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Home from vacation and nothing to eat

Hungry and nothing in refrigerator to eat
SomaFare model showing how it sucks to come home to an empty fridge after vacation.

My husband and I just got back from visiting our families for the holidays, and the whole experience of traveling with a 9-month-old was like many experiences with my son, which is to say, very fun and very tiring. The reality that vacations might not be about catching up on sleep, bouncing around from place to place according to our fancy, and eating at interesting new restaurants that may have only bar seating available is another one of those things that I’ve had to just accept as a new parent. Seeing our son experience a lot of new things – dogs! cats! sand! cousins! – was gratifying and wonderful in a new way but it’s definitely not the same as before.

And of course, then there was that moment of getting home at 6:30pm with a tired and hungry child and realizing that there wasn’t anything to eat at home. I actually tried to think ahead on this one and bought some frozen stuff (like the salmon burgers from Costco that I like) that can be prepared relatively quickly. But even salmon burgers take some time to cook on the stove and they need to be constantly monitored, compared to SomaFare which I can pop onto a dish and put in the microwave. It doesn’t need to be constantly monitored like something on the stove, where a minute can be the difference between perfectly crisp and inedible and burnt. And having the flexibility of a minute can mean a lot when you have a baby who might be trying to dive head-first into the bath tub, climb the lamp, or see if they can eat chapstick. So in short, I missed my SomaFare (I’m SomaFare’s #1 customer and if I ever have to close it down, will be its last customer…)

Apparently, some of SomaFare’s customers missed it too because I got a bunch of orders on New Year’s Day, which was a Tuesday (most of the orders usually come in between Wednesday and Friday’s noon deadline).

Glad to be back – first orders for 2019 just went out yesterday and we’re back on our regular schedule. Get that warm, comforting feeling of knowing that your fridge is full of delicious wholesome foods that’s literally takes less than 5 minutes to prep and get your SomaFare order in before Friday at noon!

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Stop chopping those damn onions, please

Ok these are carrots not onions. Actually peeling not chopping either – but she sure looks pissed.

As you’re washing, peeling and chopping a small mountain of vegetables for dinner, have you ever silently cursed to yourself and wondered why you decided to cook this dish in the first place? After all, you’re tired from work and running around. You want time to relax with your family, have some downtime to yourself, but it’s 6:30pm and your family’s gotta eat something besides chips and hummus so you power through. And then, if you’re like me, you eat, you forget, and you might not think about it again until you find yourself doing the same thing, cursing to yourself once again some days later. 

Here’s why I did it (past tense because now we mostly eat SomaFare): 

  1. Because takeout isn’t healthy enough – If we could afford it, I would be delighted to have my family eat food from places like Viale, Alden and Harlow, etc (you know – nice ‘New American’ restaurants) on a daily basis. These places have a lot of vegetables, well-prepared proteins, and complex carbs. Unfortunately, they also run $50+ per person so for our family of 3 adults and 1 child… that would be over $5000 per month just for dinner… so um, no. I’m not actually even sure that they do take out?? All the other takeout options that are at a more moderate price point (let’s say under $20 per person) are very carb-heavy (think pizza, burritos, noodles) or are cold salads (I can’t have cold salad every night. I just can’t).
  2. Because you have a specific cultural heritage to carry on through food – I fit into this category. I’m Korean American and food is an important part of Korean heritage that I want my son to experience. So our food is about 30% Korean – we often have kimchi and rice with our more American-/Mediterranean-/European- influenced meals if they go together and we also have 1-2 meals a week that’s entirely Korean.
  3. Because you have some specific dietary restrictions – like allergies or a strict diet for medical reasons.
  4. Because you love to cook. I love to cook too, but I don’t want to do it every night, especially after work.

What I’m not sure of is the money side of it. Of course eating out is more expensive than cooking yourself, but Americans spend more than 8 hours per week in food preparation. If you value your time at $30 per hour or above, then you should probably eat out most of the time if you can find a service that fits your taste and charges ~$15 per serving (*big fat asterisk here – see the bottom of this post). Roughly, the math is 8 hours per week spent on cooking at $30 per hour for a family of four = $10 of labor per serving. If you assume that the ingredients alone are $5 per serving, then it should be roughly comparable between cooking it yourself and having someone else cook it. 

