Have you ever tried one of those meal prep services? My birthday was recently and as a gift a family member gave me a gift card to purchase three meals from the service Hello Fresh. While I have not used this service before, I am familiar with the concept. Back when I was in college, I would listen to a podcast that was sponsored by a similar service called “Blue Apron.” Always, during commercial breaks, I would hear how it delivers fresh, pre-portioned recipes right to your door! (I hope you read that in a sterile, commercial voice.) Hello Fresh does the same thing and it seems to be popular in my apartment complex as I often see boxes with the Hello Fresh logo taking up space in the mailroom or cluttering the vestibule. If you are wondering just how these services work…do read on.
Once I redeemed the gift card, I went online to choose my three meals. There were a variety of colorful options, however, I stuck to fish and vegetable ones. I ended up going for the “Hey, Honey! Salmon,” “Creamy Lemon Spinach Ricotta Ravioli,” and a quesadilla dish (the name of which I forget). The dishes are pre-constructed and made for 2 or 4 people. There isn’t any real flexibility to edit the dishes, but there are a few add-on side dish options for an extra cost. I checked out and the order was due to arrive in the middle of the next week.
I received the box in the evening right before our leasing office closed. I lugged the heavy box upstairs and ripped open the packaging. The box contained ice packs and plenty of insulation, but the salmon was already completely thawed. I did not plan to cook the salmon immediately, so I put it in the freezer, and placed all other items in the refrigerator. The items were mostly separated by the meal selection, so, for example, all quesadilla items were in the quesadilla bag.
The next day, I decided to make the quesadilla and was irrationally dismayed to see a bag full of ingredients rather than something already resembling a quesadilla. I’m a lazy cook and was harboring a secret hope that the dish was already 90% completed — but no. Instead, I found a whole pepper, limes, garlic, onion, as well as few other supplies waiting for me in the bag. While most everything is provided, some little items like oil and butter and, of course, kitchen appliances are not included.
Following the very-easy-to-read picture instructions, I chopped the produce and put the tortilla on the stove. I’m an impatient person, so while I took all of the right steps, I did not take any additional time trying to make the dish look pretty. So, in the end, the quesadilla looked like a blob, but tasted great!
After making the quesadilla, it was immediately clear to me that I did not have the patience necessary to construct two more whole meals — yes, I’m lazy, I KNOW! So, instead, I decided to combine the last two meals together to make a super meal 😀
That weekend, when I had more time, I cooked the salmon, green beans, and ravioli together (but left the potato wedges for another time). Just like with the quesadilla, everything was there and ready to cook! One of the beautiful things about this service is that they give you the little things that seriously enhance the flavor quality, like packets of spice and sauce. I put a little more effort into making the ravioli and after following the instructions to the best of my ability, I actually kind of got it to look like the picture. It all tasted great — especially the salmon (which I’m happy to report did not poison us after being transported all day in a box).
Overall, this was a fun experience and we got some very nice food out of it! However, as someone who is…time efficient (read: impatient), cooking elaborate meals multiple times a week is just not for me — sorry Cult of Domesticity!
If this sounds appealing to you, then it’s definitely worth a try!