Locavore Review: Stella’s Kitchen
In the tiniest two-spot shopping center in Beaverton lies the flagship kitchen of the meal prep masters behind Stella’s Kitchen, the Paleo/Whole30/primal meal prep + delivery service of your dreams.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with boss-lady Sarah, who answered a bunch of my questions and also very graciously let me try out a week of Stella’s so I could share the experience with you.
So how does this all work?
Every Tuesday night, the Stella’s crew posts their menu for the following week. There are breakfast, lunch, and dinner options along with snacks and just about everything is labeled for Paleo, Primal, or Whole30 dietary restrictions. You can choose individual meals or a specific meal plan. You have until midnight Friday to poke around, make some difficult decisions, and place your order.
At checkout, you’ll choose a pick-up location that is most convenient for you, either by location or delivery day. Then you get to hang out until next week! On your designated delivery day, you’ll get an email from Stella’s about 30 minutes before your food is ready for pickup. Meals come individually packaged in biodegradable containers and are kept cold with an ice pack in a sweet insulated bag rocking the Stella’s Kitchen logo.
The next time you place an order, you’ll return that bag and ice pack when you go to pick up the new one.
I loved this idea anyway, but I respect Sarah and what’s she’s doing even more for her Beka-level obsession with supporting local makers, local farmers – there’s an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and labor here that rivals the farmer’s markets. They’re also highly focused on sustainability which I can’t geek out about enough.
The kitchen crew uses as little plastic as possible, the containers are all recyclable and I believe they are working on having biodegradable packaging as well. When I asked Sarah if she’d stock one of my favorite juice shots, I got shut down – they’re packaged in plastic. Really, I should do better. Which is why I’m now trying to reverse engineer my own version of that juice shot, but that’s not relevant to this review.
All this to say, Stella’s Kitchen is pumping out some seriously thought-out meals with a very morally sound machine. I’m into it.
Unfortunately, I was dealing with a hellish cold/flu situation in the middle of my order and was not able to eat everything I got. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me whining about an ENT appointment and begging for sinus surgery. Still waiting on both of those. Once I was feeling better, I placed another order of my own so I could actually review four full meals and some snacks.
What I Ate
Grass Fed Beef Short Rib + Yukon Mash (Paleo/Whole30)
First impressions: Wow this is enormous, also I do not like carrots. I realize they were in the description and I chose this dish, but I still don’t like carrots.
Microwave time: 2 minutes + 1 minute.
Food thoughts: I like a lot of salt and I did add a pinch here, but it was delicious and impressively filling. As someone with a lot of health issues, I can be pretty weird about eating food others have made, and I absolutely inhaled this. The short rib was fantastic, and the size of the cut showed clear understanding for how fatty of a piece of meat this is – I had a decent piece of inedible fat, and it was still plenty. The mashed potatoes were fantastic, especially with the jus from the short rib mixed in. I tried a bite of carrot, but it was very hard in the middle and I really do not like them so I didn’t eat them. I did however eat all of the celery, which says a lot because I’m not a big fan of that floss vegetable either.
Final thoughts: A classic meat and potatoes pairing and a massive portion, and I can actually eat it without getting sick? Add in the realization that this would cost upwards of $30 at any decent restaurant, plus it would definitely have dairy and soy, and this is a stunner. Dare I say, epic win.
Cheeseburger Mac (Paleo/Whole30)
First impressions: Looks fantastic, and so cheesy! Wait, there’s a pickle? The ingredients don’t list the pickle.
Microwave time: 2.5 minutes.
Food thoughts: It’s definitely still “just” beef and cauliflower, but I ate the whole damn thing and I certainly wasn’t mad about it. The “cheese” was pretty impressive and with the liquid from the tomatoes, it got legitimately melty – it was very satisfying and didn’t feel like a fake cheese consolation prize. I have a contentious relationship with pickles anyway so I didn’t eat them. I wish ingredient information had been listed, but I probably wouldn’t have eaten it anyway so now I’m just whining for no reason.
