Hello Fresh Review

This whole subscription box trend just keeps getting crazier, but I am not complaining.  So far I have had my clothing, workout wear, my husband’s Valentine’s day gift and now my groceries hand picked by professionals and delivered promptly to my door.  I had such good experiences with the first few subscription services I tried that when I heard my parents and Ben’s both raving about Hello Fresh, I couldn’t wait to test it for myself.

hello fresh review

Hello Fresh is a flexible subscription service that provides boxes of farm fresh groceries as often as you would like.  A team of chefs create simple yet interesting recipes each week.  The box includes the ingredients for 3 meals for 2-4 people and a detailed recipe card with photos and easy to follow instructions.  They provide variety with meat, seafood and vegetarian options and let you choose the 3 meals you prefer from a list of 5 possibilities each week.

hello fresh review : inside the box

I didn’t know what to expect as far as packaging.  Mailing fresh groceries just seems a little weird to me.  I was glad to see that everything was double bagged, packed in ice and very cold even after sitting on my doorstep for a few hours.

hello fresh review : packaged meals

The ingredients for each meal were pre-measured and bundled together in clear plastic.  I stuck them right in the bottom drawer of my fridge like this and pulled them out each night when I was ready to cook.  It was so organized and efficient!

hello fresh review meat

The meat was separate and on the very bottom closest to the ice packs.  My box included ground beef, chicken and shrimp.  I am a bit of a meat snob, and I was really impressed with the quality of all of these.

hello fresh review recipe card

The first night I chose to make Smoky Chicken Fajitas.  Each recipe has a difficulty level and a start to finish time estimate.  This one was quick and easy which was what I needed that particular night.  The produce was good quality by my standards, just like the meat.

hello fresh review corn salsa

The instructions were clear and easy to follow.  I enjoyed chopping the fresh veggies while Ben cubed the chicken and prepped the tortillas for warming.  The steps were planned out very well, and the entire meal only required one pan, one bowl and a couple of cutting boards.  I found this to be true with all of the Hello Fresh meals!  I can really get behind a quick meal with easy clean up!

hello fresh review chicken fajitas

This meal was supposed to feed two people, but the portions were very generous.  It made enough for the two of us and our toddler, who actually asked for “MORE!”  There was still enough left for my lunch the next day.  The corn salsa was absolutely delicious!  It will definitely become a staple recipe around here for snacking and to top grilled chicken and fish.  Learning new recipes and techniques is another bonus to this fun service.

hello fresh review smoky chicken fajitas

In a nutshell, Hello Fresh has an easy to use website that allows you to choose how often and which day of the week you would like to receive a box.  One day each week, they send an email to let you know that it is time to choose what you want to eat from the new recipes.

You choose an omnivore box or a vegetarian box.  You choose to feed 2 or 4 people.  All boxes include 3 meals.  The price for an omnivore box to feed 2 people 3 meals is $69.  The shipping is free, and we had some leftovers but no food waste.

At first I thought the price might be a bit steep.  When I talked about it with my husband, we reasoned that we usually spend between $70 and $100 on groceries each week.  We also have a separate restaurant budget.  Considering the high quality of ingredients, savings verses similar restaurant entrees and the convenience of skipping the big grocery trip with an almost two year old, we have decided to get a box one week per month.

That week we will budget $100 for food, use the additional $30 for milk, bread and other breakfast staples and skip our restaurant night.  For some of you $69 may be a steal for 3 meals.  I am just keeping it real here for those of you who live with similar spending plans to ours.

If you would like to try Hello Fresh, use my referral code FHG5AJ for $40 off your first box!  Just enter the code in the promotion box at checkout.

Have you tried Hello Fresh or any other grocery subscription service yet?

10 Newborn Favorites That I Will Use Again

When it comes to baby products, there are millions of things on the market and millions of these favorite things lists floating around.  I was and still am very overwhelmed by the choices in stores, and I still read every single one of these lists I come across.  It is so helpful to have an honest mom’s perspective based on trial and error, so I decided to put together yet another one with my personal experience.

I have been busy pulling things out of storage and cleaning them to get ready for baby #2. There were many products that we loved and a few that we didn’t the first time around.  While many more make my list of luxuries, these are the 10 newborn favorites that I cannot imagine going the first few months without. newborn favorites

1.  Goodnight Moon Starry Night Projector - I opted not to get one of the loud bright crib toys that I saw on the baby aisle, but I did swaddle my baby and put him in his crib to fall asleep rather than rocking him when he was learning to sleep on a schedule.  He was happy as a little bug watching these starry lights on his ceiling while he quietly and peacefully fell asleep.  It was also the perfect night light for me when I went in to feed him at 2:00 a.m. It was quiet and not bright enough to really wake him or keep him up.  Plus it is on a timer, so I knew that when I left the room, he would soon have a dark environment perfect for a deep slumber.

2.  Rock n’ Play Sleeper - This is by far my #1 most favorite and most used baby item, and I see it on just about every other list of this type.  It is a smart, practical and reasonably priced product that provides a portable place to safely put baby during the day and even replaces a bassinet for night time sleeping for the first few months.  I love that it is on an incline for reflux babies.  It is also very lightweight and easily folds up for storage and travel.

3.  Muslin Swaddle Blankets – We had a summer baby the first time and are expecting one again.  These blankets are an ideal weight for keeping baby safely swaddled but not too hot.  They are also easier to wrap and stay in place better than the heavier weight ones I have tried.  Everyone raves about the aden + anais brand.  I love them too, but I also used a couple of other brands and was pleased with all things muslin regardless of price or print.

