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


DianaB
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I'm very curious now, especially about Chef'd. I've wanted to try cooking more fish for a while, but I'm super intimidated by it - from going out to buy good fish to picking a recipe, it just scares me for some reason. (I'll do all kinds of other stuff in the kitchen no problem, just fish makes my brain seize up. :) ) So a meal kit seems like a possible way to ease into it? They send the fish and all the Stuff and all we have to do is the prep work.

 

Anyone think the fish is good enough to be worth trying that? (I'm allergic to shellfish and don't care for salmon, so that's one reason why Chef'd looks interesting - they have a huge variety of fish dishes to choose from, where the subscription folks seem to do shrimp or salmon a lot.)

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20 minutes ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

Here is what I see:

 

Odd. It is behind a paywall, now. But I read it just before I posted it and it was accessible. I do not have a subscription.

 

It was just saying that as a business model, it is financially non-viable. It demonstrated that the cost does not cover the contents, packaging, delivery and necessary marketing.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

Odd. It is behind a paywall, now. But I read it just before I posted it and it was accessible. I do not have a subscription.

 

It was just saying that as a business model, it is financially non-viable. It demonstrated that the cost does not cover the contents, packaging, delivery and necessary marketing.

 

Does the article comment on what the break-even price for meals should be?

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Just now, gfweb said:

Does the article comment on what the break-even price for meals should be?

 

I an also unable to reach it now, but as I recall, it suggested that Hello Fresh is working on a 2% margin - before including the cost of marketing and that without marketing their trade would decline rapidly in the face of competition from other food providers including traditional suppliers and newer rivals such as Amazon. . It didn't suggest a specific break even price.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Im veery interested in how Amazon through WF will radically change this market.

 

WF has a Food distribution and warehouse system Amazon has no experience with

 

WF has many locations in affluent neighborhoods where MealKits might make their appeal

 

WF has staff that can chop up all the stuff that sitting right in front of them

 

You would then be able to pick up your Kits on the way home , and get a Prime discount , in the Prime Express Line

 

or the kits could be delivered with in a local area by a Amazon/ WF mini-bus in the late afternoon into

 

some sort of cooler system similar to the kind my family had in the ' 50's  for fresh milk

 

before the Advent of true SuperMarkets.

 

if this sort of thing were efficiently run w enough selection

 

Non-WF  areas would probably have very few choices left to them.

 

let's see what happens.

 

I was not able to find a map w pin points of WF stores

 

only this :

 

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list/state

 

just glancing through this

 

that's a lot of the Disposable Income centers for most states.

 

and that's a neutral statement.

 

years ago I got to work well before the sun rose , and got home after the sun set.

 

except for Friday , when it was Extra-Large w Extra-Cheese  and a VHS or DVD

 

dinner was made every night be cause I enjoyed it.

 

I can see many of the people I helped ' bring along ' whose incomes now are much more than mine was at the time

 

again a neutral statement  

 

going on line near the end of their day to order up a kit or two from Amazon/WF's for pick up or 

 

delivery

 

then enjoying chopping and cooking that stuff up.

 

of course , they would be enjoying an massively over-priced  Chardonnay from California

 

w Gobs of Oak  

 

confusing the Mighty Oak w the Vine

 

so I only partially failed in My Work.

 

and some of them have pretty impressive Kitchens

 

however

 

No One

 

has a Rational Combi Oven single decker  or double decker !

 

suprise.gif.c008ceed8adbcbdf7d6c9cb3719f351c.gif

 

 

 

 

Edited by rotuts (log)
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A short P.S.:

 

I talked two of these Souls into getting a 

 

CSB(O)

 

one thought it was the Cat's Meow

 

the other one is not so sure 

 

Ill let you guess :

 

One likes Dry and Crisp   white wine , from any shelf

 

the other is a bit more woody.

