Desk jockey seeking quality life-work balance with the occasional adventure thrown in.
No regrets. Ever.
Published July 20th 2016
With a special deal for readers in Adelaide Metro Area
I've admitted before that I'm not a great cook. I also cook for one, meaning that I'm not into effort.
Add into this equation a dislike of supermarkets and lack of meal planning, and you get toast for dinner. Seriously.
Which means the Food Box market, a revolution that is slowly growing in Adelaide, really appealed. Food Boxes combine meal planning and grocery shopping in one - each week, you're given the recipes and a box of fresh seasonal produce with all your key ingredients (you might need to use a couple of pantry items - most commonly olive oil, salt and pepper).
I stumbled across Pepper Leaf through New Idea - the recipes are from the test kitchens of both this magazine, and Better Homes and Gardens, so you know they will be tasty but simple to cook. The food is fresh from Australian farmers, the meat is free range, and if I'm honest, everything I've had so far is of better quality than my local supermarket.
Stealth ninjas - I swear! - deliver the order on a Saturday morning before I wake up (guaranteed delivery before 9am - you can select a Monday delivery if you prefer). Mine has been there far earlier, always on the doorstep when I wake up....and I didn't hear a thing! There are ice packs in the box if you want to sleep a bit later, or are out and about with kids sports.
I've had a few deliveries now. For me, the most economical option has been the 2 person box for 4 dinners (8 meals for just under $80), but you can order for 1-6 people for 3-5 nights a week. The menu is put up online every Tuesday - orders close Monday at midnight AEST - there are usually 6 meals, and while you have a random selection, you can 'opt out' of the specified protein (lamb, pork, beef, chicken or seafood, and there is one vegetarian dish).
My first order came with all ingredients, the 4 menu cards (nice, thick cards too, that I can wipe clean) ... and then the freebies - a dessert recipe (ingredients not included), a bottle of Cobram Estate Oliver Oil and 3 new release magazines. Subsequent orders have come with the recipes, a dessert recipe and one magazine. I am not sure if it's planned, but I find that the glossy magazine fills in the time that I would have been wandering around the supermarket.
All your ingredients are provided, other than a couple of pantry staples - the olive oil, salt and pepper mostly. And they are supplied in the right amount - a teaspoon of paprika, 50 grams of parmesan, 100g of spinach or 1 clove of garlic. Which is where I get really interested - no longer am I filling the fridge to throw half of the food out at the end of the week because I didn't use it! And I'm using fresh ingredients that I wouldn't usually buy - have you ever put just one fresh chili in your supermarket trolley? Or thrown out large jars of curry paste after storing them for years but only using one spoonful? I'm actually appreciating that following a recipe isn't hard when everything is supplied for you. I'm not trying to make do without an ingredient because I forgot it at the shop.
I've had 3 deliveries now - and funnily enough, my favourite recipes were the ones I was least sure about (I actually licked the plate after an Indian style curry dish!). I've cooked pasta dishes and soups, salads and stir fries, lentils and lamb, French and Japanese. I've cooked with ingredients I have never tried, and the recipes and hints given have given me confidence to 'give it a go'.
When you create an account, it sets up a regular order for you to be delivered (but you can skip as many weeks as you want once you log into it). When my account went haywire and duplicated itself, I called their contact number and ended up speaking with the CEO, Simon Kahil, who apologised that he couldn't help immediately as he was out on one of the farms reviewing things with the farmer. He took my name, and followed through on things as soon as he was back in the office. He has also patiently answered my questions (is the meat free range - yes, can I freeze it if I need to - yes, can I cancel my subscription any time - yes). I have to say, I believe the true test of a company is how they respond to customers with queries or concerns, and Simon and his team at Pepper Leaf have exceeded every expectation.
The fact is, you will want to put your order on hold from time to time - something Simon was well aware of. There are times that you go out a bit, or still grab takeaway, but most of all, you need time to go back and cook your favourite recipes again (hello Rigatoni Peperonata!). All ingredients are readily available in my local supermarket, and having followed the recipe once, I know I can do it again.
And because I'm not throwing away food at the end of the week, I'm finding this a really good economical decision for me. I still need to go to the supermarket for milk and bread, but I found myself on a Sunday afternoon smiling because I didn't have to think about 'what's for dinner'. Instead, I get to pull out my complimentary glossy mag, curl up by my heater and lose myself in the big pictures and stories.
Simon at Pepper Leaf has offered all Weekend Notes readers in the Adelaide metropolitan area a special introductory deal. When you create a new account at www.pepperleaf.com.au and place your first order, use the code ADL35 to get a discount of $35 off your first Food Box. Prices start at $69.90 for a box for one person for 5 nights, and this offer is valid for all new customers until 01/08/2017