Subscription boxes are hot right now. Customers sign up to automatically receive curated, often themed, boxes of goods. They include everything from jewelry to skincare products to clothes to books to snacks.
Among the most popular are meal prep boxes from companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plate, Home Chef, and Martha and Marley Spoon.
Per-person costs can range from $9.95 to $15.99 per meal, so it’s to your advantage to get the most out of your meal kit. Here are some ways I’ve been able to get the most out of meal kits.
1. Plan Your Meal Kit Delivery
Most subscriptions allow you to set a specific delivery date. Given that most meals include fresh produce, it’s helpful to look at your calendar and plan when you’ll have time to cook your meals. If you tend to work late at the beginning of the week, you may be better off having meals delivered mid-week. Your schedule may also change week to week, so many services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh let you skip weeks or change your delivery date.
It’s also helpful to skip meals if you just don’t like any of the recipe offerings that week. Additionally, you can customize the number of meals and servings you receive. For example, Blue Apron offers two plans: two servings of three meals and four servings of two meals.
2. Use Meal Kits to Try New Dishes, Spices, and Ingredients
One of the biggest benefits of meal prep kits is the ability to try new dishes or ingredients without big piles of leftovers from buying ingredients at a grocery store. This is especially useful and cost-efficient with spices for ethnic dishes, because kits include only the amount needed for the recipe.
One of my favorite meals from Blue Apron was Harissa Chicken Skewers with Persimmon Salad. A quick search shows that harissa paste can cost anywhere from $5 to $10, so it was helpful to use Blue Apron to try it first. Meal kits are also a way to try ingredients you might not be used to, such as persimmons, parsnips, fennel, kale, figs, currants, and Meyer lemons.
3. Organize and Store Meals Together
In some meal kit subscription boxes all ingredients are shipped together in one box and not divided by recipe or meal. Since some recipes have the same ingredients, it’s helpful to look at the ingredients list to divide and store meals separately to make preparation more convenient.
4. Read the Recipe Thoroughly
Most meal kits require you to chop produce and prepare sauces from scratch. The kits come with step by step instructions, but it is helpful to read through it one or two times before getting started since some elements are meant to cook at the same time or require the same pan so you can use the leftover “fond” (those yummy brown bits leftover after cooking protein) in a sauce.
5. Freeze Leftovers for Quick Meals on the Go
Most meal kits have generous servings. I often get more than two servings out of Blue Apron meals. For soups and stews, I end up with at least four servings. Since you likely received several meals to cook for the week, it’s a good idea to freeze leftover portions so they don’t go bad and so you can prepare the other meals while ingredients are still fresh.
6. Save the Recipes You Like
One of the benefits of using a meal kit subscription is the step-by-step recipe cards that come with each meal. In addition to the list of ingredients and amounts, they can be a helpful guide for learning new techniques and expanding your cooking repertoire.
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