Podcast Episode #52: Meal Planning for Busy Parents
Ever wondered about all those meal delivery services? Are they worth the money? Will they save you time and money? Today we talk to Carrie, a client who uses a local meal delivery service, and Genevieve, the owner of Life Fuel. You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Alyssa: Hello, welcome to Ask the Doulas. I’m Alyssa, and I am going to be talking with a couple lovely ladies today, Carrie and Genevieve. Hello, ladies.
Alyssa: Carrie was on before because she is a client of ours who used us for birth and postpartum services, and then Genevieve is the owner of Life Fuel, who we’ve also had on before because we partner with you and your delicious, healthy meals. So it just so happened that you and I were talking about another podcast, and you said, “I think one of my clients happens to be one of your clients,” so it just works perfectly to have Carrie here. So I wanted to talk about, as a new mom, how has a meal delivery service helped you?
Carrie: Oh, it makes life a lot easier, and I used Life Fuel before I got pregnant, so I was familiar with their meals. But when you’re a new parent, you don’t have much time for cooking. I love to cook, but right now, it’s just my husband and myself and our daughter, but it’s really hard cooking for two adults. So that’s kind of why I initially started using Life Fuel because I would waste so much food just cooking for two people, plus all the time shopping and coming up with meals. And I’m a really bad freezer, where if I put something in the freezer, I know I’m going to forget it, and my husband doesn’t like freezer meals. Having Life Fuel, I could just pull it out, and if my husband would text me at 5:30 to ask what’s the dinner plan, I can be like, oh, we have this and this! Let me look!
Alyssa: It’s like a menu. I have my own menu in my refrigerator.
Carrie: And he’s like, oh, it all sounds good! I’m like, okay, well, I’m going to go with what I feel like having tonight. But it just made life so much easier. Then, after having our daughter, you really don’t have much time, and you’re sleep-deprived. If you don’t have time to cook, it kind of takes the joy out of cooking, and it’s more of just a chore. And I never want cooking to be a chore. I’ve used one other program in the Grand Rapids area, and what I like about Genevieve’s is that she all the nutritional information on there, so I know how healthy it is or how healthy it isn’t. Usually, they’re very healthy. Sometimes I want something that’s not so healthy; that’s when I order pizza or I make a grilled cheese sandwich or something like that. But also, it’s a complete meal. You’re not having just the entrée portion and then you have to figure out the sides. You’re getting a full meal there, and sometimes the portion sizes are — I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but they’re big, so a lot of times, Mark and I can split the portions, and then we have lunch for the next day. But really, it was the — you tend to think, oh, my gosh, I can’t afford meal delivery, but no, that was the biggest reason why I chose Life Fuel too was because it was saving me money. I was wasting less, and it was a value.
Alyssa: That’s exactly how I felt, too. I looked at these and went, okay, for me to make a meal like this, I’m going to spend so much, because we have a family of three as well. I’m wasting so much food just to buy all this extra stuff that I only need for two, so then I’m going to have to make this meal, like, three times to use all the stuff I bought, and we don’t want to eat it three times in a week. And cooking just became a chore for me, like you. I used to love it, but I don’t have time and I dread it now. So coming home and just saying, these are my choices. Like, today for lunch before I came here, I was like, what do I have? Oh, beef Asian lettuce wraps? Done! That’s my lunch, and it’s delicious.
Carrie: I think we’re going to have that for dinner tonight!
Alyssa: And some of them are — depending on the meals, some of them have been big enough that my husband and I can split them. Awesome! Or I’ll eat half for lunch and then half for lunch the next day. Some of them, I can totally gobble it all up in one meal.
Genevieve: Actually, our nutritionist David, who’s been on your podcast before, has two young sons, so a lot of times they’ll be getting home kind of late, and he’ll just split a meal for his two sons and just say, “That’s your meal.” It’s not technically a kid food, but a lot of it, his kids will eat, and it makes it super easy so they’re not starving while you’re trying to prepare something. It can be used a lot of different ways.
