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Old 01-14-2020, 11:25 AM
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Food Delivery Box Services


I'm interested in trying one of those food delivery boxes like BlueApron or HelloFresh. Has anybody ever used one? Did you find it worthwhile? Was everything generally pretty fresh?

The biggest issue I've noticed when I look at the different services is the minimum # of servings is for two people. Since I'm currently single that means too much food. Would you say that the food delivered would be able to be used over two days fairly easily?
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:34 AM
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I have used both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. I really liked the food and it was always fresh. They also got me to try recipes/dishes that I never would have otherwise tried.

I think that you should be able to save and have left overs one or two nights later. I have a family of four so we never had left overs. But, I think they would keep overnight well enough.

The main reason I stopped using the services is because even though it stated that the meals could be prepared in around 30 minutes, I was spending 2 hours a night on preparing the meals.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:45 AM
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A friend wanted to learn how to cook and started by ordering Blue Apron meals. She was so ill-prepared for the task, she asked Mrs. Charming and Rested to help, so I have their experience to rely on. The ingredients were very fresh ingredients and the four meals we made together were pretty tasty. The recipes worked well but they did take a bit longer to make than advertised, though not four times as long. Generally, all three of us shared the meals which were plenty for us (although maybe we aren't big eaters). There would certainly be enough food for leftovers and you have some flexibility in which meals are delivered, so if you want leftovers, try to pick things that would seem to keep well.

The meals are a bit costly and there was a lot of packaging waste but if these aren't barriers to you, give it a try.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:16 PM
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You can also check out this thread was about Freshly, which is a different model, but something to also consider. It's healthy frozen meals.

We have also tried a number of meal prep services and currently get https://www.gobble.com/. They seem to do a slightly better job of giving you everything with minimal prep steps (chop a few mushrooms, dredge a few chicken breasts). If you like cooking and know your way around preparing food it's enjoyable. If it's all new to you and you don't really like cooking, maybe steer away from these plans.

I'm not understanding the complaint about taking 2 hours to prepare? That hasn't been my experience with any meal plan. Yes, the "Ready in 15 minutes!" is over-hype, but nothing close to 2 hours.

The portions are good for 2 people, we can plate them for 3 people sometimes and it works out, as long as people don't mind modest portions. For a single persion, I can see preparing the meal and stowing the leftovers for a few days, no problem.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:28 PM
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The meals are a bit costly and there was a lot of packaging waste but if these aren't barriers to you, give it a try.
A bit costly? No: the food is several times as expensive than if you bought the separate ingredients at the supermarket.

And again: if you are environmentally conscious there is a large amount of packaging waste.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:36 PM
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Someone gave us a month of Blue Apron as a gift a few years back. The food was good, the ingredients seemed fresh, and the recipes were good.

The main problem we had with it is: you still have to cook. Yes, I realize that's kind of the point, but it's a point that doesn't make much sense for me. They give you measured, but unprepared ingredients, so you get the "correct" amount of potatoes for the recipe, but you still have to peel and cut them. All they're really "saving" you is a trip to the store and the planning of a meal. I suppose it's great for disorganized people without easy access to a supermarket, but personally, it wasn't really "saving" us enough of anything to justify the premium you pay for it.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:41 PM
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A bit costly? No: the food is several times as expensive than if you bought the separate ingredients at the supermarket.
The yeahbut is that you get pre-measured small portions of ingredients that are sometimes not something you would have in supply, or you would have to buy a full supply just to use a tiny portion once in a blue moon (the spice jar conundrum).
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:33 PM
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Eh, you are essentially paying, what, double for the ingredients and a bit more for the recipes? Whatever the numbers, I'd say if you just really don't like shopping and/or you don't like having to buy, for example, a whole bottle of red wine vinegar when you only need a teaspoon and you will never use it again, AND you can afford the extra cost of course, go for it. But there is no magic in that box, and you won't become [insert your favorite celebrity chef here] overnight. I got one box from Blue Apron, thought the meals were tasty, but no better than an online search for a recipe and then doing my own shopping and cooking would have resulted in.
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Old 01-15-2020, 08:44 AM
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Thanks for the feedback. I like the idea of getting a surprise to add a little variety to my cooking, which can sometimes become a bit routine. I can (and do) look up recipes but I usually pick something that is typical to what I already make.
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Old 01-15-2020, 08:51 AM
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My wife used to work for a food company that supplied Hello Fresh with its fish. What I can tell you is that the raw ingredients were very fresh and exceptional quality (not just the fish - we knew their other suppliers too).*

So it would certainly keep if you wanted to spread it over a couple of nights. The chief barrier for most is price.

