As a Type A organizational obsessive, I am always looking for tips and tricks in the kitchen that fit my meal plan. After trying HelloFresh for a week (spoiler alert: I did not enjoy it), I was weary of weeknight dinners from meal delivery services. That is, until Mostly Made arrived on my doorstep. Wide Open Eats found the Mostly Made Kickstarter last year and ever since, I couldn't stop thinking about how convenient their idea seemed for busy families of all sizes.
With Mostly Made, you receive five fillings in a box, with two choices: Enchilada or Italian. The gist is that you only need to add a few ingredients to make a full meal, be it pasta or tortillas. Mostly Made also offers great recipe recommendations both on their website and printed on the outside of the boxes you receive. The meal serves about four to five people per filling.
Successfully receiving funding, the Mostly Made team zipped into action to get products out within the year and I am so glad they did. After spending a week making Mostly Made dinners, it's the only meal delivery service I will recommend to my friends and family. Corinna Ortiz, one of our video producers, and I both tried Mostly Made, and this was our experience.
Our Test Recipes
I cooked with Mostly Made right away because the day it arrived, I was so tired that I just wanted to make cereal for dinner. However, I set a pot of water to boil and grabbed the first Lasagna filling from the box. I kept it simple and chose the Baked Penne and Cheese recipe from Mostly Made. This recipe was so simple to make, and in no less than 15 minutes, the casserole was in the oven. I can't say I've ever made baked pasta that quickly before.
I was most surprised by the flavors of Mostly Made. I was truly floored by how fresh it tasted, like the fresh veggies were picked that morning. The green bell pepper, especially, in the filling stood out because it was so flavorful and crisp. It wasn't overwhelmingly garlicky, but it did pack just a bit of heat which is great because most meal kits seem to be bland to account for everyone's tastes. However with Mostly Made, it felt like I couldn't have seasoned the fresh dinner fillings better myself.
For the next meal, I decided to convert one of our most popular recipes into a Mostly Made masterpiece. Using the Enchilada filling, I substituted it for the ground beef filling in our Cornbread Enchilada Skillet. I boiled the filling in the bag as I baked the cornbread base, and was happy that each finished on the same time frame. I also added refried beans and tomatoes to the cornbread base because I was out of enchilada sauce, and again, I was not disappointed by the flavors in the least.
In fact, it was even better than our own recipe that features ground beef and jalapeños. The fillings in each recipe were moist and rich without being too heavy. I should also add that I'm fairly sensitive to indigestion and didn't have a lick of it after eating Mostly Made recipes.
For Corinna's recipe, she decided to make individual calzones with her Lasagna filling. She loves to cook, but doesn't often find the time or counter space to do so. That's where Mostly Made, with its promise of ease, comes in. Time-crunched, she decided to microwave her filling. Uncertain of just how to fit it into the microwave, she placed it in a rectangle microwave-safe container and stood it on its side. In total, it took about four minutes for her filling to defrost.
With pre-made pizza dough, the filling, and goat cheese, Corinna began to assemble the calzones. Unfortunately, the first few were a bit small and the liquid filling leaked from the seams. After adjusting the size, she was ready to pop them in the oven.
Taking longer to cook than anticipated, the bottom of the calzones were quite soggy and a few ended up falling apart. While this isn't ideal, she assures us that, "They taste great, but they don't taste like success... they were still tasty when reheated the next day."
The recipe for Calzones on Mostly Made recommends making two very large calzones instead of personal sizes, but hey, we figured we'd give it a go because if you're not honestly testing an idea, then why bother!
The Mostly Made Story
Created by Jillian McGary in Minnesota, Mostly Made is unlike traditional meal delivery kits because instead of receiving individual ingredients and recipe cards, you receive frozen five fillings in a box designed to keep those cases frozen in transit. These pre-made fillings arrive in a boil-in-a-bag sleeve for easy defrosting. If you don't have time to boil in the bag, you can also microwave for the pouch for about two minutes to defrost it. This will vary based on your microwave, as Corinna's took four minutes. I, on the other hand, don't have a microwave and kept it old-school with the stove.
There are two flavors: Enchilada and Lasagna, and each include your favorite fresh ingredients. The Enchilada filling includes chicken and black beans, braised in tomatoes, smoky chipotle, and a pound of fresh southwestern vegetables, like organic zucchini and organic onion. The Lasagna filling includes Italian sausage browned with crushed tomatoes, basil, and savory vegetables like organic zucchini, green bell pepper, and organic onion.
What's the deal with the fillings, you might be wondering. After her sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, McGary found herself making two dinners most nights. Realizing that the hardest part of a home-cooked meal is often the prep work involved with chopping the vegetables and simmering the sauce, she began to meal prep just the fillings. Instead of a freezer full of bulky casserole pans that took up precious space, the fillings were frozen flat and could easily be stacked. That is, by far, their best feature.
The 3 Reasons We Recommend Mostly Made
1. I saved so much freezer and refrigerator space.
That photo is what my freezer looks like. I want to be embarrassed, but just can't bring myself to feel too bad. The Mostly Made fillings, all 10, fit snugly inside and as I used them throughout the week, I was able to create a neat little pile in my freezer door's shelf. Type A organization obsession, check!
2. The fresh dinners were surprisingly simple.
I didn't feel like I was eating a frozen meal with Mostly Made, but instead that it was good ol' fashioned home-cooking. The fresh vegetables, especially the peppers in each filling, were so vibrant that I could have convinced myself that I simmered it on the stove top for hours. Alas, I did not and I have Mostly Made to thank.
3. I didn't feel stifled.
One of my big problems with HelloFresh was how stifled I felt in the kitchen. The freedom of Mostly Made is that you can either make of their delicious recipes, or you can freestyle on your own. Corinna and I both free-styled in our own ways, proving the versatility of the fillings despite having Southwestern and Italian flavors.
Who is Mostly Made meant for?
Mostly Made is a great way to give the gift of easy nutrition to friends and family in need. If you have an ailing family member, consider giving the gift of these pre-made fillings because it means that dinnertime is only a few short steps away. The versatility and ease of use makes Mostly Made fully home cook friendly, whether you've burnt toast or regularly make cassoulets on the weekend.
When I was in college, this would have been the perfect gift, and definitely more nutrition than I was regularly cooking in my tiny apartment kitchen. I still can't get over just how fresh the vegetables taste, y'all. It is truly like taking a bite of a garden. From the perspective of a regular home cook, I've enjoyed having the fillings on-hand because they're easy for anyone to make. Knowing that a wholesome dinner is only a stovetop boil away has made meal planning easier and cheaper.
You can find Mostly Made fillings on their website, available in packs of 5 for $75.95. Normally, a price tag like that would turn me away, but when I considered how many vegetables and flavors are packed into this case, it's actually a steal. To purchase all of the organic ingredients and perishable food in the fillings for one week of use would be a $150-$200 grocery bill.
And the best part is that Wide Open Eats readers will receive $10 off an order of $100 with the code WIDEOPENEATS. The code lasts until March 31, 2018 so don't forget to order your batch for easy dinners soon! Whether you're craving a zesty calzone, a full lasagna dinner without the timely lasagna assembly, or Italian stuffed peppers, Mostly Made was made for you.