Dinner Hacks You Should Know About

If takeout and cereal constitute your dinner on the regular, read on. We break down better options based on how much prep you want to do – including zero. ? @sunnybaur

wtf-to-eat-for-dinnerWelcome to the most stressful part of being a parent that isn’t covered in any of the parenting books: What the f*ck to eat for dinner. Yes, we know, you’ve been answering it yourself with “noodles” or “Seamless” or “passing out in front of the TV and waking up and eating stale Cheerios at 3am.”

Let us introduce you to the apps and sites that will change your whole freaking life. You decide how much effort (and yes, “none” is totally an option) you want to put in, and healthy, delicious dinner is soon to be served.

I LITERALLY ONLY HAVE THE STRENGTH TO OPEN THE DOOR (THE FRONT DOOR, THE FRIDGE IS TOO MUCH)

HealthyOut. This app is like having a nutritionist-curated Seamless: It only serves up the healthy choices at the restaurants nearby you, so you’re only faced with the nutritious choices. The best part? A “not a salad” filter. Nationwide; free.

OK FINE, I CAN WARM SOMETHING UP

Babath’s Feast. All hail flash-frozen meals! Inspired by France’s frozen food specialty stores, this shop stocks ready-made meals (and a la carte ingredients, if you prefer) that just need to be put in the oven or microwave. Delivers nationwide, though flat-rate delivery starts at $25 if you’re outside NYC, so order a few meals at a time. Sample meal: Beef Bourguignon for 4, $25 (+ delivery fee).

Factor75. Input your dietary preferences and a team of chefs will put together as many dinners (and lunches, and breakfasts) as you like, and ship them over for you to warm up whenever. Ingredients are all organic and free of preservatives, soy, and gluten, so banish all thoughts of a cheesy diet-delivery-service. Nationwide. Sample meal: Lamb Meatballs with Artichoke Salad, $14 per person, with delivery starting at $10.

Munchery. Choose your meals, chefs cook it up and it’s delivered to your door for you to refrigerate or pop in the oven/microwave. In 4 cities (and counting!) right now.Sample meal: Flank Steak and Blue Cheese Salad, $13 per person.

HungryRoot. If you’re into veggie-based dinners, this delivery service brings you spiralized vegetable noodles with inventive sauces and (optional) grilled chicken that you sautėe together for less than 10 minutes. Nationwide. Sample meal: Carrot Noodles with Tangy Sriracha Peanut Sauce, $10 per person.

I’LL COOK, BUT I WILL NOT SET FOOT IN A GROCERY STORE

Plated is our favorite of the ingredient-delivery services. Get precisely-measured produce, meats, and spices all ready so all you have to do is some prep work and throw them together. Nationwide. Sample meal: Chicken Tostadas with Avocado Sauce, $12 per person.

Popcart. The best browser widget you will ever install: It scans the recipes you’re ogling over (more on finding those below) and, with the press of a button, adds them all to your online shopping cart (usually FreshDirect). Nationwide. Flat rate of around $8 per delivery.

Yummly app + Instacart. Choose your recipes based on Yummly’s algorithm that suggests recipes based on your preferences, click a button to add all the ingredients to your Instacart order, and a personal shopper will scurry through Whole Foods to get it to you within an hour or two. In major cities. Deliveries start at $4; available in major cities.

I’LL MEALPLAN & COOK, BUT I NEED SOME HANDHOLDING BECAUSE I AM HAVING TROUBLE WITH THIS “ADULT” THING

Cooksmarts. Learning about this app literally brought tears to our eyes. It helps you choose recipes based on your preferences (as many or few as you like per week) and strikes that delicate balance between giving you enough options to feel in control without so many you’re overwhelmed, give up, and pull up Seamless. It serves up a grocery list and then, with the help of BFF Popcart, adds them to your shopping cart with a single click. Nationwide. $6/month (through you can try 3 weeks for free!)

Pepperplate. Find, import, and organize recipes, create a calendar of recipes, and accompanying shopping list. Nationwide. Free!

