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Recipe box and food subscriptions are on the rise. And we have to be honest, we didn't really get the hype until we tried it ourselves. Having weekly new recipe inspiration and the perfect amount of ingredients delivered straight to your door in perfectly portioned meals really makes life easier. How? Well, deciding what to cook day after day, week after week can sometimes be one decision too many after a busy day and we often find ourselves reaching for a quick bite or making a not so nutritious choice when feeling uninspired to get creative in the kitchen.
Who knew that one of the hardest decisions you would have to make as an adult would be what to eat for dinner? We recently made it easier on ourselves by choosing from Mindful Chef's weekly recipes a couple of times a week.
In the meantime, read on for what we thought of their service.
Image: Mindful Chef
If you've never made gnocchi before, or thought that making your own ramen would be more trouble than it's worth. Or wouldn't even know where to start with what goes into a Moroccan tagine or Satay skewers. Or simply find it daunting to look up a recipe and locate all of the ingredients across multiple supermarkets, then a recipe delivery service is a brilliant place to start. Because the recipes are laid out simply and the ingredients for each meal are weighed out ready to go and delivered straight to your door, the meals are easy to cook and avoid food waste (there's no point buying a whole jar of paste for one recipe you may never make again). So if you come home hungry from work or have had a busy day running around after the kids (or both!), it's a nice way to spend 30 minutes - which flies by, by the way. Pop on some music, maybe pour a glass of wine and use this time cooking to unwind after a busy day.
You remain in control. You are not locked in to a never ending subscription. You can skip a week or two if you’re off island or simply want to step back for a bit. You can also reschedule your delivery or cancel your subscription at any time. We switched from a family box to a box for two, had a break for a week, and moved from weekly to fortnightly and tried out meat, pescetarian vegetarian options and it really does just take a few minutes online to make the changes.
It’s also not an all or nothing solution - unless you want it to be. We opted for two meals a week, so we still had to plan for the rest of the week, but we quite liked that flexibility. Delivery days for Guernsey are Wednesdays or Fridays, so your delivery will see you through the mid week slump or into the weekend before you have time to stock up on groceries for the new week. You can place an order for the whole family, or opt to try a recipes for one or two people, and it’s easy to change so you switch it up to suit your mood or your circumstances. For example, we paused our boxes when on holiday or when we had guests visiting and had a few meals out booked in.
What Stef thought: "For me, I'd always kinda seen recipe boxes as a bit lazy and presumed they would be overpriced for what they were. I thought that all I needed to do was just get better at meal planning and shopping, but then I tried Mindful Chef and was pleasantly surprised. We had just moved house and were pulling out the kitchen, so we had one plug-in induction hob to work with for quite a few months. I'm also pregnant, and therefore lacking in energy at times, so I found it a really easy way to make sure we ate full healthy meals whilst we were going about our busy lives. It's become a great way for me to discover new recipes as well as gain a little confidence in the kitchen. I'm definitely carrying on my subscription when we have the baby, as it will be one less thing to think about."
The very thing that makes it easy - having the individual ingredients bagged up and ready to go - inevitably comes with the worry of excessive packaging. And there are some things you might already have in your cupboard, so you could do without the single portion. But for the most part the minimal packaging is recyclable locally, with most of the ingredients loose in a brown paper bag and just the right portion sizes so there are no wilting veg in the fridge at the end of the week.
Another plus is that the ingredients are sustainably sourced in the UK, featuring British free-range chicken, grass-fed heritage-breed British beef and sustainably-sourced fish - and if you choose a meat or fish dish, they come with reusable ice packs to ensure they stay chilled. (If we're honest, we haven't been sure quite what to do with the influx of ice packs that come to our home every week, so we are open to recommendations there.)
Now this may sound a bit sad but bear with us. We were admittedly quite excited when the first box arrived on our doorstep. We had chosen the recipes in advance, so we obviously knew what was coming, but were still like kids at Christmas opening up our boxes to check out the contents. That does wear off when you’re a few boxes in, but it still feels like a little win when you see the box waiting for you and you know your dinner plans are sorted. And we're enjoying our new culinary hobby.
The pricing varies, depending on the number of people you are cooking for and the recipes that you pick each week, but with a family box starting at just £4.25 per person, it's pretty reasonable. Obviously that cost goes up if you opt for the premium rump steak every time - although we were incredibly inpressed by the quality of the ingredients for the price. It's also a cost effective way to try new ingredients, which can sometimes prove to be an expensive and somewhat wasteful experiment - we’ve all got a once-opened, and now most likely out-of-date, pot of seasoning or sauce relegated to the back of the cupboard. With Mindful Chef, you have exactly what you need to make the meals without the waste of buying full-size products.
For every single meal you order, Mindful Chef will give a free school meal to a child living in poverty with their One Feeds Two charity partnership. For many of the kids benefiting from the scheme, this hot school meal is the only meal they will eat that day. And we love a company with that level of commitment to giving back.
What Tracey thought: My daughter had some friends round recently on a delivery day and they raided the Mindful Chef box to make themselves a Mexican meal. The recipes are definitely much cooler than the usual pasta or chicken dishes I'd cook up for them. If only Mindful Chef could teach teenagers to clean up too - I would pay extra for that! Another big plus for me is the charity meal scheme. I often donate to our local food bank when I go grocery shopping, so I’m pleased that the Mindful Chef meals I buy also help to support families who need a helping hand."
The big question - how does it taste? Great! We’ve tried out quite a few of the recipes between us, and can testify to the freshness of the ingredients, the easy to follow recipes and the delicious meals we cooked up. You do need to enjoy a little bit of cooking to get onboard with the plan - it's not like pouring a jar of sauce on some pasta - but it's much healthier for that and every recipe comes with clearly set out steps to follow. For us, it has been something fun to do for the last couple of months and something we want to continue - in both of our households.
The biggest compliment we can give to Mindful Chef is that we've both continued our subscriptions.
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