 

money-mouth.gif.4320036d5da31947889e3eaa122585a7.gif

Edited by rotuts (log)
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I put a Gaggenau built-in steam oven in a previous house in a kitchen remodel (back in 2011 or so).  Used that thing every day; in fact, we could have used two sometimes!  Now we have a CSO on the counter and one new in box in the garage just in case. I got them for $150ish so bought two at the time. And the one on the counter was replaced free under warranty to the newer version by Cuisinart (great service!).

 

Didn't read the Financial Times article, but I honestly can't see how this is a viable business at current prices.  It works really well for us right now though.  Cheaper than and takes about as long as a restaurant outing and much less food wastage than cooking at home

 

With the mealkits, we mostly buy long-lasting grocery items leaving the perishables to the mealkits.  We now mostly buy frozen foods, nuts, dried fruits, cheeses, fermented, aged and cured foods, etc (great for augmenting the kits).   We do still buy fresh fruit and milk/milk substitutes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A Guardian columnist's take: Is this cooking for idiots? My week eating nothing but "recipe box" food

 

Quote

Unlike standard veg boxes, which feel like homework (what do you do with celeriac?), recipe boxes are the clever kid who’ll let you copy their work in class. They tell you what to cook, how to cook it and only give you enough ingredients to get it done. The recipes, which change every week, are broken down into an almost insultingly easy series of steps. The boxes make you feel like a kitchen pro, while removing the need to think or make choices. Are they the perfected form of home cooking? Or a symptom of our spoonfed uselessness? Can one live exclusively on them? To find out, I have ordered a selection of the best boxes available in the UK, and I’m going to spend nearly 10 days comparing them. I’ll barely have to leave the house, and will pass that time exclusively eating. In other words: the dream, squared.

 

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Cheers,

Anne

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Thank you for the link.

 

It’s a shame that the author seems to have been more intent on showing off his way with words and his aspirations as a comic than giving us a fair review of the meals. 

 

 A dud lime could happen in any household but at least in most there would likely be a spare.  Quality control matters in these kits. 

 

 I, for one, would have been livid to find turkey substituted for the chicken that I was expecting!  

 

The cost of the kits in Britain would certainly discourage me. 

 

 The appeal for me still remains the opportunity to try something I probably wouldn’t try left to my own devices. 

 

Frankly I am not seeing much of a future for this approach to feeding oneself or one’s family except perhaps under unusual circumstances. 

 

 

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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49 minutes ago, Anna N said:

 

 

It’s a shame that the author seems to have been more intent on showing off his way with words and his aspirations as a comic than giving us a fair review of the meals. 

 

 

 

 

 

British food writer. We see this. 

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  • 3 months later...

I see that our local Fry's (Kroger) grocery store is carrying meal kits now. They varied in price from $14 to $18, I think and a choice of about six to eight. (I was in a hurry and didn't count!) I wonder how often they will introduce new ones. 

 

 

IMG_20180227_094440.thumb.jpg.1950783bd61ab61fdc3e5a59ec6c0d25.jpg

 

IMG_20180227_094446.thumb.jpg.3db158215672c2ef6a69650302acdf3c.jpg

 

Edited by FauxPas
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1 minute ago, kayb said:

Did you take a hit for the team and try one? I'll look at our mega-Kroger next time I'm in and see if we have them here.

 

 

 

I would have considered doing so, but I was in a hurry, just buying something non-perishable and wasn't going home right away. I didn't want anything perishable sitting in the car. I could consider doing one in the next few days though! 

 

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There's another type of competition in this 'planned meal' category. It's not a meal kit, but it's similar in intent. The Dinner Daily will let you select eating preferences (vegan, no red meat, vegetarian, etc) and then provide you with weekly menus based on the stores you select for shopping. They link to the stores' flyers and online coupons, etc and provide you with a customized shopping list that is supposed to maximize the weekly savings. 

 

So you still do the shopping but they provide the details for you so you don't have to do your own menu planning or make up shopping lists, search for coupons and so forth. 

