What’s for dinner – Part One

Unless you are living under a rock, you will have seen tons of hype around meal boxes… so obviously, I had to hop on the latest trend train and see where it takes me. Come along for the ride.

The major plus of these meal boxes is that they have an initial offer of some sort (free meals, discounted first box by amount or percentage, etc.) so I have tried all of these for less than the weekly cost for a three meal box for two people. I will include the actual prices of each box, but do keep in mind that signing up for a first box doesn’t lock you into any sort of contract or subscription – it is a great way to try these different options regardless of whether you want to keep getting weekly boxes or cancel/postpone your subscription. With most subscription services, you get to hand pick your meals and you are able to skip weeks as your schedule requires.

Each meal box comes complete with all of the necessary ingredients for each meal, with the exception of salt, pepper, olive oil and an occasional egg for certain recipes. It takes all of the guess work out of what to have for dinner and doesn’t require stocking your kitchen full of spices and products that you will only ever use once. On the other hand, once you find a recipe you like, feel free to stock on up! I plan on doing that for a few of the recipes below.

The good: Plated – click here to try it!

Weekly price: $72 for three meals (each meal is for 2 adults) with free shipping

First box: $48 for three meals (first meal free)

Meals I received:

  • Chicken shawarma with tomato, cucumber and tahini
  • Saucy meatball sliders with classic caesar salad
  • Garlic butter salmon with Spanish rice pilaf and roasted lemon

Plated has really fantastic options for meals, so you can pick whatever tickles your fancy. They are all pretty foodie-friendly – truffled grilled cheese? Yes please. I loved the meatball sliders (even though I set off the smoke alarm making them) and the rice pilaf was fantastic. The shawarma wasn’t something I would make on a regular basis but it was fresh and new.

The quality of the products was very good and I loved that almost everything came in packaging that could be reused/recycled in one way or another (small tupperware or plastic ziplock bags). The portion sizes were quite good and I was pretty impressed overall. I still keep an eye on the menus to see if there is anything that I really want to try coming up. You can also add desserts and other treats on to your box, which is always welcome. It is definitely more expensive than Blue Apron and Hello Fresh but it is still good value compared to going out (especially in NYC!).

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Ingredients for the chicken shawarma
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Chop chop
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Tahini sauce and marinated chicken
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Cooking up a storm
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Plated Plated dish

The bad: Blue Apron – click here to try it! Use the code NEWMEALS20 to get $20 off your first week.

Weekly price: $59.94 for three meals (each meal is for 2 adults) with free shipping

First box: $39.94 for three meals

Meals I received:

  • West African peanut chicken with sautéed kale & rice
  • Meyer Lemon bucatini with marinated radish & butter lettuce salad
  • Beef tacos & radish salsa with sweet potato wedges

The meal options on Blue Apron are sub-par and frankly, so is the produce. I was disappointed by the quality, the portion-size, the selection and the excessive amount of packaging. At least with the Plated packaging, it could be reused (small tupperware and plastic ziplock bags). The recipes were easy enough to make but there wasn’t a whole lot of flavor.

Even my better half, who is so not discerning when it comes to food – something I will never understand, noticed an overall lack of quality and flavor in these dishes. I have already cancelled my subscription and didn’t actually make the third dish (’cause tacos can be made at any time).

I didn’t even take any pictures – so that is pretty telling. Would recommend for a couple cheap meals for kicks but would not continue spending money on Blue Apron deliveries!

The AMAZING: Hello Fresh – click here to try it! If you click through this post, you will get a $40 discount off your first box.

Weekly price: $59.94 for three meals (each meal is for 2 adults) with free shipping

First box: $19.94 for three meals ($40 discount through my link above)

Meals I received:

  • Turkish-spiced salmon with blood orange and couscous pilaf
  • Meatloaf balsamico with mashed sweet potato and green beans
  • Lean mean chicken and greens with rosemary potatoes and gremolata

I was expecting (after the Blue Apron box) that Plated would be my favorite of these three… but no… Hello Fresh takes the cake! I was so very impressed by all three of the meals – the quality was excellent, the portion size was perfect (as was the calorie/protein/fat nutritional breakdown), the taste was great (not bland and not overdone), the packaging was minimal but organized – I would definitely order from them again. They didn’t skimp on the veggies and the quality of the meat was much better than the other two companies. The price is the same as Blue Apron but it is on a completely different level. I would definitely recommend giving Hello Fresh a try!

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Balsamic meatloaf
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Boiling the taters
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Recipe card – didn’t take a pic of the final product!
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Turkish spiced salmon
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Lean mean chicken and greens – one of the low calorie recipes

There are a couple more contenders in this space (some of which are available around the country, others restricted to certain areas). I am trying Green Chef, Terra’s Kitchen and PeachDish in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for an update!

 

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