Thursday, April 14, 2016

Subscription boxes: Meal edition

I like adventure. I tend to like trying new things. Trying new foods? Not so much. Most who know me well are aware of how picky of an eater I can be. Seriously. Have you heard my rant filled with hate towards tomatoes? So, I'm a picky eater. And if know me, you are also aware of how I am slightly fascinated with subscription boxes. They were a unique concept but now nearly everything has a subscription box. Even though the market place is starting to become saturated with subscription boxes, they still intrigue me. 

Which brings us to the past two months. 
Ingredients from my second Blue Apron box. 

I've been quite aware of Blue Apron's existence to seeing their information everywhere. A wonderful friend of mine was gifted Blue Apron for Christmas. When she had a free trial to give, she graciously gave it to me. I love to cook and I'm wanting to try new foods. Seemed like a pretty good deal. With the free trial I received two boxes.  I was excited when the first one arrived and couldn't wait to get started. 

The first meal I made was incredible despite one tiny error on my part when making the sauce. Couldn't even tell when eating it. The five meals which followed left quite a bit to be desired. But I was excited to try new foods. 

Some things I enjoyed from my two boxes were:
  • Being the advertising nerd I am, I really enjoyed the packaging;
  • The food was extremely high quality; 
  • I enjoyed getting to pick which three meals I would receive; 
  • For the most part the instructions were clear as long as you read them completely through before beginning; and 
  • I found new foods I enjoyed and other foods I won't need to ever eat again. 
Some things I did not particularly enjoy from my two Blue Apron boxes were:
  • Sometimes the instructions were not the clearest. I'm not the most accomplished home cook but I like to think I have a pretty strong understanding of how the world of the kitchen works; 
  • I was frustrated when picking my three meals out of six because often I would select one choice and then the one of the other choices I was interested in was not available because of my first choice. This made selecting meals a little more difficult than I would have liked; 
  • The instructions regarding the collard greens failed. It was similar to what I imaging making popcorn on the stove to be ... the greens flew everywhere in the kitchen; and
  • No nutrition information was provided. When I inquired about this they said they aren't able to provide nutrition information because the amount included_ can vary and they aren't able to take into account the amount of olive oil you use. Personally, I think they are just slacking by not providing any nutritional information, even on their website. 
Overall, Blue Apron wasn't bad. It felt a little too fancy for my tastes but perhaps this is because I'm such a picky eater. I do have another box coming soon -- one of which I am paying for. It arrives this weekend with three recipes I'm nervous but excited to try: Korean Bao Sliders with Gochujang Mayo & Sweet Potato Tempura; Za'atar Chicken & Pearl Couscous with Asparagus and Pink Lemon Compote; and Creamy Lemon Pasta with English Peas, Mint & Garlic Breadcrumbs. I tried pork recently. It failed. Not sure about these sliders but I need to try new things, right? I also am getting the following week's box with Zucchini and Parmesan Quiche with Green Leaf Lettuce Salad & Pink Lemon Vinaigrette; Vadouvan Chickpea Burgers with Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds and Yogurt Sauce; and Spicy Peanut Noodles with Snow Peas, Pea Tips & Garlic Peanuts. 

Below are the six meals I created from my two Blue Apron boxes. My serving sizes are much smaller that what most probably eat. The amount of food you get is quite a bit. I could have had four meals out of how much risotto the recipe made. 
This meal was delicious. It was the first time
I've had sweet potatoes and I can't wait to have them again. 
The curry was fantastic. Even as leftovers.
I love coconut but never want grits again.
The collard greens nearly killed me. 

Oh I love risotto so I was extremely excited.
This risotto was a big fat thumbs down as was the salad.

The steak was delicious. The fingerling potatoes were eh.
The kale wasn't horrible so perhaps another time. 

The chicken was great. I struggled with making the
potatoes correctly so not a complete winner.
The red cabbage? Never again. 

I tried and will never have to make this again. 




















Ingredients from my second Hello Fresh box. 

In a previous issue of Food Network Magazine, they had a comparison chart of all the meal subscription boxes. I've hung on to it. I think it ran in the fall of 2015. A former coworker has been sharing her Hello Fresh adventure on Facebook and provided me a free trial of Hello Fresh. At this point, I kind of want to try all of the various boxes to compare them all. 




Hello Fresh has been quite enjoyable. Things I have enjoyed from the free trial include: 
  • Nutrition information is included although not specific serving sizes; 
  • The recipes are quite a bit more simple; 
  • You aren't limited when choosing your recipes like Blue Apron although you only get five options; 
  • The recipes are more common or I suppose just not as fancy; 
  • I liked how even though I was on my free two week trial I was able to give out four trails to family and friends; and 
  • I haven't been stressed when making them (I was stressed a few times with Blue Apron). 
Things I didn't enjoy: 
  • The packaging wasn't nearly as nice; 
  • Some of the fresh produce didn't seem to be the best quality. In fact the pork chops packaging was leaking a little in the box; and 
  • Way too many tomatoes in the recipes. 
Below are the meals I created. Even though I find tomatoes disgusting I kept my Stitch Fix mantra of trying everything as I was supposed to. I really enjoyed quite a bit and there are several items I will probably attempt to make on my own. I currently have no plans for future Hello Fresh boxes but am keeping my eyes on the menu to see if one strikes my fancy. 

This could have been amazing. It was not. The steak was
way too thick and I didn't think to pound it down (I only
buy flat iron steaks) so it was pretty rare on the inside
despite the outer parts being done. The steak took too
long so the succotash was a little too soft for my liking. 

This was great although I learned I'm not a fan of brown
rice. I didn't eat the mushrooms (idk!) but still used them
in the recipe. Will make again. 
Again, could have done without the tomatoes but
overall was a great meal and didn't feel too heavy as
pasta can sometimes. 

My first time having a Juicy Lucy. It doesn't look pretty
but it was delicious. I love the balsamic vinegar dressing
which is what you made for salad. Would have used
spinach for the salad though. 

Another great recipe. I'll make it again. Probably on
the grill this summer. Didn't touch the tomatoes. 
This one. Nope. The yard guy came and I had to help
him in regards to pointing out some yard work so the
cakes burned. My first time trying a pork chop....
couldn't even finish the first bite. Only one massive
failure isn't bad though. 

So, that was my experience of two meal subscription boxes. Hello Fresh is a little more expensive (maybe by five dollars) but I think their meals were more winners than Blue Apron. Blue Apron reignited my love and passion for cooking so that is plus in their column. The boxes run about $60 which seems like a lot of money. For the quality and fanciness of Blue Apron, it seems justified. For the poor packaging and some less than desirable produce, not so much for Hello Fresh. I wish there was a subscription box for families of one. Looking at the positive side of things though, if I had enjoyed every single meal from one box, I would have had six entire meals just for me. Ten dollars a meal is still more than my usual meals which unless I'm being fancy (four cheese risotto for the win!), usually costs about two or three dollars. I'm a simple person. 

Overall, I will stay "subscribed" to both boxes but probably won't order very often. I have my calendar set to remind me to look each week so I don't get a box I have no interest in. 

If you'd like to use my referral code for Hello Fresh, it is WQ7YBN. If you get a subscription box (either companies), I hope you enjoy the adventure. 

1 comment:

  1. There is a lot in these boxes that I think looks great and some that looks ahhh not so good. Really the Kale looks like spinach. I do not care for cooked spinach. :)

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of April 11, 2016.

    ReplyDelete