It seems like fresh ingredient delivery services are popping up everywhere. They offer pre-selected meals and then measure, chop and ready everything for you – the only thing you need to do is cook. In our area alone there are four well-known companies competing for this market. I’m in a local moms’ group on Facebook and recommendations and discount codes are constantly being posted.
Mr Awesome was going away for a week to a DJ tradeshow, and I was going to be solo parenting for the week. I wasn’t taking the week off work, so I was looking for every possible way to make things EASY. I decided to test out one of these services, and based on the latest discount code in the moms’ group, I went with Fresh Prep.
You can choose how many people you want to feed, how many meals you want delivered that week, and what those meals are. They had eight meals to choose from, and they all sounded pretty good. I chose food for four, thinking we would have leftovers for my lunches at work. I selected three meals, as this was our first time trying it and I figured I would supplement the meal plan on the other days. We chose Beef Taco Salad, Honey Dijon Chicken with Root Vegetable Hash, and a Golden Curry.
You get delivery once a week, and I took the Sunday option. They give a six hour delivery window, but they pack it all in cooler bags with ice packs and the meat is pretty much frozen so it’s fine if you’re not home when it comes. It was kind of exciting to see it on our doorstep when we arrived home from our errands! I also got a text telling me it was about 4 minutes away, and then another when it had been delivered. All in all a very cool system. You keep the cooler bags and they pick them up when they drop off your next order.
Inside the bag are your meals, separated into brown paper bags. Inside each bag are all the ingredients, and if there is something that’s been chopped it’s in a plastic bag. The meat is outside the paper bags, so you could pop it into the freezer if you weren’t going to cook it in the next two days. They recommend that you cook it all within 4 days of delivery for best results, but we ate the meat meals first and pushed the whole thing to six days. I put the bags as they were into our fridge because i wanted to keep each meal all together, but my fridge got VERY full very quickly. But when it came time to cook it was nice to have it all in one place and make sure I didn’t miss anything, so I will take a stuffed fridge. Mr Awesome would likely disagree, lol.
You also get an instruction sheet, with the ingredient list and timing for each step. They make it easy as possible to simplify your meal prep.
Side note: I was a bit put out by all the plastic they used in their packaging, but then I noticed on their insert that they ask you to rinse out the baggies and return them with your cooler bags so that they can recycle them properly. Not the meat packaging, but at least all the other little baggies are taken care of! I was glad to see that they had thought about that factor and mitigated the extra plastics issue. It’s the little things like that that make me want to use a company again.
The first one we tried was the Beef Taco Salad, and I think it was our favourite. Both kids actually asked for second helpings, and I hadn’t exactly skimped on their first! The only thing I didn’t like about this was making the tortilla strips. I had to watch the strips on the oil carefully so they didn’t burn, which made me feel like I was torn between them and the beef. Plus it burned oil into my pan and I am STILL trying to clean it.If I had to do this one again I would skip the tortillas, but all in all, this was a great dish and pretty easy to cook. The only thing I had to do was chop the lettuce and tomatoes – they don’t do that in advance to maintain freshness. I also had to mix up the honey lime vinaigrette, but it was simple. It listed this one as 15 minutes, but it took more like 30 when all was said and done. That might be chef error, as I’m sure Mr Awesome could have had it done in 15.
The Honey Dijon Chicken was a bit problematic as it called for two large skillets and they weren’t wrong – you really need two LARGE skillets for this one. I only had one large one and one medium, so the root vegetable hash was overflowing even before I added the potatoes. I ended up transferring everything onto a big cookie sheet and roasting them in the oven. It worked out well in the end and the kids enjoyed this one too. It took longer than to 30 minutes, but that was definitely because I had to go the oven route.
The Golden Curry was super easy to put together and because it was a veggie dish, much simpler to cook.
For our three meals of four servings each, with the discount of three “plates,” it cost us $82.00 Cdn for the week. Not terrible, but definitely more than it would cost us to do it ourselves. It’s the premium you pay for an invisible shopper and sous chef, lol.
All in all, it was a good experiment. I don’t like cooking, and the prep and timing are the parts that give me those most trouble. Luckily Mr Awesome does 90 percent of the cooking in our house, but he doesn’t mind the shopping or the prep, as long as I help make the meal plan. He would rather save money than skip the prep phase, so I don’t see this being a regular part of our schedule. But in those weeks where we need all the time we can possibly get, or if I’m running solo again, this is definitely a good option.
Have you ever tried a service like this?