Ever since we moved back to the US, I’ve been blown away by how many meal delivery service options are available in our area. Not only are there national brands, but also many smaller, niche meal delivery service choices. As an avid cook, I thought it would be cool to give this idea a test run to see if it’s worth recommending them to my clients.

First off, I was able to partner with Boston’s Just Add Cooking meal delivery service. They offer ingredients that marry with my food philosophy. This includes using fresh, local ingredients, including meat and produce, as well as balance meals focusing on vegetables first. The meals were not too complicated, nor too basic. As someone who truly loves to cook, it was a good sign that I learned a couple of new food preparation tips as I tested out the meals for two weeks. (One week provided for me, one week delivered by accident…and I’ll explain it later.)

You may have seen a sneak peek via my Instagram stories where I share what I’m cooking in the kitchen on a regular basis. 

Just add Cooking Meal Delivery Service Review Boston area meal delivery

Questions to ask of a meal delivery service?

Regardless of where you live, I thought it would be helpful for you to have a list of questions to help you decide which is the right meal delivery service for you. These are the questions that come to mind if you plan to shop around.

  1. Where are you getting your ingredients? Find out about where the meal delivery service company sources its ingredients. If it’s not readily learned from its website, you may want to keep looking.
  2. Do they offer meals that fit your food philosophy or way of eating? Some businesses cater to Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, or family friendly requests. Some have a mix, but check to see the menus to get a sense of the variety offered. In January, you can find many meal delivery services that offer Whole30 approved meals. It can be hard to figure out the “rules” in certain eating styles and these companies do the leg work for you.
  3. How many meals are included per week in the meal delivery service? Generally it looks like 3 is a standard. I know some families only prefer two meals, whereas others really like having four meals ready to go. This may be a case of trial and error, but look at how often you cook a full meal now, and hopefully you can add another day by using a meal delivery service.
  4. How much packaging is involved? This was a hot topic when I brought it up in my private Facebook group.  People who have tested out meal delivery services in the past were really frustrated by the overwhelming amount of packaging needed to ship things to stay fresh. I was actually really happy with using Just Add Cooking because of the minimal amount of packaging used. Not only that, but they use a frozen water bottle to keep the food fresh, so even that can be used. I was able to reuse the sturdy boxes to ship Christmas gifts so I had very little waste. Yes, there are small containers of the ingredients, but they were nearly all recyclable.

Can I use a meal delivery service if I have food allergies?

This is a great question. I find the local services are better able to manage accounts that require sensitive handling of ingredients. You may be better served partnering with a holistic chef in your area who can package the meals and deliver them to your home each week.

What's better_ Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, or Just Add Cooking meal delivery service_

This was one of my favorite meals from Just Add Cooking with roasted chickpeas!

How does a meal delivery service work?

In my case with Just Add Cooking, I needed to select my meals for a Sunday home delivery by a certain date and time. There is a reasonable number of meals to choose from. Some were labeled gluten-free so I was able to narrow my choices down quickly.

Once the meals are selected, they are saved for the upcoming week. I received a box Sunday afternoon by the nicest delivery man.

The following Sunday, I was surprised by the delivery man. I had missed the notation that Just Add Cooking is a subscription based meal delivery service. Oops. Here’s the best part though. When I told my husband about my mistake, he asked if it was the same company who provided the meals the week prior. The flavor in those meals were so good he didn’t mind my oops!  Just pay attention to the fine print is my lesson I’ll share with you.

If you are in the Boston area, you can check out Just Add Cooking here.  I may try them again soon as they consistently adjust their menu to include seasonal items. Happy cooking.

How to pick a meal delivery service_


Are you ready for another week of getting your meal plan organized?! It’s time to put pencil to paper, marker to dry erase board, or fingers to your keyboard. Whatever way you keep track of your meal plan, know that it’s okay to change your system if it’s not quite working for you.

Sometimes you need to make an adjustment as your season of life changes. For many, it’s the end of the school year and you may be juggling kid’s at home more often. Or trying to plan for camp lunches as well.

