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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

meal delivery service #2: blue apron


one thing that i must say first and foremost: yes, these meal delivery services are automatically sent out each week on the delivery day of your choosing... but you have the opportunity to "pause" or "skip" the delivery if you're not feeling the recipes or your budget is a little tighter that week. you won't lose your spot and you won't be penalized for it! 

okay, now... onto the good stuff!

blue apron was my second meal delivery box that i received, and i chose this one next mainly because of their stellar reviews and mouthwatering recipes. win/win!

when you order for the first time, your first delivery contains three free meals. another win/win! 

signing up was super easy. after inputting my email and creating a password, i needed to decide which plan was right for me: the two-person plan (2 servings) - which serves 3 recipes per week; or the family plan (4 servings) - which serves 2 or 4 recipes per week. each box tells you the price per serving and what your first week total will be (the grayed, marked through price is the regular price). i chose the two-person plan.

next, you'll choose your dietary preferences. the options are: beef, poultry, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, and 'i am vegetarian'. you have the ability to check which foods you'd like and which foods you wouldn't like, with the option to change later on.

after you're finished inputting your billing and delivery information, you can login to access your account. your homepage shows your meals that were included in your box, so you have the ability to check out each recipe online. they also include helpful videos if you're unsure of a step or how to prepare a certain ingredient, which is quite helpful. if you're still within a certain amount of time frame, you have the option to change your meals if you're interested in trying something different. you would simply go to "delivery schedule" and it shows the weeks of your delivery and what recipes will be included.

your box will ship overnight air via fedex (and it will send you out a tracking number). it is packed very well with reusable ice packs to keep your foods cold. i found out that fedex usually delivers early - so while it was hours before i got home, it was still cold and there was no damage to the box. 







the recipe cards were wonderful! the instructions were precise and very easy to handle. blue apron has an app which i put on my iphone to make things a bit easier while planning and cooking my meals. although the food wasn't in individual containers, i found a few small empty baskets i wasn't using and placed them in the fridge for easy keeping. 

blue apron offers recyclable options for your box and packaging. the website shows how to tear the box down and what the recyclable numbers are for on each product. if there isn't a recyclable option available for you in your town, it allows you to clean the packaging out, repackage, and have usps pick it up on their normal delivery route (reduces carbon footprint!). another win/win!

for my first week, i had the following recipes: 

fresh basil fettuccine with sauteed cherry tomatoes and zucchini
chicken and buttermilk biscuit sandwiches with shredded collard greens and carrot slaw
beef albondigas with sauteed summer squash and pan con tomate

the dishes were simple, yet still conveyed an eclectic taste. the pasta dish wasn't original, but it was nice and easy to prepare on a busy night. i'm not ordering my meals for a variety of recipes i've never heard of, so anything you put in front of me i'll make - happily!

although they were all delicious, i still had issues with two. the beef albondigas were my favorite - yummo! and the squash? delish! the zucchini that i was sent went bad before i had a chance to use it so i just substituted for squash; and the shredded collard greens and carrot slaw were not my thing - so the dogs ate them instead! :)  

the recipes are quite precise, so there's never any time to wonder what the next step is, because it will flow continuously. i was pleasantly surprised at how much time i saved!
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{the details}

food quality: {3.5/5} since all of the produce and knick-knacks were squished together in the box, i did have issues with bruising and packaging coming open. it was all delicious except for the zucchini and in one recipe i had to add more tomatoes and butter.

recipe variety: {3.5/5} i had never made beef albondigas before, which is why it was my favorite recipe. but the pasta dish was something i would've already made, and hello, i live in the south - chicken and buttermilk biscuit sandwiches are everywhere!

app: yes! very easy to manipulate. you can schedule and track your orders; change your meals; and glance over future recipes (with the ability to share them!). the app also includes videos and tips for each recipe so you can follow along easily as well as a camera so you don't have to exit the app while documenting your dinner. 

price: 2 people/3 meals = $59.94/week; $9.99/meal

pro: everything is recyclable

con: each meal isn't placed in an individual box; produce wasn't that great; recipes weren't as exciting
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i enjoyed blue apron, but i am going to have to order again to contemplate going on my list of possible meal delivery companies. they also have a wine delivery service - which you'll get a coupon for $20 off your first order - where it sends you six 500ml bottles once a month for $60. 

blue apron has a "market", which hellofresh does not, where you have the ability to purchase high quality items such as glass prep bowls, non-stick pans, knives, prep tools, and etc. 

