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My husband enjoys cooking & creates amazing meals for our family. He also works every third evening – which means the firefighters are probably eating better than we are. I do have my go-to meals: spaghetti, porcupine meatballs & a few other favorite dishes, but when you’re the only parent trying to get home from work, manage homework & shuttle between various after-school practices the “go-to meals” usually turn into fast food.
During these after-school practices I usually spend some time on Facebook & I had seen ads from Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Martha & Marley Spoon. The food looked so tasty; much better than the microwave pizza or french fries from the drive-in I was probably claiming as my dinner.
I’d thought about doing this for a few months. The biggest thing holding me back was I could never easily see menus BEFORE giving my credit card info. While that has changed in the last few months, it certainly kept me from signing up sooner. Then there was the selection options. Blue Apron had me picking 2 meals from 4 options. Hello Fresh had me picking 2 meals from 3 options. I also couldn’t pick from other plans (Classic, Vegetarian, Family Plan). Marley Spoon had the most to offer – I had to pick two meals from 10 different options.
Then the coupons started and I am not one to pass up a sale. Every website sent me some type of percentage off my first shipment. Since it was towards the end of the school year & June was already looking to be busy – what would we have to lose? After looking at all three again, the costs and most important the menu selection, we went with Martha & Marley Spoon.
I had the boys help select the meals. For about $102 we were able to select a total of four meals – two meals for week one & two meals for week two. Our boys soon labeled this as “Martha & Marley Spoon Adventure”. Our first box arrived a week later & we were quite excited! Box presentation was impressive with our two menu items right on top with colorful steps on how to create our meal. Thankfully for each delivery our food was still chilled (important in Chicago during the summer) and was delivered mid-day. Since I wasn’t 100% certain we would be home I did leave instructions for the package to be left at the back door (more shade, inside a gate) and that was followed each time.
All the food packaging was easily reusable (ziplock bags) or recyclable (liquid containers or brown paper bags). The ice packs are easily reusable – but honestly, after two deliveries we have enough ice packs. They can be recycled after disposing of the liquid & recycling the plastic liner. With all the packaging involved I feel able to ensure most everything is recycled or reused. When we would go to fast food for dinner almost everything ended up in the trash.
Banh Mi Turkey Burgers with sweet pickled cucumber & carrot
PRO: Flavors were amazing; cooked with ginger for the first time! Quality of bread was perfect – outside our normal “hamburger bun” and all three boys enjoyed the texture. The cucumber & carrot combo was fun to make from scratch, quite tasty and will be made again.
CON: Took well over an hour to prepare. Had me frying in the pan then transferring to the oven – for someone who normally cooks spaghetti this was a lot of work for a novice.
SERVING SIZES: Easily could have made six turkey burgers. Only limiting factor was the buns – only four were provided.
KID REVIEW: “These are awesome!” and “Can we have this again?”
SELECT AGAIN: Yes
Tortilla Skillet Pie with poblano, corn and pinto beans
PRO: Tasty creation with ingredients we all loved. Pepper plus the pinto beans made for a filling dish. Homemade tortilla strips were fun to make but toasted a bit faster than expected.
CON: Recipe included skillet to oven instructions, I honestly had to check that my cookware was made for this (it was, all good). Lime was a bit overpowering and even backed off a bit for what the recipe had called for.
SERVING SIZES: Would have served all 5 of us, but not certain it would have reheated well
KID REVIEW: “Needs more cheese”, “Did you burn some of the tortilla strips?” “Seriously there is lime in the salad, too?”
SELECT AGAIN: Maybe – easily do this one on our own
Chile-Lime Shrimp with jasmine rice & spinach
PRO: Easy to prepare and food was packaged well – shrimp was in great condition.
CON: Flavoring was a bit on the weaker side – added our own lemon.
SERVING SIZES: This also could have served all five of us – leftovers were plentiful and we felt like we ate quite a bit.
KID REVIEW: “I love shrimp, I could eat this every day” and “Even the green stuff is tasty”
SELECT AGAIN: Probably – could also get the ingredients easily on our own
Braised Black Bean Stew with cheesy grits & crispy shallots
PRO: We are a fan of beans & love trying new ways to prepare them. Produce was in great condition, flavors were robust and not too overwhelming for us.
CON: Again, seemed like there were a lot of pots and pans used for this. We did add rice to the dish (weren’t certain they would be sold on the grits).
