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