You know what I think is a growing trend? Companies that deliver food and products right to your home to take the hassle out of having to do it yourself. Don’t you agree? I feel like you can get almost anything straight to your doorstep these days.
I recently had the pleasure of trying my first meal kit delivery service through a Boston-based company called Just Add Cooking. Basically, the company delivers a box of ingredients and recipes directly to your door every Sunday. Every ingredient in the box is portioned to the recipe, and you get mostly everything you need to make it, so there is no waste or need to buy full jars or packages of things you’ll likely only use once or twice in the kitchen. Their philosophy is that all you have to do is “just add cooking.”
Last week was the perfect week to try this out, since I was so busy studying for my test. Time saver!
As always, I get super giddy when I get deliveries right to the front door. Along with the box drop off, I received a text message letting me know my goodies had arrived. I thought this was a nice touch.
The food in the box was packaged very neatly, with all the ingredients perfectly measured out. The only ingredients that aren’t included are the basics (salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil, vegetable oil, and corn starch).
Some of the ingredients were placed straight in the box, some were sealed tight in baggies, and the main perishable items such as the meat and fish came in an insulated bag with ice. The package also had a few envelopes, one that held the spices and another that held our weekly recipe instructions and newsletter. Everything was labeled too, which I think would be helpful for newbies who may not be able to visually tell the difference between something like parsley and cilantro.
Earlier in the week, Tim and I went on the Just Add Cooking website to peruse our meal options. Every week there are seven meals to choose from, and three are always vegetarian. Since the company only delivers on Sundays, you must have your selections made by the previous Wednesday. We opted for the Mexican cod, the couscous marrakech, and the quinoa with shittake mushrooms.
Each meal came with a recipe that displayed a picture of the finished product, a list of ingredients you need, and a dinner timeline of when sequentially to do each step. As someone who likes things in a list and organized format, I obviously found this very helpful.
My favorite meal was the Mexican cod. It was very light, and using chile powder gave the first bite a little heat that nicely contrasted against the cooler tomato flavor you could taste at the end.
My second favorite was the quinoa. I wouldn’t say that this quinoa dish was anything crazy since we prepare quinoa all the time, but it definitely gave me another recipe to add to our quinoa rotation! I usually don’t buy shittake mushrooms, so that was a nice change of pace, and I enjoyed cooking with leeks instead of yellow onions.
Finally, my least favorite was the couscous marrakech, but that’s just because I don’t particularly care for sausage. We got this one to please my meat loving boyfriend, obviously. I liked this for something different, but we wished the sausage we received wasn’t pre-cooked. Just a personal preference.
Overall, we were pleased with how each of the meals turned out. I won’t lie, we weren’t expecting anything that awesome because we somehow turned into food snobs over the past year, but these meals all had a lot of flavor. We were also nervous about portion size because our friends Cate and Joe used a similar delivery service from another company, and they were really disappointed with how small the portions were. However, all our JAC meals were right on par and filled me up.
My only complaint is that one of our red peppers went bad within the week. Luckily I had another random one in the fridge that I added to the quinoa instead. We did wait until the following Saturday to use it, and this really could happen with any produce you buy.
If I had to make a pro/con list (okay, obviously I just want an excuse to make one), here’s how I would rate everything from Just Add Cooking overall:
- Convenience — With this service, meal planning and grocery shopping is minimal.
- Size options — We tried the 2-person, 3-meal delivery, but there are also options to order a four person box to feed more people OR let two people have leftovers. You can order three, four, or five meals a week with either option, and you always have the choice from seven meals (three of which are always vegetarian).
- Quality — JAC states that their ingredients are always fresh and natural, and when possible locally produced, in-season, and organic. All their food is locally sourced from markets and farmers in the Greater Boston area.
- Pricing — Based on some of the research I did on related companies, JAC’s prices seems to be very comparable. You can read more about their pricing here. As with most things, the more meals you buy, the better the value.
- New ideas — This can introduce people to new ingredients or ways to cook. Even we tried a couple of new things we hadn’t before, such as cooking with turmeric in the couscous dish.
- Accuracy — Like I mentioned above, portion sizes were accurate but not too small. Also, each meal was true to the thirty minutes the recipes said they would take to make (another convenience factor).
- Flexibility — When signing up for this service, there is no minimum commitment. You are also free to skip a delivery anytime before the weekly cut-off without getting charged, and you can cancel your subscription at any time.
- Personal choice — For people who actually like to do their own grocery shopping like us weirdos, this doesn’t allow you to pick your own produce, etc.
- Creativity — This takes a lot of creativity out of the cooking process for those who don’t like to follow a recipe (Tim).
- Delivery day — JAC only delivers on Sundays, if this day isn’t preferable for you, there aren’t any other days to choose from.
- No ingredient swaps or allergen free options — While choosing my meals, I found that some of the recipes used ingredients that I otherwise would have swapped. For example, the Mexican cod dish came with regular diced tomatoes, but I always buy the no salt added version. There was another meal that I may have opted for, but it used a regular or wheat flour where I normally will try to use coconut or almond flour when possible. That said, it would still be easy to omit something if you didn’t like it or were allergic to it since delivery is in whole ingredient form.
Based on my experience, I recommend Just Add Cooking for people or families with busy schedules looking for time savers and/or people who are new to cooking or timid about their cooking abilities and want to expand!
JAC would like to extend a $20 discount to any F&F readers. This is a $20 credit on any sized box, and it is good through 5/31/14 for new customers only. The code is SPRINGBLOG at checkout.
Just Add Cooking has also kindly offered to giveaway a 2-person, 3-meal box worth $79 to one lucky F&F reader! Just like I did, the winner will be able to select his or her choice of whatever recipes are available in the week they get their delivery.
How to enter the giveaway
- First, create an account on the Just Add Cooking website. To create an account, all you have to do is click “Get Cooking” at the top right of the site. Please note that this does NOT require you to buy anything or input any credit card information; it simply sets up your account to allow you to view the menus.
- Second, leave a comment on this post telling me which meal on the website you’d most like to try or if you’ve participated in a meal delivery service before.
Optional steps (one comment per extra entry please!)
- Follow Fitness & Feta on Twitter.
- Follow Fitness & Feta on Facebook.
- Tweet the following: I entered a giveaway through @fitnessandfeta to win delicious meals from @addcooking! http://wp.me/p1GYjo-3gP
- Winner must be able to receive deliveries from Just Add Cooking. You can check on their site by clicking “Get Cooking” and entering your zip code to see if they deliver to you.
- This giveaway is open to new customers only.
- This giveaway will be open until Friday, April 4th at 11:59 EST, and winners will be announced early next week.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post, but I was provided three complimentary meals from Just Add Cooking in exchange for writing this review. As always, all opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links within this post.