Healthy Habits Kitchen: homemade meals with a little prep help

When I first became interested in cooking, it was like this whole (very exciting) world of unknown opened up to me. I always liked eating and now I actually got a chance to plan gormet-ish meals that I would whip up at home, on say… a random Wednesday. When researching recipes, how elaborate or time consuming the meals were never crossed my mind. I could make anything. [Yeah, sometimes that meant dinners that were way past “normal” dinner hours. I learned with time.]

This was less than 3 years ago (I can’t believe it!) and I don’t know what happened, but I just don’t have this stamina anymore. I love love love meal planning for the week and grocery shopping (unless it’s a zoo, then that’s not so fun). And some days I seem to be really in the zone, excited to make meal after meal, prep for days ahead, etc – but most days I’m just too damn tired.

On days like that the internal battle between eating out, throwing something easy like a sandwich or actually making the meal I planned ahead begins. I think if I already had all the ingredients organized, chopped and pre-measured, Adam and I would be enjoying healthy home-cooked meals even more often.

That’s exactly how Healthy Habits Kitchen started. They target people that want to eat healthy, homemade meals but may not have the time, desire or the energy to plan the meals, shop for the ingredients and then prep them – so they do it for you! All the meals are planned by the founder and owner, Susan, then reviewed by a registered dietitian to make sure they’re under 400 calories per serving and are well balanced, and then prepped by one of the the HHK staff. I think it’s a totally brilliant business idea (and given HHK’s success, their customers agree!).

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to visit their kitchen in Wellesley and chat with Susan. Such a fun little road trip.

This is where the magic happens…

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Everything is so organized, shiny and clean. I wish my kitchen had this much space for prepping!!

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I learned that all of HHK’s produce comes from local farmers markets in the summer (they also sell a lot of the meals in farmers markets all over Massachusetts); the meats are all 100% antibiotic and hormone free. I asked Susan if she considered using organic chicken and grass-fed beef and she said that she has but based on customer surveys, it was clear that her customers were not willing to pay this (don’t forget – wherever you are, you vote with your dollars!!!). Maybe in the future Smile

They also hold lots of parties right in the kitchen, where guests prep their own meals while sipping on drinks and munching away. Sometimes they even bring in special guest speakers (like the dietician and yoga teacher, Diana Cullum-Dugan, who will be teaching the Mindful Eating workshop on March 23 – more details here). Very fun!

The menu changes often. Susan gave me one of her top sellers, chicken marbella, to try, which has a unique combination of brown sugar, prunes, capers and olives. Everything was all nicely packaged in this box:

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Cool, no?

We actually ended up going away to Maine that weekend so I popped the whole box in the freezer and then defrosted it the day before I wanted to cook this (I may actually start doing this more often… if only I had extra time for all this prep work. May be a good time investment though!). The day of the dinner, I followed the instructions on the box (super easy) and with minimal hands-on time, we had a homemade meal on our hands in about 40 minutes (most of it was just baking time though).

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The small box had 3 servings but Adam and I had no problem polishing it off. At first I actually thought that the sweetness of the sugar and prunes was weird with the sour/bitter olives but this combo totally grew on me and well, I went back for seconds. Adam loved it too!!

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I think Healthy Habits Kitchen meals are a great way to make more people involved in healthy cooking and making it more accessible to beginners or busy cooks. It is pricier than doing all of it from scratch but it compares favorably to meals out and has the benefit of being healthy and homemade (in a good way). Smile

How often do you eat out of eat something boring because you’re tired or busy? Do you ever wish you had a prep cook of your own? <—Man, that be awesome!! 😆

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14 comments to Healthy Habits Kitchen: homemade meals with a little prep help

  • I definitely know what you mean! These days I have to do most of my cooking on Sunday because I have absolutely no energy during the week to cook. Anything that would make meal prep easier sounds perfect!

