December 11, 2021
The ads are everywhere – on social media, in unsolicited emails, annoying pop-ups. The marketing hype goes something like – you’ve been home cooking for so long, by now everything tastes the same, it’s boring, and deciding what to cook each night and shopping – it’s stressful. Pre-packaged meals are the answer to your dilemma.
I successively ignored the ads.
Hub was, as they say, ‘sucked in’.
One day a couple of weeks ago he started asking me questions about a company that delivered meals with all ingredients included, ready to prepare. I listened and responded, but, admittedly, not 100%.
Before I realized what was happening, he triumphantly announced, “We get our first delivery this Saturday!”
“We get four meals a week. Our first ones should be delivered Saturday. Want to know the meals we’re getting?”
He rattled off four enticing-sounding meals like Thai Curry and Lobster Ravioli with Shrimp.
The company offers a variety of meal categories, such as meat and veggies, veggies, and pescatarian. Hub ordered the low-calorie option.
“What made you think we need pre-packaged meals? Why did you do that?”
“Well, I had to put my credit card in before I went further and found out what the company was all about. Sounded interesting. We’ll give it a try.”
A large box appeared on our porch that Saturday containing four brown paper bags, each labeled with the meal enclosed, two small pouches – one with chicken, the other shrimp – and a freezer pouch in the bottom of the box that can be recycled. Full disclosure: I threw it out.
And so our Hello Fresh adventure began.
A two-sided, colorful 8½ x 11” card, one for each meal, included the following information
- Ingredients in the meal bag.
- Additional ingredients required –usually salt, pepper, olive oil, and butter.
- Pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils needed for the recipe.
- Instructions on how to prepare the dish, with pictures.
The first dish I decided to try was Thai curry, a one-dish vegetarian meal. It sounded enticing, and different from my usual fare.
I cook most meals, but also enjoy take-out, delivery, actual in-person restaurant dining, and meals wherever life takes us – friends, relatives, a roadside stand. I enjoy cooking but am no chef. If a recipe begins with a long list of ingredients, some of which I do not have in my refrigerator or pantry, I roll my eyes and move on.
Back to our Hello Fresh experience:
Ingredients arrive pre-packaged. No measuring, just open and add. Easy, but suddenly I had a variety of mini-plastic bags spread out on my counter. I knew the contents from the list and the small pictures on the recipe card. Some packets were marked in a font small enough to require a magnifying glass to read.
Directions are easy to read and follow, but there are A LOT of them. 10-minute prep time, 30-minute cook time noted on the card is deceiving. It takes almost 10 minutes to organize ingredients and collect cooking utensils.
First step is usually to wash and dry the produce.
Reading the recipe and preparing the meal found me constantly moving between stove and counter. Brown onions, add spice pack. First I had to open it! Where are the scissors!? Stir constantly…but I have to read the next step. Stop stirring a minute, read…
I decided preparing the meals are best successfully completed as a two-person endeavor. One reads the instructions out loud, the other cooks. The reader can also cut vegetables – maybe a zucchini, or carrots, or onions – while the other person makes the sauce, cooks the chicken or pasta, and assembles the finished meal.
Time to eat! More than the 10-minute prep time and 30-minute cook time passed, but who’s watching the clock?
Some meals were hunger-satisfying, others not. I liked the Thai curry, but there wasn’t enough for two. It needed something else – more veggies or rice, or a side dish.
On the other hand, the pasta dishes were substantial.
The food is nourishing, tasty, and I didn’t have to shop for anything.
On the other hand, I don’t mind patronizing our produce store and neighborhood grocery with an in-house butcher.
We will continue our Hello Fresh adventure through the winter, or for a few weeks at least. Hub signed up for a set number of meals. Then we will most likely agree to return to our customary routine of shopping, deciding on a menu, choosing fresh seasonal veggies, cooking and dining at home. Unexciting perhaps, but that’s my life.