Is Sydney's 'My Food Bag' Service Worth The Money?

My Food Bag is a new food-and-recipe delivery service that provides all the ingredients needed to make home cooked dinners, five nights a week. Unlike similar services, the emphasis is on good eating rather than weight-loss or convenience -- each meal is prepared from scratch by the customer using 100% raw produce. Last week, we signed up for the service's maiden bag to see if it was worthwhile. Here are our initial thoughts.

The chief selling point of My Food Bag is that it removes the hassle of sourcing ingredients for people who actually enjoy cooking. Instead, everything is delivered to you at the start of the week along with the related recipes. With the exception of the occasional sauce or condiment, nothing is pre-made for the customer. Instead, it's up to you to prepare everything from scratch.

The main advantage of this method -- other than an enhanced sense of pride in your cooking skills -- is that you know you're eating fresh ingredients that are completely free of additives or preservatives. While the process might take longer than a ready-made microwave meal, the difference in flavour and quality is definitely worth it. The food is also locally sourced and free range when applicable.

So how's it work? The first step is to select a bag type from the My Food Bag website -- the service caters to families and foodie couples, with three bags to choose from in all. Once you have purchased your order it will be delivered to your doorstep on Sunday, ready for the start of the week.

Prices range from $149 to $199 per week, which includes all ingredients, recipes and delivery. This is around the same amount that the average family spends in a weekly shop, although you're only getting dinner provided here.

One caveat to be mindful of: if you need to use your workplace address for some reason, you might want to bring your car that day. Each "Bag" order is actually three large brown paper bags packed to the brim with heavy groceries. As I experienced first-hand, lugging this stuff home on the train can be a bit of a slog.

Each week, the My Food Bag team delivers a new batch of produce and recipes which makes the experience a bit of a lucky dip. This lack of bespoke ordering might feel unusual to some, but it does help to keep costs consistent and ensures that the recipes always match the ingredients.

If last week's Food Bag is anything to go by, the variety on offer is pretty impressive. We plumped for the Family option which is designed for parents with children under 10 via smaller portion sizes and meals that suit fussier taste buds. The supplied meals ranged from fish tacos to miniature beef burgers and homemade chips. Other bag options include such delicacies as Pork Belly with Caramelised Chilli Sauce, Pistachio Crusted Lamb Rack with Red Cabbage, Kumara and Beetroot Relish and Open Pie Coq Au Vin with Honey Thyme Carrots.

Due to working late hours, I took a back seat to the cooking but my wife was a huge fan of the experience. Here's what she had to say about the cooking process:

The best thing about My Food Bag was having everything I need in one place. So many times I've been forced to either dash to the supermarket in the middle of cooking or just make do without an ingredient. So that sense of assurance was really great. I'm not much of a cook, but I found the recipes pretty easy to follow. They also used organic meat which is a plus.   There was a lot of variety in the weekly menu and I like how they leave out Saturday and Sunday: this gives you some leeway if you don't get to cook on a weekday for whatever reason. On the downside, it's a little on the pricey side for a home cooked meal: it works out at around $40 a night, or $10 per head. Also, you are expected to provide "staples" yourself. This includes stuff like honey which not everybody has in their household. So definitely check the full recipe before you start the cooking process.   All up, I really had a lot of fun with this My Food Bag experiment. I doubt most people could afford to do this 52 weeks of the year, but as a now-and-then thing I think it's worth it. All of the dishes tasted delicious, but I think that was just my cooking.

Below are a few examples of the finished results.

Did any readers happen to give My Food Bag a go last week? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section below.


Comments

    While as a small novelty I understand why people would want to test it out, as a long term service it just sort of seems like a fail? For the same price I would much prefer to go to the shops myself and get the same ingredients or just pay for woolworths delivery. It just feels like a service where instead of you picking up a recipe and planning for a week, you make someone else do it at a much higher cost.

    My initial thought at first is that this may be a useful service for busy people, but if you don't have 20 minutes to go to the shops, I really wonder whether you have 40 minutes to cook yourself a meal from scratch. And anyone who is hard on cash will be very unlikely to use this service I would imagine. I just don't really see who the audience they are trying to capture is? For people who would enjoy cooking, surely they would prefer to choose recipes themselves, so I'm not sure?

      As mentioned in the article, I believe it's more of a convenience thing -- gathering between 10 and 15 individual ingredients for a single meal is a bit of a hassle, especially if you're cooking five nights a week. (Plus, the recipes are from celebrity chef Miguel Maestre, if you care about that sort of thing.)

        It's not just a matter of time, though. It's a matter of where that time is.
        One of my friends swears by the original NZ version of food bag, because 40 minutes at home is a very different kettle of fish to 20 minutes at the shops with two small children (which, with the kids, is not 20 minutes =p)

        10 - 15 ingredients for a single meal???
        Isn't that a bit over the top?
        But anyhow - Shopping and cooking is pretty much a no-brainer: Make menu for 2 - 3 days, go shopping once.
        @grimbles - Shopping with kids takes me less time than shopping with the wife: Every aisle has to be seen and visited. With the kids, I just go where we need something from and I am out of the shop under 20 minutes.

      Sounds a lot like you my friend might work for someone like Woolworths. Enjoy your tuna and rice. This stuff is awesome. Quality is insane.

    Yeah cost is way too high to justify it but a novel idea

      Agreed - for 150 - 200 a week just for dinner.
      For that amount, I can feed a 4 people family, eating well (not junk food).

        Yep ! Me and my girlfriend just done shopping yesterday for close to 3 weeks of food and it was under $200.

    I can certainly see the appeal, the food looks fantastic and not having to plan meals for the week sounds great. Not sure I could justify spending that much money just on dinners though, regardless of the convenience factor.

      Likewise - I think the 'not planning' part is the greatest appeal.

      But for that cost, I'd rather plan -- You can literally do the same for less.

      More for less, even.

    If you could do this for a night or two (and in adelaide) rather than a full week, I could definitiely see myself at least trying it. Unfortunately, in and out so much that it'd spoil.

    I think the biggest issue I'd have with this, isn't the price, but rather the lack of choice and options.

    At a simplest level, there are some foods me and my wife don't like. It would be good to exclude those kind of foods. Another constraint I'd have is how long it takes to cook things. Looking at the example recipes, there's no way in hell I'd have time to cook lamb shanks on a work night. You'd need at least 2 hours to get all that done, I'd be eating dinner at 9:30 at night...

    Price wise it looks pretty reasonable, actually. Sure you could get it cheaper if you went to the market and visited a dozen different stores. But who has time for that???

    I tried it once and the service is awesome, just 2 things to improve:
    * as mentioned before, because you can't select - you will sometimes get some food you don't really eat (e.g. I don't eat sweet potato), so there should probably be options to choose from
    * we are busy people, and there is no way I can cook every day - I prefer to cook twice a week at most, so I would rather choose ingredients for 2 big meals

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