The Food Delivery Face Off
Posted On Sep 28, 2016
By: Toni Negas
If you’re looking to craft healthy, interesting meals in the midst of a fast-paced lifestyle, freshness is all in the delivery.
Shopping for groceries is hardly as fun as it used to be. The crowds at Whole Foods trigger PTSD, while the limp veggies at the old grocer fail to color me impressed. Meanwhile, I have a family, career, and passions to pursue. I need a way to get top-tier gourmet ingredients to my countertop. And I’m not talking pre-made or frozen meals.
The time has come to try out fresh ingredient delivery services. I’ve always been skeptical about perishable foods and fresh produce shipped to my door. But three companies—Blueapron.com, Hellofresh.com, and Plated.com—have been getting buzz lately, and I’m finally ready to give them a try. They hand select fresh ingredients and provide simple recipes that push me out of my comfort zone in the kitchen.
The first cold-packed delivery I open is a Classic Box from Hello Fresh, intended for omnivores. (There’s a Veggie Box for herbivores, too.) The produce and meat look wonderfully fresh—tender steak and farmstand-worthy vegetables that will come together as a savory bibimbap dish, cauliflower with cheeses and spices to create a cumin roasted cauliflower plate, and tasty elements of white bean and turkey chili (ground turkey, cannellini beans, stock, and various vegetable elements). Included are pre-measured ingredients, so I’m not overbuying recipe supplies.
My ingredients are labeled and categorized to help with meal preparation. (It’s like having my own “test kitchen” prep team.) As I peel carrots and cucumbers—lengthwise, like a Food Network chef—I learn that shavings are a colorful side for all sorts of meals. And it turns out that pickling scallions is simple. All I need is a bowl, some salt, and vinegar. Who knew?
Onto Blue Apron, and its colorful cornucopia. I find ingredients for three dishes—chicken Charlemagne with roasted root vegetables and parsnippotato mash, Korean-style rice cakes with pork ragù and gai lan, and banana leaf-steamed cod with fragrant rice. I would never actually make one of these on my own, due to the exotic nature of these ingredients and perceived difficulty. I feel bolder already.
The recipe cards are simple, so I’m able to read the instructions while prepping my veggies. I prep the meals in about 30 minutes and it’s paced nicely… As the rice boils, I prep the veggies and the protein marinates. The steps are simple and I’m learning all along.
Now onto Plated, which meets all my requirements, as well. I chose three out of a week’s worth of seven potential dishes—authentic chicken tikka masala, caulifower with tahini, and cheesy beef enchiladas were my choice. The items were clearly marked, the instructions very well detailed, the portions perfectly calculated, and the results: magnificent.
I’ve become quite the convert. With these delivery services, I’m exploring a world of new dishes and exciting ingredients that I would never have tried otherwise—all of which are wonderfully fresh. I’ve never been so excited to slip on an apron. All I need now is a new gourmet kitchen studio and my own TV show.