I’m back! Apologies for the break in your service. Christmas plus some weird thing wrong with my WordPress, which is the ubermensch that controls this blog I MEAN WEBSITE. I am the FOUNDER of a WEBSITE. I am not a blogger.
Anyway I have fixed the bugs in my WordPress and I am fully functional… I mean… up to a point.
Oh GOD where to start? This is like when you haven’t seen your therapist for a month and you’re going “omg there was this and then that and the other thing and this person was so annoying but I’m kind of over it now…”
I might as well start, though, with how this lockdown is different from the others. The two major differences are that my children are agreeing to do their remote learning this time, (it was a hard “no” in lockdown 1), and my cleaner can come.
That doesn’t mean I’m off the hook, though. I have become a sort of floating IT wraith, busy doing nothing, ready at a moments’ notice to reconnect to Zoom, Forget This Device or present a fully-charged up powerbank, braced for not a single word of thanks. Okay sometimes Sam says “Thanks MOM” because YouTube has turned him American. Which on reflection is actually fine by me, I sort of love little American kids with their backwards baseball caps and “Little League”.
I’m getting off topic, I’m manic, I’ve got too much to say.
I am on food, of course. Although after a margarita-fulled, bitchy spat on Saturday night, Giles has taken on responsibility for dinner on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Which leads me to Mindful Chef, which is my current bid at “winning” lockdown and a sort of get out of jail free card for my dinner nights.
I have in the past been hugely sniffy about these dinners-in-a-box because I can never imagine that they’re as good as what I will cook, (sorry but it’s just true), and then there’s the embuggerance of dealing with the packaging and what if you just don’t feel like turkey meatballs and courgetti when it comes to it?
But these days I don’t really have the luxury of being such a snob about it all. I don’t want to eat a lot of takeaway because I don’t have the strength of mind to do any exercise and the two or three nights a week we used to eat out at restaurants are, obviously, now out. And if I’m cooking from scratch every night my patience will wear thin extremely quickly and no-one wants that.
So I signed up to Mindful Chef and received my first two meals: “Thai” cod with quinoa and “Tikka Masala” tofu with red cabbage slaw. The cod was basically a semi-fragrant slop and my heart sank. Because Mindful Chef is focused on health (fair enough) everything is low fat, which means there are not many base notes to the dishes. The upside of this is that a massive dinner, which leaves you completely full, is only around 500 calories.
But then the second dinner, the tofu and slaw was actually really good. I would eat it again now, happily. There is still the buggery packaging to deal with and there’s a decent amount of chopping and messing about, but these are desperate times. I have got two more waiting in their box outside the back door where it is -1C. The low fat content of the recipes means that the local foxes will not be interested.
This is not a sponsored post and I don’t know anyone at MindfulChef, hence the declaration that the cod was “slop”.
How about you? Is there a dinner-in-a-box you particularly like? Please leave a comment in the handy box below. I have missed your wisdom and fun jokes!
We missed you!!!!
Felt like my 6yo when I would go out for the evening, in the olden days…. “is mummy ever coming back?”
Ah, the never-ending food of homeschooling. I genuinely didn’t know it was possible to make so many plates of bloody cheese wraps and cucumber sticks in a person’s life. I did mindful chef and it’s super mixed but healthy and you get to know what you like – it’s just a bit dull after a while. Lockdown plus work plus schooling means we now do Pasta Evangelists 2 x per week, turkish (healthy-ish – chicken, salad etc) takeaway once, and one of the at-home restaurant kits on a Saturday (Gymkhana, Shoryu, Hawksmoor, Hide, Pizarro, Burger and lobster etc all v v good) and then fill in with easy classics the rest. My local pub does amazing food for Sunday lunch heat at home delivery. I justify all this in keeping local businesses running! Do have to exercise really quite a lot though to compensate…
Kay you have nailed this
Can’t beat the odd Charlie Bigham moussaka or macaroni cheese!
My student/young adult children have been doing this on the grounds that there’s no food waste which they hate dealing with. Their cooking skills and diets have really benefitted because of the variety of stuff on offer. I was sniffy at first, thought they could do it cheaper but I was wrong. They’ve had mindful chef and another one which I can’t remember. They also keep the recipe cards and make their favourites again sourced from the supermarket when they can be bothered.
Sarah Thompson says
We use Hello Fresh and I am a bit bored of it but it so much easier than trying to get a supermarket delivery slot and then remember to actually update my basket. And Hello Fresh actually delivers food. Once Tesco just delivered the 2 bottle of gin I had in my trolley to ‘save my slot’. So we usually have veggie Hello Fresh 3 nights, a takeaway one night, a fish finger sandwich another and the other two nights are either ‘something on toast’ or we share a pack of biscuits.