Maybe it’s time to sit down and plan some themes for your week, i.e. meatless monday, taco tuesday. Putting in even 10 minutes can make your week feel less stressful. If some part of your system isn’t working, try something new. Meal planning is effective if it saves you time and overwhelm. If it’s causing frustration, change course.

Take 10 minutes to write out what you plan to eat this week. (or just write down last week so you have a starting point!)

Here’s a little cheat sheet of different ways to record your meal plans each week:

  • Your planner or Google calendar
  • Monthly calendar (there’s a new one in the Wellness Library you can grab! Get the code here.)
  • Weekly meal planner
  • Evernote or Trello
  • Pinterest: create a secret board called Meal Plans and add recipes as you plan them. If they are winners, keep them in the folder. If not, delete the pin.
  • Dry erase board
  • Journal (which is what sparked the Dinner: A Love Story cookbook)
  • Plan to Eat app
  • Order meal delivery from Blue Apron, Plated, etc.

Do you have another favorite way of keeping track of your dinners? Share a note in the comments.

On to the menu for this week!

Rainbow vegetable kabobs

As you write out your grocery list for the upcoming week check out these healthy family friendly recipes from this week’s menu plan. Each featured recipe includes link to the complete recipe.

Dinner {GF= Gluten Free, P=Paleo, DF=Dairy Free, NF= Nut Free}

Monday: Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs. (GF)  This takes a little longer than most recipes at 50 minutes, but it looks oh so good for a Meatless Monday.

Tuesday: Salmon Burgers

Wednesday: Spring Vegetable Soup (45 minutes total to prep and cook, GF + DF).

Thursday: Paleo Beef Short Ribs (P), and  Honey Roasted Carrots

Friday: Pizza night with our homemade dough.

Weekend: Yogurt Marinated Chicken, plan 3 hours for the marinade, (GF). This makes enough for a crowd, or for leftover chicken served over salad.  I recommend the Lemon Pepper flavor. Pairs well with Vegetable Kabobs. Once your prep is done, dinner cooks in about 10 minutes.


Healthy Buffalo Chicken Wrap. This recipe may end up on our dinner rotation this summer while we are at the beach!


Chocolate Buckwheat Waffles with Berries. This recipe caught my eye in a story about increasing the amount of whole grains in our diet. I’ve started to pickup buckwheat flour from our local, natural food store’s bulk bins and just buy 1-2 cups a week for specific recipes. For an even healthier version, you can swap out the unsweetened cocoa powder for 1 tablespoon raw cacoa powder.


Quinoa coconut granola bars. Just made these and they are a winner from Super Healthy Kids. Next time I’m going to make them with sun-butter and pumpkin seeds so the kids can take them to school.

how to make changes to your meal planning routine


For more inspiration, see years of past dinner plans here, my Pinterest collection here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans. Any Amazon links are affiliate links, thanks for shopping via my site. 

Has the spring cleaning fever hit your home yet? This time of year is great to freshen up your space and clear out the clutter. We tend to think of the physical clutter in our homes first. The junk drawer, the old condiments that need to be cleaned out, and the clothes you haven’t touched in months. Today I want you to think of spring cleaning in a different way.

It’s time to spring clean your schedule.

I know you are already saying to yourself, yeah right. It’s so busy right now and I just have to get through the next couple of months till summer.

But what if there was a better way? A way to carve out time for yourself, your family needs and still be present for the end-of-year recitals and tournaments. 

Take a few minutes to look at your schedule with fresh eyes and put these action steps into place.

Spring Clean Your Schedule. Declutter the unnecessary and make time for your priorities.


  • What absolutely has to be done? Where do you need to be and when? Write it all down or print out your digital calendar so you physically can see it. Are there invitations coming in and you haven’t made a decision yet? Are there any in the inbox you can take a pass on?


