Saturday, June 8, 2013

Meal Planning Services Part 2: Nourished Kitchen and Holistic Squid

Why did I continue trying different meal planning services after falling in love with TheFresh20? Just to see if something better exists...and because I was intrigued by a few friends who "swear" by the Weston A. Price based "traditional" style of eating. Trying to figure out that "diet" was extremely overwhelming. I'm not really one to do things half-way. I did buy the book Nourishing Traditions and found it helpful but to come up with "approved" meals on my own with my limited "traditional" eating experience wasn't appealing. Enter: Nourished Kitchen and Holistic Squid.

Contender A: Nourished Kitchen 

Pros: This is a really good plan. It fits the traditional way of life quite well and is well laid out. It offers tips on how to save time (make ahead, freeze and store options).
Best Feature: The substitutions for people on GAPS or with other dietary sensitivities.
Cons: Pretty time-consuming to make even with it laid out so well. If you are new to this style of eating--you may hate the menu. (See Family Approval Rating). There's no easing into it...and for me, it was really hard to make a complimentary vegetarian meal along with it when I wasn't feeling up to choking down some weird meats.
Affordability: The plan is a little more expensive than others but it is really well laid out. If you are currently a WAPF fanatic...this plan will save you serious time and brain power.
Family Approval Rating: Eh...too traditional for us. Some things like Italian wedding soup, bison and far too many meatloaf/meatball recipes for our taste...not enough vegetables either! We felt like we were just eating meat with broth...more similar to GAPS.
Conclusion: Great for the WAPF lover. Not the place to start for the "new to WAPF" family.

Contender B: Holistic Squid

Pros: Similar to Nourished Kitchen, this plan is based on the WAPF/traditional way of eating. This lady has her kitchen routine down. You will not waste time following this plan yet you will render lard, make tons of yogurt, culture your own cheese and many other traditional things that may be new to you. And no, you will not spend all your life in the kitchen...  Oh and the recipes are AMAZING...some of the best food I have ever cooked in my own kitchen came from this meal husband agrees!

Best Feature: Time saving tips--this meal plan comes with fairy dust because you will truly feel proud at the end of the week when you serve your family everything from scratch in fewer than 4 hours per week.

Cons: There are some errors in the instructions and missing ingredients here and there. They could stand to be copy edited. The recipes do produce large amounts of food...too much for our family of 4.

Affordability: The year is only $ still very affordable. The food per week is a bit pricey but I don't think it would be more than a normal weekly bill for a family following this plan.

Family Approval Rating: Overall my husband and I really enjoyed the plan but only one of our children consistently finished her dinner. It was really hard to make a complimentary meal for my oldest daughter who prefers to eat her food completely separated from other foods.

Conclusion: Totally worth wont be sorry!

While I have enjoyed using Holistic Squid's meal plans for over 30 days...I have experienced some undesirable side effects of following a traditional diet. I can't blame the meal plan as much as I blame the diet. I'll cover this topic in greater detail in another post.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Meal Planning Services Part 1: Relish!Relish!, Nourished Network and TheFresh20

How did I ever survive without a meal planning service before? It has been over 3 years now that I have been trying various meal planning services across the web. Even the ones that have room for improvement make my life easier than "winging it" or making up my own meal plan. For the sake of brevity I will break the reviews up into multiple posts (yep, I have tried *that* many plans!). 

My meal planning service started in 2010 with Relish!Relish

Pros: Hands down, the best use of technology of all the services I have tried. Drag and drop, phone app for grocery list, create your very own meal plan with more than 5 meals per week. 

Best Feature: Freezer meals each month! 

Cons: Uses some processed foods, you purchase a LOT of groceries because none of the meals compliment each other. 

Affordability: The service is totally affordable but we spent the most using this plan out of any others...even the ones focused on whole chickens, bone broth and making everything from scratch--including raw milk yogurt! 

Family Approval Rating: Some meals were excellent (usually the ethnic ones) but many were bland. Desserts were amazing. 

Conclusion: Ehh- it has a lot of room to grow. If I could, I would mesh their technology with any of the other meal planning services I have tried. The freezer meals are hard to beat though... 

The next one Nourish Network 

Pros: Beautiful menu plan. Well laid out and fewer pages to print. Gourmet tasting meals. 

Best Feature: Beauty! 

Cons: Used less common meats (mussels, lamb, etc) without offering a complimentary substitution. Very restricted--5 meals so you either make them or you don't. She stopped offering new meal plans over a year ago and never came back it seems? I had just gotten started and it quit. 

Affordability: Rather pricey--the  recipes were gourmet-ish but still affordable. 

Family Approval Rating: I skipped at least 1 meal per week because I knew my family wouldn't like it. 

Conclusion: It is better for a 1-2 person adult only to try with a spouse or a boyfriend/girlfriend to woo them with stellar cooking. Unfortunately, it seems like you can't even sign up anymore. 

Third trial: TheFresh20

Pros: Seasonal, nothing is canned, focused on 20 ingredients per week, easy to substitute gluten free and make it vegetarian (you can choose the vegetarian meal plan too but I found them bland), uses very few grains--I can hardly recall using any grains actually!

Best Feature: Continuity of planning! Love that it uses up 20 ingredients each week. Huge cost savings with that and you can shop at the local farmers market and know that the ingredients you find will match your shopping list for the week. 

Cons: Hard to find a con here- sometimes the portions are really small. This works for my family but I am sure it wouldn't if I had a husband who ate more than I do! 

Affordability: Extremely affordable plan pricing and we save a ton of money following this plan. We use their 4 week lunch plan and rotate it. We can buy entirely organic/local produce and ingredients and still not break our food budget. 

Family Approval Rating: Very rarely did we find a recipe we didn't like. A few were just "meh" and we wouldn't make them again but overall, this one is a keeper!

Conclusion: Probably my top pick. It is really hard to beat. 

In the next post I will cover two "traditional" eating style services!