Home Chef Review

I’ve been MIA lately…

We can blame it on two things – First of all, WINTER!  Honestly, I dislike the cold.  I like to be outdoors but the options of outdoor activities to do when its cold out is either really expensive for a family of 6 or its just too dang cold!  Paddleboards and winter jackets don’t go together well. Secondly, my husband started a new company so I was helping launch that and am just now getting into a groove where my mind can go back to things I enjoy thinking about!

Anyway, once it warmed up a little bit we got back outside, but while it was cold, I thought I’d give one of the many home meal delivery kit services a try.  I had a coupon after all, so why not.  Plus I didn’t want to have to go out in the cold to grocery shop, so this was a win-win in my opinion.

I had received an email coupon so one brave day, I decided to give it a try.  Well, I decided to and then I decided not to.  But, I was too late. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to try it, it was that sometimes “fun” things like this get kicked to the back burner for the “important” things and as soon as I put in my credit card number I realized all the important things.  Oh well, fate won and the next week our big box arrived!

I have 4 kids, 3 teenage girls and a boy who is 8.  So I used it as an opportunity for the girls to help make dinner plus learn to cook fun, nutritious meals from a recipe (I’m not much of a recipe follower, hence why I cook and don’t bake).

Anyway, first up was my oldest daughter making Salmon Tacos!  She is 14.  While the recipe card said 20-30 minutes, it took more like an hour.  I will say that I was teaching her how to read and following directions of a recipe, so I didn’t jump in other than remind her not to cut or burn her self or to correct a mistake that would have *ruined* the dinner.  So from start to finish, she was in charge.  She had so much fun and for me, it made the joy of cooking return in me and reminded me of why I love to cook.

This is how all the ingredients came directly out of the box! Also note, this is 2 servings, I ordered 6 (my kids like to eat).  I also wanted to test out the serving size from Home Chef to see if we would really be full after dinner.

See that cute little white container – that’s the corn.  We washed the container and they have promptly been holding all versions of slime you could imagine.

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Very easy to read Recipe Card, plus my favorite long handled measuring spoons.  They are called Utensi and you can grab a set of 4 for $20 on Amazon.  (not an affiliate link)

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Mince that garlic!

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Nice little peace sign from my daughter!  IMG_0009

This is the easiest way to make crunchier hot flour tortilla shells!

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Corn Salsa, fresh limes, cooked Salmon (separated with a fork), Mexican cheese and crispy-fried jalapenos!

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Beautiful finished product!

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Now let me also tell you, that my kids are like every other kid out there.  They look at a plate and decide they aren’t going to like it before they even taste it.  Well, for these meals, since they were not things we normally eat, I told them they had to eat one taco and then they could make themselves something different if they didn’t like it.  Well, all of my kids have asked for this specific dish multiple times!  So we give this one 5 stars!

Our next meal was Japanese Sirloin Steak with rice and carrots. We spaced out our meals a little bit so this one we had over the weekend.  The recipe said this one would take 40 minutes and I’d say it took my “helper” a good hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half.  My helper this night was my 11-year-old daughter and once again, I didn’t help unless she really needed it.  Here are the pictures from her cooking night.  It was a great meal, we all loved the steaks.  No one in my family except me likes cooked carrots, so that was a no-go, but it was still yummy!

 

2 servings out of the 6 servings I ordered.

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Yummy carrots!

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Steaks prepping with just a little salt and pepper!  Do you notice my salt crock?  I have one for my pepper too!  My sister-in-law makes these and sells them on Etsy!  Check out her amazing pottery shop!

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Glazed carrots! So pretty.

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Demi-glace and Japanese tonkatsu sauce! Delicious by itself!

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All Plated up!

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So overall my thoughts about Home Chef are that the meals were great!  The serving sized were great (all of us love to eat, no little birds picking at the food at our house).  It was fun because I wouldn’t go to the store and buy all the extra little things to make the special demi-glaze but getting the exact amount was nice!  As for the price, I consider this a little over our price point for a family dinner.  I think these both came in about $7-9/serving before the coupon.

