Week Three of Hello Fresh: delicious meals and quasi-final thoughts

Earlier this week we got our third Hello Fresh meal delivery. The teenager (I have reason to believe teenager #2 will be moving this week; as she has only been home a few hours in the last week, I hereby formally declare that teenager #1 is now, once again, the teenager) asked to try one of the discount offers provided in another of our subscription services.

They are certainly clever marketers. Box one comes at something like 50% off, then they scale back the discount until delivery four is eight percent off.

And box five, for four people, once you include the shipping, is about $40 per meal.

On my previous Hello Fresh posts (see Hello Fresh, Continuing Thoughts on Hello Fresh, and Hello Fresh Delivery Two)

Now, as I have mentioned, I am a good home chef and a very thrifty shopper. For the cost of one of these meals I bet I could replicate at least three of their recipes.

But that’s not the real point of one of these services, at least in my opinion.

These services:

  • Renew people’s interest in being in the kitchen.
  • Teach people to cook without the risk of randomly googling a meal on the internet, buying the wrong ingredients or admitting you don’t have any skill in the kitchen.
  • Offer the convenience of avoiding the shopping experience or running out of or forgetting a key ingredient.
  • Provide better choice and healthier options than restaurants.
  • Help people meal plan and stick to that plan which can reduce the chance of poor food-related decisions.
  • And my favorite, expose people to new recipes and new uses to standard ingredients, expanding a person’s cooking repertoire. That, in my opinion, is worth the investment and why, after next week, I will be converting to a two-meal, once-a-month plan.

Now for the “cons” of specifically Hello Fresh:

  • I am freaked out by the idea that my raw meat spends 24-36 hours in transit, and by the amount of ice packs in that box. The waste generated upsets me. I noticed that our cat foster godmother reuses the boxes as cat huts.
  • The ingredients sometimes disappoint. I bought their “chicken protein pack” and their chicken strips were tiny chunks— like popcorn chicken. I ordered an extra bag of Brussel sprouts and they were either $3.50 or $3.99, which is the going rate for fresh Brussels. Now they are my favorite and I thought Hello Fresh might have access to special sprouts. Maybe organic or a unique source. Nope. Green Giant.
  • Our schedules in this house are chaotic and finding the time and energy to commit to preparing several meals a week like this is more stressful than I anticipated.
  • The recipes assume you have a certain efficiency in the kitchen. I think we, on average, require one hour at least for a meal that should take 10 minutes prep time and 30 to cook.
  • There’s a lot of rice.
  • I’m not sure these meals fill me up for more than two hours.
  • There are cheaper meal delivery services available. One friend recommended trying Every Plate.

So what have we tried so far?

  1. Pork with Apple Dijon Pan Sauce over farro and wilted kale. (Photos above) I liked it. Teen found the pork scrumptious and well-seasoned but does not care for neither farro nor kale.
  2. Thai Ginger Curry with creamy coconut veggies, peanuts and lime rice. I loved their creative use of red peppers and green beans for the vegetables. They provided a fantastic, full-fat coconut milk. Teen did not care for it. She likes my curries, but this curry was not her thing.
  3. Tuscan Garlic Butter Chicken with creamy kale and paprika carrots. Amazing. All around. The Tuscan heat spice blend excites me. Teen still hates kale.
  4. Paprika Chicken in a Lemony Sauce with pistachio rice and roasted carrots. Not the rich Hungarian dish I was hoping for but very yummy. We both agreed. The pistachios in the rice seemed so decadent.
  5. Thai Shrimp with candied peanuts over sesame cabbage and arugula. I bombed this one. I loved the salad portion and the peanuts, but I’m not a fan of shrimp. The teen loves shrimp but is not fond of purple cabbage and discovered that she detests arugula. So I ate salad for three days until I got sick of it and she ate a lot of shrimp.
  6. Meatloaves with creamy mushroom sauce plus garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts. The teen and I might agree this was our favorite. But I didn’t eat my mushrooms.
  7. Creamy Cilantro Steak Bowls with garlic lime rice and charred poblano. I enjoyed this one but they were so generous with the steak portions that I got three meals out of what was listed as two servings. This was spicy. And that was good, but the vegetable was onions and neither the teen nor I wanted to chomp on a serving of cooked onions.

We have one meal left this week— apricot ginger chicken— and one more box coming this week. Hello Fresh offered a refresh of our taste buds, but hits hard on the wallet.

Mindless Satisfaction

Today featured some magical moments— Mr. Accordion stopped by to pick up his food from the marching band fundraiser (and brought ‘deconstructed halupki’ soup, which I loved as did the two teenagers) AND in the middle of the night, the snow disappeared from our alley.

