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Old 09 April 2018, 12:34 PM
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Keket Keket is offline
 
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Default Meal Kit Delivery Services - Experiences?

So SO and I are looking at moving in together in the summer, and I'm seriously considering subscribing to one of those meal kit delivery services (like BlueApron, Hello Fresh, etc). We both eat out more than we should, and we don't eat the healthiest. We're also both busy (though his hours are way more regular than mine are). We could definitely eat more vegetables. I'm a reasonably good cook, he's still learning. I am terrible at thinking of things to cook though. It's a little pricy (most average around ~$10-$11 a serving) but I probably spend that on food now. Does anyone have any experience with these services? Are the meals good? Relatively healthy? Do you feel the cost is worth it?

Last edited by Keket; 09 April 2018 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 09 April 2018, 01:10 PM
overyonder overyonder is offline
 
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I have a friend that uses Blue Apron, she likes it.

You DO need to prep & cook, therefore you must find the time to do it. If you think that time will magically appear, it might not be the best option for you.

OY
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Old 09 April 2018, 01:19 PM
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I don't have any experience with these things, but I have to ask this question. If you are a reasonably good cook, why wouldn't you just have a reasonably stocked pantry that would allow you to make good meals cheaper? Having a few good spices on your shelf, some veggies that you can pick up on the way home once a week, and a freezer full of meats that you bought on sale is going to be way cheaper than a service that measures out teaspoonfuls of condiments and ships them with perishables. (I couldn't imagine eating dinner at home at an average cost of around $8.50 each American - and I think these services cost more than you think.) There are plenty of books out there that tell you how to make good economical meals with minimal ingredients, and shows like The Chew that can give you inspiration.
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Old 09 April 2018, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
I don't have any experience with these things, but I have to ask this question. If you are a reasonably good cook, why wouldn't you just have a reasonably stocked pantry that would allow you to make good meals cheaper? Having a few good spices on your shelf, some veggies that you can pick up on the way home once a week, and a freezer full of meats that you bought on sale is going to be way cheaper than a service that measures out teaspoonfuls of condiments and ships them with perishables.
I'm a reasonably good cook, but a non-inventive one. This is literally what I do now and it's a hassle and doesn't always work. I can manage this for one or two meals a week, but doing it all the time would be a nightmare. Inevitably I find a recipe that I think I can make with what I have on hand and I end up having to buy extra stuff anyway. It's a huge headache to find different things to make all the time. Also, SO is still learning to cook and this would help him out since he generally would get home before me and this would give him some guidance in the kitchen. Basically I want someone to do the leg work for me and fill in the gaps for when I'm too tired and busy to think of things so we don't end up at McDonald's.

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Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
(I couldn't imagine eating dinner at home at an average cost of around $8.50 each American - and I think these services cost more than you think.)
I've priced them out. Most have free delivery and work out to $10-$11/serving with tax. And you are correct, there's a lot of resources out there on cheap cooking, but a lot of it is American, and there's definite price differences between the US and Canada (ie chicken and most produce is much more expensive where I am).
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Old 09 April 2018, 02:29 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Keket View Post
I am terrible at thinking of things to cook though.
There's an app for that (more than one of course). Or you can do an ingredient of the day calendar. On the 12th, you make a recipe involving eggplant. On the 14th, shallots. Then just Google recipes for that ingredient and pick something that sounds good.

PS. Pending congratulations.
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Old 09 April 2018, 02:50 PM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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I have friends that do the ingredient delivery. They do like it.

Like you, Keket, if they weren't doing this, they'd be out at the restaurant. They look at it as a money saving, healthful option. They have not commented on the fact that someone else controls the menu. I'll have to ask.

I've thought about this too. My reason is that I live by myself and that it is hard to get proper portion sizes to cook with at the grocery store. For example, if I want to cook pork chops, I have to get them in a minimum package of 4, and I'm one. Then for the next couple of meals I'm eating the same thing so that it does not spoil. Only meats you can get in single serving size are the steaks for BBQ. And I'm not a huge beef eater and I definitely do not like spending the $$ like that.

So, I have the time, but am looking at portion sizes and healthful meals.

I'm interested in how you find it.
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Old 09 April 2018, 03:19 PM
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I did BlueApron for a while. My feelings are ... mixed.

