So that’s what it feels like to receive a CSA basket … sort of!
Except the box we received contained more than just vegetables, the food inside was of (mostly) unknown origin, and we had some choice in the primary contents …
So it really wasn’t like a CSA box at all – but we did open it with the same anticipation & excitement that our CSA members say they experience upon receiving their CSA share.
It started with a coupon that arrived in the mail from a company called Hello Fresh. They were offering a 55% discount on a 1 week meal plan (3 meals). Usually such coupons are discarded but this time Amy suggested we try it.
For research purposes of course!
It was a good week to do it. Lorie was away, taking in some sun on an island in the Caribbean leaving me on my own for food. And Amy welcomed a break from her own meal planning & prep. She chose our 3 meals from a selection of about 7 possibilities for that week.
So on Monday morning when the FedEx driver dropped off the box at our back door we were excited! Inside were all the ingredients for 3 complete meals. The meat portions were on the bottom packed in ice, and the rest of the food was in separate paper bags on top. The recipes for each meal were clear and concise, with pictures to make it real easy. All ingredients are included except for salt & pepper and any necessary cooking oils. Amy prepared 2 of the meals while I cooked 1. Then we shared the food, as each meal serves 2 people.
Research results …
- As vegetable growers we were especially interested in that part of the meal. We thought vegetable portions were a little small. I added more potatoes from our pantry to my meal, and the sweet potatoes in one of Amy’s dishes were too small to make into fries as the recipe suggested, and certainly not enough for 2 people. Onions came pre-chopped while shallots came whole. Not sure why. The quality of the vegetables was fine – I threw out a couple of green beans that were too sad to eat but the rest were okay.
- The fresh herbs were very nice quality.
- The vegetables & herbs had no information as to their origin whereas the meat did. Interestingly, the Hello Fresh website talks about where the meats come from and how the animals are raised, but mentions nothing about the vegetables or fruit.
- Meat portions were adequate and the quality was very good.
- There is so much packaging! They stress that it is all recyclable, but there is an awful lot of plastic as well as paper & cardboard that needs to be dealt with.
- It seemed quite expensive to us. The plan we chose has a regular price of $13.33 per serving or $80 for the 3 meals. We paid about $6/serving – $36 for the whole box, with our coupon.
- We would rather eat our own food. A lot of the food we eat in winter is prepared in the summer when we freeze vegetables, can fruit, make sauce, pickles and juice, dry herbs, etc with our own (or our neighbours’) produce. Things like squash, cabbage, garlic & onions are stored as long as possible for winter eating. We do buy some vegetables in the winter – but it just felt wrong to eat green beans fresh in January. Some things are best eaten in season only!
- Having someone else do all the meal planning, grocery shopping, and much of the food preparation saves a lot of time & energy. It’s quite understandable why Hello Fresh and other similar businesses are growing in popularity.
Overall we enjoyed our experience with Hello Fresh!
It was a fun way to get dinner on the table, the food was good, plus we learned some things that we can apply to our farming operation.