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DianaB

Cooking from Meal Kits (Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot, Gousto, and so on)

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Posted (edited)

Host's note: this discussion is split from the NYTimes Articles on Food, Drink, Culinary Culture 2013 - topic.

 

 

I had read a lot of this thread before my self-imposed ban on accessing eGullet to concentrate on work and get rid of my backlog.  Not there yet but I've allowed myself a short visit this afternoon nonetheless.

 

And so to 'recipe boxes'.  I note that a number of members have tried Blue Apron, that isn't available to us in the UK .  The main players appear to be Hello Fresh and Gousto unless you live in the London area where choice multiplies significantly.  I know that Hello Fresh is available in the US and Canada, Australia and some European countries.  I'm assuming that Gousto is UK only on the basis of a quick glance through their website.

 

Each of the companies enrols customers to a subscription so you need to be proactive and cancel any weeks you don't want delivery.  All of that is clearly stated across the websites but reading the customer comments on Trust Pilot and Facebook a lot of people overlook the requirement and so end up with fools they didn't want.

 

On joining Hello Fresh you receive three vouchers that you can pass to friends so they can claim a free introductory box.  We received such a voucher from a friend and I am certain that we would not have tested the company otherwise.  We gave out our own vouchers in turn, in fact we got five vouchers in all, the additional vouchers as compensation for a burst container of turmeric that had distributed itself across everything in it package.

 

We specified 3 meals for 2 people as the basis of our subscription (thinking we would be cancelling on receipt of the free stuff).  We also said that we didn't want any fish or shellfish (has to be both).  There is no opportunity to opt out of pork but you can register for vegetarian only meals.  One chooses the meals one wants out of a range of around 8.

 

Hello Fresh does not allow choice of delivery day, it depends where you live so for us it is Tuesday.  The box of food is very well insulated with recycled wool to keep meat etc sufficiently cold.  We have now enjoyed 4 boxes and found only a couple of recipes that we didn't particularly like.  We did eat them so they weren't that bad.  My main concern is that the meat is not organic.  Chicken is labelled 'High Welfare' but I don't know what that means.  

 

We have found the recipes very straightforward, they take 30-40 minutes to prepare on average but much of that time is spent chopping!    Servings ae not huge but they are sufficient for 2 adults who enjoy their food.  We have enjoyed certain recipes enough to make them again.  I wish they listed the ingredients to their spice mixes together with weights.  I wrote to suggest that they allow customers to purchase additional spice mixes via the loyalty points that appear to be generously allocated.  Unfortunately the only item in the reward range useful to us is a tea towel.  I guess we might end up with a great many tea towels unless they expand the range.

 

Recipes we have cooked have included:

Cajun pork with bulgar wheat and garlicky spring greens - wonderful

Pan-fried Chicken with new potatoes green beans with garlic;  tarragon sauce (ingredients provided to make sauce, not a 'heat and eat')

Toulouse Sausage Cassoulet - really good but either the plate in the photograph is from a dolls tea set or there has been a 'cut and shut' to extend the length of those pictured. Very nice none the less and we have repeated the recipe from scratch.

Chicken Shawarma with Dukkah Courgettes and Chickpeas - really good, especially the roasted spice covered courgettes.  We didn't grow courgettes last year because we couldn't eat them fast enough to avoid waste the year before.  With this recipe to hand we will grow one courgette plant.  Again, I am annoyed that I haven't received a response to my request to buy the mixed spices or to obtain them via loyalty points.

Moroccan Steak with Lemon Couscous - they use Flank steak but we haven't had any difficulties with that.  Other members complain that it is tough or similar. Personally I'm glad we have rediscovered the cut, we bought this for casseroles years ago when money was tight but we had got out of the habit of buying.

Mushroom & Panactta Gnocchi - I was dubious about this but I did try to keep an open mind when tasting.  This is the only HF meal we haven't finished because we weren't enjoying it.  The sauce was delicious and we will make that again to accompany perhaps new potatoes when Jersey Royals finally reach us.  I found the gnocchi without any interest

Chicken Saltimbocca with butternut and garlicky beans. - Excellent, we have made two other variations and both were also good.

Iranian Lamb Stew - Great, will certainly make again

Steak Tagliata with rosemary roasted potatoes and a peppercorn sauce. Another hit, flank steak was again the star ingredient.

IMG_3994.jpg.a7799ebb9f35f9b9f8ce46000f28fd38.jpg

 

Content of Hello Fresh box - 3 meals for 2 people. Add items except meat, cheese, cream etc are packed together in the brow n bags.  Labels colour code to recipe care. 

 

Gousto box arrived this morning so nothing has been tried as yet.  The chilled items were in a recycled wool package and accompanying ice blocks had not even started to melt.

IMG_4010.jpg.6519b50e4d6f68980cec5dc342a75d1b.jpg

 

As you can see Gousto had packed 'refrigerator' items in an insulated bag but the rest of the stuff was mixed together for the buyer to sort out.

