Sun Basket Overview
Sun Basket is a meal delivery kit of three dinner recipes, with ingredients and instructions, that arrives direct to your door every week. This meal kits are geared toward people who want to eat a bit more healthfully - for themselves and the environment. The company sources organic ingredients and its globally-inspired recipes accommodate even some of the most challenging dietary restrictions. Healthy, delicious, and good for the environment? Seems too good to be true, right? We gave Sun Basket a try to see if it could deliver on all three promises.
Sounds like any other meal kit, right? But it's actually so much more: In addition to dinners, Sun Basket also has breakfast, lunch, and snack options as well as a variety of groceries like proteins (wild fish, shrimp, scallops, beef, chicken, tofu), organic chocolates, fresh pasta, and more.
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How It Works: Sign Up in Minutes
Sun Basket's meal kit subscription is easy to use. After creating an account and choosing how many people we planned to serve and how many meals we wanted per week, we simply had to pick a plan. Since we wanted all the options, we chose Chef's Choice. But for those with dietary restrictions such as Paleo eaters or diabetics, Sun Basket offers a lengthy list of plans. There's also a Family Menu that offers kid-friendly recipes designed to serve four adults with leftovers for $10.99 per serving. The lower price and bigger servings make this plan a great value, but the options are more limited.
Also, it's not obvious, but you can actually order up to eight of each kit if you're planning to serve a crowd. Just click on the number that appears on the recipe you've selected.
Sun Basket delivers to almost all zip codes and kits containing all the ingredients needed to cook the meals (except salt, pepper, and olive oil) are delivered once a week in an insulated cardboard box. We were able to select our preferred day when signing up, but not the time. Our box arrived in the morning and we let it sit in the shade until about 6 p.m. before we opened it to see how well the ingredients held up. They were all still cold and fresh.
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Each week there are several entrees to choose from, including vegetarian and vegan options. If you sign up for a particular dietary plan the company will filter out what doesn't work with your diet. If you want to avoid things like soy or shellfish, you can adjust your preferences. This is especially important if you let Sun Basket send you the default recipes each week instead of choosing them yourself.
The recipes include labels like vegetarian, paleo, or speedy, and each offers the option to upgrade to organic meat or swap the protein, say, for salmon instead of chicken. These changes and additions all cost a bit extra per serving.
Clicking on the photo showed us the full recipe, nutrition information, allergens, ingredients, instructions, estimated cook time (usually 25-40 minutes), plus cooking tips, including how to let kids help. Dishes tended to use global influences and were a bit more exciting than the usual burgers and pasta that populate some other meal kit services. Pestos were often made with arugula or sweet peas, rather than just basil. Vegetarian dishes often incorporated eggs, tofu, and tempeh for protein, instead of just lots of cheese. As a result, everything looked interesting enough to try.
The Cooking Process
For the most part, the recipes were easy to make and didn't require advanced techniques.
The recipes were well-written with good visual and timing cues. Cook times averaged 30 minutes and none went over 40. Ready-made components like stir-fry sauces and pestos sped things up considerably since we didn't have to mix them ourselves. Most recipes used just a couple of bowls, a pot, and a pan, and portions were generous.
We did have one small issue. The recipe for Johnnycakes called for two grated zucchinis and we could tell the large zucchinis that came in our box were going to yield way more than we needed so we didn't use it all. A measurement for the zucchini would have been helpful.
Support Materials - Recipe Book Instead of Cards
Instead of individual recipe cards, Sun Basket includes a recipe booklet with all of that week's recipes in it, even the ones you didn't sign up for. Personally, we like the simplicity of a card better. But for those who want to recreate other recipes on their own, the book is a bonus.
The recipes were easy to follow with step-by-step photos. All of the recipes are available online and in the app, too, including bonus recipes for things like desserts and drinks. But you'll have to follow along on your screen because Sun Basket's recipes aren't downloadable or printable. Beginners should definitely spend time clicking through the “Explore” section of the website, where how-to videos show everything from how to cut an onion to how to sear salmon.
Sun Basket likes to tout its “eco-friendly” packaging, but we found that it's really not much different from most other meal kit services. The big cardboard box can be recycled curbside. The ingredients for each meal are bundled into paper bags (HelloFresh does this as well), which are curbside recyclable, too. But inside the paper bags, there's plenty of plastic. Our herbs, eggs and cherry tomatoes came in plastic clamshells, but most everything else was bundled in plastic bags. Some cities allow recycling of these types of plastic, but not ours, so we had to throw these away. However, some of the dressings and components, like stir-fry sauces, were in handy screw-top containers that we washed and saved for other uses.
Because we ordered our kits in the summer, the insulation for our box was intended for high heat zones. It was made with recycled denim fibers, which can be taken to a recycling center that accepts clothes. Sadly, the fibers were sealed in large plastic bags that had to be tossed. But during cooler months the insulation is shredded recycled paper, which is definitely curbside recyclable.
The gel packs were made with a combination of water and cotton. Its plastic cover is a problem, but the contents are biodegradable and can be poured into the trash or the compost bin.
The Bottom Line
We absolutely loved Sun Basket for the first few months we used it. It saved us time and money and got me excited to cook different things. After a few months, we weren't feel as excited about it and stopping using it has pushed me to cook more creatively. But there are still lasting impacts: Knowing how much money I saved with my Sun Basket subscription has made me think more about what I spend my money on when I go to the grocery store. Bottom line: If you're interested in trying it, it's definitely worth it.