Take the stress out of food prep with Supperworks

I don't know how meal planning and dinnertime go at your house, but at my house... well, let me just put it this way - it's not my favourite time of day.

Between picky kids, a lack of inspiration for meal planning and hectic weekdays, I resort to cereal or fish sticks and fries far more than I ever would have expected of myself (and like to admit).

I tried the food delivery boxes, and while they were great because it saved me having to come up with the recipes and do the shopping (and I won't lie, throwing out all kinds of food I bought, meant to cook, and instead let go bad), it was still quite a lot of work in terms of prep each day.

I recently got to try Supperworks during a special blogger event and fell a little bit in love, so I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things about the experience.

1) No peeling and chopping

Peeling and chopping isn't hard... but it takes a long time. I loved that as I went up to each station, the only thing I needed to do was take the amount of an ingredient and put it into the containers outlined on the simple instructions.

The green onions were chopped, the garlic was minced, the protein was already portioned out exactly as it needed to be. (Bonus: much less chance of accidentally grating your hand instead of the cheese when a kid walks in shouting a loud question at you when you're not expecting it!)

2) Almost no dishes

The only dishes are the things you need to cook the food and to eat the food. There are no knives and cutting boards, and measuring cups and spoons and mixing bowls. I often feel like a tornado has hit my kitchen after I've spent a few hours cooking and by then I don't feel like CLEANING up the mess I made - I was just so productive in MAKING the food. Supperworks means I don't have to do the dishes after putting together my meals, and I wish I could give the store a big hug  just for that!

3) No thinking required

I think a lot - while I'm working, while I'm trying to make sure our family life stays on track and remember who is supposed to be at what activity when, and what forms I still need to send in to the school, and whether or not I RSVPed to those birthday party invitations.

Having every step of this figured out for me so that I can just walk in and follow simple steps to achieve success - it's just such a nice break for my brain.

4) Portion options

A family sized meal is meant for 4-6 people, and it's quite generous. My kids are pretty good eaters (since last year they all doubled and tripled how much they eat!) so the meal size was great for everyone (with a little bit left over for one extra lunch). If your kids are not big eaters then for a small extra fee you can split all the meals into two, and the stations are set up so you can switch the recipes to instructions for making smaller doubles, and all the tools and containers are readily available for splitting things. These half sized portions now just doubled how many meals you get, and feed a family with no kids or little kids who don't eat very much.

5) You don't even have to assemble it if you don't want to

Supperworks is set up so that you can come in, on your own or with friends, and assemble your meals. I'm planning to gather a group of friends to do this soon in fact, because I think it can be a fun (and so easily justified to those of us who have a hard time taking time for ourselves) night out for friends. But, let's say you don't have the time, or you don't feel like gathering a group of friends and you don't really want to devote the hour or so it would probably take to make the 6-12 meals, you can just pay $25-40 (depending on how many meals you're making) and they'll assemble them for you. And I totally plan to do that if I'm not hanging out with my friends - worth every penny. Or, go in and see what they've pre-prepared and got waiting in the freezer right now.

The food was delicious too - did I mention that? The Flat Irons MELTED in our mouths (my two meat eater kids were ready to battle it out with my husband and I on who got more of it), the coleslaw may be one of my new favourite things ever, and you can mix and match all kinds of extra sides from the freezer at front of the store.

Healthy meals with good variety (including vegetarian options) that are easy for me to prepare was pretty much the most important thing for me to figure out better systems for in our life, because it was dragging me down like nobody's business. I can't wait to stock up our freezer with all kinds of healthy meals that are easy for me to prepare - and I think some of them are even easy enough for my ten year old to prepare too!

Supperworks has a special promotion going on right now called Suppersavers (limited quantities so I wouldn't dally) for a $100 voucher for $50. They are store specific, so pick the best location for you (Kanata, Nepean or Orleans) and grab a voucher - there's no better way to try out Supperworks than with $50 off!

If you have been to Supperworks before, leave a comment below and let us know what you thought, and what your favourite not to be missed meals are!

Thanks again to Supperworks Ottawa for the opportunity to check out how everything works - I'll definitely be back!

