It is a sign of something (what, I’m not sure yet, but am willing to bombard you with my theories about it) when we outsource the most quotidian transactions of our lives in the interest of efficiency and saving time. We are getting really good at learning how to pay others to live our lives for us.
I’m one to talk. I recently signed up for Blue Apron, a delivery service that once a week, organizes the ingredients and preparation descriptions for three restaurant-quality entrees for two people; it delivers them in a cardboard box emblazoned with its logo and packed with darling little plastic bags that tug at my sustainable little heartstrings. You can, of course, tell them when you want the food delivered, and what foods you will eat – I have chosen the pescatarian option. When I unpack the box each Thursday, nestled among the water soluble ice packs are the ingredients for a surprise menu of foods that you might order at your local California style restaurant. Each meal is worth about 650-700 calories, and takes roughly a half hour to prepare. All you need to supply is salt, pepper, and olive oil, and the pots and pans you will need to prepare the food.
I have enjoyed coming home, picking out what I will prepare from the set of three glossy photo cards. I lay the card down on the counter, open the fridge, and reach into the vegetable drawer and meat drawer to extract the appropriate ingredients. I have learned more from the past five weeks about portions and preparation than I have in the over 30 years I have been cooking for us, and the food is flavorful and beautiful to look at.
1) I no longer have to wander robotically through the aisles at Ralph’s, jamming my cart full of enticing vegetables that will puddle into a mush in the coming derelict days, while I zap another dinner into the microwave, eschewing the assembly of a fresh salad.
2) My dinner prep takes on the excitement of a chemistry lab experiment. The process welcomes a mindful cooking experience. Yes, there is a lot of chopping and I wish that I had Rachel Ray’s sous chefs standing by to do that for me, but they haven’t figured out how to make those people available to me online yet. (Just a matter of time, folks, just a matter of time.) After cutting and chopping until the ingredients are assembled on my cutting board, I am guided step by step into the creation of something that makes both me and my husband swoon.
Cons? Very few, except the pesky packaging issues, which may eventually become morally reprehensible enough to me to stop the service.
What do I save in the use of this service? Well, brain cells, money and of course, the precious element of time.
On Facebook this week, I’ve been bombarded by ads for a service called Washio, a 24 hour pick up and drop off dry cleaning service which purports to save me even more time than my current dry cleaning arrangement, that consists of laboriously packing the white laundry bag and walking it across the street to Ralph’s, to the dry cleaning service there. I know, you’re thinking “Poor Els.” I guess I could argue myself into saving myself those 150 steps to Ralph’s, but in the interest of promoting better health by walking each way, I will pass on Washio.
Last night, when I opened the mail, my husband had received a discrete invitation to Trunk Club a Chicago based internet men’s clothing service which can provide a “stylist to help you build your wardrobe.” Jenny, the cheerful, midwestern stylist inside the booklet describes pictorially four different trunks, with clothes laid out as though on a bed awaiting to be packed.The four trunks belong to four ideal men, Jason, age 39 from California, an account executive; Chris, 44, a civil engineer based in Chicago, Jeff, age 34, a financial consultant from New Jersey, and Leon, a New York based writer director. For an average of $160/per items and an average of 14 items in the average trunk, you can drop $2,240.00 to get a trunk of clothes.
I guess you can figure what the cons are in this equation. But the clothes look stylish and hey, if you’ve got some money to incinerate, go for it.
So what is it that we are doing with all the extra time that these body-snatchers are saving us? Where are those precious moments we have to think and ponder the worlds problems while we clean out the lint trap in the dryer and fold our smalls? What about the face time we are missing with the folks at Ralph’s, who smile at me and make me feel like I deserve their beautiful veggies? Or the time I spend cleaning out the vegetable drawer in my fridge? These are precious moments, people. As for the time I’ve saved? Productively paid forward? I know that I now end almost every day in a coma on the couch, playing about 25 games of solitaire on my computer while I watch the news before going to bed.
Well, hey, that’s worth the investment, right?