Home Chef also offers vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, wheat-free meal options.  In addition, you can order smoothie kits and fruit to be delivered!

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!  I’ve thought it would be fun to use this for a nice date night in!  Have the hubby help make dinner, maybe…

Want to give it a try like me?  Use this link to get a $30 coupon!

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Do a quick search on Amazon Cyber Monday deals and you’ll find thousands of products for the camper, hiker or backpacker in your life!  Just click here to see them all right now!

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT MY RESOURCES PAGE.

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My FIRST Backpacking Trip & Reviews – Part 3!

So after my first backpacking trip, I wanted to give you an extra post to tell you about the “stuff” we used and what we liked and didn’t like!  If you are anything like me, you read reviews on just about everything you purchase.

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT MY RESOURCES PAGE.

#1 – JetBoil Personal Cooking System – $95 – This was a must-have in my opinion.  We used it multiple times a day.  We boiled water for our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, plus our coffee!!  It boils the water in 2 minutes!  For any backpackers, it only weighs .88 pounds.

#2 – Mountain House Freeze Dried Food – $4-8– Food is something that I was very nervous about before our trip.  David reassured me that the food was edible, but honestly, I didn’t believe him (don’t tell him).  So I read a lot of reviews before I picked what I wanted to eat. The only other thing we realized was that the pouches I purchased from a Big Box Store were only one serving.  They also come in two serving sizes.  I was full but David was not.  So depending on how much you eat, you may want to be sure to get the bigger size.

  • Beef Stroganoff with Noodles – All the reviews said this one was great, and it was.  I think I could probably serve it to the whole family and they’d never know I hadn’t been slaving in the kitchen all day long. So this will be a go-to for me in the future.  If you like Beef Stroganoff you’ll love this one.
  • Biscuits and Gravy – $4-8 – David liked this one.  I didn’t eat a freeze-dried meal for breakfast, I ate Cliff Bars (cool mint chocolate are my favorite), but I did take a bite and it was decent.  Not like momma makes it, but it certainly didn’t taste bad.  Some of the biscuits were still a little crunchy even after the water was added.
  • Chili Mac with Beef – $4-8 – We both really liked this one as well.  Noodles were cooked but not soggy, and overall it wasn’t spicy but it did have a nice flavor.  If you like Chili and Noodles you’ll like this one!  Only thing I would have added was some cheese and sour cream, but hey, we were camping.
  • Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice – $4-8 – David ate this one for breakfast one day!  It had a good flavor. He loved it and he loves this kind of food!  He said he would try it again!  Not too sweet, not too sour.  Rice wasn’t soggy.  A win-win in his book!
  • Rice and Chicken – $4-8 – David ate this one after his Chili Mac with Beef one night, that’s where the two serving size pouches come in.  It was delicious too!  Just what you’d hope for in a Rice and Chicken dish!
  • Neapolitan Ice Cream – $30/12 pack – We didn’t try this one, but it’s on my list, I just couldn’t get it in time.  But I have read a ton of reviews that it’s awesome! So if you like dessert, throw this in your backpack, it will be worth it!

#3 – Inflatable Backpacking Pad – $40 – This sleeping pad was great! It was comfortable, easy for David to blow up. It stayed inflated all night and meant I wasn’t sleeping on the ground!  It is perfect for a hammock tent.  I put mine in my sleeping bag to see if I would be warmer than it being on the floor of the tent.  It was really cold the night I used it so the jury is still out on that one.  On the plus side, its only 18 ounces for those packing it in a backpack.

#4 – Folding Camping Chairs – $26 – These chairs are great!  They pack up small, weight a little over 4 pounds and set up is quick and easy!   After a long day of hiking, these are a must have if you can spare the weight.  The chair I have has a bag that has a zipper the whole length of the bag, which makes packing it up super easy.  It also has clips so you can attach it to your backpack!  David has a different chair and while it is essentially the same, it came with a drawstring bag and I found it a little cumbersome to get it all back in the bag even when following the directions provided.  PS. I also use this chair when I’m gardening!

