Lo and I are no strangers to cooking.
But sometimes you get tired of making the same old things, and the process of finding recipes on Pinterest, narrowing them down to a few specific meals, making a grocery list of ingredients, picking them up, forgetting something, going back to the store, then trying to pull up those recipes again to actually make the things…..is daunting, to say the least.
So we decided to try out one of these new fangled food boxes…4 different ones, actually.
And I’m going to tell you what we liked and didn’t like about each one.
(I’ll even tell you which is our favorite and why, so if you’re into spoilers go ahead and scroll allllll the way down for that part.)
Similar things about all 4 services:
- You get all the ingredients you need for 3 meals for 2 people, for what breaks down to about $10/person/meal
- They include step by step recipe cards on how to prepare each thing
- Each has an online dashboard where you can “skip” weeks that you don’t want to receive deliveries, and in most cases you can customize your meals to a certain extent
But each box had it’s own pro’s and con’s:
This was the first box we ever tried, and cards on the table: it’s been about 2 years since we’ve ordered this, so things might have improved. Overall we didn’t find the recipes to be very flavorful, and the ones that involved meat didn’t seem to have quite enough meat included for us to really feel full. (Note: my friends Aly and John said they got this box recently and that the portions were big enough for leftovers, so it sounds like Blue Apron likely responded to customer feedback and made some improvements since then). What we DID like, was that the instructions were really fun and very step by step. So we learned some cool cooking techniques, most notably, PLANTAINS ARE SO EASY TO COOK AND SO GOOD. I still make them regularly as a side dish.
One week is a hit. One week is a miss. Lots of instances where things were missing or proportioned incorrectly so if you’re not paying attention you can definitely use too much of something and ruin the dish. They also recently launched an online store for cooking related products and gear, which I guess is a convenient upsell for people who are completely new to cooking. Not my fave, though, clearly.
After getting Blue Apron and Plated, I created a binder with clear page protectors to save the recipes we really loved for future use. It ended up becoming the best cookbook ever. But then we got Home Chef, and our first box included a binder, and all of the recipe cards are hole-punched already, which I thought was a really smart and cool added bonus. Overall: the meals were pretty simple – some so simple I couldn’t imagine they would even taste good – but it’s all so well-thought out that even basic things were very flavorful. The only down side was that we felt there were too many unimportant steps included in the recipe breakdown. i.e. things that took 3 separate steps / pots could easily be combined into one step / pot.
HELLO FRESH (THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE)
I keep going back and forth, but all things considered this one is my favorite. Firstly, they keep the recipes fairly simple and don’t overcomplicate the steps. If she can be cooked together at once, they tell you to do it that way. Still lots of fun, minus theatrics. They also do a good job with portions and overall food freshness, and I know this is a small thing but it really makes the process more convenient: they package the ingredients for each meal together. So you don’t have to manually sort things and then try to figure out how to place them together in your fridge so that you know what’s what.
If you’re interested in trying the food box concept in general, I’d recommend signing up for each on different weeks so you can weigh your own pro’s and cons.
Plus, they all have special discounts for first time signups, so initial boxes are heavily discounted.