BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Lisa Sim and Therese DeMouy volunteer to serve lunch at their children's school. When at home, both women discovered they'd been trying the same new concept: Meals delivered ready to cook; not just warm it over, but cook it from scratch.
Lisa Sim and her physician husband James have two children, 9-year-old son Baylen and 11-year-old daughter Ellie. Lisa tells me that her husband is the main chef of the house.
"I'm not much of a cook," Lisa confessed. "My husband actually does most of the cooking, and I wanted to learn how to cook and try to give them healthier food rather than grabbing fast food after school. I had seen Hello Fresh in an ad and so I thought I'd give them a try."
According to Hello Fresh's website, it was founded in 2011 with distribution centers in New Jersey, Dallas and San Francisco.
"Basically, they mail you three meals for two people, and you have an option to do two or four. We decided to give it a try with just two people, since I do have picky eaters," Sim said, figuring her kids might not want to try something new. "We started that, and this has been our third week trying it, and the meals are great!"
I asked her, "How all-inclusive are those boxes that arrive in the mail?"
"They send you all the ingredients, the recipe, basically what you need to provide is the salt, pepper, and olive oil or butter. That's all you need to provide," Sims said.
Therese DeMouy's experience sounds similar, but a different company. DeMouy signed up for Blue Apron. Word of mouth for Blue Apron is spreading through DeMouy's acquaintances, partly with DeMouy's help. She loves the convenience.
"Blue Apron has an iPhone app that I can look at the schedule and see what's coming for about the next month," DeMouy said. "If you see one that you don't want, you can substitute. It's kind of neat."
Both women chose the smaller 2-person, 3 times-a-week meal schedule, but find that the food can actually stretch to include children. Sim pays $69 a week with Hello Fresh. DeMouy pays $60 with Blue Apron.
Lisa said the instructions are so clear and concise, she's now finally learning how to cook!
"So this is one way for me to learn how to cook," Sim said. "Learn different things to cook and try new things that are fresh and healthier, and the ingredients are so much better than prepared food. We're not talking lots of butter, not lots of salt. In fact, they say salt and pepper are at your discretion, a pinch here and a pinch there."
"The best part about it is that there's just enough; enough that I need," Therese DeMouy said. "I don't have to buy a whole head of lettuce or an entire bag of celery. They also have some ingredients that I wouldn't necessarily be able to find, like Thai Basil."
Sim said she was concerned about the home deliveries in the South Louisiana summer heat.
"But what they do is guarantee freshness for 24 hours from your door," Sims explained. "So they give you a certain day of delivery and it's either Wednesday or Thursday for my area, and they d rop it off somewhere between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The produce is fresh, and the meat will come in an insulated cardboard box with three ice packs to keep it cold."
I asked Lisa if ordering steak drives up the cost per week, and she said no, that it's a flat rate. Therese said the same is true of Blue Apron.
DeMouy said you answer a survey to set up your family's preferences. That way you'll never receive the meat that everyone hates. Now, a few weeks into the Blue Apron experience, she's only had one complaint.
"I had one pack of chicken that was fresh, but it was cut up into pieces that were way different sizes, and some was not cut correctly (wrong shapes) and had a lot of gristle and fat. They gave me a $20 credit!"
Her personal favorite, so far, was stir-friend chicken with ginger and tinkerbell peppers.
"Have you seen baby bell peppers?" DeMouy asked. "They have yellow, red, orange and green tiny peppers. It also had Japanese eggplant, Thai basil, ginger and garlic, and it was served with coconut rice."
It was so good, she's now made it more than once.
There's been success at the Sim home as well.
"Even my child, who doesn't like vegetables, has tried it and said he likes it! And the other day when we didn't have Hello Fresh, I started something and [Baylen] said, 'Mom, I would rather have Hello Fresh than your cooking." Sims laughed.