When the pandemic lockdowns hit, I was at a bit of a loss. I live a big-city urban lifestyle. Cuisines from far-flung corners of the world were just a few steps away from me – or literally at my fingertips. I wasn’t a big cook before. I would whip out the rare date night meal for the two of us or make a few meals on special occasions. I joked with friends wondering why we needed such big kitchens when we have so many takeouts, prepared-meals, and restaurant options.
Then the lockdown hit. Almost half of my favourite restaurants disappeared, and the rest became a nightmare to order takeout from due to the overwhelming demand for it. I was not going to brave the grumpy crowds and lineups to stock up my pantry now. Let’s face it, learning how to stock up a pantry is a skill that needed dusting up for me.
By that point, I heard of meal kits and saw dozens of them being delivered at our lobby for our neighbours. We finally decided to take the plunge and ordered our very first meal kit.
That decision transformed the way we eat now. I became a cook! Here are some ways how meal kits made me a good cook. If you decide to give them a try, you might like these meal kit hacks that will save you time and money.
Secret Ingredient: Confidence
I realized that several factors were stopping me from cooking up a storm every night at home. Time, money, and energy being the primary drivers of these factors.
The number one barrier that stood in the way of having the confidence to cook was food shopping. Pre-pandemic, I put very little time and effort into food shopping at grocery stores. We lived such a fast-paced life that between working 60 hours a week and active social life, we never prioritized grocery shopping on our to-do list on the weekend.
So, the less I shopped at grocery stores, the less connected I was to cooking and experimenting with ingredients. Eventually, like every other skill, you use it or lose the skill and art of cooking.
I ordered the meal-kit with all the key ingredients I need to make a dish – including exotic spices I hadn’t ever heard of before. What that box also packed was confidence for me.
Suddenly, I had all the tools and ingredients to whip up a meal to impress my family. The secret ingredient in that box was the confidence to cook – all pre-measured, packaged, and full-proof.
Removed the Ingredients Barrier
On our first day of grocery shopping during the pandemic, we were utterly lost. Food shelves were either empty or had too many choices. So, we were overwhelmed with what to buy and what to make for dinner.
Then I opened our meal-kit box and experienced my ‘aha’ moment! Every ingredient I will need for the recipe was all measured and neatly packed for me.
The recipe was the Spanish Paella with Chorizo and Shrimp. This meant I didn’t have to spend a fortune buying a bag of paella rice, looking for chorizo, or ending up with a giant bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer. Besides, good luck trying to find regular ingredients in grocery stores, let alone speciality cuisine stuff.
The meal-kit broke all the ingredient barriers for me. I received all the ingredients in just the right proportions to cook up that paella.
Took Out the Risk of Trying New Foods
Although we have been to Spain and tried some of their most delicious mouth-watering paellas, the concept of making it at home seemed risky to me.
Ingredient barriers and lack of confidence aside, there is always that risk of trying a new dish and not liking it. After all, you don’t want to spend hours of planning, prepping, and cooking only to find out you would rate your dish barely a 2 out of a 5-star review.
Meal kits take out the risk of trying new foods. After our successful paella attempt, I even moved on to making a Pad Thai in the next order. Then it was Shawarma night. If someone had told me in 2019 that I would be making these things at home, I would have laughed.
Meal kits made our family try out a new dish from a different part of the continent without any risk of wasting time, energy, and money.
So, the risk factor of messing up was all gone! Even if I was to mess up the dish that was ready in 30-minutes, all that I would lose is 30 minutes, not 3 hours of grocery shopping, chopping, prepping, and researching for recipes. The backup plan of takeout was always there! Happy to report, we never had to use the backup with the meal kits.
A Tried and Tested Recipe that is Custom-Made for the At-Home Cook
The meal-kit recipes are consumer-tested. They wouldn’t be offered if they were not popular. That means more average low-skill cooks like me have already tested these recipes and approved them.
This was a huge factor for us as it answered ‘what if I don’t like the dish.’ We know our favourite restaurant will not offer their specials and staple dishes if they didn’t sell – so your order with confidence. Similarly, it helped me know that the meal kit I was ordering was tested and approved by many consumers.
That boosted my confidence even more to try out these recipes. All the while, I kept getting more confident with my cooking skills and started to learn about new flavour profiles and how to use some of the spices and herbs. Who knew there are substitutes for turmeric?
The recipe instructions are thorough and act like on-the-job training tools to improve my cooking skills.
End of the countless hours of food browsing on Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram
Before I tried out the meal kit services, I would often browse social media for new food trends to be inspired by the posts to cooking it myself. Well, after hours of browsing, I would just get hungry and tired and order takeout – ending the pipe dream of cooking at home.
Not anymore. When you receive your box of fresh ingredients and recipe instructions, you just dive right in. No need for pausing a video mid-way to check the measurements either!
You dive right in and cook up a storm creating the most fabulous dish you have made in just minutes. This motivated me to cook more and not be so intimidated by the social influencers about making my own dish.
It has been over a year since I first ordered our meal kit. I have since learned adulting in the kitchen. I have stocked my pantry and got more of the spices I liked, and now I even experiment around with the meal kits to customize my dish.
The effect on our food budget was phenomenal. When you order from meal kit services, you save yourself the labour costs that restaurants would pass on through takeouts.
I ended up becoming a better cook and more efficient at budgeting and planning our food. If you haven’t tried a meal kit service yet, look them up, and try their introductory discount offers to get yourself started.