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What’s in the Box? Trying to Solve Family Food Fights

What’s in the Box? Trying to Solve Family Food Fights

Lily Winters

My family is the worst when it comes to eating. We all have narrow sets of things we can/like to eat with very little cross-over.

Preferences and Peeves

My husband is a meat and potatoes kinda guy… but not really. He was raised in one of those mid-west-ish families where Monday they had chicken, Tuesday they had ham, Wednesday they had fish, etc. And everything—EVERYTHING—was boiled. The most exotic food he’d eaten when he met me was Beef Fried Rice. After an early-age heart-attack, his diet was reduced to a paleo type of thing. He doesn’t like fish or seafood, so he mostly eats chicken. He doesn’t eat much else.

I was raised vegetarian and then had to adapt a variation of a low-carb, high protein diet for a health problem. Atkins for pescatarians doesn’t leave many options. I eat a lot of fish and seafood. I don’t eat much else.

My daughter is a pasta’tarian. She eats exactly two things that don’t come from a box and require boiling. She is sensitive to anything with flavor – including salt, herbs, garlic, or onions. She eats like a four-year-old even though she’s 15 but at least when she was four, we could trick her by having monthly “New Food Dinners!” Now, she’s old enough to realize this is not the exciting culinary adventure we pretended it was. Meanwhile, she hates chicken if it’s not a nugget and she hates beef if it’s not a burger. She doesn’t each much else.

Further, we all have very little time to cook or sit down together. Even in these days of COVID when no one is doing anything, we still barely manage to find more than one night a week where we’re all around (and hungry) at the same time. Trying to accommodate three different palates and cook one sit-down meal for everyone ended up being chaos.  

Waste Not, Want Not?

And the amount of food we end up throwing away when we cook… oye! We always cook too much and then none of us are any good at reheating and eating leftovers. And I really hate buying an entire package of cilantro to make something that uses one teaspoon of cilantro because when the hell will I use cilantro again? It kills me.

A while back, we realized it was typically more efficient to order whatever dish we wanted from various restaurants and get them delivered. We could each get what we want, we had the correct amount of food for ourselves, and nothing went to waste. Except our paychecks.

Oh, Hello, Fresh.  

Dinner boxes seemed like they might be the answer. Prepackaged meals that we finish preparing and then cook. My husband and I rejoiced at this idea. We could task the child with picking the meals and then have her do the actual cooking when school is over. Maybe she’ll like the food if she is invested in it.

Plus, the packaged approach gives us exactly the right number of potatoes or the pre-measured teaspoon of cilantro that we need. No more leftovers. No more wasted food. In theory, this seemed like the perfect solution for our family.

The Best Laid Plans

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Everything that starts with “in theory” never ends well, right? This was no exception 

The girl, tasked with picking meals, would pick meals she knew she liked. And then, tasked with cooking the meals, would only cook the part she knew she liked. So, in the Hello Fresh box we’d have all the ingredients for “lemony herbed chicken over spaghetti with zucchini” and she’d serve us the pasta from the package with sauce from a jar. We now have no less than 1,200 envelopes of pre-mixed Hello Fresh herbs that she won’t ever use. And the chicken, zucchini, and lemons just ended up going bad.

And there is another problem. Our complicated diets. There is a good variety of plans on Hello Fresh. You can choose plans for vegetarians or pescatarians or meat and veggies. However, you can’t mix and match the plans. So, the two meals we get per week were tailored for only one us (usually her, since we empowered her to pick them). Which means when we do cook the whole thing, we end up with leftovers that then no one eats because my family is terrible about leftovers.

Granted… this is a MY family thing, not a Hello Fresh thing. Overall, I like their service. I think the quality of the food is good, the recipes are interesting (when we actually make more than just the noodles), and we now have an endless supply of herbal mix packages, which make my scrambled eggs way better. I do wish you could mix and match plans, as I’m sure we are not the only crazy-diet-family, or even the craziest-diet-family out there.

See, what my family actually needs is the ability for each of us to pick the dish we want and then have them send exactly the right amount of ingredients for each dish so we can cook each dish for ourselves. But in that case? We may as well just save the cooking step and order from a restaurant.

SMH.

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