Make-Ahead Slow Cooker Meals. We know, this sounds so mommy blog 1.0 but Hello Natural’s guide is so devastatingly easy and is possibly the only one on the internet with photos that don’t make you want to cry (and again, open up that Seamless tab.) It’s 12 slow cooker meals that you prepare ahead of time, ziplock up, and then keep in the freezer until the morning you realize you have NO CLUE what to do and then just pull it out and drop it in your slow cooker. Free!

Taskrabbit. Imagine that your husband gets home from work an hour early, spends NO time stuck on his phone and instead springs into action helping you chop, washing the pots and pans as needed, and running out to buy parsley without complaining. Now imagine it’s not actually your husband but some lovely background-checked person who you can book a few hours in advance and will do this all and more for $18, give or take.

? @sunnybaur

How To Opt Out And Re-Enter The Workforce

Two professional moms launched Apres, a business dedicated to paving the way for moms who “opted out” and want to head back to work.

apres-groupThe impossible situation: You have 2 young kids, a stressful job that requires frequent travel, a daily commute to and from the ‘burbs (because you know, “quality of life”), and coworkers who roll their eyes when you leave at 5:30pm (which only means you see your kids for 10 minutes before bedtime). You’re not doing anything well, and you’re about to f*^king lose it.

So you opt out of work and stay home for a few years. (Because really, what other choice do you have, but that conversation’s for another day…)

Cut to 6 months/3 years/10 years later: Your kids are in school full time, followed by after school activities, and you are itching to go back to work. But how?! Where do you even begin?

Niccole Kroll and Jen Gefsky totally know how you feel. They were equally as lost when they wanted to re-enter the workforce. Which is what led them to the idea for Apres, a new company that guides women through the process of finding (and getting!) the right opportunity for them. With super-helpful content, career coaches, prep tools, and curated job listings, it can be as hands-on (read: hand holding) as you like.

We peppered them with the endless questions swirling around in our head, and they answered them like the #BossWomen they are. Read on for some of the best advice, whether you’re thinking of opting out or heading back to the workplace.

Educate, Educate, Educate

Our approach is two-fold:

  1. Educate our members about their value to a workplace. It sends the right message to current employees who aren’t yet parents, giving them mentors and a beacon of hope that they’ll be able to do the same thing when they have a family. Lead by example, ladies.
  2. Educate companies about why “returners” are so valuable to the business: Clients want to work with companies that employ women with kids – it puts the company’s priorities and culture in a positive light.

Preparing to Opt Out:

  1. If feeling financially independent is going to be a trigger for you, plan ahead by stashing away  some savings to alleviate that stress.  
  2. Talk to a few people who have done it, so you have an understanding of what’s to come.
  3. Think about strategic volunteer opportunities that will add value if and when you go back to work (90% of women do) – be on a board, help a local small business – something that keeps your skills sharp or builds upon them.

Making SAHM Friends

  • Don’t shy away from connecting with women who may not be at all like you. You have being moms in common, and that’s enough.
  • If your kid is in school or signed up for activities, the parents of your kid’s friends will become your friends. Sounds ridiculous, but it truly happens that way.
  • Go to exercise classes during the day (i.e. not before/after work times) – barre, spinning, yoga – that’s where your people are.

While You’re Home…

You may think you’ll never ever go back to work, but 90% of women re-enter after opting out. Just in case, do the following – it will make it so much easier should you decide to go back.

  1. Keep an ongoing doc that keeps track of projects you take part in (think class mom, helping a friend launch a business, volunteering) and the skills used.
  2. Stay connected and engaged on Linkedin – join groups like alumni networks and professional groups.
  3. Keep your social media buttoned up – any future employer is going to look at it, so consider it your own personal brand.
  4. Stay abreast of your industry’s news by reading articles and staying engaged in groups. It’ll keep you informed and prevent playing catch-up should you find yourself interviewing one day.
  5. Don’t lose touch with professional contacts. Meet for coffee or drinks occasionally. Besides hearing all the industry gossip, it makes it not awkward to ask them for help if you decide to go back.

Let’s Do This Re-Entry Thing!

