Last night, I went out to eat for Valentine’s Day with my husband at a “nice” restaurant, but it certainly wasn’t overly fancy. Our bill was over $60 for the two of us, and that was with just entrees for the two of us. Much as I love good food, there’s no way I can afford this on a regular basis. When I had the opportunity to try out Relished, a gourmet dinner ingredient delivery services that provides all you need to make your dinner out at home for just $9.95 per serving, I jumped all over it.
The service is subscription based, and you receive three meals each week, though you can suspend or cancel your service at any time, making it easy to fit Relished into your life. You have until Friday of the prior week to sign up for a menu that will be delivered via FedEx in a cold storage box on Wednesday. This current week’s menu includes a turkey burger with homemade pickled onions and sweet potato fries, wedge salad, and sambal glazed salmon with roasted baby bok choy and wasabi whipped potatoes, and next week’s (which still has ordering open!) includes lamb meatballs with creamy polenta and ragout, panko crusted cod with roasted baby carrots and asparagus, and quinoa roasted vegetable salad with pan seared chicken.
Tell me that doesn’t sound delicious. I appreciate that the meals include not just a main course but also yummy sides to go with them. Best of all, the recipes can be cooked and ready to eat in a half hour or less, making them perfect for weeknights, too. You have the option of receiving servings for 2, 4 or 6 people with your three meals, and they are generous servings. We received two servings, yet we were able to feed my husband and I plus our two children with the food and only one night did we need to supplement with something extra. And yes, that $9.95 per serving is inclusive of delivery, so there are no surprise charges.
Our menu consisted of three great dishes that I couldn’t wait to try: peppercorn crusted flat iron steak with tangy bell pepper relish and roasted green beans, blood orange topped mahi-mahi with saffron rice and cilantro and radish salad, and vegetable ramen with udon noodles, radish sprouts, oyster mushrooms, and sambal. I love that the menus are ones that I don’t automatically think of cooking at home, so it’s something new and fun, yet they aren’t so “out there” that the wee ones aren’t willing to try them, nor are they complicated for even a novice chef to make thanks to clear instructions included with each dish.
When you open the box, the ingredients for each meal are clearly packaged so that you know exactly goes with which meal, reducing any potential confusion. The ingredients are clearly marked, as well, so that if you aren’t sure which item is green onions and which is cilantro, you know exactly what to use where. I wish there was a way to reduce the packaging or make it more recyclable, but that is a minor quibble.
My husband cooked the flat iron steak the first night, as I unfortunately had a headache, so he was in charge of dinner. He was leery of it before starting, and it took him just a little over the 30 minutes given to prepare the 450 calorie per serving menu (yes, there are calorie counts for each meal – and all three of ours were under 500 calories, great for those watching their weight but wanting flavor). He was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make the meal, and it has inspired him to be willing to make this dish again for us. Yay for me!
The steak was great quality meat, and the bell pepper relish was a tasty addition to add some more crunch and flavor to the dish. My husband had never had roasted green beans before, but he was an instant convert. Even the wee ones thought they were really tasty, which means I’ll be adding this to our regular rotation. We needed to provide only a little black pepper, salt, and oil to make the meal, all items that were already in our pantry, and this was a step up from our usual dinners, but a lovely and enjoyable one.
The next night, Mister Man wanted to help make the dinner. We decided on the blood orange topped mahi-mahi, and after looking over the recipe, I handed him a knife and let him make the entire meal (aide from cooking the fish). Yes, the Relished meals are simple and clear enough that a ten year old can follow the instructions and cook the meals. There’s no excuse for anyone saying they don’t know what to do if my son can do it!
He was so proud of the meal he created. The mahi-mahi was delicious, and I loved having another fish the wee ones are willing to eat. Having pictures of the steps included with the directions meant that Mister Man wasn’t confused by what he was supposed to do, especially when he had to slice off the peel of a blood orange, something he’d never seen done before.
The only downside of this meal is that the three very large cloves of raw garlic in the salad topping the mahi-mahi was a bit strong. Had I been making this, I would have left out one clove and possibly two, tasting it as I went – and I love garlic. I spoke to another friend who made this meal, and she left out garlic from the salad because she looked at it and knew it would be too much. Mister Man doesn’t have that judgement yet, so our salad was garlicky, but the orange and radish were a great complement to the fish – and I discovered that the wee ones like radish, which means I again add another vegetable to our regular rotation.
Our last dish was vegetable ramen with udon noodles. I love udon soups and was really looking forward to this. I was surprised by how much soup came from this simple dish – even with the four of us eating we had leftovers because the veggies were so filling. Because this is a dish you assemble at the end, we were able to make it to each person’s individual tastes, which means that my husband and I enjoyed the sambal paste to make it spicier, which he ate all the mushrooms he could get his hands on, and Little Miss gobbled up the bamboo shoots. It was a fun and very quick dish to make, though in the future I would likely make it slightly different from the instructions.
The vegetables were great, but the broth and noodles were slightly more bland than I was hoping. I added a little extra miso paste that I have in my fridge, and next time I would cook the noodles in the broth to allow them to absorb the flavors from there rather than cooking them in water and adding them to the broth later. That said, everyone enjoyed the dish, and I was thrilled to have the wee ones – and all my family – eating homemade gourmet meals where we knew every ingredient that included so many vegetables with no complaints.
Since this is a service where you make the meal yourself, you are able to alter it to fit your tastes, which I appreciate. And if there is a menu that doesn’t appeal to you, it’s easy to suspend your service for a week and sign up for the following week instead. Menus are available for two weeks in advance, giving you plenty of time to decide what you do and don’t want to eat.
Since the packages are delivered via FedEx, this extends the delivery area for Relished, which is a Chicago-based company. The boxes include packaging that will keep your food cold, though they encourage you to bring it inside and put it in your fridge as soon as possible. They are able to deliver essentially anywhere east of the Colorado River (except Maine and Florida), though you can check your specific zip code before you order.
This is not a service that I would use every week simply because I love to cook some of my favorite items, but I can absolutely see myself using this service from time to time when I’m in a rut or feel like experimenting. It’s so much cheaper than eating out, and definitely healthier than most restaurant alternatives. The fact that I can get meals on the table in under a half hour makes this an ideal weeknight meal, too.
Best of all, I have a coupon code to share. You can get 50% off your first order from Relished using the code relished50 – and if that isn’t an incentive to try it out, I don’t know what is. So who’s making those lamb meatballs?