Posts Tagged ‘things I love’

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.

Related posts:

Braaaaiiiiins
Free ponies for everyone!
#photoadaymay

Evan: Eight Years Old

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

I’ve been a mother for eight years now and I’m like 75% sure I’m not doing it right. It’s unfortunate that there’s no real way to tell until I’ve really screwed up. I need a warning sign somewhere between “isn’t always happy in group settings” and “burns down the house”, but right now I’ll have to settle for “says he’s part of The Dark Side but gives really good hugs”.

I can’t even begin to sum up Evan in a post the way I do for babies, because when you are eight you are a whole human person. He understands things like reading and math and sarcasm and other important life skills. He is old enough to be trusted with important jobs and responsible enough that I can tell him the rules and I am mostly sure he will follow them. We’re getting close to being allowed to stay home alone, which might be the most real milestone I can imagine.

He can ride a bike, read a novel, carry the laundry upstairs, pay for something at the store, make his siblings breakfast in the morning, do all the dog-related chores and work all the technology in the house.

And here is Evan in his own words. Happy Birthday buddy, we love you so much!

Related posts:

My Week(109) in iPhone Photos
Snow Day Take 2
My Week(346) in iPhone Photos

Expectations vs Life As We Know It

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Ever since Caroline was born, I have dreamed of the day I get to give her an American Girl doll. If you were a little girl at any point in the 90’s, you probably understand (My husband completely does not understand. “Don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t love these dolls as much as you do,” he said to me. HAHA AS IF.) In those days, they were made by The Pleasant Company and were completely unlike any other toy I had ever seen. They were beautiful. They had the most amazing clothes. They all had tiny tea sets or picnic baskets or ice cream parlors. And everything cost one million dollars. Or at least it felt like it did.

When I was 7 or 8 my parents and grandparents teamed up to make my sister and I American Girl dolls. They bought blonde 18-inch baby dolls, purchased a few tiny accessories that couldn’t be easily replicated, and then hand-made everything else we needed for our own Kirstens. They did the braids. They made beds with tiny mattresses and quilts. And my grandmother sewed me a child-sized version of Kirsten’s pink checked dress because there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be a Swedish pioneer girl, even if that meant my best friend might die of cholera. I still remember finding our boxes with the dolls under our Christmas tree.

Eventually, I got a “real” Samantha doll and several of her outfits. I treasured her until the day I accidentally pulled her leg off trying to get her into a pair of tights, then I gently put her away and thought “some day I’ll send her to the doll hospital”. I still have all of it, both the Kirsten and the Samantha and the clothes and accessories and the bed and the box. It’s been in Caroline’s closet for years. So I decided THIS year, when she turned 6, would be the year of the American Girl. I would stop hiding the catalogs when they came (because of course I get the catalog) and we would look through and talk about how pretty everything was. I would buy her a doll, then ask for my family to sponsor a gift card so we could go to the store and do some dream shopping. We could get tea and ice cream in the American Girl Cafe where your doll gets a special seat and her own cup and everything would be so pink and so sparkly and she would look back on this birthday as the best birthday of her childhood.

But I had a baby 3 months ago, who I can’t really leave for long enough to do a girl’s trip to Boston. So I needed to bring my baby with me. But I didn’t want a crying baby to disrupt our trip so I talked E into bringing everyone so he could watch the boys while Caroline and I did our special birthday stuff and then Finn would be close enough to nurse if he needed. In my head, it was a great plan.

In reality, it was a terrible plan because there was no plan. We left late. No one ate anything. We ended up with all of us standing in the middle of the American Girl store while Linc threw a tantrum, the hungry baby cried, Evan leaned against things because he was bored and I wondered how I could have even thought this was a good idea. Caroline picked out a couple things and we left. No tea, no magical mother-daughter time, no wandering around for an hour looking at every tiny detail for the dolls.

By the time we got home, I felt like I had genuinely ruined Caroline’s birthday. She would never look back on the day she got her first American Girl doll and think about how magical it was.

But the truth is 6-year-olds don’t internalize everything the way adults do. Caroline was so excited to play with her doll and to dress her up in all her new clothes she barely noticed how grumpy I was. So I pulled myself together and asked her if she wanted to run some errands with me, one-on-one. “Yes! A girl date! I love girl dates!” she said. We went to Target for diapers and toothpaste. We wandered around for an hour with our Starbucks (hot cocoa and a cake pop for her, the hugest peppermint mocha frapp ever for me), looking at Christmas decorations, checking out the stuff in the dollar spot, and picking up small presents she could give her brothers for Christmas. She brought her American Girl doll and they rode in the cart together, singing a made up song and telling every person who smiled at her that it was her birthday.

I have always struggled with keeping my expectations in the realm of reality and adjusting when things didn’t work out exactly as I had imagined. Going with the flow is not my specialty. Enjoying the moment if the moment isn’t the moment I had planned.

