Sun Basket meal delivery service is just….fine

You’ve seen the advertisements online…pick your three meals, and we send you everything you need except for olive oil, salt and water.

BLUE APRON (circa 2014)

Two years ago, I was an avid user of Blue Apron…one of these types of companies, maybe one of the first.  In any event, I liked it.  A lot.  My husband, did not.  He disliked everything about it that I loved…it was convenient and allowed me to cook.  It allowed me to cook new and innovative recipes.  Most importantly, it shipped to MY door everything I needed (except olive oil, salt and water).  After a while though, due partially to my husband’s resistance and partially to the, in my opinion TOO, creative (and limited as Blue Apron at that time did not allow you to pick your menu) meal planning, I discontinued my Blue Apron subscription.  I also always had a little angst as I had no idea from where Blue Apron obtained its produce and meat.  I was aware it wasn’t organic (and that is mostly what our family buys/prepares) but that was all I knew.

The top three pros/cons of Blue Apron:

Pros: GREAT, almost idiot-proof, illustrated recipe cards for the most challenged of cooks; Large portion sizes; and Incredibly tasty

Cons: Inability to select recipes to be delivered; Complexity of the meal preparation: the meals in my opinion began to get too creative; The meat or fish was often expiring within days of receiving our box, so you were forced to make the meal ASAP

SUN BASKET (2016)

Fast forward two years and it seems that this idea has spread and new versions are sprouting (yes, pun intended) up all over.  And of course, I’ve been intrigued…and clicking…and thinking.  I’ve clicked and viewed many of the options and I finally gave in and decided to give Sun Basket a try.  Their slogan is “From the best farms, to your table.”  They claim to use organic produce (whenever possible), that the labels tell you where the food comes from, responsibly-raised, hormone-free meats, and sustainably-sourced seafood.  They also advertise healthy 30 minute recipes and a recycling program for the shipping/packaging materials.  They also offer vegan and paleo options.

I received my first order this week.  As compared to Blue Apron, where all the ingredients were packed in one large box all together without organization (and you had to sort through the recipes and match up what you needed), Sun Basket very conveniently packages everything (except the meat) that you will need for each recipe in its own individual paper bags…this is extremely convenient.

We’ve made two of the three meals.  The recipes are fine and taste fine…but as compared to Blue Apron, I was really disappointed.  We’ve done two of the three recipes.  And they both tasted….fine.  The recipes were not incredibly hard to follow, but they weren’t extremely clear (for an inexperienced cook) and the portions on the recipe card didn’t seem to match what was delivered and what maybe should have been in the meal. The price was a tad more (about $2 per meal) than Blue Apron, but the portion sizes were significantly smaller.  Also, the first meal we made there seemed to be 4 servings of veggies to the 2 smallish servings of meat.  The second meal seemed to have one serving of veggies to the 2 larger servings of meat.  Each of the meals was not sufficient on its own to be an entire dinner (unless you are on a strict 500 calorie or les diet) and we needed to supplement.  For the second meal that we prepared, one of the ingredients was missing and another of the ingredients was spilt out all over the inside of the paper bag.  The third meal is a salad and we are looking forward to it, but have started to wonder if we should have used it as the starter for the other two.

The top three pros/cons of Sun Basket:

Pros: Organic produce & identifiable sources of all the food; Ability to pick your menu items; Recycling program for the packaging

Cons: Portions are very small and not well distributed between meat and sides; Directions are not super clear and require some guessing; Recipes are not overly flavorful

THE WINNER?

From a value standpoint, Blue Apron was tastier, easier to follow the recipes, and cheaper.  Of course, Blue Apron was mystery as to the source of the food, which was a huge negative.  I love that Sun Basket offers the option to recycle all the packaging every other delivery as I do feel these delivery services create a huge amount of waste.  But Sun Basket, while fine, left me wanting more.  Check back in a few weeks when I try the next meal delivery service.

Edited to add…I contacted Sun Basket to make sure that I did not receive any further deliveries/charges.  They responded immediately by both phone and following up with an email.  They weren’t trying to convince me not to cancel…rather they were apologetic, explaining that they had recently expanded to the East Coast market and had obviously hit some glitches and they wanted to make it right for me.  I VERY much appreciate this type of customer service.  I’m going to give them a couple months to work through the kinks and then will try again.

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Ode to the Unhappy Baby’s Parents on the Airplane

To the mom (or dad) on the plane with the screaming little one. Please relax. Please do not think that everyone on the plane is annoyed with you, mad at you, or thinks you are an awful parent. There is likely a couple that are selfishly annoyed, but they are generally lacking in experience or wearing rose-colored glasses. Many of us are parents ourselves and if you see us anxiously looking to/at you, it is not in judgment or criticism but rather either sympathy or inquiring to see if we can help somehow. We understand that sometimes there’s just nothing mom (or dad) can do in the confines of your airplane seat. Those that don’t/won’t look at you aren’t angry, but rather just trying to give you some space while you work so hard to calm the child. Just remember, the more relaxed you are, the easier for them to calm. Sometimes nothing will calm them…just know that you are in good company, and we’ve all been there…and if we haven’t, it is just plain dumb luck and we are so thankful.

