Review: Gobble’s Greek Pita Wrap with Grilled Vegetables & Hummus

Rating 8/10

Processed with RNI Films

This kit came with already made hummus, tzatziki, olive tapenade and za’atar spice, as well as a zucchini, a yellow squash, 2 roma tomatoes, a slice of red onion, a small bag of arugula, pita bread and pita chips. Preparation consisted of slicing the squashes, quartering the tomato, sauteing them for about 8 minutes and then assembling the pitas. You then serve it with a side of pita chips and hummus. So a super quick meal to put together.

I didn’t use the tzatziki or tapenade, omitted the onion and substituted the arugula for some spring mix I had to accommodate my daughters’ preferences. I also added some cubed tofu to add protein to the dish.

In all, she was very happy with the results. She found it a very tasty meal. She particularly loved the pita bread. The problem is that the kit came with only two pita breads – so one per person. That was not enough for the amount of filling there was.

This is also a pretty simple meal to put together on your own, though I wouldn’t know where to buy the spongy pita bread they sent.

I got this kit for free due to credits and a welcome back promo code. Use this referral link to get a free kit for 2 with your first box.


Note: if you use my referral link I *may* get some credits in return, if I happen to be subscribed to the meal kit service at the exact moment you use the code – which is unlikely.


Review’s Thistle’s Korean Style Veggie & Rice Noodles and Togarashi Tofu

Rating 6/10

This was the dinner offering for Wednesday, this week, but my daughter was out that night so she took it to school this for lunch today. It looked like a salad to her, so she thought it was a lunch. That meant, she ate it cold.

She thought it was fine, but she did not like one of the herbs – probably the cilantro. It reminded her of a deconstructed spring roll (her words). She said she’d eat it again, but wasn’t enthusiastic about her.

Because she took it to school without my knowing it, I wasn’t able to photograph it.


Review: Freshly’s Low County Bowl

Rating 6/10

I got this meal for my husband. It consists of shrimp and
andouille sausage  with green beans and corn – and a side of roasted potatoes. My husband found it overall tasty, but he thought the shrimp were tasteless and soggy (a problem with all of Freshly’s meals).

The meal had 450 calories, 16 g fat (2.5 saturated), 47 g of carbs & 6g sugar. It had 34 g of protein.

I paid a little under $7 for each of these meals, with a special offer.


Meal Kit Review: Plated’s Argentine Beef Empanadas with Chimichurri and Monterey Jack

Rating 7/10

Plated's Argentine Beef Empanadas

I am Argentine and have made empanadas zillions of times, so I can tell you these are not traditional “Argentine beef empanadas.” Argentine empanadas don’t have jalapeño chili (I never even saw a jalapeño until I came to the US) or adobo seasoning. Most importantly, they are not eaten with chimichurri, a sauce which is reserved for asado. But my own empanada recipe has been bastardized enough that I can’t complain about lack of authenticity.

The fact is that these empanadas were pretty tasty. I did like the meat filling quite a bit and appreciated the light spiciness of the adobo filling. What I didn’t like were the shells. They were tough and thick and too crispy. My daughter and husband complained as well. The problem is that Plated sent empanada shells meant to be fried, not baked. I understand the confusion, nowhere on the package it says these are frying shells – though the one recipe it features, calls for the empanadas to be fried. And looking at the ingredients, which include sugar, confirms their intended use.

A second complaint is that Plated calls for the empanadas to be brushed with olive oil. I tried it on the one in the front, and it was a failure. Much better is brushing them with either milk or an eggwash and sprinkling sugar on them.

Finally, the chimichurri wasn’t really chimichurri. For one, it didn’t have oregano, an essential ingredient. But the real issue is that it didn’t go with the empanadas at all. Really, empanadas don’t need a dip or anything like that – they just need the right kind of shells.

On the plus side, while the meal kit was supposed to make 8 empanadas, there were enough ingredients to make 10, so it was enough for 3 of us.