#5 – Camping Pillow – $15 –  This pillow weighs in a just under 3 ounces.  Comes with a little drawstring bag, easy to blow up!  My tip on this is to not blow it up completely.  I like my pillows softer, so with a little less air, it was more comfortable.  If you like a firm pillow, fill ‘er up!  They come in many different colors too!  I slip mine right in my sleeping bag and cozy on up!

#6 – Lightweight Women’s Backpack $150-270 – I have the Osprey Aura AG 65 Pack!  Prices vary on these. For me, since it was my first time to backpack I thought this was a great pack.  Lightweight and comfortable.  Has plenty of clips and places to put things that you’ll need on hand but don’t want to have to completely open your pack.  I don’t know if I’d use it if I were hiking for weeks on end, but for a few nights, it was perfect!

#7 – Big Agnes 2 Man Tent – $270 – This tent is a two man tent, but I’d tell you it was pretty snug for both me and David. We sleep in a King size bed at home, so maybe that is why it was a little too snug for my liking, but it certainly did the job. With both our sleeping mats, bags, and considering if you are in a place where your backpack is in the tent with you it will be tight.  It does come with a rain fly, opens with 2 doors, has little pockets on each side and one that clips to the top of the tent.  As far as tents go, it was easy enough that I was able to set it up by myself!  Some of the models come with LED lights. Weighs in at just over 6 pounds.

Have you tried any of these products?  What do you think of them?  Did I miss a must-have on your list?  Let me know in the comments.

 

My FIRST Backpacking Trip – PART TWO

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My FIRST ever backpacking trip with my husband was a success.  I mean, I guess you could say that seeing that I’m still alive and I didn’t have to shoot a bear.  (see my part one post here)

We left on a Tuesday afternoon and drove about an hour and a half from home to Pisgah National Forest.  My husband had found a campsite next to a gravel road and a stream…Plus, what a way to ease me in right, I mean my car was right there.  We set up camp, started a fire, ate dinner and talked.  Then it was time for bed!  It was so cold but my husband reassured me that I had two sleeping bags rated at 50 below zero and I would sweat for sure.  I reluctantly got ready for bed.  Thank God I brought my kindle with me in the tent, because I don’t think I slept for more than an hour at a time, so I read, like ALL – NIGHT – LONG.

David typically takes a small flask with him when he backpacks, so I picked up some of those cute little whiskey shots from the liquor store.  We sipped on them while we talked before bed, and then put them in this adorable little hanging pouch on the ceiling of our tent.  Well, right before bed, he is telling me about different times when he has camped that mice have gotten into his backpack and such.  I fall asleep pretty quickly (it’s exhausting getting ready and leaving four kids at home while you go away for a few nights). Well, in the middle of the night, say about thirty minutes after I fell asleep, I wake up and I am so cold.  I decide to put on my Patagonia jacket (praise Jesus it was in the tent because I would have never gotten out of the tent).  Well, in the dark and me trying not to wake up David, I knocked all those lovely little bottles of whiskey out of that adorable little pouch and could not find one of them.  Cue the mice story, and I was pretty much done for. That one little bottle of whiskey that I could not find had me all of our sorts all night.  I mean at one point I thought I actually felt a mouse touch my leg.  At another point, I thought I saw tiny holes in the tent where I was convinced the mice ate through to come drink my whiskey.  I even turned on my super bright flashlight at like 3 in the morning at those tiny little holes.  Cue David waking up and wondering what in the world I was doing. “It’s okay babe, I promise there are no mice in the tent”.  Ya right.  As he goes back to sleep with the missing tiny bottle of whiskey beside him.  In the morning we realized that when I put my jacket on in the middle of the night one of those tiny bottles fell on him and in his sleep he just picked it up and put it on the floor beside him.

The morning that would never come finally came.  I had been awake for about two hours by the time David woke up.  The agony of wanting to wake someone up so bad but also loving that person so much you want them to rest while they can…Tormenting isn’t it.

