Is Park Slope’s Walk-In Cookbook right for you?

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You cooked that (but they measured it out for you)! via Facebook

Good news for all the measurement-averse foodies in Park Slope: you’ve got a new store that’s answered your prayers for less time spent cooking and more time spent eating. The Walk-In Cookbook has recently set up shop on 7th Ave and Berkeley Place, and they take the “measuring” part out of “all-cooking-is-is-measuring-stuff-and-heating-it” by selling specific amounts of groceries that let you make one recipe, no more and no less.

The concept makes cooking easier and less messy than it can be otherwise (although all their recipes are for two or more, so lonely foodies should prepare for leftovers), but for those of us who cook not only to be generally impressive people, but also because we’re on a budget, does it make sense? It depends.

Walk-In Cookbook’s strategy here is that you pay them extra to give you less, which sounds like the textbook definition of insanity until you realize that cooking at home is only cheaper if you use everything you get. If you count yourself as a once-in-a-while home chef, then your refrigerator is probably littered with the withered husks of extra vegetables, meats, and ingredients that you “didn’t actually need after all,” and that means you’re not only throwing out that three-month old bell pepper; you’re throwing out money.

While the concept paying for exact amount is gaining traction (mail-order companies like Blue Apron are starting to pop up with similar concepts), at the end of the day, one of the biggest appeals of cooking is that you get restaurant-quality* food for half the price. Here, you’re shelling out $11 for fish tacos and $18 for steak and potato risotto**, which wouldn’t be terribly priced in a bistro, but when you’re doing the cooking, feels expensive.

So, depending on whether you’ve got a fridge full of old produce or not, the Walk-In Cookbook might actually make sense. However, if you’re a constant cook, using everything in the kitchen and never wasting, then you’re essentially paying $9 for a side of creamy potatoes that you could make in the house for under $3. What it all comes down to is this: If you view cooking as a fun activity to do sometimes, then the store is a good investment; if you prefer cooking most of your meals, stick to the grocery store.

*…not always.
*which is not really a thing.

2 Comment

  • I was in the store a few days ago and I actually believe it is very fairly priced. $18 per person is a lot but it is filet mignon from pat Lafrieda (probably the more expensive beef you can find in town). In a restaurant that would go for $30 per plate or even more.

    I was on their website trying to figure out how to make a potato risotto, but please do explain me how you make a potato risotto with chives, thyme, parmesan cheese, broth and yukon gold potatoes for $3. I normally shop at Union market and those ingredients would cost me way more than $3.

    We tried their green curry chicken which costs $22 for two and that is not a bad price considering that their chicken is organic and their curry paste is excellent quality.

    • If you cook a lot, you’d have a lot of the ingredients already and wouldn’t need to buy them all. That’s the point the article makes. For example, the potato risotto (which, again, isn’t a thing – risotto is made with rice) you described I could easily make right now for $0. I cook all the time and I have all those ingredients on hand (including chicken broth in my freezer, which I made the last time I roasted a chicken). On a bad grocery week, I’d have everything except the potatoes. A bag of potatoes costs a few dollars, so I could easily make that on any given week for less than $3.