At the moment I'm constantly feeling short of time. Work is pretty full-on, I'm not blogging or working out as much as I'd like, reading a book seems like an impossible luxury and meals are on the run and often, in the evenings, have mostly been made up of raw veggies and hummus (I do love my hummus!).
Reading articles like 'How Beyoncé fits more into her day than you' hasn't been particularly helpful, mostly because I suspect that her army of helpers and probably a dietician or two are constantly on hand to relieve her of such mundane obligations as actually cooking a healthy meal. I'm sure it's a snap to be productive with 100% of your waking hours if 0% of them are dedicated to anything other than your work projects and activities that move those goals forward. I mean, could I have written a Grammy-winning single in the ten minutes, twice a week, I have to dedicate to hanging my laundry to dry instead? Sadly the world will never know. On the up side they'll be spared my attempt at singing said single, so maybe my laundry is actually saving the world in its own small way.
I digress--my main issue is, surprisingly, not my lack of Grammys, but just regular healthy eating and not getting stuck in the rut of veggies n' hummus or Pret salads on the fly. My other half is a whiz in the kitchen and can make a meal out of practically nothing, but works as long or longer hours than I do, meaning I can't (and don't want to) leave it up to him all the time. Solutions in the past have been weekly planning, making a week's worth of meals on a Sunday, making dinner each night with leftovers for lunch or attempting to set aside time each night to prep meals for the next day. All have worked, to a certain degree, but also often mean the same meal for three or four days running, which gets a bit dull.
Then, recently, I started seeing ads for Mindful Chef popping up in my Facebook feed. Although I've tried a few meal delivery plans in the past, I've generally felt let down by the healthiness and balance they offered. However, as I'm a sucker for anything shiny and new I had to have a look at these new 'Mindful Chef' guys.
Fresh, healthy food, delivered to my door!
The main differences from recipe boxes I've tried before are a commitment to farm-to-table freshness, recyclable or biodegradable packaging (even the little dishes of spices are made of compostable cornstarch) and no refined carb fillers--only whole grains or pulses and lean meats and veg to make sure it's a balanced, healthy and filling meal. There's also a choice for completely plant-based meals so it actually works for vegans, something I haven't seen in meal delivery boxes before.
The prices were pretty reasonable, at £6-£7 a meal per person--less than eating out or a typical lunch in London!--and they had an intro offer of 50% off your first box, which seemed like a pretty safe price tag to give them a try.
I ordered my first three meals for Mr F and me and opted to have them delivered on a Sunday night so we could be in when they came (sadly that's a London-only option but they do deliver their boxes to everywhere else in the country on Mondays). The packaging kept everything perfectly cold and we put it right into the fridge for the next night.
Cue Monday night after work and me getting home with a very rumbly stomach, super keen to see what the first delicious-sounding meal was like and if, as they promised, it would be ready in 20-30 minutes. First up was Za'atar pollock with pomegranate tabbouleh and harissa dressing, which looked pretty straightforward and used grated cauliflower for the tabbouleh. Normally I'm not a huge fan of cauliflower but I've had it as an alternative pizza crust and actually, as the tabbouleh, it was pretty well-disguised by the other flavours. The pomegranates added a pop of freshness and the harissa sauce was absolutely delicious--my favourite part and it definitely made the meal.
Mindful Meal One: Za'atar pollock and tabbouleh
The portions were perfect and all the ingredients got used up, it was about 30 minutes start to finish and both Mr F and I were really happy with the very tasty result!
Night two, Mr F beat me home so started on the Vietnamese pho with courgetti noodles so I'll take his word for the ease of making this. Side note: the folks at Mindful Chef cleverly don't assume that you have a Spiralizer for noodles and include and handy little handheld one in the box. They really do include everything you need! It was all ready when I got home and another delicious, veggie-filled meal.
Mindful Meal Two: Vietnamese Pho with courgetti
The third meal was definitely my favourite (and that’s saying something, considering how much I loved the other two!). It was baked aubergine with cumin-spiced lamb mince and it was not only delicious but the portions were HUGE. We had enough mince to freeze some as leftovers for another meal. Again, there was nothing finicky about this recipe and I needed no special skills to throw it together and, I think you’ll agree, it came out looking pretty professional!
Mindful Meal Three: Baked aubergine with cumin-spice lamb mince
End to end, there’s so much I love about Mindful Chef. They’re a UK-based start-up (hurray for supporting the little guy!), they care about the environment and farm-to-table freshness to reduce food miles, they followed up directly to get feedback (and I was just doing this as a regular customer, not a reviewer), and the food is healthy and delicious.
I can’t really count the number of people I’ve banged on to about Mindful Chef, which kind of speaks for itself. So what are you waiting for?
Have you tried meal delivery boxes? What else do you do to make the most of your time?