* I should caveat that this was when Hello Fresh was a fledgling business delivering solely in London - I had no idea they were even outside the UK now, so I guess their sourcing policies may have changed.

Last edited by SanVito; 01-15-2020 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:00 AM
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We have also tried a number of meal prep services and currently get https://www.gobble.com/. They seem to do a slightly better job of giving you everything with minimal prep steps (chop a few mushrooms, dredge a few chicken breasts).

I'm not understanding the complaint about taking 2 hours to prepare? That hasn't been my experience with any meal plan. Yes, the "Ready in 15 minutes!" is over-hype, but nothing close to 2 hours.
We've been using Gobble for about the last year and I really like it. We tried a couple of the others, I forget which ones, and didn't like them as much. One was pre-prepared and pre-plated meals that would have been great if you un-plated them before warming them up in the oven - but who wants to do that, so I microwaved them and turned them into basically just tv dinners. The other one was more like Gobble in that you had to cook the meal but it was less flavorful and had the full prep-time of cutting all the veg. I find that the Gobble meals are nearly always full of flavor because they include a little packet of ginger-lemongrass comfit or garlic comfit or whatever is appropriate for the dish. Gobble also par-cooks most of the ingredients so their meals actually come close to the 15-minute advertised cooking time. If the meal is roast beef, for example, the beef will be pre-cooked and you just warm it up, or baked potatoes will be par-roasted so that they finish in your oven in 10-15 minutes.

I also like that the serving sizes are controlled, as my life-long issue with keeping my weight under control is portion control.

The downside is, yes, lots of packaging. Although some ingredients come in fairly sturdy plastic jars with screw-top lids or squeeze bottles that you can wash and reuse for something.

Last edited by JcWoman; 01-15-2020 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:08 AM
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I use Tovala.. Unlike other meal services, you don't have to do prep work; the meals come in single servings that are already prepared. However, you do need to buy their oven as part of the deal. You put the raw meal in the oven, scan a barcode, and it automatically cooks it for you.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:22 AM
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We've used several, and occasionally still use Blue Apron. We're both pretty good cooks, so for us, the real draw is being able to learn new recipes that are easy/fast to throw together and tasty, without having to go buy an entire bottle of say.... verjus, soy glaze or miso, only to find out that the recipe we wanted to try is one we don't like. This way, we pay a bit more for the privilege of not having to hunt down ingredients, having a quick recipe, and mostly portioned ingredients. No issues with quality- it's been impeccable. And even when they did have a snafu and we got our food late (and warm), they were prompt in refunding the money and hooking us up with an extra meal.

IMO, the prep work is minimal- it's rinky-dink stuff like chopping ingredients that takes like 5 minutes tops. And generally speaking, there's no real measuring- if it's not "add the X", it's "Add half the X".

I'm a fairly hearty eater, and the portions are on the large side as often as not- they tend to load you up on vegetables and the side-dish part.

Last edited by bump; 01-15-2020 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:45 AM
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The local grocery store here sells the Hello Fresh kits. I've tried a couple, they were pretty good. Then I just kept the recipe cards and bought the ingredients myself and made the same dishes. I have two teenagers and one kit isn't enough for three of us, so I have to buy 2 and it's cost prohibitive.

The kits do save a little time, but not much in my opinion.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:14 AM
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The local grocery store here sells the Hello Fresh kits. I've tried a couple, they were pretty good. Then I just kept the recipe cards and bought the ingredients myself and made the same dishes. I have two teenagers and one kit isn't enough for three of us, so I have to buy 2 and it's cost prohibitive.

