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DianaB

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

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@FauxPas, thanks for taking the time to share all the details of these meal kits with us.  I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of the finished product. 

I thought the packaging you showed looked fit for purpose.  I've not seen any meal kits locally but I remember seeing some when I was visiting in Houston and it seemed like they were using relatively large boxes - big enough to hold a large platter of the finished dish - perhaps to make it seem more valuable, or at least as valuable as take-out?  Unless you had a pretty empty fridge, you'd need to unpack the boxes and store everything separately. 

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At the end of the day, we were pleasantly surprised by this meal. It's a very simple one and it all depended on a couple of simple ingredients, We both loved the shrimp and the pre-cooked pasta.  We were really surprised by how tasty it was. Would it compete with a good restaurant, maybe not. But it was surprisingly decent. And really fast to make. And reasonably priced. 

 

My husband loved the shrimp and we thought it was a very generous amount. We had a hard time finishing it all.

 

Not the best photo, I just don't have any more time tonight. The meal was good. 

 

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It's funny to see this topic again.  I never did reinstate the TB12 meal kit service after I cancelled back in August.  They still email me every week with the next week's planned menu and the opportunity to order.  This last week was the first time I seriously considered getting the delivery (the menu was sweet potato burgers, vegetable sushi, and a black bean enchilada bake).  I stopped the service for two reasons: 1. the TB12 plan was originally marketed as a low-soy plan, but as time went on, there was tofu or tempeh in one meal almost every week.  I cannot eat either of those foods, so the protein went to waste.  2. Consistent issues with the quality of the product.  Not every time, but frequently enough to be bothersome.  Either a can would be badly dented, or a vegetable would be rotten.  I always complained, and they always comped me, but it made the service less convenient than it should have been.  The packaging was not an issue for me as I was able to recycle 100% of it.

 

That said, overall I thought the meals were very creative, colorful and flavorful.  It was fun to try foods in combinations I would not have thought of.  I'm lucky to be surrounded by my pick of good grocery stores (Wegman's, Whole Foods, Eataly, plus local chain Roche Brothers), so I have consistent access to excellent quality food.  If I lived in a more rural area without all of those choices, I would most likely resubscribe to TB12 and investigate other options too.

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@FauxPas  I was thinking of all plastic packaging.  I use cloth shopping bags and wish more shoppers would also.  We can submit plastic packaging in a separate bag for recycling here in the interior.  I think I read somewhere that the bags clog up their sorting machinery so they want them separate.

The meal looks pretty decent.  

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I think I mentioned way back in this topic

 

or a topic about what your SuperMarket had 

 

both

 

ready to eat

 

or to take home and cook.

 

my higher-end Supemarket

 

Roche Brothers , a family chain in the BOS area

 

and a fine store

 

had both microwave packs  and cook in your oven packs

 

changed daily and ' fresh '

 

what Interested me about this is that

 

a supermarket has Tons of fresh stuff

 

packing that Stuff for home use  , either in a kit or for your oven or your Micro

 

makes a great deal of economic sense :  if you think of economics as efficiency

 

using a delivery service , UPS or what have you

 

adds an additional cost layer

 

one might need that

 

but I was intrigued to see that a supermarket has 'Pick me up , and cook me tonight packs '

 

now we await The Amazonians to deal w this via WF.

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Interesting to catch up on this topic months after I last visited.  It seems that in some parts of the world the choice of meal kits has risen significantly while elsewhere little has changed.  After trying the 3 available options based on our address in England we have stayed with Hello Fresh ordering perhaps every 6 weeks or so depending on what they are offering and what we are doing.

 

In general we have very few complaints.  The one time we received a damaged pot of cream we were credited with 50% of the value of that week’s box, the damaged item would have cost pennies. Impressed by some of the spice mixes we asked where they were sourced and were advised that Seasoned Pioneers supplies Hello Fresh so we have been able to buy direct from them and create similar recipes between boxes. We also obtained the name of the company that supplies their very nice stock pots but as Hello Fresh recipes for 2 often require use of only half the supplied stock we have been able to keep spare portions in the fridge.

