Here’s why 'cook-your-own' meal kits will be your dinnertime game-changer

It’s becoming more and more apparent that convenient, speedy choices run the world, especially when it comes to dinner (or eating in general). But, I’m not talking about fast food, I’m talking about pre-made, delivered-to-your-door meal-kits.

I love to cook, but a pre-made grocery box never crossed my mind until I did a little research.

According to a 2016 study, conducted by Packaged Facts, the U.S. meal-kit delivery services market will generate “approximately $1.5 billion in sales in 2016 and will grow to a multi-billion dollar market over the next few years.”

Apparently, pre-portioned grocery delivery services are pretty popular.

Once I published my findings on the internet, my email was overrun with meal-kit service companies asking if I would try their product. Because I love food (probably more than anything else, although sleep is a close second) I said ‘sure, why not.’ Throughout the span of two months, I tried three different companies – Purple Carrot, Green Chef (which is now owned by HelloFresh), and Diet-to-Go. Here’s what I learned.

Purple Carrot sends out recipes that are exclusively “plant-based,” so I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about the choices they’d send out in my first box. But, to my surprise, I was pleased to say the least.

Within two days of speaking with a Purple Carrot rep, I received a cute, cardboard box in the mail labeled with the Purple Carrot logo. Because I lived in a dorm, I received quite a few weird looks as I carried the massive box to my room on the 12th floor, but I didn’t care, I was about to have dinner. And, honestly, there’s nothing more important than that.

I geared up for this adventure by buying a bottle of wine, ordering pizza (in case I absolutely hated it), and inviting my best friend over to try out the mystery ingredients inside.

My box contained three different recipes, but we decided that the Acorn Squash Ramen with Buckwheat Noodles and Togarashi sounded the easiest and the most delicious of the three.

Because Amanda is the sweetheart that she is, she volunteered to cook the entire meal while I downed a glass of wine, and the results were pretty amazing.

While we didn’t use the actual acorn squash (I live in NY, and owning an oven is almost impossible), we honestly loved the dish. It was super easy to make, the recipe card gave us step-by-step instructions, and each ingredient was already measured out.

If I was someone who could live without meat, I’d definitely invest in Purple Carrot.

Meanwhile, because I had the joy of experiencing Purple Carrot, I didn’t feel the need to buy just-in-case pizza as a backup. Instead, I opened my box of goodies excited and confident.

Unlike Purple Carrot, Green Chef offers a meat plan – the Carnivore plan. So, naturally, this is the one I chose.

Green Chef also sent me a nice, heavily-insulated, cardboard box with their logo on it. Inside, I found steak, chicken, and fish. Of course, I chose to tackle the steak, which was a Cumin-Coriander Steak with Harissa-spiced farro, green beans, and carrots.

At first, I thought it was too fancy of a meal for me to prepare by myself, but with the help of a nifty step-by-step guide, I instantly felt like a chef. My only problem with this particular instruction manual, however, was that in step one I was asked to “preheat oven to 425 degrees.” Then, throughout the rest of the entire recipe, I wasn’t told to place anything in the oven. My fiancé had to remind me it was on! (I was cooking at his place, hence the sudden appearance of an oven.)

But, overall I definitely think I’d order from Green Chef again. Perhaps when I know I’ll be too busy to go to the grocery store on my own.

I'm ready to get cooking ;) @greenchef #nyc #foodie #mealkit #sponsored

A post shared by Tabitha Shiflett (@tabithainthecity) on

Diet-to-go was by far my favorite plan out of the three meal-kits I tried. Unlike Purple Carrot and Green Chef, Diet-to-Go sent me full meals already prepared and microwave ready. At first I was skeptical, because I HATE microwaved food, unless it’s a baked potato, but you know what? The food was beyond delicious considering it was shipped to me in tiny, plastic dinner trays stacked inside of a cardboard box.

Good morning! #healthyfood #diettogo @mydiettogo

A post shared by Tabitha Shiflett (@tabithainthecity) on

Diet-to-Go sent me the Carb30 plan (only 30 net carbs per day), which included a Cheese Omelet, Spinach Quiche, a Veggie and Cheese Omelet, Chicken Pesto Cheddar Melt, Hamburger with Swiss, Turkey Steak in Lemon Cream Sauce, Chicken Breast with Bacon, Blackened Salmon, and Chicken Fontina.

[Feature Image by Pexels]

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