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.
Yesterday I cut up some chicken and marinated it full fat yogurt and homemade tandoori massala. Today, when I went to cook it, I discovered that several pieces had bright aqua spots on them. Spots that I know for sure weren’t there when I cut the chicken up and put it to marinade.
What are they? One theory is that the garlic powder in the massala may have reacted with the yogurt to change colors. Garlic has been known to do that. Another, is that it’s “oxidation” or mold.
I’m posting this here in case it happens to someone else and they go around searching for answers in the internet. I may not have them, but at least they’ll know they are not alone.
BTW, I decided to cook the chicken and eat it. It’s been a few hours and so far, I haven’t dropped dead. I’ll update if I feel like I wish I was dead tonight or tomorrow.
Update: It’s now the next morning and I’ve felt no ill effects from making the chicken.
I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about a week old, but still under the expiration date – it didn’t smell at all), a homemade tandoori masala made from ground coriander, cumin, garlic powder, ginger, cloves, mace, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom and nutmeg, and Mountain High original plain yogurt (which contains
Cultured Pasteurized Milk – cultured with
S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, B. bifidus, and L. casei -, Fruit Pectin, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3) . The leftover yogurt shows no discoloration.
Foster Farms says they’ve never seen anything like this.
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.
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.
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.
This was another winning dish by Plated. It’s getting marked down because while the potatoes and mushrooms were outstanding, the beef was a little tough and not particular flavorful. Top sirloin, IMHO, is a horrible cut and I wish Plated used ranch steak or flat iron steaks.
The potatoes, roasted in olive oil and then flavor with a mixture of goat cheese, butter and chives, were delicious. So were the mushrooms, which were sauteed on the beef juices and then enhanced with white wine, Dijon mustard and butter. I’m amazed that this recipe only had 660 calories (far less than the other kits I got this week).
I love that, unlike other meal kit services, Plated sends you butter rather than expecting you to have some at hand. And I loved that the Dijon mustard they sent was Grey Poupon. Most of the produce they sent was good and fresh, but the potatoes – which were larger than those pictured and therefore had to be sliced rather than halved – had some black areas in them which I had to cut around.
I paid a tad over $13 for this kit, with a welcome back promo, or about $7.65 per person. It was worth it.
As I make my way cooking and eating food from “H” cuisines, I’ve “finished” four more:
I made two very tasty chicken dishes and a vegan noodle dish.
I did great with the meat dishes – the vegan dishes weren’t as good.
Not my most successful cuisine, but I made steak, chicken & rice and coconut buns.
This incursion into a regional Indian cuisine had me cooking chicken curries, a biryani and a dal.
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 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 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 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 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’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).
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.
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 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 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 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 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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
7/10 – Tasty burger and nice potato fries.
7/10 – Tasty enough for my vegan daughter
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.
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.