There is one thing that all moms can agree on: meal planning is necessary in order to get a healthy, home cooked meal on the table instead of take out every night. Meal planning is also an essential way to save money on groceries, which as we know, can get really expensive.
As a working mom, if I don’t have a meal plan in place, there is trouble and STRESS when I get home at 6:00 in the evening. I usually have a hungry, crabby toddler pulling on my leg who wants to eat and a husband asking “What’s for dinner?” unless a plan is in place. If I could afford to hire a personal chef or have fresh, healthy meals delivered to my door every night, life would be a heck of a lot easier. Until I win the lottery and hire a personal chef, I think I found the next best thing: The Fresh 20.
In the past, I would often rely on easy side dishes and casseroles that were loaded with processed ingredients and sodium because they were quick and easy since first and foremost, I want to get dinner on the table. However, in our aim to be a healthy family, these are things that I had always hoped to avoid when it came to feeding Andrew and teaching him healthy habits. I also discovered that trying to buy fresh organic produce is not easy on the wallet, but I am willing to spend a little more if it is quality, healthy whole food for my family.
The Fresh 20
Recently, Myndee told me about an online meal planning service called The Fresh 20, whose aim is to provide families with healthy, unprocessed meals based on seasonal and fresh produce and ingredients. As soon as she emailed me the link, I started looking into their plans. As I looked through their site, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
I was lucky enough to get a trial subscription to The Fresh 20, and I’m very pleased and IMPRESSED. They offer several different types of plans for a subscription fee that is $5/month or $49/year. Beyond meal planning, their service also offers up meal plans that not only provide healthy meals, but help to save on groceries, as they focus on seasonal items and give cost estimates for each meal and item on your grocery list. If you invest in the yearly plan, you can get access to their archives AND lunch plans as well, which provide you with tons of great recipes to use as alternatives that suit any taste. Their meal plans cover several types of dietary needs as well, including Classic, Gluten Free, and Vegetarian plans that include delicious and nutritious recipes that utilize in-season produce to make you get the greatest bang for your buck, all while getting fresh, healthy ingredients that are great for keeping your body and heart healthy.
The Classic Meal Plan
I tried the Classic Meal Plan and started out by shopping at the farmer’s market to get all of the produce we needed for the week. With each weekly meal plan, The Fresh 20 provides a shopping list that lays out everything you need and an estimate on how much it should cost. When I did a cost comparson of these items, their price estimates matched (or were actually a little less) what I paid for my fresh produce, thanks to the great deals at the farmer’s market. Fortunately, when it came to the needed protein on the plan, we already had plenty of chicken and shrimp in our freezer so our grocery bill stayed well within budget and on plan! The meals that were provided in the weekly plan were practical, doable and appealed to our tastes. Furthermore, I even checked out the archives just in case there were recipes that didn’t appeal to us, and there were many more that I could have substituted. Honestly, I had fun just going through the archives to see what else I can try in the future!
As soon as I saw all of those recipes in the meal plan, I was excited as the meals were all something that everyone in our house would eat. On this particular week, our menu included Chicken Milanese, Shrimp Scampi and Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Casserole. On the other two weeknights, we had leftovers or did a freezer meal since I was at a paint party one of those nights and wouldn’t be home to cook.
Another great element to The Fresh 20 is that the meal plan lays out a prep guide to help you make the most out of your time since cooking fresh, healthy meals is sometimes time consuming. By following the prep guide, I was able to pre-cut all of the veggies for the week’s meals AND pre-cook chicken and quinoa for a second meal later on in the week which saved a LOT of time and money, as nothing was wasted and all of the food was put to good use.
I decided it would be fun to share a cost breakdown from a Fresh 20 meal to share what a great bargain it was!
Chicken Milanese with Lemon Broccoli Quinoa
- whole chicken breasts ($4) (estimated cost $9)
- bread crumbs ($.79) (estimated cost $1)
- herbs, etc. that were used in the crumb mixture (already on hand, free)
- eggs ($.40) (estimated cost $2.50)
- quinoa ($2.88) (estimated cost $2)
- Lemon (free from my mom’s neighbor!) (estimated cost $1.25)
- broccoli/cauliflower ($2.50) (there wasn’t a lot of broccoli at the market, so we subbed in purple cauliflower in addition) (estimated cost $2.00)
- Raisins ($.50) ($1.00 estimated cost)
Total cost of recipe: $11.07/ $2.76 per serving
When I saw how much the total meal cost was, I was excited as the meal certainly didn’t taste like it only cost $2.76 per serving. Our dinner was full of flavor and fresh ingredients, and it got two thumbs up from everyone in the house, even Andrew! Most importantly, I knew EXACTLY what was going into these meals, and that meant no MSG, no preservatives with strange words I can’t pronounce, and I knew where the fresh produce was grown, right down the road by local farmers!
Want to hear something even MORE awesome? The Fresh 20 is offering up one free annual subscription to a New Orleans Moms Blog reader (a value of $49). With this subscription, you can choose from their three plans (Classic, Gluten Free or Vegetarian) AND have access to their lunch plans as well as the archives. Furthermore, the subscription can help you start saving on groceries and meal planning some delicious meals that are good for your heart and tasty for your palate.
NOTE: I was not compensated for this post, and I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are entirely my own.
“I knew EXACTLY what was going into these meals, and that meant no MSG, no preservatives with strange words I can’t pronounce, and I knew where the fresh produce was grown, right down the road by local farmers!”
Please explain why MSG and “strange words I can’t pronounce” are unhealthy?
MSG is found in many “natural” foods such as tomatoes and it is a complete myth that it causes swelling and headaches. The notion that you “can’t pronounce” something means it is bad for you? That’s complete pseudoscience at best and insulting to those of who know anything about chemsitry or food.