if this isn't something that's in your budget for every week, maybe it could help out when you have your girlfriends over or when the kids are at the grandparents for the weekend or even when your schedule is too busy to think straight. it could help to save time and spend less time at the grocery store - without missing any ingredients. 

pssssst, friends of twofivethree! are you interested in trying blue apron? if you are, drop me your email address and i'll send you a link for a FREE delivery! 


enjoy!
kelly

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

meal delivery service #1: hello fresh

one thing that i must say first and foremost: yes, these meal delivery services are automatically sent out each week on the delivery day of your choosing... but you have the opportunity to "pause" or "skip" the delivery if you're not feeling the recipes or your budget is a little tighter that week. you won't lose your spot and you won't be penalized for it! 

okay, now... onto the good stuff!

hello fresh was my first meal delivery box that i received, and i chose this one first mainly because jamie oliver works with them to create fresh + healthy meals. win/win!

also, when you subscribe to their newsletter, you receive a coupon for $15 off your first delivery. another win/win! 

signing up was super easy. i needed to decide which box was right for me: the "classic" box for 2-4 adults; "veggie" box for vegetarians; or the "family" box for 2 adults + 2 children with child friendly recipes. each box tells you the price per meal, so it's nice to see that while comparing prices with other companies (and your budget!).

i chose the "classic" box, which they describe as the following: "features the largest variety of recipes with a careful selection of meat, fish, produce, and grains. with this box, you can expect to find tasty spins on traditional favorites in addition to unique recipes that will have you cooking like a chef in no time." 

with the "classic" box, you have the ability to choose whether you want to order for 2 or 4 adults, as well as how many meals you'd like to receive: 3, 4, or 5. i chose 3 simply because i wasn't sure how i would like it and didn't know what the other companies offered, as i wanted to keep all options the same. you'll see with the more meals you choose, your price per meal goes down significantly. 

after you're finished signing up, you can login to access your account. when you go to "your meals", it will have the box you chose and your future delivery date. if you're still within a certain amount of time frame, you have the option to change your meals if you're interested in trying something different.

your box will ship overnight air via UPS (and it will send you out a tracking number). it is packed very well with reusable ice packs to keep your foods cold - and of course, mine arrived just before i got home while temperatures were in the 100*'s - and the box was still cold! 








each meal was placed in a recyclable cardboard container, where i put them on a shelf in the fridge. this was probably one of my favorite things about hello fresh! there wasn't a lot of waste, and it was so easy not to have to sort through all the ingredients of every meal to find the right thing.


the recipe cards were wonderful! the instructions were precise and very easy to handle. hello fresh also has an app which i put on my iphone and ipad to make things a bit easier while planning and cooking my meals. 

for my first week, i had the following recipes: 

chicken and nectarine panzanella with mint, zuchinni, and fresh mozzarella 
beef tenderloin skewers with charred sweet corn and chipotle-lime butter
summertime pork schnitzel with yellow squash, tomatoes, and yukon golds

the dishes were simple, yet still conveyed an eclectic taste - something i wouldn't have ever thought of making. i'm not ordering my meals for a variety of recipes i've never heard of, so anything you put in front of me i'll make - happily!

all of them were delicious, honestly, so i don't think i could ever pick a favorite. i saved the recipe cards so i can make it a later time - because i know that the husband will just love the pork schnitzel... minus the squash... and tomatoes. :) 

the recipes are quite precise, so there's never any time to wonder what the next step is, because it will flow continuously. i was pleasantly surprised at how much time i saved!
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{the details}

food quality: {5/5} all of the produce arrived fresh with no bruising; the meat was superb and perfectly portioned; the herbs were aromatic.

recipe variety: {5/5} the recipes were spot on. i had a simple yet fragrant salad (and i never thought to combine nectarine's and zucchini!); schnitzel (without the chicken!) with a delicious sauce and savory vegetables; and hearty beef skewers with my favorite - corn on the cob. is it super fancy? nah. but was it enjoyable? yes! i can definitely see myself making some of these recipes again.

app: yes! very easy to manipulate. you can schedule and track your orders; change your meals; and glance over future recipes (with the ability to share them!).

price: 2 people/3 meals = $69/week; $11.50/meal

pro: each meal placed in an individual box; everything is recyclable; nutrition facts on each recipe

con: i didn't realize that you had the option of changing your meals in the beginning - so the meals i received were automatically picked; 
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i highly enjoyed hello fresh (and its customer service), so it is definitely going on my list of possible meal delivery companies. their blog is also a wealth of information! from recipes to techniques to inspiration, they have it all.

