Originally Published on 5/31/19
I wasn’t raised in a house where we cooked from scratch a lot, so I didn’t learn how to cook as a kid, I learned how to microwave. As I got older I did some trial and error and learned some recipes, but I always felt like I missed the basics class. Where is my Cooking 101? It wasn’t until I met Jason that I really learned how to cook. He made the best salmon I’ve ever had and taught me how to roast a chicken, make meatloaf (without breadcrumbs!) and how to tell when meat is done cooking without slicing it, and therefore letting all the juices escape. He also taught me how to cook with tofu and make bomb-ass spaghetti sauce full of veggies.
Last year was the first year I cooked the Thanksgiving turkey by myself. Proud, yet sad, moment because of the circumstances of me cooking it by myself.
Like a lot of people, I have a menu of about 5-10 go-to dinners I cycle through. 95% of those are recipes Jason and I would cook together, with notta lotta new ideas thrown in. It’s much easier to do what we’re used to than to try something new, isn’t it? Easier, but not as fulfilling. #lifeadvice
Meal delivery kits can be awesome, but it really depends on your goals. For me, I like that they give me a variety of recipes I would never otherwise cook, sent straight to me with all the ingredients I need. They make it easier to learn how to cook new things. I also like that they give my son some new things to try that are outside the realm of our go-to meals. Pro tip: to get your kids excited about these meals, or about any meals you’re cooking, let them be involved in the decision of which meals you’re choosing, or with your menu for the week.
Your meal kits come once a week on a day of your choosing, and you can select your meals from a pre-set menu up to the week before. If you don’t select your meal, the service will select for you. Most services offer selections based on your dietary restrictions or preferences, i.e. gluten free or vegetarian. Each service also offers upgrades – sometimes it’s “premium” meals or add-ons like smoothies or dessert. You can skip a week with all of the services I’ve used so far, so if the menu doesn’t sound appetizing or you’re going on vacation, you don’t waste your money.
However, meal kit delivery isn’t the cheapest option to prepare meals. Let me let you in on a little secret, though, if the price is what’s holding you back from trying these meal kits.
When I want to try a new service, I look for referral links from friends or people I follow that usually come with free meals or a discount. That’s not the secret. That’s obvious. The secret is, a lot of the time I buy Groupons for meal kit delivery services. Hit the link for a list of options, and below is a review of the ones I’ve tried, with links! FYI, Groupons don’t last forever, so be sure to get in there quick so you don’t miss it.
Here’s a link to the Groupon. You can get 1 or 2 weeks of meals for 2 or 4 at varying price points – deeply discounted from their standard pricing.
I tried HelloFresh for 2 weeks, then I cancelled it. I hit it and quit it. It was the first meal kit delivery service I tried, and now that I’ve tried others, it wasn’t my favorite. HOWEVER, I’m definitely glad I tried it and I will remake the recipes I got for sure.
Pros: I never had a bad meal and I learned what chimichurri sauce is. Hey, don’t judge. My whole reason for trying meal kits is to learn this stuff! I also felt like these meals were a little fancier than other kits I’ve tried, and my son was VERY into the mashed potatoes that were part of a couple of meals.
Cons: The number of dishes I used for each meal was not okay. More dishes = more work for me. No thank you.
Here’s a link to the Groupon. You can get 1 or 2 weeks of meals for 2 or 1 week for meals for 4.
Home Chef was the second service I tried, and so far this one is my favorite. Every meal has been great – and my 7 year old agrees. The recipes include common allergen info (milk, eggs, tree nuts, etc.) so it’s easy to identify. There are also some “express” meals, which are meals ready in 15 minutes – in my experience this means the veggies are already chopped and sauces are already prepped. Not mad at that, not mad at all.
Pros: I haven’t had a bad meal. I’m a bit of an environmentalist and I LOVE that most of their packaging is recyclable. Your first box includes a binder to hold your recipes, and all of your recipes are hole-punched so that you can put them in the binder and easily flip them up to see the recipe. It’s this kind of attention to detail that I like. The little things. Also, the number of dishes I used for each meal was significantly less than HelloFresh. I love that they have the express option – sometimes you need a quick dinner that isn’t fast food! Here’s my referral link if you want to save $30 on your first box (I get some savings too!)
Cons: I can’t think of a con for this one. It’s seriously my favorite so far.
Here’s a link to the Groupon. You can get 1 or 2 weeks of meals for 2 people.
I hadn’t heard of this kit until I saw it on Groupon, but the thing that differentiates this from other kits is that all of their meals are ready in 15 minutes.
Pros: Hellooooo, 15 minute dinners! The veggies come chopped, the basic prep work is done (no chopping garlic, yesssss!) and there are tips to cook things faster. For instance, when cooking pasta, throw your broccoli in there too and it can all cook at the same time. There are more add-ons and extras with this kit too – you can get quiches for breakfast, soups, sauces and cookies. The menu is color coded by protein source, so it’s very easy to identify the meals that use fish or are vegetarian.
Cons: At $11.99 per serving, so $71.94/week for 3 meals for 2, this one is the priciest meal kit I’ve seen. You’re definitely paying for the convenience of having those 15 minute meals. A con for me is that some of the sauces come pre-made, because the whole point in me trying these services is that I wanted to learn how to cook different things. I realize this isn’t a con for most people, but there you have it.
Here’s a link to the Groupon. You can get 1 week of meals for 2 or 4 people.
I thought Green Chef was just for vegetarians, but nope!
Pros: Solid options! No matter what meal plan, diet, trend or preference you have, Green Chef is bound to have options for you. You choose your meal plan from the beginning from options like keto, paleo, vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, and your meals and menus will all follow that meal plan designation. In other boxes there are a handful of options for, for example, vegetarians, but this box has a full menu of options for each meal plan type. Also, their packaging is almost completely reusable and recyclable, which is awesome.
Cons: It’s pricier than other plans at $11-$13 per serving after the Groupon. When you consider the variety of options and meals for different plan types, the price is more understandable. However, as an omnivore, this option isn’t the cheapest.
This was the first meal kit service I’d ever heard of, and honestly I was nervous about the amount of dishes – it was the number one thing people warned me about. I actually didn’t feel like there were a lot of dishes – usually a pot, a pan and maybe a mixing bowl or two, plus spoons, etc. Not unreasonable at all. After the Groupon, the regular price of this meal kit is about $60/week for 3 meals for 2 people. It seems this is the industry standard.
Pros: Two out of three of my meals were excellent – glazed salmon and cilantro rice bowl and Caribbean spiced chicken thighs. There is also a meal plan that integrates with WW if that’s your thing, in addition to a vegetarian alternative.
Cons: Packaging! Each ingredient was individually packaged, with only a few items like condiments and spices bundled together. Not only was there unnecessary waste, but the components of each meal were separate, so it was inconvenient to find the ingredients for each meal. Most other kits have a large bag that contains the ingredients for each meal, with the meat being the only thing separated out. They offer tips on how to recycle a lot of their packaging on their website, but it seems the waste could be avoided in the first place by bundling ingredients together better.
Every Plate is the least expensive of the bunch, coming it at around $40 for 3 meals for 2 people if you sign up. It’s really not bad, but at the same time I still struggled to find value in it. The meals were okay, nothing special but also not bad.
Cons: Packaging. The items weren’t all individually wrapped like Blue Apron, but they also weren’t all bundled together in a convenient bag like all of the other meal kits.
What other meal kit services have you tried and loved? Having tried all of these, I can confirm that Home Chef is my favorite!
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