  • Can you divide and conquer? Often times Mom is the one doing all the driving around to get the kids everywhere, while also getting meals on the table. Is there one night your partner can cover the pickup or drop off for an event? Have you taken the time to ask? The secret here is to plan ahead. It doesn’t do anyone any favors to ask at the last minute. Look at that schedule you printed out and have a family meeting on a Sunday night to see where you can share the responsibilities.

Create Space

  • This is often the hard one but is the most needed to stay calm when life is extra-busy. Do you know what you need to feel centered? Is it cooking a meal from scratch? (When I spend quality time chopping vegetables it makes me happy. Anyone else?) Is it reading a book? Is it just finding time to take a shower? How can you make time in your day to recharge and be ready for the next day?
  • As a parent, can you also create space for your kids? After school can become a race of driving/practice/driving/homework/eat if we are not careful. Those days will happen but can you look to find opportunities for kids to get a breather? Let there be space in the afternoon for playing in the backyard or with neighborhood friends instead of scheduling something.

Give Yourself Permission to Say No

  • This may be the hardest of all. Remember those invitations in your mailbox/inbox/message box? They will continue to come even if you take a pass here or there. If you give yourself and your family members the opportunity to feel refreshed, you will be in a much better place to engage with friends at a latter date. Letting go of the “fear of missing out” is a hard one, but you can step away from your social media and monthly get-togethers if it will give you much needed respite to stay fresh and strong.

What do you think? Are the ideas here resonating with you? It can be hard to step back and relook at your schedule and to-do list with fresh eyes. As a parent I find myself struggling with the balance of letting my kids get involved with sports after school, but recognize that too much structured time doesn’t work well for them. Or me. We had to make changes for the spring and watching them play with friends spontaneously after school is good for the soul. (and all the science says outdoor play is really what kids need the most when they are little!)

Tell us, what can you edit to help you find more space in your day?


One of the biggest challenges we face in the kitchen is having enough time to cook the type of food we want to serve our family. There is an impression that cooking food from scratch will take an exorbitant amount of time. While in some cases that is true, 90% of the time it doesn’t need to be complicated. We also don’t need as many tools in our kitchen as some might think. While new gadgets can be fun, sometimes it’s the simple things that really save us time.

It’s so simple that sometimes it’s all about placement of things in the  kitchen. Do you have zones set-up that make breakfasts come together fast? A few common kitchen zones are for coffee, smoothies, cereal/oatmeal toppings, and lunch prep. You can create zones in the refrigerator too and keep lunch making supplies in one place, toast toppings in another.

I love this quote below from chef Kyle Connaughton who knows how important efficiency is in a busy kitchen.

Kitchen Organization Quote

I created a printable highlighting my 15 favorite kitchen tools that save me time everyday. Some of the tools you have heard me talk about before, while others are so simple I never thought to mention them. These workhorses in my kitchen make it possible to cook real food for my family without extra effort.

15 favorite kitchen organizing tools that save time and don't cost a lot of money

One of my favorite tips is the one about clear containers for your leftovers…are you storing them the right way in the fridge? Another tip I forgot to mention about my favorite blender: to clean it quickly add hot water and a squirt of dish soap. Blend away the last of a smoothie for a super fast clean up! Click here to get the full report!

Having an organized kitchen space is the first step towards feeling prepared to share healthy meals with others. Think about your own kitchen? Where are your issues with efficiency? Is it the clean up? Is it the meal prep? Take a look a the tools on the printable and see which ones would be helpful in your home. Which can save you the most time? Let me know what you think!


Beware the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates

While on vacation, it becomes easy to see some of the habits we have when it comes to our schedules and connectivity. The daily influx of notifications on our phones. Texts. What’s up on social media now? The email inbox continues to fill as so many things compete for our attention. Quiet is so hard to find these days and I wonder if you feel the same. March Break starts at the end of the school day today here in Canada and it’s a great time to push the reset button before the spring season begins.

