Earlier this year, I was offered the option to try a new meal delivery service, Green Chef, that had just expanded nationwide. Sure, there are plenty of meal delivery services to choose from, but this one looked especially tasty to me for two reasons: 1. It’s the first and only USDA-certified organic meal kit delivery company. They have no GMOs, no artificial ingredients, and no growth hormones or antibiotics. 2. The packaging is supposed to be more eco-friendly.
Each weekly delivery comes with the ingredients for three meals for two people, and you can choose from several options, including vegetarian (the most affordable at $10.99 a meal), omnivore (one vegetarian meal, one meat-based meal, and one seafood meal), carnivore (three meat-based meals), gluten-free (like omnivore, but gluten-free), and paleo.
The ease of tailoring it to your preferred diet is especially appealing. What is keeping us (me) from actually adhering to that diet we’re (I’m) so theoretically into is the finding of recipes, planning out your grocery shopping trip, then finally visiting the grocery store with all your reusable bags. Throw in a hungry significant other who isn’t completely receptive to your health nut recipes, and things get complicated. How much would you pay to have someone do that for you so you could reclaim your Sunday afternoons for a trip to the park instead of meal planning?
So, I decided to give Green Chef a shot for a week.* I chose the Paleo option which, at $14.99 per meal, is the most expensive. That makes sense. Organic and pasture-raised meat isn’t cheap! And neither is cutting out all the affordable but paleo-restricted ingredients like grains, dairy, legumes, potatoes, and vegetable oils. Still, it’s cheaper than ordering in a meal for two people by about $15, is healthier, and gives you more satisfaction.
You can also choose the day of delivery. The box of ingredients showed up on the day I specified, sitting downstairs in my lobby. (It’s refrigerated, so it’s cool if it sits for a bit if you’re out.)
One of the big things holding me back from meal kit delivery is the packaging, so whoever figures out the packaging problem of shipping meals gets all my money. Green Chef comes close. Yes, everything is individually portioned into plastic cups and bags, to an absurd level. For example, I am curious as to the type of customer who needs a tablespoon of butter delivered. Everyone has butter! It’s a basic. If you don’t use it for this recipe, you’ll use it for something else. But gotta give them credit: Instead of a polystyrene cooler, the food is wrapped in fluffy, recycled blue jeans, a soft and insulating material that seems to perform just as well as the non-biodegradable stuff of the devil. (We have recycled blue jean insulation in the walls of our apartment, actually.) The shredded blue jeans were then wrapped in plastic, which may be recyclable in San Francisco, but isn’t here, unfortunately. I took the blue jean insulation and used it to line our closet, which has been mysteriously freezing this winter and could use an extra layer. If I hadn’t done that, I would have put it in my textile recycling pile for the farmer’s market.
After I unpacked everything, I managed to fit almost all the ingredients into our fridge crisper, so I could keep them organized and away from the normal groceries. The recipes come on color coded cards, so once I was ready to cook one of the meals, I could just pull out the ingredients that had the correct color sticker on them. The recipes all took less than 25 minutes, and yielded healthy and robust meals that both I and my dude enjoyed immensely.
Now, I have to be honest with you, at some point between enjoying these tasty meals a couple months ago, taking two trips, and writing this review, I lost the recipe cards. (I attribute it to my penchant for purging and recycling.) So I can’t tell you with precision about the recipes we had that week. #badjournalist
But you can look at the pictures I took of the meals, and take an educated guess. Herbed salmon with green beans and salad, and roast chicken breast with kale and … a root vegetable. I’m sorry. I’m usually much more detailed in my reviews. (This is why I put out that call for reviewers to help me last week.) Luckily, you can also look at this week’s recipes to get a great idea of the kind of meals that will come to you. As I write this, they have Greek chicken potatoes, steak coconut curry, white bean cakes with asparagus, quinoa stuffed zucchini, veggie flautas, and shrimp scampi.
Despite my hazy recollection of the exact ingredients, my overall takeaway was that if I could cook like this easily three times a week, I would consider myself a successful grownup.
We were absolutely pleased with our organic Green Chef meals – they were easy, healthy, tasty, and came in comparatively eco-friendly packaging. If you keep trying and failing to come up with time to meal plan, then this is an excellent solution.
*Green Chef generously provided me with a week’s delivery for review.