Tuesday, June 07, 2022


Hubby-Eric and I have had a tough couple of years since I fell ill right as 2020 started. He's been my caregiver during that time, which isn't an easy job. I can move around now, walk for short distances, do a number of things... but he's still under a lot of pressure.

One of the jobs he's always having to tackle is food. Now, I have never been a good cook, and he has always been the primary meal creator during our marriage, but I used to help as much as I could, and would sometimes make meals. Now... now I'm lucky if I can stand in the kitchen for more than five minutes without feeling like I'm going to collapse. Without me to help, he's been doing all the work in the kitchen every day. So we started thinking about getting a nice meal service to give him a break every once in awhile.

The big problem with meal services is that I have some dietary needs, so we had to make sure the meal service we picked is careful with ingredients and we could choose options that would work with my problems. After some research, we decided to try Sunbasket. They had high ratings and also lots of options for special diets. The nutritional information is solid, and they offer meals that aren't kits - meals that you can toss in a microwave and go. But they also offer kits, so if we want to try something new and learn new techniques, we have that option.

We decided to try it starting in May, and scheduled our first delivery for May 16th. It never arrived. We were told it was damaged in shipping - apparently someone at FedEx drop-kicked it or something. So... no first meal. They credited us for the cost, and sent our second week of selections on May 23rd.

I got Chipotle butternut squash stew with chorizo, cauliflower, and cashews and Burrito bowl al pastor with plant-based Impossible Beef. Eric got Gyro-spiced chicken bowl with brown rice, fresh slaw, and yogurt sauce and Louisiana-style beef and barley bowl with spicy red pepper sauce. The food was really good. I had issues with giant cauliflower chunks in the stew (why does no one ever cut them into smaller pieces?) but otherwise loved both meals. Eric enjoyed having spicy foods again. It was nice... but then we had to wait for our second week because of Memorial Day.

I am a picky eater, and I despise spicy food. Most of the options in the "fresh and ready" meals are spicy. I also don't much like chicken. I would say 90% of healthy food uses chicken as the protein. So my meal options are usually extremely limited, and I almost always end up with something I dislike (and I'm referring to all my meals, not just Sunbasket). For our June 1st meals I picked Crustless chicken pot pie with carrots, celery, and mushrooms and Smokehouse sausage jambalaya, while Eric went for Korean sweet and sour chicken bowl with brown rice, kale, and carrots and White bean turkey chili. The pot pie was fine, but there was way too much liquid, making it more of a stew than a pot pie. The jambalaya was, as I suspected, a little too hot for my tastebuds. I had to grab some sour cream from the fridge to keep my tongue from exploding. But except for the heat, it was really tasty.

This week we decided to order the same things, so we got Beef donburi rice bowl with edamame and kimchi-lime vegetables and Sweet pea and broccoli risotto. We had the beef last night, since Monday's are Eric's busy day, and ... wow. It was really good. I had the sour cream ready, but it was not hot-spicy at all, though it had a complex flavor. We will have the risotto later.

So, three weeks in, I can't say I've judged this service completely yet. I can say a few things though. I'm still disappointed we didn't get our first set of meals, especially since I was told there was "a free gift" in that first package. They definitely did not send any free gift in any of the subsequent orders. I have no idea what the gift was supposed to be, or if it's worth being annoyed about... but yeah, it is annoying.

I've already mentioned the issues with choices. Looking at the menu for next Monday, there are 16 meals to pick from. Ten of those meals are marked as spicy, leaving me only six choices. Of the six, two I've already tried, two are spaghetti (which is so easy to make at home, why would I order it?) and the other two are chicken dishes. So... not much variety for me. However, the next week there are plenty of choices, so it's a mixed bag.

The meals came in a sturdy box with good packing (which makes me wonder just what FedEx did to that first package), and each meal was nicely contained with clear instructions on how to heat them. When we try a meal kit, I'll report how those go. But these are dead easy to make and tasty. The beef from last night was really filling as well, just all around nicely done.

The price... well. The price is a bit high for what we are getting. Yes, they are catering to my special needs, but I can't help but feeling we could almost do as well picking up some crappy tv dinners at the grocery store. They wouldn't taste as good, but this is a pretty expensive option for my meals.

Overall, I'm still undecided. Eric and I agreed to give it a few weeks and hopefully after he's done with his regular teaching for the school year we can fit in some meal kits, but I'm not sure we'll continue this after a couple of months.