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Grocery and meal delivery services are on the rise. There are now loads of different companies offering a supermarket-free meal service, providing you with everything you need to create a delicious home-cooked meal. Finder recently had the chance to try out one of the more popular services, Marley Spoon. Here's what I thought.
Special: Try the Marley Spoon slow cooking box. Available up until 9 July.
How does it work?
Marley Spoon is a subscription service. You use one for your movies, so why not your food? Sign up and once a week you’ll have a box of fresh and delicious meal ingredients delivered to your door. Inside the box is everything you need to cook the recipes you’ve chosen. You can choose between a two- or four-person box and you can choose whether you want two, three or four different meals. The largest box, a four-person box with four meals, has an average serving price of $8.95. The smallest box, a two-person box with two meals, has an average serving price of $13.75, so it’s certainly more economical to order in bulk.
The average serving price is a little higher than some of the other competitors I’ve tried, but I instantly found Marley Spoon to be more user-friendly. In fact, Marley Spoon seems specifically designed to eliminate the problems that the other subscription boxes had. One of the problems that I’ve had with other services, is that I don’t want one of these boxes every single week. Some weeks I work late. Some weeks I go out for dinner. Having a meal delivery box every week is too much and can lead to waste if you don’t end up cooking. But Marley Spoon allows you to skip as many weeks as you like.
The other issue I’ve had in the past is the meal selection. If I’m only going to order three meals, I’d like to have a better choice of options on the menu. My partner has food allergies so this is really important for us. Some services have had a pre-set six-meal selection and a pre-set three-meal selection, so you can’t avoid certain meals. Marley Spoon gives you 12 options to pick from, which made catering for allergies so much easier. On the downside, Marley Spoon only allows you to pick up to four meals a week, which is less than other services. This means that Marley Spoon won’t be able to cater for all your weekly dinners.
Some ingredients in a Marley Spoon box
What's delivery like?
Marley Spoon offers free delivery and it delivers to most big cities on the Australian East Coast, with more cities coming soon. Just pop in your address and select a convenient delivery time for your box to arrive. The delivery driver will text your with a photo of the location of your box once they’ve delivered it to your door, which is great if you live in a shared building and want to know exactly where your box was dropped off.
You might want to make sure that you’re home to take it inside, as you don’t want to leave your food out in the sun all day where someone could take it. Marley Spoon as a company seems rather conscious of this. My delivery driver kindly took my box all the way into my building and left it by the elevator so it wasn’t left outside.
What's the food like?
When you open your Marley Spoon box, you’re met with a selection of premium ingredients. Not the type of stuff that you can get at any old supermarket, this is the good stuff. Premium free range meats, some organic veg, fresh sauces – nothing frozen, all fresh. These are the type of groceries I can only find at my favourite fancy Italian greengrocer, and it takes me half an hour to drive there. This is vastly more convenient.
I chose two recipes: quinoa burritos and shepherd's pie. Both recipes were relatively easy to follow. Even my partner, who has difficulty chopping an onion (bless him), was able to get the shepherd’s pie started without help. If you’re not a master chef, this is probably a good box to try, as the directions are clear, concise and just about idiot-proof.
Another big plus for me is that almost everything you need is in the box. With other boxes I’ve tried, there is an expectation that you’ll have a few cupboard staples like vinegar or tomato paste. Marley Spoon provides you with most of these, the only extras I needed were butter and water. One service I used previously expected that I would have white wine vinegar in my cupboard, which I didn’t, and it threw off the entire meal. It was nice to see that Marley Spoon thought about this and didn’t expect me to have worcestershire sauce in my fridge.
Quinoa with chipotle sauce
I tried making the quinoa burritos first as the cooking time was shorter than the pie. It said it would take just half an hour to make, which usually means an hour. I never find that I can stick to the time recommendations on most recipes, it always takes me a lot longer. But I found that I was actually able to make the quinoa burritos in 45 minutes - so only 15 minutes overtime. It wasn't the cooking time that was promised but at least it was still under an hour. I hate spending one and a half hours standing over a hot oven after a long day at work. Marley Spoon recipes can mostly be cooked in less than 60 minutes.
The burritos included ingredients for a yummy guacamole and a ready-made, fresh chipotle sauce. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the recipe ahead of when I decide to cook, so the avocados for the guac sat in the fridge instead of ripening in a bowl. Make sure you read the recipe before you just shove everything in the fridge!
The burritos were delicious and the Marley Spoon-made chipotle sauce was a real winner. The shepherd's pie was lovely too, perfect for cold weather. The flavours were strong but simple. It was interesting food but it wasn’t overcomplicated. I’m not the type of person that enjoys complicated stuff. You can keep your stewed jackfruit gyoza with fusion rice and pomegranate reduction. I’ll take a hearty shepherd’s pie any day of the week, and I’m sure most would agree.
One thing to keep in mind is the portion sizes. They were huge. I ordered the four-person box so I could have leftovers for lunch and I feel like the quinoa recipe in particular could have fed six people. You really do get your money’s worth, so keep this in mind if you’re not a big eater. The portions are sizable!
Was it worth it?
Absolutely! The quality of produce that arrives is top notch. And it’s delivered to your door, which saves me a few trips to the supermarket. It is slightly pricier than some competitors, but it’s extremely good value for money given what you get. You’d never be able to buy top-grade beef mince like I had (plus everything else) for $13 per portion.
Quinoa burrito with fresh guacamole
But the key reason I would reorder with Marley Spoon is the cooking time. These recipes really don’t take that long to make. Some of the other meal delivery boxes kept me in the kitchen for close to two hours. The burritos took 35 minutes and the pie took about 55 minutes.
In fact, I’ll probably order Marley Spoon next time I plan to have people over for dinner. It’s affordable, it’s top quality and it’s reasonably quick to make. Marley Spoon is just about as convenient as it gets, without having to compromise on quality.
If you're interested in trying Marley Spoon you can head to the website. And don't forget to use the coupon below to save $35.
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