I’ve tried several different styles of meal planning in the past, but most weren’t flexible enough for me. Events come up on the calendar, meetings run late, or I’m just too tired to cook anything. When I purchased my Happy Planner last December, I had no plans to use it as a meal planner. I just thought of it as a calendar, but what better place to meal plan than your calendar. You can see what events are scheduled that include dinner outside of the home or when you’ll need something quick. So here’s my setup.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my family uses Blue Apron and Sun Basket for most of our meal preparation. With Blue Apron, you can schedule meals 4 weeks in advance and 3 weeks in advance with Sun Basket. I use a solid colored washi tape to write the meals that I’ve selected. Although there are so many cute designed washi tapes, solid is much easier to read when written on. I’d also recommend a lighter color. I use mainly yellow and pink. First, I cut the washi tape to fit the width of a day in my Happy Planner. I then write the meals I’ve selected on each piece of tape. Next, I’ll stick the tape where I “plan” to prepare each meal. But this time, when new events get added to the calendar or I decide “I’m not in the mood” for whatever I planned, I can easily remove the meal and move it to another day.
I also use these cute grocery cart stickers to mark the days that my Blue Apron and Sun Basket boxes will arrive. As I don’t regularly get each box every week, it’s a nice reminder to know when I need to check our front porch and get those items into the fridge.
Meal delivery services have become popular for combining convenience with fresh food. Our family has used 3 different meal delivery services and have enjoyed trying new foods and eating a variety of cuisines. The meals come in various stages of preparedness, usually just requiring some dicing and then cooking. The average estimated time to prepare is 25-35 minutes. This post will outline our experience with each company. For each company, we enrolled in 3 meals a week for 2 individuals.
Hello Fresh allows you to sign up for 3, 4, or 5 recipes for two people each week, or 3 recipes for four people. If purchasing less than 5 recipes per week, you choose your meals from the 5 total for the week. There is also a Veggie Plan with 3 vegetarian meals per week. Hello Fresh shipped their meals with all ingredients for 1 meal boxed together. This made it very easy to pull those ingredients when ready to prep the meal. The meal selection was good, but we no longer use Hello Fresh as the quality of their ingredients became worse and worse. We would receive rotten vegetables and meat that was brown. When contacting customer service, they would always place a credit on our account for a portion of the meal cost to replace the bad ingredient.
Blue Apron was the second company that we tried and one that we still use regularly. They provide a selection of 6 meals to choose from each week, but the selection of certain meals will eliminate other options. The meals are very easy to prepare with only some minimal prep, such as dicing potatoes, grating cheese, removing stems from kale, or pressing garlic. The ingredients for all three meals are lumped together in the delivery box, not separated by meal. Although, the ingredients are individually wrapped and labeled with the exception of garlic, lemons and limes. Pricing starts at $8.74 a meal.
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Blue Apron also provides how-to videos on their site, plus options to order corresponding wines and cooking tools.
Updates to Blue Apron (as of 4/9/18) – Blue Apron has expanded their weekly meal selections to include up to 9 options. And no more eliminating some meal options when others are selected. You can know select any 3 meals for the week that you choose. With this update, we are now using Blue Apron on a more frequent basis.
We have only been using Sun Basket for a short time, but they are a great new entrant to the field. Each week you get to choose from 11 different recipes, with no restrictions. You can even select to receive multiple of the same recipe. This would be a great option for a dinner party or when having company. When selecting your meals, each recipe indicates if it is paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, or vegan. There is even a breakfast option. Like Hello Fresh, the ingredients for each recipe are packaged together in paper bags. Pricing starts at $9.99 a meal. Get 50% off Family Meals from Sun Basket! Fresh organic and non-GMO ingredients and kid-friendly recipes delivered!
Updates to Sun Basket (as of 4/9/18) – Sun Basket has become my overall favorite entrant into this category. They continue to provide at least 11 meal options each week, with numerous gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and soy free options. They no longer provide the recipes on cards, but rather, you get a cookbook with the recipes for all the meals that you could have selected for that week.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to review any of these companies nor did I receive free product, but these are all referral links which will credit me if you choose to sign up.