If you’ve been on Instagram or Facebook or watched TV in the last few years, you no doubt are aware meal kit companies are now a thing.
For the unfamiliar: companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and many others put together boxes of food and ship them to you with recipes for meals to make at home. A better and more active cook in my mind than in real life, I’ve been curious about the services for quite a while. So when Dinnerly contacted me about the service now being available in Savannah, I took them up on their offer to send me a sample box – as long as I could review it and share the results with all of you.
Soon after, a large, heavy, cool-to-the-touch cardboard box arrived. Inside were two freezer packs filled with some type of still-mostly-frozen goo and ingredients and recipes to make these dishes: Harissa-Spiced Chicken with Potatoes, Onions and Spinach; Grass-Fed American Chop Suey with Corkscrew Pasta; and Griddled Onion Turkey Burgers with Pepper Jack and Sweet Potato Fries.
The recipes can be viewed online or printed. They very clearly tell you what food and tools you’ll need, break everything into easy-to-follow steps (with photos), and even toss in allergen and nutritional information and suggestions for either extras to add or what to drink. There’s also a cooking hotline to call if you have questions about the recipe you are making. I do wish, however, use by dates were included with the proteins.
I’ve seen a lot of complaints about spoiled/rotten food arriving with many meal kits. In my case, one of the two red onions arrived mushy and so quickly went into the trash. I substituted with one I had on hand.
All the recipes say they can feed two adults and two children, which is pretty accurate. The recipes also say they can be done in 30 to 40 minutes, which was not accurate. But, full disclosure, I’m not sure if that was the fault of the recipes or me.
Night 1: Harissa-Spiced Chicken with Potatoes, Onions and Spinach
I tried this one first mostly because there was no expiration or use by date on the chicken and I didn’t want to risk it going bad and killing me. Also, I was very curious about harissa, which I’d heard of but didn’t think I’d ever tasted.
Well, the chicken (drumsticks and thighs) was fine and the harissa was fantastic! Hailing from North Africa, it’s a little spicy, a little smoky and a lotta awesome. The only negative is Dinnerly didn’t send enough to get it all over both the chicken and the potatoes. (Side note: I’ve been scouring Savannah for a harissa blend but have only found a paste at Kroger, and that’s more than I found at Fresh Market, Publix and Lucky’s. Where else should I look?)
Everything with this recipe was exceptional. However, it calls for one red onion and the one Dinnerly sent was so small it was mostly browned into nothingness and stuck to the baking sheet once all the cooking was complete.
I’d definitely want Dinnerly to send me this meal again.
Night 2: Grass-Fed American Chop Suey with Corkscrew Pasta
This one is best described as “fine.” If you’re not familiar with the term chop suey, a friend who also tried the meal said this is more accurately called “fancy Hamburger Helper.” Overall, it was bland to my taste. I added a lot of red pepper flakes to help it out. But my biggest complaint is that the recipe makes it seem like you can cook it all in one large skillet. I have both a regular-sized and a larger-sized skillet, and all these ingredients were too much for them. I ended up using both a skillet and a large stock pot, which almost couldn’t handle the meat, onion, cans of tomatoes and pound of pasta.
There’s so much food it could probably serve 8-10 people. But, as I said, it wasn’t very good.
I wouldn’t want Dinnerly to send me this meal again.
Night 3: Griddled Onion Turkey Burgers with Pepper Jack and Sweet Potato Fries
After Night 2’s disappointment, this was a nice comeback. The amount of turkey led to very large burgers, and the addition of red onion to the mix was a nice touch. The provided buns also were fantastic and tasted fresh.
The recipe says to use the 1-pound sweet potato Dinnerly provided, but I was sent a runt. I sliced it as thinly as I could, but still barely managed to have enough fries for two people, not the four it advertises.
Still, I’d want Dinnerly to send me this one again. I’d just make sure I had an extra sweet potato or two on hand.
Overall: The box Dinnerly sent me to sample was the 4-person Family Box. Currently, Dinnerly says that package costs $68.99. For the quality of the ingredients (mostly the specialized meats), I think it’s a good deal. Once you sign up, you can schedule what days you want the food delivered and skip weeks if you need to. You also get to see what recipes are coming before you decide if you want to receive them or not.