He made a fire, he ate his dehydrated biscuits and gravy.  If I’d had another Beef Stroganoff from the night before I probably would have eaten it.  All I can say is, it was YUM-MY!  We packed up and drove two hours to the parking lot for our next night.

As we gained elevation and the trees changed, I began to notice icicles hanging from the tiny trickles of water coming from the rocks.   I pointed them out to David and he was like no big deal.  We kept going.  We arrive at the parking lot at Roan Mountain, right on the North Carolina – Tennessee border and the temperature reads 31 degrees at NOON!  That is when my mom brain kicked in.  If it’s 31 degrees now, how cold will it be at 6am tomorrow? If its 31 degrees now, how cold will the wind feel on the top of that mountain?  If its 31 degrees now, on and on and on.  I took the opportunity to use a real bathroom, well, let me rephrase that…I took the opportunity to sit on an actual toilet seat.  At this point, I realized I don’t like going to the bathroom outside no matter what kind of toilet it is.  So I’m walking back to the car to get my backpack and there is a cloud sweeping over the top of the mountain that we could see all the way to the top of just a few minutes ago. It was also on my walk back to the car that I realized there were snowflakes falling.  “Um, babe, that was a snowflake.” To which he replies, “no it wasn’t”.  To which I told him, “if we do this and it goes badly, let’s say we can’t start a fire or it snows for real, or it’s just so freezing cold, you know that I will never go camping with you again”.  Because…I’m a realist or a pessimist but either way, it was the truth.

So we skipped the mountain and decided to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway because we saw there were some little campsites off some side roads.  So I drive and drive.  [side note:  being married means you fight sometimes, we’ll we almost always fight when he drives and wants me to navigate because I don’t do it the way he wants, so when I drive and he navigates we are both happy – you’re welcome for that little marriage tip] We get to the road with the sites and due to a storm a few nights prior there are only two sites before the rest of the road is closed and those two sites are already occupied.  So we keep driving the Blue Ridge Parkway (gorgeous drive in the Fall) and get about an hour down the road and the entire Blue Ridge Parkway is closed because of the same storm.  So back we go and then around.  All the while David is looking for another place to stay.  We end up near Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock in the southern Pisgah National Forest, where again, they have some campsites right off the road.  So we again drive and drive all over this twisty-turny, don’t look down, gravel roads looking for any available site.  We finally find one at about 5pm.  Set up camp, make a fire, eat dinner, hang out, and go to bed.  I put a lot more clothes on and got all snuggled in my bed with my whiskey and kindle thinking it was going to be another long night.  But, while I was a little cold and I did hear some animals outside the tent, I slept relatively well.  Did I mention the site we found this night was also next to a small stream?  So awesome!

So what is the moral of this long, comical story?  Well, most times in our life we are so excited to get to the destination we forget to enjoy the journey.  Sometimes that journey doesn’t look like  what we planned, but David and I were still together, alone, enjoying the beautiful [fall] scenery (I mean, have you seen my husband…so handsome), enjoying each others company, having a conversation without being interrupted by a child, or a phone call.  It was a great day!

We ended this trip like any good man would – at the spa!  We drove from here the next day to the Grove Park Inn for a night, we spent the whole next day at the spa [expensive, but worth it], ate dinner and then drove the rest of the way home!

Stay tuned for my PART THREE post about the meals we ate, the camping gear we used in addition to reviews of those products!

My FIRST Backpacking Trip – Part 2

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Today my dear AT backpacking husband is taking me backpacking for 2 nights on the Appalachian Trail.  YIKES!!! (This is me freaking out) I have never been backpacking.  This is an idea I came up with in the summer.  Now it’s fall and it’s cold in the mountains and I’m freaking out a bit.  Whenever our friends ask him about the weather, he covers his mouth or walks out of the room so he doesn’t scare me (cute right).  But, I called him out on it.  I mean, I’m all for surprises, but I HATE to be cold!  One time we took the family camping in Tennessee and it was in the 20’s and we lived in Florida so we didn’t have all the proper gear and I was so angry at him (like it was his fault it was cold – poor guy).

