I’m sure by now you’ve all heard of Hello Fresh meal boxes – you get a weekly box of meat (or not if you’re vegetarian), vegetables, carbs and spices sent to you, along with recipe cards. As someone living on JobSeeker (person-first language lol) I find Hello Fresh too pricey for me. They have great recipes, and it was wonderful back in the day when I was a speech pathologist, but fortunately there are a few options that are more budget friendly. EveryPlate is actually owned by Hello Fresh, and at $75 a week for 6 meals for two people fits into our weekly food budget well.
Why do I feel that these boxes are great for people with executive dysfunction difficulties? (aside from friends with ADHD raving to me about how useful they find them for ensuring they still eat a balanced meal at the end of the day?)
Is it Insta worthy?
Did I manage to put an actual dinner together, without executive dysfunction getting in the way after getting up at 5am, doing 3 hours work, then working a 9 hour conference while my RA is also flaring?
— Rebecca Millar (@rebeccamillar83) March 21, 2022
Okay okay, they also cited chronic pain and arthritis flares, but hey, I think any spoonies could benefit from getting to 5pm, looking at a recipe card and going “hey I reckon I got the skills and energy to get through this!”, which is me six days a week. (on the seventh day we’ve usually had takeaway one night or I’ve been out, so six meals is the right amount for us).
Executive functioning skills include initiating tasks, problem solving, evaluating priorities, organisation, goal setting, flexible thinking, meeting deadlines, working memory, self-control, time management, perseverance, and planning. You can see how someone with a mental illness, chronic pain, autism or ADHD may struggle to pull these together to make dinner every night.
I actually quite like going grocery shopping. I like to look at the specials at Woolies beforehand to see what branded products I might get there because they work out cheaper than my Aldi staples, or that are my favourite treat products like $2 Tim Tams and choc-peppermint ice creams. I don’t like having to work out meals for the week, and I really don’t like having to ensure I have enough for every meal. I used to be better at it, but I put a lot more time and energy into it. Having the shops closed with Covid, or low stock from panic buying or supply chain issues with floods and wars, is not something I want to deal with. I can be creative with my meal planning, it’s just not my priority these days.
One thing that caught me out initially was the “pantry ingredients” that they assume you have. I mean , I already did have a range of vinegars (white and red wine, balsamic), salt and pepper, brown sugar, soy sauce, butter, eggs… the one that first tripped me up was mayonnaise but that’s now a staple – the Aldi one does the job, so you have to give that a quick glance each week on the recipe cards so you’re not caught short.
Sometime they do forget to include ingredients – depending what they are that can be catastrophic like when a portion of chicken was missed – but you contact them and get a credit on your account for more than the value of the item so that works out okay if you’re able to get to the shops – I actually bought a replacement pouch of chicken from the food bank I visit fortnightly from their frozen section that was actually donated from EveryPlate for much less than what I was credited. Sometimes they substitute items – particularly when there were supply shortages – so you get fish instead of chicken, or a carrot instead of zucchini. This isn’t a problem for me since we’re not fussy eaters or have dietary requirements, but I know it would be for some of you. I wouldn’t recommended these boxes without having a good look at the meal options if you do have fizzy eaters. They do have enough options for vegetarians – we usually get one vegetarian meal a week – but not for vegans as their vego meals often include cheese.
So, how does everyPlate fit in my week and make it more manageable? At the moment it arrives on a Wednesday – There’s a few days to choose from depending on your address. It has the six meals worth of meat, vegetables, carbs like rice, cous cous, wraps or pasta, and little sachets of spices. Sometimes there’s canned items like corn, beans or coconut milk. They come with overly-generic labels that remind me of the supplies from the Dharma Initiative in Lost. I think it’s hilarious and I love posting the photos of it on Twitter like they’re rations. Sometimes I go through to check if everything is there, but I usually don’t and just pack it away. I bring the recipe cards to my desk (the recipes are all online too) and then each day me and Bruce pick what we eat. Some of the things like chicken are suggested to eat early, or I’ll leave the super speedy meals like anything tacos for a day where I know I’ll probably be zapped – like after DBT group where I’ve had to be switched on and may have been emotionally taxed – and we go from there. In summer I’ll pick and choose meals that don’t need the oven, or I’ll just shove the potatoes in the air fryer instead. I’ve not yet managed to perfect the home cooked chips, I kept trying and I just can’t do it, so potatoes are usually just roasted in small cubes if chips are called for. Whaetevers.
In my homebody day, I try to get the dishes from the night before done before lunchtime so I’m working with a relatively clean and tidy kitchen. I get the ingredients out for a photo for Twitter and go from there. I’m getting better at cooking the rice on the stove, and timing my vegetables. So, I’m learning skills, it’s not all lazy and short-cutting.
I spent about five minutes here and there feeling bad about the small plastic packets everything comes in. But enviro-ableism has no place in my kitchen. (Read more about plastic straw bans and disability) Do what works for you. Your plastic packet might be “bad” but it’s not up there with the damage governments are allowing from coal and gas, so you know, live your best life.
You made it this far, so you deserve this unboxing video I did live on my Twitch channel :p Winning!
Got any questions? Fire away below. I sometimes get free boxes to give away to people who haven’t tried it before, so keep an eye out on Twitter for those. Otherwise if you want a $30 discount off your first box, use my referral link.