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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