I’m working on it.

 

 

 

 

Related posts:

His Way
The Only Thing I Want to See at 5 am is the Inside of my Eyelids
My Week(284) in iPhone Photos

Local Fun: Cirque Eloize Saloon at Foxwoods

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

I’ve written before about how much we love living near Foxwoods, and that continues to hold true. We’ve been lucky enough to attend lots of cool events in the past couple of years (from beer to bowling to kids shows) but I think our Friday night trip to see Cirque Eloize Saloon was the best show we’ve ever seen.

From their press release:

This captivating and energetic show transports audiences to the height of the Wild Wild West era, telling the story of a piano tuner’s astonishing journey through a world filled with gold diggers, rail workers, chorus girls and cowboys. Mysterious and intriguing characters will light up the stage to explosive live music, resulting in a series of unexpected situations packed with rhythmic acrobatic prowess and original choreography. The series begins Friday, August 12 and runs through Sunday, August 21 for a total of 12 remarkable performances at a variety of family-family show times.

It was amaaaaazing. Caroline and Evan could barely stay in their seats, they were SO excited about all the tricks and acrobatics. It was lucky we were sitting with other bloggers and the Foxwoods people, because I would have been worried we were annoying regular show-watchers with all the audible gasping and “MOMMY DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!” Even Linc got super into the show, especially the hoop spinning thing (Cyr wheel, according to Google) and the singing, which he joined in enthusiastically. Like I said when I gushing over the show on Instagram, it’s like a musical combined with America’s Got Talent, two things our family loves. There was a part with a teeter-totter board that made me almost as annoying as the kids, cheering and clapping every time no one killed themselves (spoiler: no one killed themselves, they were all incredible).

cirque eloize saloon at Foxwoods

iPhone Week 302

Our 4th row seats were awesome

cirque eloize saloon at Foxwoods-2

Enjoying chocolate strawberries at the reception, like a good blogger

cirque eloize saloon at Foxwoods-3

Step and repeat expert

cirque eloize saloon at Foxwoods-5

cirque eloize saloon at Foxwoods-6

cirque eloize saloon at Foxwoods-7

iPhone Week 3021

We borrowed a pen and the kids got their tickets signed. Everyone was SO nice.

cirque eloize saloon at Foxwoods-8

Caroline: Are those REAL HORSES?! (No, but fake horses are still very exciting)

Our Friday before the show was an epic disaster. No less than a dozen things went wrong and around 6 pm we were debating whether or not we could pull ourselves together enough to even TRY to enjoy our evening. But the air conditioning plus the amazing show plus the chance to meet with the cast afterward was exactly what we needed to cheer ourselves up as a family and have a great time. If you’re suffering through this unbearable summer like we are, I cannot recommend a night out to see Cirque Eloize Saloon enough. Then you too can start to teach your kids hand-to-hand in the lake.

Video taken by the 7-year-old, but it’s still awesome.

Cirque Eloize Saloon is currently playing in the Fox Theater at Foxwoods. Shows are scheduled for: August 12, 7:30 PM  August 13, 4:00 PM  August 13, 8:00 PM  August 14, 2:00 PM  August 14, 7:00 PM  August 17, 7:30 PM  August 18, 7:30 PM  August 19, 8:00 PM  August 20, 4:00 PM  August 20, 8:00 PM  August 21, 2:00 PM  August 21, 7:00 PM

Tickets start at $35

We were invited to the opening night of previews of this show at Foxwoods because I’m on their press list and they’re super nice. No other compensation was provided and all opinions and photos are my own. 

Related posts:

Um, OUCH
I can't even tell if I'm losing anymore
My Week(37) in iPhone Photos

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

We’re playing Pokemon Go. I don’t actually want to hear about how it’s a secret plot from the CIA to data-mine us all or whatever. I don’t care. It’s been a super fun way for our family to spend time, outside, together, getting lots of fresh air and exercise. It’s gotten my tired, pregnant butt off the couch every day since I downloaded it. The kids are all exhausted at the end of the day from the walking. And believe it or not, looking at REAL animals or boats or flowers is still really fun, in between catching Clefairies (Caroline’s favorite) and trash birds (stupid Pidgies are everywhere).

And if you want to visit Mystic in the summer, may I recommend the Monday night after-hours at the aquarium? The outdoor section isn’t all open (no penguins) but it was SO fun to visit when the place was empty, plus the octopus, whales and frogs were all extra active and fun to watch.

mystic day

mystic day-2

mystic day-3

mystic day-4

mystic day-6

mystic day-7

mystic day-8

mystic day-11

mystic day-13

mystic day-14

mystic day-16

mystic day-19

mystic day-20

mystic day-21

mystic day-22

mystic day-23

mystic day-24

mystic day-26

mystic day-27

Related posts:

Why Am I Encouraging This?
Caroline: 13 Months
Caroline: 26 Months
Get Adobe Flash player