I Tried a Meal Service – My Thoughts

I have always found the idea of meal services interesting, but had never tried one. I’m a quick meal cooker anyway and I didn’t think it would save me much time, and it would definitely cost me more money.

Plus I live in a fairly rural area. I grew up with a huge family garden. I strung untold amounts of green beans in my childhood and existed on tomato sandwiches and other fresh veggies and fruits all summer long. The idea of them mailing me food made me think it wouldn’t be fresh enough.

A friend was my opposite. She is a chef herself, and has tried about 20 meal services. She raved about one called CookUnity. I decided to give it a try.

The selection was very good. There were probably over 100 meals to choose from, produced by different chefs around the country. I decided to give it a whirl.

I picked a 4-meal plan, delivered on Wednesday’s. I took a while making my first choices, but made sure I had a beef, chicken, and fish entree. OK I had two fish – I love salmon.

They give nutrition info, which is good. I chose based on the calorie counts, along with other nutritional info.

The thing I liked best about this service us the meals are actually prepared. For most you take the plastic wrap off the container, remove anything not to be cooked, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes.

One dish did require I fish out the cucumber salad that surrounded the salmon. I didn’t enjoy that. They are trying to limit packaging, though, so I get it. It also allowed me to remove the raw onion from the salad. I’m not a raw onion fan.

There is a lot of base packaging, but they have to keep the meals cold. The box they ship it in is well made. They encourage you to recycle. I took it to my niece, who farms with her boyfriend. They sell beef, among other things. I figured they could find use for it. (I just dumped it outside their house. I’m an awesome relative. I did leave a message.)

I ended up trying two weeks of meals – seven different ones. One I didn’t like is the favorite of one of my friends. Most I liked. The salmon meals were my favorite, but that’s not a big surprise. Salmon Adobo was the meal I got both weeks and that is pictured above. This is pre-cooking. Salmon, the sauce (you take that out before cooking) with broccoli and sweet potatoes. I really enjoyed this one.

In fact, the meats I tried were all pretty good. There was only one I didn’t really like at all. I won’t say which it was, because it is another friend’s favorite. We all have different palates.

I was disappointed in the vegetable servings. To meet my diet plan I had to add fruits and vegetables. it wasn’t a huge deal, but that added time and money.

I finally decided to cancel the service. If I were to pick a service, I liked many aspects of what they did. It was easy and less than the cost if a meal in many restaurants. I can recommend them.

I didn’t like having to pick meals for the following week the Tuesday before. If you don’t pick, they pick meals for you (though it is very easy to pause for a week or two.) Still, I couldn’t figure out why they chose four chicken entries each time when I only picked one chicken meal at most each week.

The first week I skipped a day eating one of their meals. When I got to looking at the dates, two expired before the weekend was over. That would be one thing I would change – they should give spoilage days up front from your day of delivery. The first time I ate two meals past the expiry date. Don’t worry – they were fine. The second week I put the meals in order and ate based on the expiry date. All went through the weekend that time and a couple expired during the next week.

I love the idea of a meal service. I would not rule out using CookUnity again, but the subscription was too much pressure right now in my chaotic life. I understand why they do it and respect it as a business practice, but I’m trying to de-stress my life. On an already busy day I don’t want to feel forced into adding another thing to my schedule to avoid them picking out my food for me.

I did learn I liked farro! It was in one of the meals and I had never knowingly eaten it before.

I’d also rather the food be local, to avoid packaging and better ensure freshness. There is one place in my town that does this that I hear is good, but it doesn’t meet my meal plan. There is another my nutritionist told me about, and it is somewhat local. I may try it. But with farmer’s market season coming, I may just keep cooking.

I think perhaps a food truck could do delivery, or set up at a farmer’s market for pick-up, with healthy options. It’s a good business idea. There will be more and more demand for this. i’m sure you in urban areas have all kinds of options.

So what do you think? Have you tried a meal service? Your thoughts?

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