Meal Kit Round Up and Deals- Updated for 2022!

In my 12+ years as a blogger, I have reviewed a fair number of meal kits on the market. With the seemingly never-ending quarantine and the new normal being social distancing, something different is now more appreciated than ever.

I love trying out meal kits, they are a great way to try new recipes with new ingredients that I may not already have on hand. Here are a few of the meal kits that I’ve tried, links to reviews, and any deals or coupon codes I could find.

My number one local Meal Plan company is Dream Dinners (a review can be found here). There are locations all over the US, and my go-to location in La Mesa.

If you’ve never checked out Dream Dinners, Check out this great deal!

Learn how to meal prep with Dream Dinners. Available at our local stores, the Meal Prep Starter Pack will help you get dinner on the table with up to 4 family-style dinners for just $79.00.

  • Chef-created, family-friendly recipes are prepped in our local assembly kitchens.
  • Ready-to-cook frozen dinners leave you prepared for dinner.
  • Easy to follow instructions making both cooking and clean up simple and stress-free.
  • 20 years of experience.

Overall, my favorite mail order/delivery meal kit company is Dinnerly.

They have a nice mix of kid-friendly dishes and stuff that is decidedly more “grown-up food”. I wrote a review here. In addition to having a nice mix of dishes to choose from, the other thing I like is that Dinnerly is the first subscription meal kit service to offer $4.49 per serving. My big qualm with meal kits is that the meals can sometimes be upwards of $8-$10/per serving. At that point, you might as well go out for dinner!

Freshly is the next up on our highly received Meal companies. I reviewed Freshly in 2016, and it’s a little different that most of the other meal companies in that all of the food comes already cooked. All you do is heat and eat.

The portions are big, so if you wanted to stretch them, all you would need is an additional side, like a green salad.

Right now when you use Promo Code: LAUNCH15 you will save $60.00 on your first 4 orders($15 per order).

Gobble has a really great deal. Choose your meals and receive Gobble box for $36 for 6 meals. I recently ordered this, so we’ll see how it turns out! Here is why I decided to try it:

    • Choose your meals from our diverse weekly menu. Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, & vegetarian options are available.
    • Their team of chefs does all the tedious prep work for you — no more chopping, measuring, or sink full of dishes
  • Your freshly made 15-minute dinner kits will arrive in a refrigerated box to your doorstep. No commitment. Adjustable to your schedule.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about Meal Kits that you have tried and which ones have worked for you and your family!

Recipe: Lemon Herb Chicken

This recipe has been fine-tuned and constantly evolving for a while.  It originally started as a copycat of the Greek Chicken restaurant near me. This chicken is now a million times better.

Lemon Herb Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (I use breasts or thighs)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (I like sweet onions)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil of your choice (I like olive or avocado)
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Prepare the marinade:

  1. Pat chicken dry and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl juice the lemons, set the lemons aside.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together.
  4. Chop up juiced lemons, add to marinade.
  5. In a large ziploc bag, pour marinade and add chicken.
  6. Allow chicken to marinate for at minimum 2 hours- I usually let it marinate overnight.

Cooking the chicken:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 T. oil or spray pan with spray release.
  2. Cook chicken on each side until brown and internal temp is at minimum 165.

This chicken is also great grilled! I love serving this chicken with a crisp cool green salad, hummus, and pita.

 

Cinco De Mayo Recipe Round-Up!

It’s Cinco De Mayo! Let’s celebrate the Mexican victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla. Wanna learn more about the holiday’s origins? Here is the Wikipedia article.

If you are looking for some tasty recipes with a Mexican/South American flare, here are a few of mine:

Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Easy Cheesy Enchiladas

Beefy Taco Skillet
Black Bean Veggie Soup
Beef Machacas (Slowcooker recipe)
Corn and Avocado Salsa!
Homemade Pico De Gallo (Fresh Salsa)

None of these are authentic, as they were created in my kitchen here in San Diego.

Talk Back: What are your favorite Cinco De Mayo favorites?
 

Veggie Loaded Zuppa Toscana Recipe!

