A Brown Bear and a Hungry Caterpillar

Yes, I’m talking about books again because I can’t let the passing of an exceptional children’s author and artist go by without paying my respects. As a child, I learned to count thanks to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. And if you ask my kids what children’s book they loved growing up – it wouldn’t be anything by Dr. Seuss – it’s Eric Carle’s Brown Bear book.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?
I see a red bird looking at me.

Red bird, Red bird, What do you see?
I see a yellow duck looking at me…

After the first 100 times reading this book to my kids at bedtime, two things happened – 1) I was pretty sick of it and 2) I memorized it word for word. This parenting trick came in handy when the kids got antsy in the back seat during long car rides. I’d recite these first few lines of Brown Bear, and they would calm down and join in. Sometimes, I would mess up the order on purpose, but the kids picked up on it every time.

(As a side note, I could also recite a mean Green Eggs and Ham).

So, what was so captivating? Was it the blue horse, the green frog, the purple cat, the white dog, the black sheep, or the goldfish? How about the beautiful illustrations and the rhythmic phrasing? Or was it just a cute brown bear with 20/20 vision?

I’d say – it was all of the above.

Thanks, Eric Carle, for teaching me to count and my kids how to read and for helping me make memories with my family that I won’t soon forget.

And by the way, I’m keeping this copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear to read to my grandkids someday.

Hello Fresh

Out of all the household chores, cooking is my least favorite. I particularly find meal planning overwhelming, especially when I’m trying to lose some of my pandemic pounds. Once I pick what I want to make, I rarely have all the ingredients in the fridge or pantry. And because I work a full-time job, I don’t want to end my day at 5 pm, make the 30-minute trip to the supermarket for what I need, and cook dinner.

 

And yes, I know there are things I can do like plan meals ahead of time, shop for ingredients, and cook on the weekends. But, I know myself – I’d much rather enjoy my weekends than spend a whole day playing chef.

So, to make cooking easier for me, we subscribed to four meals a week from Hello Fresh. According to the website, this weekly meal plan provides easy-to-follow recipes, convenient meal kits, and pre-portioned ingredients. In a nutshell, it definitely delivers on all of the above! The meals are delicious. Each kit comes with an entree, side dish, and vegetable. This week’s shipment even arrived with cheesecake for dessert!

After a month of receiving these deliveries, there are some things I’ve learned. If you are thinking of subscribing, keep reading.

Pick Meals on the Website

Unless you choose what recipes you want, the company will select them for you. So, if you have dietary concerns or don’t like kale or spinach, take the time to pick what you want. They give you up to 21 recipes to chose from. If not, you could wind up with pork chops and a side of kale salad. Did I mention I don’t eat pork?

Prep Time

The front of the recipe clearly states the prep time, typically between 5-15 for each meal. Well, unless you are a professional chef with excellent knife skills, double the prep time allotted for each meal. Many of the fresh ingredients need to be chopped and mixed in some fashion. The cooking times are spot on, but the prep times not so much.

Buy a Zester

The most popular ingredient in each of these recipes is at least one lemon. Now, I know how to quarter and squeeze a lemon, but I’ve never zested one. And apparently, a cheese grater is not a good substitute – something I learned the hard way. I had no idea what a zester was, so I put out a 411 text to my neighbors to see if anyone had one. Luckily, my next-door neighbor did, and as a bonus, she knew how to use it.

Long story short, I now have my own zester in my kitchen drawer.

For Weight Watchers members?

While these meals are nutritious and convenient, they can also pack on the points. This week, I made the most delicious pecan-crusted chicken and devoured it. It was only a few hours later that I realized it was 19 WW points. Now, I know Hello Fresh can be part of a healthy eating/weight loss plan, but it might be a good idea to cut those portions in half and load up on the veggies.

Trash

These meals produce a lot of trash. There are fruit and vegetable peels, multiple plastic packets of condiments and ingredients, and pre-packaged cheese or panko crumbs or whatever else you need. Everything is packaged as if you are ordering for two people, and because we are a family of four, they double up on everything. It would be nice if they had larger packages of ingredients. I know this seems minor, but it’s a lot of waste when cleaning everything up.

Overall, these meal-prep kits are saving me time and stress. It can get expensive, and sometimes I want to make a WW-friendly meal instead. I recommend starting with 2-3 meals a week and see how you like it. Let me know if you give it a try!

The End

For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about one of my favorite topics…reading. After writing about it for so long, I think I’ve said just about all I have to say. Tomorrow, I will start on an entirely different topic.

But, before I officially close the book on this (get it?), here are a few answers to some questions I was asked by friends and family earlier today.

I call this The Lightning Round!

  • Real books or e-books? Both 🙂
  • Hardback or paperback? Paperback, but when I’m impatient, I’ll spend the extra money on the hardback.
  • Favorite book from my childhood? Are You There God, It’s Me Margret by Judy Blume
  • # of books I read in a month?  2 or 3
  • Do you read more than one book at a time? Yes
  • Can you read in the car and not get carsick? Yes
  • Best book habit? Never leaving home without a book.
  • Worst book habit? Bringing a book to a special occasion and reading it there.
  • Nerdy book habit? Looking up words in a book that I don’t know.
  • What am I reading now? Eternal, by Lisa Scottoline

And that’s all she wrote.

 

 

 

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