My kids have a countdown to winter break, when they can run around the house all day building pillow forts, playing video games, and get fresh mac'n'cheese for lunch. Me? I always feel like it comes out of nowhere.
All of a sudden, they have no structured time, and routine goes out the window. We're eating pizza for breakfast, popcorn at the movies for lunch, and ice cream for dinner .
To avoid that from happening and straying too far from their routines (especially their sleep schedule), I wanted to do something to implement a healthy meal structure.
I'd tried a meal kit delivery service once before, but it was during a really hectic time, and I ended up letting food go to waste! Their process for pausing or changing the plan was so confusing.
I did really like easy, nutritious, and delicious meals in about half an hour of cooking, so I thought maybe I'd try a new company this time. I have one friend who talks about HelloFresh all the time on social media, and it seemed to be the most family-friendly.
I took the plunge and I ended up loving it. Seriously, I was so surprised, but it was exactly what I needed. If I'd seen a FAQ before I signed up, I would've done it earlier, so I decided to make my own FAQ!
Here are Frequently Asked Questions about HelloFresh (or at least, the ones I had).
How does a meal kit delivery service work?
HelloFresh sends you a weekly box with pre-portioned ingredients and recipe sheets for 2-4 recipes per week. You pick the recipes, the delivery day, the number of people eating, and the number of recipes per week.
They also just started letting you add extra helpings of protein (bacon, anyone?) to your meal as well as desserts like brownies or cookie dough. I'm personally happy with the portion sizes, but if you think you need more, or have a sweet tooth, it's a great option.
How frequently do you get meals?
You choose 2-4 meals per week, and can now adjust your meals, day by day! If you're dining solo on Monday and treating the whole fam on Wednesday, HelloFresh can be there for you.
You can also pause or cancel at any time. It's super easy to pause, which I'll do for the last week of the year - we'll be stuffed with leftovers from my parents' house.
How long do meals take to cook?
This was the biggest shock for me; the recipe times are scary-accurate. If it says 30 minutes, it's really about 30 minutes. There are some super fast recipes, as quick as 15 minutes, and some more gourmet recipes that take 45. You can see the times when you pick your meals, so it's never a surprise.
Is it healthy?
Every meal has vegetables, and honestly that's good enough for me.
One of my sons is in an "I hate vegetables" phase, and HF makes them exciting: I've been roasting green beans instead of boiling them, pickling cucumbers (it's way easier than I thought!), and stuffing peppers with meats and spices.
He also thinks roasted sweet potatoes are a dessert! (No one tell him.)
Genuinely, there are heart-healthy options, low-calorie options, and always fresh produce, so it's really nutritious.
Does it taste good?
Yes! It's kid-approved, too! The sauces are always just right, and it's a home-cooked meal.
They integrate seasonal recipes into the menu, so in the winter, there are options like Crispy Gnocchi with bacon and mushrooms and Oven-baked Pumpkin Risotto. You get to choose between a record 21+ meals every week (!!), but if you're overwhelmed, there's always an option for a Chef's Choice, which is one of the HelloFresh's chef's all-time favorite recipes and a surefire crowd- pleaser.
What does it cost?
HelloFresh costs less than $10 per meal, and prices can go as low as $7.49 for the family plan (there's a vegetarian plan, too). It's sooo much cheaper than buying takeout for a family of 4.
I plan to use HelloFresh exclusively the week leading up to the holidays - take-out restaurants in our area always have long waits during the busiest times of year, and I am not doing any regular cooking when I've got a 20 lb. ham to make in a few days.
Yes: I never would've attempted risotto or some of the trickier sounding recipes from HelloFresh on my own. With instructions and pre-measured portions, there are no leftover ingredients taking up prime shelf space in the fridge, and I'm assured the meal will be super tasty.
When the kids are home on break, HelloFresh fills in all the gaps that open up, but it's really great for any kind of week. This mom's a fan for life!
Update: CYBER MONDAY SALE EXTENDED! The folks at HelloFresh are extending a special offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $30 off including FREE shipping on the first box!
Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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