I’ve posted my copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe before and it’s good, but this recipe is better! Heartier, more filling, and best yet- Loaded with Veggies. We got all of the veggies from our Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box. To learn more about these awesome produce boxes, check out my post here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of Italian Sausage (hot or mild, your choice)
  • 3 T. crumbled cooked bacon (I like the kind from Costco)
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 medium potatoes, sliced into bite-sized pieces (I left the skin on- it’s up to you)
  • 1-quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bag triple-washed spinach
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk (or 12 oz milk of your choice)

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, cook and crumble Italian Sausage
  2. Add in bacon and heat  until sizzling
  3. Add butter, onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onions are translucent (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add garlic, and herbs/bay leaf- cook until fragrant.
  5. Add broth, and scrape brown cooked bits off the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add Potatoes, cook on medium with the lid on the pot until the potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes).
  7. Remove lid, turn the stove up to high, add spinach. Stir and incorporate the spinach until wilted.
  8. Turn the stove down to low, add milk, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Remove Bay leaf prior to serving.

This makes 10-12 servings. Serve with bread of your choice. I like to top with a little parmesan cheese.

Notes/Substitutions:

  • If you prefer Kale, substitute for the spinach and add another 5-10 minutes of cooking time.
  • This soup keeps well in the fridge for up to a week, and it freezes well.
  • If you are a vegetarian, substitute 2 cans of rinsed/drained cannellini beans in place of the Italian sausage (or meat-free Italian sausage), and use crumbled vegetarian/vegan bacon. Use Vegetable broth, and 12 oz. alternative milk (I like almond or hazelnut for this recipe). Add in 1/2 t. Fennel Seed, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (to mimic the flavor of Italian sausage) when using beans.

 

Tutorial: Meal Prep with Protein Bowls!

We don’t eat a lot of meat. Partially because our fridge/freezer is still broken, and it’s getting really expensive. So we’ve been eating more non-meat proteins lately.

This tutorial is more like a choose your own adventure. Depending on your dietary restrictions, food likes and dislikes, and what you have in your pantry and refrigerator will greatly influence how your protein bowls turn out.

The base of your bowl is going to be a grain. We used red and white quinoa, but you can use brown rice, bulgur, Right Rice (which isn’t actually rice), you could use high protein pasta like the kind made with lentils, or if you don’t like any of those you could just use regular pasta, noodles, or white rice. It won’t be as high in protein. We prepared 8-ish cups of quinoa cooked per package directions with vegetable broth.

Your next step is to prep your vegetables. The vegetables will take up the bulk of this dish. Because we get a variety of veggies each week with our Yasukochi Farms CSA box, it was easy to select our veggies. We used onions, carrots, celery, peppers (bell peppers), zucchini, mushrooms, and bok choy. We added cherry tomatoes uncooked directly to the bowls while packing. 

Cut your veggies into bite-size pieces (you want to end up with about 8-10 cups of veggies, and sauté them in about a tablespoon of oil (I love avocado oil, but it’s up to you).

Because you will be re-heating these veggies before serving, cook them until they are al dente, or still slightly crisp. Otherwise, they can get mushy.

I started with the onions, cooking them until translucent, then adding the mushrooms, and cooking the moisture out. After that, add the remaining veggies and cook for 5-10 minutes.

While your veggies are cooking, in a separate pan you’re going to heat 2 tablespoons of oil, your choice. This is where we’re going to cook our protein and sauce. We cooked salmon. The salmon was cut into bite-size pieces and then lightly sautéed in oil until it was about 3/4 of the way cooked.

Then we added a jar of Private Selection tikka masala curry sauce (it’s available at Kroger brand stores). I’m usually not a big fan of premade sauces, but in the case of Indian food, the sauces are so much more financially savvy. I believe the sauce was three dollars or less for the jar, and it tastes delicious. Like restaurant quality mild tikka masala sauce. If you wanna add heat, you can add some chili oil or red pepper flakes. But I don’t recommend doing it while you’re cooking, because it will just infuse it with so much heat.

We cooked the sauce with the salmon pieces for about 10 minutes added bok choy and allow that to cook down for another five minutes.