 And (here it comes… drumroll please ;p) – that’s why I started SomaFare! I wanted the sauteed vegetables, those meats marinated in herbs and slow-roasted, the pastas that were a step above meat-sauce-over-Barilla-pasta… the nutrition-dense foods that were prepared with interesting flavors. And I wanted it to be around $15-20 per serving, not $50. 

Does this resonate with you? How do you think about eating out vs cooking yourself? Also check out SomaFare too, obviously.

*I just want to acknowledge here that $30 per hour is a lot for a lot of Americans and that paying $15 for most of your dinners isn’t reasonable for many people. I don’t think it means that the service shouldn’t exist or that it doesn’t serve a good purpose but I don’t want to make it sound like this makes sense or is feasible for everyone.

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How this multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-generational family does dinner

A typical meal in our household

Running a company whose mission is to make it easy for busy families to eat well each night, I’ve become even more curious about how people think about food, how they put together their meals, and why they do what they do. It’s become a great conversation starter at parties – it usually goes: “I started a dinner service company – think Blue Apron but cooked!” “What a great idea!” “So… what do YOU do for dinner?”

These conversations have helped me see that there’s a pretty wide range in terms of how people approach their meals, especially parents of young children. Some common responses include:

  • I make something halfway decent for my kids but then my spouse and I eat protein bars/ chips and salsa/ popcorn for dinner before falling asleep exhausted
  • Kids eat chicken nuggets/mac n cheese/ grilled cheese and my spouse and I eat whatever one of us cooked over the weekend (and we eat it all week long)
  • My spouse cooks a great meal 3x a week because s/he loves to cook and has the time.
  • My spouse cooks a great meal 3x a week because we love to cook and eat but it’s stressful because we don’t have the time/energy.
  • We do a lot of pizza

So I thought I would share how we eat in our household. Just some context: We’re a bi-racial/ bi-cultural (I’m Korean-American, my husband is a white guy who grew up in the Midwest), multi-generational (my mom lives with us and my husband and I have a baby boy) household. I also run a food business so obviously that also impacts things. I think of my/ my husband’s approach to dinner as having evolved over time:

Stage 1: Before my mom came to live with us and pre-kids

  • Summary: We would cook on the weekends (wide range of cuisines – some Korean/ Asian, others not) and we would eat leftovers during the week or ordered out. We also traveled a lot for work so ate on the company’s dime when on the road.
  • Level of stress about food: Pretty low. We (ok to be honest: I) like cooking and we had a lot of flexibility to cook/ not cook
  • Health factor: Medium. The meals we were eating out weren’t so good for our waistlines/ general health.

Stage 2: After my mom came to live with us

  • Summary: My mom is a member of a dying breed – the traditional Korean mom who feels it is mandatory for her family to eat a proper, balanced, tasty, and healthy meal at least 2x per day. She would cook when she wasn’t working at her job and almost every night, when my husband and I got home from work, there was something delicious in the refrigerator that just needed to be reheated
  • Level of stress about food: Very low. This was the life!
  • Health factor: Good. We ate a lot more vegetables and whole grains

Stage 3: After baby came

  • Summary: My mom is the full-time caregiver for our son, so she no longer had as much time to cook. So we order about $150 worth of SomaFare every week, which gets us from Monday to Friday, depending on how much my husband is home for dinner vs traveling for work. We also keep multi-grain rice in the rice cooker and kimchi in the refrigerator so a typical meal for us is a SomaFare entree (like a chicken dish), one or two SomaFare vegetable sides, plus often a bit of rice and some kimchi. If my husband is doing paleo, he just doesn’t have the rice. We do a combination of cooking/eating out on the weekends.
  • Level of stress about food: Pretty low – everything is in the refrigerator and we just need to heat it up! Come Saturday and Sunday when we start running out of SomaFare food, it gets a little more stressful though because we have to scramble to figure out what we are eating
  • Health factor: Pretty good – our meals are pretty nutrition dense with a focus on protein and vegetables and minimal processed carbs and added sugar

How does your family do meals? In particular, dinner? How do you manage to get it done with all the other things going on?

