By Brigitte Cutshall
Food has a way of making some people worry. We all have that relative or friend who is a picky eater that you don’t want to offend. Then you have foodies who are into gourmet and trendy dishes with “interesting” ingredients. You can’t please everyone, right?
What to serve at parties is easy to solve - you can have guests bring a dish to share. How do you approach this situation at home if you have a mix of picky and foodies in the family?
My oldest son mentioned that “meal kits” are popular with college students. Some of my friends subscribe to meal kit plans and like it. So I agreed to give a “meal kit” service a beta test since one of the rules in our house is to try everything at least once.
Delivered meal kits have been around a few years and I'm not an early adopter of the concept. There are a lot companies that offer this service; the most commonly known are BlueApron and HelloFresh. The field is competitive and the market is growing.
So which company did my family try out? FreshRealm, based in California. The three things that make FreshRealm stand out to me were: (1) a membership is not required; (2) the ingredients for the recipes are prepped: pre-cleaned and pre-measured; and (3) the ingredients are delivered in a reusable vessel (17” cube) with 5 drawers that are insulated. Each drawer includes an ice pack. It’s basically a square cooler/mini-fridge.
There is a “filter” feature to choose the meals. It’s a great idea and speeds up the recipe/meal search. The filters currently search by type of meal (dinner, lunch, breakfast), meal cook time or by type of protein. FreshRealm doesn’t offer a filter for organic or non-GMO lifestyle options as of right now.
The recipes come from partnering with “Tastemakers” that have existing content to share, such as Real Simple, Cooking Light and MOMables. The food is prepped at two distribution centers at this time. The first center is in Sacramento, CA and the other is New Jersey. There are plans to expand into the Midwest.
We have a mix of picky eaters and foodies in my family, and each one of us ordered a meal that we’d prepare ourselves. The recipes were closely followed for the meals (except me of course; I have to Brigitt-ize everything a little bit).
These are the 5 take-aways from our meal kit experience:
(1) Encourages you to cook at home. Each shipment contains fresh ingredients that are delivered to your door so you can have a home-cooked meal that is prepared by you. You can schedule the meals to be delivered on certain dates to fit your personal calendar.
(2) Time saver. It’s not a big deal for me to clean and chop everything, but receiving the ingredients already prepared (pre-cleaned and portioned) did save on time. You do have to recycle the individual plastic containers that the ingredients are shipped in, but don’t have to recycle a big cardboard box.
(3) Cooking lessons. It turns out this was a great experience to teach my two sons about cooking. They haven’t been enthusiastic about cooking before. This was an opportunity to let them be in charge in the kitchen too.
(4) You know what’s in your food. We actually talked about the process after, what the boys learned, and how they might tweak the ingredients like mom did. They liked knowing which ingredients went into their meal and want to try again.
(5) Less hassle and less waste. The FreshRealm packaging (reusable vessel)* didn’t require me to pull out some scissors to open a corrugated container. I just removed the tamper bands, opened the latches and the door came off easily (held on by magnets).
*With the first order you get a reusable carrying bag to unpack the prepped meal ingredients and simply leave the vessel by your front door so that FedEx can pick up the next day.
Turns out meal kits are a simple way to get picky eaters to try different foods and helps foodies satisfy their desire for diverse meals. I don’t see this meal kit trend going away anytime soon either. Especially if college students and twenty-somethings find the service beneficial. What are your thoughts about this?
About the Author
Brigitte Cutshall is a Media Solutions ... Continue
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