And now the assembly!

We set out eight of the Rubbermaid storage containers (these are the ones that we use).

 

 

Each container contains:

  • one cup of cooked red and white quinoa
  • one and a half cups of vegetables
  • 2 6-oz ladles full of salmon and sauce

Once the containers had cooled to room temperature lids were put on, and they were stored in the refrigerator. When it is time to eat, we will then to the lids and reheat them in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Here are some other options if Salmon Tikka Masala isn’t your bag:

Meat/non-meats (you need 1- 1 1/2 lbs of meat/non-meats for this recipe)

  • ground beef/chicken/turkey
  • lamb chops
  • boneless chicken breasts/boneless thighs
  • beef (cut of your choice)
  • veggie crumbles/other faux meat
  • pollack/tilapia/fish of your choice

Sauce- All of these sauces are pre-made. Feel free to use your own recipe for your favorite sauce.

Kevin’s Sauces has a wide variety of sauces that would be GREAT!

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about your protein bowls- What combination of sauce and veggies would you use?

 

October Sprouts Farmers Market Monthly Freebies!

Sprouts is hooking us up and helping us stay healthy! Every month on the Sprouts app in the Digital Coupon section, there are between 4-6 free items (they are marked “SAMPLING PROGRAM”).

Quantities are limited on the app, so if you are interested in any of these, I recommend that you add these coupons (by opening the Sprouts app, click on digital coupons, and click on each coupon in the lower corner where the little green circle is) to your app ASAP.

Not all Sprouts locations will have these freebies, so I suggest trying larger Sprouts location in your area.

These are full-sized freebies- not small sample sized products. they are located in the store with the other products of the same type.

Not all accounts will receive all the same products.

This month the following items are available:

  • Zack’s Mighty Organic Tortilla Chips
  • Toby’s Dressing and Dip Products
  • Free Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Butter with Avocado Oil
  • Wicked Foods Meal Pot

 

9/26/2021 Weekly Meal Plan & Life Update

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgSo, we are still without a Fridge/freezer, so no real meal plan for this week at this point. After the fridge repair guy comes on Tuesday, we’ll know if/when the warranty is going to cover a replacement, or if Sears is going to continue to throw even more money at this lemon. At this point, they have paid over $1500 in lost food reimbursement and repairs for a refrigerator that cost $1100. So.. yeah.

We’ve been eating a lot of shelf-stable stuff (beans and rice, crockpot chili), and I’ve been hitting the store solo to pick up salad kits, and bananas, and apples. Last week we ended up having the share a lot of our CSA box as I wouldn’t store some of the items in the cooler without freezing/damaging the more delicate items.

The CSA box will be here tomorrow morning. I’ll do the prepping after I get home from work Monday afternoon.

Veggies and fruit are delivered by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $25, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal.

Oh yeah, I got a job out of the house. It’s working on-site at a local elementary school. I’m not going to go much more into it than that. I’ll still be blogging, and the kids and I will be having adventures, I’m working while they are in school.

And I’ve been getting a lot of really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I have made my own and you can find them for sale here on my Etsy Store.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. The Ancient Grain bagels from Einstein Bros. are the current family favorite. I pick them up on Mondays when a dozen is only $7. I slice them and freeze them to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’m back to packing lunches again. However, school lunches are free this year, but so far, there is nothing on the menu that appeals to the kids.

Dinner: We’ve got a pretty good schedule down for dinners. We have nuggets (vegetarian for the boy child, chicken for the rest) on the nights that we have respite. It’s quick to prepare and clean up, and I can serve it on our cafeteria trays with other fingers foods (we have trays like these) like cut-up fruit, crackers, and cheese. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Shakshuka, Rice We didn’t have this last week, and we have a lot of eggs in the cooler to eat.
  • Monday: Roasted Veggies, Salad, Quesadillas
  • Tuesday: unknown
  • Wednesday: unknown
  • Thursday:  unknown
  • Friday:  Takeout Night
  • Saturday: Leftovers (if we have any)

Please stay safe you guys!

Easy Hummus Recipe!

