How a Food Subscription Box Helped Save My Mental Health
Having depression and anxiety comes with a host of challenges for me. I’m a year into my counselling which has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do – it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m on my way to feeling human again, being able to cope with situations, and not diving for the covers when faced with social activity.
Some people struggle to get out of bed, and others find simple everyday tasks to be a huge challenge. That’s how it was for me. As a single mum of three children, it falls on my shoulders to provide a safe and secure home, be mum/dad/mentor/friend/counsellor/taxi and put food on the table. After several months of ‘beige’ food in the way of frozen meals – fish fingers were my speciality – I realised that my poor mental health was having an impact on my kids’ health.
The thought of cooking filled me with dread. I would rather drive hot pins through my eyes than go food shopping. Finding the energy to meal plan, shop, and cook was just too much for me to deal with. So, I didn’t. I shut myself off from it and served up freezer teas, ping dinners (convenience meals), or takeaways.
Then a friend told me about HelloFresh, a food subscription service where a box of ingredients and recipe cards are delivered to your door. Everything is ready for you, even down to small portions of herbs, and tiny sachets of mustards/honey/sauces. No need to buy a 500lb bag of quinoa for the 20g needed for a recipe – you get a tiny 20g pot – no waste! I researched the company, read the reviews, looked at the list of meals, and thought ‘why not?’
The idea of picking our meals from a list on the app appealed to me. Once you’ve selected what you want it’s automatically delivered on your day of choice (if you’re not going to be in you can leave your box in a safe place – got to love DPD!). I opted for four meals a week, for three people (my middle son is away at University), but I can change that easily via the app.
Every Tuesday, I receive my HelloFresh box, packed with fresh vegetables, lean protein, accompaniments, and beautifully designed recipe cards (that are so simple to follow).
An odd thing happened when I received my first box. As a family, we unpacked the ingredients and put everything away, we looked over the recipe cards and decided which meal we would have on which day, and then I cooked. I cooked! No stress or anxiety, no resistance, or lethargy. I picked up the first recipe card, got the relevant ingredients together and just made the meal as instructed.
I did the same the next day, and the next. The overwhelming decision of what to cook was no longer a problem. All I needed to do was pick a recipe and get started. My kids loved the meals; they’re varied, tasty, and quick to cook (approximately 20-30 minutes), and I realised I was enjoying preparing the evening meals for the first time in what felt like forever. I even went as far as cutting out ghosts and pumpkins to top the Halloween Chilli (I was so proud I shared it on Instagram!).
I still have to sort meals for three out of seven days, and yes, I often go back to the fish fingers, but the difference having a weekly HelloFresh box has made to our family, our wellbeing, the environment (all the packaging can be recycled), and my mental health is incredible.
I must point out that this is NOT an affiliate post; I don’t have any dealings with HelloFresh other than being a satisfied customer. The reason for writing this post was to raise awareness of the tools out there to help you cope with mental health, depression, and anxiety, and I can highly recommend trying it out to see if it works for you.
So far, I’ve managed to cook fifty-one unique recipes. Although we’ve all decided on our favourites (Hoisin Chicken Fajitas for me!), we’re yet to repeat a recipe as there are hundreds to pick from (you get to choose from twenty meals each week, and they rotate, so you’ve always got something new to try).
Working out a self-care routine or processes I can put in place to help myself are vital to maintaining a positive outlook. The black fog can descend quickly and without warning, but if I have strategies in place, it helps me to cope with those small everyday things – like feeding my family!
I’d love to hear how you help yourself and boost your mental health. Do you use anything like a subscription box, or are meal planning and cooking from scratch a mindful activity you already enjoy? Share your thoughts in the comments.