*HomeGoods and TJMaxx are great places to shop for these.  I found Aden + Anais ones for $14.99 and Laura Ashley and Ralph Lauren ones for $7.99, a complete steal compared to the retail price.

4.  Carseat Canopy – With baby #1, I was a wee bit paranoid about germs and strictly followed the stay at home for 6 weeks and very little interaction with the public until 12 weeks rule.  It was admittedly a little extreme.  This time, I will still be cautious but plan to venture out a bit sooner with my two little ones.  I used a carseat canopy similar to this one when I did go out.  The baby was able to nap in peace, and it discouraged well meaning strangers from trying to touch and breath all over the baby.  It was great, and I plan to get a lot more use out of it this time around!

5.  Pampers Swaddlers – If you have been reading here for long then you know I like to shop around, research and ultimately get a good deal.  I learned the hard way to throw the budget out the window and opt for the softest and most well fitting diapers no matter what the cost, for the younger months anyway.  (At this point in a size 5 and beginning to potty train, we buy whatever is on sale.)  Until he reached a size 5 though, I used swaddlers because they never ever ever leaked or caused skin irritation.

*I found that I could get these diapers for the best price per diaper if I ordered the largest box from amazon prime monthly.  That beat the warehouse club price and any coupon combos I was able to find.

6.  Sleep Sheep – This guy is cute, cuddly and a sound machine that clips to the outside of the crib, swing or carseat for safety.  We still use him most nights and naps and always travel with him.

7.  Britax B-Agile Travel System - There are many great options for travel systems out there.  I chose this one after much research, and I was so happy with the performance.  The stroller is easy to put up and down, stores easily and holds up to heavy duty wear and tear.  We have used it daily for almost two years now, and it still looks and operates like a brand new one! I will be investing in the double option soon.  Has anyone tried it?

8.  Infantino Activity Gym –  We traveled a ton during the first 6 months of our little guy’s life and even spent an entire month in a hotel in New Orleans while my husband was studying at Tulane.  This thing packs and travels so well and can be thrown in the washing machine.  It is easy to pop up and put together too.  The colors are fun, the fabric is soft and durable and the toys can be moved around to change baby’s view for tummy, back or side time.

9.  Little Giraffe Luxe Blanky – I love this brand!  It is unbelievably soft and beautiful!  It is a bit pricey but completely worth it for the look, feel and durability.  I would like to have all things Little Giraffe, but my most favorite is the 14″ by 14″ blanket because it is the perfect size for the carseat.  It is large enough to cover babies feet and arms without having any excess that might get caught up around their face.  The germaphobe in me also appreciates that it doesn’t hang over the sides of the seat at all making it the perfect accessory for carting the baby around chilly stores, restaurants and doctor’s offices without the hassle of keeping the long ends tucked inside the carrier.

10.  Snuggabunny Bouncer –  This is part of the same collection as the rock n’ play mentioned above, and it is also a great product for most of the same reasons.  I used this to keep baby safe and entertained while I was doing housework, taking a bath or just needed to give my arms a rest for a few minutes.  He loved the vibrating motion and the sweet nature sounds, and I loved that it was so easy to carry from room to room.

DIY mini shadow boxes

We have been shifting some things around in our home to make room for baby #2 lately. One big move was switching our toddler to a different room with a better layout for a growing boy and a little more privacy that will hopefully help him sleep through the night even with a baby crying every couple of hours.

We moved into this house in May and I am ashamed to admit, we still had not gotten around to hanging anything on the walls in his room.  This DIY oversized chalkboard was really the only fun decorative element in there.  Other than that it was a beige room with a bed, shelf, rocker and toys, not the fun, exciting, educational space I had envisioned for my little man to spend his days.

Now that we have moved him down the hall, painted and arranged furniture, I am working hard to create that special feeling in his little room.  Of course, I included some store bought decor, but I really wanted the room to have as many unique elements as possible.  One easy and affordable way to incorporate some custom decor is to make creative wall art.  These DIY mini shadow boxes were 100% my aunt’s idea.  We are enjoying the outcome of this sweet and simple project so much that I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

DIY mini shadow boxes

The frames are from Target.  They are not technically shadow box frames, just ones that are deep enough to hold a little something three dimensional behind the glass.  Craft stores sell actual shadow boxes in all sizes though.  These are 4×6 frames.  If you buy the actual shadow box, it will have something strong enough to hold the items as a background.  Since these were meant to hold a photo, we had to cut a piece of mat board to fit the frames and be sturdy enough to glue these little wooden animals down.

DIY mini shadow boxes materials

Just take the frames apart, arrange the objects that you want to display and use a hot glue gun to stick them permanently to the background.  Once they dry just pop the frame back together, and they are ready for display.  That’s it!  It is ridiculously simple but so cute!

DIY mini shadow boxes with animals

These hand carved wooden animals are made by a man in Starkville, MS.  He carves and paints each one and sells them out of his home.  I am so impressed with the designs, colors and simple details.  I want to collect them all!  You could add any sentimental or beautiful item to these frames, dried flowers, vintage jewelry, army men… endless possibilities.

DIY mini shadow boxes for nursery wall decor

Here they are hanging on the wall.  I have to hold him up to them at night because he likes to point out each and every animal and make their sounds.  Little memories like that are why I appreciate adding personal elements to my home!

You can see these DIY mini shadow boxes in his original nursery in our old house here.