 

It sounds quite smart to me. All they are selling is information so they don't have to source ingredients, portion and ship food, etc. 

 

I haven't tried it, but I'm mildly tempted. They say it starts at $4/week which might be worth it if their overall planning is well done. 

 

I only quickly viewed their site, so I hope I haven't misrepresented their service. 

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2 hours ago, kayb said:

Did you take a hit for the team and try one? I'll look at our mega-Kroger next time I'm in and see if we have them here.

 

OK, I was over in the same area later this afternoon and popped back in to pick one up. I ended up with two. My husband wanted to try the shrimp quality and I wanted to try a vegan option. Not that I am a vegan or even interested in becoming one, I just find it interesting to see how appealing they can make vegan kits. I was thinking of making the Black Bean Cakes as a starter, followed by the Shrimp Scampi, but decided the Shrimp would suffice. 

 

Here are some pics and details...

 

The packaging is quite good. The boxes are all the same size, a fairly long and narrow box, good for fitting into the fridge. Info on the box shows if a meal is gluten-free, vegan, etc and the shrimp was labeled as a dietitian's choice. Time to cook is given (are they all 20 mins or less?) as well as level of spiciness and whether you have to do a bit of chopping or none at all. The plastic window lets you see at least some of the ingredients. 

 

IMG_20180227_164258.thumb.jpg.9d409f02b3ac1f0c36cfcbbc848c9c2a.jpg

 

Here's the contents of the shrimp dinner. It's only 10 oz (less than 300 gms) of shrimp and the other ingredients are very simple, so the quality of the shrimp and the cooked (!) fettuccini will be key. The onions are already diced, the garlic and parsley minced. Pats of butter included. 

 

IMG_20180227_164840.thumb.jpg.2a8f6b7252e8b3b49805c883455826b8.jpg

 

Here's the contents of the Black Bean cakes - instant corn grits, cooked basmati rice, black beans, diced red peppers, cumin, sriracha, salsa verde, diced squash and minced garlic. 

IMG_20180227_164634.thumb.jpg.4d1c40cc4199253c6ee2f9edee517ecd.jpg

 

The recipe card for the Bean Cakes:

IMG_20180227_165154.thumb.jpg.be96cfa2b358fc3ed05054ae611e474a.jpg

 

IMG_20180227_165135.thumb.jpg.597c9b6cdf9a3dad4efdb6c5e31f9e01.jpg

 

And for the shrimp:

 

IMG_20180227_165139.thumb.jpg.7c6ef2166ff064f56bd41d9eadff51ce.jpg

 

IMG_20180227_165158.thumb.jpg.1e7a81b4d1a5c488ce9895cd71bbfdff.jpg

 

 

 

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Just found a Fry's page with all the current menu offerings:

 

https://kroger.softcoin.com/programs/kroger/prep_pared/?banner=Frys&origin=mealkit#kits

 

I think you should be able to see the current offerings as well as the previous ones. Spicy lemongrass pork and pork chili verde, chicken enchiladas rojas are some of the previous ones. That mushroom stroganoff over cauliflower hash cakes sounded interesting, too. 

 

They look really simple and fast, but the meals also look fairly appealing. 

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Note:  My profession prior to retiring was Registered Dietitian...Clinical.

 

I am of two minds about these meal kits.  They 'seem' well designed and I am sure they have Registered Dietitians involved in the design of the meals.  The shrimp meal has 30 grams of protein just from the shrimp so that goes a long way towards one meeting one's protein needs for the day from a 'dinner'.

 

BUT, THE PACKAGING!  OMG. 

I just can't get over it.  

We need biodegradable packaging, if possible?

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31 minutes ago, Okanagancook said:

Note:  My profession prior to retiring was Registered Dietitian...Clinical.

 

I am of two minds about these meal kits.  They 'seem' well designed and I am sure they have Registered Dietitians involved in the design of the meals.  The shrimp meal has 30 grams of protein just from the shrimp so that goes a long way towards one meeting one's protein needs for the day from a 'dinner'.

