Last week, I had the unexpected pleasure of trying out five days of pre-made vegan meals through a new delivery service called Fancy Plants.
Fancy Plants is a brand-new startup currently serving the Portland metro area, run by my friend Kristen and her husband. I’m putting that right here at the top so you know three things: I’m not being paid for this, I’m unabashedly biased (I love Kristen!), and if you don’t live in Portland you are out of luck for now, my friends, because this food is awesome. (Also, how cute is their logo?)
I wanted to write about my experience because I never thought a meal delivery service would be for me, and I’m betting a lot of people out there feel the same way.
I’m budget conscious, a little particular about what I eat, serious about reducing packaging, and stubbornly convinced I need to prepare meals for my family myself, at least six days a week, most of the year. In short, it always sounded like something for busy, wealthy people, and as a stay-at-home mom managing a single-income household, I never really considered it an option.
Fancy Plants changed those preconceptions.
I learned that a meal delivery service can be affordable if you use it to supplement, not cover, your weekly meal planning. It also hit all of my criteria for yummy, healthy food. And because a primary piece of Fancy Plants’ mission is to reduce the environmental impact of our eating habits, they’ve put a lot of thought into packaging and delivering the food sustainably.
When I’m really on my game, I plan my meals out in advance and shop with a list and a budget. If I’m lucky, dinner also supplies us with lunch for the next day, but there are definitely weeks where that doesn’t happen consistently.
This week was one of them.
This is the busiest part of the year for my husband’s business, which meant I had less help with our toddler and around the house. That made it a little more challenging to plan and prep dinner and make sure he had something healthy to take for lunch, at a time when he needed extra fuel to power him through the day. So it was the perfect week to find a sleek little Fancy Plants cooler waiting on our porch on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, with beautiful lunches ready to go.
And after wrangling my toddler in and out of her carseat, through library story times, around the grocery store, and on too many potty trips to count, you better believe I was ready for a refuel when we finally made it home for lunch.
Most of the time, I’m hurrying to put groceries away and put lunch on the table for my daughter before she pulls my legs off entirely, and I don’t get to my own lunch until after I’ve put her down for a nap. And then it’s cold leftovers from last night, a hasty salad with whatever’s-in-the-fridge on top, or a PB&J.
Can I just tell you how nice it was to have a fancy lunch waiting just for me?
Really. Really. Nice.
Here’s what we had and what we thought:
Veggie Pasta with a Tomato Basil Cashew Cream Sauce (me)
We don’t have a microwave, so I heated the noodles in a saucepan for a few minutes. I loved the texture of the quinoa noodles and the creamy sauce. Fresh basil, vegan cheese, and red pepper garnishes made it extra special.
Gumbo with Mini Corn Bread Muffins (hubby)
He was impressed with the blend of fresh vegetables and grains, with really flavorful mushrooms. He said it instantly looked appetizing and had tons of flavor. His words: “I ate it all up.”
Arugula, Apple and Pomegranate Salad + Corn Chowder with Cilantro Lime Oil (me)
This was my favorite. I get in a rut with my salads and the peppery tang of arugula with crunchy apples was refreshing. The corn chowder had a little heat, and the hint of cilantro was unexpected and yummy.
Burrito Bowl (hubby)
You can’t really go wrong here, especially for my husband, who gets the Brian’s Bowl every time at Por Que No. Where he usually gets carne asada, this vegan version still hit the spot for him and he said it felt healthier, too.
Continental Breakfast: Banana muffin and fruit (toddler)
She had half for breakfast, half with lunch, and ate every last bite. Mamas of toddlers, need I say more?
I could write a whole separate post about my attempts at eating vegan. Ultimately, it’s just not something I’ve been able to sustain 100% for my family. I’d say I prepare 20% vegan meals, 40% vegetarian, and 40% omnivore.
I like that Fancy Plants made it easy to increase the ratio of vegan meals in our week– without my having to think about it.
Kristen, thank you for this opportunity to try out your beautiful food! I wish you BIG success with this impressive new start up.
Portland: Go try this now. Give yourself a little extra support with a few plant-based meals this week, prepared thoughtfully and presented beautifully. Just for you.
Photos courtesy of Fancy Plants, and Lyle Poulin. 😉