Just Add Cooking!

 Disclaimer: I was provided the Just Add Cooking box free of charge, all opinions and injuries are my own.

  I love cooking and I am just starting to get the hang of this meal planning thing, but the last few weeks have been hard. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes, so spending an hour meal planning and a few hours meal prepping were just not in the cards. I am grateful for one of the weeks I was able to try Just Add Cooking. Just Add Cooking is a meal service that provides meals that are pre-measured and high-quality, plus it is delivered straight to your doorstep. They are a Boston-based company and the ingredients are sourced locally to ensure freshness and support the local economy. When possible, ingredients are also locally produced and may be organic. JAC Logo_Normal_RGB     Just Add Cooking recently launched the 2 person box, there is also an option for a 4 person box, but this new launch is what we tried. Prices are very reasonable, for a 2 person box it is $79 for 3 meals, $89 for 4 meals, and $99 for 5 meals. The 4 person boxes are $109 for 3 meals, $129 for 4 meals, and $139 for 5 meals. Vegetarian boxes are available in 2 and 4 person boxes, but you can only receive 3 meals. There are no other dietary restriction boxes available (gluten or dairy free for example) but you can see what is available the following week and see if those dinner options fit your needs. The boxes include almost everything, it is expected that you will have things like salt, pepper and olive oil on hand, but almost everything is included and pre-measured. Alright, so let’s get to what I ordered. I decided to pick 2 vegetarian meals and one fish meal. Since we are fasting, I wanted to try out some meals that could maybe become staples in our home. The box arrived at our house between 2 and 6 pm on Sunday evening. I was supposed to get a text when it was out for delivery but for some reason I didn’t. Unfortunately, we were in CT last-minute and we didn’t get home until Monday morning. Luckily, the delivery person placed the box in a shaded area on our back porch and the temperatures were cold, so the fish never warmed up. Included in the box is a packet, each recipe has its own sheet of paper with instructions and cooking instructions. They let you know what the recommended cooking order is for the items as well.

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I went a bit out-of-order, I cooked the Mexican Cod on Tuesday night. I can easily say that the cook time was spot on, it only took 30 minutes  and it is a meal that will easily be kept in the rotation for a long time.

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I added asparagus, but it came with the potatoes, the only thing I didn’t include with the meal was the olives. I just don’t like them, but Nick ate them right out of the bag while he waited for dinner. Nick told me it tasted like a meal you’d pay $60 for in a frou frou restaurant. Success for sure! I also like that they included other types of fish that would taste great with the same recipe.

JAC's photo of the black bean burger!

JAC’s photo of the black bean burger!

On Wednesday I decided I wanted to try the Black Bean Burgers. I am always on the hunt for a burger that has minimal ingredients, and nothing complicated, like 3 different types of beans and flours.

The cooking timeline for the burgers

The cooking timeline for the burgers

When I made the patties they seemed very dry and it felt like I had way to much stuff to make 2 normal sized patties. I followed the directions, but the patties were falling apart in the pan. I decided to blend up the mixture and make smaller fritter type patties. I ended p making six smaller patties and Nick and I just stacked two in our sandwiches. I saved the leftover ones for Friday’s lunch.

What my burger looked like #reallife

What my burger looked like. Black Bean patty/fritter on the top and bottom, lettuce, avocado & tomato in between. #reallife

Because of the burger issue this meal took more like 45 minutes start to finish. I don’t know where I went wrong, but I am glad that I have experience cooking because that definitely helped.

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This is on every recipe. Degree of difficulty, serving size, time it takes, calories and type of meal. This is for the burgers.

The last meal I made was the Red Bean Chili, I make a lot of chili but I use the same recipe every time. I was looking forward to trying something new!

JAC's Red Bean Chili

JAC’s Red Bean Chili

I made this on Friday, again it was another fasting day and this was perfect. The chili had kidney beans, tomatoes, and lentils. The directions were easy to follow, however I had to let mine cook longer and add more liquid because the lentils were nowhere near done at the end of the cook time. Also, the bread that was supposed to go with it was stale by the time I made this. I think rolls might be a better option, the bread was cut from a long loaf so both ends were exposed causing it to dry out extremely fast. The other issue is the hot pepper, I don’t cook with them, ever. I can’t handle a ton of spice. I cut it an de-seeded without wearing gloves, I am sure you know where this is going, and I didn’t think anything of it until my contact needed adjustment and I touched my eye. BIGGEST MISTAKE EVER. I learned my lesson and will always be prepared.

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My Chili

I just have a few issues, for the items I chose, not a single one came with a veggie on the side that wasn’t a carb. I love veggies at dinner time, and I think those are items that a lot of people struggle with knowing how to prepare. The other issue is that I used A LOT of pots and pans when I was cooking. Normally, not a big deal but when I want this to be quick and easy, I don’t want to spend longer cleaning dishes than I did cooking.

While some recipes did not turn out exactly as planned, Nick and I loved every single meal and came away from the experience with 3 new recipes to add to our rotation and two new recipes to add to our fasting recipe index. I also must note that every meal had leftovers, this might not be the case for everyone, but it was for us, some B ate and some I saved to have as part of the next days lunch.

If you become a regular customer of JAC you can plan your meals up to two weeks in advance. This week they have a great looking Leek & Potato Soup as well as Poached Salmon and in the next two weeks they have items like Carrot Patties, Flank Steak with Grits, and Dill Chicken!

Overall, I really like the concept of Just Add Cooking. I think it is a great way to learn your way around the kitchen and learn how to cook. Or a way to find new recipes, and I definitely did that! I love that the meals are constantly changing and they are reflective of what the company can find around them.

On Friday I am giving away a box to one lucky person! They will receive the same size box that I did, a 2-person, 3 meal box. For all of you who don’t win Just Add Cooking is giving you a $20 discount first order (new customers only). This is a credit on any sized box and is good until 5/31/14. Use code SPRINGBLOG.

 Have you tried Just Add Cooking or a service like this?