I have always prided myself in being a home cook. Home chef. Cooking for my family has been, most of the time, a pleasure. A way to wind down from a long day at work and flex my culinary muscles. For ten years it’s been my primary responsibility, not because my husband can’t cook but because I can cook without much thought. The alchemy of the kitchen is just something I understand at an innate level, and the challenge and excitement of creating a meal from scratch gives me a thrill.
Except when it doesn’t.
Mom, Meet Martha
Something happened earlier in the summer. Making meals for our family of four suddenly became a chore. We were throwing away more food than we were eating. It was salmon this and salmon that, and maybe some CSA vegetables. Generally speaking, I’d not use the word “inspired” at all. I was so exhausted from my new job and other stresses that I almost had a complete meltdown in the kitchen one day, spurred on by a nasty panic attack (that’s another story, but we’ll stick with this one for now).
That’s when I called in the cavalry. I was tired of throwing away food. I was tired of my own damned recipes. How many effing times can I make tuna casserole? Even if my recipe is really good. I just couldn’t do it.
How many effing times can I make tuna casserole?
So I did my research. I wanted good food, smartly sourced. I wanted recipes that would be fun to make and eat but wouldn’t make my kids turn their noses (for the most part, they’re pretty adventurous, even if they want to put ketchup on everything). Where it feels like a few years ago when “mail order food” was a fad, I was surprised to find so many options out there.
I landed on Marley Spoon, a joint venture with Martha Stewart. Yes, that Martha Stewart. Say what you will about that woman, but she can cook.
Love at First Bite
The first delivery came in the middle of a heat wave, and before it even arrived at the house they let me know that the delay in shipment meant that all meat should be thrown away, but they were going to toss in a free box the next week. It wasn’t that much of a loss, really, because the accoutrements were all fine. I just bought some chicken and beef and went to work making the recipes.
Immediately, I was in love. I mean, okay. I had to let go a little control. I am the ruler of the kitchen, and it was a little difficult taking instructions from someone else. But the little partitioned ingredients, the colorful recipes, and the variety of spices, meant that right off the bat our meals got an upgrade. The nectarine salad was more than satisfying as a meal, and included hazel nuts, something I generally abhor. Except they were toasted, and then the reserved oil got mixed into the salad dressing, and oh boy, was that delicious.
Most weeks we also get vegetarian options. And while initially there was a bit of push back I have to say that some of my favorite recipes have been meatless. Take for example last week’s corn and zucchini pancakes, which were so delicious I’m still dreaming about them. And I didn’t even make them. My husband did.
The Bottom Line
We’re saving money on groceries, yes. But we’re also throwing away far less food. The kids are getting in on the action, too. And I’ve found a lot of peace knowing that there’s a brown bag with everything I need in it to make dinner, even if I’m stuck in traffic. In fact, I get really excited when I go to the refrigerator and start making my meals. That’s a pretty big Zen moment for me. It also means less time in the grocery store, which is just good for my mental health (did I mention the panic attacks?).
To date, we’ve only had a few missing ingredients but no spoiled food. Whenever they’ve messed up, they’ve made good by discounting the next box. The cheeses and meats are from local to New York farms, and we still get our CSA (mostly fruits these day) to make sure we’re supporting farmers here in North Carolina, but also supplementing the kids’ lunches.
I also like that the food is healthy. Starches are kept to a minimum. Almost nothing is processed save for a little mayonnaise or maybe some worcestershire sauce now and again.
So I’m adding Marley Spoon to my ever-burgeoning list of mail order options. More on that another time.
[Top image via Marley Spoon]
I got zero kickbacks for this review. Just me and my checkbook paid for this opportunity to eat delicious food.
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