UPDATE: Sadly, after 23 years, on July 31st Wildtree will be closing it’s doors. Now is the time to stock up before it’s all gone. These freezer meals and skillet meals will be your saving grace with health mealtimes and more time outside. You can do so here.
I’d like to start this review by first explaining that I’m a self-professed foodie. This goes beyond treating my palate to new-to-me cuisines in various parts of the world or through the international dining scene in large cities. I love to bake and cook, and I don’t shy away from recipes that require visits to 5 different grocery stores to procure all the ingredients. I have nearly 100 cookbooks that are well loved and used extensively…or rather, were used extensively.
Once my kids came on the scene, I was lucky if I had time to pull together a box of mac and cheese paired with rotisserie chicken and salad. My breastfeeding babies were often the only ones in the house getting a nutritious meal.
With the advent of Pinterest and my increasingly independent young children, I eventually found myself reenergized to feed both my belly and my passion, pinning recipes left and right that looked quick and easy. Then the tween and teen years hit and life took on a whole new meaning of chaos, shuttling kids to and from various after school activities and weekend sport tournaments. There are simply not enough hours in the day between working and parenting to properly plan and execute healthy meals in our home.
When I became a Tales of a Mountain Mama team member, I was intrigued by Amelia’s Wildtree business and how it might help me manage dinnertime in a more sane and healthy fashion. Amelia would post photos on social media of her family’s Wildtree dinners, and that’s what tipped the scale for me. If she could parent 5 young children and still have time to make a healthy dinner while staying within a lean budget, I figured she was onto something and I needed to give it a go.
Admittedly when I first perused the website, I was a bit overwhelmed. I can suffer from paralysis by analysis, and all the different choices left me feeling mentally dizzy. I needed quick and easy both in the kitchen but also with menu planning and prep. And I also wanted the option to make meals ahead and freeze them to use throughout the week. Oh, and let’s not forget that I am conscientious about where my food comes from, and I like to buy humanely raised meat products, organic veggies, and feed as many whole foods to my family as possible. Was I asking for too much?
I’m happy to report that Wildtree accommodated every single one of my “must haves” and then some. I ordered the Soup’s On Kit which consists of a collection of organic spice blends and sauces. It arrived nicely packaged and with a booklet of 10 recipes. The best part of the booklet, besides the recipes, is the detailed list of every single ingredient I needed to buy at the grocery store to prep the meals, stick them in Ziploc bags, and freeze them for future use. The kit even comes with labels to stick on the bags!
I carved out a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon to pull out the ingredients I bought from the well-organized list in the recipe booklet, and I set to work dicing, measuring spices and sauces from the kit, and filling my freezer bags full of homemade goodness. I can’t even begin to relay how happy filling those bags made me, knowing I didn’t have to compromise on quality with a meal delivery service’s ingredients and I could look for ingredients on sale, making the meals even more affordable.
So far, we have eaten 7 of the soups that I assembled. Cooking them is nearly effortless. Many are simply thawed and added to a crockpot, usually adding a couple of ingredients at the last minute. Others are cooked in 30 minutes or less on the stove. All of them are incredibly simple, no matter how you cook them.
I’ve also ordered the Wholly Delicious Kit and it was equally as easy to assemble the 10 meals included in its recipe booklet and stick them in the freezer for future use. We have loved every single meal we’ve made with the exception of one soup that didn’t quite impress us as much as the rest. But that wouldn’t deter me from purchasing the kit again. I’d simply tweak that particular recipe to suit my family’s tastes.
At first glance, Wildtree may seem expensive. If I’m being honest, it initially deterred me from ordering. I’m so thankful that I didn’t let that mindset prevail. When you take into account what individual spices would cost to create the spice blends (and let’s be real, how many of your less common spices do you use again after one recipe?), plus the immense time savings the kit replaces for recipe research and grocery list creation, I’m convinced it’s a tremendous bargain.
And considering what it would cost to feed my family from a restaurant with comparable quality ingredients, the savings are even more significant. One restaurant meal for 2 adults and 3 older kids who eat like adults can easily set us back the cost of the kit itself. Each meal feeds my family generously. I’ve even found that I can tweak the soup recipes to make them stretch even further, usually by adding more broth or water than the recipe calls for, and it hasn’t affected the quality a bit. Many times, we even have leftovers for the kids’ lunchboxes.
With time, I think I’ll get braver and venture outside of the kits and purchase individual items. Wildtree has a huge database of recipes to draw from in addition to the kits. For now though, I love that the kits use up all the ingredients and I’m not left with a teaspoon or two of something I have to store and remember to use again. Less food waste is good for my pocketbook and the Earth. And I sure as heck love that someone else has done the legwork of meal planning for me (which is such a huge time drain) with recipes that are proven winners. The time it saves me each week is worth its weight in gold and then some, especially if it means it provides me the luxury of a little “me time” instead.
If it’s not already obvious, I’m a convert and a huge fan of Wildtree. I may go back to more exotic and adventurous cooking when I become an empty nester; however, for this season of my life, spending time with my kids while being less stressed (because let’s face it, raising kids is stressful enough!) is worth every penny spent, and ultimately saved, with Wildtree.
Meet Team Member, Nancy: Nancy lives and plays in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband, three children, and dog. She is a small animal veterinarian but she is also passionate about her blog, Hope and Feather Travels. She writes extensively about her hiking adventures and outdoor education topics, inspired by her position on her county’s search and rescue team and her commitment to educating hikers with knowledge that will keep them safe in the backcountry. Her greatest passion is spending time in the Great Outdoors, and she is a strong advocate for curing “nature deficit disorder” in children. Her family spends as much time as possible hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking, and skiing, and she is a firm believer that good gear makes for great adventures.
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