Archive for the ‘What’s For Dinner’ Category

Meal Delivery Showdown: HelloFresh vs Blue Apron

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, my love for meal delivery services is well documented. Although there are a lot to choose from and several I’m tempted to try, HelloFresh vs Blue Apron seems to be the most common comparison and most popular choices. I’m currently subscribed to both services, and have been using them for several months so I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good sample size to make recommendations.

hellofresh vs blue apron

First, I’ll do a quick overview of how it works and what it costs. Both services ship food to your house in big cardboard boxes lined with insulation with fresh ingredients on top and meats in the bottom under ice packs. The system works well. My meat has always arrived sufficiently cold with the ice packs still fully frozen. If something leaks, it’s contained in the insulated bag/liner and doesn’t get on the cardboard box. None of my boxes have ever been damaged. HelloFresh boxes each meal’s non-meat ingredients in their own smaller box, while Blue Apron has all the ingredients together. At first I really preferred the separate boxes system, but it means you need to either refrigerate the whole box or take out things like sour cream that need to go in the fridge. There is quite a bit of packaging involved in sending food this way, but both companies encourage recycling and send things like sauces and oils in plastic or glass bottles or jars that make it easy.

Cost Breakdown

I’m currently subscribed to the following:

HelloFresh: Classic meal plan for 4, 3 meals a week, $119.88 (breakdown: $9,99/meal)
If you do the same number of meals in the family plan vs the classic plan, it’s $8.74/meal

The ACTUAL charge that shows on my credit card is $129/week, because of taxes I guess (it’s in their small print, but not easy to find).

Blue Apron: Family plan for 4 people, 2 meals a week, $69.92 (breakdown: $8.74/meal)
Family plan is also available with 3 meals a week, but the cost breakdown is the same

The ACTUAL charge that shows on my credit card is $69.92, so Blue Apron wins for transparency.

I know that breakdown makes it sound like I’m paying $200/week for meals, but because of our schedule and their menus, I skip more weeks than I receive. They both make that VERY easy to do, since you can read the menus and make changes from their phone apps as well as the computer. This was one of my big concerns before I signed up; there are weeks where E is gone and it doesn’t make sense to cook nice meals for just me and the kids when they prefer cereal and also because E can be pretty picky. Skipping is why I am still signed up for both. My HelloFresh comes on Mondays and my BlueApron comes Fridays (but those are flexible, you can choose most days).

A few more things: HelloFresh’s recipes seem to have less prep in general (less chopping and peeling and cutting) even though they have about the same average number of ingredients. Blue Apron seems to be slightly fancier, even though I have the “family” plan.

I haven’t had any problems with my Blue Apron boxes or deliveries, which means I haven’t had to deal with their customer service yet. I have had to both call and email HelloFresh (a box got lost, a box was late, ingredients were missing, once a cucumber was squishy) and their customer service is GREAT. They offered me either partial credit or a whole free box immediately to resolve issues. After my late box showed up I emailed them to tell them I got it and they told me I could keep the full credit as an apology.

HelloFresh assumes you already have more things (like butter) in your kitchen, which Blue Apron sends almost everything. Both offer vegetarian plans. Blue Apron has an option to exclude specific proteins from your plan (lamb, fish, beef, etc) but you can avoid specific ingredients easily by customizing your menus each week, either from the app or online. My plans show 5-6 different options, and HelloFresh just started including one breakfast option, which is cool either for breakfast or as breakfast-for-dinner. Both have “farm-fresh” ingredients but Blue Apron seems to make a bigger deal about sustainability, local-ness, and working with small family farmers.

HelloFresh assumes you already have more things (like butter) in your kitchen, which Blue Apron sends almost everything. Both offer vegetarian plans. Blue Apron has an option to exclude specific proteins from your plan (lamb, fish, beef, etc) but you can avoid specific ingredients easily by customizing your menus each week, either from the app or online. My plans show 5-6 different options, and HelloFresh just started including one breakfast option, which is cool either for breakfast or as breakfast-for-dinner. Both have “farm-fresh” ingredients but Blue Apron seems to make a bigger deal about sustainability, local-ness, and working with small family farmers.

Recipe Comparison

HelloFresh: Sizzling Beef Stir-fry with Bok Choy over Jasmine Rice

hellofresh vs blue apron

Prepped:

hellofresh vs blue apron

What the kids got on their plates:

We are technically a family of 6, but Finn doesn’t really eat human food yet and my children don’t eat a grown-up sized portion of anything yet, so the 4 person boxes have always been plenty of food. The only time it becomes a problem is if we get something like burgers or sandwiches which only have 4 rolls/buns to feed 5 people.

hellofresh vs blue apron

This was really good, although the rice was a little boring because there wasn’t much of a sauce. It was very gingery, which we like.

Blue Apron: Crispy Catfish & Creamy Lemon-Caper Sauce with Broccoli & Farro Salad

hellofresh vs blue apron

Prepped:

hellofresh vs blue apron

hellofresh vs blue apron

What the kids got on their plates:

hellofresh vs blue apron

Caroline ate it. Evan and Linc tried it.

hellofresh vs blue apron

I really love capers and lemon, so I thought it was delicious.  I did get one bone in my fish, but that’s not super unusual in catfish.