 

BUT, THE PACKAGING!  OMG. 

I just can't get over it.  

We need biodegradable packaging, if possible?

 

I didn't want to get into the packaging issue right now. I think I have commented on it previously when we used to get kits from Sunizona farms. Sometimes it does seem like a lot.

 

Edited to say: But feel free to discuss this packaging part of the whole meal kit product, I understand it's important. I did still plan on talking about it, just not before I made dinner. :)

 

I am unlikely to use these kits often and don't really feel a need to defend them. But these aren't subscription kits, they don't need the extra packaging to travel through delivery systems and various weather. Those ones need protection from temperature change and handling. So I suspect these fare better in terms of packaging than those. 

 

But I will say that the packaging is somewhat proportional - if you are buying a bag of uncooked black beans (bulk or not), you are probably buying more plastic than what is used for the beans in this meal kit. Same with rice, butter, etc. I have more plastic in my package of beans from Rancho Gordo than what is contained in this kit for the beans. Will my RG beans go further? Absolutely, but they do not come without waste. 

 

And yes, you could buy an onion or garlic without packaging, but I see people using the plastic produce bags for even single bits of produce all the time. And certainly for damp parsley, etc. 

 

I think the packaging in these kits is not too bad compared to others I have seen. The boxes are recyclable. I think they have tried to minimize the plastic. But what if we compare this to take-out food? How does it compare? Is it preferable at times? What about to some of the other packaging in the grocery stores? The Uncle Ben's pre-cooked rice, or the Trader Joe's mirepoix in plastic tubs? 

 

But yes, it would be nice if the world used less plastic, created less waste, etc. 

Edited by FauxPas (log)
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The recipe card for the Shrimp Scampi says 8 oz of shrimp, but the shrimp packaging says 10 oz. I will try and weigh the shrimp before cooking. 

 

The Black Bean cakes were $14, the shrimp dinner was $18. A bit pricey in some ways, but they really do make it easy for people. The meal kits are in a special cooler near the front of the store, so very easy to grab and go. And you can preview them online first and presumably order them through ClickList if you want to do a drive-thru pick-up. 

 

There are lots of people who visit here (or other areas) for a week or a month and many of them have kitchen facilities but may not want to spend a lot of time shopping or ending up with unused ingredients. These could be perfect for nights when they want to cook at home, but without much fuss and yet go beyond the basic ready-to-go options. And no subscription required. 

 

 

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We can recycle our plastic bags here.  And of course cardboard too.  Hopefully those buying these products have an opportunity to recycle.

 

i agree the meals seem a step in the right direction to getting people cooking healthy meals for them selves.

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I think that pre assembled meals being in stores solves a lot of the problems (losses) with the delivered meals. There is no question in my mind that having to find a recipe and assemble the fixings is a big barrier for beginners.  This might make the concept financially viable. 

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I'll make a pilgrimage to my Kroger tomorrow, and commit to trying a couple of meals if they're available here. 

 

Packaging is always going to be an issue. We're fortunate to have a fairly healthy recycling program here; it just requires people participating in it.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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5 hours ago, Okanagancook said:

We can recycle our plastic bags here.  And of course cardboard too.  Hopefully those buying these products have an opportunity to recycle.

 

i agree the meals seem a step in the right direction to getting people cooking healthy meals for them selves.

 

I assume you are talking about plastic shopping bags? 

 

I live in BC for half of my life and while you can potentially recycle plastic bags, most of us on Vancouver Island don't use them at all anymore. I don't. My grocery store doesn't use them at all and hasn't for years. 

 

And I almost never use them here either. 

 

However, that doesn't mean that there is no plastic packaging. 

 

But if you want to compare plastic waste, I will measure the components in any way you wish and compare them to any other packaging.

 

 But maybe this should be a whole other category. 

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