Martha & Marley Spoon is one of four mid-priced meal kit companies out there (the others are Hello Fresh, Blue Apron and Home Chef) and so far, the one I’ve been least impressed with. “Martha” refers to Martha Stewart, with whom Marley Spoon struck a partnership in 2016. Supposedly she has some influence on their offerings.

I only got two meal kits, but both were somewhat disappointing. Still, two is a small sample and I may try more if I get any “come back” discounts on the mail.

The Plans

Martha & Marley Spoon offers plans for 2 or 4 people, and you can choose among 2, 3 or 4 meal kits a week. Kits cost between $8.20 and $12 per serving, depending on how much you order. The typical 3-meal kits with 2-servings each plan costs $61.50 a week, or $21/kit – $10.50/serving. Shipping is free in all plans.

The Food

Marley Spoon offers 20 recipes a week, including 6 vegetarian ones. Vegans, however, are out of luck but there are at least 3 gluten-free options every week. The food seems to be modern American, with some ethnic accents. They seem to specialize in relatively safe recipes with broad appeal, including kid friendly offerings. Still, most of the recipes did not look particularly interesting or exciting to me.

While recipes are relatively quick and easy to make, they call for some kitchen equipment that not everyone has at home, in my case, kitchen sears. Problematically, they don’t provide alternatives to that equipment.

The ingredients tend to be rather simple and not particularly exotic, and some are inadequate for the recipes. For example, the canned tomatoes I got were whole and asked me to dice them, when they could have just as easily provided diced tomatoes. Both of my dishes included baby spinach, but in both cases all the spinach did is provide an unpleasant bitter flavor to the dish.

Most of the food was fresh, but I did receive a bruised red pepper – still, it remained fairly firm until the end of the week, when I cooked it.

My biggest beef is that the kits did not include all the ingredients necessary to make the meal. None of the meal kits include oil, salt or pepper, and Hello Fresh irked me by not including butter, but Martha & Marley Spoon went a step further to not include balsamic vinegar – in a dish for which it was essential. To me this is a big fail.

My final complaint about Martha & Marley Spoon is that the portions were smaller than I wished.

The Packaging

Martha & Marley Spoon is a bit better than its competitors as far as packaging goes. While the freezer packs need to be thrown in the garbage, the lining of the box is recyclable – unfortunately, there was no mention of this on either the lining or the literature that came with the box, I had to look it up on their website.

Each kit arrives in a separate paper bag, which I prefer to plastic. I usually put the trimmings from the vegetables in these bags for curbside composting. The meats, as with other kits, were between two freezer packs and they arrived quite cold.

The Results

I cooked two meals:

Glazed Steak with Farro & Bell Pepper Stir-Fry

A decent dish, though it left me hungry. The glaze was a winner, though.

Stewed Chicken Drumsticks with Orzo & Olive-Parsley Relish

Overall disappointing dish

I paid only $18 for this box ($9 per kit or $4.50 a serving), using a promo I found online, and for that price the meals were a steal. At more than twice the price, I’d be pretty disappointed.

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