We have to make a conscious effort to avoid the glorification of busy. I fear that if we don’t, our kids will only know a world of to-do lists, dings and a lack of quiet. The immediacy of filling their needs is hard to live up, unless you are an iPad. Making them wait is a life lesson and it is taking great effort sometimes to slow them down and be present. If they are so busy, where is the time to create and imagine? Boredom in the week ahead may be a good thing.

If you don’t feel busy, you may wonder if you are doing enough. I read about bloggers with much bigger platforms than mine who homeschool four plus kids and still manage to be in so many places at once. Some days I think, why can’t I do that too? Other days I am wise enough to step back and wonder if they are doing it all themselves, or do they have help? The same goes for stay at home moms, working moms and everyone in-between. Busy is a part of life, but is doesn’t need to define us.

When people ask me how I do it all, I’m always a little hesitant to answer. For me, I like having lots of things going on. It gives me energy and fills my need to learn new things. However, I also check out for two months of the year at the beach to recover from the pace of this lifestyle. It works for our family, but may not for others. Everyone has to decide what level of busy works for them.

Everyone is busy. Parents singletons, grandparents. They are all busy in their own life stage. It’s not a competition. When someone asks, “how are you,” talk and share about what is filling you up, instead of what is filling your calendar. If you can’t think of what is filling you with joy, then it may be time to give that calendar a little edit.

Next up on my reading list is Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy by Alli Worthington. As I plan to rebrand this website in the coming weeks, I’m excited to read through the book and see what direction this little space should go. Blogging has never been a way to keep me busy, but more as a creative outlet. Sometimes we all need to write down what’s in our head to make room for more.

If you want to listen in the car instead as you play the role of chauffeur (me lately), take a listen to this podcast episode. As host Jess Lively said:  This episode is perfect for anyone who is over-scheduled, overwhelmed, or wants to drop the word “busy” from their vocabulary. I listened to this over a year ago and the comment about “e-brain” has stuck with me. Take a listen and see if you can climb out of the trap of answering busy, instead of really sharing what’s bringing you joy.

For those of you in Canada, enjoy your vacation week. I’m looking forward to ours and seeing where our open schedule takes us each day.

Breaking Busy Book: How to find peace and purpose in a world of crazy by Alli Worthington

This week’s meal planning session moved outside to the back porch. The early afternoon is so beautiful and is a perfect time to leisurely go through some magazines and cookbooks for a little while. It worked out so well after the kids were exhausted from playing outside all morning. Finding a quiet time to do your meal planning makes all the difference to feel prepared and organized to take on a new week.

Another handy tool to make meal planning easy is to write down all your family favorites. Categorize them into Chicken/Fish/Meat/Vegetarian/Pasta and you have a great start to planning dinners each week. This printable is one of my favorites as it can help you come up with some dinner ideas you may have forgotten, such as soups and sandwiches. (print it here and pick your favorite color combo!)

Family Dinner Favorite List

On the menu this week…

Sunday~ Sweet Basil dinner with our dear friends

Monday~ Broiled Salmon  with Asparagus and Mushrooms. (recipe and image source below). Do you know why you want to pick wild salmon versus farm raised? (hint-it’s because they often dye farmed raised salmon to make it pink. Creepy!) 

Tuesday~ Pineapple Chicken Kebabs with Cilantro Lime Slaw. (Cooking Light recipe) A little jasmine rice on the side.

Wednesday~ Whole Chicken cooked in the slow cooker. Super easy and then shred the chicken to use for tostadas. Toppings of everyone’s choosing. Yum.

Thursday~ CORN (also known as Clean Out Refrigerator Night)

Friday~ Off to Storyland with family-like friends for a fun-filled weekend!

When do you try to plan your recipes for the week ahead?


For more inspiration, see three years of past dinner plan here,

my Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.

This week’s meal plan is a little different. My challenge to you is to head to your pantry first to see what you need to use up. As summer approaches, now is a great time to clean out the kitchen. That includes the pantry, the shelves and the freezer stock ups. Get through those piles of random grains on your shelves…or is that just mine? As we prepare to move, it’s a major goal to clean through our kitchen inventory by the end of June.

