As part of my ongoing saga to improve my pathetic bench press, I’ve been continuing my weekly trek out to the suburbs on Saturday afternoons to bench with the Hostyle Conditioning crew. My bench is coming along nicely, but something more interesting has happened as a result. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the bus stop to the gym, and every time I walk past SupperWorks. Their sign simply says that they are “Taking the work out of supper” but is otherwise nondescript.
I finally remembered to look them up on the web once I got home last Saturday. The premise behind their business is simple: you show up prepare and a bunch of meals. You take your food home, freeze it and then cook it during the week when you’re short on time. It’s perfect for people like me who generally skive off when it comes to cooking during the week and then get fat from eating take out too often. Since you’re doing some of the prep work, you still have some liberty to customize the recipes and there are enough options that you won’t end up with something unpalatable. As an added bonus, the magical elves at SupperWorks take care of all of the chopping and clean-up, which will never happen in my own kitchen. So, minimal work and lots of food: it was almost an automatic sell.
The only sticking point for me was the price. Although cheaper than the other prepared meal services that I’m aware of, and despite the fact that each serving works out to about $5, I was unwilling to commit +$200 for my first order. I live off a student’s shoestring budget and that’s a lot of money to commit up front for something that might not turn out so well. Luckily, Caitlin, who has also been coming to drink the Hostyle kool-aid with me, was interested in trying it with me and we went and checked it out. The total cost for both of us was $194. We split each of meals, which normally make 6 servings, so that we each got to take home half of the food home – much more spinster friendly. The six meals we chose to make were:
- Burgundy Beef Stew
- Mushroom Smothered Sirloin Roast
- Pan-Seared Basa with Tomato Cream Sauce
- Quinoa Veggie Pitas
- Rosemary Pork Tenderloin with Apple Sauce
- Turkey Pumpkin Chili
I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet since our visit happened so recently, so I can’t comment on the taste just yet. But we tried to choose some of the healthier options and avoided many of the pasta-based dishes or things that were breaded and coated in cheese. Even the vegetarian option that we selected – the quinoa pitas – seemed to be pretty heavy on the carbs, which is somewhat disappointing. Don’t get me wrong: I’m excited to have real food to eat, instead of resorting to a box of pop tarts for supper every night. But I feel like the marketing of these meals appeals to the nuclear generation of mothers: food is healthy and wholesome if you cook it yourself. It’s kind of like paleo but with more cheese and wine and carbs, and no one is actually paying attention to the calorie count. To some extent I agree with this philosophy, but it can be abused and it’s probably not a coincidence that the same generation is suffering from an obesity epidemic. But I digress.
We’ll see how these meals fit into my schedule. I don’t need to do much for my December competition besides maintain my weight, so I’m hoping that doing IF with one of my regular lunch options, a decent pre-workout snack and then one of my SupperWorks dinners will keep me on track without forcing me into the obsessive calorie counting that happened before my last meet. And our experience at SupperWorks was positive enough that we re-booked to go back and make more meals in December, so I thought I’d talk a bit more about what was involved with the actual prepping.
We went on a Thursday night and spent just under an hour at the store. When we arrived, we were offered drinks and aprons. We skipped the wine this time, but I do feel it is something that would contribute to the overall experience. Being a true foodie, Caitlin brought her own apron which was much more fashionable than the standard issue. Being inept in the kitchen, I wore my plain white apron backwards.
We were then given a tour of the space, which was surprisingly small but very workable. We worked our way to each of the 6 stations for the recipes that we’d pre-ordered and mixed all of the ingredients according the instructions that were posted. Overall the recipes were straightforward and simple, although things like pork tenderloin and pumpkin chili are a bit more adventurous than my typical recipe rotation. Each meal ended up in a ziploc bag, with a label that outlined the cooking instructions, and we stored them in our space in the fridge while we worked. Again, we each got 3 servings for each of the recipes and from what I can see, these were generous servings! We left with 18 meals each, and it’s a good thing I’ve spent the past 9 months improving my functional strength, because I was loaded up while walking back to the bus stop.
Funny enough, I had a coworker who told me she’d been going to SupperWorks for years and loved their service. I enjoyed my experience, although the scale, my wallet and my taste buds have yet to weigh-in on the success of their service. We’ll be going back in December and then I’ll re-evaluate, but it was nice to have someone else wash the dishes this month.