 

IMG_4013.jpg.8ca623a8b89bf292b14c801e56e34ff6.jpg

 

Having done my sorting I packed the ingredients for each recipe into a different bag so that they will be easily accessible on the day we decide to cook them.  I suppose the one advantage of this is that checking all of the ingredients on arrival will show any omissions.  A friend didn't realise that he was missing something until he was ready to cook his dinner.  Fortunately Hello Fresh refunded him for the price of that entire recipe.

 

The photo above shows the ingredients for a chilli type meal that we plan to dine on tonight.  The wooden spoon was a free gift.  There was little written information in the box, certainly there was no evidence of free boxes for friends (even 1 free box would have been nice to pass on.  All but 1 of the people we gave our Hello Fresh vouchers to has gone on to buy their own membership.  The fifth person plans to do the same but his daughter is dangerously unwell so his mind is elsewhere for the moment.

 

On a basis of our experiences to date I would recommend Hello Fresh while making sure that the automatic subscription is made clear to the recipient of the advice.  I haven't cooked a Gousto meal yet so please accept this as a view based only on delivery, unpacking and condition of the goods once separated from the box.

 

If anyone is interested I will report further after trying the Gousto meals.  I also plan to try Simply Cook, a company that puts together aromatics etc to support a recipe provided.  I don't know which countries it serves but it seems to be another subscription offer.  A friend tried the company and was pleased with the results.

 

We have found the Hello Fresh support team extremely helpful and responsive.This makes a big difference especially as we live in a rural area.

I am rarely certain where in the forum a post should be entered, I hope I have got it right this time but of course I will remove anything deemed off topic or inappropriate. 


Edited by Smithy Added host's note (log)
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Thanks for sharing that experience, @DianaB!  

It does seem that much of the meal-box discussion is assembled here so I'll add a comment on another one, Sun Basket.  I have no experience with them so this is just a comment.  I saw a Sun Basket advert saying that next week, they are featuring 4 meals from recipes in the recent Paula Wolfert bio/cookbook, Unforgettable.  I remember commenting upthread that I would consider something like this - where the service would allow one to explore unfamiliar cuisines without needing to hunt down and invest in a lot of ingredients that may not be used often.  Of course, that hunt can be part of the fun but I can see the low-risk benefit of trying things out with meal-sized portions before investing in large sizes of condiments and spices.

 

The Wolfert recipes are Salmon chermoula with cucumber salad and preserved lemon-couscousSpiced lamb patties with cauliflower tabbouleh and tahini dressingTunisian chickpea soup with soft-cooked eggs and toasted ciabatta, and Sausage and white bean cassoulet with arugula salad.  Turns out I have all the ingredients on hand already so I won't be ordering but I like the concept.

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15 hours ago, DianaB said:

If anyone is interested I will report further after trying the Gousto meals.  I also plan to try Simply Cook, a company that puts together aromatics etc to support a recipe provided.  I don't know which countries it serves but it seems to be another subscription offer.  A friend tried the company and was pleased with the results.

 

I would be interested, DianaB! Good to see you back, Yah! I have wondered what happened to you. Missed you.

 

Hope you can catch up at work soon so you can join us more often.

 

I've read ads that say that these meal services can be cheaper than the grocery store, but I kind of doubt their veracity. I have limited funds, so I have to really watch what I spend. Since I have to walk for and carry back all supplies on foot, this is really interesting to me, but I can't pay more than I would if I was to walk up to the grocers and select my own ingredients. Some of the recipes with these services seem to be very interesting and worthwhile, though. It is seductive to have ingredients delivered to my doorstep.

 

Companies are legislatively allowed not to give out their spice mixes as intellectual property. It is tough to get them to impossible. All you can usually do is scope it out and try to replicate. For really good stuff, there are enough others that are interested and want it, so on the internet, you can sometimes find copycat recipes. With enough minds working on it, sometimes these recipes are very good.

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Thank you so much for your kind messages, this is such a friendly place to hang out, I will just have to be careful and limit my time!

 

Continuing the thread on recipe boxes we had our first 'Gousto' experience last night.  The recipe was called 'Smoky Pork Chilli with Popped Beans'.  It was the 'popped beans' that had caught my husband's eye when we were choosing our meals.  DH is a lover of chilli be it fresh from the plant, frozen from his own plants or incorporated into one of his mixes.  We even have undrinkable 'chilli vodka', I think I referred to that in another thread.  While it can't be drunk it does make a nice addition in very small quantities to various sauces.  I think our bottle will last us the rest of our lives.  If I did write about it before on eGullet it would have been in the Cocktails section.  If you are really curious you can read DH's write up on our not yet launched or indexed but we will get around to it one day blog:

http://www.europage.co.uk/curiosity/cooking/250000-scovilles-naga-chilli-vodka/

 

I am not promoting our blog but I am looking forward (one day) to developing it.  As an aside, to those of you who are able to maintain blogs you have my admiration.  I wouldn't have imagined the time required until we embarked on the 'Curiosity' exercise.

 

Anyway, I digress.  Last night's meal used the ingredients from the last of the photos in my post of yesterday.  As we both enjoy cooking DH and I prepared it together with him taking charge of the 'popped' beans and the rice cooking.  I do any chopping generally (because I enjoy it, DH is equally capable).  On this occasion chopping was only required for the onion, 2 x spring onions (scallions in other places?) and a small bunch of coriander.  