I paid a tad over $13 for this kit, and I think it was well priced for that.


Meal Kit Review: Plated’s Persian Chicken with Carrots & Jeweled Rice

Rating 8/10

One of the things I like most about cooking from meal kits are the little things I learn that, despite cooking for the last 30 years of my life, I have not figured out on my own. Sometimes they are techniques, and sometimes they are simple recipes. This time, it was a bit of both. I have cooked rice before by sauteing an onion and then the raw rice before adding the water. But I was amazed at what adding just a stick of cinnamon does for rice. It really elevates it to another level. And simmering basmati rice for 10 minutes and then letting steam in its own heat for another 10, is a wonderful technique as well.

In all, this was another winning recipe by Plated. The chicken was good as were the carrots, and it all came well together. My picky 14-yo was happy.

I also loved how Plated sent me all the ingredients I needed, including the flour!

I paid a tad over $13 for this kit, with a welcome back promo, or about $7.65 per person,  which was quite fair for the quality of the food and the convenience.


Meal Kit Reviews: Which are the Best Meal Kits Out There?

For the last six months I’ve been trying different meal kits, both in order to avoid getting take out and because I just like reviewing things. Having tried most of the meal kits out there (all of them with promos which brought down the price significantly), I think I’m finally done.

Meal kits fall into 4 price categories, which I’ll call budget (~$40 for 3 2-serving meal kits), mid-range (~$60 for the same), premium (~$70) and super-premium (~$80). In order to compare apples to apples, my reviews are organized by price category and they are listed in my order of preference. Please click on the title of each Meal Kit to see a more comprehensive review.

In all of these months, I haven’t really had any major problems with any of my deliveries – I’ve had no missing ingredients, for example. Once a box didn’t come (which was fine, as I didn’t want it and had forgotten to cancel in time) and another time, the box didn’t come until after 11 PM, but that’s about it. Skipping has been a breeze, as has been cancelling.

Budget Meal Kits

There are two of these meal kit services, both products of mid-range meal kit companies. They offer simpler meals, with fewer ingredients that require the use of more of your staples. The menus tend to be very classic American.

Every Plate

Every Plate is HelloFresh’ budget offering. They currently only have 6 offerings, including a “premium” one that costs $6 more per kit, but they’re moving to 8 offerings in mid-March. That’s good, because I often can’t find 3 dishes I want to eat/make in their weekly menu.

I mostly liked what I got – the premium kit was particularly tasty. I really didn’t feel I was compromising too much by getting these kits.

$39 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $20 off your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).

Dinnerly

Dinnerly is Martha & Marley Spoon’s budget offering. They offer 8 choices a week, 3 of which are vegetarian. The meals are less refined than those by Every Plate and I enjoyed them less. In all, I wasn’t a fan.

$39 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promos.

Mid-Range Meal Kits

There are several companies in this category. They tend to have more sophisticated offerings, they may include ingredients that are not as easy to come by (or that you’d have to buy far more than you’d want to) – but they still require that you use some of your staples. Some of these companies offer discounts for larger purchases. Here they are, in my order of preference.

HelloFresh

HelloFresh is the service I’ve tried the most, simply because they’ve sent me the most “come back” offers. They offer a variety of plans, and include one weekly “gourmet” recipe, featuring steak or expensive ingredients, for $12 more per kit.

Most of the recipes have surprised me as to how tasty they are – whoever is responsible for creating them does a pretty good job. That said, I don’t always find enough meals I want to cook in a given week, and lately it seems they’re downgrading their ingredients. Still, it’s a company I like to go back to (with a coupon).

$61 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $40 off your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).

Blue Apron

Blue Apron is actually very similar to HelloFresh, but it offers far fewer discounts. It does seem to have better quality ingredients than HelloFresh, however. The food I had was also tastier than I anticipated, and I would likely re-subscribe if I got another promo – but so far no luck.

$60 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promos.

