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Spiced Pantry Subscription Box Review + Coupon – May 2016

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Spiced Pantry is a monthly subscription box that allows you to explore global cooking at home.  Each month features ingredients and recipes from a different part of the world.

Spiced Pantry kindly sent us this box at no charge for review purposes. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

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The Subscription Box: Spiced Pantry

The Cost: $19 + $3.75 shipping

COUPON: Save 20% off your first box with code MSA20

The Products: Recipes and spices, spice mixes, and pantry items such as grains, legumes, dried mushrooms, nuts, flours, etc., that are designed to be used in the recipes.  You get 4 ingredients and 4 recipes per month, and the spices should be in large enough quantities to make the recipes at least a few times.

Ships to: US

Good to Know: Month-to-Month subscribers can skip a month by logging into their online accounts.  Skips are not available for 3- and 6-month subscriptions at this time.  Also: you can opt for a regular or vegetarian subscription (vegetarian subscriptions won’t have meat ingredients in the recipes).

Check out lots of food-related boxes in the Food Subscription Box Directory and make sure to add Spiced Pantry to your subscription list or wishlist!

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This month’s location was Shanghai.  There was an introductory card and there were two recipe cards.  Recipes included egg fried rice, red cooked eggplant, Shanghai pork belly, and Shanghai fried noodles.  (This was obviously not the vegetarian version of the box…)

Also, just want to note that this box smelled wonderful when I opened it.

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Chinese Black Rice (6.7 oz) – Value $2.09

Black rice is fun but I never remember to buy it.

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (0.7 oz) – Value $1.05

My husband was happy to see these.  Me, not so much.  I can’t eat mushrooms because they make me gag; it’s a texture thing with me.  He can have them if he wants them!

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Chinese Five Spice (0.75 oz) – Value $2.01

This is what made the box smell so good.  I don’t have much experience with this mix other than a recent RawSpiceBar package, but this will spur us to mix up our dinner routine a little, and that’s a good thing.

Dried Chiles (0.3 oz) – Value $0.54

Always happy to see dried hot peppers.  We use them a lot.

Although it is suggested on the information card to make every dish at once and invite friends over to try the food too, there are a couple of reasons we opted not to do that.

One, I am a vegetarian and can’t stand mushrooms.  Two, all of the dishes involved the use of woks.  We only have one wok and we really only have room on the stove for one wok.  But, stir fried dishes really need to be served while they are still hot, and they require a lot of attention.  It would be difficult to manage four woks at once even if you did have the room.

So, we took the ingredients provided and made two vegetarian meals out of them on two successive nights.

Red Cooked Eggplant

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First we made the red cooked eggplant.  The directions said to fry the eggplant, but eggplant soaks up a lot of oil and oil has a lot of calories, so we opted to bake the eggplant for most of the cooking time.

Then we followed the rest of the recipe basically as described, heating ginger, garlic, dried chilies, and the white parts of scallions in oil in the wok, followed by adding the eggplant, broth, and some ingredients to make a sauce (including some of the five spice powder).  The end of that is what you see above (my husband forgot to take pictures while he was cooking and I was in the basement working out so I wasn’t there to remind him…sorry about that).

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After that, we topped with the green parts of scallions and served over brown rice.  I really liked this dish.  It was definitely spicy from the chilies although you can control that, to a degree, by using more or fewer of them.  If we had it to do again, we might add some kind of protein to it (tofu or black beans or something).  I don’t get to eat Asian food too often because there are a lot of surprising non-vegetarian ingredients in restaurant dishes, so cooking at home is one of the only times I can experience these flavor and ingredient combinations.

Egg Fried Rice

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Next we made the egg fried rice.  We knew that fried rice wouldn’t be enough food on its own so we cooked some tofu in the wok first.  (Oh yeah, and we had cooked the black rice the day before and refrigerated it.)

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Here is the rice in the wok with a couple of eggs.

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And now we have added the tofu back in to heat it back up.  Note: this dish was supposed to have frozen peas in it.  We were halfway done eating the meal before we realized that we had forgotten the peas.

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Here is the fried rice plated with the tofu and some more scallions.  (These recipes were heavy on the scallions.  Luckily, we like scallions.)  This was a very successful attempt at making fried rice and we think the reason it worked so well was having the rice refrigerated so it didn’t stick to the wok.  I like black rice but rarely think to buy it, so I was happy to see it here.

Verdict: I calculated a value of about $5.69 for the May 2016 Spiced Pantry box.  Even if some of the online prices for items I linked to are lower because you are buying in bulk, I feel like you can get a much better value if you just go to the supermarket.  I love the idea of this subscription, and that it has a vegetarian option, and I thought the ingredients were high quality, but I just can’t recommend paying over $20 for $5 or $6 worth of food plus recipe cards. I hope to see increased values from this subscription in the future.

What do you think of Spiced Pantry?  Do you subscribe to any food or cooking boxes?

Written by Ragan Buckley

Ragan Buckley

Ragan stumbled across My Subscription Addiction in late 2013 and immediately subscribed to way too many beauty boxes. She’s now focused on boxes for her cats and dog, vegan/vegetarian food boxes, and craft subscriptions (and she didn’t give up beauty boxes entirely).
All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.

8 Comments

  1. This is a nice review. However, the prices listed are not realistic. For example, the price of mushrooms being quoted is for 1 pound. That’s 22 times the size of the ingredients in the box (0.7 ounces). You can’t get 0.7 ounces for $1.05 anywhere. Plus, shipping hasn’t been included. The value of boxes like these is the fact that you don’t have to buy bulk.

    • You can get a lot of these things pretty cheap and/or in small quantities if you buy from the bulk bins at natural foods stores or at international markets. Definitely have seen black rice that way, and have also seen small packets of freshly-ground Chinese five spice mix that way.

  2. Lovely review!

    I’ve been looking for a realiable substitution for Raw Spice Bar, but at this price I rather go to the gourmet market store, buy random spices and look for recipes in one of the million cooking blogs available.

    For me.. The Raw Spice Bar spices look with more quality than this one.

    • You should check out The Spicery (thespicery.com). It’s another spice subscription with recipes. I subbed for a year to the World Explorer box and had lots of amazing meals. It’s out of England, so the recipes are listed in grams. Other than having to convert the recipes, I loved the subscription!

  3. As a Chinese cooking household, I already have those spices in the pantry, but I don’t use them regularly. 5 spice does make wonders, and marinate well with meat. I would also suggest your husband to try the Shanghai pork belly, if he is not a vegetarian as well.

    I also find that the need to have 4 woks funny. 🙂 I only have a pan, not a real wok, and I still cook one dish at a time. Once a dish is done, serve and keep warm in the microwave, and move on to the next dish. However, I do prep all the ingredients in advance.

    • He’s not a vegetarian, but I don’t allow meat cooking in the house. I can’t take the smell. I can’t walk down the meat aisle in the grocery store, either. Can’t even look at that stuff. (Cat and dog food does not resemble the original in the least, so Nyx and the cats are properly carnivorous.)

  4. I know a lot of people hate mushrooms…if it’s just a texture thing for you, the dried ones are awesome because you can grind them up into a powder and use it as a seasoning. It’s especially delicious in soups or pasta. Your eggplant looks so good and I love the idea of baking first to use less oil. Did you use an Asian eggplant or a typical Italian one?

    • Thanks for the suggestion.

      We used a regular Italian eggplant.

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