Saturday, February 23, 2013

Foodie Box Beatdown! (Goodies, Graze, Love With Food)

First things first... I know I've been a bit absent for awhile.  I came down with a tummy bug earlier this week, and as soon as I started feeling better, the kids got sick.  Apologies for the writing dry spell, but getting everyone feeling better definitely took precedence over blogging!  However, the mail didn't stop, so instead of doing three separate food box reviews, I decided to pit them against each other and declare a winner!  I have now cancelled two out of three of my foodie subscriptions (my bank account is certainly happier), and I'm very content with the one I chose!  Read on for details!

I have tried the food boxes... and declared a winner!  Ok, not all of the food boxes, but three.  I tried to find boxes at a similar price point, and compare based on taste, quality, value, and creativity.  Personally, I love trying new foods, and finding new things for my picky kids!  Welcome to the Foodie Box Beatdown of 2013!

I'm already sensing a size advantage.




The first sub, and the one I've had the longest, is Goodies.  The box is $7 a month, making it the most reasonably priced.  They pride themselves on sending large portion sizes to try, and finding unusual or new foods. They're run by a division of Walmart Labs, which turns some people off, but I like knowing that if I like something in my box, I may be able to find it without having to order it online.

The second sub is a new import from "across the pond".  Graze started in the UK, and has been very successful there.  They are in a beta testing experiment of expanding to the US.  They are a weekly sub (although you can change it to once every two or four weeks), and are $5 a box.  They have a different method of sending boxes.  Instead of sending everyone the same thing each month, they put all their snacks out on the website, and you rate them.  If you know you'll hate it, simply "trash" it, and it will never be sent to you.  The other levels are "try", "like", and "love".  Then, each week, they pick 4 snacks out of the top 3 rating levels and send them to you.  Once you get them, you can always change your ratings.

The third and final sub in the Box Beatdown is Love with Food.  This box is $12 a month, and is more of a "tastings" box, with small portions of higher-end foods.  This is not stuff you'll find in the grocery store.  They pull from specialty stores and smaller manufacturers for a unique experience.  They do also have a charitable side, and for every box you purchase, they donate a meal to a hungry child.

Here's how it's going to go down.  I'm going to feature a box from each subscription, go over the pros and cons, and let you all know which box won the challenge to become a permanent part of our family!

First up... Goodies.

February's box wasn't my favorite, to be honest.  The portion sizes were smaller than usual, and for the first time there were two items in the box I actively disliked.  But, there were still several things I did like, and I've already purchased a full size of one item!

February Goodies Box 2013

This group picture looks ok, but you'll see as we go on why I don't like getting this box delivered on Saturdays.  The kids were glued to my side as I opened it, and those Chips Ahoy cookies you see were gone in a flash.  So a lot of the items you see in the box above are actually just wrappers.  Sorry for my hungry monsters, but Knight and Dragon are just not going to wait on cookies.

Gone in 60 Seconds? Try less than 5.

So, you know about the cookies, let's start with them.  Reese's Cups in Chips Ahoy sounds like a wonderful idea.  I managed to steal a bite when one of the boys paused to inhale (Amateurs.  I can go way longer than them without breathing if chocolate is involved), but I found there was a "too much of a good thing" issue.   I let the kids have the overly sweet treat and moved on to...

Ooh, healthy mommy snax!
I've heard of these, but they never sounded good enough in the store for me to buy them.  I liked getting the chance to try them, but they will not be making it onto my grocery list anytime soon.  Too bland.  I passed these on to Knight ("Look Mommy! Giant Cheerios!") and delved back into the box.

Something new!

I've never heard of Plentils before!  This is why I love my food subs... new stuff!  However, before I could even get one of these in my mouth - Dragon appeared.  And he wanted these.  He is my picky eater, so I was definitely willing to see if he'd try a gluten free, dairy free chip made from lentils.  And to my everlasting surprise, he loved them!  I'm not sure if it was the Margherita Pizza flavoring (delish, by the way), or the light, airy texture, but Mr. Picky has a new snack!

The packaging should have given me a clue.

Next we have Chick Pz.  They're roasted chickpeas, and I got the Sesame Crunch flavor.  I've seen several other boxes get Wai Lani bars, so I was already not thrilled, but imagine my surprise when I put some in my mouth and got the wonderful flavor of saccharine styrofoam.  These were gross.

Ooh, much better!

How can I resist anything called "Dark Chocolate Dreams"?  I love chocolate!  And peanut butter!  I checked the ingredients, and this peanut butter only has 4 ingredients:  Peanuts, evaporated cane juice (sugar), palm fruit oil, and salt.  The boys and I both loved these, and I've already bought the full size of the Smooth Operator for school lunches.  Yay!

cheddar... bacon... popcorn?

This seemed cool, in a hipster, mocking kind of way.  Like "oh, yeah, let's put bacon on everything... bacon is so amazing, just like my sweater vest and skinny jeans, blah blah blah."  Well let me tell you guys something.  Bacon does NOT belong on popcorn.  This stuff stunk up my house, and had a bitter, overly salty flavor that made it just taste rank.