 

Half of the beans were laid out on a baking sheet, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper lightly applied and then into a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes.  At 15 minutes they were all 'popped'.  We decided to turn the oven off and leave them inside.  Big mistake but one learns by one's mistakes.

 

Constructing the 'chilli' part of the recipe was straightforward involving the red onion, pork mince (don't recall using pork mince before except pork I have minced myself in days long gone when I made sausages), some powdered cinnamon, a splodge (pre-measured) of tomato puree and a similar measure of 'chipotle paste'.  I only discovered the existence of 'chipotle' through reading eGullet and this was my first contact with the product.  We each nervously stuck our fingers in the pot to taste it neat.  Not impressive, sort of sweetish oddness but of course this may or may not resemble anything you might know as chipotle.

 

On separating the kidney beans from their liquid we were warned to keep the liquid to one side.  After cooking the onion (10 mins), adding and starting to cook the mince (5 minutes) adding pastes and 350g stock made from the supplied stock cube and a pinch of sugar (I was all for forgetting the sugar but DH said we should follow the recipe properly first time around and I guess that is the right approach) - cook another 10 minutes.  Next we added the second half of the kidney beans and, very reluctantly on my part, the liquid from the can of beans - a maroon coloured sludge.  We were to cook this lot for another 5 minutes and then, hey presto, the chilli was ready.  We drained the rice which tasted fine, we added the chopped spring onions and coriander to the rice as directed.  We grated the supplied Cheddar cheese to sprinkle over the top.

 

The meal was plated (or rather 'bowled' - we usually eat chilli from a bowl for ease with the rice first, then the meat/bean stew type thing, then the, er, slightly charred (burnt black in parts) popped beans over the top followed by the grated cheese.  We really should have either cooked the beans in the oven ten minutes before serving or taken them out of the oven to keep warm alongside the bowls we would later eat from.

 

This was a meal for 2 but it would easily have fed 3 or 4 if there was a little bread to mop up with. I actually liked the crunchy black red kidney beans, the texture made a nice change to the somewhat uni-textured meal.  

 

We did finish our servings but immediately agreed that this is not a recipe we will make again.  DH makes a great chilli and we usually have portions of that in the freezer.  So, on the basis of one meal to date, Gousto is not in the same category as Hello Fresh. We can only hope that recipes for the next two days give better results.  

 

Perhaps you might advise on a query that arose from preparing this meal.  I was really surprised that we were to keep the 'juice' from the bean can (tin - is 'can' the right word for speakers of English who aren't from the UK)?  When insomnia strikes I will sometimes watch a French TV cooking show and I'm certain that in one such recent programme the Chef advised that this liquid held all of the stuff from the beans that can lead to unfortunate digestive side effects; his advice was to rinse canned/tinned beans before use.  I have also seen the liquid from a tin of chickpeas used as an alternative to egg white for those who are not able to eat eggs.  It will whip up to form something that looks vaguely like whipped cream.  As I am fortunate and don't suffer food allergies I haven't been tempted to try whipped chick pea juice for my desserts. 

 

I have never before seen a recipe that advises the liquid from any type of tinned beans or similar should be added to a 'stew'  DH proposed that it was added to thicken the sauce.  This might be the case because there was no flour or similar to bring the sauce together.  Is this a routine way to thicken a sauce in other parts of the world?  

 

I'll try to remember to take a picture of tonight's Gousto meal

 

Thank you again to all who have welcomed me back.  I love this community and had forgotten how much one is made to feel welcome.   

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

 

Companies are legislatively allowed not to give out their spice mixes as intellectual property. It is tough to get them to impossible. All you can usually do is scope it out and try to replicate. For really good stuff, there are enough others that are interested and want it, so on the internet, you can sometimes find copycat recipes. With enough minds working on it, sometimes these recipes are very good.

 

I think in the UK anything sold as food must include a list of ingredients, legislation that if memory serves me right was brought in to help those with food allergies or sensitivities.  I will follow your advice and search for bloggers who have made their own versions of some of the Hello Fresh recipes.   

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18 hours ago, DianaB said:

 

I think in the UK anything sold as food must include a list of ingredients, legislation that if memory serves me right was brought in to help those with food allergies or sensitivities.  I will follow your advice and search for bloggers who have made their own versions of some of the Hello Fresh recipes.   

 

Whoops. Sorry I forgot you were posting from the UK, where the food laws are much more consumer-friendly than here in the good ole USA. 

 

I don't use that bean liquid from canned beans in anything. It is usually kind of gross to me. I rinse canned beans. The one can of kidney beans I have in the pantry has sugar, corn syrup and preservatives on the ingredient list, so I like to get rid of that. My favorite way to make chili includes both light red and dark red kidney beans, but I always rinse them. I love the visual contrast, although there's not much flavor difference. The skins of the light red are maybe a little more tender. Good chili will cook down and be thick from the reduction. I've not seen a need for flour in it.

 

Also when soaking and cooking my own beans, I tend to drain the water off several times during the soak. I think inulin is soluble in water, and that is the reason for the thick, gelatinous canned bean liquid. And yes, inulin does cause some people gastric discomfort. It is supposed to be good for you, but I'd rather do without an excess. 

