Friday, July 1, 2016

Cooking Lessons for Kids, via Home Chef!

Becca here, returning to the blog!  I actually do use Thrice the Spice weekly at least, to look up one of the many recipes we've posted over the years.  My older two children, ages 11 later this month, and 8, have had a huge interest in expanding their cooking repertoire beyond the basic scrambled eggs, pancakes, and sandwiches that they are proficient at making alone.  My daughter was able to take some middle school culinary classes at our local community college this summer, further whetting her appetite (pun intended, ha!) as well as that of her brother that was still to young to attend.  I received an advertisement about trying out Home Chef for a $30 discount (that you can receive as well, along with my kids getting a bit of referral credit, in the interest of full disclosure, by using my links in this blog post!!  More about that later) and thought we would give it a try.
The basic premise is that Home Chef mails you a box of fresh ingredients, exactly enough to make a meal, and a step by step tutorial on how to prepare an amazing dinner.  While not intended for children, we have used it like a cooking lesson in a box, and it's pretty much one of my favorite things ever.  In fact, along with a trip to 'anywhere in Africa' and Costa Rice, donations to a specific refugee camp, or an orphanage, etc. my daughter asked for more Home Chef boxes for her upcoming birthday in a couple of weeks!!

Here is one of the meals they prepared, totally on their own!!  The only time I provided any assistance at all, was when they came and asked me what they should use to zest a lemon.  Other than that, I literally didn't even step into the kitchen, and this is what they served up!  It was SO delicious, definitely restaurant quality (and better than a lot of restaurants I've had!) and even my 'picky about food texture' husband said that the salmon was cooked perfectly.  This was the "Cedar Roasted Salmon with Root Vegetable Slaw" and looked nearly identical to the front of the cooking tutorial card they provided.  See below for a full review on the ordering and delivery process, and posts over the next few days on the other recipes they prepared.  Plus, I do have some new family favorite recipes of ours to share on the blog in the coming weeks as well!  

The week before my first scheduled delivery, I was sent an email, telling me the three meals Home Chef had selected for me, based on the few questions I answered on my profile.  They offer meat free, seafood based, beef based, low-carb, etc. options on your food profile.  When I answered my quick 'taste profile' questions, I selected beef and seafood as my two main items, as well as the low carb diet, since we prefer to eat vegetables over 'empty' carbs when possible.  I had a window of about 24 hours I believe, after receiving the email, to click on it to change my menu selections.  Out of curiosity, I have clicked to check out the other menu options both times we have received deliveries, and while all of the 10(!!) meal options for the week have looked delicious, I have stuck with the three they had chosen for me.  Because we are using this as a culinary class for the kids, I chose to cook things that were a bit 'fancier' or offered foods & skills that I know they would like, but we don't commonly eat at home. So, while the chicken & pasta dishes looked amazing, that was a skill I felt like I could more easily teach them, and not something new and adventurous like they are wanting to learn.

The delivery arrived at my house via FedEx, in the middle of the day.  They use insulated boxes, careful packing, and lots of ice packs (see more below!) so that you don't have to be home to receive the box right when it arrives.  Our first box said that it weighed 19 pounds, and is taking up a lot of the surface of my stove top, for size reference.  Immediately upon opening it were our recipe tutorials.

Our first delivery also came with a 3-ring binder, to collect the recipe tutorial cards in.  On the back of each full page (8.5x11) recipe card, are detailed instructions, including 6-8 photos of the process, a note from the chef, etc.  Approximate cooking times and difficulty levels are included on the front also, as well as the amounts of items needed, so we can duplicate the recipe at home with our own ingredients, which I love.  The salmon was considered to be an 'intermediate' level recipe, while our other two in the first box were 'easy' (Flat Iron Steak with Bleu Cheese Butter with green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes, and Thyme and Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin with apple cider pan sauce and broccoli mash, reviews with photos coming as well!)

 Directly under the recipe tutorials, is a thick, kind of foam feeling (although it's a biodegradable substance, maybe paper based?), lined in plastic, layer that surrounds the entire box, top, bottom, and sides, for insulation.  The day we received this box was nearly 100 degrees F, and everything was still very, very chilled, including ice packs having cores of ice still in them.  All of the non-meat ingredients for each recipe are packaged together and clearly labeled with what recipe they are for.   Your first box also includes a guide to different types of cuts (julienne, dice, chop, etc.), basic guidelines for kitchen equipment, safe meat cooking temperatures, and how to recycle and dispose of the Home Chef packaging materials.  This box actually had 7 nice quality, reusable ice packs that we have already re-used in our cooler we take with snacks, and the safe food & formula that we take everywhere for our son with a GI disorder.

After another layer of ice packs was the meat.  I found the portion sizes for everything to be very generous.  For reference, this delivery was three meals, for two people.

 The kids learned a skill I haven't even known how to do before; they soaked thin sheets of cedar in water, then wrapped it around the raw salmon, and secured it with baker's twine before baking.  All of the necessary supplies were included in the Home Chef box that was delivered!

The carrots were preshredded, but everything else the children got to prepare themselves.  I was (at their request!) staying out of the kitchen, so I didn't get photos of the whole process, but they started with whole golden beets, a new food to them, whole garlic cloves to peel and mince, etc.

The kids' slicing and dicing, getting ready to make the marinade for the root vegetable slaw!

The cost per meal is definitely comparable to a restaurant meal, at right about $10 per person per plate.  I would say that the portion sizes are definitely on the large size as well; we actually split these two meals into halves, and it was a great portion size for four people on a hot summer night, with a piece of fruit for dessert.  And the food quality has been better than most restaurants also.  While that is definitely significantly more than our typical grocery budget, we felt like it was a bargain using the introductory coupon code to get $30 off our first delivery, making it just under $30 for our first three meals (each with two generous servings), including free shipping, nice quality recipe tutorials that truly are beginner friendly, definitely a teaching tool, as well as the 3-ring binder, & kitchen guide with your first Home Chef delivery. Honestly, I didn't expect to be so impressed, or for my kids to love it so much, and add a request for more deliveries to their birthday wishlists.

Rather than a higher-than-typical meal, Home Chef has really been a great, inexpensive culinary class for my children, that they can do, and learn to clean up after, in our own home, no running all over town with five kids and hanging out for a few hours while they're taking a class and we're waiting to pick them up.  Plus, they are super proud to serve the family and show off the new skills they've learned.  We homeschool our kids, and I think cooking is a vital part of their education, one that my daughter is known for often reminding me that they will all need to learn how to do, maybe even more than algebra ;)

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have, or hear about your experience if you've tried Home Chef, feel free to leave a comment below.  And, again, you can get $30 off of your first delivery (and we get some credit towards more deliveries) by using this link.  This was how we first tried the service, making it just over $29 for 3 different meals for 2 people.

Skipping a week, or cancelling the subscription entirely is super easy, literally two clicks of a button from your Home Chef account.

1 comment:

  1. Becca, this is complete magic! So beautiful! I love how bright and colorful the dishes look! Thanks for sharing. I may have to look into this! : )