Bloganuary Day 18

We’re a little more than halfway through the Bloganuary month-long challenge, and I fear I’m beginning to fizzle out. I’m not feeling all that creative today, so I think I’ll answer today’s question personally.

But first, I would like a do-over of yesterday’s “Describe the happiest day of your life” response, because I’m not completely in love with the poem I wrote (says the perfectionist).

Truth be told, I can’t really recall a time when I was “happiest.” That’s not to say I’m constantly depressed, but how does one define “happy”? And what happens in a day that qualifies it as the happiest of all?

Like many around the world, I’ve been living the same day on repeat for nearly three years now. Even if I did have a “happiest” day, it doesn’t pop up in my recent memory. And my short- and long-term memory are practically nonexistent currently.

There are days—though too few and too far between—when I feel most content, days when I have immense joy in my heart, days when I go to bed feeling satisfied, fulfilled.

But am I “happy”? The jury’s still out on that.

I love to cook. My mom would absolutely laugh at this given how quickly I used to run in the opposite direction whenever she’d call me to the kitchen. But in my defense, that was because I hated washing dishes.

(I still hate it, but I’d rather not cook in a dirty kitchen, so I endure the tedious scrubbing.)

I love to eat. I enjoy food, so naturally, I would enjoy cooking my favorite meals. I would even go so far as to say that cooking is a form of self-care. It allows me to decompress from a long day. I sometimes listen to music while I cook or play videos from my favorite YouTube influencers. Also, as I’m trying to be mindful of what I put in my body, I often prefer to cook with whole ingredients. If it’s something I can easily make at home (spaghetti sauce, peanut butter eggnog), I’d much rather do that than spend money on something loaded with empty calories that will only add inches to my waist while slowly killing me.

Cooking is also a love language for me. I take pride in cooking for my family, and I’ve had the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving dinner twice in the last four years. I love brainstorming menu ideas and discovering new recipes, not to mention impressing the picky eaters in my family. Everyone doubted my ability to make mac & cheese that could compete with grandma’s, and so far (disregarding the leftover debacle from last year), I’ve only received rave reviews! Plus, Mr. Right has loved everything I’ve cooked for him, so I’m well on my way to becoming a housewife!

Unfortunately, these days I’ve been so mentally drained from work, I don’t have the brain capacity to think of something to cook for dinner, so I settle for a quick meal. My go-to is spaghetti, as I always have noodles and a can of tomatoes stocked in my pantry. But I can’t reach my health goals eating spaghetti for dinner every night. So, to add a little variety to my nightly meals, I started ordering HelloFresh (and no, this is not a sponsored post).

I’ve been using HelloFresh for about a year and a half now, and the meals have been so good that I’ve created my own HelloFresh cookbook (i.e., a 2-inch binder of recipe cards for all of my favorite meals). I’ve even started stocking my kitchen with the ingredients needed for my favorite recipes so I can make them whenever I want.

For example, I make the mushroom & chive risotto at least every week, and Israeli couscous (aka pearl couscous) is my new favorite carb!

Here are some of my favorite HelloFresh meals (click the image to go to the recipe):

Mushroom & Chive Risotto

It’s not exactly the quickest meal, as it involves you standing over the pan, stirring the rice, and feeding it more broth every 20 minutes for about an hour, but with few ingredients, it’s a simple and filling option for your meatless Monday!

One-Pot Black Bean & Poblano Soup

The first time I had this soup, I was sold on HelloFresh. It’s arguably the best thing on the menu, and it’s incredibly easy to make. Just throw everything in the pot and let it simmer so the flavors meld.

Sweet Corn & Green Pepper Chowder

I made this soup as an appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner last year, and everyone loved it! The base recipe has also helped me to perfect my homemade potato soup. You can add bacon for an extra layer of flavor and texture.

Indian-Style Chicken Curry

Basically all the curries—Indian style, Thai style, vegetarian, or with chicken or ground turkey—they’re all delicious. And with very few ingredients, these recipes are easy to make on your own.

Pub-Style Shepherd’s Pie (both beef and vegetarian)

Little me used to think shepherd’s pie was nasty. I guess if it ain’t chicken pot pie, I don’t want it. But this hearty meal is perfect for those cold winter months. And if you’d like a less rich option, the version with mushrooms is just as delicious!

Hoisin Honey Chicken and Mushroom & Soy Ramen

HelloFresh always comes in the clutch to satisfy my weekly Chinese food cravings for half the calories, though you may want to ignore the sodium content in the nutrition facts if you prefer not to have that nagging voice in the back of your head remind you how bloated you’ll feel after you finish eating.

The hoisin chicken has successfully replaced my regular sesame chicken fix, and the broth is what makes the mushroom & soy ramen truly divine!

Louisiana-Style Tilapia

As both sides of my family are from the coast, you’d think I’d know how to fry fish, but I can’t. Thankfully, this recipe has helped me to hone my fish-frying skills. It’s not as good as mom’s, but it’ll do!

The only thing I don’t like about HelloFresh is the number of dishes needed to make a meal. I try to avoid recipes that require me to use more than two pots or those that have me mixing up five kinds of sauces in five different bowls, because, as I’ve said before, I hate washing dishes!

Now that groceries cost four times what they used to two years ago, thanks to inflation, you can make the argument that HelloFresh really is cheaper than the grocery store. Whether it is or isn’t, I’ve settled on a happy balance of cooking the quick and easy meals myself and ordering the ones that require more ingredients and more effort to prepare from HelloFresh. It reduces how often I go to the grocery store (and how much I spend), and at the risk of sounding like those commercials, it takes the guesswork out of daily meal planning!

logo: cartoon of girl with glass and her hair tied in a bun reading a book

Do you have a favorite meal you like to cook? Or a favorite meal delivery service?



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