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Comparing Whole30, Paleo, Keto and Macro diets

With so many different diets promising amazing results, it can be really overwhelming trying to pick one that best suits you. Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Macro… where do you even start? Well, you start by deciding what your goal is. Are you trying to lose weight? Maybe you’re interested in lowering cholesterol or blood pressure, or even regulating blood sugar. Dieting is often associated with weight loss, but, when done properly, a diet can have health benefits beyond physical improvements. Some diets can work for a quick weight loss boost, while others may help inhibit development of health diseases. Finding a diet that fits your lifestyle is the best way to secure healthy eating habits. We’re comparing four popular diets to give you the pros and the cons for each. We understand that developing and maintaining healthy eating habits is difficult in a world of endless to-do lists and packed schedules.  We narrowed it down for you:

 

 

  • Whole30

 

      • What is it? 30-day clean eating regime intended to detox your body and revamp your eating habits. The idea behind it is simple: you have to eat WHOLE (i.e., not processed) foods for 30 days. That means you have to cut out all foods that might throw your natural body processes off (toxins), like alcohol and sugar, grains, dairy, and even legumes.

 

  • What can you eat?

 

        • Proteins, like red meat, poultry and fish.
        • Veggies. All of them. We mean it, from leafy greens to starchy veggies.
        • Fruits. Also known as nature’s candy. You can enjoy berries, apples, bananas.
        • Fats, like avocado, coconut oil

 

  • What should you avoid?

 

        • Alcohol and sugar/artificial sweeteners
        • No smoking (nicotine, tobacco, pot… none at all)
        • Absolutely no grains (rice, quinoa, bread)
        • No legumes (beans, peanut butter)
        • No soy / dairy
        • No processed foods.

 

  • Potential Benefits

 

        • Weight loss
        • Improved energy
        • Improved health benefits
          • No more random headaches, insomnia, fatigue
          • Clearer skin
          • Digestive health
          • Improved sleep
        • Less cravings
        • Better relationship with food

 

  • Drawbacks

 

        • Really inflexible / intensive – Sort of like a training bootcamp
        • Hard to be social when on a demanding diet

 

  • Paleo

 

      • What is it? Also known as the “caveman diet,” the paleo diet trend requires you to reset your eating habits back to hunter-gatherer. By cutting out “modern food” from our diet, or basically anything that comes in a package and cannot be found as is in the wild, some experts believe we can reverse or prevent diseases associated with diets full of high-processed foods.

 

  • What can you eat?

 

        • Lean proteins / game meat / eggs / fish/shellfish
        • Fruits
        • Non starchy veggies
        • Nuts and seeds
        • Olive and flaxseed oils

 

  • What should you avoid?

 

        • ALL dairy, cheeses, and butter
        • Cereal grains
        • Legumes
        • Starchy veggies
        • Artificial sweeteners
        • Sodas and sugary drinks
        • Cured meats
        • Processed foods

 

  • Potential Benefits

 

        • Improved health factors
          • Heart disease prevention
          • Blood sugar regulation
          • Weight loss
        • Improved energy/mood
        • Can be cheaper than buying processed foods

 

  • Drawbacks

 

      • Limited carb options
      • Inflexible/intolerant

 

 

  • Keto

 

      • What is it? Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. On a standard ketogenic diet, 75% of the calories you consume needs to come from fats, 5% comes from carbs and fiber, and the rest of the 20% is reserved for protein sources. The diet is based on the idea that a drastic cut in carbohydrate consumption sends your body into a state of ketosis, making it an efficient fat burning machine. The metabolic state of ketosis also turns fat into ketones, which provides our brain with energy.

 

  • What can you eat?

 

        • Meat: red, poultry, fish, eggs, lean, fatty
        • Butter and cream
        • Cheeses, the less processed the better
        • Nuts and seeds
        • Healthy oils/fats: avocados, coconut oil, olive oil
        • Extremely low carb veggies: tomatoes, leafy greens, peppers, onions
        • Condiments: salt + pepper, herbs and spices

 

  • What should you avoid?