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3 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

 

Whoops. Sorry I forgot you were posting from the UK, where the food laws are much more consumer-friendly than here in the good ole USA. 

 

I don't use that bean liquid from canned beans in anything. It is usually kind of gross to me. I rinse canned beans. The one can of kidney beans I have in the pantry has sugar, corn syrup and preservatives on the ingredient list, so I like to get rid of that. My favorite way to make chili includes both light red and dark red kidney beans, but I always rinse them. I love the visual contrast, although there's not much flavor difference. The skins of the light red are maybe a little more tender. Good chili will cook down and be thick from the reduction. I've not seen a need for flour in it.

 

Also when soaking and cooking my own beans, I tend to drain the water off several times during the soak. I think inulin is soluble in water, and that is the reason for the thick, gelatinous canned bean liquid. And yes, inulin does cause some people gastric discomfort. It is supposed to be good for you, but I'd rather do without an excess. 

 

My thoughts were (are) much the same as yours in respect of the liquid that comes with canned beans.   Last night's meal from our Gousto box was 'Crispy Mushroom Dal and Coriander Chutney'.  The dal called for two varieties of lentil: red (dried and supplied in a plastic bag) and what Gousto described simply as 'canned lentils'.  These are the ingredients supplied by Gousto for last night's dinner (the liquid from the canned lentils went into the dish, this was the first time we have used tinned lentils):

IMG_4011.jpg.687fe8d82192abb60d9a3aed1de3787a.jpg

 

The red lentils are underneath the onion.

 

In attempt to be more organised than with the previous recipe I decided to do all of the chopping before we began any cooking.  There were 3 elements to the dish.  The dal was substantial, this included half of the onion, all of the lentils with the liquid that came from the can of brown lentils, 'curry powder' coconut cream and stock.  Simple to make and the end result tasted good.  We both love dal, an ideal meal any day would be a large bowl of dal with a stack of chapatis, memories of happy student days... 

 

Once the dal was bubbling away on the hob we prepared the mushrooms.  These were sliced into chunks, the other half of the sliced onion was sprinkled over them on a baking tray and, with a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper, the tray was placed under the grill to cook.  Gousto advised 5-10 minutes until nicely charred.  Bearing in mind our more than charred kidney beans of the night before my husband watched these mushrooms closely.  We were probably too cautious in cutting the heat early but they were certainly cooked and tasty.

 

The third element of the meal was what Gousto called a Coriander Chutney.  I don't really know what makes a chutney qualify for the appellation but this comprised grated ginger and garlic mixed with chopped coriander leaves (probably these should have been chopped more neatly than ours) rice vinegar, chilli flakes and olive oil.  Neither of us had tasted rice vinegar before, to us it tasted much like any other vinegar.  Overall though when mixed together these ingredients made a nice condiment.  

 

We followed the serving suggestion from the recipe - dal in bowls, mushrooms on top and then the green mix.  Not the most beautifully served of meals but it actually tasted really nice.  After our experience the night before it was a pleasant relief.  We had some chapatis in the freezer so a couple of those were quickly defrosted because it seemed wrong to eat dal without bread.  

 

So, two of the three Gousto meals have now been eaten.  Very different sentiments about each, we will have to wait until we have tried the final recipe before reaching a decision about the experience overall.  Friday nights always follow the same pattern in our household so I think it will be Saturday when we try the last of our Gousto meals. These and the Hello Fresh boxes have each given us opportunity to taste things we have never tried before.  Not wildly exotic things just items we wouldn't have bought because, like many people I suspect, we tend to stick with things we know we will like.   

 

This was last night's attempt.

IMG_4014.jpg.e252f4794a3727fdd1e11125270df496.jpg

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On 4/20/2017 at 4:58 AM, DianaB said:

<snip>

 

Perhaps you might advise on a query that arose from preparing this meal.  I was really surprised that we were to keep the 'juice' from the bean can (tin - is 'can' the right word for speakers of English who aren't from the UK)?  When insomnia strikes I will sometimes watch a French TV cooking show and I'm certain that in one such recent programme the Chef advised that this liquid held all of the stuff from the beans that can lead to unfortunate digestive side effects; his advice was to rinse canned/tinned beans before use.  I have also seen the liquid from a tin of chickpeas used as an alternative to egg white for those who are not able to eat eggs.  It will whip up to form something that looks vaguely like whipped cream.  As I am fortunate and don't suffer food allergies I haven't been tempted to try whipped chick pea juice for my desserts. 

 

I have never before seen a recipe that advises the liquid from any type of tinned beans or similar should be added to a 'stew'  DH proposed that it was added to thicken the sauce.  This might be the case because there was no flour or similar to bring the sauce together.  Is this a routine way to thicken a sauce in other parts of the world?  

 

<more snip>

 

With regard to the language: in the USA we generally call those food containers 'cans' instead of 'tins'.  When I was growing up we referred to the container as a 'tin can', although I doubt it was tin even then. When I read or hear an expression like 'tinned milk' or 'a tin of tuna' I assume the speaker/writer is not from the USA.  Offhand I can't think what expression our Canadian friends use.

