Subscribing My Way Out Of A Food Rut

Novelty Services Don’t Take the Place of my regular shopping — in fact, they often encourage me to buy more than I normally would.

By Kimberly Miller
Writer, Actress

There was a time when I considered myself a bit of a gourmand. I read food blogs and cookbooks for fun, watched the Food Network religiously, followed celebrity chefs on social media, and read their memoirs to live vicariously through their escapades.

Each week I spent half my weekend (and paycheck) hopping from shop to shop in search of the perfect ingredients for the complicated, restaurant-worthy dishes I’d make during the week ahead. Making beautiful food was what I did to relax after a long day of work.

Dinner these days is the opposite of relaxing. Each night I make three different meals: one that’s meatless, high in protein and low in carbs for my bodybuilder/vegetarian husband; something “not yucky” for my toddler who considers dinner time a battle Royale; and for myself I make something without soy or dairy since I’m nursing a baby with food allergies. Needless to say I’m just making the same easy to prepare stuff night after night after night.

Insert yawn here.

It’s because of this food rut that I decided to take a chance on a mystery produce delivery subscription. Fruits and vegetables are the only foods everyone in my family can eat at the same time, and I desperately needed to shake things up.

The first box did not disappoint. Garlic scapes! Swiss chard! Teeny tiny sweeter than sweet mangoes! Everything included was stuff that was either too small or too misshapen to sell well in a regular market.

But to me, it was the inspiration I needed to enjoy cooking again. Something I hadn’t done in a long time. I could make my own compound butter with the garlic scapes. Steam and sauté the Swiss chard and serve with a beautiful fillet of salmon, make a mango lassi to go along with the aloo gobi I’d make from the potatoes and fresh cauliflower in the box.

Hooked, I immediately signed up for a weekly subscription to the service, but after about a month realized that while I loved the novelty and the inspiration it provided me, I also craved control over the contents of my fridge. We’re a family with two working parents and two kids — I need a plan! SO now I get a box every two months instead, enough to revive my zeal for cooking, but not so much that it goes to waste because we just don’t have the time to get creative every night.

Novelty services like this one don’t take the place of my regular shopping — in fact, they often encourage me to buy more than I normally would — what they do is break up the monotony of a yawn-worth grocery list.

While I only get a surprise produce bo on my doorstep every couple of months, I’m now taking more chances when I roam the aisles of my regular store each week. Sure, my toddler may not like kabocha squash, but he won’t know unless he tries it.

Read more from Issue 5 of California Grocer.