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Psst…box o’ meat?

The world is a vastly different place today than it was 10, 20 years ago. We expect more and more from services and faster and faster responses from businesses. So how does life in the fast lane effect us when it comes to choosing where we shop for produce?

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Not so long ago shopping for the weeks food required a nightmarish trip to the supermarket, Unless you went at 7am or 10pm you were guaranteed to face a hoard of people just as happy as you pushing around a trolley full of groceries that signified a decent portion of your wages.

That same trolley also showed what sort of cook you were in the kitchen. Some had an abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices along with fresh meat ready to cook restaurant quality food. Others had frozen vegetables, frozen meat, and bags of treats to get them through the week ahead with cooking an indepth meal the last thing on their mind after a long day. We shouldn’t forget the ready meal shopper either, lasagne for one ready to hit the microwave any time of day or night.

But today there’s a different way to get hold of your food. In fact there’s quite a few clever and convenient ways to get hold of everything you need to broaden your culinary horizons. So lets take a look what modern society has to offer.

Butchery

There are very few of us who could prepare cuts of meat better than your local butcher. Someone that’s trained and studied a variety of animals and how best to take them apart so you only get the best quality cuts to put on the table.

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As much as society has changed and modernized daily life, butchery is still a skill that has barely changed from its roots. There is however a modern way to get hold of the fine legs of lamb and pork bellies we desire, and that’s online butchers.

There are now a multitude of companies that claim to be able to provide you with the same quality of meat you can get from your butcher down the road. We ordered from one such company to see if the order stood the test compared to our local butcher, Lets see how it went.

Farmison & Co

With the motto of ‘Eat Better Meat’ this is a company that boasts Online Butcher of the Year and a website that pushes intensely how their meat is sourced. This alongside a variety of ways to cook and prepare the meat you buy makes for a good start for someone looking to try something new.

In terms of selection you’d be hard pushed to not find what you’re looking for, or indeed find something you’ve never tried before. Sure you can get your beef, chicken and pork, but what about trying some venison, veal or maybe some diced mutton.

As with anything there are pro’s and con’s

Pro’s

Packaging – a big white box turned up via a Parcel Force van, when opened it was a pleasant surprise to see care had been taken over how the meat was packed. The video below shows it better but there was plenty of ice, and plenty of padding so nothing got damaged.

Quality – I don’t know if I can say I’ve tasted better meat from a local butcher. We had sausages, a chicken, meat balls and burgers, all of which were incredibly tasty when cooked and had a high meat content. Consider how much weight you lose on a chicken just to water, that’s not the case with quality meat.

After thought – you clearly don’t want to just take one of the burgers and grill it until its charred before shoving it in a bun. To avoid screwing up the meat you get an email with information on how best to cook whatever it is you’ve ordered.

Con’s

Cost – There’s no getting away from it, it’s not cheap ordering this way. There are obviously costs involved in not just raising and slaughtering but also getting the box of delicious meat to your door in the same condition as you’d get it from your local butcher. Check out their website for details but they currently give you free postage (normally £6.99) on orders over £75.00.

From what I’ve seen so far Farmison & Co do exactly what they say they do, and I’m inclined to try them again. Certainly it’s worth trying whilst they have the money off your first order deal going, make the most of it and stock up for Christmas.

So overall online butchers are a great way to be able to take your time and have a good look at what you can buy which people aren’t always in a position to do locally, however you do pay a premium.

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The other area to take a look at is the companies that provide all the ingredients you need for a dinner along with the recipe to cook it in one handy bag. There are more and more of these companies opening up so we took Hello Fresh on to see how good they were.

Dinner in a Bag

The purpose of these companies is to convert you to as far as possible changing your monthly grocery shop at the local supermarket and moving it to them. Now there’s a couple of things to note here initially, we’re not saying you’re going g to get your 3 square meals a day here, the aim is to provide you with your main evening meal. You also need be able to follow the recipe, so although you may be great in the kitchen if you want something other than what they have given you on the card you may need to get extra ingredients.

Hello Fresh give the option of buying either 3, 4, or 5 meals within an order essentially providing you with evening meals for 3, 4, or 5 days a week. They are delivered in a well packaged box which, although fairly brown and uninspiring, does what it needs to do and turns up ready to go to work.

You can also choose your meals based on length of time to cook which is a great idea as you can cater to your own lifestyle and demands of the day. For our order we chose the 30 minute option and they were almost exactly 30 minutes for all 3 meals.

The cards that come with them are illustrated and the instructions are clear and direct, which allows you to get on with it. It really is a case of just add salt, everything else is provided for you from the meat, to the rice and even salad depending on your order.

The meals we tried were actually very tasty, completely different to what we normally have in an average week and certainly gave us some ideas to broaden our horizons when we do the weekly shop.

The portion sizes were also a nice surprise, you can quite often find yourself still looking for an extra something after dinner, however these were just the right size to keep you satisfied.

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Pro’s

Easy – it’s very straight forward to prepare these meals if you know your way round an oven, the instructions are foolproof which allows you the time to enjoy what you’re doing without the need to worry if you’ve issued something. If the bag is empty it’s all in so don’t worry!

Packaging – Each bag as a coloured sticker, each recipe card has a colour on the top. Match the colours and you’re ready to go. It might sound a simple thing but it makes the difference to people that might otherwise struggle.

Con’s

Quality – this is really just in respect of the salad. The general contents are of a good standard but if you have a meal that’s got salad and you’re on day 5, it may be starting to look past its best even if you store it as directed, not the end of the world but just a little annoying.

Cost – not as expensive as online butchers meat boxes but still not as cheap as going to the supermarket. The added frustration is that it’s an opt out service. Once you’re signed up you’ll keep getting boxes each week until you opt out, we’d suggest opting out after your first box is delivered then making up your mind once you’ve tried it.

Overall it’s a great way to try different meals but there are just a couple of annoying little things that can turn people off from an otherwise good service. It’s certainly worth a try depending on how much you like to cook, if you already like to buy your own ingredients and spend the night in the kitchen trying out different things then this probably isn’t for you. If you’d just like to have a go at something other that pasta then it’s worth looking into.

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Our lives are now far busy than they’ve ever been and a large number of us live our lives via our smart phones, doing everything from arranging car insurance to paying your mortgage all without speaking to a single person. The companies we’ve talked about here are just two of a large group of businesses hoping to get your business by being just as good as your local shop whilst making sure you can get everything you need from them as quickly and easily as possible. They get that people don’t wnt to have to get into a conversation, and the more companies that utilise this space the better for everyone, standards go up and costs go down. When we get to that point we all start to win.

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