Kitchen Spring Cleaning Checklist

Need some direction to clean out the kitchen? Try this cute printout. (source)

I’m taking a peek at past meal plans and remembering some favorites so I can use up what I have on hand. Check out what I end up making over on Instagram.

  • Use up the rest of the quinoa and make this awesome Mexican Quinoa recipe again.
  • Clear through the coconut milk, chicken thighs and extra veggies with our favorite slow cooker meal.
  • This corn dip looks like a delicious way to use up the extra corn on the cob we cooked up. Served with some eggs it looks like an easy dinner.
  • Elderberry muffins and pancakes are in my future. I have a gallon bag of frozen berries. Any else need some elderberries?
  • Pasta tuna salad. Uses up a ton of canned items.
Corn dip recipe

Corn dip recipe (recipe source)

What are some of your favorite pantry clean out quick tips? If you are leaving town for the summer, don’t forget to clean out your deep freezer and let it defrost.

p.s. Need a dessert recipe? Check out this awesome Strawberry Cookies and Cream cake I made for Connor’s birthday. It was awesome!!

For more inspiration, see three years of past dinner plan here,

my Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of posts.

This story has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias

How to create an eco-friendly playroom

Creating a healthy learning environment for a child’s playroom is key. But is the space really healthy? What could you be doing to make it a greener space for everyone in the family. If you have kids like mine that are constantly in and out of their playroom, I want to make sure I am creating a healthy space for them to play and learn in.

Today I’m sharing 5 Steps to a Greener Playroom. As Earth Day approaches next month, now is a great time to start having talks with your kids about how they use their resources. Encourage them to turn the lights off in the playroom when they leave. Put the caps back on the markers so they don’t dry out. By talking about consumption we can educate our kids on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle without having to be an “ego-nag.”

  1. Use eco-friendly toy cleaners. There are lots of choices now on the market. You can use an all-purpose spray for the majority of the playroom. I like the Babyganics Toy & Highchair Cleaner. Want to make one yourself? Take a peek at my DIY Green Cleaner Board on Pinterest for lots of easy to make cleaners using basic ingredients like vinegar, castille soap and essential oils. Also, skip the snacks in the playroom. You will avoid having to clean up sticky spills that may need stronger cleaners.
  2. Stuffed animals collect dust and allergens. Remember to give them a spring cleaning.Limit the number of stuffed animals. This may seem a little harsh, but it’s not just for your health, but your sanity when it comes to clean-up time! Stuffed animals tend to harbor dust mites and allergens. Limit the number you have and remember to give them a little run through the washing machine on occasion. Our new dryer actually has a sanitizing setting and a flat tray that I can put the animals on for a little spring cleaning.
  3. Eco-Advanced-BatteriesChose Eco-Advanced Batteries. Let’s face it, kids do love their electronics. Whether it’s the batteries in the remote control or the ones for a Leap pad, as parents we go through A LOT of batteries. Energizer has come out with the new Eco-Advanced Battery and it’s the first one to use recycled batteries and materials. It’s also their longest lasting battery so you can also feel good about cutting down on your purchases too.
  4. Choose old toys over new ones. Ask neighbors if they are ready to part with toys if they have older kids. Legos seem to last forever so they are a perfect choice to pass along to friends and family. You can also look for local consignment sales for kids, like the Parent Talk Semi-Annual Used Clothing/Toy/Gear Sale on May 2nd. (yes, shameless plug. )
  5. Reuse kid's artwork and create gift tagsCreate a recycling bin for kids to use freely. I got this idea after reading this book and it’s been working great. Not only can the kids reuse the back of paper for their own projects, but I am also encouraging them to repurpose their art into new creations. The kids paint all the time and we truly don’t have room for all their masterpieces. They have helped me take their watercolor art and repurpose them into gift tags and mosaics.
Grab a pack of Energizer's new Eco Advanced Batteries at Walmart.

Find the new Energizer Eco Advanced Battery at your local Walmart. We had some fun girl time on our shopping outing.


