Monday, June 15, 2015

Blue Apron: A Review

I was introduced to Blue Apron by a colleague and after receiving a discounted offer (thanks Zulily!), thought I'd give it a try.  As you know from one of my recent posts, I am all about making life easier through online shopping. And my parents were in town this weekend so I had a captive audience.  I got home Thursday after work and a cute Blue Apron box was waiting at the door. I unpacked immediately and all food was still cold (impressive).

I tried two recipes over the course of the weekend and here are my take aways in a quick pro/con list:

Super easy to order online 
All ingredients are measured out 
Meals took less than 30 mins to prep
Instructions were super easy to follow (with pictures!) 
They were delicious
Different (or variation) of meals we would normally eat
Not having to answer question "what's for dinner?" 
Gave me confidence in preparing a meal (I hate to cook!)
You can skip weeks or sub out meal choices

I found it to be a bit pricey
We only had a few or no leftovers (which might be a pro for some)
I ended up preparing a few additional sides to have enough food (but easy things like fruit or extra veggie)
If you have a picky eater, this is not the meal plan service for you
One of the meals we got was BBQ chicken (which is something I already make) 
I spent more time in the kitchen than I thought I would prepping and then cooking 

While the cons list was smaller the pricing and picky eater issue outweighed the pros. I might consider doing it again if we had guests or a crazy busy week. 

My advice would be to give it a try (especially if you have a promo code. On their website you can get two free meals with your first order!) and let me know what thou think.

I have to share my proudest moment...salmon with noodles and long green beans. So pretty and so good!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why I Can't Do Cancer Fundraisers

A few weeks ago, a horrible story came out that founders of a certain "non-profit" raised money under the guise of helping individuals with cancer, only to spend money on elaborate trips for themselves.

How sick and disgusting.

There are countless honest, worthy non-profits out there doing amazing work to fund cancer research and support families. 

I've supported those organizations myself by buying baked goods, running races, and contributing to the fundraising efforts of others.   At times, I feel like I am constantly inundated with asks to support these charities. Sometimes, I just can't. And not financially.

It's always tough to see families celebrate loved ones winning their battle with cancer. A part of me will always struggle with that because we have no winning battles to celebrate in our family. In a few weeks, Lauren will have not been with us for 5 whole years. She would have been starting to drive now. Ralph never saw his grandson get married and has a granddaughter who will only remember him through photographs. 

In my head I know contributing to fill-in-the-blank cancer charity will ultimately spare someone else from that devastating loss,  it's tough to reconcile in my heart.

So, if the next time you ask and I don't respond, please understand.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Short Cuts for Busy Moms

My last post was at the end of April and was basically just an acknowledgement of how crazy life is these days. Not much has changed since then but I've wised up a bit and want to a few things that have really helped me to managing this hectic life as a busy-working-out-of-the-home-mama.

The answer is quite simple. Online shopping.


I spend most of my days managing my professional life via a computer or other electronic device. So it only make sense to try it for my life after 5pm Monday-Friday.  I don't have time to run all over town doing errands and who wants to spend their weekend doing that?!

Here are the top websites that have repeatedly saved me time and money on things we need:

Zulily has the cutest kid clothing, possibly ever. Every day they post new deals with great brands (including toys and home furnishings). I've found it to be a great place to buy Emily's shoes. The down side is it always seems like it takes FOREVER to ship and no returns. Warning: downloading the app is super dangerous to your wallet. Because everything is so. stinking. adorable.

I used Groupon when it first came out but kind of lost interest in it after awhile. I got back into it recently because I've found great deals in the "Goods" section.  For instance, I have been looking for black legging capris for the longest time. A quick search on Groupon, and I found a 3 pack for less than $15 in a week. Exactly what I wanted. Bonus on Groupon, you can return most things AND great place to find deals on local restaurants. We buy half off gift certificates for restaurants we visit often and it takes the guess work out of the "what's for dinner" decision at 4:45pm.

Love me some Amazon! Everything from trying new beauty/fitness items I see recommended in Women's Health to finding obscure items that you can't find anywhere else (like the original "Parent Trap" movie. Yes, I wanted it and yes, I found it on Amazon).  Great varied selection and try Amazon Prime to get free two-day shipping. Ya know, for those times you procrastinate ordering your daughter a leotard for her new ballet class and need one like, next week. But who would do that?

Finally. Now I know what to do with the 800 pictures taking up storage on my phone. Make cute stuff out of them on Shutterfly!  Creative ideas and designs...there's so much to chose from. I've done personalized note pads, photo books of family vacations, and Emily's latest birthday invites. They have good promo codes and quick shipping!

Your Local Grocery Store
Hopefully you are lucky enough to have one of these bad boys in your neighborhood. Grocery stores that let you pick up curb side...or even better, deliver online. Piggly Wiggly is that place for me. Just off the interstate on the way home from work and the BEST service.  I have been waiting in-between meetings and ordered my groceries online. For real. They always call to let me know if they need to substitute an item I've requested and have added items for me after I called because I forget to select them online (like, say a 6pk of Corona and lime after a long, long, long day).  No more waking up baby to run in and grab milk or fighting a toddler grocery store tantrum.

There is a new online service I'm trying and will have to keep you posted. I got a discounted offer (through Zulily) for Blue Apron. All the ingredients you need for full meals shipped right to your home. You can select what types of food you do and do not eat, select how many people you want it to serve and when you want it delivered.  My parents are in town next weekend and they are going to by my guinea pigs for this one.

If you have time/money saving tips, I'd love to hear them. It's always nice to find new ways to make these hectic days a little bit more manageable and to spend that extra free time just enjoying family time.

Happy shopping!