Vegetarian Dinner Kits: A Round-Up of Reviews

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I can’t believe it’s been a year (give or take) since I jumped on the dinner kit bandwagon and cooked my way out of well-stocked boxes of food for weeks in a row. During this adventure, I can tell you I spent very little time at the grocery store. I was inspired to try all the new services popping up and found myself writing extensive reviews of 4 different companies. As we’re heading into fall again, fraught with the busyness of school, work, and the holidays, I thought it was just the right time for a round-up for these services that aim to save us time in the kitchen.

Opening the acme farms box (640x480)

This list shows some favoritism, starting with my least and ending with my most. But I really did like each and every one of them and all the food was definitely good enough to eat.

4. Plated

Cost: $12/plate. 3 meals for 2 people = $72. Subscription service. Free shipping over $50.

Choice: Can choose just 1, 2, or 3 meals per week for 2, 4 or 6 people. Of the 7 meals available each week, 3 are vegetarian, and 1 of these is often vegan.

Cooking Effort Required: Medium.

Taste: Ranged from OK to awesome.

Nutrition: Not bad. Plant proteins (like legumes, tofu, etc.) lacking, use whole grains 1/3 of the time, nutrition information online.

Amount: Rarely have leftovers, need to add own side dishes.

Packaging: Tons.

Vegan: 1 vegan meal available per week, more if you omit cheese.

Other: Most expensive service of those reviewed.

Favorite Dish: Apple Sesame Forbidden Rice with Miso Cauliflower

Apple Sesame Forbidden Rice with Miso Cauliflower

3. Blue Apron

Cost: $9.99/plate. 3 meals for 2 people = $59.94. Subscription service, but they say there’s no minimum commitment. Free shipping.

Choice: Of the 6 meals available each week, 3 are vegetarian, and 1 of these is often vegan. Since a vegetarian box has 3 meals, you wouldn’t get to choose, but would get the default 3. Family plan available, too.

Cooking Effort Required: Medium.

Taste: Ranged from OK to awesome.

Nutrition: Pretty good. Plant proteins (like legumes, tofu, etc.) lacking, use whole grains 1/2 of the time, only provide calorie content.

Amount: Always had 1 serving of leftovers, need to add own side dishes.

Packaging: Tons.

Vegan: 1 vegan meal per week in vegetarian box, more if you omit cheese.

Other: The first company providing this service on a large scale. They were the innovators.

Favorite Dish: Potato Rosti with Frisée Salad and Tamarind Chutney

Potato Rosti with Frisee Salad and Tamarind Chutney

2. Hello Fresh

Cost: $9.83/plate. 3 meals for 2 people = $59. “Flexible” subscription service. Free shipping.

Choice: Of the 8 meals available each week, 3 are vegetarian, and 1 of these is often vegan. Since a vegetarian box has 3 meals, you wouldn’t get to choose, but would get the default 3. Can do a box for 2 people or 4 people.

Cooking Effort Required: Medium.

Taste: Ranged from OK to awesome.

Nutrition: Pretty good. More plant proteins present, use whole grains 1/2 of the time, nutrition information on the recipe cards.

Amount: Leftovers were hit and miss, need to add own side dishes.

Packaging: Tons.

Vegan: 1-2 vegan meals per week in vegetarian box, more if you omit cheese.

Other: The only one to give us tofu! And they have a dietitian on staff.

Favorite Dish: Crispy Sunchoke Salad with Kale, Mushrooms, and Farro

Hello Fresh Crispy Sunchoke Salad with Kale, Mushrooms and Farro

1. Acme Farms and Kitchen

(only available in select parts of northwest Washington state)

Cost: $7.38/plate. 4 meals for 2 people = $59. Subscription not required. Can order a box whenever you want or sign on to get them weekly or every 2 weeks. Can pick up for free or pay $5 for home delivery.

Choice:  Don’t get to pick recipes and can’t view online ahead of time like other services. All vegetarian locavore boxes are packed the same, with the default 4 recipes.

Cooking Effort Required: Low.

Taste: Ranged from OK to awesome.

Nutrition: Not bad. More plant proteins present (legumes!!), rarely use whole grains, nutrition information not available.

Amount: Always had 1 serving of leftovers, need to add own side dishes, often had leftover ingredients too like eggs or cheese.

Packaging: Minimal.

Vegan: 1-2 vegan meals per week in vegetarian box, more if you omit cheese.

Other: Often need more pantry items than just olive oil, salt, and pepper like Parmesan cheese, lemons, white wine, vegetable stock, or spices. Nearly all the food is local (to Whatcom County and Washington state) including tortillas, bread, beans, lentils, cheese, eggs, fresh pasta, and produce. More than just dinner boxes available to keep you stocked all week – salad kits, ready-made meals, fruit shares, and dessert kits. This is the one service we’ve used over and over again.

Favorite Dish: Bean and Cheese Burritos with Tomato Salad

Bean and Cheese Burritos with tomato salad

I think my take on the whole experience is that it’s a nice break from meal planning and shopping every once in a while. When life is getting full I find the idea of ordering an Acme box appealing. And since I don’t have to subscribe, this fits my need perfectly. Also, I couldn’t afford to do any of the services year-round. And I like finding my own recipes to experiment with and making something new on a whim, and if set meals are provided every week I think I’d miss that little bit of culinary fun and adventure. (Although, if they’re sending just 3 meals, I suppose that leaves 4 nights a week I could get creative cooking something else.)

Apparently I’m not the only one who finds these dinner kits intriguing. Though not specifically vegetarian, some other folks have done similar reviews of these companies, if you want to take a peek at their recommendations:

Meals by Mail: Which Meal Kit Delivery Service is Right for You? from The Kitchn

The Best Meal Kit Services: Blue Apron vs. Hello Fresh vs. Plated from LifeHacker

 

It seems to be catching on. Since I first found out about the existence of dinner kits, even more services have taken root. Next up on my list to try: PeachDish, SunBasket, and 100% plant-based Purple Carrot. The adventure continues…

 

What do you think? Are you up for someone mailing you dinner or are you just as happy heading to the store yourself?

4 Comments

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