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I Tried A Meal Kit Service And Here’s What I Learned

I Tried A Meal Kit Service And Here’s What I Learned

If you’re time-poor and bored of your at-home menu, read on. 

By the time I get home from my work day, bookended by a hellish two hour each way commute, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. My partner – god love him – often jumps in the kitchen to prepare the nightly meal, but I am an extreme backseat chef, and definitely annoy him with my nitpicking over what he’s doing.

In the interests of time and variety, we used to get takeaway a lot, which might have been convenient, but scoffing down a burger or slice of pizza most nights was definitely not the best lifestyle choice. And the option has been taken away completely since my partner was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease earlier this year and needs to maintain a healthy diet.

Suddenly, the prospect of eating the same six meals we cook well week after week became less appealing. We were in the market for some variety, in need of healthy options, and still just as time-poor.

That is where the meal delivery kit, Marley Spoon, came in.

If you’re unaware of what a meal-delivery kit is, it’s a service that allows you to choose recipes, servings and delivery times each week, and then the company sends the ingredients in the exact amounts you need right to your door. They’ve been rising in popularity in recent years, especially as we’re all working longer hours and also trying to live healthier lives than, arguably, ever before.

So we decided to give it a go for a week to see if it was worth all of the fuss. My boyfriend and I sat down and carefully selected four of the weekly recipes, and were just blown away but the choices; sweet potato, lentil and avocado salad, Italian chicken and bean ragu, salmon, pea and lemon couscous – they all looked so delicious, but were all so different from the meat and three veggies fare we served up most nights.

In the end, we settled on four of the easier looking meals, as it was our first time, selected our delivery day and time frame, and eagerly awaited the text message alerting me to the arrival of our box.

marley spoon delivery meal kit benefits
My tired self with the Marley Spoon box at one in the morning

I’d selected the midnight to seven in the morning slot because then I could put the ingredients away before work the next morning, but got the alert that it had been delivered at around one am. I opened the box, not sure what to expect, and saw four crisp, brown paper bags, a cooler bag filled with the refrigerator ingredients, as well as four beautiful recipe cards for the carefully selected meals my partner and I had selected. It took a lot of decision making to narrow down the first one to make because honestly, I wanted to eat them all at once.

marley spoon box meal kit benefits
Not pictured: my cats trying to get in the box because they were very interested in it.

The number one thing I loved about Marley Spoon – apart from the fact we didn’t have to drag ourselves to the supermarket and do the “what are we going to have for dinner” dance every night – was that every ingredient came in the exact amount I’d need for the recipe. It was a blessing for my boyfriend, who can not tell the difference between “tbsp” and “tsp” to save his life. More often than not, when he follows a recipe, things come out tasting slightly odd when he’s put in three tablespoons of sugar instead of three teaspoons. And I loved it as well. I didn’t have to think, I could just throw all of the pieces together and create a delicious, nutritious, home-cooked meal without dirtying measuring cups and spoons.

Each meal, to make, is between 20 and 40 minutes, which is significantly less time than even ordering and picking up some takeaway, or getting it delivered. And far less time than making many of the recipes I whip up, as it takes away a lot of the measuring and mucking around. The first recipe we tried was a chimichurri roast chicken with a pumpkin and carrot smash. I’d heard of chimichurri, as watching cooking shows is a favorite past time of mine, but had actually never tasted it or had any idea what it was (it’s a famous spice sauce from Argentina – and it’s delicious!).

marley spoon setup meal kit benefits
Fresh, in season produce, perfectly portioned.

The first thing my partner said to me once we sat down to eat our first Marley Spoon creation was “this is freaking fantastic,” and I agreed in earnest. The ingredients were fresh and in season, and the meal was perfectly portioned and healthy. The first meal we’d chosen expanded our cuisine horizons, and we both agreed we’d cook together the following evening, as part of the appeal of a meal kit is getting the family together to cook.

Cooking together and following a recipe was not only an extremely wholesome way to spend an evening, but it was fun in a way I didn’t expect. My partner enjoyed the fact there was minimal micromanaging coming from me, as I’d never made the meal before either. We also both learned new skills in the kitchen, and got to sit down and enjoy something we cooked together and were both pretty proud of. My partner was particularly happy with his fancy plating, holding the recipe card and plate side by side and exclaiming “they look exactly the same, I am a pro!” He even took a picture and sent it to his mother.

marley spoon finished product meal kit benefits
The plating, fit for a restaurant

It might seem a bit silly, but cooking together did feel like it bought us closer. It definitely did physically, because we weren’t in separate rooms for an hour of the night while one of us cooked and the other watched Netflix in the other room. But it also allowed us to share the experience of creating together and my partner had a lightbulb moment where he realized that healthy cooking didn’t have to mean ‘boring’, ‘expensive’ and ‘time-consuming’, which is something he’d been struggling with since being diagnosed and condemned to a healthy diet.

A meal-kit box like Marley Spoon is something we’re definitely investing in for at least a couple of meals each week, because the price per serving is significantly cheaper than our usual grocery bill, and has the added convenience of not going to the store, or having to worry about forgetting a vital ingredient. I also can’t stress enough how strangely fulfilling it is to be more adventurous with my eating at home, and learning new recipes I would never have thought of and don’t have the time to go looking for.

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Join the discussion: Have you tried a meal kit service? What did you learn?

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