My brief review of PrepDish

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Eating healthy is tough. It gets even tougher when your time is limited. In my journey toward becoming a fit and healthy I have sought out solutions to making healthy food for my family. That’s where meal planning services can be a huge help. I’ve tried a few of these services and the latest service I’ve been using for the last several months is PrepDish.

My wife first heard about PrepDish on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast and we were so intrigued by what they do that we signed up that week.

Features

PrepDish’s philosophy is for you to go grocery shopping once and meal prep once for the week. Then, each day your dinners will involve minimal cooking before you sit down to eat.

When you sign up for PrepDish, you get weekly emails that deliver the menus. They offer a paleo and gluten free menu along with a “super fast” menu that intended to be used occasionally during those hectic, time pressed weeks. Each menu includes a shopping list as well as a set of instructions to guide you in preparing the food. Allison Schaaf, the chef and nutritionist behind PrepDish, will include tips in the email that give suggestions on making the prep easier, food substitutions (if needed) as well as link to resources or tools that she recommends.

The idea is that following PrepDish’s plan will allow you to get your meal prepping done and out of the way and not be stressed each night trying to get a meal ready for your family. That means saving time and even money if your default is to go out and eat at a restaurant when you don’t have enough time to cook.

Pros

As I mentioned above, I’ve been using PrepDish for several months now and I have experienced some great things using PrepDish.

Prepared menus

The main benefit I’ve experienced is that I haven’t had to plan out a menu in a while. Compiling recipes and putting together all the ingredients into a shopping list takes a while…and, let me tell ya, I’ve got things to do. Plus, we have enjoyed nearly every single meal we’ve created. My wife is fairly picky and she really likes the meals on the menu each week. Granted, lwe’ve only eaten off the paleo menu so I cannot speak to the gluten free food.

Trying new vegetables

I have NEVER prepared bok choy before signing up for PrepDish. And the same goes for many other vegetables. I just don’t know how to prepare them and PrepDish has “told” me to buy them and then gave me instructions on how to cook them. I think all those new veggies are a good thing for our health! PrepDish will introduce you to other vegetables in the store if you haven’t bought them before and you’ll greatly benefit from it.

A workflow to follow

As I mentioned above, the menus come with a workflow to follow when you start cooking and this is very, very helpful. I like to think of myself as a culinary moron and wouldn’t know how to make all this food unless someone told me and PrepDish has done just that.

Saved time mid-week

On those days when I pull the PrepDish meal out of the fridge and get it ready for dinner, I can truly enjoy the evening more. That has meant more time with the family and a good feeling that I ate a good, healthy meal.

Cons

Occasional typos

I’ve come across some typos in the menu here and there. It’s certainly not the norm but it can throw you off when the instructions tell you to chop the yellow onion and there was no yellow onion on the shopping list. During those few occasions I was able to pivot by using a substitution I had on hand or even skipping it altogether.

Gaps in recipes

I have had a times where I have kept food out during a prep day to find that it could’ve been refrigerated when I was done chopping or cooking. To me it wasn’t clear that those items were done. There have also been a few times when it wasn’t immediately clear to keep certain ingredients separated (e.g. chop the green onions but keep the green and white parts separate). I must say, though, that this has been improving quite a bit in the last few months. The menus have been more clear on this point lately.

Time investment

This one will probably depend a lot on your level of skill in the kitchen. PrepDish’s goal is for us to prep the week’s meals in about 2 hours. Personally I have never been able to get it done that quickly. My fastest time is about 4 hours and I’d say I average more around 5 hours. Then, when you factor in the trip to the store, I’ve spent about 6 hours prepping food for the week.

This has been a big problem because I feel like it uses up most of my Sunday, i.e. half my weekend. Being hunched over the counter that long starts to put my neck and upper back into knots. I even got burned out on the experience and took a few weeks off because I wanted my weekends back. However, I didn’t have another solution in place so I’m back to meal prepping, but I’m trying to work smarter this time. Again, skill level has a lot to factor into this so this might not be everyone’s experience.

Side note: The time killer for me (and probably everyone) is chopping and dicing the vegetables. One thing I’ve tried is to buy pre-chopped vegetables at the store. They do cost more, but the decision is going to be about what’s more valuable—your money or your time?

My kids

Again, this might be something unique to my situation, but I’ve had a hard time getting my 4 and 6 year old on board with some of the dinners. While they are absolutely delicious, I have a hard time getting my girls excited about last week’s asian glazed salmon; or thai lettuce wraps. I introduce them to the food, of course, but I wonder if the food is too fancy for my kids? They tend to like very basic, straightforward kinds of foods and, if I give in to their requests, I end up making a separate dinner for them.

