Of course, because I looked at it online, I started to get ads for Hungry Root: in my Instagram feed, on Facebook, everywhere. One night, I clicked on an ad to see the price: the introductory offer was about $50 for a box.
Honestly, still pretty steep considering that's my budget for a week's worth of groceries for 3 people. However, I talked to Danny about it and we agreed it would be nice to try to get an idea of vegan recipes to replicate. The next time I saw an ad, I clicked on it again--and guess what? The introductory price had been cut to $30. Ok, for $30, I'll try anything especially if it's food.
I ordered, I set a delivery date, and I waited.
What is Hungry Root?
Hungry Root is a vegan delivery service that promises each meal to be under 500 calories. It's ideal for people who need fast recipes that feature plant-based proteins. You can learn more about Hungry Root here.
(I'm still debating whether or not to write Hungry Root with a space or as one word. On their packaging, it's two words. On their website, one. I'm torn, clearly!)
So, shipping was relatively fast, although my box got delayed on the way to me. It was supposed to show up Tuesday, February 13 or Wednesday, February 14. It showed up on the afternoon of Thursday, February 15. I had started to get worried because it's a box of food.
As I posted on Twitter at the time, the delivery driver also didn't take my box of food up my driveway. I live in the country and my driveway is quite long, but it's not a difficult driveway to get up at all. In fact, my husband manages it in his small car pretty easily. We get delivery trucks all the time, as well as our garbage service. The delivery driver chucked my box of actual food into the ditch beside my driveway. I kid you not: I had to try and wrangle Forrest while digging this out of the ditch, wondering if this $30 box of vegetables would be ok or not. (It was fine, in the end.)
This wasn't Hungry Root's fault, just a 3rd-party delivery driver who was apparently feeling a bit lazy that day!
The box was pretty large and heavy because it was packed with biodegradable insulation (nice) and Arctic Ice packs. I'm still not sure what to do with these items; can I recycle them? Toss them? What's the process? I do wish the Hungry Root instructions had something about recycling the box or turning it in for credit.
What I Got
Here is everything I received for this first order:
- Cucumber Corn Black Bean Salad
- Roasted Corn Edamame Salad
- Black Bean Brownie Batter
- Fluffy Maple Chickpea Batter
- Chickpea Alfredo Sauce
- Thai Peanut Sauce
- Carrot Chips
- Cauliflower Rice
- Shaved Brussels
- Superblend Salad
- Sweet Potato Mac
- Avocado Crema
- Braised Lemongrass Tofu Nuggets
- Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies
- Roasted Red Pepper Quinoa Bowl
All those items promised to make the following dishes, based on the Hungry Root recipe book they include:
- Fluffy Maple Chickpea Pancakes (breakfast)
- Avocado Bean Southwestern Salad (lunch)
- Simply Seasoned Carrot Chips (side)
- Red Pepper Sauteed Sprouts (side)
- Crispy Greens Sweet Potato Hash (main)
- Carrot Edamame Peanut Stirfry (main)
- Heart Corn Edamame Stew (main)
- Pad Thai Fried Rice (main)
- Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies (dessert)
- Black Bean Brownies (dessert)
The plan we signed up for (The Good Life) says they include enough for 5 meals, plus 5 sides, snacks, or sweets. My recipes don't necessarily narrow down to those parameters, so it's difficult to tell. However, it is nice to get a few sweets included because it makes it a bit more fun.
What I Liked
I'm a relatively picky eater and, to be absolutely honest, I'm always very hesitant about vegan food. I typically don't like the way most vegan dishes skew (curries and really heavily sauced and seasoned things). So I was excited that these dishes were a little more "basic" and gave me some ideas of what I can make at home that isn't standard vegan fare.
My favorite dish was probably the Avocado Bean Southwestern Salad; that's something I would definitely make myself. Each recipe is for 2 servings--and the servings were huge. I'll talk about this a bit more in the next section, but one issue I did have was that the flavor, especially of the dressing, was just a bit... basic. But it was still quite tasty and I really enjoyed it.
My other favorite item was the Black Bean Brownie Batter. You can bake it or eat it plain. Danny and I ate it plain throughout the week, just taking bites whenever we wanted it. It was so good! This is something I wish I could purchase ala carte; I just want a tub of it at all times.
I liked the convenience of all the dishes and how easy they were to make. This is definitely designed for people who perhaps don't really know how to cook or don't have time. I found it a bit frustrating that in the end, it was just opening a bunch of separate containers. There isn't really any "cooking" involved!
What I Didn't Like
As I mentioned, there just wasn't as much cooking involved as I expected! It's mostly just quickly sauteeing stuff, adding water, and letting cook for maybe 3-7 minutes, then mixing with a container of salad. It's nice because it's so quick, but I really enjoy cooking and so I got quite frustrated having to wait until 10 minutes before dinner to start!
Danny quite enjoyed almost every single recipe, but he's a trooper and will eat just about anything. His favorite was the Crispy Greens Sweet Potato Hash, but I added a fried egg to give it some protein. That's the issues with some of these recipes. They all promise to be under 500 calories per serving and they definitely are... but some of them a lack a protein element, even though they include a lot of bean salads and the like.
As I mentioned, I want to talk about flavors. The overwhelming flavor of most of the prepackaged salads is vinegar. There is a lot of vinegar. I love a vinegar-based salad dressing as much as the next person, but it's quite a lot. In general, there isn't a lot of flavor to anything. The Thai Peanut sauce used in the Pad Thai Fried (Cauliflower) Rice is very heavily just peanut butter and very spicy--there is no dimension to it. It's not bad, but it's not something I would want to eat nonstop. It would be nice to see a variety of flavors or perhaps spice packets that can be added to these items to make them have a bit more dimension.
Another thing: the individual items are labelled really oddly. Like a package of sweet potatoes is labeled "Sweet Potato Mac." But it's just raw sweet potato! It's not a package of sweet potato mac and cheese; you add the sauce separately.
Is it Worth the Money?
I paid $30 for this--effectively half the price of the box usually. Was it worth the $30? Honestly, I'd say no. I ate two things that I really, really loved; the rest was a bit meh, I could dress it up... but at that point, I'm just making my own recipes and cooking for myself!
What made it worth it? It gave me some ideas of recipes to make and things to try in the future to incorporate more vegan food into our diets as a family. I would never purchase it again, but I enjoyed it. And honestly, finding out how good black bean brownie batter is definitely gives me something to think about. Anyone have a good recipe for that?
Have you tried Hungry Root? Are you considering it? I'd love to hear your thoughts!