The kits do save a little time, but not much in my opinion.
Huh. Interesting. I'll have to take a look for that.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:15 AM
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We've used several, and occasionally still use Blue Apron. We're both pretty good cooks, so for us, the real draw is being able to learn new recipes that are easy/fast to throw together and tasty, without having to go buy an entire bottle of say.... verjus, soy glaze or miso, only to find out that the recipe we wanted to try is one we don't like. This way, we pay a bit more for the privilege of not having to hunt down ingredients, having a quick recipe, and mostly portioned ingredients. No issues with quality- it's been impeccable. And even when they did have a snafu and we got our food late (and warm), they were prompt in refunding the money and hooking us up with an extra meal.

IMO, the prep work is minimal- it's rinky-dink stuff like chopping ingredients that takes like 5 minutes tops. And generally speaking, there's no real measuring- if it's not "add the X", it's "Add half the X".

I'm a fairly hearty eater, and the portions are on the large side as often as not- they tend to load you up on vegetables and the side-dish part.
This sounds like why I want to try one. Although based on some other posts, I'm a bit concerned about the waste involved. I'll have to hunt around for a service that minimizes this.
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Old 01-15-2020, 11:40 AM
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Huh. Interesting. I'll have to take a look for that.
If you are in the DC area, it is Giant supermarket that carries them.
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Old 01-15-2020, 12:56 PM
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This sounds like why I want to try one. Although based on some other posts, I'm a bit concerned about the waste involved. I'll have to hunt around for a service that minimizes this.
I can't say there was much food waste, at least in terms of ingredients received vs. what went into the actual recipes themselves. Portion sizes are a different matter though.

Packaging wise, I'm not sure you can avoid it, considering the format. And they do try and minimize it where they can, by using say... a half onion in one recipe, and the other half in another for that week, and the same for other non-produce ingredients as well.

Where the packaging seems a bit OTT is that your recipe may call for 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, so you'll get a little 1 tablespoon bottle of red wine vinegar. Or it may call for some small amount of honey, and you'll get a tiny little jar of honey. So you don't really get more packaging than if you'd just bought the ingredients in standard size containers, but you end up with a higher packaging to ingredient ratio. And of course, it comes in an insulated box with those ice packs in it to keep it all cold.
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:06 PM
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This sounds like why I want to try one. Although based on some other posts, I'm a bit concerned about the waste involved. I'll have to hunt around for a service that minimizes this.
I can't say there was much food waste, at least in terms of ingredients received vs. what went into the actual recipes themselves. Portion sizes are a different matter though.

Packaging wise, I'm not sure you can avoid it, considering the format. And they do try and minimize it where they can, by using say... a half onion in one recipe, and the other half in another for that week, and the same for other non-produce ingredients as well.

Where the packaging seems a bit OTT is that your recipe may call for 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, so you'll get a little 1 tablespoon bottle of red wine vinegar. Or it may call for some small amount of honey, and you'll get a tiny little jar of honey. So you don't really get more packaging than if you'd just bought the ingredients in standard size containers, but you end up with a higher packaging to ingredient ratio. And of course, it comes in an insulated box with those ice packs in it to keep it all cold.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:03 PM
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I've been using HelloFresh a little over a year. I pre-paid for a year of shipping, and I'll cancel as soon as that runs out.

The meals cost about double what I'd pay at the grocery store, and about half what I'd pay at a restaurant. My family had been eating out a lot because I didn't have much variety in what I had been making at home, so overall I think I spent less on food with HelloFresh. And going forward with a bunch of delicious easy recipes, I'll be spending a lot less when I do my own shopping.

The food is all good. The portions are just right. None of the meals are difficult, and none have taken me more than an hour to prepare. I cheat by using a rice cooker, and an air fryer for most of the roasted veggies. I get the 4-portion meals, and I add a bunch more rice or spaghetti to the pot so there's leftovers. If the kids decide they're not going to eat it, I don't argue. They can make themselves some instant ramen, and I package up the extra servings for lunch. All the meals reheat easily. I'm eating leftover lemon-glazed barramundi with pistachio rice for lunch right now as I type.

