Terra’s Kitchen

This week, I decided to try out Terra’s Kitchen because I got a $50 off coupon. The business model for TK is a little different than the other subscription meal services. They give a menu of about 50 individually-priced meals, and you choose whatever you want. Shipping is free, but there’s a $62.99 order minimum. The meals start at $10 per portion and go up to $18, and you have to order two portions of each meal, so costs add up quickly. You can also order snacks, fixings for smoothies, juices, and side salads.
Another neat thing about Terra’s Kitchen is that the shipping materials are reusable. The package is delivered through FedEx. The box itself is made out of plastic and has a strong latch on it. When the box is opened, it reveals a plastic cooler with drawers that pull out to reveal the ingredients. The chiller packs, drawers, cooler, and box can all be returned to TK for free. I didn’t even have to print out a new shipping label. I just had to pull of the old one and the return label was underneath. As per the directions, I left the box down in the mailroom for FedEx to whisk away the next day.
When I opened the cooler, it seemed a bit warmer than the other subscription boxes. The chiller packs were completely defrosted. Everything seemed cool, but not quite refrigerator cool which was a little concerning since there was fish in the package.
All of the ingredients were washed and prepped, so there were a lot of plastic containers in the package (there were eight containers, not counting the tiny portion containers, just for the first dish).  Fortunately, the majority of the containers are recyclable in my area.

Dish 1: Fisherman’s Cod Stew in fennel-tomato broth, olives, spinach, and tender cod

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Friday, April 28, 2017 – My first meal was Fisherman’s Cod Stew in fennel-tomato broth, olives, spinach, and tender cod. This was one of the more expensive dishes (hooray for a $50 off coupon). My first impression of the dish was that there was something missing. It was like the tomatoes hadn’t been cooked long enough to cut the acidity, but as I dug deeper into the bowl, it ended up being a well balanced dish. The olives added a little bit of bitter meatiness. The cod was good quality, and it didn’t seem to have suffered in transit. My only critique was that the fennel and onion were cut a little too big, so some pieces didn’t soften much while cooking. I also got a few big mouthfuls of fennel, which might be off-putting to someone who doesn’t like the taste of fennel.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with TK so far. I love that I can send back the box and cooler to be reused, and that the return process isn’t any more difficult than taking the box back to where I found it in the mailroom.

Dish 2: Vegan Power Bowl with sweet potatoes, kale, onion, spicy chickpeas, and cannellini bean dressing

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Saturday, April 29, 2017: The second meal from the box was the Vegan Power Bowl with sweet potatoes, kale, onion, spicy chickpeas, and cannellini bean dressing. I really liked this meal. For being vegan and grain-free, it was amazingly filling. I ended up putting the last few bites of the first portion away for later. The combination of kale, sweet potato, and chickpeas meant that there was quite a bit of protein in the meal. The cannellini bean dressing was a revelation. I never thought of blending creamy beans with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and spices to make a dressing, but I’ll definitely be doing it again. It’s a great vegan option for people who like creamy salad dressings. My only complaint is a timing issue. I was instructed to dice the sweet potatoes and bake it alongside the kale for 10 minutes. The time in the oven was a bit too long for the kale and a bit too short for the sweet potatoes. I like my sweet potatoes crunchy, but there was no color on the tasty tubers. Ultimately, this little issue didn’t disrupt my enjoyment of the meal, and I’ll definitely be revisiting this one in the future.
 

Dish 3: Curried Chickpea and Spinach Bowl with wilted spinach, chickpeas, cucumber crunch, cilantro, *jasmine rice, and rich curry-flavored sauce

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* I used quinoa instead of the rice that came with the box because I accidentally made too much on Sunday and didn’t want it to go to waste.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017: I cooked my final meal from Terra’s Kitchen tonight. It was a Curried Chickpea and Spinach Bowl with wilted spinach, chickpeas, cucumber crunch, cilantro, *jasmine rice, and rich curry-flavored sauce. This meal was merely ok. It was easy to make, and it was fairly flavorful, but it just seemed to be lacking something. I even used more curry powder than the recipe called for, but it was like there was just a layer of flavor missing. I will admit that this might be my fault. I’ve been quite busy, so it took nearly a full week for me to make the dish. The chopped garlic looked a little oxidized, and the cilantro had gone a bit mushy so I had to throw part of it away. There was also a sprig of something that wasn’t cilantro in the container which was weird; it didn’t taste like anything though. If the ingredients were still fresh, the dish may have turned out a little better. I think a little more cilantro would have brought everything together a little better.
 
You might also have noticed that two of the dishes for this box contain chickpeas. Aside from the seasonings, TK doesn’t label the ingredients with the names of the dishes, so I accidentally cooked the chickpeas for both dishes on Saturday when I made Vegan Power Bowl. Luckily, I caught my mistake before I combined everything and was able to set aside half of the chickpeas before I plated my dish.

Terra’s Kitchen Summary

Ease/clarity of recipes: 8/10
Taste: 8/10
Variety: 10/10
Quality: 9/10

How many recipes would I make again? 2/3

Verdict:

I was very happy with Terra’s Kitchen.  They made customization very easy.  For the most part, the meals were delicious, and the quality of the ingredients was superb, even if they had a lengthy vacation in the refrigerator before I had the time to cook them.  I was a little confused by the random sprig of something that wasn’t cilantro in the cilantro container, but it wasn’t a big deal.

I was especially excited that I could send the box back to Terra’s Kitchen to be reused.  I hope that’s a model that other subscription services start to pick up.

For the most part, everything was prepped in advance, so the time estimations were pretty accurate.  It is possible to keep the box to the $62.99 minimum order, but one nice thing is that you can choose to splurge and get a more expensive meal if you want to.  You also aren’t limited to just three meals.  The shipping cooler can fit up to five meals, so you can customize it according to your needs for a particular week.

Overall rating: A-

Tomorrow, I’m getting a box from Sunbasket.  This service was recommended to me a while ago, so I’m quite excited.

 
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