Well, during this my birthday month, now that I’ve turned 66, the point in time when all those G-men who hang around the Social Security office have determined to be full retirement age, at least for now, as I have done each June, I always do a little inventory on the things over the past year that I’ve added to my list of what perplexes me mightily.
While some matters are of great importance, such as what seems like more and more evidence of domestic violence among those gridiron behemoths I watch in the fall and my incredulous realization that heroin addiction plays such a prominent role in destroying so many lives, other matters that baffle me are actually quite insignificant in the grand scheme.
I think you hear enough of the weightier matters as the news cycle continues to spin, so today, please allow me to plumb the trivial depths of my perplexities as I weigh in on this whole fairly recent culinary trend of subscription meal services like Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh, companies that, for a price, send all the exact pre-measured ingredients for a meal along with a recipe card so that you can head into your own kitchen armed with everything you need.
Now, I get where those in the industry are going in terms of trying to make the service attractive — the convenience of not having to shop, the use of some ingredients that are far more exotic (as evident by the name of this recipe from Blue Apron: Mushroom Brown Butter Cavatelli with Kale and Soft-Boiled Eggs) and, I suppose, the freedom from worry over what to do with either the rest of those mushrooms not needed in your own recipe or having leftovers, that, I’m led to believe in some world in which I don’t live, is offensive on some level.
And, according to the commercials I’ve heard on my radio, all of the above benefits can be had for an additional benefit, one by the excitement in Mr. Announcer Man’s voice, is only slightly less tasty than the meal, the price, right around $10 a person!
First, although I’m a pretty big fan of food and try to support most if not all of the five food groups on a daily basis and actually, especially when life slows down on weekends, really enjoy cooking, I am in no way what you’d call a foodie, someone’s newer diction for what used to be called years ago, a gourmand. So, not having kale or soft-boiled eggs in a dish I’m preparing really isn’t something that I feel diminishes my life on any significant level.
As for what to do with either the rest of those mushrooms I didn’t use in my own kitchen endeavors or what to do with the leftovers, well, let me address those concerns.
First, just as I don’t intend to drink the entire gallon of milk I buy at the grocery in one setting, why would some extra mushrooms not needed in, say, my killer spaghetti sauce send me spiraling down a vortex of consternation? Part of the fun of cooking, at least for me, is how to use what still has shelf life a day or three later. I mean wouldn’t a celebratory Sunday morning omelet to kick off the traditional day of rest be enhanced by dicing up those unused mushrooms?
And, as far as my feelings about leftovers, well don’t get me started! I LOVE leftovers! That’s especially true of the ones that seem to get better with time, such as anything with a tomato base, especially chili.
As for the touted supposed benefit of cost, around $10 a person, well, I just don’t think that’s a whole lot of bang for my buck. I look at it this way. Using the typical family-of-four profile, for four single portions of that Mushroom Brown Butter Cavatelli with Kale and Soft-Boiled Eggs, I’m paying $40 and not only do I have to cook it but do the dishes as well?
Hmm. I’m pretty sure there are a number of restaurants where I can feed four for around that same amount.
And, if I’m in a preparatory mood, I’m pretty sure I can head to my local groceries and get a whole rotisserie chicken, already cooked, for around $6, a three-pound bag of spuds for a couple bucks, and a few handfuls of green beans to steam for a couple more and a gallon of milk and fill four folks up for less than $15. Seems to me I could even pick up a blue apron to wear and still be no more than a little over half my way to $40!
I guess with us consumers, it all comes down to how we wish to spend our money. If you have enough of it, feel free to dive right into those food-service waters. As for me, I’ll keep an eye on my 10-for-10 products in my Chief and Meijer grocery flyers and merrily head out to do the only shopping I actually enjoy before heading back home and into my kitchen to create my own masterpieces.
Who knows? I may even get a little crazy sometime and mix in a little kale!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.