Ama­zon meal kits of­fer easy din­ners for a price

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Ama­zon's new ready-to-eat meal pack­age is the per­fect recipe for some­one who doesn't have enough time to shop and cook, yet has a healthy ap­petite and a need for bal­anced meals. These meal kits come with just about ev­ery­thing you need to pre­pare din­ner for two. You can choose from a va­ri­ety of veg­e­tar­ian and meat op­tions. For now, Ama­zon's meal kits are avail­able only in lim­ited mar­kets, in­clud­ing Seat­tle. There's no ma­jor com­mit­ment, the way ri­vals re­quire you to order an en­tire week of meals at a time. But you pay dearly for the con­ve­nience and flex­i­bil­ity, and you must plan ahead, at least for now.

Or­der­ing the meal

As a com­pet­i­tive ath­lete who trains a lot, I find gen­er­ous por­tions are al­most as im­por­tant as lots of pro­tein. I usu­ally don't eat red meat, and the chicken dish got a few bad re­views, so I went for Tog­a­rashi-spiced salmon with soba noo­dles. It was $20 for two serv­ings, plus $10 for delivery. When I tried to place my order Tues­day, Ama­zon said the only delivery times left that day were for 6 pm to 8 pm. Be­fore con­firm­ing the order, though, those slots were gone.

It was only 11 am

I could have gone to Ama­zon's pickup lo­ca­tion in an­other part of town, but who has time for that, es­pe­cially in Seat­tle traf­fic? In­stead, I chose delivery be­fore 7 am on Wed­nes­day. It ar­rived be­fore 5:30 a.m., as I headed out for a long morn­ing run.

From door to kitchen

The meal kit was the size of a loaf of bread, but it came in a heavy bag that re­sem­bled a large pa­per gro­cery bag. In­side was a sil­ver in­su­lated bag, nes­tled in­side a card­board frame, and six ice packs. That's a lot of pack­ag­ing. I chose the delivery op­tion that al­lowed the driver to leave it at my door, which may ex­plain the ex­tra lay­ers. Each item was in­di­vid­u­ally wrapped and marked. All I needed were a few pots and pans, a knife and some veg­etable oil. The recipe also called for a pinch of salt from my kitchen, but I didn't feel the need. The in­gre­di­ents you had to sup­ply on your own were rea­son­able, given that most kitchens would have these. Ev­ery­thing else was pro­vided, in­clud­ing some sesame oil in a tiny con­tainer to sauté my veg­gies.

A meal in a half-hour

I sautéed the as­para­gus and oys­ter mush­rooms and cooked the salmon. I cooked the soba noo­dles and edamame to­gether in boil­ing wa­ter, while I warmed the soup base in a separate pot. Once done, I ar­ranged the noo­dles, edamame and salmon on plates and sprin­kled each with as­para­gus, mush­rooms, scal­lions and sesame seeds. The meal in­cludes a side of pick­led ginger.

The recipe was easy to fol­low. I am an OK cook and have a few spe­cial dishes, but I find recipes of­ten take a con­vo­luted path from stove to ta­ble. This one had seven easy steps, such as boil the wa­ter.

All this took less than 30 min­utes, as promised. Af­ter about 10 min­utes of wash­ing veg­gies, chop­ping and open­ing pack­ets, the cook time was min­i­mal, just 13 min­utes. Set­ting the ta­ble and open­ing the wine were the only other tasks. The serv­ings were sur­pris­ingly large and vis­ually ap­peal­ing. Add a few glasses of white wine, and the meal was the per­fect end to a very full day.

The value

I've been cu­ri­ous about meal kits for some time, but ri­vals such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh re­quire you to sub­scribe to on­go­ing de­liv­er­ies and pick your meals a week in ad­vance. I wasn't will­ing to com­mit to $60-plus per week for a mul­ti­meal plan with­out first try­ing out the con­cept. Ama­zon lets you buy as you go, even spon­ta­neously, not­with­stand­ing the lim­ited delivery win­dows. And the per-serv­ing price is com­pa­ra­ble with ri­vals - with a catch .

Meal kits re­quire mem­ber­ship in both Ama­zon Prime ($99 per year) and Ama­zon Fresh ($15 per month). Those fees along with the $10 delivery fee should be fac­tored into the over­all price of each meal, which range from $16 to $20 for two serv­ings. Ama­zon of­fers free delivery for or­ders over $40, but you lose fresh­ness if you buy mul­ti­ple meals at once. In­stead, you could buy other gro­ceries to qual­ify. Ama­zon Fresh also has light bulbs and laun­dry soap. Of course, it's ul­ti­mately cheaper just to buy these in­gre­di­ents sep­a­rately and as­sem­ble the meal your­self. But if you buy a whole tray of mush­rooms and throw away all but the two you eat, then it's no longer cheaper. Nor is or­der­ing take­out all the time, not to men­tion also be­ing less healthy. As some­one who's of­ten too busy to cook elab­o­rate meals, I'm hooked.

In fact, know­ing I needed a few gro­ceries and din­ner, I went on Ama­zon Fresh early Fri­day and was able to se­cure an even­ing delivery. I added milk, juice and ba­nanas to get free delivery. I'm look­ing for­ward to roasted cod with can­nellini bean ragout and pesto. — AP

Photo shows tog­a­rashi-spiced salmon, pre­pared from one of Ama­zon's new ready-to-cook meal pack­ages.

Pho­tos show the in­gre­di­ents in a tog­a­rashi-spiced salmon dish that is one of the choices avail­able as part of Ama­zon's new ready-to-cook meal pack­ages. — AP pho­tos

Photo shows the pack­ag­ing of in­gre­di­ents in a tog­a­rashispiced salmon dish that is one of the choices avail­able as part of Ama­zon's new ready-to-cook meal pack­ages.

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