I have been reading Nanette’s blog, Vegan Greenling, about Greenling Delivery for awhile now with pure jealousy. Every week she gets a lovely box full of seasonal, locally grown, mostly organic produce and then she decides what to do with it while I go to nine different grocery stores trying to find every single stupid thing I need.
Since I was pretty much bedridden for the last month due to an injury, I thought I finally had a good excuse to eschew all that excessive grocery shopping and order the service. As luck would have it, I also got a huge discount on the service courtesy of the wonderful folks at Greenling, I ended up setting up and then canceling my order several times and talked to a few people in customer service and they were really great.
The whole service is kind of amazing. Of course, you can pick out groceries yourself like locally grown Swiss chard and radishes but you can also get all sorts of regular grocery products like coffee blended here in Austin and chocolate too. Being a lazy lush I was particularly excited to see that they had a nice beer and wine selection that you could even filter by if it was vegan! Sadly, none of the wines offered were vegan and hopefully in the future they will pick some up like Vegan Vine.
The super cool part, though, is that you can also select ready made boxes. The local box, obviously, contains whatever farmers have a lot of at the moment. It is kind of like a CSA box, except since Greenling works with so many local farms you get more variety then any one farm. They also have a bunch of recipe kits including four different all vegan Engine 2 Diet themed boxes which is what I decided to try (after changing my mind 9000 times). Box Two had portobella fajita tacos, vegetable enchiladas, lentil soup, sweet potatoes with greens, and mac & not cheese so I decided it was the perfect box to order.
I was stoked to see my green box filled with labeled ingredients. Everything was divided by the day you would make it and most items were pre-chopped. It also came with a little recipe booklet that even had pictures of how the final dish would turn out. You don’t have to do any measuring except sometime you use half of an item, like for my portabella fajitas I reserved half the can of black beans.
The problem for me was that since they were keeping things soooo easy some of the flavor was sacrificed. I have never read the engine 2 book so I don’t know if this was the fault of the recipes or the if it was just the recipes they had for the greenling service. The directions were literally, “warm the beans in a pot” and that’s it! No spices or cooking techniques were added. For the fajitas you just saute the mushrooms and the onion in cooking spray, warm up the beans, and dump on the toppings so the tacos ended fairly plain.
I liked the next days greens with cashew sauce, roasted peppers and sweet potatoes better even though it was probably simpler. The cashew sauce was premade and the instructions were just to roast the potatoes, peppers and onions. The greens were boiled and then topped with the sauce. Since roasting brings out so much natural flavor and the sauce was pretty good I liked this meal a lot. My only problem was that the kale was cut into strips crosswise without removing the stem so the fibrous stalk was in every bite. I also learned that Dan likes the fibrous stalk! What a world.
The rest of the meals were all similar to these first two, and for me I would have had to doctor them a lot with herbs and spices to really enjoy them. I did love how colorful and fresh everything was. In all reality, though, I am a total foodie and used to spending at least an hour making dinner every night so my expectations might have been just too high for an engine 2 style menu. I guess I’ll never be plant strong. This box would be great for parents, engine 2 dieters, single people looking to eat healthy and easily, or anyone that didn’t want to spend time in the kitchen or money on eating out or buying prepackaged meals.
For me, the part that takes the most planning and the most wonderful convenience of this service was that you use every single bit of the groceries. How many times have I followed a recipe that used a tablespoon of coconut milk or handful of cilantro only to forget about the rest until it get disgusting in the back of the fridge and Dan and I argue about who should throw it out. I have tried many times to plan everything I am going to make for a week but I have never done such a great job as Greenling. I kept thinking, if only they used a better cookbook like Appetite for Reduction for the inspiration, it would be the most glorious service of all time and I would undoubtably become a regular customer. As it stands, I probably wouldn’t get a meal kit again but definitely the local box. With wine. And coffee. And olives…..