 

It's odd that the boxed dinner would say to use the bean liquid, and it may have been for purposes of thickening.  I generally rinse beans and discard the sauce in the can: the canning liquid seems a bit icky to me, and I'm not sure I need those extra preservatives.  However, I have used it at times with no known ill effect.  During one memorable kayak camping trip a fellow camper and I ran up against the "everybody knows" paradigm, from opposite perspectives, while making chili for the group.  I thought everyone rinsed the beans and discarded the sauce; she thought nobody did! :D She came from a very large family.  They had used every scrap of food available, and in the case of chili they relied on the thickening power of the sauce. We used the sauce.  Nobody complained; in fact, everyone seemed to love the chili.

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27 minutes ago, Smithy said:

 

With regard to the language: in the USA we generally call those food containers 'cans' instead of 'tins'.  When I was growing up we referred to the container as a 'tin can', although I doubt it was tin even then. When I read or hear an expression like 'tinned milk' or 'a tin of tuna' I assume the speaker/writer is not from the USA.  Offhand I can't think what expression our Canadian friends use.

As a born Brit and an adoptive Canadian I tend to dither back-and-forth between tin and can but I believe most Canadians prefer can. 

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Here on the East Coast "tin" and "can" are both used, but with the passage of time it seems that "can" is becoming the predominant usage. 

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For me one of the most rewarding aspects of reading eGullet is learning about language and food and the differences in the ways the first is used to describe the second.  England, our home at the moment, is a tiny country compared to many others that use variations of English to communicate.  We don't need to travel very far to find significant differences even within the region where we are living.  A 'faggot' might be the same as a 'savoury duck' or a 'meat ball'.  A 'faggot' on a menu in France is perhaps a collection of fine beans arranged to resemble the sticks for which the food item is named.  English speakers in England won't necessarily agree on a name for a meal eaten at midday or that eaten in the evening.  Region plays a part in determining the most likely name but so does the nature of one's work and the calories needed to ensure that work can be completed.

 

All of which is a diversion from my intended report on our third and final Gousto meal of the week: 'Turkish Lamb & Dill-Infused Bulgar'.  We agreed that this was the best of the three meals we had tried.  Overall this and the dal recipe made up for the disappointing first meal and we bear in mind that had we paid closer attention to the cooking of that recipe it might have been less disappointing.  

 

As before we decided to do all of the chopping for the meal before we started cooking.  This was a joint project, generally we stuck to the recipe but we didn't add the oil to the minced lamb as directed and we used much less salt and sugar than advised. Previously when preparing bulgar we have used stock but the recipe called for water so that is what we used.  I think I would use a light vegetable stock if we make this again.

 

Overall there were three components to the dish: bulgar with a good amount of fresh dill and some sumac powder stirred through; a yoghurt sauce with a good amount of chopped garlic, some salt and pepper and olive oil and then a minced lamb and cherry tomato sauce that included harissa, more chopped garlic sugar and salt.  The instructions were to serve the bulgar as a bottom layer, then the yoghurt and then the lamb/tomatoes. We had saved some dill and sumac to sprinkle over the finished dish as advised.

 

We were happily surprised at a tasty and copious meal.  

IMG_4021.thumb.JPG.db5018ce17e9cad4d19e9d256cca405c.JPG

 

Like Hello Fresh Gousto offers a first box for very little money, from memory we paid £9.99 for our box which held ingredients to provide three meals for two people.  Gousto gives more choices than Hello Fresh but it seems to repeat the same recipes for a few weeks so whether there really are more choices I'm not sure.

 

What both companies do is sign you up as a 'subscriber' in return for allowing you an introductory box for little or no money.  They don't hide that information but judging from the comments on Facebook, Trust Pilot and similar they certainly could make it clearer.  It is easy enough to cancel or suspend a subscription but of course you have to be aware of the need to take that action.  Our first Hello Fresh box was free but we still had to provide bank details to have the box sent.  Had we not been aware of the subscription we would have received a full price box the following week.  

 

Both companies offer an 'app' from which it is easy enough to skip weeks, suspend or cancel a subscription.  Aware of a stack of negative messages about Hello Fresh I made sure that when I passed on the free boxes I was allocated for my friends I made it very clear what steps were necessary to suspend a subscription.  To date I haven't been offered free boxes for friends from Gousto so perhaps they don't use that system.  Any visit to their website seems to bring an offer of two boxes at half price or one box at £9.99.

 

At full price both companies charge around £40 for six meals so about £6.66 each serving.  I think the price might work out slightly cheaper if you buy the boxes aimed at four people.  It would certainly be very easy to feed two or four people well at a lower price.  On a positive note we have tried things that we had either not eaten before or forgotten about.  It is convenient to have exactly the right amount of ingredients.  Too often in the past we have bought packs of spices only to use a small amount and then find the jar or packet at the back of the cupboard years later.  We appreciate that Hello Fresh pack all the ingredients for each recipe into a brown paper bag; we use that bag for wrappings/peelings etc so it all seems efficient.  We appreciate that both companies use recyclable packaging to keep items cold during delivery.  Hello Fresh take their packing back to reuse, I'm hoping Gousto will do the same.