Alyssa: Yeah, it would be perfect for two kids, and I think the difference, too, like you said, between this meal delivery service and another, is that I don’t have time to prep it. Some of them, you just get ingredients and you have to cook it yourself. I don’t have time. This is already done. I just have to heat it up. Sometimes, I don’t even heat it up. Today with the lettuce wraps, I put the cold beef in the cold lettuce and dumped the sauce on, and it was delicious. I didn’t even have to heat it.
Carrie: I’ve never tried some of the bigger companies like Blue Apron, but one thing I like is that I can email Genevieve, and you respond so quickly. So if there are any questions, you get it figured out really quick, and I don’t think you would get that with some of the bigger companies.
Genevieve: Yeah, and that’s part of the reason. We want to stay local to West Michigan. A lot of people have asked us why we don’t ship through the mail, and that’s just not the vision for our company. We want to know our customers and know their preferences and be able to adjust based on what people are asking for, and I think staying here and just staying local will really help us do that.
Carrie: I think in my Notes section for you, I have that my husband hates eggplant.
Genevieve: Yes, you do!
Carrie: But I always order ala carte because I like looking at the different meals.
Genevieve: Yeah, because you’ve gotten the eggplant lasagna a couple of times, I think.
Carrie: Yeah, and I think it’s maybe vegan eggplant lasagna, and Mark was like, this is the most disgusting thing ever!
Genevieve: I had a feeling that meal was just for you!
Alyssa: There have definitely been a couple my husband says no thanks to, and I’m all about it.
Genevieve: I think the word “vegan” in general kind of scares males. Like, you’ve had vegetables before, right?
Alyssa: There’s just not a big slab of meat in it, so they don’t want it, right? And I love that you have gluten-free and vegan and paleo options, because I can just look at that right away, like the pancakes that just came, and I know right away that we can have just by looking at the ingredients.
Genevieve: And Carrie, I love what you said about less waste because I think that’s something people don’t think about when they’re doing their own meal prep or meal planning. You end up going to the grocery store, and maybe you’re spending a little bit less than what you would spend on our meals, but are you utilizing all those ingredients? Are they making complete meals for you? Or are you ending up with a lot of leftover things that you don’t know what to do with?
Alyssa: I think I would be spending more at the store.
Carrie: I would be spending more, yeah.
Genevieve: Well, you’re also being exposed to maybe a lot of things that you shouldn’t be buying when you’re at the grocery store.
Alyssa: But then the fact that, like you said, it’s complete. You have the fiber; you have the protein; you have the vegetables. You have everything in there! I literally don’t have time, if I’m making a meal myself, and I thaw some meat and then I’m like, oh, shoot, I also need to think about all the things I need with this meat. I just don’t have the time and energy. So it’s just done for me, and it tastes good and I don’t have to think about it. Genevieve, where can we find you?
Genevieve: You can find us at our website and sign up for meals there.
Alyssa: And I know I’ve asked you before, but why are you called Life Fuel by Vault?
Genevieve: We are a sister company of Vault Catering, which is also here in town.
Alyssa: Gotcha. And then we have coupons for new subscribers, too, right?
Genevieve: Yes! I can just give the promo code right now!
Alyssa: Sure! Tell us the code!
Genevieve: You can get 20% off your first order by using the promo code FUEL20.
Alyssa: Perfect! And you don’t have to have a subscription, right? You can go on and buy one meal on one day, or buy ten meals at once?
Genevieve: Yeah, and our menu changes frequently, so a lot of people like to go on and peruse the different menu items and figure out what they’re going to want to eat that meat, so that’s totally an option.
Alyssa: I need to get better at that. I haven’t looked at the menus as much.
Genevieve: Yeah, it’s a little bit more challenging when you’re a subscription customer because you have to reference back the menu for the week, but it’s totally possible to log in there and switch out the meals, and you can also pause a week, too, if you’re going to be out of town or something.
Alyssa: Which I’ve done, and that’s great. Anything else you want to say about the meal plans?
Carrie: Well, just for your customers, what’s your radius that you ship to?
Genevieve: We go all the way to Muskegon, so we do the Lakeshore, Grand Haven. We do Kent County, Ottawa County, and Muskegon County right now.
Alyssa: And you deliver on Tuesday and Wednesdays now?
Genevieve: Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Alyssa: Awesome. Thank you so much!