Organic Smart Home Cooking with Sunbasket
We share our experience with Sunbasket organic meal kits.
While we love to cook, we don’t love planning meals. Without a plan, we generally default to easy recipes that are not good for us and we skip the vegetables. We aspire to eat better and meal kits have helped. We have tried several over the years and we find that each brings something different to the table.
We first heard about Sunbasket a couple of years ago and were intrigued by their organic meats and produce. We tried it for two weeks, and while we found things we liked, we only loved one out of the six meals, so we moved on to other options.
Lately we have been noticing the calorie counts in our meal kits have been going up. When we first started, it seemed most of the recipes were in the 400-600 calories per serving range, but we have had some as much as 1100 calories. Of course, those meals are delicious, and we could put half in the refrigerator for leftovers, but that’s not likely. Too many carbohydrates are often part of the problem, so when we heard about Sun Basket’s new Carb Conscious line we thought we should give them another chance.
Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains links that may earn us a commission from the Impact affiliate advertising program. We received a Sun Basket meal kit as part of this review. Opinions and conclusions are our own.
Choosing our meals
Sunbasket offers ten distinct meal plans: Chef’s Choice, Carb Conscious, Paleo, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Lean & Clean, Vegan, Gluten Free, Quick and Easy, or Diabetes-Friendly. If you don’t like what’s on the plan, you can always pick from the whole menu of up to 23 different selections and substitute a different meal. Sunbasket makes it really easy to navigate through the whole menu by filtering different choices: prep in less than 20 minutes, under 600 calories, soy free, dairy free, gluten free, diabetes friendly and vegan, so you can easily add other choices based on your needs.
We really wanted to try the Carb Conscious line, but we don’t eat beef, so we had to choose additional meals from the rest of the menu. We wound up only getting one technically Carb Conscious, one Paleo, and one meal that just sounded yummy. One area for Sunbasket to improve would be to add all the different meal plans as filters to make the selection even easier.
Paleo and Carb Conscious are almost identical in terms of nutrition criteria but Paleo does not include any antibiotics, hormones, soy, dairy, grains, gluten or added sugar. We tried one of each and both were delicious. Perhaps in the carb conscious meals they are less strict about soy, dairy and sugar. Sunbasket includes plenty of information on their website about each of the meal plans, their benefits and links to other references. We do not follow any of these diets, but if you are trying to eat following a specific plan, Sunbasket makes it simple to find the meals you need.
What’s in the Box
After we chose our meals, our Sunbasket box arrived as scheduled and we were eager to take a look at what’s inside. Since our last shipment, they made some improvements in their packaging. The meals are still packaged in individual bags with labels, easy to store and grab when you are ready to cook. They have moved to an all paper cooler bag, really easy to pull out and throw in the recycling bin, and similar to what some other meal kits are using.
Sunbasket includes one large non-toxic gel ice pack in the box.
The best improvement was the ice pack, one large pack in the box that uses a non-toxic gel made of 98 percent water and 2 percent non-GMO cotton. You can drain the gel into your trash, your compost bin, or straight into your garden, but Sunbasket does recommend that you do not pour it down your drain. The plastic liner is recyclable but not likely in your curbside bin, you need to take it to a participating retailer near you who accepts store drop-off bags, wraps and film. Inside the bags, the individual ingredients are bagged and stored in almost entirely recyclable packaging – #4 plastic bags and small containers.
Our box did not include the recipe book we were expecting. At first we thought this was a clever paper-saving trick to drive us to the website to get the recipes online, but we learned later it was just a mistake. It was easy to find the recipes on the website and print them out when we were ready to cook. The recipe book they normally supply has the recipes for all that week’s meals, so you can see what you missed. This might help you in selecting a future meal kit or let you go shop for the ingredients yourself.
Sunbasket takes a lot of care to make the recipes easy to cook. Some of the vegetables, like cabbage and carrots, we received were pre-grated, saving a lot of prep time with no noticeable difference in the quality. A couple of our meals also included flavorful prepared sauces again saving time. This was something we feel really improved since our last box – the sauces definitely tasted better with more distinct flavors.
All of the meats in our three boxes were packaged and labeled for Sunbasket. We really appreciated the quality of all three we tried, the lamb, the pork chops, and the salmon burgers.
The directions took a bit of getting used to compared to other meal kits we used. Sunbasket does not focus on preparing everything up front but instead presents the instructions in linear order of how you would cook. At first we didn’t like it, but at the end we appreciated the time savings. It is always a good idea to read through every recipe before you get started so you know what to expect.
We tried three different meals in our box:
- Lamb Lavash Tacos with Ras Al Hanout and Tzatziki
- Pork Chops with Dried Cherry Compote, Escarole and Pecan Relish
- Lettuce-Wrapped Lemongrass Salmon Burgers with Crunchy Asian Slaw
Of the three, the Lamb Lavash Tacos were definitely our favorite. There was a generous portion of flavorful lamb and some extra sauce to make it even more spicy. Of course, this was not a carb-conscious meal and it had the most calories of the three, at 740 per serving.
We also really liked our Paleo selection, the Pork Chops with Dried Cherry Compote. It was easy to make in one pot and had some really interesting flavors – crisp apple with bitter escarole, and included a pre-made dijon vinaigrette that saved a lot of prep time.
The only Carb Conscious meal we tried was the Lettuce-wrapped Salmon Burgers with Asian Slaw. While it was good, it was definitely our least favorite – it was hard to eat the burgers with the lettuce wraps and they seemed unnecessary. But the peanut sauce was wonderful and the slaw complex and plentiful. If we do this one again we’ll skip the lettuce wrap
Of all the meal kits we have tried, Sunbasket is the most focused on organic ingredients, and it shows in the quality. While they can’t guarantee everything, they are a USDA-certified organic handler, and currently 99 percent of their produce is organic. Just like in your supermarket, the difference is reflected in the price. The base three-meal box for two people starts around $72 a week, about 20 percent more than what we pay for other kits.
In our opinion, Sunbasket has really improved their flavors since our last try. We loved the quality of the produce and that the meals are easier to prepare and healthier than some other meal kits. The prices are definitely higher, but if you are trying to eat Gluten-Free or Paleo, we feel the price difference makes up for the recipe planning and quality ingredients you receive every week. We would highly recommend Sunbasket to anyone who is looking for a high-quality organic meal kit.