4 food-tastic finds I tested for you

I am more than a little obsessed with getting fresh food on the table for family dinner every night. Let my compulsion be your guide. Here’s hoping you can benefit from my recent experiments and have a slightly easier time getting dinner on your own table next week.

Fresh20, www.thefresh20.com is a great little service where Melissa Lanz plans means for five family dinners for less than $70 in groceries. I don’t know about you, but I’m lucky to get out of the grocery store for less than $140 most weeks, so this was a very welcome change. Other awesome features? I’m glad you asked. Meal plans emphasize using fresh foods (not processed!) and re-using some key ingredients so the flank steak becomes one dinner and the base for another. And you won’t wind up with a huge wad of leftover basil by the end of the week. I’ve taste-tested three of her meal plans and remain impressed!

A mini-version of the meal plans is available for free on the website. To continue subscribing it costs about $5/month.

Fresh and Easy. Speaking of fresh, Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Markets are sprouting up around the Bay Area and I think its a really Good Thing. I was invited to the launch party last week and truly enjoyed hearing about the vision of local, reasonably priced markets where people could buy fresh (and easy) food. Because not everyone can afford to shop the place affectionately known as Whole Paycheck. The event was catered entirely by their own food so I had a very large taste test there. Also, the goodie bag was filled with other product samples. I cooked the chicken tikka masala this week and impressed myself and my husband (sadly, not my kids, it was a little spicy for them). I just hope that F&E can get their stores into some of the food deserts in the East Bay soon. West Oakland and Richmond, I’m looking your way. Follow their openings and updates on twitter.

Slow Cooker this terrific magazine cookbooky thing promises 105 easy family favorites. I thought I was getting that many crock pot recipes, but it also adds casseroles, soups, and stews to the mix. So that’s good and bad depending on how much you like to “set it and forget it”. I made three delicious meals in a row and had leftovers coming out of my fridge for the next week! We made a terrific beef stew, white bean soup with kale, and (chicken) coq au vin. All very good. Lesson learned: space the meals out a little more, Heather!

This special bookazine includes recipes developed and tested by the editors of Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Country Living. It is on sale until May 17 at your grocery check-out or for $8 on amazon.

dash. if you get any sort of newspaper, you might already get dash as part of your Sunday Parade Magazine. Focusing on making meals quickly, it has heaps of recipes each month. As part of the Easy Meals Under $12 series, I made a modification of Pasta with Peas and Ham (turned it into lemon chicken pasta) in about 20 minutes. Considering I started from having no idea what was for dinner all the way to dinner on the table in that time, I was feeling pretty good. And the kids ate it! Ok, fine, they ate around the peas. Kids are weird.

Get your own taste of dash online at www.dashrecipes.com.


Disclosure: I was given sample bookazines, food, and meal plans to share my honest feedback with you. I only tell you about the good stuff. Trust me.