This blog will always be mostly my ramblings, but this is something I think I should share with you guys because it's been awesome for my family.
I've always wanted to feed my family healthy foods. Granted, healthy means different things to different people, but for me it meant cooking with fresh, non-processed foods. Only problem is that I don't have a whole lot of recipes that fit the bill and the ones I found that did were typically complicated and time consuming.
Meal planning always stressed me out- I would pick one or 2 "good" recipes and the rest ones I was familiar with that weren't necessarily the healthiest because I hated the amount of time it was taking to find the "good" recipes. The whole process of planning meals, making a list and going to the store is by far one of my least favorite parts of being a wife/mom. I enjoy eating at home and I don't mind cooking, I just don't want to have to think about it.
Enter The Fresh 20. I stumbled upon this right around the new year. One of the blogs I read asked for suggestions on meal planning, and tons of her readers recommended this. And there was a Groupon- $24 for the whole year of meal planning and grocery lists. Sold.
I'd heard of stuff like this before. I tried to do eMeals at one point, but realized they didn't really prepare the kind of meals I was looking for. I actually had a friend send me a ton of her The Fresh 20 meals right after Piper was born, but I tried to pick and choose meals that sounded good and wound up giving up.
Their premise is that they make 5 healthy meals from 20 fresh ingredients. They give you your grocery list and give you "meal prep" guidelines which is something you do on Sunday (or Monday) to cut down your cooking time the night of. I've found that when I do the meal prep like I'm supposed to, it's taking me about 30 minutes the night of. I would imagine most people would be faster. For whatever reason, I am a slow cook.
Some of the meals have weird names and I have made meals with ingredients I've never even heard of before starting this plan. Sometimes I set Chuck's plate on the table and he gives me a "really?" look. However, even he will agree that this has been a huge success. Ninety percent of the meals have been good, most of them have been really good. The ones that aren't good aren't horrible and I'm willing to deal with some not great meals every now and then if I don't have to plan them myself.
The meals throughout the week build upon themselves- for instance, last week I made a huge thing of BBQ for Meal 1 and they had you save half of it for Meal 3. This can make things more complicated if you don't want to make 5 meals that week, but a couple times I've just picked 4 and as long as you read through the recipes before picking which one to leave out, you'll be fine. For the most part, we have leftovers and we're able to eat those for lunch throughout the week.
I know some people are scared of this plan because they have you making almost everything fresh- the BBQ sauce for the BBQ last week, for instance. But (gasp) no one from The Fresh 20 is standing in your kitchen making sure you do everything their way. I actually did make my BBQ sauce, but didn't make my bread crumbs for another recipe that week. Store bought are just fine, thank you very much.
So there ya go. If you want to cry doing your meal planning like I did, let someone else do it for you :)