How I Beat the Post-Travel Meal Slump
It happens every time. While I’m away on a trip I get these grand ideas of how I’m going to change my habits when I get home. “It’ll be a fresh start,” I say. I’m going to go to bed and get up earlier! I’m going to exercise more! I’m going to stop wasting time playing Candy Crush! I’m going to cook more and eat healthier!
Yeah…about that last one… it never happens. Frankly, most of my travel resolutions never work out longer than a few days but I just want to talk about that last one for now. Let’s save my Candy Crush problem for another day.
One of two things seems to happen when I travel: I eat healthier on my trip and vow to continue it when I get home. It’ll be all banana smoothies and grilled chicken from here on out! Or I indulge myself with nary a leafy green to be seen for a week or two and return home feeling bloated and lethargic, vowing to remedy by indiscretion with kale salads and baked salmon. *pfft* Right.
What really happens though is that I usually get home on a late flight to an empty fridge. I pick up a bacon breakfast sandwich on the way to the office, grab some takeout for lunch, and order a pizza for supper while I figure out my shopping list. That’s sometimes all it takes to derail me. While on vacation, I get so used to someone else cooking and cleaning up for me that the thought of having to actually spend 30 or 40 minutes preparing my meals seems like an awful burden. Plus, cooking for one is tough. I joked with a friend recently that buying a cucumber is a four-day commitment. So I fall into a bad cycle of quick processed meals or take out. I get lazy.
Say Hello to Change
Last month was different though. I saw an ad for HelloFresh, a meal delivery service and lo and behold, it was available here in Newfoundland. The idea is that, each week, they send you the ingredients and recipes to make three different meals (two portions of each). I had a look through a few weeks of examples and everything sounded pretty tasty. Certainly better than the canned chili I was contemplating for dinner.
After double checking the fine print and ensuring that I wouldn’t have to jump through hoops to cancel if I didn’t like it, and with coupon in hand, I impulse bought a subscription. I chose the Pronto box with recipes promising a 30 minute or less prep/cook time. Even Domino’s can’t do that. My first box would arrive the day after I got back from London. Perfect.
It was kind of exciting to get that first box. I do like a good plan and this was so well organized. Meat was packed at the bottom in an extra insulated, ice pack filled, compartment, while the rest of the ingredients were on top in three boxes, one for each recipe. No guesswork involved. The boxes also stacked easily in my fridge.
I’m Basically Nigella Lawson Now
I’ve cooked my way through two weeks worth of meals now and I’m impressed. The produce has all been fresh – sometimes fresher than I’ve seen at the grocery store – and the meals are well balanced between veggies, proteins, and carbs. Cooking with fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs has been a palate-awakening experience!
While I do have some extra packaging going in the trash, what I don’t have is food wastage. I was notorious for having food go bad and having to toss things. So much wasted money and food. I love that the ingredients in the box make just enough for two servings and that’s that. I typically have one serving hot and fresh and save one leftover serving either for lunch or for a quick post-kickboxing dinner the next day.
I like how the recipes are simple and don’t involve any advanced culinary skills beyond chopping and boiling water, but aren’t boring. It’s the fresh dressings and sauces that pull everything together and add some oomph.
I’ve definitely got more dishes to wash now than after a box of Kraft Dinner but it’s giving me confidence in the kitchen. I couldn’t resist sending my friends pictures of my first few meals. “Look! I cooked that!” I proudly texted. I have to say, I’m feeling better too. I don’t think I’ve eaten this many veggies on a regular basis since… um… well… never mind. I’ve actually eaten things like tomatoes and peppers, which I’ve historically loathed. I’m trying to keep an open mind about them and it would seem a real shame to just toss them. Turns out, they’re not that bad.
I’ll be the first to admit that HelloFresh isn’t for everyone. It’s a pricey at $80/week (for 6 servings) so I don’t expect to see an overall reduction in my food/grocery budget each month, but I’ll definitely see a reduction in the amount of money I spend on fast food and restaurants. If you’ve already got a good handle on your meal planning and cooking, you probably won’t benefit from it, unless you’re stuck in a recipe rut and need a boost out.
Tip: you can view all of the recipes on the website without a subscription.
Also, each week there are multiple possible recipes and you choose three of them, however, that’s where the customization ends. There’s a vegetarian box option at least. If you have further dietary restrictions, this might not be for you.
For travellers like me, it’s nice to know that I can easily skip a week or two if I’m going to be on the road and not miss a beat when I get back with just a click of the button on the site or in the app. Can’t do that with my gym membership…though I really wish I could!
I told a friend that I thought I was doing this adulting thing right by cooking supper that night. “What? By having someone else decide what’s for dinner like you’re a kid?” he joked. Actually…yes. I struggled with proper meals and recognized that I needed some help to get going in the right direction. Feeling like I’m constantly bombarded with choices and decisions doesn’t help so I kind of like opting out of one as simple as “What’s for dinner?” No more choice paralysis.
By the way, this isn’t sponsored content or an ad. I haven’t been asked to review the service and I haven’t gotten anything for free. However… “Here it comes,” I’m sure you’re saying… if you want to try it out for yourself, I do have a $50 discount you can get off your first week. ;) I feel like I’ve become a HelloFresh pusher among my friends but seriously, I’m just digging the service.
So… after London, I might not be that early morning riser and I may have skipped a kickboxing class to watch House of Cards but at least I’m eating and feeling better. Baby steps, right?