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.

 

What is an Instant Pot? And why I (finally) bought one.

Before Black Friday 2016 I had never heard of an Instant Pot. But that day my newsfeed was filled with posts about how great the Instant Pot is and how it saves people time and money—and how Amazon often puts it on sale. I didn’t buy my Instant Pot that day. I thought it was a trend like so many other kitchen gadgets out there, and I’m not one for fads.

Fast-forward to Boxing Day and once again, my newsfeed was filled with posts about Amazon’s great price on this product. I am an avid slow cooker user, and read that the Instant Pot could replace a slow cooker—this intrigued me. I was growing tired of how heavy my slow cooker is, and my tendency to overcook things in it. It was because of this that I decided to do some research on the Instant Pot. I quickly learned it is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker and so much more—all in one.

Needless to say, 1.5 months ago I bought an Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W and I haven’t used my slow cooker since.

Why I love the Instant Pot

1)   Quick meals

If you have a busy household, then you will appreciate the ability to have homemade chili on the table within one hour of your first onion chop (and it will taste as though it was cooking all day long—see below).

2)   Flavourful food

I have yet to make anything in my Instant Pot that isn’t flavourful and tasty; just as it would taste had it simmered in a slow cooker all day long.

3)   Healthy cooking

Just as a slow cooker encourages home cooking, so does the Instant Pot. I love being able to cook real food and having it ready in a minimal amount of time. The Instant Pot allows you to serve healthy meals without having to rely on packaged convenience food.

4)   The sauté feature

To be completely honest, I was sold on the Instant Pot from the moment I realized I could brown the meat and caramelize the onions in the same pot as I cook the chili—one pot cooking. This convenient feature saves time and dishwater!

The Instant Pot’s learning curve

Before I owned an Instant Pot I had never used a pressure cooker, so the functionality and capabilities of this feature confuse me. I am still not sure as to when I should let the Instant Pot “naturally release” the steam versus letting the steam out myself. I usually underestimate the time it takes the Instant Pot to naturally release the steam and the lid will not open (for safety reasons) until all the steam is released from the pot.

Also, the heat and pressure of the manual steam release is quite loud and forceful, so I advise against trying to have a conversation while doing this. I also suggest moving the Instant Pot away from kitchen cupboards since the hot steam can do damage. I have heard of some Instant Pot owners buying PVC piping to redirect the steam away from the cupboards—this is on my to do list.

Knowing how long to cook some meats and meals can be difficult to determine—also knowing it takes 5 to 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to heat up is helpful when planning to have supper on the table by a certain time. Luckily, the Internet is a great resource for timing, recipes as well as cleaning tips for the Instant Pot. There are many bloggers (my favourite is This Old Girl) as well as Facebook Groups devoted to the Instant Pot.

Tried and tasted Instant Pot recipes

With the exceptions of modern additions or changes, I have made the following Instant Pot recipes with great success! My daughter loved all of them. She prefers one pot spaghetti to the traditional kind now.

Chili
Hearty hamburger soup
One pot spaghetti
Apple spice steel cut oatmeal
Whole chicken

Instant pot steel cut oats

Instant pot steel cut oats

The recipe below is one of my own. I like my pork chops tender and this recipe makes them as tender as they get and my daughter likes her pork chops sweet—so this recipe is our go to when it comes to pork chops.

Kid Friendly Sweet Pineapple Pork Chops

4 pork chops, boneless
Salt & pepper

1 cup of fresh pineapple; cut into widgets
2 tbsp. of soya sauce
¼ cup of honey
2 tbsp. maple syurp
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ground cloves

  1. Set Instant Pot to sauté and drizzle with olive oil to prevent pork chops from sticking.
  2. Season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper and place in the inner pot.
  3. Brown pork chops on both sides/
  4. In a small bowl, combine soya sauce, honey, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
  5. Pour sauce over pork chops, covering them as much as possible.
  6. Lock cover into place; seal steam nozzle.
  7. Set to manual setting for 15 minutes.
  8. Naturally release pressure for about 5 minutes.

Serve with rice and your favourite vegetable. This recipe is at is says–sweet, so kids will like it. 

Many slow cooker recipes can be modified for the Instant Pot. Its pressure cooker capabilities are phenomenal and not as intimidating as your traditional pressure cooker. If you are unsure how your cooking skills will transfer over to the Instant Pot start with something simple like hard boiled eggs, which seems to be a popular stepping stone into the Instant Pot world.

Do you own an Instant Pot? What are some of your favourite recipes? I’m always looking for more recipes, so please share them in the comments below.

Meals made easy - Culiniste

We get quite a lot of pitches at Kids in the Capital but when this one landed in my inbox I was particularly excited. The opportunity was to try out a service called Culiniste with a family-sized box. They describe themselves as a better way to cook with fresh ingredients and delicious recipes delivered to your door weekly.

How it works

Ingredients came sorted by recipe and really well insulated.

Ingredients came sorted by recipe and really well insulated.

Every week you get the recipes and ingredients delivered to your door for three recipes (you can choose if it's enough for two people or for four.) You then receive a box with all the ingredients in just the right proportions delivered to your door on Tuesday in a very well insulated and refrigerated box. Each recipe comes with step by step instructions to walk you through cooking each meal. I was also particularly impressed with how green the company is, including instructions on how each part of the package is recyclable and how to deal with them.

What did I think?

There are so many things about this service that I loved.

- The ingredients were fresh and high quality

Just the right amount of each ingredient

Just the right amount of each ingredient

- The ingredients came in just the right proportions. So often I want to make a recipe and only need two tablespoons of something I don't have. I end up buying an entire bottle of something, forgetting I have it, and then buying another bottle of it the next time a recipe calls for that ingredient. They send you everything you need (except olive oil) which I loved and found so convenient.

- The food was tasty and for the most part my kids liked it (admittedly, they wouldn't eat the kale). We had balsamic chicken, swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and steak salad with baguette. The meals for four definitely had enough for our family of five with kids who don't have huge appetites.

- I liked that there was a good variety in the dishes available to choose from. Spicy, mild, vegetarian, and a mix of kinds of meats to choose from.

There are a few reasons that I wouldn't choose to have this service on a regular basis for my family though. It was a bit more work intensive than I expected. For example, the day we had meatballs I didn't expect I would have to make the meatballs from scratch. The shortest time I spent on the meals was about 30 minutes for the steak salad and the balsamic chicken took a full hour in the kitchen with almost constant tasks for me to do.

Who do I think this is good for?

People who love to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients but don't have the time to go out and get the ingredients easily. People who have a hard time coming up with good meal planning ideas or who struggle with not wasting food when they cook (I'm a big culprit in that department by not getting just the right proportions of things.) They definitely had enough kid friendly options to keep my fairly picky kids happy.

I would definitely get it again, just not every week. If you want to try it out, they've shared a discount code for $20 off your first order on their website. Use kidsinthecapital20 at checkout to take advantage and then let me know what you thought!