For busy parents, mealtime can quickly turn into stress time. From trying to cook separate meals for picky eaters, to making sure everything on the plate is healthy and nutritious, what should be quality time with the family turns into a frustrating ordeal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Nurture Life, a meal plan service that specifically caters to babies, toddlers, and young kids, provides fast and easy premade meals to your doorstep.
Parentology writer Lauren Wellbank recently gave a one-week subscription to the meal plan a trial run. Here’s what she, her preschooler and toddler, had to say about the experience.
“Because I was doing a trial run, I didn’t have to do much to get my package on its way (just inform the representative my children didn’t have any food allergies and there wasn’t anything — other than fish — they wouldn’t eat).”
Wellbank’s package showed up on her doorstep on the day the tracking said it would. Otherwise, “I was surprised by how big and heavy it was, but my kind FedEx driver helped me muscle it through the door.”
Upon opening the package, Wellbank discovered 10 “of cutest looking packages.” “They put me in mind of a gourmet version of a TV dinner, but without the rock hard brownie treat,” she says.
As for the proportions, “Because my children are two and four, the proportions differed –the four-year-old’s portion was slightly bigger — making it easy to keep track of which meals belonged to which child.”
When checking out her kids’ menu options, Wellbank was, well, jealous. “With meals like southwest tacos and pork ratatouille on their menu, I felt like I was the one getting a bum deal (hey, mom likes tacos too!),” she says. “But I was excited because even though the meals seemed a little fancier than what I would normally prepare, there wasn’t anything I looked at and immediately thought, “Yeah right, my kid’s not going to eat this!”
Each package had clear cooking instructions, including whether they could be microwaved or cooked in the toaster oven.
“I ended up microwaving almost all of our items, which helped keep my time management and dishes in check,” Wellbank says. “By the end of the week, I was able to figure out the perfect amount of time to nuke the meals so they were thoroughly cooked, but not molten lava (one minute and 30 seconds to be exact).”
Another plus for Wellbank, “The packaging is also recyclable, which makes these not only time-savers, but planet-savers, as well.
“Full disclosure: I tasted every meal that I gave my kids,” Wellbank admits. “Partially because their reviews were mostly monosyllabic ‘mmmmmms’ with a thumbs up, but also because I wanted to know if their meals tasted good, or if they just tasted good for kids (as in were loaded with salt and sugar and all the other stuff that many processed foods use to appeal more to younger palates).”
Her verdict? “There was only one meal none of us really cared for (except my husband who will honestly eat almost anything), and that was the cauliflower mac and cheese.” What she deduced, “I believe the problem lay in the fact we’re diehard Kraft mac and cheese people. Give me orange cheese, or give me death.”
Beyond that, the Wellbank family thought every meal was delicious by their standards. “My four-year-old especially liked the tacos because she got to load up the tortillas that came with them herself,” Wellbank says. “My two-year-old had zero complaints and happily ate everything with equal zeal. I was partial to the pork.”
Wellbank’s warning re: the meals sounded like, well, a plug. “If you’re going to sign up for the program, be aware they’re essentially homemade meals and good for about 5-7 days,” she says. “If you don’t eat them before then, you’ll need to put them in the freezer where they’ll keep for approximately 90 days, according to a representative from the company.”
The details for your radar: the meal plan can be tailored to the needs of babies, toddlers and young children. The weekly meal service costs between $45-52 a week, per child. “It’s a little on the expensive side considering you can conceivably make a meal for your entire family for the cost of one of these dinners,” Wellbank says, “but you have to keep in mind what you’re saving in time and by not ordering out.”
Final thoughts from Wellbank, “Nurture Life is definitely a viable option for parents with busy schedules, even if it’s only to bridge the gap between when school starts until your routine settles in.”
To learn more about Nurture Life, visit their website.