The three main services I am investigating today are so totally different. Only the Dinner Thyme one comes with meals sans subscribing that you prepare according the instructions, and it vastly differs from subscription sources such as Hello Fresh or Green Apron, as there is NO subscription involved, and you can order as much as you want in one shot as it all comes frozen. Frankly, atm I have no interest in trying the regular subscription services, although later on I could see doing one of them simply as a one- or two-off for the sake of reviewing for this blog. The other two I mention here: Misfits Market gives you fruits and veggies without any recipes, and PeaPod is a supermarket delivery service I found useful back in the day when I had a broken ankle and was house-bound in the Danbury, CT area. Again, you use your own recipes.
For the international readership, I fear this is just pertinent to the US.
Also, at the end of this I will mention a couple of local farm aggregate/delivery services, one for Connecticut (I’ve used it in the past) and the other for Massachusetts (which I’ve just placed my first order with, and should receive later this week).
Except for Dinner Thyme, ALL these sources provide food you cook up yourselves any way you want. Which might potentially save you moolah – or gas/petrol, after all.
NOTE: NONE of these services know that this blog exists, much less that they are being reviewed. There’s NO funding or supporting by any means whatsoever from them.
And no, I didn’t start investigating these due to COVID-19. Dinner Thyme and Misfits Market I started to explore earlier this year out of sheer curiosity and not wanting to drive for fresh veggies if I didn’t have to waste the gas; and PeaPod is something I used back in 2015/2016 when I needed to deal with not being able to drive at all after an accident. But these are all options if you are interested. However note that as scale of medical and sanitary supplies ramp up, UPS and other major carriers may lessen the priority of delivering these things, even though this is food. For the Connecticut farm fresh delivery service, I know the owners hire their driver (who may also be a co owner??) directly.
Since I am already talking about Dinner Thyme now, let’s continue:
One order of a variety of meals to arrive the week of 2/25 (they ship, at least here in New England, on that date. I’d ordered a couple days earlier.) Food is supposed to arrive in dinners or meals for two, and from what I heard from an online friend, are easily separable into servings of one if desired. There were something like 67 mains and 26 sides (via rough count) one could order the day I ordered. They are all sent frozen, which means items containing veggies that are best eaten crispy are not optimal to order – fortunately many of the choices I saw were frequently veggies that are fine when not crispy, ie spinach. I did avoid ordering string beans and the like. You’ll still need to source your own crispy salads! And, alas, the only time you can get the yummy dark meat of chicken is if you order wings. (So… I did.)
I ordered several items, and I’ll review the first four I tried, here. Two mains, two appetizers.
ERROR! Something happened to the shipment when it hit Renssaler, NY and it did not arrive. The box apparently got compromised, so Dinner Thyme sent out a replacement for arrival 3/3/2020.
Which arrived, and I put everything into the freezer except for the Blackened Shrimp over Cauliflower “Grits”, which I decided to eat for lunch on the 5th. Reading the instructions, for this one I thaw most of it, but two components (the cauliflower “grits” and the green bell pepper) stay frozen until the moment of use. So yeah, I did that. I picked this recipe to purchase because it was low carb. I followed the instructions other than I started the “grits” part cooking BEFORE the shrimp and peppers – as I don’t like either of those overcooked. This made two servings. They did give me the option of saving half the shrimp and half of the “Lemon-chive Vinaigrette” dressing for putting together the second portion, but I ended up making this all, all at once – to reheat leftovers lightly for Saturday’s breakfast. Spice level was mild; if I order this again, I’ll add a little more chili from my own spice rack, but even as it was, it was flavorful. The only seasoning that seemed off was that lemon-chive vinaigrette – a little too sweet for my taste, but it mixed in well with the rest of the meal so I didn’t particularly notice that. The peppers thankfully had more body to them than I expected. Maybe because of the fact I went slightly out of order on their cooking sequence. This was worthwhile.
Dinner Thyme supplies everything (for this dish) except salt, pepper, olive oil, and butter. (I admit I used avocado oil instead of the olive…) They do encourage you to use their recipes as guidelines – which I’m quite happy to do. I did get two separate meals out of that dinner.
My second dish from Dinner Thyme: Buffalo Chicken Wings. Which is part of their appetizer menu. I cooked as directed, although since I cooked the wings on a rack I decided not to flip the wings at that halfway cooking mark. These are indeed spicy, but you can control some of that spice level. I liked the fact these tasted great, and had NO breading to get in my way. These are meant as an appetizer. It comes as two servings, but you could up this to three depending on what else was for dinner. Since I only had two meals that day, and dinner was going to be horridly late (as in around my usual bed-time), I ate this as a whole brunch. I do understand these folk do try to source from farms that are more or less responsible.