On the upside, the packaging was great, the meals they chose were great, the ingredients were good, and the directions clear. Although it has been a couple years, I still have a couple of the recipe cards for ones I really liked.

On the downside, though not BlueApron's fault, we had delivery issues. We live in a secure building and the boxes came FedEx. FedEx (unlike UPS) will not even attempt direct delivery and takes things to the rental office, whether anyone is home or not. Also, they only leave a note half the time. As a result, in one case at least, we didn't know the box had been delivered and by the time we got the ingredients were ruined. Again, not not BlueApron's fault (and they did refund that box), but part of the experience for us.

However, the real reason I stopped using them is that many of the recipes were non-reproducable at home. There were often very obscure ingredients, or more often, spice mixes without details of what was in them. I found that to be off-putting enough that I discontinued our subscription.
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Old 09 April 2018, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
There's an app for that (more than one of course)On the 12th, you make a recipe involving eggplant. On the 14th, shallots.
On the 13th, leftover eggplant.. and you wish you had some shallots to go with it.
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  #9  
Old 09 April 2018, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keket View Post
Basically I want someone to do the leg work for me and fill in the gaps for when I'm too tired and busy to think of things so we don't end up at McDonald's.
IME, trying to come up with meal ideas when you're tired and busy (and hungry!) is just not effective. You need to do it in advance, when there's no pressure to feed people, and you're not limited by what you currently have on hand. Then you can "program" meals in advance for (an) upcoming week(s), and shop accordingly. Then, when you come home tired and hungry, all you have to do it look at the schedule and you know what to prepare. You could even pre-make parts of the meals and/or pre-measure ingredients. I sometimes pre-make a taco filling (brown rice, black beans, onions, canned chilis), so on taco night, I just have to prep the fresh ingredients (e.g., tomatoes, lettuce) and assemble the tacos.

ETA: Also, it's okay to have, say, bread and cheese and veggies or fruit for dinner now and then. Or cold cereal with fruit. Still cheaper and better balanced than eating out, but super easy.
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Old 09 April 2018, 04:52 PM
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My wife and I are both "good" cooks, but although I can stand to eat the same thing over and over until all the leftovers are done, my wife insists that we can't have the same meal more than twice in a row AND that we have to buy ingredients in large packages, because it's cheaper.

I've sometimes thought about subscribing to a service like this, but I'm not sure it would be suitable for both my wife and my tastes.
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  #11  
Old 09 April 2018, 05:16 PM
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Darth Credence Darth Credence is offline
 
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My sister has done this, and I've eaten a meal that she prepared from it. A little background on us, first. My mom was an adequate cook, who stopped making meals as soon as she could. My sister can reproduce some of the things that my mom made, and can follow a recipe. I love to cook, create my own recipes often, and generally have taken all of my mom's recipes and improved them.

So, between all of the extra curricular activities for my niece and nephew and other commitments, sis noted that they were eating out and unhealthy. She signed up for one of these. The entire family became fans of it pretty quick, as they were getting more variety and better than the fast food they were generally eating. They liked the ingredients, liked the recipes, and felt that even though it was a bit expensive, it was cheaper than eating out all the time. I asked her if the food was quicker to prepare, and she said not really, but a lot of the prep work was already done so it saved some time that way.

I was visiting her, and they made a beef and rice Mexican casserole one day from it. My observations while hanging out in the kitchen and helping were that the "prep work" that was done was assembling the ingredients and deciding on the meal. While she made the rice, we both cut veggies and tortillas. So from my POV, it didn't do much, but from hers, not having to plan and shop for the meal was enough of a benefit to make it worth it.
In the end, the meal was... fine. It was as good as most restaurants - I would have definitely said it was on par with the average Mexican restaurant around here. But it was a little bland, and a little small proportioned. (The small proportion was a good thing, as it kept us to reasonable portion sizes - we were all satisfied, but had there been twice as much, we'd have eaten it all, I'm sure.) For the three people eating, the total amount of spice in the meal was like a tablespoon of mixed spices. I walked away from the meal knowing that it was probably as good as anything my sister had ever made (and I love my sister, but cooking has never been her strongest skill), would have been about average for things my mom made, and would have had me apologizing up and down for how bad it was while trying to fix it if I made it.