My Recommendation

I like them both. If I had to pick just one forever, I would go with HelloFresh just because the recipes seem to be slightly less work and I end up with fewer pots/pans/dishes. They offer pasta more often (in my experience) than Blue Apron and my family really loves pasta.  I also think their portions are slightly bigger. But those are small, picky things, not make-or-break problems. If you don’t have any picky eaters in your family and enjoy time spent cooking as a joint activity with your partner, you might like the Blue Apron experience a little more.  I plan to continue paying real dollars for both services until our living situation changes and the Navy steals my husband for an extended period of time. I’m looking forward to more summer seasonal ingredients in the next few months and will report back with an update about who offers me a balsamic salad with strawberries first.

If you sign up for Hello Fresh using my link, you get $40 off your first box and I earn a credit. Blue Apron does their affiliate marketing through a program I’m too lazy to sign up for, but you can get cashback if you use Ebates when you sign up and they’re always offering $30-$40 off your first box or even first box free if you Google for a code.

Non-disclosure disclosure: I don’t have a relationship with either brand, although I think when my brother-in-law finishes school he’s going to go work for the wine division at Blue Apron. I definitely would accept some free wine for review.

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20 Pounds Down

Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

CampaignGraphic

A Cake Off you say? Don’t mind if I do.

Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing_-6

When it comes to Team Cake vs Team Pie, I am Team Why Can’t I Have Both? There’s no such thing as too much dessert. When I was looking for inspiration for a cake to submit for this contest, I searched Pinterest for cake and might have ended up eating half a box of cookies because it made me so hungry. This is why I am not a food blogger.

Half way through mixing the batter I realized I needed 3 9-inch cake pans but all I had in my cabinet was 1 9-inch cake pan and 2 8-inch cake pans. I thought really hard about how to make that work before giving up and sending my husband to the store to get the right pans. Be smarter than me and make sure you have the cake pans you need BEFORE you’ve already separated all the eggs and have the mixer going. This recipe has kind of a lot of steps, but I promise it’s worth it for the results: moist but light cake with an amazing flavor and super light frosting with exactly the right amount of sweet.

Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing_-11

Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing_-7

Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing
Adapted from A Latte Food

Cake
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 3/4 cup butter, softened
    • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 1/2 cups flour all purpose flour
    • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 Tbsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Berry Puree
    • 2 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
Lemon Whipped Cream
    • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
    • 1 8 oz cream cheese
    • 2 Tbsp lemon zest (about the zest of 2 large lemons)
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
Extra berries & mint to decorate
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray your cake pans with non-stick spray.
Make the berry puree first: throw all the berries (hull strawberries first) and the sugar in a food processor or blender on high until it’s well mixed. You can strain it if you hate seeds but they don’t bother me. Set aside.
Next the cake: separate your eggs and set aside. In your mixer, whip the butter for a minute or two until it’s fluffy. Add the vegetable oil and mix for another minute. Gradually add in sugar and eggs until everything is well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl when needed.
Mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl (flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt), then mix your wet ingredients in another bowl (milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt). Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to your mixer until just combined. Whip your reserved egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold them into the batter, gently but completely. Divide your batter as evenly as you can into the three prepared cake pans.
Add about 1/3 cup of berry puree to each pan, using a knife to swirl it around. The kids really loved this part, so it’s a good time for helpers. Be sure to reserve any leftover puree to drizzle on your plate or spoon over the cake when you serve it.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine was perfect at exactly 25 minutes.
For the frosting: whip the heavy cream on high for a few minutes until it starts to thicken. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar (add too fast and it will end up all over your kitchen) and then the cream cheese. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Once your cake is done and cooled, put the bottom layer on a plate or cake stand. Top with about a cup of frosting, spreading it all the way to the edge. Repeat for all three layers, with extra frosting for the top. Use a large knife or spatula to spread any frosting that leaked out from between the layers evenly around the sides. You can fully frost them if you want but the golden cake showing through is so pretty I left mine sparse.
Decorate the top with extra berries and mint leaves to make it extra fancy and really impress all your guests. It’s a big cake and serves about 15, as long as no one cuts a piece that’s 1/4th of the cake. Which I totally did when we had leftovers the next day. Be sure to store it in the fridge if you’re keeping it overnight.
  Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing_-8
Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing_-13
Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing_-17
If you think this looks delicious and want to make it – or just add it to your aspirational dessert Pinterest board (doesn’t everyone have one of those??) – you can pin the graphic below! This is a Cake Off and I’m in it to win it, despite not being a food blogger.
Mixed Berry Cake With Lemon Whipped Cream Icing YUM!

