How’s HelloFresh been working out for us, you ask?

Back in January we signed up for HelloFresh, which is one of those services that sends you groceries and recipes and turns you lose in your own kitchen.

Back in January we signed up for HelloFresh, which is one of those services that sends you groceries and recipes and turns you loose in your own kitchen.

I think Blue Apron is the progenitor of the groceries-and-recipes method. There are a whole bunch of services that will send you heat-and-eat meals, too. We tried Freshly a few years ago, a heat-and-eat service. It was okay, but the portions were a bit small, the selection wasn’t particularly amazing, and it was kinda too expensive for what you get, we thought.

Back in January, I was on the search for a way to get healthier food into our eating habits. We were eating a lot of fast food, and when we did cook, it tended to be fried meats and tons of carbs, and I wanted something with less frying and more veggies involved.

Also, it had to be relatively easy. My boyfriend and I can cook pretty well – we spent years working in restaurants, for starters, so we’re no strangers to kitchens and cooking methods. But after a long day of work, it hits dinner time and we’re both kind of just done with the day. We don’t want to think about recipes or screw around trying to meal plan and dear gawd please don’t make me spend more than about 15 or 20 minutes trying to grocery shop or I will absolutely lose my mind, especially if I have to go do it in person.

(I honestly did not know how much I hated grocery shopping until I suddenly had the option to do it online. After a year+ of online shopping and grocery delivery, I get positively stabby when I have to go into an actual grocery store and deal with other goddamn people.)

So, after poking around online, we decided to try HelloFresh. We’d done a free trial with them several years ago, and thought it was okay, so we figured we’d give that a go for a few weeks and see what we thought of it.

Our first delivery showed up Jan. 12, and we’ve been loving it ever since.

So, let’s start with the cons.

The biggest downside of HelloFresh is that it’s a little expensive. We’re paying $70/week for three meals for two people, which works out to just a little under $12/meal. HelloFresh’s math says it’s $10/meal, plus $10 to ship the whole thing to you.

Which, fair, considering how fast things have to be shipped. Like, you can’t have meat and veggies sitting around in UPS’ or FedEx’s warehouse for three days before it rolls out.

And $10/person isn’t terrible, especially compared to how ridiculous grocery prices are right now.

But I’m reasonably sure that we could have cooked every single recipe we’ve been sent so far for at least a little cheaper.

The other big con is that sometimes the meat quality isn’t great. I’ve seen people online claiming their veggies were nasty when they got them, but so far ours have been pretty good. We had some slightly withered carrots a few weeks ago, but eh, we were roasting them anyway, so it didn’t matter that much. And the cuts of meat we’ve received haven’t been awful, but neither have they been particularly stunning. Like, they’re fine, mostly. Just y’know. They’re fine. We’ve gotten a couple of shitty pork or chicken cutlets (gristly-shitty, that is, not rotten-shitty).

One teeny little baby con is that the recipes are more work than you might be used to. There’s nothing hugely arduous or time-consuming happening, but you are going to be chopping, dicing, mincing, and zesting things, and mixing sauces, while babysitting stuff on the stove and/or in the oven. That’s no big to us – we know how to kitchen. But for other people it might be a learning curve.

And now, the pros.

These recipes are so good, people, and so easy, OMG. I think the worst meal we’ve eaten so far has rated a “Hey, that was pretty good.” Many of them have been downright amazing. And this week we did a pork noodle curry ramen thing that was out of this world, and so easy it was laughable. My boyfriend said “I think this is the best meal I’ve ever made in my own kitchen.”

Another pro is the lack of food waste. There’s only two of us, and it’s hard to shop and cook for two people without generating a lot of food waste. You end up overeating because you don’t want to waste what you’ve made, and we’re bad at leftovers, so even when we save some, it tends to go uneaten. HelloFresh has cured that issue. We rarely have extra left from the groceries (we do tend to end up with half-lemons or half-onions on the regular), and we’ve had extra food twice, and that was gone the next day both times.

A third check in the pro column has been the experience of cooking together. HelloFresh recipes tend to be a bit on the prep-intensive side – you end up chopping and dicing a lot of fresh veg, mixing sauces, etc., and the recipes tend to come together a lot more smoothly and faster if one person is prepping and the other is cooking. So we end up in the kitchen together dicing and mincing and reading the recipe back and forth and cooking and chatting and it’s just been really nice and enjoyable.

Like, we could do that without HelloFresh, and now that we are doing it we feel a little silly about not having done it more all these years, but the structure of HelloFresh enforces it for us, whereas the other stuff we’d been cooking tended not to require it.

And finally, one more in the pro column – we get to try so many new flavors with HelloFresh. HelloFresh’s recipes tend to favor a lot of Americanized international recipes, and particularly meals that are Indian-, Middle Eastern-, or Asian-inspired, and they are fucking delicious, people. It’s a style of cooking that we haven’t had a ton of experience with, so we’re learning some new things, and trying awesome new flavors, and it’s just been all-around cool.

In summary…

HelloFresh has been an overall win for us.

Like yeah, it’s more work than fish sticks and mac n’ cheese, and it’s a bit more expensive, and the ingredient quality has occasionally not wowed us, but we’re having a ton of fun cooking together and learning new recipes and eating amazing food made with fresh veggies and neat new spice flavors. And doing all that while not wasting a shitload of food.

So 🎉🎉🎉, good job, HelloFresh. You get to hang around our kitchen for awhile.

Throwback to March 1, 2020

Wear your masks and wash your hands, folks.

Here’s my Facebook post from March 1, 2020.

I actually still have the Tylenol Cold & Flu I bought. Never needed it. Haven’t caught COVID yet (that I know of), but also, thanks to masking, distancing, and handwashing, I haven’t had a cold or flu in two years.

