I Tried Out A Meal-Kit Delivery Service for Three Days... And I Didn't Hate It.

Call me a skeptic, but when I first heard about meal-kit delivery services, I wasn't buying it. Plated, Blue Apron, and the like are becoming household names across the US, gaining popularity among busy suburban parents as well as millennials who are novices in the kitchen.

Why was I skeptical? Well, my main beef (hah) with the idea of these meal-kit delivery services was that it wasn't the same as really cooking. Maybe I'm just a traditionalist, but I think it's important to get to know your food by going to the grocery store, feeling it, and picking it out. Besides that, the growing popularity of these services made me think: are people really getting this lazy?

Fast forward to this past week, when I was at home for spring break and tried out one of these programs: I'm still not completely sold on it, but I can see how it can be useful. And in this food-photography filled post I'll tell you why.

The company we went with is called "Just Add Cooking." I say "we" because my parents were paying for it. I suppose that's my main criticism of these services- they're so expensive. Through cooking for myself this year I've learned how to eat on the cheap. The $69 introductory offer for three meals for four people makes my heart (and my wallet) cry a little bit, but the $109 you'd have to pay after that week makes me cringe even more. You'd have to be a pretty high roller to be able to afford this (count this out if you're a student and your parents aren't backing you). 0/10: would only use if I wasn't poor.

But let's focus on the positive. Just Add Cooking, as opposed to a national company such as Blue Apron, prides itself on providing not only fresh, but incredibly local ingredients. JAC is based out of Boston, so almost every ingredient they delivered to us was locally sourced, and they were very transparent about where it came from. Take the ground chicken we used in our potstickers - it was from Brockton Massachusetts. That is something I absolutely love to see. The best way to eat sustainably is to make sure it's not traveling far to get to you (anyone else remember my sophomore speech?). 10/10 for eating local!

On that same topic, one of my other main complaints with the service (and an issue that many of these services have) is that there is so. much. packaging. I mean, do you really need to put two whole scallions in a plastic bag? Probs not. That being said, I think JAC does better than most mainstream companies when it comes to packaging. Plus, it's all recyclable. These programs are, however, effective at reducing waste in that they pre-portion everything so you're not throwing out much, if anything at all. 6/10 for waste reduction. They could use less to begin with.

Now, onto the recipes themselves.

Each week, you can choose from a variety of recipes to suit your tastes. My mom was in charge of this bit because I guess what mom says goes and all that. So the first recipe on the menu was potstickers with kale and edamame salad. This is definitely not something my family would usually have, and I think that's one of the positive aspects of meal-kit programs. 9/10 for ~exotic~ cooking.

So there were like 38295 ingredients in this recipe. My mom and I knew this would be out of our comfort zone so we worked together on filling and cooking the lil' dumplings. They were oh-so-cute yet oh-so-finnicky. Let me put this into perspective for you: it took two very experienced cooks and 1 hr. and 30 min. to complete this "medium" level dish. 2/10 for getting our hopes up that this would be easy.

Once the potstickers were sticky, and the salad was salady, it was time to eat. And it was glorious. Maybe that's because we had put blood, sweat, and tears into the whole production or maybe it was just the avocado in the salad. But even my picky father was pleased with the meal. 10/10 for dad's approval.

Our second meal of the week looked promising. I mean, I had never cooked with steak before (did I mention that I'm a poor university student?) and I felt fancy free rubbing that steak with chipotle in adobo sauce to my hearts content. Cooking it, however, wasn't so easy. They said to cook the steak for 3-4 minutes on each side, but to my horror that was definitely not enough. Even for my medium-rare tastes. 3/10 for accuracy of instructions

The grits and sugar snap peas were easy enough, but then again how can you make that kind of thing difficult? Cheesy grits are essentially instant bliss. So once I had survived the emotional rollercoaster that was cooking my steak it was smooth sailing. 7/10 overall because red meat and cheese, but poor execution. 

Our final meal with JAC looked promising. Oh yes, Daal Curry: a vegetarian staple in any British student's repertoire. Cheap but flavorful, fairly easy but impressive enough to serve your friends. Perfection on a plate. Despite my own experience making and eating Daal curry, my family wasn't quite as familiar. As exceptional a cook as my mom is, she rarely makes Indian food- we leave that to our lovely neighbors. So having curry for dinner was something special. 10/10 for just being a great all around dish. 

This recipe came with lots of beautiful spices which made me think man, this is going to taste good. Plus, it even came with a can of coconut milk: never underestimate the life-changing power of coconut milk. My only criticism of this dish is that the directions said to cook the red lentils for only 20 minutes. This cooking time was highly underestimated and it ended up taking about 45 minutes for the lentils to cook. 5/10 for inaccurate cooking instructions- it was so close to being perfect.

If you can't already tell, the Daal curry was my favorite dish of all. The family as a whole liked the chicken potstickers the best. But I think the best part of using Just Add Cooking overall was the fact that it allowed me to try out different recipes that I wouldn't have made otherwise. In a more general sense, I can see how these programs can be helpful for people who don't have the time to go to the grocery store or who need a jumpstart on cooking.

Speaking of people who need a jumpstart on cooking, my oldest brother is also a user of meal-kit delivery services. At 27, he is fairly new to the world of cooking and uses Blue Apron as a way to get inspired. I thought I'd end this post with what he had to say about his experience: 

"As a culinary challenged individual, Blue Apron was a very concise cooking experience. The ingredients were super fresh, the directions were clear and the results were not only tasty but also visually pleasing. I think Guy Fieri would be jealous of my edible creation." 

Impressive stuff. 


  1. I always have such mixed feelings about these too! I love the idea but then they are so pricey and it's hard to actually find 3 nights a week where we are both home and able to cook?! One day though!

    Jasmin Charlotte

    1. Glad someone feels the same way! Yes, I think the price tag is the big downside. You can always just try it out for one week and then cancel it- just for a bit of fun in the kitchen!

      Thanks for the comment :)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...