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  1. So, I am conflicted. Here is the tale: my husband has a friend who was raving about Hello Fresh, a service that delivers you precise amounts of ingredients for three meals for 2 people once a week for $69. The friend had a coupon so we could try it for free, and husband wanted to try it out. He approached me with trepidation, as I do all the grocery shopping and cooking, and really enjoy sitting down on Saturdays to go through my cookbooks and plan meals for the week. I am also a good cook, who is adventurous. (That said, I usually make a big to-do dinner on Sunday, plan on something else for another weeknight, and, because there are nights I am too tired/late from work, we end up ordering 1-2 times a week.) We probably spend $50-70 a week on take out/delivery. At first I was horrified as I thought this would be a lowest-common-denominator thing, with sysco foods, and recipes geared toward midwestern unadventurous housewives. But, I figured it was free, and why not. We got a box delivered on Tuesday with the makings for three meals - a shrimp cake with arugula, chicken tostadas, and, because it was super bowl week, a southwestern meat chili. Everything came in a Styrofoam cooler, and was waiting at home fresh. Each meal had the component ingredients in a bag, and the proteins were individually sealed. For example, for the tostadas the bag had four tortillas, a can of kidney beans, organic raw chicken breasts, individual portions of the spices, peeled garlic, an avocado, a tomato, etc. Each meal was supposedly between 400-700 calories per person. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of all the ingredients (except the tomato, but they all suck at this time of year). The box also came with recipe cards with photos for each meal. We cooked all three during the following 7 days, and I have to say I kind of liked it. For those nights I would have foraged in the cupboard or ordered Thai it was nice to know that there was something already decided to cook, and that I didn't have to go to the store. I also liked that everything was portioned, i.e. we got exactly as much cilantro as we needed, etc. so there was less waste than if I had gone to the grocery store and bought a whole bunch of cilantro/celery/sour cream. I think the box really got me to cook rather than order out. The recipes were not basic, but not challenging, which was kind of perfect for a weeknight, and, while the chili was a little bland, I was able to doctor it up with some spices I had. For the tostadas, again, you actually cooked. You poached the breasts in broth, baked the tortillas crispy, made an avocado, tomato, garlic salsa, cooked the beans in bloomed spices and mashed them, and assembled everything with a dollop of sour cream on top. I guess I am seeking absolution.... What do people think? Is there a place for these kind of services in the home of good cooks, who like to shop, etc? Am I going to foodie hell if I sign up for this once a week for a while? I mean, I can still make interesting/fancy/more difficult dinners on weekends, and I think it is actually saving me money over my usual grocery bill. Should I feel guilty given that with some more planning and more strategic shopping I could try to achieve the same results (but would inevitably end up with waste of ingredients?) Let's get a discussion going here....
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