if this isn't something that's in your budget for every week, maybe it could help out when you have your girlfriends over or when the kids are at the grandparents for the weekend or even when your schedule is too busy to think straight. it could help to save time and spend less time at the grocery store - without missing any ingredients. 

pssssst, friends of twofivethree! enter my code at your checkout and receive $40 off your first delivery! simply click here to complete your order. :)

enjoy!
kelly

Saturday, July 30, 2016

meal delivery services

it should be no surprise here when i tell people that i love food... am i right, or am i right?! 

but lately, between working a full time job, starting a small business with my husband, attempting to sell our house, caring for three dogs... 

my time is limited. very limited, in fact. 

what used to be my time for meal prepping and cooking is now replaced with social media upkeep for the business... and of course, everything else the husband calls me and asks "hey, can you check on this for me?" 

yes, dear... *grumble*  just kidding. {{loveeeee youuuuuu!}}

i found that i wasn't giving enough time for myself to make sure that i ate a decent, well balanced and healthy meal. instead, i was doing the complete opposite, which is definitely not the way i wanted to run my life - or this blog. 

so, i decided that i was going to give the following meal delivery services a try.






i wish that i could say that i had the time to plan out my meals, go to the grocery store, meal prep, prepare dinner, and deal with the plethora of leftovers i always seem to have... but i don't.

because we're so busy, because we're doing so much, because we love to take on more than we can handle (ha!)... i have to come to the realization that it's okay to spend a little more on my food budget to allow me the conveniences that meal delivery services have to offer. 

i pick my preference of meal choices. 
i wait for the box to be delivered. 
and voila... 
i have a meal with the exact ingredients that i need - no more, no less. 

after i receive my boxes, i'll do a review for each service and let you know how i believe they rank and what service i'll be choosing. 

have a happy week, friends!
kelly

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

tasty tuesday: easy maple bars



oh. my. southern butt.

let me just tell you! these things are probably one of the most delicious desserts i've ever made.

i'm always a fan of doughnuts (i mean, who isn't?), so i was a little more excited to try this recipe than any of the others i've made. 

for detailed instructions, please refer to the full recipe above.

i started with a can of jumbo buttermilk biscuits.


roll each biscuit out to resemble (somewhat) a bar shape. 


while the oil is heating up, i cooked up my bacon. 

yummmmmmmmmm.


it only took a few minutes to fry the dough.


i mixed up a batch of simple icing (mixed with a little bacon grease) and smoothed it onto the bars, then added the bacon on top. 

easy peasy. 




and let me just tell you... 

mouthwatering deliciousness.


enjoy!
kelly

Friday, June 10, 2016

ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes


aside from performing normal "wear and tear" revisions on our house, we've also decided to undertake a somewhat bigger renovation. 

our "laundry room" is more like a "laundry wall". we've talked about adding some cabinets above it, but honestly, never got around to it.


we've always wanted more room in our kitchen and had talked about moving some things around, maybe taking out part of a wall... and i'm so glad that we didn't. as you can see, our laundry area is not only an eye sore coming into the kitchen but a space inhibitor as well. 

cue the storage closet that we have in our basement...


for now {and time passed}, the area behind those closed doors have been used for, well, storage. camping supplies, boxes of MRE's, picture frames, rolls of paper towels... everything was stored in that space.

SO. while attempting to throw out "stuff" we don't need and maximize the storage space in our attic, we're moving everything out of that closet. woo! 

after measuring and reaffirming that yes, the washer and dryer WILL fit onto the back wall, i'm so excited to move our laundry area downstairs to an actual room! 

here are some cute "inspo" ideas for the area... but since the washer and dryer will be directly below a window, some ideas will be moved around to the side of the room instead. 


           
                                               {via}                                                                     {via}     


                 
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and, well, since we'll have an empty space upstairs now... we're planning on making a coffee bar! it's no surprise that the hubs and i (and of course our friends) have an intimate relationship with coffee, so we really felt as if this addition would be a welcome one in our house. 

we'll free up counter space by moving the microwave to the second shelf of the bar and cabinet space by moving all of the coffee/tea/mugs to their own place on the bar. i plan on having the very bottom of the bar filled with rustic baskets to allow additional storage. 

more coffee bar "inspo" ideas following... 


                                                             {via}                                                                      {via}


                                                     {via}                                                                               {via}



what does everyone think?! is it a good idea? i sure hope so! 

have any ideas? show us in the comments! 

be grateful, friends!
kelly