 

Both of the companies we tried have been around a few years and Hello Fresh is operating in quite a range of countries.  I see that in Germany they have an option for Thermomix owners!  

 

There seem to be quite a few new companies entering the market so we might experiment further in due course.  Tonight will be pizza, the dough is about to be split into portions and set to rise.  We have a freezer full of food so I'm thinking our inspiration will come from there for the next few days.

 

It would be interesting to read of anyone else's recipe box adventures, I seem to recall there were quite a few a couple of years ago?  

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I am a current subscriber to Purple Carrots' TB12 meal kit.  I have been reporting my results on the Dinner! thread but will post here from now on.  I will say that I am very pleased with the food, and it is definitely saving me money and massively cutting down on food waste.  I have an unusual setup in that Mon-Thurs it is just my husband and myself, but Fri-Sun I have a minimum of six and as many as 12 people to feed dinner to.  So, I have been doing Purple Carrot Tue-Thu, eating my fish share on Mondays, and then just shopping for the weekend.  After factoring in the cost of the meal kit, I would estimate my weekly grocery savings to be around 25%.

 

One big problem with meal kits is the amount of packaging.  The recycling rules in my town allow me to recycle 100% of the packing materials, but if that was not the case it would probably give me pause.  There are a lot of little plastic bags and containers to deal with.

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This week's TB12 Purple Carrot box arrived today.  Here is the outside, with Tom Brady's food philosophy, which, if you have seen my posts in the Dinner! thread, you know I do not follow.    I'm really trying to cut down on fresh food waste while still enjoying a wide variety of vegetables, so I thought this was worth a try.  Plus, my husband likes Tom Brady haha.

 

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The contents of this week's box.  You can see what I mean about the packaging.  I am able to recycle 100%, but I know that is not true for all locations.

 

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Since we were not having a TB12 meal tonight, I chose to cook one of the meals for my husband and I to take for lunches this week.  I picked the pasta fagioli since it's supposed to rain tomorrow and soup is always good on a rainy day.  Here are most of the ingredients for the soup--I forgot to put the garlic, celery, and asparagus in the picture.  I was multi-tasking--making our dinner while taking these photos.

 

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And the final soup, plated for a picture.  Mine looks greener than the recipe card because I stirred all of the pistou in since I am portioning it out for lunches.  

 

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This meal made enough soup for two lunches each.  I did not use the "brown rice english muffin" from the ingredients photo.  The recipe card instructed you to make garlic bread out of it.  No thanks, I will have no garlic bread at all before I eat garlic bread made from a brown rice english muffin.  I tossed it in the freezer for some other person's breakfast someday.

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Beans in a tetrapack? Interesting. Have not seen that before. 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/26/2017 at 5:42 AM, Anna N said:

Beans in a tetrapack? Interesting. Have not seen that before. 

 

My local Whole Foods has been selling beans in tetra packs for many years.  The other groceries around me only have them in cans.

 

So, here are the other TB12 meals from this week.  Wednesday we had BBQ jackfruit over green chili polenta with a collard green apple-radish slaw

 

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This was my first time cooking with jackfruit.  I guess vegans use it as a sub for pulled pork.  It was interesting.  I would not go out of my way to seek out more, but I would eat it again.  The polenta and slaw were tasty.

 

Last night we had Thai green curry vegetables over lemongrass-ginger quinoa with a tomato-Thai basil salad and tamari almond garnish

 

590324ece2e78_curryquinoa.thumb.jpg.5910d595cc2dd46594c704b4281c9b3a.jpg

 

Very tasty.  The curry had a whole Thai bird chili with seeds so it had a little heat.  The amount of quinoa given was way too much for two people.  I have a container of it in my fridge to be repurposed into some sort of salad later.

 

Back to non TB12 food until next Tuesday.

 


Edited by liamsaunt (log)
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I ran across an advertisement for Hello Fresh which apparently now delivers in my local area.  I am debating a trial purely out of curiosity.    It could only be an improvement on Chefs Plate! As a singleton these meal delivery services miss the mark. None of them seem to offer single meals for single people which means lots of leftovers. I have absolutely no objection to eating a meal the second time around if I enjoyed it the first time around but with a meal delivery system that's a bit of a gamble. Certainly the menus for Hello Fresh appeal to me considerably more than the ones from Chefs' Plate.  Still considering whether I will actually pull the trigger.   I would consider the cost as part of my entertainment budget rather than part of my grocery budget.:o

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Posted (edited)
On 28 April 2017 at 3:04 PM, Anna N said:

I ran across an advertisement for Hello Fresh which apparently now delivers in my local area.  I am debating a trial purely out of curiosity.    It could only be an improvement on Chefs Plate! As a singleton these meal delivery services miss the mark. None of them seem to offer single meals for single people which means lots of leftovers. I have absolutely no objection to eating a meal the second time around if I enjoyed it the first time around but with a meal delivery system that's a bit of a gamble. Certainly the menus for Hello Fresh appeal to me considerably more than the ones from Chefs' Plate.  Still considering whether I will actually pull the trigger.   I would consider the cost as part of my entertainment budget rather than part of my grocery budget.:o

 

We are having a Hello Fresh box this week, arriving Wednesday rather than our usual Tuesday because May 1st is a public holiday in England and Wales (happy memories of life in France where 1st May was also a national holiday: workers day, and I would each year come home to hand picked lily of the valley flowers from an elderly neighbour keeping traditions alive)

 

Anyway, we have ordered 3 X meals for 2.  Can't remember what they are as I write so that will be the first surprise!  

