(But first, where I got the ingredients I didn’t already have!)
The last few weeks have been a blur–and I thought snow days and teething toddlers were hectic! In a previous post I shared my experience with Hello Fresh. Now, I absolutely love the concept of this service and the local sourcing, but since hubby’s been on leave from work for two months due to surgery, it’s a bit pricey for us right now. Especially because I would either need to buy four plates per meal or add proteins and sides to extend two plates for three people and a toddler.
Years ago, I went to a health fair and saw a booth for Relay Foods. Relay Foods is kind of like farmer’s market meets Giant’s Pea Pod grocery delivery. I thought it was cool and all, but never decided to take the plunge and try them out until about three weeks ago. Why now? I signed up for and was eventually invited to try their Meal Planning Beta. In one word: AWESOME! This is similar to Wegman’s website where you can search recipes and add ingredients to your shopping list–but way better!! I can go to the website and search through recipes via a number of different categories. Once I find a recipe I like, I can set my serving size (usually 4 people) and add it to my meal plan. I then have the option to pick and choose not only which ingredients I want to add to my cart, but which brand/version I would like with options including items that are organic, non-organic, local/artisan-crafted, and regular old grocery store generics. The site adds the appropriate quantity needed for the recipe, and you can always adjust in your cart if you’d like. I should note that many of their recipes also include vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free options. Their meal planning page boasts weekly meal planning in under 15 minutes, and I am here to tell you it is absolutely possible, and absolutely amazing.
Relay Foods has regular pick-up locations around our metropolitan area, but also offers doorstep delivery either with a one-time charge or monthly fee. They even offer “refill” services similar to Amazon Pantry’s subscription service. I opted for the doorstep delivery because we are on the outskirts of their service area and I figured it would be easier for me. I received a text message when the delivery driver was about 20 minutes out, with a link in it. I clicked it and was flabbergasted that I was able to track the driver’s location via GPS in real time! I’m quite impressed :-). If you’re not home your groceries will be left in Rubbermaid totes (I believe you can request location too, but am not certain) with the appropriate packaging/cooling for any frozen or perishable items. They will pick everything up at your next delivery; or if you’re home you can unload the totes and hand them back right away.
Customer service is another thing that is very important to me (again, probably has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve worked in multiple customer service oriented roles for 10+ years, right?). In my first order, three out of four meals were perfect, but unfortunately there was a glitch in the system with my fourth meal, and I only received half of the pork chops required for my dish (but all the other ingredients were accurate). I was so bummed! I knew it was a beta version, and there was a nice little button to provide feedback at the bottom of my screen, so I went ahead and let them know what had happened. I also inquired about how the pricing by weight works. Within a couple of hours I received feedback from a representative who answered all of my questions, and apologized for the error with the pork chops, promising me the details would be forwarded to the party responsible for the meal planning service. They were more than generous in making up for the mistake. Aside from the prompt response and generosity, I was absolutely FLOORED when I received yet another follow-up email from the same representative more than a week later to let me know that the issue had been resolved. I never requested that, but this person went above and beyond and I truly appreciated the effort! This is definitely the best customer service I’ve experienced from any organization in a long time.
The products are competitively priced, and for what I paid for three plates for two with Hello Fresh I was able to make four dishes for four to six from Relay Foods, AND pick and choose my recipes or whatever other random groceries I wanted. I love the flexibility, especially for my picky eaters, and it has helped me stay on budget too!
Mushroom Bacon Risotto
I’ve made several dishes over the past few weeks, but one of my husband’s favorites was the Mushroom Bacon Risotto. This is also one of the only dishes I thought to take pictures of throughout my hectic month of March!
The Relay products are amazing! Admittedly, I already had the bacon and Parmesan cheese. I am certain the quality of the dish would have been greatly improved by real freshly grated Parmesan, but I didn’t feel like splurging this week and we had the nasty powder already…
A little while ago I was reading through recipes looking for ideas, and someone mentioned using a food processor for fine dice. My family has complained before about my horrible knife skills (or lack thereof), so I have been on a food processor kick lately. I used it for the shallots and the parsley. I actually chopped the portabella by hand though!
One of the things that I love about this recipe is that it only uses ONE pan. After I sauteed the mushrooms, I set them aside and fried the bacon. I am proud to report that I successfully cooked bacon in a skillet for the first time, without burning it–thanks to the awesome directions on the Relay Foods recipe! Bacon packaging says “until done” which helps me NONE. But I can follow directions when a recipe says how many minutes per side…Shallots sauteed next, and then set aside with the mushrooms.
I will also mention that I should have chosen a larger pan…the rice started off with plenty of room but by the end of adding in 6 cups of broth 1/2 cup at a time I was definitely running out of space as the rice expanded, whoops.
Once all the broth was sopped up I added the sauteed ingredients in and mixed. This was my first time making risotto, and I always assumed it would be very difficult. Perhaps I watch too much Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay yelling about the risotto? I was pleasantly surprised with how easy this recipe was! Since this recipe was technically for a side dish and I wanted to make this the main dish, I added extra bacon and threw some Asparagus on the side.
Here’s the Relay Foods Recipe for Mushroom Bacon Risotto.