Here at Really Simple Money we’re big fans of home delivered food boxes. So when the folks at Dinnerly suggested we dine with them, we were ready with our knife, fork and notebook. Hannah Warren reports.
Our first impression was positive – the delivery was on time and undamaged. The box it came in was cute, with illustrations of a mean little character called “busyness” who was getting in the way of something called “dinnertime”.
Inside the box, the produce was fresh and everything that needed to be kept cold was in an insulated bag with a few ice packs. The ice packs were actually one of our favourite bits, as they are recyclable, reusable and repurposable – the centre can be thawed and used as a cleaning product! They kept the food cool all day until we could get it to a fridge.
Dinnerly markets itself as the cheapest food box on the market, in contrast to its more gourmet sister box Marley Spoon. It works out at $6.49-$7.99 per person per meal including $8.49 delivery, and we were interested to see how they cut costs.
The main way they keep their prices down is by making recipes simple, with few (but high-quality) ingredients in their meals. This has the additional benefit of making cooking fast and easy. They do also expect you to have a few key ingredients at home; luckily we had olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in the cupboard.
They also save by sending digital recipe cards rather than including physical ones, and by putting ingredients loose in the box rather than packaging each meal together, so you have to fish them out yourself. Neither of those points is an inconvenience at all, so it seems like a win win.
With Dinnerly, you can choose your three meals from six options that change every week. For our box, we chose a haloumi and chickpea salad, a tofu green curry, and Mexican beef with sweet potato fries. The preparation for each was simple, with a handful of ingredients, clear instructions and pretty basic cooking techniques (no flambéing here!).
The finished results of our food box experiment were a success. We added a few of our own herbs and spices to a couple of the recipes, because we like a bit of spiciness and we had them in the kitchen, but none of the meals really needed the added extras.
The portion sizes were plenty for me, but my more physically active boyfriend found them a little on the small side.
Could you feed yourself for less than $6.50 a meal? Yes, probably. But it would require significantly more planning, time in a supermarket and preparation, and wouldn’t allow for the same menu variety and fridge-to-table speed. And if those things are important to you, Dinnerly is the cheapest option on the market.
What the others are serving: The Your Kitchen Rules table as it currently stands:
3. The Cook’s Grocer
4. Thomas Farms Kitchen
5. Marley Spoon
6. Pepper Leaf