Up next are the vegetarian/vegan Crispy Artichokes. This is another side. They come with corn starch, an ingredient I’m not crazy about, but we shall do this. Dinner Thyme supplies the artichoke hearts and the corn starch mix, and you supply the olive oil, salt and pepper. As this was to cook at a high temperature, and I don’t buy non-virgin EVOO, I went with my favorite standby, avocado oil, and used the minimal amount as described in the recipe. At least, the corn starch should supply the “crispy” part… RIGHT?
Severely disappointed with this dish, after the previous two. The choice of a different oil should not have made a difference in the cooking regard here. I added neither salt nor pepper – I don’t think either would have made a difference in helping it. Maybe the pepper…
But.. the corn starch coating didn’t truly brown up enough to be crispy, and while I love sourness and a good vinegar taste to many of my foods, the artichoke hearts were a little past the proper (even for me) optimal vinegar taste level. I know this was supposed to be at some “wannabee crispy/sour level”, but this side dish did not, sadly, work for me. Another ten minutes might have made some browned crispiness, but I don’t think I’d care. Okay, it’s vegan, but that’s not enough to help this encourage this for anybody. Vegan or not.
Another main dish I tried for this blog post was Cherry Pork Medallions with Asian Edamame. They ask you to thaw all the ingredients except the edamame – I suspect that is something that by cooking it at the last minute helps preserve some more solid veggie texture. There are two separately-frozen pork loin medallions, so you can make this on different nights if you are eating alone. The rest you will have to divide half and half, should you choose, but that looks easy enough. Again I decided to cook this all at once, not worrying as I’d have the leftovers re-heated for breakfast. This turned out very tasty; alas I didn’t get photos – but my rendition looked very much like the source packaging photo.
I also made the Chipotle Black Beans, a side meant to serve two. This was simple (just the black beans, and a pouch containing the sauce). This was excellent and tasty! I ate the whole thing – I made it my dinner, with no other food.
Other things I picked up but have not tried (they’re still in the freezer):
- Orange-Glazed Salmon over Wilted Spinach (Edit, May 1:) I just had a single person’s portion of this – was easy to divide the parts not divided in packaging. The salmon was ample and wonderful. My only complaint is that the orange sauce was WAY too sweet – but if you read my blog much, you’ll know I just don’t do sweet very often. You may love this level of sweetness, which to help it out, was made with maple syrup rather than just tossing in fructose or something. This would have been quite good were it less sweet, but your sweet-tolerance mileage may vary.
- Mushrooms and Artichokes Pasta with Marsala Wine Sauce (vegetarian)
- Bayou Jambalaya. Edit: Contains shrimp, chicken, and something that passes for Andouille. This dish is okay, not outstanding but definitely something fine to eat again. There is a hotly seasoned powder you can add in at whim, and this not a bad addition. The shrimp tastes fresh and good.
- Buttermilk Pancakes (vegetarian breakfast). EDIT: these were the absolute WORST pancakes I’ve eaten in my 66 years of life. Sorry. I call ’em as I see ’em. Ended up throwing most of it out – which I hate to do.
- Sautéed Spinach (vegetarian side)
I suspect the sautéed spinach will be a waste of time and money – it is so easy to get a frozen package of the stuff and sauté it yourself with things to hand, but for whatever un-recalled reason, I ordered that. I suspect it was because I was trying to find more sides I really wanted to eat, as well as vegetarian eats. It might be good as all-get-out, but I’m sure I can do just as good with a frozen supermarket package.
I do like the convenience that they come frozen, and that you can pull them out and eat when you want. It’s probably not a service I’ll avail myself of, often – but then again unlike a large portion of the population, I enjoy just getting out there and cooking in the kitchen! But, if you need this, or have nights of limited time – the service is there. They are usually, but not always, accurate about cooking time.
One thing that is a super WRONG thing about this service: Prices say “portions”. Which means if you were to serve this individually. Actual costs are for the dual meals delivered. I am, for this reason, probably not going to deal with this site longer. I didn’t even notice this serioiusly wrong stickler thing until today. Ultimately: their food by and large is good – but the price is high. Depends on what you might be craving, as this COVID thing continues.
Based on others I’ve talked to, Misfits Market is a good source for home delivery produce. They take somewhat-off veggies and fruits, pack them off, and send them to people who are willing to pay for potentially-blemished items. Which may often just end up in some industrial-sized compost pile.