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Basil and Cheese Egg Muffins

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

I extended my AeroGarden giveaway so it ends TONIGHT! Quick, go enter! And if you’re still looking for an awesome Christmas gift for someone hard to buy for, you can use the code Digital20 for 20% off your order from the AeroGarden website. And a huge thanks to AeroGarden for working with me over the past few months and for sponsoring this post!

basil and cheese egg muffins

A few months ago when Linc was still super new and I wasn’t feeling much like leaving the house, my crazy babywearing friends (spoken with the utmost affection) agreed to have a meet-up at my house to show me how to use my new woven wrap. Since then, Friday morning playdates have been a regular thing. One of my friend’s 6 year old daughter described it as “All they do is drink tea and talk about wraps. It’s a total MomFest.” So obviously we call it MomFest now.

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What’s For Dinner: Easy Ravioli With Sausage And Tomatoes

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I was going to call this “What’s For Dinner: Stuff I Bought At Target” but my friend Amy pointed out some Targets don’t have as much food as others. Maybe your Target doesn’t have a frozen food section, or dried herbs, or the specific brand of tomatoes I like, or any sausage. I don’t want to get angry emails saying “I TRIED TO MAKE YOUR RECIPE BUT THEY DIDN’T HAVE RAVIOLI AT MY TARGET SO MY LIFE IS RUINED.”

You wouldn’t think people could get so mad over a problem easily solved (try the grocery store! Or even Walmart!), but then you’d remember this is the internet.  The most hateful comments I’ve ever gotten were about a tutu.

But back to food, since food is pretty much all I have left to enjoy at 32 weeks pregnant. Delicious, cheesy food.

Ravioli with Sausage and Tomatoes @bebehblog

A recipe that only takes a handful of ingredients that I can keep on hand AND children eat is the Holy Grail of dinners around here. I don’t even consider frozen ravioli cheating when it comes to “homemade” – if I didn’t get it from a drive-thru, we’re doing really well. (Have I mentioned I just discovered the joys of frozen meatballs and rotisserie chickens from the grocery store too???) Both kids ate the noodles, Caroline ate a ton of sausage and Evan pushed the tomatoes around on his plate. I added lots of red pepper flakes for my helping, but if you made it for grown ups you could use spicy sausage for even better flavor – the package I used was “garlic and cheese”.

Ravioli With Sausage And Tomatoes

1 24 oz bag frozen ravioli (cheese, spinach & cheese, whatever)
1 28 oz can Tuttorosso diced tomatoes
16 oz Italian sausage (whatever kind you like – if you buy precooked chicken sausage this would be even faster)
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried oregano
Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes
Salt

Cook the ravioli according to package directions. Most of the time that involves boiling a pot of water and just tossing them in for a few minutes. In the mean time, cut the sausage into small/medium sized pieces and brown it in a skillet until fully cooked. Drain the sausage of most of the fat. Open the tomato can and drain about 3/4 of the liquid (If you want saucier tomatoes you can skip that step. Saucy!) then throw them in the pan with the sausage. Add basil and oregano, then salt to taste. Simmer the sauce for just a few minutes to let the sausage soak up some of the tomatoes. Drain the ravioli and you’re ready to serve! Top with cheese and red pepper to taste.

Ravioli with Sausage and Tomatoes @bebehblog

It almost seems too easy, but I promise the tomatoes + sausage make a delicious combination. I’m a big fan of the Tuttorosso brand (they actually sent me a few cans, but I already had a dozen in my pantry) and they’re easy to find – look for the green and yellow labels. Technically this should serve 4, but if you are hungry or pregnant I’d say only 2 grown ups plus 2 kids.

Although right now I am fully confident I could eat the entire thing entirely by myself.

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Cranberry Orange Bread

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I made a test loaf of cranberry orange bread and ate 75% of it before I remembered I needed to take a picture if I wanted to post the recipe. My second try was even more delicious AND I managed to wait until it was cool to take it out of the pan so I had a nice loaf for photos. It’s definitely a dessert bread, but who says you can’t have dessert in the morning with a cup of coffee, dessert at noon with a little butter and two slices of dessert after dinner? Cranberry orange bread reminds me of the holidays, although I can’t quite remember why. It’s also a good way to include cranberries with Thanksgiving in case you’re one of those crazy people who don’t like real cranberry sauce.

cranberry orange bread

Cranberry Orange Bread

12 oz cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons orange zest (about 1 medium orange)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Combine the cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice in a bowl. Stir well and let the berries soak while you mix the batter. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well, making sure to fully beat the egg. Add the wet ingredients and the berry mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl and make sure it’s fully combined. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (approximately 9x5x3) and bake at 350 for one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Use the tester or a toothpick to poke holes in the top of the loaf.

Mix 1 Tablespoon water and 1 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add a splash or two of orange juice until you get a good drizzling consistency. When the loaf has cooled a little, run a sharp knife around the edge and flip the pan over to release the bread. Put the cranberry orange bread right-side up on a plate and drizzle with the glaze. Eat and enjoy.

cranberry orange bread

cranberry orange bread

Yum yum yum yum. I will say, 12 oz of cranberries is a lot of cranberries, as you can see from the sliced shots. You can adjust the amount of cranberries down (or add more orange zest if you want it to be EXTRA orange-y) without affecting the recipe or cook time.

cranberry orange bread

 

 

 

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