Saturday, January 22, 2022

CookUnity Review and $40 off Coupon

I've tried a lot of meal subscription services where you still have to cook the meal yourself, but CookUnity is the first I've tried where everything is already prepared. Here are my thoughts!

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love! Post contains referral links.

CookUnity sends pre-made, pre-packaged meals made by a diverse group of professional chefs. You can select from four to 16 meals each week and skip any weeks where you don't want a delivery. You can pause (for up to eight weeks) or cancel your subscription at any time, too.

The plan is a bit pricey and I recommend it for people who order takeout often, as it comes down to equivalent the cost of doing that a few times a week. Here is the price breakdown of meals per week:
  • 16 meals: $10.49 per meal ($167.84 total)
  • 12 meals: $10.99 per meal ($131.88 total)
  • Six meals: $11.99 per meal ($71.94 total)
  • Four meals: $13.49 per meal ($53.96 total)
You can change your number of meals received for any shipment, so if you start with six but then realize you only want four, you can easily change between any option for the next shipment.

The CookUnity menu changes weekly and has meals to fit different dietary needs, but this isn't specifically a low-calorie or health-driven subscription. There's so much choice, though, that you can easily pick what you need to meet your preferences.

Unfortunately, CookUnity does not ship nationwide--yet. They're available to most of the East coast, south, midwest, and some of California. You can input your ZIP code to find out if they deliver to you.

My favorite thing about CookUnity is the diversity of food available. I was so happy to see Korean, Mexican, Cuban, Indian, and many other cuisines featured. I chose to receive six meals in my first box.

First is the Chicken Tinga Tacos by chef Akhtar Nawab. The chicken portion was huge and more than enough for the four tortillas (I had it for leftovers the next day). It came with the chicken, obviously, and guacamole and cilantro for garnish. The guac was my favorite part, it was smooth and delicious. I wish the chicken had a bit more flavor, but overall it was a very good meal.

I'm Korean-American but I rarely ever order Korean foods from meal kits because they're rarely ever even close to being authentic. I don't expect full authenticity, but one of my pet peeves is seeing a "Korean" meal with absolutely no actual Korean ingredients. Luckily, CookUnity has chef Esther Choi on their team and I picked her Bulgogi Bibimbap. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this reheated. I was worried the rice would be too dry or tough, but it kept well and this was a delicious, comforting bowl of bibimbap with a hearty portion of bulgogi beef.

Next is the Filipino dish, Pancit Bihon with Chinese sausage, from chef Jordan Andino. I don't have access to a lot of Filipino food in my area so I was very excited to try this. Unfortunately, I found it to be too salty for my tastes. The flavor was good, but it was overall too salty. The portion was huge and had a nice mix of sausage, noodles, and veg. I can't say if it was authentic or not since I have no other experience trying this dish, but given how good the other meals are, I have a feeling it was pretty spot-on.

I've recently been craving vodka sauce, so the Rigatoni alla Vodka from chef Marc Forgione was an easy choice. A pasta dish might be a safe choice from a meal service with so many different types of cuisines, but hey, sometimes you just want pasta. Unfortunately, this was just okay to me. I wanted more flavor. I felt like it needed more salt, spice...something. Overall it was kind of bland (but not terrible).

I actually picked three meals from Chef Esther Choi but forgot to take pictures of the third one. This is the Gochujang Baby Back Ribs. It came with rice and corn cheese as sides, making it a good representation of Korean barbecue. Gochujang is a staple of Korean cuisine and this one was nice and spicy-sweet. If you've never had corn cheese, it's exactly what it sounds like: corn mixed with (usually mozzerella) cheese, sugar, and mayo -- might sound weird, but it is so good. I was very happy to see it included in this meal. I liked the flavors here but the ribs were tougher than I would like, though I suppose it's hard to make fall-off-the-bone ribs with a frozen meal delivery service.

The sixth meal I chose was the Spicy Braised Short Ribs, which came with glass noodles (dangmyeon) and veg. As with the baby back ribs, the short ribs had a punch of delicious Korean barbecue sauce flavor. It reminded me of galbijjim, a braised beef stew, and after looking at the description of the meal on the CookUnity site, Esther lists it as her take on the dish.

  • Visit CookUnity to subscribe
    • Use this link to get $40 off your first box -- that could be 4 meals for $13.96

Bottom Line: My take on CookUnity is that they send really delicious meals from great chefs, but it is expensive. This isn't a service I will receive every week, but I could see myself treating myself once a week to four meals going forward. I would spend at least $10-$15 on takeout at least four times a month, so while it may not be a huge savings, it is a comparable spend for me.

One last thing I want to note is that I chose to have my meals delivered on a Friday and four of them had a "use by" date of Sunday. That kind of defeats the purpose of ordering six meals, as I couldn't save them for dinners for six consecutive days like I originally planned.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Winter 2021 Cat Kit by Pusheen Review

I wanted to try the Cat Kit by Pusheen Box  because I love Pusheen but couldn't commit to their regular box for humans, both due to price and because I wanted but didn't need all of the Pusheen knick knacks. I finally subscribed and got their Winter Box as my first shipment.

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love!

The Cat Kit by Pusheen Box is from CultureFly and is an offshoot of the original Pusheen Box. It's a quarterly subscription that sends Pusheen-themed items for your cat.

The box was large with a cute holiday pattern to match the "Holiday Cheer" theme. The cardboard was durable and had sections that popped out, making it an extra item your cat could play with.

My cat, Tully, actually has never been too interested in boxes, so I bribed her to check this one out with some treats. As you can see in the photo above, there's a circular hole in the top and a square one in the side so the cat can enter and poke its head out.

The Cat Kit costs $29.99 per quarter, plus shipping, or $107.96 for a full year (four boxes), plus shipping. Subscriptions renew automatically and you can cancel any time.

The Winter "Holiday Cheer" box came with eight total items, nine if you count each individual plush toy. Not pictured above is the ceramic treats jar, but keep scrolling to see that. Here's everything else that was inside:
  • Fleece Blanket
  • Collar and Charm
  • Treat Jar
  • Cardboard Scratcher
  • Cookie Ribbon Toy
  • Gingerbread Plush Toys

Tully's favorite item was definitely the fleece blanket. She loves all of the cozy blankets I have, and this one is perfectly cat-sized. One side has a Pusheen print with gingerbread, presents, and trees and the other side is a soft white fleece.

The treat jar with scoop was the hero item of the box and unfortunately mine broke shortly after I started using it. The small handle that holds the scoop completely fell off as I was placing the scoop back in, which was disappointing. I fixed it with Gorilla Glue, but I was hoping for better quality overall from this box. I have heard complaints from Pusheen Box subscribers that the items weren't the best quality, and now I can see why.

The collar and charm are so cute but I knew they'd be useless, since Tully doesn't like collars. She's never worn one and I didn't bother trying to get her to wear this, but I'll gift it to one of my fellow cat lovers.

The gingerbread plush toys are so cute and squishy! They have a slight crinkle to them when you squeeze them, which cats love. Tully enjoys bunny-kicking these.

Here's a closer look at the collar and charm.

Bottom Line: Overall, I liked my first Cat Kit by Pusheen Box. Even though the jar broke, I still will stay subscribed for a few more boxes because I think the items are cute and my cat will use most of them. The box cost me a little over $30 after shipping, which I think is a fair price.