  1. The friends you’ve made on the soccer sidelines are a great resource. They know you on a personal level and will likely be very willing to refer you or make introductions if you ask.
  2. Be honest and up-front about the gap on your resume – it’s not something to feel insecure about. Say confidently, ‘I made the decision to spend some time with my kids.’ They will respect that.
  3. Know the requirements of the job (hours, travel, in-office policy), and don’t accept one that isn’t feasible for you.
  4. If you’re needing to move hours (not reduce hours), be up front in the interview process. They’ll either be willing to do it or not, but don’t take it thinking you can mention a shift in hours upon starting.
  5. If you don’t want to go back to doing what you did before, that’s fine! Work with a coach who can help figure out how your skills transfer to other jobs and sectors. Companies are opening up to this and recognize that cultural fits are increasingly important – not just having the perfect background.

And breathe… you’ve got this.

For more information, go to apresgroup.com.

A Girl’s Bedroom You’ll Swoon Over

High and low, sophisticated and playful, and most important – totally without toxins – get all the details on this gorgeous girl’s bedroom.

1When Katerina Buscemi’s daughter failed the lead test at her 1-year check-up, she went down a panic-induced interweb rabbit hole searching for answers. Thankfully, it turned out to be a false positive, but her eye-opening findings spurred serious lifestyle changes.

“I had no idea how much exposure our children have to lead and heavy metals. Not just in our homes and environment, but also in toys and clothing, like metal snaps on their clothes! I’d just purchased a pair of leather baby moccasins that she was fond of chewing: What was in the metallic gold coating? What chemicals were in the leather?”

It turns out 90% of leather is tanned using heavy metal chromium salts, which is potentially toxic to humans. Inspired (and infuriated), Katerina created Lex & Liv, a line of vegetable tanned leather baby shoes. The beautiful truly all-natural kicks are our go-to baby gift. (We like to have the name and birthdate engraved on the sole to make them extra special.)

Her most recent change? Completely detoxifying and redesigning her daughter’s bedroom. A brilliant mix of high and low, playful and sophisticated – we’ll let you peep it for yourself. Consider yourself warned: You’re going to want to makeover your own child’s room immediately.

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7 Tips To Ace The Grocery Store With A Kid

Make grocery shopping less something you white knuckle your way through – and more a totally civilized weekly errand you do with your kid. ? @southeasttexaswoman

groceryEver abandoned your shopping cart mid supermarket, grabbed your child, and left the store in tears (either or both of you)?

If not, well, lucky you. If so, we feel you (and have been there). Which is why we compiled this cheat sheet to make your shopping experience less something you white knuckle your way through – and more a totally civilized weekly errand you do with your child.

Park Your Ride

If you drive there, choose a spot not by its proximity to the entrance but to its nearness to the “shopping cart return” so you don’t have to be that person who ditches the empty cart in a totally valid parking spot because you already loaded the kid in the carseat. #SmallWins

Keep Your Child Busy

No, we don’t mean hand over your phone. Grab an onion, preferably one with lots of dry, flakey skin to be peeled. Hand it to your child in the cart. Enjoy the quieting sounds, ignore the trail of onion peelings you will leave around the store (you’re excused).

Very, Very Busy

When the onion fun is over (it lasts a shockingly long time), hit up the “pack your own beans/grains/nuts” section. No, not for the health reasons (who has time to rinse and soak beans overnight?!) – for the twisty ties! Let your child get creative and make shapes, figures, whole scenes (extra points for those!).

Decisions Decisions

What shape pasta should we get, spirals or shells? Red or green grapes? YOU pick! Making decisions goes a surprisingly long way with a toddler.

When All Else Fails…

Distract with food. Not some unhealthy crap you wouldn’t ordinarily buy, but an apple (takes a while to eat) or a baguette (best $2 you can spend) will buy you some time, especially if your little is huuuuungry or just over the whole experience.

Quick Getaway

Did you know all pregnant women and moms with small children get to cut the line at Whole Foods? Yep, that’s a true story. Take advantage. (It is the least they can do when you think about it – a must-read if you haven’t.)

If It’s Time To Call It, Make A Quick Pit Stop

Before you abandon a half-filled cart (and waste that time and energy) in the middle of the store because your child is melting down, drop it at customer service. They’re happy to keep it for you while you deal with your little. If need be, many shops have a cold place to store it (who knew?!).