for a nice, leisurely breakfast. I grabbed my potatoes and green beans, along with a handful of grape tomatoes, five eggs, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles. While my oven preheated to 350F, I lightly greased a pie plate. Then I dotted spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes, layered with the green beans and halved grape tomatoes, and topped with the feta cheese. Lastly, I whisked together the eggs and milk, seasoned with salt and pepper, and poured over the veggie mixture. I checked my frittata at 30 minutes and it was still a bit jiggly in the middle so I cooked for another 5-10 minutes until the middle was set. Shawn and I enjoyed the frittata with fresh fruit and giant mugs of coffee. My assembly time was five minutes and It made enough for both of us to eat for breakfast two days in a row. 

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When Shawn saw the crispy breaded turkey pieces, he requested hot turkey sandwiches. While I cooked up some bacon and sliced tomatoes, he threw the leftover turkey on the barbecue to quickly heat them up without losing the crunch. I had saved the leftover pesto from the green beans; I mixed it with mayo and spread on our buns for a little sauce. A little green leaf lettuce and aged cheddar completed the dish. Shawn I both got home from work late but managed to get dinner on the table in under ten minutes. It felt like a major win because our usual method of dealing with late nights is calling for a pizza.

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We received a four-person box with: Turkey Milanese, Autumn Bacon Salad, and Hungarian Beef Goulash. The Turkey Milanese gave us two 2-portion dinners and two 2-portion breakfasts. The Autumn Bacon Salad gave us one 2-portion dinner and one 2-portion lunch (what can I say, we both love a big salad). The Hungarian Beef Goulash gave us one 2-portion dinner and three 2-portion lunches with very minimal effort (I added all the leftovers to four cups of beef broth, threw in a package of frozen chopped spinach, added an additional onion, thickened it with a flour slurry, and called it beef stewp (stew/soup).) 

Our three-meal four-person box stretched to give us ten 2-portion meals with the addition of common kitchen items (which I estimate cost $15 or so). We had time-saving leftovers to eat on busy weeknights, and nutritious and satisfying leftovers to pack for work lunches. 

HelloFresh has transformed our last-minute meals into nutritious, home-cooked, satisfying meals and I'm shocked at how easy the transition has been. There will always be unavoidable chaos (this is real life after all) but reviewing the calendar at the beginning of the week, and prepping for the days we know are bound to be a bit more hectic than others, is the difference between a little difficult and sobbing-on-the-kitchen-floor-while-inhaling-takeout. 

If you want to try HelloFresh Canada to see how they can make your life easier, use code HILLARY40 for 40% off your first box for new customers.

{Disclosure: I received product in exchange for this review; all opinions stated are my own.}

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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Three Ways to Hack Your Grocery Routine with #SaveOnFoodsOnline

This post is sponsored by Crisp Media on behalf of Save-On-Foods. The opinions are my own.

I've professed my love for Save-On-Foods online shopping here and here but I want to take it a step farther and tell you how I've used it to hack my grocery routine. Groceries (the planning, obtaining, and preparation of) are a big part of everyday life unless you're lucky enough to employ a household staff (#goals). With Save-On-Foods online shopping, it doesn't have to be so time consuming.

I love to cook and bake but only when I don't have to. I'll spend hours flipping through cookbooks, planning elaborate dishes, playing with ingredients, etc.  but as soon as it's a requirement? The shine wears off. I find the day-to-day monotony of planning meals and then getting the meals into my family a little boring. I don't want to spend a lot of time and energy on the daily doldrums, I want the razzle dazzle.

I've eliminated a lot of domestic drudgery using the Save-On-Foods online shopping tool to plan simple, manageable meals. I don't have to spend a lot of time or mental effort on what my family is going to eat on a daily basis, which means I get to enjoy the fun part of cooking (discovering new ways to hide vegetables in baked goods! planning birthday meals! cooking elaborate holiday dishes! razzle! dazzle!).

These are my top tips for hacking your grocery routine using Save-On-Foods online shopping. Let me know what works for you (my system can always use fine tuning!).

Fit it into your life.
Grady goes to school every (week)day. I know that I'm going to be bundling Poppy up every morning, at the same time, regardless of her mood or sleep status. I can't leave her at home and I can't keep Grady home from school. It's inevitable that we're going to be out so why not fit grocery pickup into that trip? Every Sunday I plan our meals for the week, do a quick online shop (because I've already got My Favourites set up), and choose a pickup time that fits with Grady's drop off time. After we leave Grady at school, I hit the pickup lane at my local Save-On-Foods, they bring my groceries out to my car (this will never cease to amaze me), and I'm home within 15 minutes. Did I mention that the service is free? And it makes my life easier? It's a no-brainer.

Post-school-drop-off screamy baby.

Post-school-drop-off screamy baby.

Build your infrastructure.
This is key. Having the online shopping system set up to suit your needs takes it from "convenient" to "life changing." Take the time to build your lists based on meals your family enjoys and you'll be able to do your weekly grocery shop in under half an hour from the comfort of your own home. I've got my taco night list, my spaghetti night list, my grilled cheese and tomato soup night list. These are not elaborate meals that I'd serve at a dinner party. They're the daily maintenance meals that I know my family will eat. When I make my weekly meal plan, I pull up my lists, quickly scan them to see what's on special that week, and build from there. It saves me time, money, and frustration because I can easily see what's on sale (and they're items my family will actually eat).

The "Grady's lunches" list has two things on it. True story. 

The "Grady's lunches" list has two things on it. True story. 

Know your strengths. Stick to them.
I want to present my family with three square meals per day. I want them to be nutritious and full of vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. I want my family to enjoy the meals I create. I want meal time (and meal prep and grocery shopping) to be stress-free experiences. This is not real life. I have a five-year-old who is a picky eater. I have a screamy baby. I have a husband who has many strengths but is hopeless in the kitchen. Expecting perfection is only setting myself up for failure and disappointment. I have a pretty good idea of what my family will eat and I know what I'm good at preparing. Sticking to my strengths most of the time means I'm not discouraged and unmotivated, I actually want to play in the kitchen and discover new recipes and foods. I get a taste of the razzle dazzle.

Grocery shopping with Save-On-Foods online shopping has simplified my family's food routines and given me the gift of more time. How have you hacked your grocery routine?