My Brilliant and Slightly Ethically Questionable Way to Use Meal Kits

published Feb 20, 2020
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Like a lot of our Kitchn readers, I have tried several different meal kits over the years. I’ve tried Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, the now closed Plated and Terra’s Kitchen, and a few others. I liked each of them enough but never continued my subscription for an extended period of time (because of packaging waste, cost, commitment, or other reasons). But I still technically use meal kits from time to time… because I LOVE to browse the sites for meal ideas or inspiration.

While there’s certainly no shortage of recipes at my fingertips (either online, in my inbox, or in my stacks of cookbooks), I find that it’s nice to browse the options posted on various meal kit sites. This started because, one day, my husband asked about a recipe from some service: “Whatever happened to that chickpea thingy you made that one time,” he asked vaguely. Some recipe cards I’ve saved (if I knew they were a hit right away) but that one chickpea recipe, I haven’t been able to find. (I just can’t remember which service it came from! I worry it was from a now-defunct one!) When I went down the rabbit hole looking for it, though, I came across so many recipes I wanted to make. I started pinning them and haven’t stopped since. I then shop for those ingredients on my own and use the recipes to help me cook, but I don’t pay any money and I don’t get the company’s little bags of perfectly portioned garlic cloves.

I mentioned this to some colleagues, and one of Kitchn’s contributors, Dana McMahan, told me that she can relate! She’s no longer a Purple Carrot subscriber but she logs back on again and again for this Broccoli Pasta with Crisp Butter Beans recipe!

The thing I struggle with here, though: Is this ethical or encouraged? I mean, these companies could easily put their recipes behind some sort of pay wall. But they don’t! They post them openly for subscribers and non-subscribers to see. (Although, if you want to see a recipe for a menu item for Hello Fresh, you have to google the dish name in order to find it. You can’t just click into it.) I imagine, the companies want people to look at the recipes, in hopes that these browsers will turn into shoppers? But I haven’t rejoined… so. Am I taking advantage of info that’s not meant for me? Or are these sites untapped resources that more of us should be using?

Some of My Favorite Meal Kit Recipes

What do you think? Am I doing this right or am I taking advantage of info that’s not meant for me?