I'm an extrovert and before the pandemic, I was never home. I worked for a software company that sent me flying around the world, had a very active social life, exercised all the time, and visited my parents in Baltimore every three weeks. As for my little bunny rabbit, admittedly I wasn't the best fur parent because I was always on the go, but all that changed once March 2020 rolled around. My days of sharing breakfast and lunch with coworkers, and happy hours and dinners with friends suddenly ended and things haven't been the same since.
While the pandemic shook most people to the core and negatively impacted many lives (including my own), I was able to find a silver lining. I was a fashion writer in New York City for over a decade, but when I moved to Washington, D.C. I was stuck working for (or supporting) the federal government. The sudden work from home option made it possible for me to work in fashion again. And while this was great news for me professionally, this social butterfly has been stuck working from home ever since! Sure, I can walk around the neighborhood and grab something to eat, but honestly, the food isn't very good, and I don't have anyone to go with me! Plus, some days I get incredibly lazy or busy, and don't even leave my apartment to get food or hit the grocery store, so I'm stuck with whatever's in my fridge and those options are rarely appetizing or healthy.
So, I turned to HelloFresh to help me get through the long, lonely days of working from home, and to help me save a little money that I'd otherwise spend at a bar or restaurant because this inflation thing has got me concerned.
So, what's HelloFresh? It's one of the most popular meal kit delivery services and subscriptions that helps you save time and money! Not sure what to cook next week and don't feel like scanning recipe sites looking for ideas? Don't have time to run to the grocery store for last minute ingredients? They've got you covered! Whether you're feeding your family or yourself, you'll get high-quality, pre-portioned and fresh ingredients, along with easy-to-follow recipes that you can choose week by week. It’s no wonder HelloFresh is consistently one of our readers’ favorite meal kits, coming it at #1 on this year's list of Best Meal Kit Delivery Subscriptions.
Stuck working from home? HelloFresh takes the hassle out of what to cook. When you sign up, choose your plan preference—Meats & Veggies, Veggies, Family Friendly, Fit & Wholesome, Quick & Easy, and Pescatarian—the number of people you'll be serving (2 or 4), and the number of recipes you'd like to receive per week. Then, confirm your plan and scroll through the meal choices—each week you'll get to choose from over 30 different recipes.
Meals for Work from Homebodies
While I don't consider myself a homebody, most days I simply don't have the energy or brainpower to plan a meal, run to the grocery store and then cook (maybe I'm suffering through a little depression). From finding the perfect recipe to buying the ingredients, and creating the meal, it takes time, money and effort—and buying a large onion, a dozen eggs or a container of spices for just one dish can get really expensive. In the past, I would've met friends for brunch or dinner, but that requires gas, a $20+ meal, a $14 glass or wine or an $8 beer, plus tip, and the tab adds up quickly. How do you save time and money and still eat healthy and heartily?
As I mentioned in a previous post, I've had an on-off relationship with HelloFresh and I decided to renew my subscription again because—let's be honest—winter is coming, and I hibernate until March. HelloFresh sources high-quality ingredients which include totally fresh produce (fruits & veggies), organic items, and meat, seafood and poultry from sustainable suppliers and delivers them right to your door. They offer vegetarian, pescatarian, and reduced-calorie menu plans, and you can customize your order, so if you're oddly picky like me (I don't eat pork, beef or fish) simply use the HelloCustom option to swap out sides or proteins. They also offer a Fit & Wholesome plan which has meals that add up to around 700 calories per serving, and they're dietitian approved.
Since I grew up in Baltimore, it's no surprise I'm a huge fan of legit Maryland crabcakes (trust me, there's a HUGE difference), but when I moved to NYC in 2001, my palate changed drastically. I was introduced to some of the world's best food (Laotian, Ethiopian, Afghani, etc.) and started traveling abroad, too, so I expanded my horizons and began to greatly love and crave dishes and spices from around the globe. Therefore, whenever I'm looking for a restaurant or a recipe, I tend to lean towards something a little out of the ordinary. Luckily, HelloFresh offers delicious meals from just about everywhere and this time I went with a few of my faves: Thai, Greek and Mexican!
While the One-Pot Thai Coconut Curry Soup doesn't scream authentic like Pad Prik Kapow (spicy basil chicken), this creamy, fragrant dish gave me the Thai fix I needed, but it's healthy and cheaper than my favorite local takeout. While it was tasty, I wished I had gotten it with chicken, and they had replaced the sweet potatoes with something more traditional like shiitake mushrooms.
Continuing my faux trip around the world (I feel like I should be eating my way through Epcot Center), I created the Greek-Style Chicken Wraps which were very good, but the salad was a little too carrot-y and left me craving for some real Greek food. Luckily, they just opened a new Greek restaurant right near me and I'll check it out this weekend.
And finally, I decided to take a quick trip to Mexico and whipped up a Saucy Turkey Burrito Bowl. A much healthier take on something you might find at Chipotle, this delish dish features ground turkey, cilantro lime rice, onions, peppers and a lot of sauce. I ended up adding Cholula too because I like it spicy!
Just remember, if you follow strict diets like Paleo or Keto, you're vegan, gluten-free or allergen-free, HelloFresh does offer some options, but if you're all or nothing with these diets, you may have better luck with a meal delivery service that caters to these dietary needs.
While I don't want to (or plan to) lock myself indoors until we start to defrost in March, the truth is, I'll probably pick up even more freelance work to supplement my salary as I try to stay ahead of inflation and the recession. In the past, I would've used the extra gigs to take a trip or treat myself to meals at a top-rated restaurant, but those days have passed—I'm all about limiting my expenses, and I'm sure you are too.
And even though I know HelloFresh isn't exactly cheap either, I no longer live in a big city setting and can't just walk out my front door to grab an inexpensive meal by an up-and-coming chef—I'm now surrounded by large chains that offer average food at a premium, and they are pricey! I'd rather create my own meals, skip paying for gas, save the tip money and avoid the disappointment when I discover hair or an eyelash in my food that isn't mine. Sadly, that's happened a lot recently and it's quickly turning me off from eating out. And as for the grocery store, I feel like as soon as I place the 7th item in my cart, my bill is automatically over $50! Sending out an SOS.