I love to cook but these days, my affinity for culinary arts is laying dormant. We are a family of five with three picky eaters, which is a whole other blog post. Plus, my active husband eats as much as a teenager. The last time we dined at a nice restaurant is a distant, foggy memory. Inspiration in the kitchen is weak at best, and I feel like it’s Groundhog Day most weeks.
The prep, planning, grocery trips, dishes, snacks, school lunches, and multiple meals at every meal is a recipe for burn out.
During the intense at-home chapter of CoVid, rather than finding it enjoyable to cook more, I found I needed a break…or I would break. It took one google search for a flood of magical algorithms that peppered my social media feed with coupons for meal delivery services. With the option to cancel anytime, why NOT sign up for a handful of dinners that cost less than a night of takeout? Filtering through the food porn advertisements, I found a few options to cater to our lifestyle of clean, healthy eating.
I tried 5 popular meal subscription services. Here are my honest reviews:
Daily Harvest is worth trying for their mint cacao smoothie alone. They offer clean, vegetarian options with jazzy ingredients. Everything is delivered frozen and heats or blends perfectly. Without question, we would maintain the subscription but without a promo code, it’s pricey. My husband would down two to three smoothies a day…so I (sadly) canceled. If my review of meal subscription services had nothing to do with price, this would be a keeper.
Freshly dominates in the lunch and dinner department. The ease of the their heat-and-eat is where they score points, but the food was often disappointing. The few nights a week of simply heating up dinner was a gift, but ultimately the lack of consistency became motivation to move on.
Hello Fresh & Green Chef
Hello Fresh and Green Chef are enticing companies with their organic and/or local ingredients. My curiosity about their chef-designed recipes led to my subscription. Their gimmick is to not let you browse meal options until you commit. Unfortunately, our relationship was pretty much over at the first meal when I had to peel and chop a garlic clove. I came to dread the multi-step recipes that took anywhere from 15 – 50 minutes to prepare with complete focus, like baking. It did not work for the end of a long day with little ones running amuck. Several of the meals were almost worth the hassle though.
About to throw in the towel, I opted to try one more meal delivery service, Hungry Root. Hungry Root’s philosophy is that “healthy eating is personal”. The food profile you complete drives a weekly selection of fresh produce and premium proteins. Fully chopped and prepared ingredients arrive with suggested recipes, easily used in other ways. Their subscription hit all my checkboxes for a long term relationship: healthy, easy, flexible, and high quality. We are still going strong.
I wonder if there is a term for finding a way to make a dreaded, tedious task more manageable. There are all kinds of psychological recommendations on how to tackle what you want to avoid. When I have baskets of laundry to fold, I start a podcast. I can now say I outsource some meal planning and prep with meal subscription services.