Home Chef

Home Chef’s offerings are a more middle American than the other two, and I’ve had gret difficulty finding kits that I really want to make. But the kits I did make were very good. While Home Chef has occasional premium meal kits, they also regularly have steak without a premium price (unlike other companies in this price point).

$60 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $30 off your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).

Martha & Marley Spoon

Marley Spoon was the meal kit company that least impressed me at this price-point. Granted, I only got two kits because their promo wasn’t that great, but neither of them was particularly noteworthy. They do have a large menu of choices, including 6 vegetarian ones. In all, I didn’t find a compelling reason to choose it over the other kits.

$61.50 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promo.

Premium Meal Kits

It’s probably not surprising that as we go up in price, the meal kits get better. They either include more exotic and/or organic ingredients. Some companies offer even more adventurous/sophisticated kits – and some actually send you all the ingredients you need save for oil, salt & pepper. Here they are, in my order of preference.

Plated

I love Plated. It’s one of my favorite meal kits and, if I could afford it, it’s the one I would stay subscribed to. The offerings are pretty sophisticated, and they often include ingredients that I wouldn’t want to buy myself. More importantly, they include all the ingredients I need – including butter! I have greatly enjoyed almost every meal I’ve had from them.

Plated is also available at select Safeway supermarkets. The kits there usually vary in price depending on the ingredients, but they’re generally cheaper than with the subscription. They have a much lower selection, however.

$72 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promo.

Sun Basket

Sun Basket distinguishes itself by providing a large variety of meals catering to special diets – from paleo to vegan. Most importantly, they don’t ask you to subscribe to a specific plan, but you can chose from any meal they provide. This is cool for families like mine that have members with very different food preferences. Sun Basket also sends more organic produce than other companies – and they’re probably the most environmentally friendly meal kit service.

Still, I wasn’t awed by their kits and I haven’t felt a compelling reason to re-subscribe.

$72 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $40 off your first box.

Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot is an all-vegan meal kit company. Having a vegan child at home, I gave it a try. Unfortunately, she didn’t like any of the three meal kits I got for her – and would not even eat the leftovers.

$72 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promo.

Super Premium Meal Kits

In addition to the kits listed below, there are two other meal kits services which fall in this category. As neither offers good promo codes – and their offerings don’t seem particularly enticing – I’ve decided I’m not going to try either. Do comment if you do. Peach Dish – a Georgia based company – specializes in local ingredients and offers both international and classic Southern food. One Potato specializes in family-friendly fare.

Gobble

Gobble sends out meal kits that can be put together and cooked in 15 minutes. They manage this by sending pre-sliced vegetables, prepared sauces and some pre-cooked sides (like rice, lentils and sweet potatoes). Still, most kits require you to do enough that you do feel like cooking. Their meals are generally pretty good – one, specifically, was great – and I love how quickly they are to put on the table. This is a kit I’d definitely stay subscribed to if I could afford it.

$79 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for 1 free meal kit in your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).

Green Chef

Green Chef distinguishes itself by offering a variety of plans catering to special diets – everything from keto, to gluten-free to vegan. Unfortunately, they only offer five choices per plan, and you cannot mix and match between plans (though they do have an omnivore plan, still with only five choices). Once upon a time, Green Chef was fully organic, but since being bought by HelloFresh, they now send out non-organic meats.

The dishes I tried were pretty good, though they seemed overpriced for what they were.

$67 to $85 for 3 kits with 2 servings each, depending on plan (omnivore is $79). Use this referral link for 2 free meal kits in your first box
(I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).

Ready Made Meals

In addition to meal kits, a number of companies have entered the market offering ready-to-heat, microwavable meals. Basically, an upscale version of your parent’s TV dinners. I’m not sure I’ll try enough of these to merit their own category, but I’ll list the one I’ve tried so far (I will also be getting Thistle next week – use promo code https://www.thistle.co/referral/MARGARI98F for $30 off your first order).

