Tag: cooking

Cooking with SunBasket

So to date, I have written about my experience to date with HomeChef, who I recently found out was hyped about by none other than Hillary Duff. I actually have a few updates since my last post from a couple of weeks ago (you can read it here), but this post is about a whole new company that I recently learned, researched, and took the plunge with! If you couldn’t tell already by the title, the company I am referring to is SunBasket.

First off, SunBasket is like HomeChef in that it is a cook-at-home meal delivery service. The ease in picking my dinners was great – they both even have apps for iOS and Android so you can make changes on the go. So what I want to do is a comparison of the two, with the caveat that I have not yet received my first order from SunBasket.

Let’s take a look at the next two weeks of recipes (this week I am doing HomeChef and next week SunBasket to test it out):

HomeChef (week of 9-16)
Hot jalapeño jelly-glazed salmon with crispy onion asparagus
Crispy salt and pepper shrimp with red bell pepper
Chicken Kiev with parsley-garlic butter and green beans
Greek Chicken & couscous with cucumber and feta
Cotija-crusted pork chop with Spanish rice

SunBasket (week of 9-23)
Spicy Greek shrimp with tomatoes, feta, and orzo
Korean chicken japchae with glass noodles and vegetables
Fettuccine Bolognese with garlic-sauteed baby broccoli
Mediterranean lemon chicken
Palermo steaks with warm fennel and tomato salad

Right off the bat, the menu selection from SunBasket is more cultural than HomeChef though I see HomeChef trying to make some bold choices!

Next, let’s compare prices, excluding any promotions:
HomeChef – $99.50 for 5 meals, 2 servings ($9.95 per serving)
SunBasket – $79.90 for 5 meals, 2 servings ($7.99 per serving)

So there is a cost-saving for SunBasket over HomeChef on a weekly basis. Now SunBasket’s prices do increase if you order fewer meals per week ($9.99 per serving when you order 2 meals; $8.99 per serving when ordering 3 meals). However, for the sake of not having to worry about meals during the workweek AND comparing evenly, we are doing 5 meals per week.

How about add-ons? What are add-ons, you ask? Well, let’s say you want to have some lunch meals or snacks OR you really liked the sauce you got in one of the meals and want to order more…
HomeChef add-ons vary week to week, but usually, consist of 2 salads, smoothies and protein packs (like extra meat or chicken).
SunBasket add-ons seem to be more plentiful. They actually break down their orders into Dinners, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Proteins, and Pantry. Under breakfast, there are 5 options for egg bites, yogurt, oatmeal, granola, bread and spreads, juices, and coffee/tea. Under lunch, they have salads, soups, noodle bowls, and flatbreads. Snacks consist of dips, snackable veggies, nuts, crackers, sweets, jerky, and bars (think fig bars). The protein section is fairly self-explanatory but you can buy extra meats, chickens, fish, or vegetarian options! For the pantry, you can buy fresh kinds of pasta, sauces, oils, soups, large flatbreads, and coffees.

What a difference! I mean, I don’t see myself needing to buy a salad BUT it seems like I can really do my grocery shopping through SunBasket if I plan ahead.

Now, what about quality? SunBasket’s main selling point, especially to someone that isn’t subscribed, is that they are an organic company which means you can eat clean and organic – great for my Paleo friends! You can also customize your menu more so than with HomeChef. You can select a plan if you are paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free…or you can mix it up. With HomeChef, their ingredients are fresh but it is not are not always organic – I don’t always run to organic so it doesn’t quite bother me very much.

Overall I am waiting to see what next week’s box looks like as it’ll be my first with SunBasket! This may be a game-changer OR I will bounce back and forth depending on the meal selections. Either way, I have to say that these are some great options to try in order to save money, time, and the stress of having to cook something new every night!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried any cook-at-home meal delivery companies? Are you interested in an unboxing of SunBasket’s delivery? Are you interested in signing up for one of the two mentioned above?

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HomeChef Update

So back on August 20th, I wrote about a way that I am trying to cut back on excessive spending when it comes to my groceries, reducing waste with unused food, and reallocating time that was previously spent running from store to store. Well, 2 weeks in and going on to week 3, I wanted to share an update! Also, I want to add that this is not sponsored.

When I posted about HomeChef in my New Take on Groceries post, I wasn’t sure what to expect – honestly. I grew up with a mom that worked fulltime but also cooked every week. She taught me to love cooking and that the kitchen is all about organized chaos. She taught me that a little of this and a pinch of that were real measurements for ingredients. She taught me that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And with all of those lessons, I learned about cultural foods, how to basically cook for an army (I am having a really hard time cooking for just 2), and how cooking can bring people together. So when I decided to take a leap into these pre-planned meals, I thought I was shaming my up-bringing. I was not going out and buying my groceries, one cucumber at a time. I was not examining my produce or selecting that portioned ground beef (you know, the one that was priced $6.98 and not $7.02). I was not coming up with my own concoctions. I was not experimenting or playing with food. I honestly felt slightly ashamed.

But I knew I had to do something to help my husband and I cut down on cost, cut down on overindulgence, and reallocate time that has become so precious and so limited (working fulltime, going to school fulltime, and managing some personal side projects really take a toll). So I told myself that this is an experiment so the scientist in me could rationalize the change and took the plunge.

As I mentioned, my first order was curtesy of a promotion code and subsequent orders would cost a bit more but still be less than what we normally would spend on just the groceries themselves. I did a breakdown in my earlier post (you can find it here). So to date, these are the expenses we have incurred for any and all groceries:

HomeChef – $57.50 (week 01) + $89.50 (week 02) + $99.50 (week 03)
Local Farmer’s Market: $30 (week 01) + $32 (week 02) + $0 (week 03)
Local grocery: $30 (week 01) + $20 (week 02) + $28 (week 03)
Costco: $0 (week 01) + $0 (week 02) + $55 (week 03)
Subtotal: $117.50 (week 01) + $141.50 (week 02) + $182.50 (week 03)
GRAND TOTAL: $441.50

Now, I have to admit that some of the local grocery shopping was for our pups who eat home-cooked food which we mix with their kibble, but for the sake of the cost analysis, we will include it. Additionally, there were some expenses that were for work functions, but I cannot find that recent and it was partially reimbursed so we will exclude that. I also excluded non-food items like hand soap, detergents or aluminum foil (Costco for the win though). Also, I had cooked a storm before we started this so we had a LOT of food in the freezer so, for those 2 days when we didn’t have a HomeChef meal, we still had food without having to go out to eat or scramble for last-minute ingredients.

So if we look at what I had predicted for expenses for a month, we will go over $500 in groceries BUT we have had less waste, less time spent shopping (hence my weekend of homework), less gas running from store to store, and less stress during the week. In fact, I opened my fridge this morning and realized it was basically empty – and by empty, I mean full of milk, eggs, and those other staples but not full of food in every Pyrex we own.

Yes, we still have to make some additional improvements but overall, this is still a savings for us. On a given month, we could easily surpass $600 in groceries alone.


Now, let’s talk about the food itself.

I am still feeling guilty about not having my mother’s recipes sprawled about the counter or making up my own concoctions, but I have to say that some of these meals are going to become part of our regular meal rotation when this little experiment is over!

The food is really quite good and I am still able to play with the recipe a little bit – mostly because we cut out a lot of salt (some of these have 50% of your daily intake!). My husband and I also still cook together, most days. And on those days we aren’t cooking together, the recipes are simple enough that one can cook and the other can do homework or personal tasks and he doesn’t yell at me that “a little of that” doesn’t mean anything! Most importantly, we eat together, at the dinner table, and have 1 serving – and we aren’t hungry!

I am currently editing my first unboxing video of the HomeChef delivery, which comes every Tuesday for us and is well packed! So stay tuned as I hope to have that up this weekend.

And just to leave you with an idea on the meals we have had…

So inquiring minds want to know… How important is home cooking in your household? Do you eat out often? If so, how often? How do you manage your budget with groceries?

Healthy Home

So one of the steps I have looked at for my health journey is looking at the products I use in my home. Is that air freshener really good for me? Is there a better alternative to clean my furniture? Could there be a better way to organize my pantry items? How can I feel safer in my home and protect my family? I live in an apartment – how could I make improvements to save money every month?

Below are some items and techniques that I added to my home the past few months, have tested, and could not live without! Some were investments, some were quick fixes, but overall they all took my place from an apartment to my home.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. While this does not impact your experience or cost with the product, if you purchase through my link, I do receive a small percentage. This allows me to continue bringing you original content and testing out new products. Photos are stock from the retailer’s website – they are not mine.

The first place I wanted to look for a healthier alternative is in the laundry. We all know this is one of the areas we neglect – mostly because we never quite seem to get around to the folding part. But after finding out just how bad those dryer sheets are for the skin, and how they actually repel water (which is the opposite of what you want your towels to do), I made the switch to these wool dryer balls. I bought the six-pack for cost effectiveness but also to give me options. I say options because I get to use my essential oils and customize my laundry scent. For example, lavender for my sheets and tangerine for my towels! They remove static and help reduce drying time because they are wool. They are reusable so one order from a year ago is still going!

This one is a double benefit because it is environmentally friendly and a cost saver! I bought these toilet tank bags in 2018 when I wanted to find a good way to start saving water (we have to pay for water every month) because I know that every flush is an exorbitant amount of water wasted. You’re literally flushing money down the toilet. I bought these tank bags, filled them with water, and placed them in the tank. That day, the amount of water expelled was significant which has reduced our water bill every month. And the best part is that they are holding up great even in the hard water. They are filled with water so they are reusable and conveniently clip to the side of the tank – never obstructing anything inside!

Though new to the house, this is something that I am not quite sure how I lived without! This is the Mealthy CrispLid for pressure cookers (like my instant pot). This is essentially an air fryer but without the need of buying an additional gadget. This allows us to enjoy our not so healthy foods in a much healthier way. We have already made “fried” chicken, french fries, tater tots, and a few other items! If you have an Instant Pot, or a pressure cooker of any kind, I highly recommend getting this!

I have these in BOTH of my crisper drawers and I am so glad I took the plunge to test these out. These are OXO Good Grips GreenSaver Standing Crisper Drawer Insert (2 Pack) and they are amazing little gadgets! So what are these? They are pyramid shaped containers that house enhanced carbon filters which absorb ethylene gas to keep produce fresh longer. And they really work! They will not keep the cucumber crisp for weeks but definitely a lot longer than without. In fact, I was able to get my lettuce to last 4 days longer having this than without them. And they are reusable so I have the filters auto-delivered every couple of months so I can keep my produce longer!

Back to that laundry conversation from earlier… If you ever do laundry at home and don’t want to throw that expensive sweater in the dryer or those jeans because if they shrink one more fraction of an inch, it’ll be WWIII when you try to put them on again…then you need this foldable laundry drying rack by Amazon Basics. It keeps my clothes from getting damaged in the dryer, reducing drying time, and folds up for easy storage!

I have two of these air purifiers by aer -one in each bedroom. They are compact, relatively noiseless and powerful. I even have the filters on auto-ship from Target because of the amount of dust and airborne particles. They have three speeds with the lowest being almost impossible to hear. The filters are easily replaceable and there is a date setting at the top to remind you when you changed and when you need to change the filters. These are great for small rooms, like a bedroom or office.

