I feel like the thing I became most notorious for in debate circles was my truly tragic relationship to food. Undergraduate Lincoln reached bizarre heights of pickiness.
Did I eat any ethnic food? Absolutely not. What about white versions of ethnic food? Let me put it this way: I had never eaten something on a Mexican restaurant menu that wasn’t a quesadilla. It took me 22 years to eat a taco from start to finish. So this disposition obviously precluded Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Hibachi, Spanish, Cuban, Cajun etc.
But it was worse. I strictly ate the worst versions of the foods I ate. I only ate spaghetti and no other Italian food. I loved Olive Garden. I ate medium well steaks. I loved Applebees. I ate burgers with nothing but ketchup and only from fast food restaurants. I ate at Boston Market until they started going out of business (I still do that one).
But it is even worse. There were whole swaths of totally normal food I wouldn’t touch. Baked potatoes? Fuck those. Almonds? Never had them. Gravy? Not once. Avocado? On no occasion. Yogurt? Not at any time. I literally never ate one whole orange. So of course, I didn’t fuck with mangos or raspberries or pineapple.
Thankfully, I have reformed and have done so at an exponential rate. I now eat anything once and have tried most major foods from pretty much every region of the world. All food is good, being picky is stupid, life is too short.
What does any of this have to do with anything? Because I am going to make a food-based recommendation and I didn’t want to give anyone the impression I was pulling a fast one on them. I know I am come from scary beginnings, but a lot has changed since I was an undergrad.
The other bizarre food habit I had for most of my adult life is the rate I ate at restaurants. From 22 to 27 I mainly ate two meals a day. The vast majority of those meals came from restaurants. Like, over 80% at least. My longest consecutive streak of never making any food in my home and not going to a grocery store is 7 consecutive months.
Eventually this unhealthy and colossal waste of time and money caught up to me. I had to learn how cooking worked. I had to learn how to utilize the grocery store (some people love going to it, I hate it). I had to learn consistency. I also wanted to improve my health, so calories and macros (carbs, fat, protein) also became a consideration.
I began thinking of food along four axis that compete with each other. How long does food take? How good does it taste? How healthy is it? How expensive is it? It is difficult to strike a good balance between time, taste, health and cost.
Eating out is rough on cost and health, surprisingly weak on time, but is good for taste.
Cooking is good on cost and health for the most part, but very variable on time and taste depending on your skills in the kitchen. My skills are not so good. I was spending too much time producing mediocre tasting things. It also didn’t help that internet recipes aren’t really designed for cooking for one.
I am always willing to try new things to hit a home run on my 4 metrics. Usually that involved buying kitchen gadgets. Sous vide is a great one. Even a mediocre cook like me can’t mess it up. Crockpot is another. Instant pot seems like it should be good, but I haven’t wrapped my head around it. I have many other devices I have used between 0 and 1 times.
I have also tried the meal delivery services like Blue Apron. The fact that it costs more than groceries for me to end up cooking again made it untenable. The best target audience for these products seems to be people who already cook regularly looking for variety. Not really a sustainable option to make up the majority of your meals.
Then, in the great wisdom of the Internet algorithm, I came across a thing called Freshly. This is a meal delivery service, but it does not require cooking. You just heat up the food they send you.
So, yes, it is a rich man’s microwave dinner. The thing about it is…they taste GOOD. I have had trash frozen microwave meals before, and it is really unfair to compare the two. It is more apt to compare Freshly to similar just cooked foods. The meals are designed not to be frozen and eaten within one week of receiving the delivery.
The ad I saw was $20 off your first two orders. The typical rate is 6 meals for $60. $10 a meal is a bit cheaper than Blue Apron et al. when I looked into it, and on par with eating out. The discount on the first two orders made it $7 a meal which is a great deal. The meals are single serving usually between 500 and 600 calories.
This is what I ordered the second time, all good:
They have a subscription service that costs $99 up front and 20% off all orders. That makes it $8 a meal. That makes it much more reasonable on cost, but you obviously have to plan to use the service a lot. I think it does very well on taste (better than I could do without significant effort). It does great on time (always less than 5 minutes prepare time). And it is very good on health.
I think this service is best for:
1. single people who hate cooking or are bad at it.
2. people trying to phase out eating out at lunch or dinner
The main downsides:
1. Some of the meals if you don’t eat them really fast get a little cold. The nature of microwave cooking I suppose. Each package says let it sit there for 2 mins, but I have found this is setting you up for failure. Food gets cold toward the end of eating if you let it sit there for the whole two minutes
2. Lots of packaging, a good chunk of which is not recyclable. I don’t know how other meal kit services do on this front.
3. Not sure how well it scales to 2 or more people, I haven’t really looked at those options.
If you want to use this service use this link: http://refer.freshly.com/s/Lincoln79
You get the $40 off deal for the first two orders.
Did I dedicate a whole blog post just to shill for this random company? On one hand, yes, I did. On the other, I found that this service actually helped me on a variety of food fronts by displacing fast food crap with meals that are actually healthy and taste surprisingly good.
I also needed to exorcise the demons of my eating past. Update your priors people and let’s go to dope restaurants of any variety when we are at debate tournaments.
I am Lincoln, head coach at UK and coach with Montgomery Bell Academy. This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.