Wear your masks and wash your hands, folks.

[Image Description, screencap of Facebook post from March 1, 2020: “We went to the store yesterday to get some supplies laid in & [The Store] was completely out of hand sanitizer. As far as I can tell from reading local social media, there isn’t a single bottle of hand sanitizer left in all of [My Town]. There IS, however, plenty of chicken noodle soup, cold medicine, & Kleenex. I feel like a lot of people are about to be REALLY annoyed with their supply choices in a couple weeks when they’re sick anyway & don’t have any soup, Kleenex, or Tylenol Cold & Flu.”]

Books I Read in February 2022

Didn’t read a damn thing in February. It was a busy month.

Didn’t read a damn thing in February. It was a busy month. When I did have spare time, I just watched TV – my brain wasn’t up for much else.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of re-reading The Dresden Files, though, so I might do that in March.

Cue the ‘It’s Time To Get Back To Normal’ bad takes.

As if a deadly disease is something you can just make go away by becoming bored of it.

Yascha Mounk, the guy who wrote “Cancel Everything” for the Atlantic back in March 2020, today writes, “Open Everything,” and judging by Twitter’s reaction, I assume we’re in for another tedious cycle of “the liberals are scared to go back to normal” like we got last summer.

Last week, we had governors whining to Biden that it’s time to “move away from the pandemic,” whatever the hell that’s even supposed to mean. Meanwhile, many of the states that still have mask mandates, including Oregon, are announcing plans to get rid of them.

As if a deadly disease is something you can just make go away by becoming bored of it.

Look. You want to get “back to normal”? Great. Me too. And good news! We know how to do that! It’s super easy:

  • Everyone who can gets vaccinated. That’s most people, FYI.
  • We fix indoor ventilation so that HVAC systems are filtering out viruses and exchanging air with the outdoors frequently enough.
  • We make indoors masking with at least surgical masks a social norm and everyone just does it.
  • Getting tested is fast, easy, frequent, and dirt cheap or free.

That’s it. Do that, and we can happy-ass our way right back to normal. It’s not even that hard. I mean, the HVAC thing’s gonna take some time, but we could be doing the rest right now.

We just aren’t. We just won’t. We decided it would just be easier if we ignored the whole thing and let several hundred thousand people die and who knows how many more become permanently disabled. We decided it would be easier if we just starved people back to work so we could get the economy churning again.

Because no one in charge of anything cares how many people die. They only care that they’re making money and going to dinner parties guilt free.

Screencap, @Yascha_Mounk: "It's time to end our pandemic purgatory. We should: * Lift all remaining restrictions on everyday activities * Finally allow children to take off their masks. * End pandemic theater like deep cleaning * Resume playdates and dinner parties without guilt."
Tweet Link.

Meat Loaf, Jim Steinman, & Learning About Your Favorites

Meat Loaf died late last night/early this morning.

I’m pretty sure I stumbled across Meat Loaf because of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I watched Rocky Horror with a friend who was a fan of Meat Loaf and pointed him out to me as Eddie, and mentioned his Bat Out Of Hell album, and that caused me to go find the album. Which I loved.

I want to say this wasn’t terribly long before Bat Out Of Hell II came out. A year before, two at the most. Bat Out Of Hell II was also fantastic.

I loved a lot of things about these albums – the epic, symphony-style rock opera sound, Meat Loaf’s voice, the fact that the albums both had themes and all the songs were sort of working together to tell a whole story. I think what I loved most about them was their ridiculousness, and how seriously they took that ridiculousness.

I mean, this is the big rock ballad from Bat Out Hell II, and just look at this thing. It’s all gothic and Dracula and operatic and Beauty and the Beast and Hunchback of Notre Dame here, and it’s absolutely ridiculous and totally earnest and sincere about it.

How can you not love something like that?

A few years later I figured out that almost everything I loved about these two albums was due to Jim Steinman, who died early in 2021. I mean, I loved Meat Loaf’s voice, but I’d looked up some of the guy’s other, non-Jim Steinman albums, and they were pretty blah. Meat Loaf could still sing, but the music was nothing special.

Jim Steinman is one of those musicians where once you know his style, you hear him in everything he does. He did Total Eclipse of The Heart, for instance.

He also did Air Supply’s Making Love Out Of Nothing At All.

Both are great examples of the whole “Oh, yep, that’s a Jim Steinman song” thing.

But I didn’t really know any of that until years, maybe decades later. What I knew, back when I owned Bat Out Of Hell and Bat Out Of Hell II on cassette tape in the early 90s, was that I loved Meat Loaf’s voice singing these songs. They have a special little spot in my heart.

Meat Loaf was a bit of a dick, apparently. I’ve never been the type of music fan that obsessively learns about their favorite musicians and reads everything about them, so I don’t know a lot about Meat Loaf, but my impression is that he’s the reason he and Jim Steinman had a big falling out and never worked together much. He was pissy about pandemic measures, too.

I actively try to avoid learning too much about any star, really. You’re not often going to be happy about what you find, and sometimes that ruins their art. Example: Alice Cooper. I used to fucking love Alice Cooper and everything he did. By all reports, he’s a hell of a nice guy and a genuinely decent person. He’s also a Republican and a fan of George W. Bush. Y’know, the war criminal. And now, every time I listen to his music, the fact that he stans a war criminal is right up front in my brain. Goddammit.

That happens a lot. I can’t watch Lethal Weapon anymore because Mel Gibson is a gigantic fuckstain. Kevin Spacey – huge nope. Harry Potter books. Used to love those. J.K. Rowling is a big dumb terf who shits on trans people constantly.

But, so far as I know, Jim Steinman was cool. Please don’t tell me if he wasn’t, because I fucking love these albums.