It was 2012 and I was a new mom...again...for the 5th time! But now I was 39 and had 4 teenage sons. To say that feeding everyone was overwhelming would be an understatement. It was probably one of the more stressful times of my life.
For us, family dinners are a TOP priority! If you've never thought about it, I suggest you read this article about the importance of family mealtimes. (This was just one of millions of results on google on the subject.)
One day I was lamenting my plight to a friend of mine when she suggested I sign up for a subscription recipe service. Huh? What the heck is that? She explained that every week I could receive easy, delicious recipes in my email AND a shopping list. I didn't have to think twice, I looked it up immediately. At the time it was called, emealz.com. But now that service has grown and at some point they purchased Emeals.com. (Click the pic below to go to their FB page)
You must check it out! They have numerous meal plans to choose from like vegetarian, paleo, traditional, clean eating, and so forth. You can also tell them which store you like to shop and they'll not only send you a shopping list for that store, they'll tell you what's on sale for that week. The subscriptions are very affordable, as low as 9.99 for 3 months!
And it is true, the recipes are easy and delicious. You get 7 recipes per week! I have never cooked every night of the week (which I'll explain in a minute) so I would choose from the 7 recipes, 3 or 4 that I felt my family would enjoy. I would print the recipes every week and make notes on the ones I prepared to remind myself if we enjoyed the recipe or not. I would also note what side dishes would be perfect for a potluck! I subscribed for 2 years and now I have a folder full of recipes that I can use again.
As my older boys grew up and moved out, I began using a boxed dinner subscription. If you haven't heard of those, allow me to fill you in! These are recipes and ALL of the ingredients for 2-4 meals delivered to your door in a refrigerated box weekly! It's amazing!
Blue Apron meals are amazing! The ingredients are super fresh and high quality. This is the one I've used the longest. The only drawback for me (which has prompted me to try the other ones), is that most of the meals take at least 30 minutes to prepare. AT LEAST. Most of the meals take 40 to 60 minutes. That is fine if you have the time to spend on cooking, and it worked for me for a couple of years, but since I started Arabella Baby, I find that I don't have that much time to spend cooking dinner.
When I tried Home Chef I found that the ingredients were not as high quality (which is very important to me), but the meals were good.
Then I tried Gobble. This is the one I'm currently receiving weekly. The best part of Gobble is that each meal is designed to be mostly done in one pan and take 15 minutes! So the potatoes come cooked, the sauces are prepared and many times the veggies have already been chopped. And the meals are delicious!
Here's a Gobble meal I posted a pic of on my IG account ;)
All of these services are easy to postpone or cancel if you no longer wish to receive them. From my experience, they all have amazing customer service. There have been a few times when the box from Blue Apron was not delivered on time and they have either refunded my money or credited my account. And in one of my Gobble boxes, the asparagus was bad so they gave me a $17 credit!
They also offer great deals to try them out! Blue Apron gives every customer 5 boxes to give to friends. If you want to be one of my 5 friends, send an email to email@example.com and I'll send you one of my invites. To be clear, I make nothing from these referrals! If you sign up for Blue Apron, you'll also have 5 boxes to give to friends!
To get 6 meals for $36 from Gobble go here.
And just by visiting the Home Chef site you get $80 towards 4 boxes!
If you don't want to spend money on these services, there are lots of great ideas to help you do meal planning. For instance, @thefamilyfreezer on instagram teaches how to do meal planning for freezer meals!
As I mentioned earlier, I didn't cook every night. When my oldest was about 10 I had become so tired of the complaining at dinner from at least one or two of the boys. Ya know, the whiny, "I don't like this" stuff...ugh. So I decided to make two nights a week "Choose night". On those nights the boys who were old enough would make their own meal! I made sure I had plenty of easy to prepare food like frozen foods, sandwich supplies, etc. These choose nights accomplished numerous things besides giving me a break. The boys learned their way around a kitchen and when I made dinner, they appreciated it! It also gave me leverage on the nights I made dinner to say, "Tonight you eat what I make! It's not 'choose night', that's tomorrow" ;)
It really is possible to reduce the "What's for dinner" stress! Give yourself the break you need when it comes to meal planning by finding and using the resource that works best for your family or making one or two nights a week "choose night."
Wishing you many happy dinners and much love,
Our family photo around the time I seriously needed dinner help: