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Meal Kits: What You Lose When You Use Them

NextTribe meal kits

Back in the day, when our moms didn’t have much time to cook, they grabbed a box of Hamburger Helper and — boom! — dinner was served. Times sure have changed thanks to the likes of Plated, Blue Apron and Sun Basket— meal kits offering all kinds of flavorful dishes. Several of my friends are converts, saying they want to avoid the time spent at the supermarket or get introduced to new tastes and techniques. But to me, these convenient culinary crash-courses come at the price of two essential cooking components: creativity and ingenuity.

No one would mistake me for the Barefoot Contessa, but I consider meal-making to be an everyday art form. I want to use my imagination; I want to think. If an ingredient isn’t on hand, I experiment with substitutions (and let the tortilla chips for pita chips fall where they may!). Besides, in my house, we’re guaranteed to need twice the garlic any kit could contain.

What’s more, I enjoy patronizing the butcher, the baker, the farmers’ market. Not only am I compelled to see, sniff and touch (squeeze? guilty!) the stuff I’m going to eat, it’s fun chatting with fellow shoppers and swapping recipes (props to the gal who divulged the secret to tostones was smashing the plantains in a paper bag!). I don’t want to see meal kits mess with that exploration and education.

Granted, I’m a freelancer with a flexible schedule, so I can act the chef on my own time. And it’s not like I make with the pots and pans every night of the week. But when I’m too bushed or busy to cook, I don’t say Hello, Fresh; I say: Hello, Takeout!

Nina Malkin


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