 

Overall the advantage for us has been the opportunity to try new to us styles of cooking with ease.  We have kept the recipe cards in the binder they kindly supplied as a gift in return for detailed feedback we provided in respect of a recipe that we found to be full of errors.  That is the only recipe we didn’t follow closely because it was clear to us as reasonably experienced home cooks that we would end up with a poor result.

 

All of the recipes are freely available via their app so we have tried some of them without buying the box.  The Hello Fresh experience has improved the range of things we eat significantly.  We decided early in the experience that we would make the meals as directed even where we thought we wouldn’t like certain of the ingredients.  That has worked well and we have learned that in the right combinations we can enjoy these things that we would never otherwise have bought.

 

The meals are certainly not sold at a bargain price but there is no waste.  The insulation used to keep certain things cold is wool based and can be returned to HF at their cost for re-use.  I read in this thread that HF works on a margin of 2%, if that is correct it seems that the viability of the business is fragile at best.  I hope they manage to keep going, their food has certainly enriched our cooking.  We have a box ordered for next week so I will try to remember to photograph the contents.

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Here is our second experience with the Fry's/Kroger Prep+Pared meal kits. It's a vegan one, Black Bean Street Cakes with sautéed squash and verde rice. These patties were really good! I think even most non-vegans would enjoy this meal. And it was nice to dress up the rice with the salsa verde. 

 

The corn grits base for the patties was tasty and held together well and the spices were fun. It was a fast, easy and fun meal. I would absolutely try a similar one. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Stop and Shop, which is where I get my groceries delivered  (via Peapod) also offers meal kits. 

 Lately their offering feed 6+ and unless it looking really good, I’m not buying it for a household of two adults. 

 

  The photo below is the one ‘kit’ I have bought probably about 4 times because we really enjoy it. It was priced (I haven’t purchased in about 6 months or longer) at  $12.99

 

   I didn’t learn anything exceptional, although I will say the garlic roasted green beans were really delicious. 

D9E1546C-0970-4F76-9939-05E55DB57263.jpeg


Edited by MetsFan5 (log)
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Checked my Kroger today. No meals kits. I'll continue to check periodically. This "super Kroger" has a massive deli section with bars where one can get wings, Chinese, Mexican, salad, soup, sushi, olives, cheese, and store-made, to be baked, pizza, calzone and such, along with deli-style sandwiches, and I circled my way around all those to be sure, as well as the regular deli counter. Didn't peruse the meat counter, but I was figuring they'd be in deli.

 

The deli has entrees you can get and take home and warm up (salmon, roast chicken, ribs, etc.) and numerous sides. I've never picked up dinner from there, but it LOOKS good.

 

 

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18 hours ago, kayb said:

I circled my way around all those to be sure, as well as the regular deli counter. Didn't peruse the meat counter, but I was figuring they'd be in deli.

 

The meal kits in the local Fry's (Kroger) were near the produce and deli sections and close to one of the entrances. Beside produce and in front of deli as you come into the store, basically. 

 

Looks like they introduce some new ones each week. 

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4 hours ago, FauxPas said:

 

The meal kits in the local Fry's (Kroger) were near the produce and deli sections and close to one of the entrances. Beside produce and in front of deli as you come into the store, basically. 

 

Looks like they introduce some new ones each week. 

Probably on a schedule of regional introduction. May get to us later in the year. I'll keep looking.

 

Sounds like Fry's is arranged about like Kroger. In the front door, looking at the produce; turn right at produce, deli's just past it. Bakery just to the left of deli, then seafood to the left of that and you're at the back of the store; turn left and go alongside meat counter at back of store, followed by dairy section.

 

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4 minutes ago, kayb said:

Sounds like Fry's is arranged about like Kroger.