I am very curious, though, how others’ experiences compare with mine here because I do acknowledge that my kids are particularly picky compared to others.

My Opinion

With all that being said, I have to say that PrepDish is a great meal prep service that will help you and your family eat healthy meals. And if you’re proficient in the kitchen you will save some time, too. In the months I’ve been making their meals, I‘ve seen their menus and emails get better and better. They are truly working to improve what they do. Recent posts on SnapChat have indicated that a new service is coming to PrepDish and I’m eager to see what they come up with. Choosing to use PrepDish will be a good decision for you to make.

How one question is changing my life

One question changing my life
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How to become successful was one of the biggest questions I have wrestled with since high school. I defined success in many ways over that time but success itself–however I defined it–seemed impossible to achieve. One word that describes all those years very well is ‘hesitation.’ I had a lack of commitment to the degree I pursued in college, a lack of commitment to a career and simply a lack of commitment to an overall purpose in life.

Three reasons I fell into a rut.

Fear

I was afraid of the opportunity costs since pursuing one option meant I could not pursue others.

Shame

I was ashamed of the things that really interested me because I feared the opinions of others. Most of those years I quietly longed to work in Christian ministry but didn’t want to be labeled a fanatic.

Laziness

I was not willing to work hard. As soon as the journey got tough I gave up. All of this is on me.

This ultimately meant I spent several years feeling very mediocre. They weren’t really bad years, per se; but those years fell far short of the dreams I had for myself. The cruel irony of hesitation is that it didn’t make the decision go away and now that time is gone.

One question that is changing everything for me

“What do you WANT to do?”

My wife has asked me this many times during our years of marriage. I honestly felt offended by the question because she side-stepped all the other stuff I was wrestling with and focused in on it.  It felt like she didn’t care about what I was going through, or that I simply did not know what I wanted. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. As it goes with so many of the great things our loved ones tell us,  I just needed to hear that question from another voice to start taking it seriously (finally).

Enter Gary Vaynerchuk.

I love Gary’s style because it’s basically the opposite of me and I need that opposing view to give me a kick in the pants.  This one line stands out to me because it gets straight to the point:

“Stop being confused.”

Just stop it.  Stop being confused.  Make a decision on what you want to do and pursue it.  All the objections in my head need to be set aside because, for me, these feelings weren’t very reliable.  Yes, I need to focus in on a specific goal.  Yes, that means I will, by default, not choose the others.  But that focus is important.

And, yes, I need to put on the blinders if I hear the haters chime in with their opinions.

And, of course, I need to accept that hard work is going to pave the way to success when that energy has a specific direction.

This is all a work in progress but I have a feeling it’s in progress for the duration of our lives.  It’s all about the journey.

What did you think of Gary’s video?

5 tips that will make meal prepping a lot easier

5 Tips For Meal Prepping
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1. Have a plan before you begin

They say failing to plan is the same as planning to fail and it’s no exception when you’re prepping your meals for the week.  If finding recipes and putting together shopping lists comes naturally to you, then you’ll want to map out the meals you want to prepare for the week and make your grocery list.

If you’re like me, you are not good at meal planning (or don’t have the time) and you’ll need some help.  There are some great meal planning services out there that will give you a weekly menu and shopping list.  Then you’ll just shop and then cook what they tell you.  There are several services to choose from, I’d recommend checking out eMeals, PrepDish and MealFit.  They’re some of the best I’ve seen so far and I’ve used all but MealFit (but I’m tempted every time I see their Instagram feed).

2. Get good, sharp knives

While you don’t need a huge assortment of knives in the kitchen, I definitely recommend investing in some good, sharp knives if you want to get serious about eating well.  We bought some mid-range Wusthof knives and I’ve loved them.  You don’t need a ton of knives, either.  If you don’t have any now I’d recommend a chef’s knife and a paring knife to start with.  That will take care of most of what you need to cut.

However, the key thing about knives is keeping their blades sharp.  Dull knives make meal prep longer and harder and I’ve even read that dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones. You can sharpen knives yourself with some sharpening tools, but there’s certain guidelines to sharpening knives so that you won’t ruin the blade.  So do your research first!  Personally, I’d rather get them sharpened by someone who knows what they’re doing.

