Smart Home Cooking with SunBasket
We’ve been enjoying the benefits of weekly meal kit delivery services at AppMyHome for the last few years. It is really convenient to get a shipment every week with just enough fresh groceries to cook new and interesting dinners.
Two years ago, after some time with Blue Apron, we compared a few other services to get an idea what else is out there. One of the companies we tried, Din, closed down last year, and the other two, Plated and HelloFresh were fine, with some small differences. In the end, we decided we still liked Blue Apron for its consitentency of taste, value, and customer service.
Blue Apron has continued to be reliable, and has added some enhancements such as more meal variety, a matching wine service, and more flexible delivery. While the meals are still delicious, it feels like the calorie counts and portion sizes have been increasing lately, so we thought it would be good to try some of the new entrants in the market and do another comparison.
SunBasket: Organic Food Specialist
We started with SunBasket, which has come highly recommended from friends. SunBasket specializes in organic food and offers a lot of choices, especially for people who are looking for paleo, gluten free and vegetarian/vegan options. We chose the same kind of plan we have on Blue Apron – three meals, two servings each, delivered once a week.
All of these services are offering incentives to get folks to try them, and SunBasket is no exception. We signed up via a Facebook ad, and it was a bit confusing to apply the promotion so we needed to contact customer service to straighten it out. The online support chat was quick and easy and soon we were ready to order.
Selection and Flexibility
When you join SunBasket, you pick a plan and a general type of meal you want (lean and clean, paleo, vegetarian, etc), but you still have the flexibility every week to pick your meals. For our plan, there are 11 different choices, including the option to get two breakfast portions instead of one dinner. The variety is great – lots of options including meals ready in 20 minutes or less, lower calorie selections and a Williams Sonoma recipe that is about $2 more than the regular choices. Since you can mix and match the prices are not always the same; you can spend more or less every week. Unlike many of their competitors, Sun Basket also charges a delivery fee, it’s not a lot (for our plan it was $5.99), but it is an extra cost to consider.
One thing that SunBasket does not do for us is store our dietary preferences. We are not vegetarians, but we do not eat beef, so if we forget to choose our meals one week we risk the chance of getting a beef meal by accident, like we did once with HelloFresh. This is something that we never have to worry about with Blue Apron.
Packaging and Instructions
SunBasket arrives in a well packaged box, with a clever interior cooler inside. SunBasket prides itself on its recyclability and it is definitely designed for that. The cooler is really nice and can be rolled up and recycled with the provided stickers. You can even recycle the ice packs if you open them up and drain them first.
The meals itself are also packaged together in individual paper bags with the name of the meal on thebag. Only the meats are packaged separately. It makes it super easy to find everything when you are ready to cook.
The SunBasket box comes with a beautful color booklet that includes all of the recipes for that week. Itlooks great and it seems like something you would want to keep. Practically, though, when you get to the recipies themselves, there is not that much detail or as many pictures of the ingredients or the preparation steps as we are used to in the Blue Apron cards. Having these pictures really helps to make sure you get the right bowls and that you are following the steps and plating the meals correctly.
When it comes to the meals themselves, we had a mixed experience. We tried two weeks and six different meals, and really only found one we thought was great. The others have all had small issues, the cooking instructions on the salmon were not accurate and it was very undercooked, a vegetarian stew lacked flavor, and a subsitution of macaroni for orzo in one meal really didn’t work. The prep time for some of the meals was simpler and shorter than Blue Apron, and some of the sauces come already prepared. In particular there was an amazing romesco sauce with one of our meals, but unfortuntaely that meal was overshadowed by a really mismatched portion of chicken breasts. We were especially disappointed in the two Williams Sonoma meals, more expensive than the others but not as good.
SunBasket’s rating system was fun to use – instead of a five star rating like Blue Apron, it was a simple heart or thumbs down for “meh.” We did provide our feedback, but unfortunately for us it was too many meh’s.
Our conclusion: Not for us
In general, we really liked the variety of choices and the packaging from SunBasket. But the meals that we got didn’t really match up to the consistency of taste that we have come to expect from Blue Apron. It may be a really great choice for vegetarians or others trying to follow special diets, but it didn’t work for us.