I ate albacore tuna caught off the coast of Washington by the crew of the Coyote the other night. I wasn’t aboard the vessel, but information about the boat, its captain, and the port where the fish landed were included on its packaging from Sun Basket.
Like Blue Apron, Plated, and HelloFresh, Sun Basket is a meal-kit delivery service. The difference, the company says, is that the ingredients are organic, with “grass-fed, antibiotic-free pastured meats and sustainable seafood from ranchers and fishermen we trust.” Sun Basket also caters to specific diets, offering a few options every week for paleo people, vegetarians, and the gluten-intolerant. While its competitors offer vegetarian options, they don’t yet do paleo or gluten-free menus.
The Sun Basket recipes are a little light on the details.
For $75 a week, you get a box with the ingredients to make three meals — in other words, you’re still doing the cooking — with portions enough for two people. There’s a family-of-four option for $140. That breaks down to almost $11.50 per meal, per person for the second option and a dollar more for the two-person plan. Blue Apron is closer to $10, HelloFresh is $11.50, and Plated is $12 for two-person, three-times-per-week boxes.
The week I tried Sun Basket, I made risotto, salad niçoise, and tandoori-style chicken. The meat came sandwiched between ice packs, while everything else was packaged in individual brown bags. Each recipe was on cardstock, about the size of half a piece of 8 ½-by-11 paper. There was a picture of the dish and a description of it, along with the cook time, calories, and number of servings, on one side. On the other was a list of everything I needed — basically listing everything in the box, plus salt, pepper, and oil from my pantry — and the directions.
If meal-delivery systems are aimed at people who like to cook but don’t do it that often, then the Sun Basket recipes are a little light on the details. Maybe it’s because they’re trying to cram everything onto a half-sheet of paper, but I definitely had to Google how to cook and cut up okra on my own.
If there’s one major concern people have with meal kits, it’s the amount of packaging.
My husband’s idea of cooking entails cereal, milk, and a bowl, so I was on my own making these recipes. There seemed to be the expectation that you have a couple pairs of hands in the kitchen when it came to the promised “time too cook.” The salad said 25 to 30 minutes, and the other two dishes said 30 to 40. All three took me closer to 50 minutes or an hour, and it felt like I was constantly in motion, moving back and forth between the cutting board and stove as I prepped the tuna while keeping an eye on the green beans.
All the food turned out really well, but if there’s one major concern people have with meal kits, it’s the amount of packaging that comes along with them. Like its competitors, Sun Basket says its packaging is recyclable (and the produce bags are compostable), but not all of it may be accepted by your local recycler, so you’ll have to check with them. At the moment, it doesn’t look like Sun Basket has a program to recycle for you, as Blue Apron does.
Overall, I thought the recipes were interesting and the produce and food high-quality. And there are a few advantages to having everything you need delivered to your door: I tried to make one of Sun Basket’s other recipes on Monday, only to find my local grocery store was out of two of the ingredients.