Friday, January 1, 2016

Unboxing Boxed Meals

It's January 1. I've had about a week of vacation and my brain is ready to think, do or create!

Starting the new year off with a post on a healthy food option called hungryroot, for those of you looking for quick and healthy meals. What I love about our current economy and the state of our country is that there is a niche food market for just about any need at all. For those of us with food allergies, pre-made meals can be a bit of a drag, always including 3 things you like and 2 you can't eat. Enter hungryroot. Their plant based meals are tasty, under 500 calories and easy to prepare. Unfortunately, to keep food fresh, they are over packaged. Since they are new with a laser focus, the food choices also get monotonous.
image of hungry root sweet potato noodles package
Simple, inviting packaging

Healthy ingredients

The meals consist of a plant type "noodle," a sauce, a small add-in and an optional protein like chicken or falafel. There are also a few plant based sides and dessert items.

The details
In early December, I received one order as a gift (I suggested) and one order as one I placed myself. I didn't realize that the gift order was a specific set of pre-packaged dinners and ended up giving away two of them with things I don't/can't eat. Failure on my part to read the fine print, but maybe a failure on their part for not being more explicit in the teaser email. Other than that, the online ordering process doesn't stand out, which means it was fairly painless.

The orders arrived as expected and were conveniently left on my porch in a cardboard box with several pounds of ice in reusable cloth pouches. The ice packs were great for the first order or two, but will lead to overkill and landfill in subsequent orders. I love mail order items of all kind, but am constantly upset about the waste created. Add fixing that issue to the long list of things I would change about mail order.

One box (with a chicken protein side) sat on the porch for a day since we were out of town. I don't eat chicken, (gift order fail) so I pitched the chicken, but I wouldn't have eaten it anyway after being on the porch overnight. I figured the sweet potato noodles would survive if not optimally frozen, so the whole meal didn't go to waste.

For two weeks I enjoyed a variety of meals that took about 5 minutes to prepare and were both healthy and tasty.

Fresh food ready to heat and eat
The food comes in one tray with separate packs holding each ingredient. The package design is clean and inviting. The food can be microwaved or made on the stove. Since convenience was a factor in my purchase, I mostly microwaved mine and they tasted great! The sauces were unique and flavorful. The falafel made it feel more like a meal. The crunchy chick pea "add ins" gave it added texture.

So, great food, easy to prepare and tasty. The downsides included not feeling full, the cost, and lack of variety. On feeling full -- I often felt hungry not long after eating. I appreciate the limited portion, but needed more filling food. Each meal is about $12 not including delivery (a $40 order gets free delivery). It's not expensive, but it's not a lot cheaper than eating out at my local Thai restaurant.

The company offers variety in mixing sauces and vegetables, but at the end of the day, its a lot of veggies with sauce, something I want 1-2 times a week not every day. The coconut carrot cake bites, however, should be a regular staple in my cupboard. Delicious overload.


Looks good enough to eat!
This brings me to the expiration dates. The food needs to be refrigerated and lasts about a week. Again, given the minimums for free shipping you end up with about 4 meals to eat in 7 days and that's a few more zucchini noodles than I'm up for, personally.

So, would I order again? Yes. Will it be a regular staple? Probably not. But it was fun to try and great to know it's there when I get in a food rut.