In the end, I think it comes down to expectations. If you are already a good cook and enjoy cooking, this would be a major step down. If you are a decent cook, but have fallen into a rut and don't know what to make, this can help, but I doubt if you would do it long term. A few forays to get some new meals under your belt, and then back to regular cooking. But if you aren't a great cook, don't really want to become one, and just want to be able to make a decent, healthy meal at home this could be a great thing. Specific to you, Keket, I would say that your SO just learning will get a lot of use out of it. Since you are already a good cook but need inspiration, I would guess that you'll get a few good meal ideas out of this. But I would definitely be willing to spice things to your own taste.
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  #12  
Old 09 April 2018, 06:59 PM
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Keket Keket is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
IME, trying to come up with meal ideas when you're tired and busy (and hungry!) is just not effective. You need to do it in advance, when there's no pressure to feed people, and you're not limited by what you currently have on hand. Then you can "program" meals in advance for (an) upcoming week(s), and shop accordingly.
I'm also looking at eMeals, who do meal plans and give you shopping lists. Actually shopping isn't an issue (I pass a grocery store on the way home from work, and SO is off on weekends so we have time to shop and would probably have time to prep as well).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
ETA: Also, it's okay to have, say, bread and cheese and veggies or fruit for dinner now and then. Or cold cereal with fruit. Still cheaper and better balanced than eating out, but super easy.
I do this now, for myself when he's not around. Way more than I should.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Credence View Post
Specific to you, Keket, I would say that your SO just learning will get a lot of use out of it. Since you are already a good cook but need inspiration, I would guess that you'll get a few good meal ideas out of this. But I would definitely be willing to spice things to your own taste.
I'm pretty comfortable making minor alterations in seasoning levels. And SO is learning!

Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
I'm interested in how you find it.
If I decide to go ahead, I'll let you know!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
There's an app for that (more than one of course). Or you can do an ingredient of the day calendar. On the 12th, you make a recipe involving eggplant. On the 14th, shallots. Then just Google recipes for that ingredient and pick something that sounds good.

PS. Pending congratulations.
Thanks for the app suggestions! I will check them out.

And thank you! It's a bit off yet, not til the summer. But I'm hopeful everything goes well with the move and us living together, and all the cats get along.
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  #13  
Old 09 April 2018, 07:33 PM
overyonder overyonder is offline
 
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Originally Posted by UEL View Post
For example, if I want to cook pork chops, I have to get them in a minimum package of 4, and I'm one. Then for the next couple of meals I'm eating the same thing so that it does not spoil. Only meats you can get in single serving size are the steaks for BBQ.
I'm in the same boat, single man. I only prep a recipe if I can get no more than 3 servings (total) out of it, or if it can be frozen.

As for pork chops above, I just freeze the remaining pieces in a ziploc. It'll keep for a couple of weeks, easily. Longer if in vacuum bags.

OY
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Old 09 April 2018, 08:11 PM
Ellestar Ellestar is offline
 
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I've thought about doing one of these and did some research. It seems interesting, but I am such a picky eater, I'm not sure this would actually work. I'm a pescatarian (no beef, fowl, or pork) and I LOATHE onions and don't do well with bell peppers.

(This is a tangential personal observation, but it seems to me most vegetarian options in pre-made meals always have onions and/or peppers in them. No thank you.)

I know that you can opt out of certain ingredients with these meal services, but I worry that the actual recipe selection will be incredibly limited when I start talking out so many ingredients.
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Old 09 April 2018, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellestar View Post
(This is a tangential personal observation, but it seems to me most vegetarian options in pre-made meals always have onions and/or peppers in them. No thank you.)
A friend of mine has lupus, and her doctor suggested she try a vegan diet.* He also told her that she needs to avoid nightshades, which include peppers and tomatoes. I suspect she's going to struggle to find vegan recipes without any nightshades.

*Please note I am not advocating this myself and have no idea of its validity.
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Old 10 April 2018, 01:17 AM
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Potatoes, eggplant and tobacco are also nightshades. That's going to be rough.
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Old 10 April 2018, 01:56 AM
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I just got my third Hello Fresh box today! I found 3 meals per week a little much (in volume and price) so I skip every second week. I was worried that I'd forget to skip certain weeks, but you can set up your schedule way in advance.

