Pre-Box Meal Plans and What I Learned from a Trial

I struggle, truly struggle with meal planning in this season of life. I have tried freezer cooking and found some seemingly simple recipes to try. Crock-pot recipes as a majority (if you know where this is going, just hold on a bit more), how much more simple can it get. Prep en-mass, freeze then let it cook while I am at work. AWESOME!!!

Well here is the thing, being a working Mom I am away from my house for at least 10 hours, it is usually closer to 11 or more on average. Let’s talk about how long you cook in a crock-pot for….well let’s just say not that long. It seemed like every time I came across a great crock-pot meal, I felt like a failure. These were just not working out.

I was on the hunt for more ideas. I was dead set on getting on the meal planning bandwagon and I even purchased a program to help me with it. Problem is I struggle with coming up with what I want to eat and I do not have a ton of recipes that I love to use over and over again. Yup, software is going unused at this time (great now I have sunk more money into something that is not working to make things easier).

I was looking at different ways to build up a stock of recipes and came across (not for the first time) one of those subscription boxes of meals. Ok, I give I need to see how this works. I found a deal for a first box and purchased my first box. I immediately delayed future shipments so that I had more time to really go over the options and costs. I find that doing this with any subscription service where possible is huge because it is so easy to miss a deadline and then you end up getting charged again.

I was really excited about the meal options I had chosen, I also knew right away that my husband would be iffy about one and completely against a second. That being said these were still the best choices. Spicy Orange Chicken Wings with Rice, Steak Tacos and Goat Cheese + Kale Quiche.

Recipe Cards for each meal + a note about one ingredient
Recipe Cards for each meal + a note about one ingredient

When my box arrived on Friday I unpacked it and my 4- year old was so excited to help. He loved when we had the boxes of vegetables each week over the Summer so this was no surprise.

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A little helping hand to opening the box.
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Great packaging to keep the fresh stuff fresh in transit.
He REALLY wanted to hold that lettuce and be in the picture of all the ingredients.
He REALLY wanted to hold that lettuce and be in the picture of all the ingredients.

 

We made the first meal on Sunday, I had ended up sick that Saturday and wasn’t able to help with much of anything so when Sunday came I was feeling a bit better and we gave it a try. My husband actually made the first meal, it was a bit more than he is used to doing in the kitchen (his words, not mine I promise), but he was able to get the meal made with little error. Since I had ordered the two person meal kit knowing my kids were less apt to eat these selections he was also juggling a second meal to make for them (I think it was ravioli, not too difficult). Anyway, I thought it turned out great! We were a bit concerned about the size of the meal but really it worked out perfectly. Definitely no leftovers though.

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I think he thought he was eating by himself and used a platter for a plate, it worked out great for a meal to share between the two of use, not to mention a picture perfect plate. The whole meal was really good, it was hard to believe that we were not eating at a restaurant. The next two meals went interestingly for sure. The Steak Tacos were not a hit for anyone, I enjoyed them but was not planning to keep the recipe around. The Third meal I saved for a night that my Mom was over (Men were out bowling) and it was a very delicious quiche that I knew my husband was not going to enjoy at all.

Out of three meals we had 1 great meal for both of us, 1 meh/ okay meal (ok, he didn’t really eat more than a bite but I liked it well enough so it still gets rated higher in my book and I am the one writing this), and 1 delicious meal just for me (and my Mom). Overall not a great track record. Here are my pros and cons and what I decided to do next.

Pros:

  • Great Restaurant quality recipes with simple instructions for anyone to follow
  • Amazingly delicious fresh ingredients
  • No grocery shopping needed
  • Pre-measured (mostly) ingredients.

Cons:

  • Only for two people (there are other plans for 4 people)
  • No leftovers for lunch
  • Prep time + Cook Time may not be quick
  • Meal selections may not be suited for all

 

So though I am really glad I did this one box, I do not plan to get them too often. I enjoyed the meals more than my husband and overall this was not very family friendly for our family. Let me elaborate on this. I purposely chose the two person plan, not the family plan, a family plan was significantly more than I would spend per meal and I was not interested in the recipes they had for that week when I planned to do this. I do not think the family plan would change my mind for us simply because it is even more limited in choices and more expensive. I do plan to keep tabs on the recipes for upcoming weeks and get a box once in a while for a special night or weekend.

I am still on the hunt for simple ways to integrate meal planning for our family. I will say this was still a successful trial for us as I now have two more recipes in  my book and I think we enjoyed giving this a try.

If you have any meal planning ideas you would like to share I would love to hear about it, leave a comment or send me an email. Thank you!

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The creation of Home

Home, it can have so much meaning. Home is where the heart is, home is where you can always go. Home is comfort, home is safe. Creating that inviting environment where even your guest feel at home.

I think back to the years before my kids were born and see all the wonderful times I was able to create that inviting space for guests that have come to stay. We have had a few people come to stay at our home for a variety of reasons, but whatever that reason we have striven to create a welcoming place of salvation for their rest and relaxation. I was always amazed at their reactions on a weekend morning when my husband had cooked up pancakes and bacon (I am not the breakfast cook in the house, he gets full credit for the amazing pancakes). The look of awe over something that happens each weekend for us, it is pretty much a given that pancakes will be made on at least one morning of the weekend. It is this type of environment that everyone can feel welcomed as a part of the family.

So, I know I mentioned pancakes and this is a waffle but we recently started making waffles and I had this great picture :)
So, I know I mentioned pancakes and this is a waffle but we recently started making waffles and I had this great picture 🙂

Though I have a smaller house than some I have worked to create an inviting space. A space where my kids love to play and the adults can sit and chat. We used to love hosting game nights where we would host a dinner then spend a few hours playing a board game at the kitchen table. After having kids it seemed to be set aside. After reading The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson I aspire to bring back those inviting events I have let slip. It has reminded me the importance of gatherings and celebrations.

This book is filled with the amazing ways that Sally and her husband Clay created this loving and inspiring space wherever they were. Sarah’s take on things as her child is a true testament to the creation of the home. Each chapter offers insight on a different month of the year, though I recommend reading this book as a whole the first time because there are so many wonderful tidbits that would be great for any time of the year.

There are things to come for my household after reading this book. I have started a notebook of ideas for my lifegiving home. There are some simple things  that I have already crossed off my list, such as having tea and coffee readily available for any visitor and the continuation of weekend pancakes.

As my children grow I am sure there will be more we will implement, like musical lessons and celebrations of achievements. I am not wishing the time away to get to those, just planning ahead for all the wonderful things to come.

I posted this picture to my IG account with a note about how even at work a cup of tea and a good book can make you feel more at home.
I posted this picture to my IG account with a note about how even at work a cup of tea and a good book can make you feel more at home.

Sally and Sarah have done an amazing job in creating this book that helps me feel at home in just reading about the ways they have setup their home wherever they were.

What have you done in your home to create a lifegiving space? Let me know in the comments, I would love to share more ideas on creating a lifegiving home.
The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

There is also a companion guide to help you work through the book, I do not currently have this book but may pick it up at my next opportunity.

The Lifegiving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey