Frugal, Tasty Meals with Dinnerly!

To facilitate this review, the awesome folks at Dinnerly provided our family with 3 meals (4-6 servings each). I received no financial compensation to write this review- All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed dinner/meal kits before, and my complaint is always that they are so expensive, upwards of $10 per person, per meal. At that point, I better be going out to dinner, and I am not washing dishes! Secondly, the meals are usually not child-friendly, especially if you have a kid on the spectrum (like we do), who also happens to be a vegetarian.

Enter Dinnerly! At $4.49 per adult-sized serving, Dinnerly is so much less expensive than other meal kits. But how? digital recipe cards instead of paper, fewer ingredients per dish (which means less chopping and cleaning), simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns.

The big kid and I looked at the website and he chose two meat-free recipes, and I chose one with meat.

  • Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous
  • Coconut Curry Ramen with Snow Peas & Jammy Eggs
  • Baked Squash & Kale Risotto with Parmesan

recipeWhat I really like is that the recipe tells you what is in the kit for your recipe, and what you will need from your own kitchen (and trust me, it’s nothing special or fancy).

The directions are great for those who don’t have a lot of cooking experience. My 8-year-old was able to read the steps and follow them. He helped me cook the Risotto, and he measured, stirred, poured, and ripped up the kale into bite-sized pieces.

The 4-6 adult-sized servings are pretty generous, by the way. With every meal, there were closer to 7 servings. I always serve side dishes with the main dish. Most nights we had salad or some kind of veggie side dish. When we had ramen, I picked up a bag of pork potstickers from 99 Cents Only for the grown-ups, and also made a miso dressing coleslaw. If you want to stretch meals further, I suggest adding sides, or maybe sneaking in some extra veggies (I added 1 cup of peeled, diced crook-neck squash to the Mediterranean Meatball Stew).

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Tamari Sauce for Ramen

Some of the recipes needed a little “kick”- especially the ramen- so we added ginger, red chili flakes, and a bay leaf to the broth. BUT, since everyone has different levels of spice tolerance, Dinnerly Kits are a great place to start if you want to explore different flavors and cultures without having the buy a bunch of new and/or different spices. For example, the ramen kit comes with two of these cute little packages of Tamari sauce. I did clean one of them out when I was done and now it’s in the kid’s toy kitchen.

Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, even the spices. This is another reason I love Dinnerly- It cuts down on food waste.

75557570_10157525826901061_3062456495460319232_n75443029_10157525826876061_5954310997228388352_nThe veggies are all super fresh and ready to be cut up! The risotto came with two little cubes of parmesan cheese, that my 8-year-old grated and sprinkled like a pro!

I made the Mediterranean Meatball Stew with Carrots & Couscous and took it to a friend for a night in. It was cheaper, healthier, and tastier than stopping to grab takeout. It was so tasty and filling.

If you want to check out Dinnerly, they have been nice enough to create a promo code just for my readers! The code to use at check out is hewesfamily15, and it’s active through the first week of December and only valid for first-time users. The coupon code is worth 15% off! To get started, visit Dinnerly here.

I think Dinnerly would also make a great gift for a family that just has a baby,  or someone who might need a little love.

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Butternut Squash & Kale Risotto
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Coconut Curry Ramen
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Meatball Stew and Cous Cous

11/18/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I didn’t make the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes I had hoped to make last week, but I am eyeing them for this week’s baking, in addition to chocolate chip cookies (always the kiddos favorite).

This week is starting off with a trip to the YMCA for yoga and some time at child watch. There is a lot going on over the next few weeks around here, so I’m trying to get us into a new routine with meal planning and getting more exercise for all of us.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. Last week I did a lot of veggie prep and I’ve got a bunch of bags of veggies in the freezer for meals this week.

  • Monday: breakfast for dinner: Everything bagels with various toppings (options will include scrambled eggs with cheese, avocado slices, bacon crumbles, sliced sharp cheddar, cream cheese), and smoothies.
  • Tuesday: Leftover Kale and Butternut Squash Risotto from Dinnerly (It made a HUGE amount). This time I’ll be adding bacon crumbles and serving it with fresh rolls.
  • Wednesday:  Chicken fajitas with onions and peppers, rice, and refried beans (quesadillas as the main dish for my vegetarian kiddo)
  • Thursday:  Veggie Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Friday:  Date Night (Dinner out- Woo)
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:   Leftovers, as per usual

I had someone ask me how we always have enough of anything for leftovers. I always cook enough of the main dish for 6-8 servings, that way we have leftovers for lunches later in the week or leftover night. And really when you make stuff like soup, it’s hard to make a batch of soup that only feeds 4 people.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

11/11/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I haven’t gone to the grocery store for this week, and I’m holding off, as we’ve got all kinds of stuff in the kitchen. I’ll be making some chocolate peanut cupcakes this afternoon, and pumpkin donuts later this week.  And we’ve got two meals from Dinnerly to cook this week!

No school today, so I’m a little late in posting this. We slept in until 8:15. Ahhhh.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a little meal prep over the weekend, chopped and bagged veggies soups and chili, and made cookies for the kids.

  • Monday: Birthday dinner for my dad with the fam
  • Tuesday: Kale and Butternut Squash Risotto (From Dinnerly)
  • Wednesday:  Grilled Cheese sandwiches and Soup
  • Thursday:  Coconut Curry Ramen with Jammy Eggs (Also from Dinnerly)
  • Friday: Pasta Free Lasagna (I have TONS of zucchini), garlic bread
  • Saturday:  Chicken and veggie stir fry with rice
  • Sunday:   Leftovers, as per usual

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Hot Weather Recipe Round Up!