A coworker got me started on HelloFresh when I mentioned I was trying to lose weight. I've lost 55 lb so far, mostly by eliminating fast food burgers and fries for lunch. Most HF meals are around 600-900 calories.

The downsides are the amount of packaging waste, and the cost. Also the meat often arrives in leaky packaging. And the website and app freeze a lot.

If anyone wants to try it, you can use this coupon. Or if you DM me an email address, I can send an offer for a free first week.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:16 PM
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I recall reading recently that these box food companies had a bit of a problem for as when people started to use them they learned how to cook themselves and started just buying the ingredients directly from the supermarket.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:25 PM
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You might want to go into this thinking of it like you are taking cooking classes. That is, have the attitude of enjoying the process of learning to cook new things rather than as an efficient way of making dinner. Over time, you will likely get the hang of how to prepare things, which ingredients you like, how to cook things in general, and so on. Eventually you'll be able to go to the store and just buy basic ingredients and whip something together based on whatever you feel like.

If you don't have a good kitchen setup, make an investment in that. Don't go crazy expensive, but buy a good knife or two, mixing bowls, cutting board, and stuff like that. Good pots, pans, and ovenware are well worth the money since they can last a lifetime. Get a probe thermometer so you can cook meat perfectly when it's in the oven. Having a good setup will greatly enhance your cooking experience. It makes it much easier to prepare and stuff will cook much better.

Grocery stores are actually making it really easy to do quick prep. You will often find pre-chopped veggies, marinated meats, sauces, premade rice, lots of pre-cooked frozen ingredients, etc. If you have a little cooking experience, it's not much trouble to throw together a lot of these semi-prepared foods and end up with a great meal.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:25 PM
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I recall reading recently that these box food companies had a bit of a problem for as when people started to use them they learned how to cook themselves and started just buying the ingredients directly from the supermarket.
Ya, I doubt many of their customers stick with it very long. Like I said, I'll be doing my own shopping now. They acknowledge on some of the recipe cards that people will do this. "Like the fig-glazed pork tenderloin? Try making it with chicken instead of pork, or cherry jam instead of fig jam". Or, "Now go make another batch of this aioli for dipping fries."
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:01 PM
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My wife and I used Home Chef where we cook it. Not being chefs or interested in cooking, it was interesting for a while but quickly became tedious to us. If you like to cook, as others said, it gives you exactly what you need and pretty decent directions to cook.

Now we get Freshly meals. We love them! Yes, they are only refrigerated and must be eaten within a week or frozen. They do vary the meals but only have about ten to fourteen different ones at a time? They are all around 550 calories a meal. We have had some we don't like but have never found the quality poor. We get nine suppers and it works out for us. Since we don't cook and get pre made anyway, this is at least better for us. We hope.

As for packaging, we put everything into recycle. The ice packs, the insulation, the box. They can all be recycled no problem.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:31 PM
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As for packaging, we put everything into recycle. The ice packs, the insulation, the box. They can all be recycled no problem.
A lot of recycling programs aren't able to find a purchaser for their materials and the stuff ends up in the landfill anyway. If this is an important issue for you, be sure to look into your specific recycling program to see what actually ends up being recycled.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:39 PM
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I've never used them since we both like to cook too much, and we have an extensive pantry with oils and spices.
However BlueApron sent me recipes (for free) for a while, and I save the ones I liked. I'm not sure I ever made any of them, but I should look through the list.