 

Pretty similar, anyway. :)

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Interesting to see the content of @FauxPas‘s boxes.  I note that the rice and pasta are already cooked.  With HF most ingredients need to be cooked, the only exception being beans or lentils that are supplied in tins (except red lentils that are supplied dried).

 

Of course I forgot to take pictures of the 2 meals we have cooked so far from this latest box.  The third will be made tonight so I will try again to remember to have a camera to hand...

 

Packaging from HF is mostly paper or card so easily recycled, plus the cats love the outer boxes so they get to sit in or on them until we are ready to put them into the recycling.  The only real waste arises from provision of exact doses of condiments.  I don’t see a way round that, if HF relied on us having similar full size products to hand we would need to buy a lot of stuff we wouldn’t otherwise use; this might end up with us throwing things out after they have sat in the cupboard/fridge for a while.  I try hard not to put anything edible into the rubbish.

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My son has been using Blue Apron for a couple of weeks in order to help his girlfriend learn to cook.  Son lives with me but I’m at my BF’s on the weekend when they cook.  They had one left over so he and I used it tonight.  Smoked trout sandwiches with slaw and roasted sweet potato slices,  I thought I hated sweet potatoes.  These were really good but I will now make them without a box.  Smoked trout was mixed with mayo(way too much ) and sambal oelek.  This was a great counterpart to the richness of the trout.  Ciabiatta was very good.  Directions were easy for me but for an inexperienced cook, ‘add olive oil and salt to taste’ may be scary.  Good meal.

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A friend got one of the services as a gift. I don't recall the company name. What struck me was that the recipes were interesting and they introduced the cook to ingrdients one might not have purchased for a single dish. So yes the packaging seems excessive but to get just a bit of somethiing rather than buying or sourcing alot is cool. I hate being told what to do so it is not for me but i think it can work piositively for more open minded peeps ;) 

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 Well it appears that meal kits have made it to my favourite supermarket. Click. 

 

 I will take one for the team when I get a chance to visit this grocery store. 

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So it happened sooner than I expected.

 

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There was not a lot of variety to choose from hence two chicken dishes. I likely will not get to them until at the very earliest tomorrow. They are supposedly good  until March 19. It would seem that some of the packaging issues have been overcome although by no means all of them.  In my store I might have missed them completely had @Kerry Beal not spotted them. They were in a section of the store that I rarely  visit – – the ready-to eat-section. 

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C52EE290-BFAE-4D37-9EB1-94F03016658C.thumb.jpeg.06e0dac5f59f5e2de0c84fdd687bf7e0.jpeg

 

And so the games begin. As you can see from the directions, and this is all you receive, these are not meant to teach anyone to cook.  Not sure what you might end up with if you follow these to the letter. 

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 The chicken seemed nice and fresh. 

 

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 vegetables not quite so much and they seem to have been hacked rather than sliced. You’ll also notice that scallions and peanuts are in there which most of us would consider to be garnish. So one of the downsides of reduce packaging is that there is no separation of ingredients when there should be. 

 

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 This  further evident when you get down to the noodle layer!   Vegetables are mixed in with noodles.  I was not about pick out all the little pieces of vegetables no I did I think it was particularly important that I do so.  But it annoyed me. 

 

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 The sauce which you are instructed to shake. 

 

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 There were far too many noodles in my opinion relative to the other ingredients so I left about half of them behind. 

 

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 Dished up for service. Not apparently meant for those who eat first with their eyes. 

 

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 I added some fresh scallions slices from my fridge. 

 

 Here’s my opinion:

 

 This is stretching cooking to the limit. I mean really there is no cooking involved just passing things into a pan and mixing them all up together.  I did not at any time feel as if I was cooking my own meals but rather assembling some ingredients. 

 

 On the other hand if you don’t know the first thing about cooking I wonder if you’d even come up with anything edible at the end of the day. 

 

I enjoy the sight of my ingredients but these were all so mixed up together that they were a dog’s dinner even before they ended up in the pan. 