 

        • Sugar
        • Grains / starches
        • Fruits, except berries on occasion
        • Beans / legumes
        • Root veggies
        • Processed / “low-fat” foods
        • Unhealthy fats like mayo, hydrogenated oils
        • Alcohol / “sugar-free” foods

 

  • Potential Benefits

 

        • Hormone regulation = improved mood
        • Lower health risks
        • Weight loss
        • High fat sounds counterintuitive and it might be exciting for someone who’s been doing low fat diet fads for a while.
        • More manageable in a social setting

 

  • Drawbacks

 

        • You’ll get tired of bacon
        • Should need to have a workout regime in mind because of all the high fat/greasy foods

 

  • IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

 

    • What is it? If it fits your macros, also known as flexible dieting, is the diet phenomenon that literally takes dieting out of losing weight. IIFYM requires you to calculate your daily caloric expenditure based on your activity level, then use nutrition labels to track the calories the food you consume. The idea is that, no matter what you eat, or what time you eat, or how many times a day you eat, if you are at a caloric deficit, you will burn fat.  Similarly, if you are at a caloric surplus, you will gain weight. Where IIFYM differs from traditional calorie counting is that a certain number of calories are allotted for proteins and fats while the rest are allotted for calories (see the IIFYM website to see your recommended allotment). The most liberating thing about this diet is that it puts no restrictions on food, so it doesn’t even feel like a diet. IIFYM can teach you a lot about your personal macro ratios, as each person performs optimally on varying macronutrient ratios. Don’t neglect your vitamins and minerals, though! Tracking your three main macro groups are important for energy, but for all-around health, it’s also important to get enough micronutrients too. Yes.., this means we encourage you to eat nutrient rich foods (A.K.A. veggies), along with tasty treats. It’s all about balance!
    • What can you eat?
      • Anything. Really. If it fits your macros, you can eat it.
    • What should you avoid?
      • Nothing! It’s called flexible dieting for a reason
    • Benefits
      • Flexibility
      • Improved moods because you’re not crash dieting
      • Improved relationship with food
        • No “bad” or “unhealthy” foods
        • Learn to enjoy things in moderation
      • Cookies on a diet? Yes!
    • Drawbacks
      • Need to add up calories by macros and track them
      • Too flexible?
      • Easy to develop bad eating habits – technically, you can eat 2000 calories worth of pasta per day and still lose weight if you burn 2500 calories a day.

 

When comparing different diets, it’s important to make realistic goals and commitments based on your lifestyle. If you have a busy, unpredictable schedule, it might be difficult to commit to a diet like Whole30 that’s very demanding and inflexible. If you have specific health issues you’re trying to address, it makes less sense to go with flexible dieting or IIFYM. When you find a diet that fits your lifestyle, dieting will start to feel less like dieting and more like healthier habits.

Note/ disclaimer: Always consult your healthcare provider before starting a new diet or food regime.

By: Leticia T.

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Keto meal service

Garlic chicken with lemon and anchovy sauceAre you looking for a meal delivery service for your Keto diet?

SomaFare is a personalized meal delivery service – for whatever cuisine or diet you are looking for, SomaFare makes it super easy to eat the way you want with minimal work. How it works: If 25 or more customers indicate interest in a cuisine, we will organize a 4-week menu with one of our professional chefs along with pricing. Once 15 customers or more have signed up for the 4-week menu rotation, meals will be cooked in our commercial kitchen in Boston, chilled and then delivered to your home on a weekly basis. Meals are fully cooked and ready-to-heat. Keto meal service would feature delicious dishes inspired by popular Keto cookbooks as well as more typical dishes that comply with a Standard Keto Diet.

Please note that all meals are cooked in a facility that also processes milk, egg, peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. Cross-contamination is possible.

Interested and intrigued? If so 1) sign up below, 2) send this page link to your friends who are also doing a Keto diet and 3) suggest menu items in the comments!

Subscribe to our Keto list

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Paleo meal delivery service

Are you looking for a meal delivery service for your paleo diet?

SomaFare is a personalized meal delivery service – for whatever cuisine or diet you are looking for, SomaFare makes it super easy to eat the way you want with minimal work. How it works: If 25 or more customers indicate interest in a cuisine, we will organize a 4-week menu with one of our professional chefs along with pricing. Once 15 customers or more have signed up for the 4-week menu rotation, meals will be cooked in our commercial kitchen in Boston, chilled and then delivered to your home on a weekly basis. Meals are fully cooked and ready-to-heat. Paleo meal service would feature delicious paleo-compliant meals inspired by popular paleo recipe cookbooks.