 

I have nade made a new friend locally through discussion of these meal boxes.  This is nice for me, my home and office are the same space so new friendships are cherished.  This person introduced me to Simply Cooking.  This scheme is also membership based but customers receive just herb and spice mixes and sauce bases, recipe cards have a shopping list attached to remind you to get the vegetables and any meat or fish necessary to make the meal.  My intro box was just £1 so if we get 1 decent meal from the bos I will be happy.  The meals will need to be stunning to keep my interest at £8.99 a set but perhaps I am unrealistic about prices. 

 

Tonight we we ate a variation of a previous Hello Fresh recipe: chicken with sage leaves enclosed in Serrano ham; Jersey Royal potatoes (highlight of spring for me) and stir fried leeks (another Hello Fresh technique).  I made a sauce with much reduced cream/Gewurtztraminer/Dijon mustard and that was it.  Perfect for us, things we might have made years ago but had completely forgotten about certain combinations as new things came along to replace them in our repertoire.

 

I'll try to remember to report here as the Hello Fresh box is consumed.  It will be 3 meals for 2 people but I don't remember exactly what we asked for...  

 

@Anna N I know that some Hello Fresh services offer boxes for 1, not in the UK though.  Here they propose that we cook for 2 and freeze half, not ideal, I did live alone not too long ago and would not have been tempted by this option.  The Canadian Hello Fresh has different options to the UK so it might be worth a look if you are interested.

 

i don't know if the referrals I can make work internationally, I suspect not.  If you are interested have a search around for Hello Fresh intro offer, I'm sure you will quickly find codes to bring you significant reductions on early orders wherever you are based.

 


Edited by DianaB (log)
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 I have looked into it and the Hello Fresh here only makes meals suitable for two or more. But if only they offered Jersey Royals......xD

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On ‎4‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 8:04 AM, Anna N said:

I ran across an advertisement for Hello Fresh which apparently now delivers in my local area.  I am debating a trial purely out of curiosity.    It could only be an improvement on Chefs Plate! As a singleton these meal delivery services miss the mark. None of them seem to offer single meals for single people which means lots of leftovers. I have absolutely no objection to eating a meal the second time around if I enjoyed it the first time around but with a meal delivery system that's a bit of a gamble. Certainly the menus for Hello Fresh appeal to me considerably more than the ones from Chefs' Plate.  Still considering whether I will actually pull the trigger.   I would consider the cost as part of my entertainment budget rather than part of my grocery budget.:o

I am debating the same thing and I am also a singleton.

I look at it as simply a way to try new meals and techniques.  I'm quite curious. 

One thing I did notice when I was browsing the Blue Apron setup was that when I entered my old zipcode (which was in a much larger city) I found that the pricing was far less than it would be to the town where I live now.

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On 4/23/2017 at 11:19 AM, liamsaunt said:

I am a current subscriber to Purple Carrots' TB12 meal kit.  I have been reporting my results on the Dinner! thread but will post here from now on.  I will say that I am very pleased with the food, and it is definitely saving me money and massively cutting down on food waste.  I have an unusual setup in that Mon-Thurs it is just my husband and myself, but Fri-Sun I have a minimum of six and as many as 12 people to feed dinner to.  So, I have been doing Purple Carrot Tue-Thu, eating my fish share on Mondays, and then just shopping for the weekend.  After factoring in the cost of the meal kit, I would estimate my weekly grocery savings to be around 25%.

 

One big problem with meal kits is the amount of packaging.  The recycling rules in my town allow me to recycle 100% of the packing materials, but if that was not the case it would probably give me pause.  There are a lot of little plastic bags and containers to deal with.

 

 

Where do the savings come from? Would you still be saving if you ate dinner from kits exclusively?

 

Your photos are stunning (as usual).

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On 5/2/2017 at 9:27 AM, gfweb said:

 

 

Where do the savings come from? Would you still be saving if you ate dinner from kits exclusively?

 

Your photos are stunning (as usual).

 

I am saving money because I am not buying any meat during the week, and I am also not buying so many vegetables and herbs that things go bad before I have a chance to use them. I like having a wide variety of veggies to choose from but when cooking for two it's hard to use everything up.

 

I would not like eating from kits exclusively. It's fun a couple of nights a week but I want to do my own thing the rest of the time.

 

I also don't necessarily use the ingredients as they are meant to be used. For example, last night's meal was supposed to utilize tofu, but I don't eat tofu so I swapped in some fish from my fish share.

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That's a problem for me too.  Since I live alone but still like to  cook a lot of the veg. and herbs I buy don't get used (I usually cook 3 to 4 times a week then eat leftovers or something from the freezer).