3. Prepare your kitchen

Give yourself plenty of space

Preparing food in cramped areas just plain sucks.  You need space for your cutting boards, space for dishes holding your ingredients, or space for tools like crock pots or food processors.  You’ll just need some room.

Get out the tools and ingredients you’ll need

I have found myself in the middle of cooking something and then rushing across the kitchen looking for that one ingredient that I need RIGHT FREAKIN’ NOW while whatever I’m cooking gets closer to burning. Get out the ingredients you’ll be using and the appliances you’ll need to use so that you’re not running around

Keep a trashcan close by

Going back and forth between the trash and where you’re preparing food takes time that really adds up.  I recommend getting a small trash can or even using a large bowl to put scraps in.  Some of the kitchen stores even have tailor made bowls for this.

4. Read through the recipes first

Mystery novels should surprise you, but recipes should not.  I cannot tell you how many times I failed to read through a recipe only to find that I needed to have something heated up or some ingredient chopped and I didn’t do it.  Then I’m RUSHING to catch up while my future dinner is about to catch fire.  Reading ahead can erase this surprise, make your food better, and even make you a better, less stressed person. Your family will thank you.

5. When possible, clean up as you go

While meal prepping should theoretically keep you moving without too many breaks, I could not more strongly urge you to clean up as much as possible as you go.  It will feel like every dish you own is dirty and that’s daunting after spending a few hours cooking for the week.  If you can manage to slip in some cleaning along the way, you will make life better in the long run…and your family will thank you.

What tips do you have for preparing meals?  Comment below to help us out!

Solutions need to be simple

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Life naturally gets complicated.  We don’t have to try very hard for that to happen.

We’re also really good at creating complicated plans to solve our problems.  But the problem is that those intricate master plans usually fail sooner or later because they’re too hard to carry out.  The best plans are those that are very simple.

This isn’t news to you; but the problem is that ‘simple’ isn’t easy.  Simple solutions take a lot of work up front because you have to sort through and cut out all the crap. Once you’re there, though, those plans are straightforward and understandable.

Don’t make your life too hard.  Seek simplicity in your life.  It’ll take some effort at first, but it will pay off in the long run.

 

Are you overthinking your career?

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As I’ve looked into starting a business, the thought still on my mind is about what I’m really good at. At work some friends brought up an idea from Gary Vaynerchuk. What stood out to me most was the idea of staying in your lane. In other words, find out what you’re good at and develop it—stay in your lane. Don’t try to master something you just aren’t cut out to do.

A big challenge to people in a similar place as me is that being able to identifying what you do well can be really hard. If you’ve never really sought out becoming excellent in a particular area, all your other skills can seem pretty bland. Then, when the time comes to create a business or do something important, it possible to stall out because you haven’t identified what you can do to really add value.

That’s certainly been my story. All the lists I made of things I do well or lists of business ideas meant very little in the end because I didn’t identify the value I can bring to people.

So, if you’re in a similar spot, I have to tell you something.

There’s no excuse to stay here. You can change this!

For me, I’m deciding to start taking action more often. It’s a process of elimination to discover what you’re good at so, for me, I can more quickly find my niche if I start experimenting through action.

Do you know how you can add value? What might help you find it?

What’s your value?

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Ultimately, there’s just one question you need to answer when you’re trying to figure out what business to start.

What is something I can do that adds value to others?

Viable businesses offer products and services that people want and need.  Their products and services are really solutions to problems that people have.  You just might have a viable business if you can create a product or service that solves a problem for others. What you offer will be of value to a certain group of people and, if you do it right, they’ll give you money in exchange.

There’s a lot of other things you’d need to figure out after this, of course.  But this is the starting point.

For me, this has been really hard to figure out.  I’m 99% sure I overthink it, but there’s more to it than that.  I also literally spent half of my life convinced that I was going to follow a certain career path in life.  I was going to be a pastor in a church.  I could never quite make things happen and I was also seeing that my influence wasn’t really sought out.  What I was offering wasn’t valuable enough and  I decided a couple years ago to put it on hold indefinitely.

I had this idea along the way that I’d like to start a business and so I started exploring this idea in more depth.  What’s interesting, though, is that I was so bought into my previous career plans that I didn’t really develop any other marketable skill.  And the years of frustration wore down my zest for life.  So I’ve spent that last few years recovering and starting over from a good foundation.

So, if  you struggle in this process as well, I understand how it can feel. Just start where you’re at and figure out what you can do for others that you’ll also enjoy. It’s a process, but it’s well worth it.