KID REVIEW: “This is tasty but I am not eating the white stuff (grits)”
SELECT AGAIN: Probably not – easy to make on our own
We enjoyed the first two weeks of meals so much everyone wanted to keep going. We only used the meals on days that dad was at the fire station. That meant the meals fed one adult and three boys – ages 15, 13 and 9. Sometimes they can eat & lick the plate clean, other meals they can nibble like birds. Thankfully for week one and two we had no problems with portion sizes.
Going forward would we be paying full price but some meals might need to be prepared on days dad was home. I wanted to see how it worked with our grocery budget, too. I am huge on budgets. It started when I was in high school & grandma taught me how to take your paycheck and divvy it up to all areas you need to spend & save. Haven’t steered far from this practice since then. For two weeks we generally have $400 budgeted for grocery & household items. The question was what would happen if we set aside roughly $150, leaving only $250 for the basics, fruits & veggies and our Costco shopping. Would we feel like we were starving? Have any money left? Resort to eating ramen noodles & cereal till the next payday?
Sirloin Filet & Potatoes with spinach & warm vinaigrette
PRO: Quick to prepare and plenty of food for all five of us. Vinaigrette was easy to prepare; steak quality what I would have selected at the grocery store. Seasoning was palatable for picky eaters.
CON: Had us prepare everything on the stove, should have used the grill.
SERVING SIZES: Fed all five of us with potatoes to spare
KID REVIEW: “Dad’s potatoes are better, but these are REALLY good” & “why do I have to eat the salad?”
SELECT AGAIN: Yes!
Creamy Wagon Wheel Pasta with tomatoes & garlicky broccolini
PRO: Easy to make. Sauce included goat cheese, tomatoes and garlic that was a perfect combination along with the side dish of broccolini.
CON: Only downside is that it could have easily handled more tomatoes
SERVING SIZES: AMPLE leftovers – had two+ lunches out of the meal.
KID REVIEW: “These are fun to eat”
SELECT AGAIN: Yes
Grilled Arctic Char with mustardy lentil & arugula salad
PRO: Easy enough prep that my 15yo could help with the meal. New mix of ingredients had everyone excited to see how it tasted. Produce was in excellent condition.
CON: Felt like I used a lot of dishes – did have to change it a bit & after pan frying the fish transfer it to the oven to finish cooking (just not comfortably with how the pan was cooking it). Pieces of fish were very different sizes/thickness so made it difficult to monitor & have everything done at the same time. The 9yo wasn’t sold on the salad/fish concept (seriously, where was his ketchup suppose to go?) so he ate chicken nuggets.
SERVING SIZES: Perfect for 4 people, might have had leftovers of the salad but all the fish was consumed.
KID REVIEW: “Salad is ok, it’s the little things (lentils) I can’t eat”
SELECT AGAIN: Probably
Skillet Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti
PRO: Meal prep was easy & boys were able to help with meal
CON: 3/5 family members didn’t like the flavoring. Too sharp, bitter. Chicken texture was rubbery (did reheat but was only 35 minutes after the original dinnertime)
SERVING SIZES: There was plenty for each to have one full serving plus leftovers (that was before two of us decided not to eat it)
KID REVIEW: “Chicken was ok, cause I do like cheese”; “This smells horrible, I’m eating pizza”
SELECT ENTREE AGAIN: Nope
Overall we have had much success with the meal planning, delivery & quality of food delivered. All of our meal preparation went without a hitch. Most meals we were able to cook within 5-15 minutes of the timeframe the recipe anticipated, except the first one. Almost all recipes are under 45 minutes. This came in very handy on the days I would be coming home from work & evening activities were scheduled – every minute was important so that we were out the door on time. Plus – there was always enough food. Some meals we easily fed all 5 of us or had leftovers for lunch the next day. That was a win in my book!
Our meal delivery selections in next month include soup, tostadas, fried chicken on a biscuit, roasted vegetable sandwiches & macaroni and cheese. We were able to skip a week with just a click of a button – the online format is truly user-friendly.
So our overall vote is YES! – give it a try! We have loved it. This is an amazing option to help break us out of the fast food routine when dad is at work & it is just the four of us.
And you never know – since Martha & Marley Spoon sent the list of ingredients & recipes with each order, I might just have to shop and re-create some of our new favorite dishes!