Yesterday in my tabouli recipe, I mentioned I’d be sharing a hummus recipe soon. Here we are!

This recipe is super easy, and you can pick up all the ingredients in any grocery store, on Amazon, or even at Target.

Ingredients:

  • 2 15.5 oz canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup tahini (I like Tumeric Tahini from Havens Kitchen)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (or you can use 1 teaspoon chopped jarred garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • salt to taste
  • Garnishes (optional): additional olive oil, everything but the bagel seasoning, toasted sesame seeds, a sprinkle of cumin, sumac, chopped parsley)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor/blender, blend all of the ingredients (except the garnishes)
  2. If the hummus is too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water and blend again. repeat as needed, adding up to 3 teaspoons of water.
  3. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to meld.
  4. Pour into a bowl, top with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and any other additional garnishes as needed.
  5. Serve with veggies, pita, or chips/crackers.

This recipe is vegan, and gluten-free.

 

Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgTomorrow marks the first FULL WEEK of school. WOO HOO! I’ve got a busy week full of tie-dying, appointments, and some fun content coming up on the blog (and probably Instagram).

I hit up Vons on Saturday to redeem some coupons, and pick up freebies. I spent $40 on fruit and a few other things I needed. I submitted my receipt to Ibotta to redeem a few rebates, and poof $7.50 back- woo hoo!

And I’ve been getting a lot of really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

Getting the fam to eat more fruits and veggies has been my personal mission this year, and thankfully, Yasukochi Family Farms has my back.

Veggies and fruit are delivered by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $25, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal. I spend about an hour on Monday afternoon cleaning and prepping veggies for the rest of the week.

I meal prepped a bunch of fruit and veggies yesterday. I also cleaned out the fridge and re-arranged the freezer. We are all set for the week. I chose easy-to-cook meals that don’t require the oven. We are in for another week of high temps. UGH- I need cooler temps. I want to make cookies!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I have made my own and you can find them for sale here on my Etsy Store.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. The Ancient Grain bagels from Einstein Bros. are the current family favorite. I pick them up on Mondays when a dozen is only $7. I slice them and freeze them to keep them from going bad too quickly.

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. I’ve been packing lunch for the kids, but they have both expressed interest in getting lunch at school, so we’ll see.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday: Roasted Tomato and Caramelized Onion Bisque, Sourdough bread, fruit
  • Monday: Salad, Cheese Toast, Fruit
  • Tuesday: Nugget night: Nuggets, crackers, cheese, fruit
  • Wednesday:  Pasta, Veggies, Salad
  • Thursday: Turkey Tetrazini, Veggies, Salad
  • Friday:  Takeout Night
  • Saturday: Leftovers, fruit

Please stay safe you guys!

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Family Recipe: DIY Salad Bar

The post is dedicated to Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes… RIP.

One of our family favorite restaurants pre-pandemic was Souplantation. So many great veggie and salad options all in one place. This summer I’m trying to find easy, simple lunch options for the family, so this week I’m making a salad bar.

It might sound like a lot of work, but I spend about an hour a week prepping veggies as soon as the CSA box arrives, so it’s just a slightly different prep this week.

First I got out our Rubbermaid reusable containers and lids, and I chopped the various ingredients. At lunchtime, I’ll set all of the containers out, and put the salad greens in a large bowl that is nestled in a baking dish full of ice to keep the greens crisp.

If you are having a salad bar for your July Fourth celebration, consider using a cold ingredient caddy like this one.

It keeps the components cold and at their preferred temperature for an extended period of time.

Here are just a few of the ingredients that we’ll be featuring in our DIY salad bar:

  • Salad greens (spinach, romaine lettuce, butter bibb lettuce, mixed greens, kale)
  • Radishes
  • Brocolli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Red onions
  • Green apples
  • Strawberries
  • Beets (raw or pickled)
  • Bell pepper or other sweet peppers
  • Pickled veggies
  • Capers
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cheese cubes (or crumbled feta or goat cheese)
  • Diced ham or diced turkey breast lunchmeat
  • Croutons
  • Salad Dressing- I like this vinagrette, and this one, and this ranch.

What do you like on your salads?