For variety, find food on sale that week and search for interesting recipes. (We have lots of cookbooks and I sometimes look through them for interesting things.) Sure the first month or so you might spend more on spices, but that settles down.
Also, if you make recipes for four say when you are only a couple, you produce leftovers, a big plus!
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:05 PM
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I only tried it a couple of times because I don't have time to cook but I found it useful for one person. When you have more people it is easier to buy in bulk. If I buy ingredients at the store I often will have to eat the same thing for several days because it's hard to find single servings. For example, I also wanted to try cooking a duck breast and they sent me one duck breast which is great. I found that most leftovers were good the next day.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:44 PM
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Huh. Interesting. I'll have to take a look for that.
The PA/OH chain Giant Eagle (different than Giant!) started carrying their own meal prep boxes too. I can't for the life of me tell if they're 2- or 4-serving, though.
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Old 01-17-2020, 12:40 PM
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FYI, you can look at a lot of the recipes online, complete with ingredient lists, etc...

For example:

https://www.blueapron.com/recipes/sw...asted-broccoli

So I would guess that the way you'd get this packaged is as follows:
  • 2 cod fillets, vacuum packed.
  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice (in a little plastic bag)
  • One Orange
  • One Lime
  • A head of broccoli weighing around a half-pound.
  • One head of garlic
  • A little bottle of sweet chili sauce holding 3 tblsp
  • 1/4 cup rice flour in a little plastic bag
  • 3 tbsp roasted peanuts in a little plastic bag
  • A pinch of saffron in a little plastic bag.

All of the above would be in a bag, along with the other ingredients for the other 3 recipes that week, all in a insulated thing with ice packs, all in a heavy cardboard box.
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Old 01-17-2020, 01:35 PM
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All of the above would be in a bag, along with the other ingredients for the other 3 recipes that week, all in a insulated thing with ice packs, all in a heavy cardboard box.
That's pretty much how HelloFresh does it, except the meat and seafood are in a separate part of the shipping box below the bagged meal kits, the garlic is peeled and pouched in plastic, and seasonings such as saffron would be in a paper pouch. A thick sauce like sweet chili might be in a foil pouch, or maybe a tiny glass jar.
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Old 01-18-2020, 03:44 AM
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The PA/OH chain Giant Eagle (different than Giant!) started carrying their own meal prep boxes too. I can't for the life of me tell if they're 2- or 4-serving, though.
So does Kroger. I've been tempted a few times but have never tried any of these things. The biggest barrier to me is they are all fairly pricey. I get it if someone is not comfortable cooking and needs direction, but I have a family of 4 and my caloric needs are high. I just went and stocked up on 99 cents/lb chicken thighs and 1.99 breasts and i'll be eating pretty simple recipes this week to get by. Maybe I will try one and eat both servings for my lunch/dinner and reheat at work.
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Old 01-18-2020, 05:20 PM
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I can't say there was much food waste, at least in terms of ingredients received vs. what went into the actual recipes themselves. Portion sizes are a different matter though.



Packaging wise, I'm not sure you can avoid it, considering the format. And they do try and minimize it where they can, by using say... a half onion in one recipe, and the other half in another for that week, and the same for other non-produce ingredients as well.



Where the packaging seems a bit OTT is that your recipe may call for 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, so you'll get a little 1 tablespoon bottle of red wine vinegar. Or it may call for some small amount of honey, and you'll get a tiny little jar of honey. So you don't really get more packaging than if you'd just bought the ingredients in standard size containers, but you end up with a higher packaging to ingredient ratio. And of course, it comes in an insulated box with those ice packs in it to keep it all cold.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
I can't say there was much food waste, at least in terms of ingredients received vs. what went into the actual recipes themselves. Portion sizes are a different matter though.



Packaging wise, I'm not sure you can avoid it, considering the format. And they do try and minimize it where they can, by using say... a half onion in one recipe, and the other half in another for that week, and the same for other non-produce ingredients as well.



Where the packaging seems a bit OTT is that your recipe may call for 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, so you'll get a little 1 tablespoon bottle of red wine vinegar. Or it may call for some small amount of honey, and you'll get a tiny little jar of honey. So you don't really get more packaging than if you'd just bought the ingredients in standard size containers, but you end up with a higher packaging to ingredient ratio. And of course, it comes in an insulated box with those ice packs in it to keep it all cold.
Oh, my god, I'd almost do this just for the cute little jar! That's a feature not a bug.
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