* Supperworks provided Kids in the Capital with 2 free meals and the experience of using their service. All thoughts are our own.

 

Staying fit while pregnant with FITMOM2B

As an expectant mom with a two-year old at home, there are a few things that I could use more of in my life: exercise, a chance to unwind, time outdoors, hanging out with other moms, and sleep (in no particular order). I was thrilled to find Ottawa FITMOM2B classes where I can accomplish all of these things (yes, these classes even help me to sleep better!).

A girlfriend encouraged me to join her for these weekly fitness classes while I was in my second trimester, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience from my very first visit. I was greeted enthusiastically by the owner and pre/post-natal fitness guru, Sue, and after the arrival of another eight ladies or so, we got to work. The class strikes a fine balance of getting a good full-body workout, not a walk in the park, while doing so in a safe, controlled manner appropriate for most moms-to-be. The classes generally follow an interval structure, where strength exercises are carried out for a minute or so, followed by short periods of rest. Sue also ensures that all participants are mindful of the guidelines for exercise during pregnancy (as recommended by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada), which include being aware of changes in balance, range of motion, caloric needs and hydration.

The classes have now moved outdoors to Windsor Park (Hunt Club near the airport) for the summer and it feels so good to be out enjoying longer summer evenings in the park and getting fresh air. The outdoor class also uses the park’s features to maximum advantage, incorporating benches and hills into the workout.

The class is rounded out with stretching and breathing exercises at the end of class, usually accompanied with some discussion about the importance of maintaining core strength and pelvic floor health before, during and after labour and delivery.

At 33 weeks pregnant I am so grateful to still be feeling strong and full of energy, and I know this is partly thanks to the FITMOM2B classes. I’m already looking forward to taking part in the FITMOM & Baby classes with my new peanut this fall. I highly recommend doing something great for yourself by checking out FITMOM; you can even try out your first class for free.

FitMOM Ottawa

About the author: I am a Calgary girl transplanted to Ottawa (via Australia, Tunisia, Mexico, et al), working for the public service. I’ve been married for three years, I’m mom to two year old Charlotte, a three year old feline, and we’ll be welcoming a little man to the family this summer. I’m also an avid cyclist, hiker, yogi, reader, coffee-lover and all around busy-body.

I blog about everything that is going on in and around town: festivals, special events, favourite yoga studios and great restaurants because I think that the ‘Hottawa’ is a fun and fabulous place to live.  Find me at @thehottawa.

The Journey of my Dancing Girl

Many of us can relate to being a competitive dance mom. It really doesn’t matter whether your child does dance, hockey, ringette, soccer or swimming. Once your child is competitive the obligation on us increases dramatically. There are extra classes, rehearsals, travel, hotels and let’s not even discuss expense! Do we complain? All the time. :)

But once I see my daughter up on stage dancing it’s all worth it. My daughter, Olivia, started dancing at three years old. So, for the past 8 years we have watched her blossom on the dance floor. Why do we do this? Is she going to be a prima ballerina? I really don’t think so! Is she going to have a career dancing? Who knows! What does she learn by dancing 20 hours a week? 

She learns that she has to say no. If she has an obligation to rehearse at the studio then maybe she can’t always attend a friend’s birthday party. Sometimes there are tough decisions.

She learns time management and has to get her school work done and tests studied for around her dance schedule. 

She knows how to do hair and makeup.  It’s amazing at 11 years old this girl can apply a full face of stage makeup including waterproof eyeliner.  She can do her hair in a beautiful bun better than I could ever do for her.

She’s not afraid to be in front of people. Where I see such a difference is in her presentation skills. On stage performing at competitions there is a lot of pressure on these dancers. It is a wonderful skill that transfers to life. At school she has no trouble presenting in front of a classroom. At events she can speak in front of a group of people.  Dance helps prepare her for her future.

Fitness - She is flexible, graceful and toned. She doesn’t always eat perfectly, but it’s all about balance. 

Friendships - Spending a lot of time with the same group of girls creates a special bond. It’s amazing that even when she is away from the dance studio she is still in contact with her dance friends!