I've been really enjoying it so far. The best thing, I think, is that you get exactly the amount of ingredient you need for the dish. Sure, I could go to the store and get leeks, an onion, a can of corn, etc... but they give me the exact amount I need, often pre-chopped (onions and leeks, for instance, have always been chopped IME - no tears!) and I don't end up with a huge leftover leek slowly decomposing in my fridge unti I come up with some other use for it (which inevitably involves going out to buy even more ingredients...)

I only eat chicken and fish, so I get the veggie plan. I've liked some meals more than others, but they've all been pretty good. (My favourites so far have been the Zata'ar and Feta Tart and the Zucchini and Bean Quesadilla.) The portions are always more than enough. It does take a bit of prep time, but not a whole ton. I start the recipes about 20 - 30 min earlier than I would if I was just throwing some frozen meal in the oven, and that seems to do it.

They use a courier, and we've always found the box either in our lobby or next to our door. The only problem I've had was that my mushrooms seem to be missing today. (Which reminds me, I should go let them know!)

Shoot me a PM if you're interested in trying it some time, and I can give you a code for $40 off your first box. (I don't work for them or anything, it's just one of those things they give to all their members.)
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Old 10 April 2018, 03:37 AM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is offline
 
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My husband and I are in our third week of Purple Carrot, and we've previously done The Fresh 20 (shopping lists and recipes only, no delivery.)

I have really enjoyed the Purple Carrot meals so far. Many have involved exotic ingredients that I don't think I've seen at my local grocery store, which is a plus and a minus; I feel like I'm getting something special I wouldn't normally have, but the recipes can't easily be reused. The pleasure I get out of not wasting food is outweighed by the guilt I feel about all the packaging. The portion sizes are strangely inconsistent, though more often too small than too large. I wish for all this effort and money we got leftovers I could take for lunch.

The Fresh 20 was really healthy and sometimes too much so; I didn't always feel satisfied. But some of the recipes were great, and we still do those old plans occasionally.

Iím really bad at meal planning. I blame my 10-year restaurant career; all those free meals kept me from having to manage this aspect of adulthood. That and the long hours I work now made Purple Carrot seem like a good idea--I did the Fresh 20 when I was unemployed and had plenty of free time. I had hoped that if I stuck with Fresh 20 long enough, I'd get the hang of making a weekly grocery list and then using up everything I bought, and maybe with more time I would have. But I don't see that happening with Purple Carrot. They don't send you a cabbage and give you 3 recipes to use it all up; they send you a teensy package of pre-cut slaw that you just have to dress for one recipe.
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Old 10 April 2018, 04:52 PM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
As for pork chops above, I just freeze the remaining pieces in a ziploc. It'll keep for a couple of weeks, easily. Longer if in vacuum bags.

OY
That is my problem. I have no freezer. So, I'm not able to exercise that option.

By June, though, it should be moot. I will have a freezer by then.
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Old 11 April 2018, 03:30 AM
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Avril Avril is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
A friend of mine has lupus, and her doctor suggested she try a vegan diet.* He also told her that she needs to avoid nightshades, which include peppers and tomatoes. I suspect she's going to struggle to find vegan recipes without any nightshades.
It's possible, but there will be a learning curve, and before I was vegan I was convinced a lot of vegan diets were impossible. (I couldn't fathom how my celiac friend was vegan because I relied so much on wheat gluten-based meat substitutes at first.) Any vegan diet requires a bit of thought and planning, and some people can't be vegan for medical reasons, but most dietary restrictions can be accommodated. That said, I am really, really glad I can have nightshades, because I love peppers and potatoes and tomatoes so much.

More to the OP: I agree with what Lainie said about meal planning. I plan my meals on Friday evening before bed (a rough cut, anyway), do my shopping on Saturday morning, and then cook the food. I have no interest in meal delivery services. However, for those "I can't bear the thought of having to think" evenings, I have a list of possible very quick meals (i.e., pasta and sauce, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bean burrito) and I keep all the ingredients for at least 2-3 of such meals on hand at all times.
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