This compact steamer has been a staple in my home since late 2018 and is used often! I was honestly hesitant to get this because it is plastic but I needed to find an alternative for my husbands’ dress shirts as ironing was not cutting it. I also needed something to help me refresh garments that weren’t quite laundry mat material but not quite fresh either. So I took the plunge and bought this steamer for $25 and am so glad I did! This heats up quickly (within a minute) and the aluminum interior keeps the water hot the entire time you’re using it; the plastic exterior is easy to hold and doesn’t get hot. It even comes with a carrying case so you can take it with you when you travel because you know all those clothes are getting wrinkled in that suitcase!

Each of these products have helped us directly, or indirectly, start making our home a healthier place to live. I really am grateful that I had the opportunity to integrate these pieces into my home and have already purchased some of these several times over for gifts!

Inquiring minds want to know if you have found any household items that you simply cannot live without and how has it helped you? Comment down below!

A New Take on Groceries

When talking about our home budgeting needs, the one area that always gives us some pause is the “groceries” line item. We have been saving money when it comes to our no spend weeks and our pantry challenges (which is using only what you have in the house for food) which we usually combined! In fact, this past weekend is the first in a month where our fridge is back at capacity!

We are eating healthy, cooking more, and enjoying the time together without interruptions. And yet we are still spending more than we really need to for a household of 2 (humans and 2 pooches).

So we are going to try a little something new and I am bringing you along for the journey! We are taking a new look on groceries and trying HomeChef!

So what is HomeChef? It is a meal delivery service that allows you to customize your meals on your dietary needs (say vegetarian, gluten free, and so on) BUT you are actually the chef. So that means that all the ingredients, including the “dash of pepper” or “sprinkle of salt” is included, along with the main ingredients and the recipe guide. Then you cook the meal. So, if you’re like me and you don’t use much salt in your meals, you can customize your dinner. The best part is that they provide the ingredients per the number of people and the recipe -nothing more. So there is less waste and no science experiments growing in the back of the fridge (c’mon…I know I’m not alone on this one).

Now you are reading this and thinking, didn’t you just say you are being frugal and not spending money? How does that align with ordering meals delivered to your door every week? Well thanks for asking!

We were lucky enough to get a promotion for our first box (slated to arrive Tuesday the 27th and I’ll bring you along for the ride) which only came out to $57.50 for 5 days worth of meals for 2 people. Now I’m not a mathematician by trade but… $57.50 divided by 5 days means that we are eating dinner for $11.50. And if you divide that by 2 … $5.75 per person, per meal, Monday through Friday. Honestly, I’ve spent more at Starbucks on one coffee that I finish in 5 minutes (don’t challenge me on that…I’m a coffee addict and proud).

But lets say we did not get a promotion to try out. The normal box of meals that we are trying is for 5 days and 2 people which equates to an average of $99 (some prices vary depending on the recipes you choose – like scallops would cost more than chicken). That still is only $19.80 per day or $9.90 per person.

That all means that in a month, we will be spending under $400 for varying meals on the most hectic nights of the week!

Now if we just supplement that with fresh, in season, produce from our farmer’s markets like fruit and some vegetables for our smoothies and weekend meals, then we can stay under $500 a month. And that means a monthly savings of over $100 for us! What?! I told you we like to eat! Plus we need to look at the bottom line which includes time spent looking at flyers, comparing prices, and actually going to the stores. And speaking of going to the stores, lets not forget gas!

So now you’re asking me what type of food are we looking at because you know I love to cook and won’t eat just anything… Since I won’t receive my first box till next week, I can only share what my menu is slated to be in no particular order:

Meal 1: Steak with Sauce Robert and spinach scalloped potatoes
Meal 2: Salmon with Dill Crema and green beans amandine
Meal 3: Jalapeño Popper Burgers with chipotle mayo and fries
Meal 4: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta with Parmesan & green onions
Meal 5: Chipotle Refried Lentil Flautas with queso fresco & sour cream

I am very interested to see how these are packaged because with the 100+ degree weather we have been having, I don’t want my food to spoil before we get to cook it and eat it!

So tune in this upcoming Tuesday (8/27) as we uncover the world of meal deliveries you have to cook yourself! You may even want to follow me on IG where I’ll do some reviews live!