Final thoughts: As someone who cooks at least one meal pretty much every day, I personally probably wouldn’t order it again, but will definitely pair ground beef and cauliflower more often. May need to reverse-engineer the cheese situation.
Spicy BBQ Meatballs + Roasted Vegetables (Paleo/Whole30)
First impressions: Whoa, that looks bomb. Wait, more carrots!? Wish it had a creamy sauce option.
Microwave time: 2.5 minutes.
Food thoughts: This smells fantastic, I totally get why meatballs are consistently one of the most popular orders (Sarah says the meatballs are one of her favorites too). This BBQ sauce is delicious. The sweet potato is divine. I tried it with some avocado ranch dressing and it wasn’t right; they know what they’re doing, stick to the BBQ sauce (which I ate in its entirety). The carrots were cut smaller this time, I ate most of them! Granted, they were smothered in that BBQ sauce, but I did eat the carrots. I inhaled this whole plate and was so satisfied. I didn’t even want dessert, and I always want dessert.
Final thoughts: I’m writing a few days after this particular meal and I’ve thought about it at least once per day. I am going to need this again.
Chocolate Espresso Muffin (Paleo)
First impressions: A little worried about how much coffee is actually in this, but hot damn it looks so good.
Food thoughts: It’s quite dense, I wasn’t sure about it at first, but somewhere between the second and third bite my brain was like “oh wait, it’s like a brownie more than a muffin” and then I was unstoppable. This is one of those things that comes individually packaged for your own safety.
Final thoughts: Oh shit I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. Really good example of how much you really do not need all the nonsense that comes in the “average American brownie”. Also this should probably be called a brownie. Must have again.
Buffalo Wings + Paleo Ranch (Paleo/Whole30)
First impressions: Wow that’s a lot of food! This carrot situation is getting out of hand.
Microwave time: 2 minutes.
Food thoughts: A really substantial amount of food; six “full” wings (meaning the drumette and flat still attached) so basically an order of a dozen wings at any restaurant. Despite the Jackson Pollock mess on my plate, they microwaved well; the skin wasn’t super crispy, but it certainly wasn’t soggy and, more importantly, the meat was not overcooked. The ranch dressing wasn’t really Ranch-tasting, but it was delicious nonetheless. Sauce on the wings was perfect heat level, enjoyable but not terribly spicy. Worth noting: unless you have figured out a way to politely eat wings with a fork and knife, I’m not sure I’d choose these for lunch if you have a “normal” office job, but that’s my biggest complaint – except the carrots, which I obviously didn’t eat. This was possibly even more food than the short rib, I couldn’t actually finish all the wings.
Final thoughts: Great price for a great portion. Not the most practical for lunch in public, but delicious nonetheless. Probably not something I personally would order again since I make them myself so often, but a must for any “clean” wing lover who can’t cook or doesn’t want to.
I have to admit, I am always hesitant about other people making Whole30/Paleo food – I’ve just been burned so many times by people who don’t take me seriously because they can’t physically see my health issues. I am happy to report though that I was consistently satiated and very pleased with my meals, and didn’t seem to have adverse reactions to any of my choices – not even the brownie! Admittedly, nobody made me eat the brownie with coffee in it, I knew it was “at my own risk,” but I wanted it! Thankfully, it all worked out swimmingly.
So who is it for?
Well, really, it’s for everyone, but who do I think will benefit most? People who already eat at least somewhat “clean” or are really committed to doing so, and are organized enough to know they will be too busy next week to meal prep (or just don’t want to).
That said, if you’re curious to try some of Stella’s Kitchen’s meals, but are new to all this and not ready for the week-ahead commitment, they now got you covered.
Stella’s Kitchen just opened a second location this week with a “take out” retail-style setup which means you can swing by and physically see all that is available. Pick and choose for the week or just grab a single meal. The new digs are located at 4215 N Williams Ave. Portland, OR 97217.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Stella’s Kitchen provided me with several meals to try in exchange for my honest review. I will never partner or promote brands/companies that I do not believe in. While I may occasionally receive product in exchange for writing a review, all opinions are my own.