Please note that all meals are cooked in a facility that also processes milk, egg, peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. Cross-contamination is possible.

Interested and intrigued? If so 1) sign up below, 2) send this page link to your friends who are also following paleo diets and 3) suggest menu items you’re particularly craving in the comments!

Subscribe to our Paleo meal service list

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Indian Tiffin meal delivery service

Are you craving Indian food in Boston? Especially something homemade?

SomaFare is a personalized meal delivery service – for whatever cuisine or diet you are looking for, SomaFare makes it super easy to eat the way you want from authentic chefs with minimal work. Here’s how it works: If 25 or more customers indicate interest in a cuisine, we will organize a 4-week menu with an authentic Indian cook (preferably an Indian grandma!) along with pricing. Once 15 customers or more have signed up for the 4-week menu rotation, meals will be cooked in our commercial kitchen in Boston, chilled and then delivered to your home on a weekly basis. Meals are fully cooked and ready-to-heat. Please note that all meals are cooked in a facility that also processes milk, egg, peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. Cross-contamination is possible.

Interested and intrigued? If so 1) sign up below, 2) send this page link to your friends who also want Korean food and 3) suggest menu items in the comments!

Subscribe to our Indian Tiffin service list

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Chinese meal delivery service

Are you craving Chinese food in Boston? Especially something homemade/ homestyle?

SomaFare is a personalized meal delivery service – for whatever cuisine or diet you are looking for, SomaFare makes it super easy to eat the way you want from authentic chefs with minimal work. Here’s how it works: If 25 or more customers indicate interest in a cuisine, we will organize a 4-week menu with an authentic Chinese cook (preferably a Chinese grandma!) along with pricing. Once 15 customers or more have signed up for the 4-week menu rotation, meals will be cooked in our commercial kitchen in Boston, chilled and then delivered to your home on a weekly basis. Meals are fully cooked and ready-to-heat. Please note that all meals are cooked in a facility that also processes milk, egg, peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. Cross-contamination is possible.

Interested and intrigued? If so 1) sign up below, 2) send this page link to your friends who also want homestyle Chinese food and 3) suggest menu items in the comments!

Subscribe to our Chinese food list

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Korean meal delivery service

Are you craving Korean food in Boston? Especially something homemade?

SomaFare is a personalized meal delivery service – for whatever cuisine or diet you are looking for, SomaFare makes it super easy to eat the way you want from authentic chefs with minimal work. Here’s how it works: If 25 or more customers indicate interest in a cuisine, we will organize a 4-week menu with an authentic Korean cook (preferably a Korean grandma!) along with pricing. Once 15 customers or more have signed up for the 4-week menu rotation, meals will be cooked in our commercial kitchen in Boston, chilled and then delivered to your home on a weekly basis. Meals are fully cooked and ready-to-heat. Please note that all meals are cooked in a facility that also processes milk, egg, peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. Cross-contamination is possible.

Interested and intrigued? If so 1) sign up below, 2) send this page link to your friends who also want Korean food and 3) suggest menu items in the comments!

Subscribe to our Korean food list

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Vegetarian meal delivery service

Are you looking for a meal delivery service for your vegetarian diet? SomaFare is a personalized meal delivery service – for whatever cuisine or diet you are looking for, SomaFare makes it super easy to eat the way you want with minimal work.

If 25 or more customers indicate interest in a cuisine, we will organize a 4-week menu with one of our professional chefs along with pricing. Once 15 customers or more have signed up for the 4-week menu rotation, meals will be cooked in our commercial kitchen in Boston, chilled and then delivered to your home on a weekly basis. Meals are fully cooked and ready-to-heat. Vegetarian meal service would include vegetables (of course), grains, dairy, and eggs and draw from a wide range of cuisines – however, this can be customized to the preferences of the group that signs up. Please note that all meals are cooked in a facility that also processes milk, egg, peanuts, soybeans, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. Cross-contamination is possible.

SomaFare currently only serves customers in the Greater Boston area – see our FAQs for a full list of zip codes that we deliver to.

Interested? If so 1) sign up below, 2) send this page link to your friends who are also vegetarian and 3) suggest menu items in the comments!

Subscribe to our Vegetarian list

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