All You Really Need for a Magical Spring Break is MUD

All You Really Need for a Magical Spring Break is MUD

One of my children just announced, “Tomorrow is Sunday!”  The other said, “Yes, and the last day of spring break.”  And to add insult to injury, it is snowing out… in APRIL.  Ugh. A little bit of my heart crumbles as Monday begins to loom…

My ideal version of spring break (or any school break) is family time and quality time with the kids.  In reality, it means I am juggling as much work as I can squeeze in, along with housekeeping, while trying to create memories/moments for my kids.  I try not to travel during spring break as inevitably you end up paying a 100-300% premium on flights and lodging.  This means, though, that I want to travel at other times, which creates a conundrum for time away from work…unless I can continue to accomplish some work during these breaks.

So our break started on Wednesday with one child missing school with a 104 degree temperature, not recovering until Sunday.  The second child came down with the same fever on Friday night, without recovering fully until Monday night.  Despite the run down kiddos, we managed a walk around the American side of Niagara Falls on Sunday after a brunch in which we were tortured by whiny children.  So by Tuesday we had some happier children, but the risk seemed too high to take them anywhere.

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Wednesday, one week after our break officially started, we finally got to snag a full day of Magical Mommy Minutes!  It started with some mommy snuggles with her not so little babies anymore.  We then zoomed to Starbucks to pick up our “mobile order” to have breakfast on the road.  As boys enjoyed egg and croissant, mommy enjoyed a delicious green tea latte as they drove just over an hour for a visit with friends at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY.  It was our first trip to the Museum and it was loads of fun.  I would say there is no perfect age for the museum as we observed it being enjoyed by everyone from crawling infants to high school teenagers to moms and dads.  It was clean and provided endless hours of adventure and exploration.  The food options ranged from well-stocked vending machines (with salads, veggie/fruit/cheese bento boxes, sliced fruits, the usual suspects, and a large variety of beverages from water to sodas to healthier options) to food court options to a sit down burger diner.  Our friends allowed us to use their guest passes, but otherwise the cost for the three of us would have been $42.  While $42 is not cheap for a day’s outing, it is the equivalent of a movie and lunch for three of us, and this was hours of creative learning.

At our first stop, we enjoyed a grocery store exhibit where the children got to shop for 5 items, then they got to play cashier for a friend (even using the moving belt!), creating a real true receipt, and then they had to re-stock the items.  My guys initially found it a tad overwhelming, but once they gave it a shot, we could hardly get them to move on…  Until, of course, we told them the next exhibit was a “Hot Wheels” exhibit!  While the older girl in our group was not as excited about this exhibit, the boys were incredibly engaged.  There were exhibits demonstrating the benefits of “power” on launches to a “pit crew” stop where the kids had 2 minutes to change the tires and fill the gas on a race car.  From here we went to the Reading Adventureland, a virtual jungle gym and maze of stories interspersed with related crafts.  After all the kids had expended some energy and adorned their heads with a paper crown, we headed to the Berenstein Bears room.  This room at first glance appears to be sparse and unlikely to hold anyone’s attention for long.  Boy, were we wrong.  Instead we discovered a magnificent area for pretend play.  There was a café with a food service counter that allowed for a host/hostess, waitress/waiter, cook, cleaner, and cashier.  There was a house with stone pavers to build a wall.  There was a tool area to build plumbing fixtures and other household needs.  There was a quilt shop, a farm, and a dentist!  So much to do and so little time…that is how I would sum up our trip to the National Museum of Play.  We will definitely be headed back to the Museum in the very near future…from my count we have 17 more exhibits to explore, not to mention the temporary exhibits and events that come and go, and we weren’t finished with the first 5 exhibits that we did this trip!  If  you would like more information on this museum, here is a link to their website: http://www.museumofplay.org/

The rest of our break was spent in the ideal boy way….legos and hot wheels and mud.

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It’s funny how much sometimes we all overthink what we need to do to make magical mommy minutes, when all our boys want is a minute with mommy.  So with that, I’ll say adieu and go grab some minutes with my boys catching up on Star Wars Rebels (which usually only dad allows) on Disney XD.  http://disneyxd.disney.com/

 

Family – What makes the Mommy go round

The most important thing to me, always, is family.  In 2009, that word took on a whole new meaning to my husband and I.  C and T joined us and we’ve never looked back.  Being a mommy brings a whole new perspective to your life.  For me, it shifts my priorities.  Although sometimes, even though my priorities look the same, the motivation has shifted.  I used to work so I could play.  Work hard; play hard.  Now, I work hard so that my kids can play, so that my kids can go to better schools, so my FAMILY can have conveniences and comforts they otherwise would not.  But it’s important in working hard, that you always find time for Magical Mommy Minutes…magical for you and your loves.  In my case, all 3 of them!