How to Have More Time in the Kitchen (Or Just for Yourself)

This is the first article in a series that I will be writing on saving time with tasks related to cooking. I will be covering:

  • Personal grocery shoppers
  • Subscription meal plans

So, you’re busy. I am, too. (So is that person looking in at you through the window.) But for some reason we both have found time to be right here—at this post (or at the window).

Reading things like a blog post only takes 5 or 10 minutes to read anyway. (Sadly, not 5 to 10 minutes to write one.) It’s the other things that take more energy and time. It’s the other things that we want to not do–that we don’t have “time” to do.

For me, the biggest time-consuming thing is searching for recipes and then going to the store to pick up the ingredients. Strangely, I’ve planned time to cook, just not to gather ingredients for the cooking. I do really like the idea of being the hunter and gatherer type, but not now. Not when I also must be the student, the full-time worker, the friend, the girlfriend, the sister, the daughter, the hobbyist, the writer, the photographer, the part-time laundry attendant, the part-time apartment cleaner, and let’s not forget the amateur chef!..and so on. I bet your list of obligations is similar to mine (or maybe stranger or more obligated), so I won’t explain this to you any further.

Guess what–other people have created things that could help us become be less busy and more fully invested into what we want to focus on. There are people that can help us, like an assistant. Well, sort of. An assistant would be a dream. That’s not really the dreamiest of dreams, so let’s not dream about it. We just need someone to do the little things, like shop for our groceries. Or at least I need them to do that. I’ve tried this with Instacart in the beginning of the summer to reduce the amount of time I spent in the heat. (Yes, I felt bad that I subjected someone else to this, but I also paid them so I didn’t feel so bad.)

Using Instacart saved me time, but after a few weeks of using it, I realized that I missed being the person to choose the reddest looking apple and the firmest tomato. I missed going to the deli and looking at the cheese that I could not eat, sadly sighing, shaking my head at the deli attendant who probably thought I was just a strange teenager pretending she was going to buy high-end cheeses. So, I quit the personal grocery shopper subscription.

I think Instacart offers a good program, though. If you sign up for the Express membership plan, there are two options for payment: Annual and Monthly. Annual is $149, while Monthly is $14.99. You can cancel anytime. Once you sign up, you can get free delivery, shop at any store that is available in your area, and you don’t get charged extra for the busier times during the day. If you think you will be using this membership often, you should buy the Annual. You’ll save a few dollars per year by paying $12.42 a month, but that $149 cost is upfront. With the Monthly, you end up paying a total of 179.88 a year, which isn’t that much more. I did the Monthly because I wanted to test it out first.

Is it really worth the monthly fee?…Is what you are probably wondering. It’s the same conundrum with signing up for Amazon Prime and Club memberships, like Costco. (All the wonderful wine memberships I’ve come across are free, though.) You really have to think about how much you’re going to use the membership and the reason for using it. If you sign up for the Express at Instacart, you don’t have to drive, which saves some gas and miles on your car. You don’t have to take time out of your day to go to the grocery store. And if you are like me, you can avoid feeling uncomfortable in the heat. So, take things like that into consideration. Also, think about the children…

Well, like I said, I canceled my subscription, but I’m thinking about joining again. It’s been about 4 months since I canceled and I am again feeling the annoyance of the obligation to go grocery shopping. Mainly it happens when I walk through those sliding doors and wonder why do I do this to myself during grocery rush hour. Because of that, I started looking for other options to pair with the Instacart membership so I have a variety of options for food. I’ve seen a lot of people on Instagram using Blue Apron, NatureBox and Graze (although those last two is just snacks). So, I wanted to try one of those.

I received a coupon for Hello Fresh, which is also a food subscription service, like Blue Apron. There are three plans to choose from. There’s the Classic Plan which has meat and vegetables, the Veggie Plan, and the Family Plan, which is a little larger than the Classic.

Hello Fresh says they are different than their competitors because each recipe is 6 steps and 30 minutes (which I’m sure it depends on your cooking experience), they are able to send out up to 7 meals per week, the menus are customizable with many delivery options and you can cancel or pause your subscription at any time.

Well, I signed up for a Hello Fresh account with that coupon and so far the experience has been fine, although, I haven’t received my first delivery yet. I was able to choose what meals I wanted delivered for next week, though, and I had several options. Each one came with the recipe as well, so that made me think if I didn’t like the subscription itself, I will probably still access the site to see recipes. Check out the recipe menu here.

I should be getting my first box next week and I will document how it goes!

If you’re interested in trying either Instacart or Hello Fresh, I have two coupons you can use that also help me out:

For Instacart: Get $10 when you order.

For Hello Fresh: Get $35 off your first box.

If you try these or have tried any other personal grocery shopping or food subscription services, please share your experience.

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