 

I could not detect even a wiff of Thailand!

 

 I would not do it again. I think there are better bargains to be had including rotisserie chicken which would come in cheaper.  

 

 I am beginning to sound extremely negative so on a tiny positive note the plastic container is quite sturdy and will probably come in very useful!xD

 

 By the way the cost of this was $11.99 Cdn.  It will supposedly feed two which might explain the amount of noodles.  Certainly the meat would do two meals but I think one would wish for more vegetables. 

 

 

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was it salty ?   i.e.  industrial levels ?

 

aside from appearance 

 

was it tasty in any way ?

 

you can't get any take-out in my ' burgs for less that 9 - 11 USD

 

and the chinese-ey is salty.

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@Anna N  Do they ask for feedback at all on those meals?  I wonder when we will see them up here.  There is a Superstore (Loblaw) a short walk from where I live and I only go there about three times a year, mainly because if I have four things on my list they never have all four so I avoid them.  But, I was in there recently and they had completely changed the entrance and produce sections.  There is now a huge section of prepared food so it wouldn't surprise me if they were to be one of the  first stores around here  to offer these kits.  If they do, I'll try one and report.

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36 minutes ago, rotuts said:

was it salty ?   i.e.  industrial levels ?

 

aside from appearance 

 

was it tasty in any way ?

 

you can't get any take-out in my ' burgs for less that 9 - 11 USD

 

and the chinese-ey is salty.

 Yes. It’s hard to find premade sauces etc. that are low sodium not that I was looking. I can get a beautiful Costco rotisserie chicken for I believe 9.99 although it’s been a while. Would feed me for days with a salad on the side. But I was not looking so much for value as I was for quality and I didn’t find it here. 

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

@Anna N  Do they ask for feedback at all on those meals?  I wonder when we will see them up here.  There is a Superstore (Loblaw) a short walk from where I live and I only go there about three times a year, mainly because if I have four things on my list they never have all four so I avoid them.  But, I was in there recently and they had completely changed the entrance and produce sections.  There is now a huge section of prepared food so it wouldn't surprise me if they were to be one of the  first stores around here  to offer these kits.  If they do, I'll try one and report.

I am still thinking I will try one of their so-called chef inspired meals which are much more expensive. They start at $19.99 for dinner for two. I do know that this will never be a service for me but my curiosity will not let me just leave it alone!  

 

 Edited to add:

Sorry I didn’t answer your question. I’ve seen nothing that asks specifically for feedback on these.  

 

I thought I had a $10 coupon for one of the chef inspired meals but when I read it carefully it is not for use in store but only on a delivery order from grocery gateway. But I do think their flyer might be offering a deal this week.  I’m sorry to sound so distracted but I am.  :)


Edited by Anna N (log)
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Ive heard a lot about CostCo's Ck's being very nice.

 

its a ways for me to get a Ck.

 

after all of the ' make it yourself ' shakes out

 

AMNZ or not,

 

at least there will be  options for families , busy or not , 

 

with means and less time

 

to show their children sometimes food does not come in a HappyMealBox

 

or a Pizza Container

 

and making that food at home, eve w a Costco Ck

 

is a gift in todays world.

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, rotuts said:

Ive heard a lot about CostCo's Ck's being very nice.

 

its a ways for me to get a Ck.

 

after all of the ' make it yourself ' shakes out

 

AMNZ or not,

 

at least there will be  options for families , busy or not , 

 

with means and less time

 

to show their children sometimes food does not come in a HappyMealBox

 

or a Pizza Container

 

and making that food at home, eve w a Costco Ck

 

is a gift in todays world.

Yes I must rely on others going to Costco to get a chicken from there. But there are many things you can do with it. And if you remove the skin you are probably removing the bulk of the sodium.  I could also make a very nice rotisserie chicken at home that would still depend on somebody bringing me a damn chicken  Might as well have it already cooked. :P


Edited by Anna N Edited to remove duplicate sentence. (log)
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another point taken.

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