I like the deliveries I get from Schwan's...everything is frozen and easy to prepare.  Cod, salmon, brats, chicken patties, burgers, plus I like their veg., corn, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, etc.

Everything I've tried is very, very good.  They have a lot to choose from for breakfasts, snacks, desserts as well.

 

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Posted (edited)

I like Schwan's, particularly for seafood, as finding good seafood can be an issue here in a relatively small city in flyover country. I have a good source for shrimp, but I've gotten scallops, crab legs, cod, salmon, and presently have halibut on order from Schwan's. I also like their boneless pork loin chops, if it's been a good while since I bought a whole loin from the butcher and cut my own. I don't buy their beef or chicken, since I have a local source for farm-raised.

 

A lot of their other items are pretty good, as well, although I don't much care for the flavor profile of their pre-packaged entrees. But their convenience snacky stuff and breakfast sandwiches, etc., are decent.


Edited by kayb for clarification. (log)

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So this week I only prepared one of the three meals using the ingredients as they were meant to be used.  Here's the ingredients for the first meal, Crispy tofu with pumpkin seed mole, Spanish rice and chayote squash (minus the garlic--I forgot to put the garlic in the photo again)

 

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I don't eat tofu, so swapped in some fish.  The tofu got donated to the community section of my office fridge.  People bring in unwanted unopened food and leave it in a specific spot for anyone to take.  It was gone at the end of the day.  The plated meal:

 

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Verdict: pretty tasty.  I forgot to put the sour cream on the plate, and am glad I did not use the full amount of chipotles included--2 whole peppers plus about 3 tbsp adobo sauce.  That would have made the sauce much too spicy for my taste.  There was far too much mole sauce for two people, so I now have a bag of mole sauce in the freezer.

 

Meal number two: Cauliflower steaks with smashed potatoes, asparagus and roasted red pepper pesto.  I remembered the garlic this time :-)

 

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Plated result:

 

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This was very easy to pull together.  It also made way too much food!  I could only manage half of this plate.  The red pepper pesto was really garlicky so I could not take the leftovers to work for lunch.  I'll use them up in a sort of salad this weekend.  

 

My husband cheated and made his meal non-vegan with some leftover lamb from Sunday:

 

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The third meal was meant to be cannellini bean burgers with tzatziki sauce and carrot fries.  I saved the beans for another day and made salmon burgers with the recipe ingredients instead.  That result is posted on the Dinner! thread.

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Love the photos and descriptions from @liamsaunt, I'm feeling very lazy having failed to remember to take pictures of our Hello Fresh week.

 

The question of meals based on single servings comes up time and again on Hello Fresh social media.  From memory they offer the option in a small number of countries.  Switzerland might be one.  The response to UK residents is always you should buy and cook for two and save half for another day.  Not always the way people want to work and since they provide 1 person boxes in some places it seems odd that they refuse the requests elsewhere.

 

I did take a picture of the contents of our box freshly unpacked:

 

image.thumb.jpeg.7503fd959602bd38a2e3fae1b307f576.jpeg

 

Our meals this week were a Greek style lamb and lentil ragu, teriyaki beef and finally pork medallions with tarragon sauce.  The recipes for all of the Hello Fresh meals are freely available on their website so we had already tried the pork dish and really enjoyed it using ingredients we had compiled locally.

 

We began the box with the Greek lamb and lentil dish.  This comprised bulgur wheat under a lamb, tomato and lentil stew with a yoghurt 'tzarziki' garnish.  I put the last bit in ''s because I have no idea what an authentic version would be like.

 

The dish was quick to make and very tasty.  Hello Fresh generally have seasoning to our taste and the spices for this dish were good.  The red lentils disappeared into the sauce, no doubt added as a thickening agent.  Our only real criticism of this dish was the quantity.  The portions were vast and had we known in advance how filling the meal would be we would have frozen half of the ragu for another day.  We enjoyed the meal but I doubt we will make it again.

 

Second up was the beef.  This dish is a good example of what we are getting from our use of Hello Fresh.  We would never have chosen the recipe from a book or restaurant menu.  It would never have occurred to me to mix the ingredients of the marinade and serve the results, some of the ingredients for this dish were completely new to us.  We loved the results and will certainly make this again. 

 

The beef was sliced into strips and marinated in a mix of soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger and sliced spring onions.   The meat was served with brown basmati rice and garlicky bok choy.

 

The third and final meal was closest to the style of food we usually cook.  We had already tested the recipe a couple of times so we were confident we would enjoy the Hello Fresh version.  At this time of year we buy Jersey Royal potatoes for a very modest price but Hello Fresh had selected another variety that wasn't as tasty.  Nothing was wrong with their potatoes but the season for jerseys is short and it would have been good to include them.    The pork was very good, served with a sauce based on a reduction of chicken stock, soured cream and tarragon.  

 

The coming week will be box free but I think we will have another attempt at the teriyaki beef.  There are certainly cheaper ways to put a meal together but the significant benefit for us is discovery of new flavours and ingredients through the recipes.  

 

I will try to remember to take photos next time we cook from a box.  @Anna N it will be very interesting to see what HF offer in Canada if you decide to give it a try.  

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