Shopping for groceries can be a bit time consuming. As for me, I often go without any plan and would end up buying things I don’t need in spur of the moment! Fortunately, a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to try the new Aussie Farmers Direct WW Freshbox – a delivery box of fresh produce and all the ingredients you need to prepare a healthy meal according to the Weight Watchers-friendly recipes included with the box. It has helped me see the benefit of meal planning and realise how much time I actually spend shopping for groceries every week. A lot!
They currently don’t have a vegan subscription box :( so I tried their vegetarian box. Since my boyfriend Nat is mostly vegetarian, the vegetarian box worked well for both of us. Nat is probably 80% vegan, 10% vegetarian, 9% pescatarian and 1% flexitarian (generally when under duress at certain family dinner events). I think he’s doing very well all things considered. So far we’ve kept our kitchen meat-free and I’m very pleased with that.
When the box came I was pleasantly surprised by how much fresh produce it contained. Fresh vegetables, herbs, spices and grains took up about 80% of the box’s contents. The remainder was half a dozen of eggs, a small packet of Parmesan cheese and a few mini-cartons of long life dairy cream. I picked up the box from the front of the apartment around 9 am. They dropped the box very early in the morning, around 3 am or so, But everything was still cool and fresh thanks to the well-insulated box and cool-packs inside.
The box came with three recipe cards. I honestly didn’t think I’d actually use them. I hardly use recipes when cooking and I often like to wing it as I go. I was even thinking that it could be a fun mystery box challenge. However, as soon as I looked at some of the recipes, I just had to try them. They looked so sumptuous and simple and since I had got all the ingredients already, it was a no brainer. They also are easily veganised, which was a huge plus.
Stuffed Capsicums with Rocket and Fennel Salad (recipe at the bottom of this post)
Sweet potato dahl
YUM! They were absolutely delicious and easy to make. I really liked the stuffed capsicum – the top layer of quinoa stuffing becomes crunchy after baking which adds a nice texture to the overall dish. I got a bit excited that I made the sweet potato dahl while waiting for the capsicum to cook. It was a feast!
PROS and CONS
I never really got into the whole food subscription trend but now that I’ve tried it myself, I can definitely see the benefits. The problem with home cooking is that even if you enjoy cooking, sometimes you don’t have time to do grocery shopping or meal planning. Services like the Aussie Farmers Direct WW Freshbox help alleviate the stress of finding something new to cook and the hassle of grocery shopping. It’s also quite affordable. For the box I tried (three meals for two people each), it cost $64 per box, so it works out to $10.67 per plate. Not bad, considering the amount of time you save not having to think about what’s for dinner, or going grocery shopping. It’s also considerable cheaper than eating out (not to mention healthier).
There are a few inherent risks associated any food subscription service:
- You need your house/unit secure enough to allow your subscription box to be left attended outside your door for a few hours. I had no problem with the first deliveries but this is definitely something that you’d need to consider. In saying that, because the delivery time is ridiculously early (around 3 am), the chance of it being stolen between 3 am and, say, 7 am, is fairly low if you’re in a secure building.
- Product deterioration due to heat. There’s a risk of having the fresh produce deteriorating due to the heat, especially in the hot summer days we’re having nowadays. The coolpacks and the well-built cardboard box can keep the produce cool for a few hours but no more than that. To avoid deteroriation you will need to remember to take your box inside and move the fresh ingredients into the fridge as soon as you can.
- Product damage from shipping and handling. A small risk but a risk nonetheless. The box is very well built and ingredients are packed securely inside. However, there’s a chance that one of the eggs might break (in fact, one did in my first box) during delivery – in which case, the cost would be refunded to the customer. It wasn’t a biggie for me since I don’t eat eggs. More reason to have vegan box, perhaps?
Overall, my experience with the WW Freshbox and their support team has been pleasant! I was surprised how much time I’ve saved – enough for a couple of yoga sessions (or perhaps a few extra episodes of Breaking Bad!).
Here are a couple of recipes adapted from the WW Freshbox Vegetarian Recipes. Check out Aussie Farmers Direct for more info on their WW Freshbox. They also have other products such as the Fruit & Veg Box – pre-packaged fresh fruits and vegetables which are also available in an organic range. All of their products are ethically and sustainably sourced from local Australian growers so you know that your money goes toward supporting your fellow Australians.
Stuffed capsicums with rocket & fennel salad
- ½ cup 100g quinoa
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 green shallots sliced
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme plus extra to garnish
- 400 g can four bean mix rinsed and drained
- 40 g raw almonds chopped
- 4 800g red capsicums
- 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
- 60 g baby rocket
- 30 g vegan parmesan optional
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup slivered almond
Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Rinse and drain quinoa. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain under cold water then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan on medium. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until softened. Add to quinoa with thyme, four bean mix and almonds. Season and toss to combine.
Cut capsicum in half lengthways and remove seeds and membrane. Fill with quinoa mixture. Place on the lined baking tray and cover loosely with foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until capsicum is tender. Uncover and cook for another 10 minutes or until golden.
To make the salad: Combine fennel, rocket and parmesan in a bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and remaining oil.
- 1 cup (200g) dried red lentils, rinsed, drained
- 300g sweet potato, cut into 2 cm pieces
- 3 cups water
- 1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves, plus extra to garnish
- Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion. Stir for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Place lentils, sweet potato, tomato and water. Bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender and mixture is thick.
- Stir in chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with extra coriander.
Have you used any food subscription services before? What do you think?