I love cooking, but these days especially I’ve been hampered by lack of time and inspiration. So when local “meal kit” service Just Add Cooking asked whether I’d like to test their service for editorial consideration, I was -- to say the least -- enthusiastic! And I've been really happy with the service for a number of reasons -- so much so that I booked and enjoyed another delivery last week! Allow me to enumerate the reasons (12 of them).
Quick note to start: roughly speaking, Just Add Cooking serves the 495 belt inwards; pop your zip code into their service area finder to check if they deliver to your town! Now, on to why I think you should give it a try -- and if you'd like, use code REFGVJE to get $20 off your first order.
1. Pricing. The price is very competitive with -- and in some cases less expensive than -- other meal kit services. Pricing for 3 meals for a family of 4 = $109 (4 meals = $129, 5 meals = $139). You can also opt for 2 servings per meal.
2. Flexible commitment. I will admit, I'm a commitment phobe about some things. I don’t like getting locked in to contracts! I like that you can opt in or out of meals each week. You need to decide and select meals by Wednesday to get the Sunday delivery; if you don’t want service that week, just select to skip.
3. Ordering. The layout of the site makes it easy to look at recipes, see how much time each meal requires for prep, make selections, or skip a week altogether. Yay for easy web interface!
4. Shipment arrival. Just Add Cooking texts you when your package has been dropped; which was handy when we got our first shipment since we were home but just cruising around in our jammies. Who knows when we otherwise would have stepped outside!
5. Packaging. Meal kits include pre-measured ingredients. The shopping and measurement has been done for you; all you need to do (in some cases) is chop and cook.
6. Local love. I love that Just Add Cooking sources local! For example, our shipments have included salmon from Captain Marden’s, Greek yogurt from Green Mountain Creamery in VT, bread from Nashoba Brook Bakery in Concord, cream from Mapleline Farms in Hadley, MA, and steak from Creekstone Farms.
7. Clear instructions. Recipe instructions are clear and in your welcome letter, they provide a recommended cooking order for your dishes.
8. Taste. Overall, the dishes have been tasty! The salmon toast with horseradish and slaw was excellent and easy and the chicken gruyere was delicious and decidedly fancy feeling. The beef stir fry was more of a B+ in my book, but that may be because I’m used to stronger Asian flavors (being Asian and all…). This week we enjoyed the tarragon crusted salmon and Shepard's pie and I'll make the last meal this evening when I return from D.C.
9. Leftovers. All of our meals have rendered leftovers. Thumbs up for leftovers!
10. Rut busting capacity. It has been SO AWESOME to bust out of our food rut with this service. Not only in the immediate sense, of having the meal prepped for us, but also in the longer term sense of being reminded to use different ingredients and preparation methods.
11. Engages little helpers. I’ll have to see if this effect lasts, but there is something about the neatly packaged box with all of the adorably packaged items that makes Violet want to help prepare meals. Longtime readers know that I’m a huge fan of getting kids in the kitchen!
12. More time for fun. One clear benefit of paying for a meal kit service is that it frees up TIME. So precious, right? I love spending less time attempting to meal plan and shop and more time playing with my family.
I think my only critical recommendation would be to select your meals with balance in mind. So, for example, the first week, 2 of our 3 meals came with cabbage as a side. Cabbage and potatoes seem to be a common side (makes sense, given that they are sturdy vegetables) but we tend to want more green vegetables so I need to keep an eye out for that.
In short, this is an awesome solution! We’re thinking we’ll use it 1-2 times a month, depending on our schedules and bandwidth (or lack thereof!). If you’re interested in trying Just Add Cooking and want to get $20 off your first order, you can use my referral code REFGVJE when you sign up. Happy cooking!
Disclosure: Just Add Cooking provided me with 3 complimentary meals to try out; all opinions expressed here are, of course, my own. And I loved the service so much I laid down my credit card and ordered a box last week and can't wait to order another!
Image credits: logo by Just Add Cooking; photos by Christine Koh