If you want to take a peek at more stories about living a greener lifestyle, Energizer has pulled them together here and there are tons of fun ideas for your family.

What other ways can you create a greener playroom in your home? Leave a comment and share with everyone your great idea!

GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway – $1,000 in Gift Cards

As winter drags on, it’s time to try out some new recipes. This week’s meal plan has a 5 new recipes after catching up on my magazine reading. Cooking Light is one of the few that I still prefer to receive in print so I can easily access the recipes.

The system I use for organizing recipes is to rip out the ones I’m interested in and add it to a folder that stays at the front of my recipe binder. Once I have cooked the meal and decide if it’s worth making again, then it gets filed into the correct section of the binder for storage. Most of the recipes from magazines end up in plastic sleeves so there are no worries about kitchen spills.

On the menu…

Family dinner meal plans for busy weeknights

Sunday: Grilled Rib Eye with shaved carrot and parsley salad. {recipe}

Monday: Pasta tuna salad. I make a pasta switch as the kids don’t care for campanelle. This is a great pantry-friendly recipe that comes together really fast. {recipe}

Tuesday: Seared Flank Steak with Blue Cheese Polenta. Kids who don’t care for blue cheese will get parmesan cheese swirled into their polenta. Sautéed broccoli on the side. {recipe}

Wednesday: Spaghetti and meatballs in slow cooker. Recipe from the Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Thursday: CORN: Clean Out Refrigerator Night

Friday: Mushroom Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza. {recipe} Getting creative with meatless meals during Lent. It will be even better with homemade pizza dough.

Saturday: Chicken curry bar. I’ll toss the kid’s chicken into a tortilla with their choice of toppings. Grown ups will have it over rice. {recipe} Are my kids the only ones who won’t eat rice?

Sunday: Mustard Glaze Chicken plus a big batch of roasted vegetables. {recipe} I’m loving the soup idea to make with the leftover veggies!

Which dinner night would be the favorite in your house?

Monday meal plan to help organize family dinner

For more recipes, see three years of past dinner menus here,

my Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.

The past week was a banner of unique days. Sunday is the “Ides of March.” Saturday was Pi Day, which won’t come again for 1000 years. Friday was Friday the 13th, and also my birthday. Monday will be back to a normal day, one full of wishing for spring to arrive a little faster. As I worked on creating this week’s meal plan, somehow it became loaded up with cozy slow cooker dinners. Winter hasn’t shaken it’s grip on us so I’m giving in and sticking with hearty meals for the week ahead.

Tuesday brings us St. Patrick’s Day! We are hosting a family feast and I’m excited to share a lovely dinner with family. We will pick out a craft or two for the little ones to work on, take a peek here to see what I might make.

Dinner planning made easy. Here's a weekly menu post full of healthy recipes.

Pin this image and save it in a place you will remember for when you start thinking about what to make for dinner in your home.

On the menu…

Sunday: Chicken cutlets with mushrooms and pearl onions (recipe), roasted asparagus, barley with parsely

Monday: Rustic Chickpea Stew with Apricots and Turnips (recipe) Another meatless Monday meal to serve over couscous.

Tuesday: Corned Beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Love this recipe that finishes with baking the corned beef in the oven with a mustard glaze. Plus our Irish Soda Bread, Dubliner cheese and my sister will surprise us with one of her delicious desserts.

Wednesday: Chicken and Sweet Potato Korma (recipe) in slow cooker. White rice on the side made ahead of time and nann bread.

Thursday: C.O.R.N. {for anyone new, this means Clean Out Refrigerator Night}

Friday: Chef salad

Saturday: Dinner out

Sunday: One more beef stew before winter lets us go. I’ll be trying the one in The Kitchn cookbook (affiliate link)

 I hope you all have a fun St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy the week ahead! I’ll raise a glass of Guinness and toast you all who spend a little time reading here. Thank you!

Monday meal plan to help organize family dinner

For more recipes, see three years of past dinner menus here,

my Pinterest board here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of meal plans.