I have never enjoyed cooking. Frankly, I never really learned how to do it. Growing up, I had an awesome stay at home mom, who packed our lunches and made our dinner every day. I ate what my mom liked to cook and claimed to dislike anything that she didn’t. Cooking wasn’t a necessity for me, so it didn’t really interest me either. In fact, I wouldn’t even say that I learned to be the domestic type at all. When I left home and went to college, I ate cafeteria food three times a day or dined on takeout, Pop Tarts, and Easy Mac. I mean, seriously, my biggest food adventure in college was lining my clothing iron with aluminum foil and making a tube of cookies in my dorm room. (It worked, but took forever. I don’t recommend it.)
Two weeks after I graduated from college, I got married and moved five hundred miles from home, armed with a Betty Crocker Cookbook and no CLUE how to make anything that didn’t come from a box. Yes, I received pans, and gadgets, and pretty new things as gifts for my kitchen, but they seemed pretty useless. I made a lot of Hamburger Helper, Velveeta shells and cheese, and La Choy canned chow mein. (I am inwardly cringing right now.)
On our first Christmas, we hosted my husband’s parents and I had high hopes of making an impressive meal. I cooked a turkey, (which I didn’t actually screw up), along with boxed mashed potatoes, microwaved vegetables, and Stove Top. I felt like such a pro! (Insert long eye roll.) While we were eating, I noticed the potatoes seemed to have a lot more flecks of pepper than I thought I had put in, but they didn’t taste bad. After dinner, as I was washing the dishes, I noticed that the teflon in the bottom of the pan I had made the potatoes in was scraped off. I had beaten the instant potatoes in the pan and lost all of the teflon coating… and then served it to my husband’s parents! I was absolutely mortified. I silently put the pan in the trash, took it to the dumpster, and didn’t tell them for years!
As time went on, and we made a little more money, we decided that eating out was just easier. Honestly, it’s hard to cook for two people, and I have a weird thing about leftovers. (I just don’t like them, ok?!) We live in a city with a lot of options for food, and as we have traveled the world, our palates have expanded for what we like to eat. We are definitely foodies and enjoy taking advantage of all the creativity that exists in the food and drink scene. (Thanks for the recommendations Feast and Sauce magazine!) As long as we could decide upon where to eat, (which is oddly one of the only things we argue about), it has always been simpler to make someone else do the cooking. But eating out every day gets really expensive and adds to the time we are already away from home.
A lot of that changed, however, a couple of years ago when a friend sent us a free trial of the Hello Fresh subscription box. Even if it meant we had to cook, it was free… and we all like free food. So we picked out a few meals and gave it a whirl. That week, my husband and I cooked together, and had fun sipping wine and listening to music. The first dish we tried was a simple pallela, and it was delicious! Wait… record scratch… what? The Teflon Mashed Potato Queen followed directions and made something that was fresh and amazing! We tried several other recipes and the same result occurred. Great, easy food with fresh ingredients, and no instant box assembly.
I can honestly say that a meal subscription box changed my life! For the last three years, we have been receiving meal boxes a couple of times a month. We’ve tried Hello Fresh, Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Plated. Each box comes with the ingredients we need for three complete meals. The portions are always perfect for two to be satisfied, with no leftovers. I have learned how to make comfort food, summer seafood dishes, and somewhat complicated international fare. I’ve learned how to make tacos a zillion different ways, prepare different kinds of rice, and create my own sauces and dressings. To a real chef this might seem silly, but I feel amazing.
As time has gone on, my confidence and skills as a cook have grown. I am doing things I never dreamed I would do, and actually enjoying it. Meal subscription boxes have encouraged me to be creative and try experimenting with my food. I even enjoy grocery shopping and coming up with new ideas for what to make for dinner. While we still receive boxes on occasion, I now feel the confidence to meal plan, create, and portion things on my own. What a change!
This past Christmas, we hosted my husband’s parents again. I made bacon, brioche french toast casserole (from scratch), and Christmosas for breakfast. For dinner, I created a five course French meal, including scallops, wild mushroom risotto, and asparagus. What a difference nineteen years makes. This girl went from being a kitchen zero to hero with a little help from her meal subscription friends!