Freshly

Freshly offers fresh, refrigerated, microwable meals that you can heat up in just 2-4 minutes. Quality wise, they are way above any frozen meal I’ve tried. Indeed, taste wise they are as good as most meal kits. They do suffer a little texture-wise.

The biggest issue is that their menu doesn’t change much from week to week, so if you’re craving variety, you won’t find it here. They also don’t offer vegan meals. Still, it’s a good choice for when you have a busy week and you can’t make time to cook.

$60 for 6 meals (1 serving each). Use this referral link to get $20 off your first and second week (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).

Non-Subscription Meal Kits

In addition to the meal kits above, there are a couple of companies that sell meal kits that don’t require a subscription. I have not yet tried these ones, but I might in the future. Good Eggs, a Bay Area company, delivers 3 and 4 serving meal kits from an extensive set menu and Amazon.com sells kits through their Prime Fresh service (which costs $16/month).


Meal Kit Review: Dinnerly Comes Out Next to Last

I put out trying Dinnerly to the last, because I’ve read so many bad reviews of it that I wasn’t eager to try it. Still, I wanted to be thorough and Dinnerly was cheap enough (specially with the promo I found) to be worth a try. Alas, it ended up being my second-to-last least favorite service (to borrow a phrase from Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi’s). It’s only because Purple Carrot was a complete fail, that Dinnerly is not at the bottom of my list.

That said, there wasn’t anything intrinsically wrong with Dinnerly. Two of the three dishes I made were average to good and the last one was still edible. But the recipes where boring, too fatty and they included things I could easily make on my own if I liked that kind of food. I don’t think I’d try Dinnerly again, even with a promo code (something I can’t say about any other meal kit company save for Purple Carrot).

Dinnerly is the budget option of Martha & Marley Spoon – a mid-price meal kit company. I wasn’t a big fan of that service either.

The Plans

Dinnerly has a 2 person plan and a 4 person “family” plan. You can order 3 to 5 kits per week. Regardless of what plan you chose or how many kits you order, the per person price is $5 (so a 2-person kit is $10 and a 4-person kit is $20). There is a $9 shipping fee (again, regardless of how much you order), so the actual per person cost for the typical 3-kits-for-2 subscription is $6.50.

The Food

Dinnerly offers 8 different meal kits per week, including 3 vegetarian ones. Only occasionally one of those kits is vegan.

The food seems to be all American fare, the sort of food I stereotypically would imagine appears in a midwestern homes. Not that I haven’t cooked these same dishes myself – it’s just stuff I’m not necessarily eager to make or eat. And if I was to make them, I wouldn’t need or want a kit. I’m sure there is a market for this food, it’s just not me.

On the plus side, the recipes were very simple to make and, because they have so few ingredients, very quick to prep. Two of them were also pretty tasty.

While I’ve read complaints that people did not receive all their ingredients, I got all of mine – and everything was fresh. Indeed, the burger buns were fine a week after I got my kit. Dinnerly makes their meal affordable by limiting the number of ingredients, and requiring that you provide ingredients that other kits include – vinegar, for example. Dinnerly also doesn’t provide beef except as ground beef, and then its portions are 4-oz per person, while most other meal kits give 5-oz of meat per person.

The Packaging

Dinnerly sends its kits in the standard cardboard box. Refrigerated ingredients are at the bottom of the box, between freezer packs, while the rest of the ingredients are dumped on top.

They are not separated by recipe, but there were few enough of them that it was easy enough to pick up the needed ingredients as I needed them.

Unfortunately, Dinnerly uses a very large box (Plated, for example, has moved to a small box, which presumably takes less energy and most definitely less cardboard). On the plus side, the liner seems to be the same that Marley Spoon uses which is recyclable (at least in theory). Even better, the two freezer packs are made of non-toxic water soluble material that can be poured down the sink.

These are the 3 meals I made:

The Results

Burger with Dijonnaise and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

7/10 – Tasty burger and nice potato fries.

