Hey there, meal delivery service fans. We know you like your boxes of fresh veggies and straight-off-the-farm meats and cheeses, and we get it. Life is busy, and having a box chock full o’ all the ingredients you need for dinner dropped at your door is baller af.
We think you need to broaden your horizons, though. Believe it or not, there is life outside of Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. There are other delivery services out there that will help you dish up a lil sumpin’ sumpin’ that isn’t so status quo. And you should try them.
To help convince you to embrace change, we had our editor and staff writer, a self-proclaimed kitchen idiot, try to conquer the task of making meals from mostly scratch from delivery services that were a little more out of the, uh...box than Hello Fresh. Horrible pun intended. This week, we tried boxes from PeachDish and Sun Basket, which were delivered to the office with all the fancy, chef-approved ingredients in tow. Here’s how things turned out.
Price: $50 for two meals and four servings
Membership: Not required, but non-members pay $12 for shipping
What’s offered: The menu changes from week to week (pro!), so you can pick and choose what you’d like to get from a rotating menu, with dishes like chorizo seitan pupusas or the superfood fiesta bowl.What we orderedFrench-style vegetable ragout with turnips
Jerk chicken with citrus, rice, and black beans
How was the packaging?These meals arrived in the very best packaging, with ice packs and fancy little bags of veggies everywhere. The chicken for the jerk chicken recipe was individually packed in a foil bag with ice, which kept the chances of any cross contamination of our veggies at bay. That’s a huge plus for those of us who are paranoid about such things.
Everything was so neatly organized that there was virtually no way one could confuse either bag with the other meal, and each ingredient, should it not be an obvious vegetable like a turnip or potato, was labeled for the cooking newbies among us. As an added bonus, the spices and sauces were packaged in individual labeled containers, and none of the sauces needed to be mixed or put together. Super easy.
The only issue we had was that finding the recipes proved a little tricky – they’re packed between the insulation and the box, and we should have found them, because it was labeled right on the box, but we’re dumb. But, before we solved that puzzle, we went online and printed them out just in case.
Our score: 5 out of 5 spatulasHow easy were these to cook?PeachDish is one of those boxes that requires a little bit of kitchen knowledge, but all you really need is a baseline knowledge of how to chop veggies and how to manage your kitchen flow. Our staff writer, who’s written before on her kitchen illiteracy, does not have those things, though, and she tried to put together the jerk chicken, but things started to get a little hairy after the prep part (right about the time it came for her to cook the chicken). Rather than risk a fire or rubbery chicken, someone else took over. If you have a little bit of background knowledge, like how to use a sauce pan and NOT singe everything you put into it, you should be fine to make these meals. Once someone who knew how to use a stove took over, things went much more smoothly.
Both meals only required us to have some knives, pans, and olive oil on hand, and while they did take a little longer than the suggested time on the recipes to cook – the ragout took us about 10 or 15 minutes longer than suggested, and the jerk chicken was about the same – in the grand scheme of things, that ain’t much.
Our rating: 4 out of 5 microwavesSo, how’d they turn out?In our humble opinions, we kinda crushed these PeachDish meals. Just take our photos as proof. Do they look like the examples? Heck yes they do, right down to our finest Ikea dishware. They tasted mighty fine, too. The chicken in the jerk chicken was tender and flavorful, and while we had to scrape the pan with all the muscle power, thanks to the sticky sauce, it was definitely worth the effort. The oranges gave it a nice pop of both color and flavor, and while we hate zesting – this recipe required zesting both oranges and limes – it was worth the extra effort.
Same goes for the veggie ragout. If you’re a vegetarian, this meal was hearty and flavorful, and we actually quite liked the turnips. Go figure. Chopping carrots is still the pits, though, even if someone else does most of the work and FedEx’s the ingredients to you.
Our rating: 4 out of 5 at-home Michelin starsWould we order from PeachDish again?Yep! Fresh veggies, meat, and really simple instructions made this one a standout for us.
Who should order PeachDish?This box is for people who like a little more variety than one can get with the regular boxes, and for people who like more exotic flavors and spices. We’d also suggest that you be comfortable wielding a knife and using a stove, unlike our staff writer.
Price: The classic menu is $ 71.94, which includes three meals with two servings per meal. There’s also the option of a family menu, and the price varies by how many meals you order.
Membership: You do have to pick a plan, but you can skip a week or change things around to another plan if you’re so inclined.
What’s offered: The badass thing about Sun Basket’s menu is that there are meal plans for every type of diet: pescatarian, diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, Mediterranean, paleo, lean and clean...the list goes on and on.What we orderedSalt and pepper tofu
Ecuadorian chicken stew
Korean BBQ chicken lettuce wraps
How was the packaging?The packaging for Sun Basket’s meals was pretty darn great. We were really impressed with how the meat and veggies were packaged with cardboard to divide them, and the frozen cotton ice was such a clever idea. Even cooler still was that the veggies (and the tofu for the salt and pepper tofu) were packaged in brown paper bags, which we used to discard the vegetable trimmings, and we felt very green and Earth-friendly doing so. Everything was the right temperature when we removed it from the box, too, which seems like a tough feat, considering it was a box containing raw food.
Our score: 5 out of 5 compost pilesHow easy were these to cook?Sun Basket’s meals seemed like they’d be complicated on first glance – Ecuadorian chicken stew sounds really...out of our comfort zone, but they were actually incredibly easy meals to put together. The Ecuadorian chicken stew was a quick, tasty meal that we threw together after working late one night, and at no point did it feel laborious or like we were overwhelmed. And yes, that includes our kitchen-averse staff writer, too, who did just fine putting this one together.
Same goes for the Korean BBQ chicken lettuce wraps. The most daunting part of that recipe was getting the sticky sauce out of the pan, which required a metric ton of elbow grease and some fervent praying to the gods for help. Worth it, though.
Other than that, things were pro. Most of the veggies were prepped and ready to go, and the ones that weren’t were easy to get chopped and diced. All expected kitchen crises were averted.
Our rating: 4 out of 5 microwavesSo, how’d they turn out?We KILLED these meals, and actually managed to keep within the expected time frame to do it. The Ecuadorian chicken stew was cooked to perfection – it looked just like the recipe card, to us, anyway – and the Korean lettuce wraps were so colorful and flavorful. We really liked this box o’ surprises. Nothing was quite what we expected, in a good way. Tofu has been a hard one for us to conquer in the past, but with this delivery service, we somehow managed to tick that box off our list. Tofu nailed, you guys. Tofu nailed.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5 at-home Michelin starsWould we order from Sun Basket again?Heck yeah, we would. Especially if we wanted to impress people with our expert (and fake) kitchen skills.
Who should order Sun Basket?This box contains recipes that are so easy to put together that we think it’s a box that just about anyone would like. If you’re a gourmet chef, this thing makes it super easy to take a night off but still enjoy your food – which isn’t just spaghetti and meatballs – and if you’re timid in the kitchen, this box will give you a boost of confidence to take cooking matters into your own hands.