Meal Kits

Illustration by Dan Proctor

Dear Stefan,

Dear Knoxonomist:
I’m thinking of subscribing to one of those services that send you the recipes and ingredients to make home-cooked meals. I’m a sophisticated cook with quality cooking utensils, and I know my way around high-end grocery markets, but I like the idea of food shopped right to my door. My wife, who doesn’t have my discriminating palate, claims these services are environmentally damaging and just too expensive. What do you think? — Stefan from Sequoyah Hills

Using fossil-fuel burning and noxious-fume spewing jets and trucks to ship small boxes containing plastic-wrapped ingredients (such as single cloves of garlic) and tiny plastic vials (filled with such exotica as truffle oil) kept cool by space-age thermal lining and frozen gel packs hardly seems environmentally friendly, but then you know that, don’t you, Stefan? The Knoxonomist wagers that if you recycle, it’s a measure of your desire for domestic harmony and not a measure of your enlightened soul. Your wife wins that point.

As for price? These services charge about $10-$12 per individual meal—certainly cheaper than dining out but more expensive than going to the grocery store, assuming you shop with discipline. But you don’t do that, do you, Stefan?  You fancy yourself a sophisticated cook, and what sophisticated cook couldn’t use more spices for his designer spice rack! 

Wondering why the Knoxonomist knows so much about these services? That’s because Mrs. K subscribes to not one but two of them. Does the Knoxonomist approve? That’s irrelevant. Mrs. K likes them, and that’s all the Knoxonomist needs to know. A chief ingredient of any happy marriage is tolerance.

However…The Knoxonomist can detail some of the hassles caused by these services. Sometimes the delivery is late, in which case you eat late; sometimes the food is spoiled, in which case you eat out; and sometimes necessary ingredients are missing, in which case you go to the market after all.

Plus you have to eat a bunch of stuff you don’t like. (That’s assuming you have discriminating taste, like the Knoxonomist. If you have a sophisticated palate, then never mind.) The Knoxonomist is not ashamed to admit that he is not down with radishes on his tacos, or pickled cabbage on his hamburgers, or truffle oil on anything.

Oh, the things the Knoxonomist has seen. Cauliflower “rice.” Roasted sliced beet “fries.” Roasted panko-covered zucchini “fries.” Roasted carrot “fries.” Almost every meal contains a roasted vegetable and an entrée cooked in a large pan drizzled with olive oil and set to medium heat, and almost every meal takes something simple and fancies it up.

That’s what you get with these services. The ingredients are generally good, but whoever writes the recipes believes that a simple hamburger for a simple man is not good enough–you’re going to get goat cheese and onion jam on that burger whether you like it or not. But, Stefan, sophisticated cook that you are, that’s probably right up your kitchen aisle.

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