Hello Fresh, Hello Yes!

Family, meal planning, My Tasteful Life, Planning, tips

Parents everywhere are excited and a little overwhelmed as they get back into the school year routine. Between open houses, sports tryouts and the typical morning rush, what to have for dinner can be an afterthought. Wouldn’t it be great if healthy, fresh ingredients and clear recipes arrived at your door?

That’s where a meal delivery service, like HelloFresh, can come into play.
My good friend introduced me to this little luxury, and I’ve been pretty impressed with the freshness and quality of the ingredients. The recipes can make weeknight meals easier because you don’t have to come up with the idea and purchase the various ingredients. Even cooks like me will be impressed with the quality and variety that HelloFresh offers its clients.

Here’s how it works: you sign up and get your first box free. That box includes all the ingredients for three meals that feed two people. The box is well packed, and keeps everything cold. Each meal has a clearly written recipe, with pictures and nutritional values, that provides precise cooking instructions.

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After your first free box, then you’re charged weekly for whatever amount you choose. The options feed either two or four people. You can easily put a week on hold (as long as you do so a week and a half before delivery) so that you don’t have food arriving when you’re on vacation or during a week that you don’t need the service.

You can also pick your meals from different options the week before your delivery. This ensures that each box is perfect for your family. If you and your family don’t eat fish or need vegetarian options, then you can customize the box to fit your needs.

I’ve been most impressed with the types of recipes (great when you’re stuck in a cooking rut) and with the quality of the ingredients. HelloFresh has obviously partnered with some good brands and the mini condiments are not only tasty but also adorable.

There are other similar services out there like Blue Apron and Plated. I’ve only tried HelloFresh, and was honestly surprised that I liked it at all. As someone who enjoys cooking, I didn’t think I would need a service that spoon fed me ideas, recipes and ingredients. But I have to admit that some weeks my meals are less than inspired, and not having to plan for every night has its benefits.

Here are my overall findings. The pros: interesting meals, clearly written recipes containing all the nutritional information, and most recipes seem to stay between 400 and 600 calories per serving. Meals usually only require one pan for cooking, and the fresh ingredients get delivered to your home. The cons: it’s not cheap ($69/week for three meals feeding two people). Most recipes require a decent amount of prep-work for a weeknight meal, and you can’t choose your delivery day.

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Singles, young couples, empty nesters and families with a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters would truly benefit from something like HelloFresh. You will have to do some of the work, mostly chopping and cooking, but if you can prep your food before work or during a child’s nap, then you can have a delicious and healthy meal within 30 to 40 minutes that evening. Most recipes are made in one pan, which makes clean up a breeze.

So the next time you’re looking ahead on the calendar and see an upcoming crazy week, give a meal delivery service like HelloFresh, Blue Apron or Plated a try. You’ll be surprised at the inspired and delicious recipes you’ll put on the table.

Family Vacation Survival Guide

Beach, Family, My Tasteful Life, Planning, Salt, Survival, Vacation

Traveling with extended family can be as stressful as it is fun. My husband, daughter and I recently met up on Amelia Island, Florida, with my parents, four siblings, an aunt and her two teenage kids. The dynamics of organizing 12 people’s wants and needs can be challenging to say the least. But below I’ve identified four key ways to maximize and enjoy your time with loved ones. Following these simple guidelines can make your next holiday the best family vacation you’ve had in years.


Sitting on the beach next to my dad and watching my three brothers play with my daughter, I was completely content. The familiarity of my dad flipping the pages of his newspaper, the sound of the surf and the squeals of delight from an entertained 4-year-old truly warmed my heart. I made an effort to savor that moment.


Building the Great Wall of Amelia!

I also savored the delicious food and drink. Champagne has been a favorite choice lately, and it fit perfectly with my beach vacation. We were also lucky enough to eat at Salt, the premiere restaurant of the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. You know I savored the heck out of my shrimp appetizer and Wagyu beef strip steak.


Wagyu Strip Steak at Salt, Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island


Other than setting a 10 a.m. daily meet-up time for everyone, I did my best to go with the flow. I’m sure that sounds rigid, but my experience has taught me that if you don’t carve out a specific time to get together, then you end up seeing your family only in the hotel hallway and at dinner.

Back to relaxing! Having kids can make you follow a schedule. Naps, bath and bedtime seem to run the roost. A family vacation is a perfect time to relax those routines, if your child is comfortable winging it. For instance, if it was close to 2 p.m. (and Lily wasn’t sunburned) we’d hang at the beach until 3-ish, pushing her nap time an hour or more. I also let her nap for as long as she wanted, and then there was no leaving dinner early to “get her to bed.” That gave us even more time with the family we don’t get to see often enough.


Staying up late and loving it!


Inevitably there will be the occasional conflict when traveling with 12 people. Accept it! Instead of worrying about it or freaking out when it happens, just know it will pass. The quicker everyone can get over it, the faster you can all get back to enjoying the trip.

Remember, this is family – you didn’t get to pick them but they are yours for life. It’s better to accept each other’s faults than hold onto the animosity that would typically end friendships. Besides, it’s only for a few days and there is a bar nearby.


It had been over five years since I was last with my parents and all of my siblings at the same time. That seems crazy, but life gets in the way. All the more reason to capture the moment. Take a ton of photos. Be annoying about it. This is the digital age – you can erase the crappy ones. Keep snapping and I guarantee you’ll capture a gem that will probably become an iconic family image.


Patriarch watching over little ones in the surf.

If you have the opportunity to hire a professional photographer on vacation, then take it. My sister Erin coordinated a low-stress, one-hour photo shoot that yielded some beautiful family photos. It had been 11 years since the last formal family photo we had taken, and that was at my wedding! The hour session might have been a little crazy organizing all of us, but the end result was more than worth the effort.

Green 12

Time flies so capture special moments.