Competition - She learns that sometimes you get marked well and sometimes you don’t. And that it is a few people’s opinions. As long as she has done her best I am happy with that. We listen to the judges tapes and use them as a guide to improve. 

We are blessed! We attended another dance school for many years then left to find a better fit. The original school gave Olivia many skills, nurtured her love of dance, and made many friends that she still has and for that I am grateful. 

This year is amazing.  With the direction of owner Miss Caroleen Harding (who just turned 20 years old by the way) we found where Olivia has blossomed. She is given opportunity, training and a lot of attention because the school was in its first year and small. It’s exciting to see a young lady who followed her passion for dance and open her own studio Creative Edge Dance Academy. Already there are amazing camps such as the Ultimate Dance camp where the dancers will talk about social media, nutrition and respect along with dance. 

I know at 11 years old my daughter hasn’t faced a lot of these issues yet, but I want help her if I can. 

If I think back to my days before children and I watched the other families spend tons of money on activities for their children. I swore I would never be one of those moms! Well, today I am admitting that I was wrong - I am totally wrapped up in the whole dance world and I love it!

Submitted by Connie.

Mother–Daughter Time

I was given two opportunities recently for some mother-daughter time and I took them both. The first was a Groupon for a night's stay at Montebello and the second was a day out in a Ford Focus Electric to explore my city

The first I took with my daughter, the second I took with my mom. 

My daughter and I have done special Mommy-Daughter things since she was born, but staying over night and going swimming not once, not twice but three times at a hotel with a sundae bar? That's super special. And it's something she's only really done with Daddy in the past. 

My mother lives with me and while we do go out to movies or go shopping sometimes, we don't often get to spend a day just out without the kid. We drove around Gatineau Park, we went to high tea at Mackenzie King Estate, we stopped for some window shopping. 

There's something about the relationship between mother and daughter. It's special, often tense, sometimes frustrating. Not always easy, to put it mildly. So a bit of time removed from reality is sometimes required. 

Getting away – exploring together away from reality a bit – is the best way to reconnect. 

My daughter, who enjoys being photographed

My daughter, who enjoys being photographed

My mother, who does not enjoy being photographed

My mother, who does not enjoy being photographed

I highly recommend getting out with your kids, having some time. Just being together, talking, doing the fun things they choose to do. One of my greatest memories from childhood was the trip to Toronto my mother took us on - just her, my sister and me. We took the train, we spent three days, saw Phantom, shopped at the giant Sam the Record Man. It was great. 

It's great getting to repay a bit of that, and it's great paying it forward, doing things with my daughter that I know she's going to remember. 

Welcome to the Children's Museum and Bob the Builder!

I have a secret to tell you. I've lived in Ottawa for 8 years now, and (until the other week) I'd never been to the Children's Museum at the Canadian Museum of History. I KNOW, right!? How could I have neglected this gem?

I finally got a chance to check it out with my 5 year-old the other week - the Canadian Museum of History is our new sponsor on the blog, and I was lucky enough to score passes to the Bob the Builder exhibit that's on now until March 22, 2015.

My oldest has always loved Bob the Builder. Her Daddy is an excellent handyman, and she joins him in his workshop, pounding away on wood with a hammer or helping him with his projects. So her and her little friend we brought with us were SO excited when Bob the Builder himself made an appearance when we arrived!

Bob

Some of the other Bob the Builder characters were there, and the kids had a great time climbing in and "driving."

Bob2

 

Bob4

Probably the coolest part of the exhibit was this ball machine - kids could grab big buckets of balls, and a machine would suck them up through a tube. It was the busiest toy :)

Bob5

As we explored the rest of the Children's museum, the kids completed an activity - finding Bob's "lost" tools. If you find them all, there's a little prize (stickers) at the end (most younger kids will need Mom or Dad's help with finding these tools!)

Although Bob was the highlight, I was SO impressed with the rest of the museum. My daughter spent a lot of time playing pretend in the post office, using the crane to move shipments on a boat, and "shopping" in the bazaar. It's definitely one of the most interactive museums in Ottawa!

After the whole afternoon, my only thought was, "why did we wait so long!?" Can't wait to go back!