Even though every weekend begins with a long, reluctant, resistance to make the meal plan for the week, I’ve always been a little hesitant to give up control in the kitchen. A subscription meal plan seemed a little like….cheating to me. If I were to subscribe to a meal plan, I may as well just heat up a frozen Stouffer’s lasagna.
Of course they’re nothing like that. It’s not the Swanson truck dropping off frozen chicken and corn dogs every Tuesday. Subscription meal plans are actually a lot of work–but the fun work. The chopping, stirring, grilling, sautéing and eating without having to plan out each meal, list all of the ingredients by their location in the store, buy a six dollar bag of walnuts when you only need a tablespoon or opening up your cheese drawer to find that your husband has eaten the majority of the cheddar.
I found Green Chef through an advertisement on Instagram and, after finding a good week for us to try it, signed up for a huge deal (that unfortunately is no longer available), 3 meals for $26. Green Chef is similar to Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, but all of the ingredients are certified organic. This does increase the price–this box is not cheap–but when we compared the amount of money we spend at Whole Foods for three meals to the $80 a week standard price to two, sadly, it’s not that different.
Our Green Chef Box was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, so I cleared the calendar to make room for the first night’s meal. I got home around 6:15 to an empty doorstep, and figured that it was coming with the UPS truck that usually rings the doorbell every night around 8pm. After scraping together mushroom, kale quesadillas, John asked me to check the delivery schedule to see if it was arriving late. Delivered. We looked on the stoop. Nothing. Garage. Nothing. Side gates (in case the mailman was annoyed with us…) nothing. John set out on foot.
It was next door, at a couple’s house who hasn’t been home in several days. I was expecting it to be completely ruined from the 100 degree weather, but, when we opened the box, everything was still cold. Refrigerator quality cold.
I chose the “omnivore” plan–a mix of veggie and meat dishes to mix up our normal routine. Every ingredient was labeled with a colored sticker, individually packaged and cut to the amount needed for the recipe. All of the produce looked fresh, the fish was vacuum sealed and each meal came with a detailed instruction page–with pictures–listing the order of the steps, what supplies you need and the time to prep and to cook.
We tried our first meal on Thursday, the Salmon Superfood Salad. I was pleased to see we had the grill pan the recipe called for (with an alternative pro-tip calling for a regular pan), and between chopping the veggies, toasting the walnuts and searing the salmon, the whole meal took around 20 minutes. The salad was delicious, the odd combination of blueberries, radishes, walnuts and salmon was more vibrant than unusual, and the light ingredients together became a filling meal. Our only complaint? There seemed to be about a third of the dressing the recipe called for. John added a little bit of our own dressing, and I just ate a dressing-less salad.
Friday has long been my lazy cooking day, the only day of the week where I can usually convince John to ignore our meal plan and get take-out from Lotus. Meal number two of Green Chef wasn’t so different from the greasier take-out we’ve been indulging in. Kung Pow Chicken Ramen. The meal took a little longer than the first, about 30 minutes, and was drastically less photo worthy. Despite all the work, it was just ok, neither of us were crazy about the meatballs, made with ground chicken instead of chicken breast. The ramen was good (is ramen ever bad?), the vegetables were crisp and fresh and the sauce was delicious, but the meat was too much like Italian meatballs to really satisfy in an asian meal.
I woke up early Saturday, ready to be disappointed by hot weather and having to spin instead of go for a run, but, when John walked in the door from work, he said was actually nice outside. I was suspicious, but decided to take his word for it and try running. It was gorgeous–5 miles turned into 8 cool, windy, cloudy miles around our neighborhood. After a trip to Target and a girls only (no kids allowed) birthday beach party, (where I spent the majority of the time floating around the Atlantic bathwater trying to decide if my shark radar was working or not), I was starving by dinnertime, and craving something filling. No more superfood salads. I needed carbs. Saturday’s dinner was Tzatziki Falafel Sliders, carrot fries and salad. It was incredible. I would order this once a week if they had it.
If you’re caught up on some of my subscription box posts, you know I’m usually a one-and-done consumer. I like to try different subscriptions, but I have yet to find one I think I could look forward to every month. This is something I could get behind, unfortunately, the meal-for-two plan just wasn’t enough food. John and I rely heavily on leftovers, and the only meal that had anything left over was the salad, and it was just some dressing-less lettuce. To really make this work weekly, we would have to double our order, which doubles the price.
Green Chef prices each meal plan differently, Omnivore is $10.49-$14.99 per meal (that’s per person). Options include vegetarian, vegan, carnivore, gluten-free, omnivore and paleo. Each box contains three meals, delivered once a week on a day of your choice, Wednesday-Friday, and meals can be skipped at any time. I had to log in last Wednesday in order to cancel on time, and, only about 8 hours late, I ended up with one more week of meals for $80.94. Built into our budget, especially with John off and not needing leftovers three days this week, it worked out fine, and I’m excited to take another week off from meal planning (for the most part, since we have to eat on Monday and Tuesday).
Price: Fair, if you’re used to buying organic. A little pricey if you cook mainly for leftovers.
Quality: Exceptional. All of the food, the meat and veggies, were fresh, perfectly portioned and ripe.
Ease: Incredibly easy. The instructions were very straightforward and simple, each meal ranged between 25-35 minutes to prep and cook.
Finally, Taste: For the most part, great. They need to double their dressing quantity and, it’s likely that ground chicken just isn’t our thing, but their 2/3 record is better than mine usually is.
Want to try it for free? Click this link and use the code provided!