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I mentioned in the Weekly Meal Plan post yesterday that it’s going to be a hot one this week. Ugh.

That means lots of time swimming and lots of time at the YMCA enjoying their AC and doing fun activities- Big Kid just did the fitness orientation and he is excited to start exercising. Mostly he wants to take boxing classes with me on Saturdays.

All that activity requires good, healthy fuel, and I do not want to fire up the stove or oven when it’s over 90 outside.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to serve when it’s hot outside!

As you can tell there are a lot of dessert recipes. Because, really, who doesn’t like dessert?

 

Talk Back: What do you cook when it’s hot?

 

 

 

 

Dinner Party Idea: DIY Ramen Potluck!

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We love to entertain. Dinner parties are a great way to have friends over to hang out and enjoy a good meal without breaking the budget.

We also love Ramen- not Top Ramen, but delicious, mouthwatering, tempting noodles, velvety broth, veggies, and soft boiled eggs. Doing a Ramen potluck is great way to try out new flavors that you may have never thought of.

In doing research for this article, I found out that there are so many ramen toppings and ingredients that I had never heard of (like corn, which you can see in the picture above). So some of the ingredients listed below may not make it into your potluck, but know that somewhere out there there is someone putting it on/in their ramen.

The host can provide the broth. As far as ramen broths, there are lots of options. I like Tonkatsu, which is pork and chicken based. Here is a great recipe.  Not interested in making it from scratch? You can buy Tonkatsu broth concentrate on Amazon.

If you are vegan, Ocean’s Halo makes a great seaweed based ramen broth. Miso is also a popular ramen soup base (Ocean’s Halo also makes great miso, pho, and veggie broth). We usually try to have two big pots of broth to choose from.

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 9.26.13 AM.pngAs far as noodles, you can get regular ramen noodles at any Asian grocery store (or most 99 Cents Only locations). I’m not talking about the kind that come in a little bag with a pouch of salty broth, those are fried so they cook super fast and aren’t really all that healthy.

I like the Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods. As a bonus these are gluten free and have protein in them. Our local Costco sells large packages, which is great for parties.

Some people like Soba noodles (thick buckwheat noodles), and some people like zoodles (the spiral cut zucchini “noodles”).

Now that you’ve got broth and noodles down, it’s time to get creative with toppings! Here are just a few ideas for guests to bring:

  • Eggs: I love a good soft-boiled egg on my ramen.
  • Scallions/green onions
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Seaweed/Nori sheets
  • Canned Bamboo shoots (they will need to be rinsed and probably sliced to made bite-sized.
  • Corn Kernels (defrosted frozen, fresh, or canned with no salt- drained and rinsed).
  • Mayu/Black Garlic Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Fried Tofu
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sliced fresh Jalapeños
  • Fried or pan steamed Gyoza
  • Roasted /braised slices of pork (fattier cuts of pork are great in ramen)
  • Cooked Shrimp (I can’t really give you any other suggestions on cooking/serving, I’m allergic to shellfish)
  • Fish Cakes (available at your local Asian Market)
  • Bok Choy
  • Mushrooms (Sliced shiitakes are nice, as are enoki)

And some people like rice as a side to their ramen. I prefer sticky rice, it’s easier to eat with chopsticks.

If you’ve got friends that don’t cook, don’t forget you’ll need chopsticks, bowls, spoons, and beverages.

Talk Back: What is your favorite type of Ramen? 

Meal Plan Monday 11/5/18

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m back home from Wow Summit, and I had 4 bags full of goodies- most of it was food- no lie! So this week is going to be incorporating a lot of the new foods into our lives and seeing how we like them.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for the grown ups, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

Monday: DIY Ramen Night with ramen kits I got from Wow Summit. One is Forbidden Rice Ramen, and the other is Red Miso Ramen. We’ll add poached eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and Asian veggie patties from Aldi’s. I love DIY Ramen nights- it’s a great way to have a yummy, filling vegetarian (or even Vegan) meal. I’ll be writing more about how you can do your own DIY Ramen bar at a dinner party soon.

Tuesday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches and soup, watermelon slices

Wednesday: breakfast for dinner! probably egg scrambles with bacon, veggies, cheese, and whole wheat toast (or whatever bread I have in the freezer)

Thursday: Fruit salad bar (I have a lot of fruit right now- it’s time to make a huge fruit salad), yogurt or cottage cheese, and granola.

Friday: Steak. I really want a steak right now, so I’m planning on pan seared steak with caramelized onions, and a red wine pan demiglace. Roasted veggies, twice baked potatoes, green salad, and popovers. This is a super simple, inexpensive dinner- Less than $20 for a steak dinner for three (Big kid doesn’t eat meat).  I will write about making a rocking steak dinner on the cheap soon.

Saturday: DIY Pizza night

Sunday: Leftovers

 

Talk Back: What are you craving for dinner this week?

Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I spent a bunch of time late last week cleaning out the pantry, fridge, and freezer and worked up a list of meals that we can have over the next ten days.

Breakfasts are usually the same for us: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

Monday: Bean, Rice, and Cheese bowls, watermelon slices

Tuesday:Chicken meatballs (I’ll post my recipe later this week-it’s super simple) with BBQ sauce, herbed cauliflower rice, green salad

Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers, roasted brocolli, popovers (with lots of butter)

Thursday: Homemade Ramen (complete with veggies and poached eggs)

Friday: Veggie Burgers, fruit salad, butternut squash

Saturday: DIY Pizza night

Sunday: Leftovers