Italian White Bean Tostadas with Zucchini & Roasted Pepper Salsa

7/10 – Tasty enough for my vegan daughter

Fettuccine Alfredo with Garlic Broccoli

3/10 – A total and complete waste of calories. Big fail

I was able to get my first Dinnerly box for $19 (regularly $39), which made it a good deal. Still, it’s not one I’d repeat.


Review: Dinnerly’s Burger with Dijonnaise and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Rating 7/10

Some time ago, I got a great burger in a HelloFresh kit so I’ve been more prone to order burger kits than I might otherwise had. Or I was, until I discovered that what makes a burger great is really the percentage of fat in the meat. Trying to be healthy, I had in the past used low-fat ground beef to make burgers. After the HelloFresh experience, I got some 27% fat ground beef from Harris Ranch, and the difference is amazing. So if I want to make a great burger now, I can just buy the beef rather than rely on a meal kit.

This week, just like last, I actually used the ground beef that came in this kit to make conventional burgers early in the week, when I didn’t feel like making the sweet potatoes. Then, on Sunday, I prepared this kit for lunch, using my own beef, and grilling the burgers outside. All in all, I couldn’t distinguish between the flavor/juiciness of the two different ground beefs, though grilling the burgers did give them an additional “grilled” flavor (probably due to my not cleaning the grill as well as I should have).

I was pleasantly surprised at how good these burgers were. The “dijonaise” which is just a mixture of mayo, Dijon mustard, chopped garlic and chopped cornichon pickles, was very tasty. I didn’t even miss the cheese. That said, 4 oz of ground beef for a burger is not very much – most meal kits give you 5 oz of meat per person, even when you add half a sweet potato.

Even though I enjoyed this kit, I don’t see much point in getting it versus buying the ingredients myself. Still, as I paid only $6.30 for the kit, with a welcome promo, I’m not really complaining.


Review: Hello Fresh’ Tex-Mex Cheese-Stuffed Burgers with Tomato Salsa and Potato Wedges

Rating: 8/10

I decided to get this kit after really enjoying the last Hello Fresh burgers I got. They were definitely better than the ones I made myself. It occurred to me after I order this kit, however, that my burgers may not be as good because I usually use low fat ground beef. I tried making them with 27% fat ground beef and it was a completely different story – they were delicious!

And this is a good thing because I ended up using my own ground beef to make this recipe – I had used the one from the kit earlier in the week to make plain burgers, and yes, the meat was great. Really, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

These burgers were also very tasty – though the tex-mex spice sort of overwhelmed the meat. I particularly liked the tomato-cilantro salsa. It gave the right counter of freshness to the spiciness of the “crema,” but it was hard to keep on the burger, it just kept sliding off!

I also ended up using my potatoes – having made the ones from the kit previously – and the addition of the tex-mex spice worked very well on these.

All in all, it was a very satisfying lunch, but really, one you don’t need a kit to make it. Still, I paid a tad over $11 for this kit with a “welcome back promo”, so I’m not complaining. I would if I’d paid the $20 standard price.


Review: Dinnerly’s Italian White Bean Tostadas with Zucchini & Roasted Pepper Salsa

Rating 7/10

I made this kit for my vegan daughter tonight and she was relatively pleased with it. She thought it was tasty enough, though she was sort of dumbfounded by the tostadas – she didn’t get them at all. Still, she found them tasty and 3 tostadas were more than enough.

That said, I did make some modifications to the kit. First, I omitted the cheese, to make the tostadas vegan. Second, my daughter doesn’t like peppers (I hadn’t paid attention to what actually came with the kit), so I substituted them with chopped tomato. Of course, making substitutions sort of defeats the purpose of the kit.

Making the dish was relatively simple, but it required using the oven to saute the zucchini and toast the tortillas/tostadas. As summer comes, I want to avoid using the oven.

I paid $6.30 for this kit ($3.15 per serving), using a promo. It’s probably how much it would cost me to buy the ingredients myself. The kit did require me to use my own vinegar.