My next subscription box is from Sun Basket. Sun Basket offers specialized meal plans including vegetarian, Paleo, gluten sensitive, and breakfast. At $11.49 per serving ($69 per box), this subscription service is about $10 more expensive than Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh. They also offer a less expensive family option at $9.99 per serving.
Like some of the other subscription services, all of the ingredients were bundled in a paper bag. The amount of packaging was pretty average, but unfortunately, most of it can’t be recycled in my municipality. The insulation for the box, however, was recyclable, and it even came with a sticker to help keep it rolled up. The film on the insulation had a note addressed to the recycling center which explained that the insulation was made out of #1 plastic bottles and could be recycled as #1 plastic.
The recipe cards were half the size of the recipe cards for other meal services and were made out of a thinner card stock. They made great use of color in the instructions to differentiate between prep steps and cooking steps, which I appreciated because it made the instructions easier to parse, but there were no pictures to illustrate the steps, and the steps were organized poorly for multi-tasking. The instructions weren’t terrible (better than Green Chef at least), but they could have been written much better.
One fun touch is that the box came with a star sign horoscopes. The horoscope for Sagittarius is “A sudden revelation around romance reminds you that, ‘freedom’s just another name for nothing left to lose.’ The author of those lyrics, Kris Kristofferson, once said, ‘Tell the truth. Sing with passion. Work with laughter. Love with heart.” Archers everywhere are following that advice and finding joy (and freedom) in stepping up tot he plate. Swing, Sag, swing.” I don’t know how accurate the horoscope actually is, but the Janis Joplin fan in me appreciated the quote from “Me and Bobby McGee”.
But a horoscope does not make food taste better, and, unfortunately, there were a few issues with some of the ingredients: one of the eggs was cracked, a cucumber was moldy, and the parsley for my final meal was missing. I also received some sad looking mystery cilantro in the parcel for the Fattoush Salad. It wasn’t part of the recipe, so I’m thinking it was included by mistake.
Dish 1: Chipotle Chilaquiles with Black Beans
Friday, May 5, 2017 – The first meal was Chipotle Chilaquiles with Black Beans. It was quick and easy to make, and it had great layers of flavor. The tortilla chips were nice and thick, so they stayed crunchy in the sauce. The cheese was creamy and salty. They provided plenty of spice, so I could adjust the heat level to my taste, and the meal had ample veggies.
It’s only the first meal, but my first impressions are overall positive. I’ll be contacting them about the broken egg, though.
Dish 2: Fattoush Salad with Soft-Cooked Egg and Spiced Chickpeas
Sunday, May 7, 2017 – My second meal from Sun Basket was Fattoush Salad with soft-cooked egg and spiced chickpeas. The dish was absolutely delicious. I love fattoush salad, and this was a near-perfect specimen. It was a beautiful balance of crunchy, sweet, salty, and sour. The proportion of bread-to-salad was a little off and the recipe called for only one egg for two servings (seriously, how am I supposed to get the perfect yolk shared between two bowls of salad?), but the dish was absolutely lovely. I can’t wait to make it again.
But there is a downside. The cucumber was moldy. Just imagine reaching into a bag to pull out the ingredients for one of your favorite meals, and you touch something slimy. It wasn’t quite as bad as when my arm brushed against the Cucumber Sour Cream Salad when I was recording the Jello episode of my podcast *involuntary shudder*, but it was still a bit disconcerting. Luckily, I had a Persian cucumber in the fridge that I could use instead. So, if you’re keeping track, this is the second ingredient that I was unable to use in this box. I’m making the third dish today for lunch, so fingers crossed that everything is ok for this one.
Dish 3: Tuscan Vegetable Soup with ciabatta croutons
Wednesday, May 11, 2017 – The final meal in this box was Tuscan Vegetable Soup with ciabatta croutons. This soup was absolutely scrumptious. Every bite was a little bit different, and the portion size was HUGE. The bowl in the picture is about 1/3 larger than a regular bowl, and the vegetables and garnish extended about an inch and a half higher than the rim of the bowl. If I wasn’t ravenous when I sat down to eat, the pot of soup could have easily been divided into three filling portions. I’ll definitely be making this again.
The downside is that the parsley was missing. It isn’t a big deal since it’s just a garnish (and I had some parsley in the fridge), but it was a little disappointing. I also had some issues with the instructions. This recipe could have been set up better for multitasking – for example, instructing the cook to brown the onions while chopping the other vegetables – but the recipe didn’t even call for the onions to be browned. All of the vegetables were supposed to be dumped in at once, salted, and then cooked on medium-high for 10-12 minutes until they begin to soften. Which leads to the second issue, after about 4 minutes on medium-high everything got very close to burning. I added some water and turned down the heat, but if I was following the instructions exactly, I would have ended up with charred vegetables. It was almost as if the recipe was written without being thoroughly tested. I felt this way about the other dishes too.
Sun Basket Summary
Ease/clarity of recipes: 7/10
How many recipes would I make again? 3/3
Overall, the food was great. The vegetarian options were vegetable driven, light, and filling. Aside from reducing the amount of pita in the Fattoush Salad, there’s not a thing I would change in any of these recipes. These were probably the best vegetarian options that I’ve received from any of these subscription boxes; however, there was something inadequate with every single dish in this box. An egg for the first dish was broken, the cucumber in the second dish was rotten, and the parsley was missing for the third dish. Hell, I would have excused the broken egg if everything else had been ok. At least they attempted to send an egg, unlike Martha and Plated. But all together, it just speaks to a lack of care being taken when preparing the boxes, and at this price point, I expect more. I’m going to contact the company, and I’ll update this post when I hear a response.
*Update: I heard back from Sun Basket. They sent a nice email apologizing for the inconvenience and reimbursed me $10. I didn’t ask for a reimbursement, so it was a nice surprise, and since it was a reimbursement and not just store credit, I’m actually going to be able to use the money. I’m going to bump up their score slightly because of their customer service.