So when the ads for meal prep or meal kit services started popping up on my Facebook and Instagram feeds one after the other, I succumbed. The new subscriber discounts were enticing, of course. Plus work was getting crazier in a very good way. So with two perennially hungry teens at home, I desperately needed help on the food front.
I signed up for three services: Blue Apron, Green Chef and Martha & Marley Spoon. Okay, I admit I was drawn to the last one because of the association with Martha Stewart. She is a domestic goddess after all and anything she’s associated with on the food front is a gem, whether it’s a croissant or a carrot. She did not disappoint, by the way, but I’m jumping ahead.
Here are some things I love about the three services, in general:
Low to zero waste. Everything is measured and portioned according to the recipes. So if you need 4 ounces of arugula, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. Same with the red wine vinegar. Those 3 tablespoon-bottles were so nifty. Plus, no need to make unnecessary or last-minute trips to the store for forgotten items!
New recipes, new ingredients. Most of them allow you to choose recipes based on your dietary restrictions or preferences. So I took out pork and beef for the most part, leaving us with chicken and fish, and the choices were still endless. My chicken-loving 13-year-old loved the variety of chicken recipes. And I got her to try new vegetables like the the radish in the Zesty Grilled Salmon with potato salad and salsa (Green Chef) and the radicchio in the Crispy Lemon Butter Chicken (Martha & Marley Spoon).. She didn’t even notice the sugar snap peas in the Seared Chicken & Vegetable Ragout (Blue Apron).
A family affair. The sheer novelty of it got my daughter excited that she actually participated in the process. Every time we got a box, you’d think it was Christmas morning! She excitedly unpacked all of the boxes and laid out what we needed for dinner that day. I’ve never gotten so much help before.
Recycling. All of the boxes come with reusable ice packs which I love since we take a cooler to all our outdoor adventures. And if you like the recipes so much, you can make them again. The recipes are on cardboard stock with full color photos and step-by-step instructions.
Timing. They really thought this through. All the boxes were delivered at the end of the day so they’re not sitting on your front porch and thawing, while you’re out. Bonus!
Some will insist that the meal prep services can be expensive, without the introductory discounts. Since there is low to zero waste, I do think the opposite though. Sure, you can buy cheaper ingredients in bulk at the big box stores. But do you really save if you end up tossing the rest of the big salad bag because the greens have wilted?
Also, since there’s three of us now, I tried the four-person plan once (Blue Apron) and ended up with leftovers which are perfect for school lunches.
With any subscription service, you’ll also find that some will let you switch recipes but some won’t. You can go back and forth between omnivore, carnivore and vegan, but some weekly recipes are set in stone.
Lastly, if you’re a forgetful person, and you signed up for three services like I did, don’t forget to cancel or skip or you’ll end up with multiple meals. It helps that some of them have apps which allow you to manage the recipes and delivery schedules from while on-the-go.
All in all, it was a delightful activity for my teens and I – something we can do together and actually enjoy, but I don’t see myself subscribing year-round. It will be more of a fallback during busy times like the start of the school year, pre-holidays or when work starts spinning out of control.
Disclosure: I’m not an affiliate of any of the three services I mentioned. No compensation was received for this post.