Anyway, I have a new backpack, and a sleeping bag that says I’ll survive in 50 below (praise Jesus), and a bunch of snacks and Moutain House dehydrated food (not sure how I feel about this), and a new sleeping mattress and a new collapsible camp chair and a cute little pillow…All that to say, he has gotten me everything I need.  And he promises he has planned easy hikes and all that.

So while I am looking forward to this new adventure, I am nervous!  But I am excited to try something new and I am excited because, after these two nights, we have two nights booked at The Grove Park Inn with spa treatments.  This is 16 years worth of marriage compromise at its finest folks.

Anyway, stay tuned for my report of how my first backpacking trip goes!

Best Outdoor Subscription Box?

Hi all!  For a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out which are the best outdoor type subscription box companies that I should try out.  Having never bought one before, I thought I’d open the comments for your suggestions.  Which ones have you tried?  Which one is your favorite?

Subscription box

I’ll start buying and writing reviews of the most popular brands and do unboxing videos so everyone can figure out what box is right for you.

Ready…set…go!

Thanks 🙂

 

Under Armour baselayers under $20 bucks!

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THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT MY RESOURCES PAGE.
Under Armour baselayers under 20 bucks, 45-72% off sale.

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Columbia.com Labor Day Sale

THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT MY RESOURCES PAGE.

Columbia. com is having a Labor Day Sale! Where you can get up to 25% Off Select Styles at Columbia.com. No promo code required to take advantage of this great deal! This offer is for a limited time and expires on 9/9.

Plus, get $25 when you spend $100 on Columbia.com now through 9/9! Redeem $25 from 10/1-10/31.

Here are some of the items I found on sale!

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MEN’S PARK RANGE™ INSULATED PULL OVER – $48.75

What is your favorite Colubmia.com purchase?

Top 5 Things to Take on a Day Hike with Kids

5 things to have on a day hikeMy four kids went back to school this past Monday.  So on Saturday, we asked them, “what do you want to do on your last day of summer”?  They quickly responded with let’s go hiking at South Mountain State Park.  It’s one of our favorite state parks in North Carolina! The hike to the waterfall is mostly easy, on a wide path.  There are sections where you are walking over tree roots and boulders, but to my kids, that makes it even better!  Our favorite hike is the High Shoals Falls Loop because it takes you to the waterfall and for the majority of the hike there are small pools of cool, refreshing water.  This is the reason why my kids wanted to go here!  We didn’t hike to the waterfall this time, at the end of the trail there are pretty much vertical steps the rest of the way up to the waterfall.  So we went most of the way up and then hung our hammocks and read books while the kids played in the water and caught crayfish (crawfish) or whatever you’d like to call them!  They also used leftover granola bars to attract the tiny fish.

South Mountain State Park also has additional backpacking and hiking trails in addition to equestrian trails and camping, a group camping area and a small camp group area, which is right by the stream.  How awesome would it be to sleep right next to the bubbling stream?  We used to have a pop-up camper and we drove through the campground one time to pick our favorite spot – it’s number 17 in case you want in on our little secret!

Here’s a list of our Top 5 (+ 2 more – optional) things to take on a day hike with kids!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, visit my resources page.
  1. Daypack – we just use an old backpack for short hikes. Although, this North Face Daypack has great reviews.
  2. Water
  3. Snacks – we take granola bars (like these) and trail mix
  4. Camera – we just use our iPhones!
  5. First Aid Kit – let’s be honest, kids always need band-aids. This one is small, so it would easily fit in a daypack.
  6. Hammocks – you can see my hammock post here on my favorite hammock!
  7. Books – here is the book I took, have you read it?

Now depending on the age of your children, your list may look a little different.

Check out these photos of our last day of summer fun then go check out South Mountain State Park!

 

 

What do you have on your day hike must have list?

$15 High Sierra Keeler jackets. Premium jackets up to 79% off! TODAY ONLY!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, visit my resources page.

Field Supply is offering a great deal of just $15 for High Sierra Keeler jackets!

$15 High Sierra Keeler jackets, premium jackets up to 79% off.

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