Meal Kit Reviews: Sun Basket is the Choice for Environmentalists

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Sun Basket is a Bay Area based meal kit subscription service started by a former sous chef at Slanted Door, a high end Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco (one I’ve never been to).  It aims to distinguish itself by catering to special diets (Mediterranean, paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.) and by offering organic produce and “responsibly sourced” meats and fish.  It gets top rates in many professional reviews, but it gets very mixed user reviews on Yelp.

Sun Basket is a premium service and I tried it only for one week.  I paid $32 for 3 meal kits (the regular price is $72). These are the kits I got:

Steak and roasted sweet potato with scallion-ginger relish

A simple meal that you don’t need a kit to recreate.

Lamb korma with sweet potato mash and toasted naan

Not really a korma, but the lamb was tasty

Basket Salt-and-pepper tofu stir-fry with glass noodles

Tofu is tofu, but the noodles and sauce were good.

So far, I’ve made a single recipe from Sun Basket, though I’ll probably try more of their vegan recipes in the future:

Spanish paella with tofu, mushrooms, and peas

This was a totally miss but it was my fault as I ended up substituting for most of the key ingredients.

These are my general observations.

Sun Basket’s Kits Are Good but not Great

We weren’t wowed by any of the Sun Basket kits we tried. They all produced perfectly acceptable food, but nothing that we’d want to have again.  This may be a product of what I chose, however. Please bear in mind that my experience so far is very limited.  I will try cooking more Sun Basket recipes on my own and see if they change my opinion.

Sun Basket’s offerings are great for people with special diets

I have a vegan daughter and finding vegan recipes in other services has been very difficult.  Sun Basket offers three vegan choices a week, and some of their vegetarian fare can be adapted as well.  They also offer diabetes-friendly meals, paleo meals, gluten free meals and a bunch of other choices.

They are expensive for a meal delivery service

Sun Basket’s classic plan of 3 meals per week for 2 people costs $72 a week, or $12 pp/per meal.  There is a $1 pp/pm discount if you order kits for 4 people.  This means it’s priced at the highest end of the spectrum.  On the plus side, they feature organic produce, “responsibly sourced” meats and they don’t charge a premium for “gourmet” recipes.

Portions are just the right size

So far, the portions we tried were the right size for us for dinner.  We weren’t left full or hungry. We had some leftovers from the side dishes.

For a meal kit service, it’s more environmentally friendly. 

Let’s be real here.  If you care about the environment, meal kits are probably not for you.  The main issue with these services is not so much the price as the enormous amount of packaging materials that are not recyclable, chief among them being the freezer packs.  Blue Apron alone causes almost 200K tons of freezer packs to end in landfills every year – and to them you have to add the other meal kit services.  Meal kits generally come in recyclable boxes, but sometimes they are also lined with bulky and non-recyclable packing material, which again will needlessly end up in the landfill.

Fortunately, Sun Basket takes their packaging seriously.  Not only is their packing material a sturdy paper bag filled with shredded paper – so totally recyclable (though the market for mixed paper recycling has recently collapsed).  More importantly, their freezer packs are made from a solution of something like 98% water and 2% cotton fibers which makes them conpostable.   The plastic bags are not really recyclable – they are in theory, but nobody is buying them so they are being sent to landfills -, but they are much less bulky than the rest of the materials.

While I’ve been lucky with Sun Basket not everyone has been

I got one box from Sun Basket with three meal kits.  All the kits  contained all the ingredients necessary to make the meals and none of the items were spoiled.  However, other people report receiving missing and spoiled ingredients.  People also complain about bad customer service, delayed deliveries and difficulties cancelling.

Sun Basket is a subscription service

Sun Basket offers a$40 discount for your first week’s voice, but if you sign up you are enrolled in the weekly service.   So if you subscribe, make sure you cancel in time before you are charged for the next week.  Better yet, skip the following weeks of meals so you have time to cancel after you actually try the kits.

Suspending and cancelling is a breeze

Despite the complaints about having problem cancelling, I was able to easily suspend shipments and then cancel my account online.

If you want to subscribe to Sun Basket

You can use this link and get $40 off your first box.

 

 

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