    • Elina

      I really need to start doing more prepping on Sundays. The problem is that I tend to overbook myself then too… with fun stuff but still leaving me with little time for extra errands.

  • I feel ya! I have such good intentions and then life smacks me around and I am beat! I am even lazy with preparing my daughter’s lunch – and I feel guilty!

    I normally make dinner 4-5 times a week, we eat out once a week and we have frozen/prepared food 1-2 times a week. We make a point to eat as a family each and every night and that adds to the fun … !

    I love the idea of HHK. I will have to see if they have something like that here in TX.

    I’ve thought about prepping on Sunday, like Lauren says, but I find I am hardly home on the weekend and when I am, it’s clean and collapse.

  • This place sounds fantastic! I definitely get lazy – especially after a long day – and cheat with frozen veggie burgers or cereal!

    • Elina

      I think I need to really stock up on random things like veggie burgers. I know if we have a frozen pizza in the freezer (TJ’s truffled flatbread is my fave), it doesn’t last long (it’s too delicious!).

  • What a cool place!!

    I wish more people were willing to pay the extra money for good quality meat.

    Its so important!!

    We can only do it ourselves and hope that it catches on :)

  • Sounds like an interesting idea. It reminds me of those Super Suppers (or something like that) places only healthy. It’s too bad that overall the customers weren’t willing to pay more for local higher quality meat, but I can understand. Maybe if it was promoted at the farmers’ market it would get more of that crowd? It’s too bad it wouldn’t really be sanitary to assemble outside there because I am sure there are a lot of people who like these kinds of veggies and meats but aren’t always around to cook.

    As for me, I try to do as much cooking, planning and prep on the weekends as I can. I can definitely tell when I haven’t because cooking is less fun and more frazzled. The more I plan the more relaxing it is.

    • Elina

      Yes, they do tastings and sell the meals at farmers market and do quite well. I agree – that crowd may have a different set of standards and may be willing to pay a bit extra for local humanely raised meat.

  • Miriam

    I don’t think that I’ll let someone cook for me for everyday… even if I do not particulary enjoy cooking, I prefer cooking for myself than let someone else doing it for me, I am way too difficult!

    I always go for simple, cheap and balanced meals and I don’t care eating the same meals for days. For example, since the beggining of winter I am making a HUGE pot of soup every sunday and I eat that everyday at work for my lunch, and no, I do not get tired of it!

    I like going out to eat but not too often… It does not replace homemade meals and it’s always heavy/rich and lacking vegetables and fruits. I am actually enjoying restaurants for social purpose, not for the food really.

    I guess that I’d hire a chef who is cooking balanced and healthy meals in order to invite my friends over, instead of going out and eat but not in replacement of everyday homemeals. :)

    But well, that is just me. :)

  • I’ve had that dish!! I’m pretty sure HHK has a table at the Wayland indoor farmers market and the day I went they were sampling that exact dish…I thought it was delicious and I loved the concept.

    I am SO with you, I dont do well with overly complicated time consuming dinners during the work week. We just dont do them. I’ll either find simple to prepare meals or we end up eating our own separate dinners we come up with which is totally fine by both of us. I’m perfectly happy with a sweet potato, some veggies, cheese…a “snack” dinner I call it, but they are always well rounded :)

    Another reason why I love making big meals on weekend with lots of leftovers!

    • Elina

      How funny! They are definitely at the Wayland farmers market – I heard it’s amazing! Did you blog about that actually? I seem to recall that now… :)

  • I eat a boring dinner several times a week hehe. I do a lot of prepping over the weekends but I can see how something like this would be even more helpful.

  • Rafe and I definitely go through phases when we eat out more than we ought to….but with money tight while he’s in school, and generous parents offerring to feed us…..it just makes sense.

    A lot of times however, I really crave the solitude of prepping in my kitchen. It helps me to clear my head after a long day…..but if someone were asking when dinner was going to be, or telling me they were hungry it would totally stress me out.

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