A very successful friend once told me that if I wasn’t an expert at something, the key to succeeding was to contract it out. This was a concept I’d used in my work life, but one that I hadn’t applied to my personal life. I started thinking about what kinds of things I had not mastered, and my list was long. For example, I’m a terrible cook and my grocery order during these last few months has mainly consisted of Red Baron pizza and the ingredients to make smores.
I’m saying this pragmatically; it’s not only that I’m not good at these things, I just honestly don’t like putting time and effort into them. In the words of my daughter, I am not a “conventional housewife” and I have “strange parenting methods.” Sigh. She’s right though, and if people really want to know how I do what I do, here is my secret: I subscribe to everything! I’ve tried them all: meal planning, clothing, travel, and entertainment services.
My list of pros and cons for several subscription services that can help you succeed at this thing called life.
This is a sampling of the services that have helped to make my life a little bit easier. I could probably write a whole entire post on the merits of Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon, but I think those have been covered for the most part.
My first foray into a subscription meal service was Blue Apron. I had a friend that purchased several meals from Blue Apron each week; she would post these delicious looking meals on social media, and I thought, “hey, I can do that!” I was wrong. They were borderline gourmet-level cooking for me, and one meal I tried to cook led to an unfortunate incident that had my house smelling like a feedlot for a solid week. Not my thing, but it may work for you and your family.
Next, I tried HelloFresh. This worked better for my family, and the meals seemed more manageable to prepare. However, almost every meal involved frying meat in a pan and making a sauce and didn’t seem to be varied enough. We were only getting two meals per week, but because of my family’s picky eating, we started to feel like we were eating the same thing all the time.
Currently, I subscribe to Marley Spoon. This service is under the direction of Martha Stewart, and honestly, it appealed to me because I have always been mildly obsessed with her. They have a great family-friendly selection of recipes available and use a variety of cooking methods. The meals can be cooked in a reasonable amount of time, and we haven’t gotten tired of them yet.
Each of the listed services lets you select portion sizes, and I typically select the two serving size which is enough to feed my husband and me a real meal while still giving my two kids each a smaller portion that they can complain about as they choke it down. You can skip meals by the week, which I do often. When you sign up, make sure you look online for any promotions or coupons. You can usually get the first couple of meals for free or at a greatly reduced price.
Due to the pandemic, I haven’t needed “real” clothes much this year. However, I’ve kept my subscriptions because it’s fun to receive a box of something new each month, and my daughter and I look forward to our fashion shows. I belong to Trunk Club, which is a Nordstrom service. I always love what they send, but because it is on the expensive side, I’ve only kept a few items.
I also subscribe to Stitch Fix and Stitch Fix Kids for my daughter. I especially like this service because you can really tailor your profile to your style and price range. They have great deals on cute clothes, and I end up spending less than I would if I took my daughter to the mall. It’s easy to send back the clothes you don’t want, and some of my favorite pieces that I own were picked out by a stylist that I never even met. As a plus-size person, I have extra anxiety about shopping in stores, and this service has saved me a lot of mental torment.
Hear me out. I know that most of us are not over the trip cancellations we’ve had to make in 2020 and beyond. Many of you are probably like me and have been rethinking what we can do for a getaway that would also be safe. I recommend Roadtrippers. For a yearly membership fee, this website will let you enter waypoints and plot a trip to anywhere you want to go in the United States. It was invaluable to me when I planned our Hoovers Head West road trip, and they have great suggestions for stops along the way. You can even input your car make and model, and the site will tell you how much you should budget for gas. There are lots of free features on the website, too.
I also belong to an email service called Next Vacay. For $25 a year, this service will use your location and send you cheap flights to destinations all over the world — My cousin booked flights to Greece for her family for under $1,500! It has prompted me to consider traveling to places that I wouldn’t have thought of previously. I also managed to convince my husband that we could make a trip to Iceland work because of the great deal they sent me. You do usually need to act fast, but many airlines have slashed their prices and are letting customers reschedule their flights far into the future. Now might just be the time to book that dream vacation.
It isn’t lost on me how fortunate I am to be able to afford these subscriptions. That said, I’ve done the math, and some of them actually do save money, overall. I also tend to seek out the services that you can skip at any time and that don’t require a fee if you choose not to make a purchase.
I would love to hear what makes your life easier, too! I may not be signing up for anything in the future after my husband reads this post, but you never know what next great thing might just help to save my life.