My idea when I signed up, was to use this service until mid-June, when our local farmers’ markets open, and until when (as I hope) some of my own home-grown produce appears. This is still my plan, but no idea if this is going to be viable, considering the world as current. Underlying my decision to subscribe is the fact that it’s a long haul back and forth to the nearest supermarket, and having fresh produce around is lovely.
I’ve gotten four shipments to date. I ordered them to come in their smaller ordering box, every other week. After the first shipment, it is possible to order your boxes to some degree to your veggie/fruit preferences. Or you can add things on.
There have been a few items in the fruit department that died within a couple of days, but this wasn’t typical. I have yet to see some of those fun shapes that appear on the advertisements, but those would be just for the amusement factor. Grapefruits are indeed a lot smaller than anything you find in a supermarket, but still are good. You can let them send you a random selection, or you can choose items within categories – this latter option apparently wasn’t available for my first shipment, but I may have missed that. Prices are reasonable considering the convenience if you don’t want or can’t get to the supermarket. I’d certainly go more local (and including into my own planned garden) with the arrival of fresh veggies as winter and early spring go away!
But do see at the bottom for ways to support and enjoy veggies raised locally (some local farmshave green houses and hoop houses I currently lack, plus you’ll get some variety.) National sources are not your only answer.
At least in the northeast of the US, PeaPod has contracted with Stop and Shop, a large grocery chain, to provide food delivery. They don’t deliver (yet) to my current home, but I did make use of them when I had my broken ankle back down in Connecticut autumn 2015 into winter 2016. They’re not a subscription service, you order as you need. and what is REALLY good if you have a broken ankle and cannot access the UPS/FedEx drop off point in your driveway (or pick anything up to bring inside, since you are on crutches…) is that they have their special PeaPod drivers get your signature when the food is delivered. Really good when you are a shut in! They’d bring the boxes in and set them on my dining table, and I could certainly go from there!
Food isn’t the entire Stop and Shop supermarket experience, but you get just about everything you need, and also a selection of the non-food essentials (dish detergent, possibly toilet paper, etc.) that is in any supermarket. In Connecticut you can even opt in for beer. (This might be state-specific for legal reasons…) I do eat a lot of fresh veggies, seafood and meat – decided not to chance the seafood for the duration – I only pick seafood if I can SEE it first! The only bad call was the lamb shoulder chops, which if I’d seen those in the store, I’d have kept walking. Way too fatty. Otherwise they did a good job picking.
I was perfectly capable of cooking food even with the broken ankle – I had a couple of kitchen chairs with rollers, so it was sort of like using a wheelchair, and pulling myself up to stand briefly on one leg if I needed something from an upper cabinet. The one major thing I didn’t need (or want) Home Health Care to do was cook for me…
They didn’t always have everything, even if the supermarket itself probably did – I really wanted something turkey-wise for Thanksgiving, and so a friend picked up turkey thighs for me, since I am no friend to the ALWAYS dry turkey breast meat. That recipe is back in the past here on this blog…
It’s not a service I want to rely on for regular or weekly meals, but it certainly was quite beneficial when I was laid up without wheels or without ready access to my (much lower than the main portion of the house) drop-off driveway.
They also are more limited in their delivery areas in the US. I tried to check if they’d deliver when I got laid up post surgery at my current home in the winter of 2018, but they didn’t, despite the two cities neither of them being THAT far from my home having Stop and Shop supermarkets. Their loss…
These are a couple of local farms aggregator/delivery services: They pick up foods from local farmers (meats, veggies, sometimes even seafood), and deliver to your home. You may even find “value-added” products such as jellies, cheeses, maple syrup and such. Other states (or sections of states in the case of larger states) probably have their own. Google for them! As the season warms up, more choices will be available.
CT Farm Fresh Express: (For Connecticut).
CT Farm Fresh Express delivers weekly, and is non a subscription service – you order when you can, they set up the delivery date (back when I used it, it was Thursdays). There’s a delivery fee based on your distance from point of their base location. Check to see current policy, however, as the Massachusetts one below is offering free delivery during the current pandemic. Leave out a cooler if you will be gone for the day, or rent one from them. Or just let them know you’ll be right back.
Mass Food Delivery: (For Massachusetts).
They deliver weekly (by Friday). Free shipping appears to be available during the current situation, using their coupon code. Mine should arrive this week. They called yesterday telling me the golden beets were out and could they substitute with the regular purple beets… I said sure, send purple. I think it good they let you know and you have the chance to sub or get a refund.