So I returned to work at the Bizzy Hizzy, a position Mr. Accordion asked me about. I told him it paid decently for the time of work it was and it wasn’t hard.

Of course, tonight I worked in regular pick for 3/4 of the night (only picked 64) and then direct pick for the last two hours where I got my number to 104. Pathetic, but interesting to note the difference direct pick makes. The pain in my spine had reached a seven by meal break so I doctored myself with the trifecta— 600 mg of ibuprofen, coffee, and a honey bun. Painkillers, caffeine and sugar. I ended up walking 21,000 steps.

I love the mindless satisfaction of my job. I listen to every sort of podcast and contemplate my own life. I feel like I learn a lot about myself and the world at large.

And tonight my daughter changed my sheets so I came home to my boy Fog and a clean bed. A welcome combination of the hair raising experience of getting the car in the garage.

Today’s cocktail: Apple Juice and Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka

Vegetarian sweet potato tacos and a kitten joy ride

Many years ago, I used to blog every meal I made, in part because I had friends in far away states who wanted my recipes. Also because I am frugal. I also kept the blog because I never cooked the same meal twice and I wanted to preserve my best dishes. Even if they were an accident.

That blog is located here: Angel Food Cooking.

I promised the teenager we could take her kitten on a car ride. His first. So I ordered him a hamburger patty from Wendy’s and we also got french fries for Nala.

Then we came home and started dinner of leftovers and the next round of goodies from Grocery Outlet to make luscious vegetarian tacos.

Ingredients:

  • Corn tortillas, I don’t even remember when/where I bought them. I heated them in the skillet with coconut oil and a touch of chili powder and smoked paprika.
  • Green leaf lettuce leftover over from Tucker Silk Mill/Tucker Provisions from the burger kit I bought for Memorial Day two weeks ago.

You can read about that here: Tucker Provisions Burger Kit on the table

Buying the kit

  • Leftover sweet potato from dinner last night, also from Tucker (and this made the tacos really creamy and gave them a fantastic rich flavor)
  • Light sour cream leftover from when the teenager made her grandmother’s corn bake

More about the day on my recent vacation where we enjoyed corn bake: Our own Walking Purchase: Forest Bathing

  • Salsa from Lidl
  • A Boca Southwestern Skillet vegetarian dinner kit I bought at Grocery Outlet last night for less than $3. Three servings, though the outside of the package said serves 2. The sauce was tasty.
  • Jalapeño velveeta, also from the Grocery Outlet, which I got for 47 cents. A touch gave the taco some fire.
  • We had Italian black olives but we opted not to open them.

Thank You Tucker Provisions

The teenager wanted to get out of the house yesterday and I knew as a responsible adult we needed some fresh produce.

With the Coronavirus still keeping our state on lockdown, I’ve been trying to explore as many small local businesses as I can that are adapting to the situation.

I’ve never been to Tucker, an Australian Cafe at the Simon Silk Mill in Easton. They hosted an amazingly successful benefit to raise money to fight the Australian brush fires.

So they already have my admiration.

The only friend I know who ate there was not impressed— she felt rushed and a tad snubbed by their waitress.

But I’ve been intrigued by their recent business model… They’ve adapted by becoming “Tucker Provisions” and it’s like a drive up general store.

Tucker web site

They feature a a variety of other local and regional farmers, vendors, and small businesses. The apples in the picture are from Bethlehem’s Scholl Orchard. The golden raisins are super plump and juicy, so good.

And I am so looking forward to trying the potatoes, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, rhubarb and broccoli.

I even splurged on some Mexican soda.

While we were out, the teenager spotted these:

She loves rocks.

“Mom,” she says as the car is stopped. “There are some really nice rocks over there.”

“Go get them,” I tell her.

Maybe she’ll be a geology major.

For supper last night I decided I wanted homemade cream of broccoli soup. We have some heavy whipping cream in the fridge that’s past its date, more than a week past, and I hate to waste.

And Tucker had broccoli.

I based my soup on this recipe

Now I never follow a recipe, never exactly. Either I never have all the ingredients or I just don’t want to. This was a little of both. While I prepped the soup, I roasted some of the Brussels and our last radishes and the smallest of our fingerling potatoes.

I made mini bread bowls out of the heavily discounted fresh baked but day old dinner rolls I bought at Weis last weekend and tossed in the fridge. I even toasted the removed guts of the bread bowl to make croutons on top.

Good stuff. Looking forward to enjoying it for lunch if the rain keeps up.