And that was this month's Goodies Box!  There were 3 likes (cookies, plentils and peanut butter), 1 "meh" (yogurt pretzels), and 2 epic failures (chickpeas and bacon popcorn).  So even in their worst box, half of the items are things I loved, and would purchase again!


Let's move on to Graze.  I'm reviewing the second box I received.  My main issue with this sub is that they're shipping from the UK, which makes their delivery kind of hit or miss.  And on a weekly box, this can really get annoying.  While it's not their fault, I hope they can open a distribution center in the US soon so they can be more streamlined.



Speaking of streamlined, that is one nice-looking box!  It's about the size of a hardback book, and has clear plastic "ribbon" holding it shut.  It even has the Royal Mail stamp from the UK!

Oooh, I feel so fancy and international 

Inside, the four snacks are secured into a little tray.



This second box has by far been my favorite on taste.  I got Toffee Apple:

Yummy, but the dehydrated apples had an odd texture

Figgy Went to Market:

Mmm, figgies!

Olive and Rosemary Bruschetta:

Way better than I expected.  A little salty though.

And lastly, a Light Lemon and Poppy Slice, with an Afternoon Infusion:

CAKE and TEA! So Jane Austen.

I was the most excited about, but most disappointed by, the cake and tea.  Because it had taken so long to get to me, the cake was a little stale, and the tea was nothing special.  Everything else was quite good, and the Olive & Rosemary Bruschetta was unexpectedly yummy.  Graze has since taken the tea and cake out of their selection, and they're adjusting the snacks they have left to make sure they'll arrive before they expire.  I've also been disappointed with portion sizes.  I know they're portioned for a snack, but I had to hide these from the kids to make sure I'd get a fair taste of each treat!


The third sub up for review is Love With Food.  I mainly tried this box because I found an offer for a free one (since expired, sorry guys!), and I only had to pay the $2 shipping.  I was very thankful I had found a deal for this box, because I would have been vastly disappointed to get something this small for $12.

Maybe it's like one of the tents in Harry Potter, and there's a whole house in there!
I was pleasantly surprised at how much they were able to pack in there, but it was definitely samples and tastes of items, not the chance to try a full serving size.

Aww, cute card!

Adorable.  Now where's all the food?

Nothing really stood out as amazingly fantastic, so I'll just run down the list of what was in it:

Nektar Honey Crystals - I don't have to explain these, right?
Sipping broth? Ew.
Donsuemor Madeline... Tiny but good.
Truffle Pigs - Caramel good, Peanut Butter meh.

Jer's Squares - again, Peanut Butter, meh.
Funny Face Cherry flavored Cranberries.
 My kids thought they were too sour.
bobbysue's nuts, hubby liked them!
Beanfield's Bean and Rice Chips in Pico de Gallo.
The only decent sized portion, and they were GROSS.

Portion size was definitely my major complaint for Love With Food.  Everything good was two bites or less. I definitely felt good that a meal had been donated to someone in need, but I'm always a bit skittish when it comes to companies that claim they're donating a meal, and I wasn't really reassured by the info on their website.  Apparently their donated meal count is only an "estimate", and I couldn't find any more info on what constitutes a meal to them, or how the distribution takes place.

I'm pretty sure you can all guess which box I picked, but in any case, let's get a drumroll please for....

GOODIES!

They are the least expensive (when broken down by month), while also being the most generous with portion sizes.  (Take notes, Love With Food.  Send two cookies, not two bites of one cookie!)  While they do charge at the beginning of the month, and ship near the end, that information is fairly well known, and I receive the box fairly quickly once it ships.  Goodies has an online shop where you can buy the snacks you got, so if you really like something, it's just a click away!  Even their least impressive boxes are introducing me to new, healthy snack options for my kids (Hello, Plentils!), and husband (he's in love with the Raspberry Fig bars from last month!).

I'd love to try Graze again if they get their shipping issues sorted out, and they should definitely look into adding tea and cake back to their menu!  Their UK site has a lot of great snacks (fresh bread, olives, popcorn) that would be amazing here in the US.

I don't think I'll ever try Love With Food again.  It was ok, but nothing special.  And for the amount I save by getting the Goodies Box, I can donate some nutritious food to our local food pantry and know my money is truly going to help people.

That's the Foodie Box Beatdown, folks.  Did you like it?  Let me know, and I'll set up a Beauty Box Beatdown soon!

Love, Leigh

Disclaimer:  I paid for these boxes with my own money or received them at a free/reduced rate due to a widespread promotion.  I was not asked to review these boxes, nor did I receive compensation.  All opinions are honest and all my own.  All links go to company homepages, and are not referrals.

2 comments:

  1. Great review! I've had love w/ food before & have to agree - the portions are just too tiny.

    I LOVE graze but I haven't had any problems w/ their shipping. It's a great deal and it keeps me from overeating. I agree - these are not for sharing!

    I usually love goodies but I haven't been happy w/ their last 2 boxes. I've giving them another month. It's a great deal but not so great if you don't like what's in the boxes.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I always have to share my boxes, so portion size is very important to me! I'm glad Graze has been good for you!

      And this definitely wasn't the best month for Goodies, but I really liked them in Dec and Jan so I'm sticking with them! :)

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