I love Gousto. I’ve been doing for a few years now and I’m addicted. We have a week off now and then but soon return to it. The quality is excellent and customer service is good. I’ve had two deliveries which didn’t come until after 8 pm. No quibbles they refunded the days fee plus a little more We do it for four days and it just works for us. In this climate it means we need only do a quick shop in the local food shop for the weekend . It’s super easy to cancel a week too .
My Deliveroo-addicted but now as a result impoverished son consented to allow me to pay for a Hello Fresh subscription for him (!) and then moved home in lockdown so I could cook for him as well as the rest of the family and then forgot to cancel the subscription. So I’ve been making them (waste not etc). It’s been complicated by the fact that all the things he ordered were for 2 so to feed 6 of us I have to have 3 on the go (like a restaurant with particularly bolshy diners). They’re actually pretty good and v straightforward and it’s vg having only the exact right amount of everything so the fridge doesn’t accumulate random half packets of tofu and a single sad wilting carrot. However eco-daughter is HORRIFIED by the amount of packaging (although equally gutted that she hasn’t been able to ruin the planet by flying anywhere distant for a year). I think judicious ordering is key to avoid the ever-present risk of slop though. Welcome back!
Tania there is SO MUCH GOING ON in this comment. your house sounds crazy
Did I forget to mention 3 twenty somethings trying to run businesses from my kitchen, 2 dogs, 11 chickens and 2 not very micro pigs? I’m a nice(ish) Jewish girl from North London. I’m not sure where it all went wrong…
Do micro pigs stay micro? I’ve always a slightly suspected they’re just piglets! I really want some kune kune pigs but husband said pet rally has to come under 20 first. Spoilsport.
They vary – they’re certainly a lot smaller than normal (eating) pigs but to call them micro is pushing it. Mine are pot-bellied kune kune cross. Important to find a reliable breeder and look at the parents because when they’re piglets you absolutely can’t tell. Also they grow for at least 2 years….but they have massive personalities and give me huge joy. My husband hates them with a deep and unrelenting loathing even though the pet tally is way under 20 (if you don’t count the horses).
Micro pigs do sound fun. Also pygmy goats
We do The Cookaway. It was the perfect lockdown treat (discovered during the first lockdown). Still is. There’s no subscription, we get the children to choose a dish each and they cook it with adult supervision. The whole family is involved and with a bit of a kitchen disco it makes it such fun. It was such a welcome relief from the monotony of work, guided home learning and cooking (I’d never seen the back of the dishwasher so often in one day than during the first lockdown!). And healthier than a takeaway.
I’d like to try the in-house restaurant kits, I have my eye on a Rick Stein for a lockdown birthday.
I always welcome your posts, esp. on food, on a bleak day.
Thanks Julia! I’ve found in-house restaurants kits uniformly terrific, although not cheap. A weekend treat… x
We did Rick Stein for NYE and it was pricey… but FABULOUS!
Caroline W says
We did Hello Fresh for about 4 years – loved the choice and variety and general ease of cooking as well as not having to think too hard about what to cook each week. We started on 3 meals for 2 people then increased to 5 meals for 2 people. Sometimes there was enough for small portion of lunch leftovers too. Their customer service was good on the 2 occasions we had an issue (one was the delivery driver throwing the box over the gate so a pot of cream exploded and one was a missing item – they refunded the whole box). We stopped when we did the Fast 800 as HF was rather carb heavy and because I still have carb guilt we’ve not gone back. That, and a Waitrose opened 100m away from us which became my second home.
WHAT Caroline I HATE U I can’t believe you have a Waitrose that close to you!!!! mazel tov
My first box of Mindful Chef meals arrived today. I’m just so bored with everything I usually cook. And only cooking stuff all four of us will eat (roast chicken every bloody day, anyone?). So the kids can have pasta which is all they ever want anyway a couple of nights and we will have meals in a box. And my husband can prepare them as he can follow a recipe card while I work late. I’ll prob go back to cooking everything when the kids are back at school – and hopefully I’ll have picked up some recipe ideas.
We are on week 6 of Hello Fresh (had a break over Christmas) and loving it – I have student son at home and we were all scunnered with the usual meals and having to think of alternatives so this is brilliant! This week I forgot to make our selection (doh!) so have just been sent the pre-selected meals which is maybe no bad thing as there are some meals we wouldn’t normally try. Working from home and no travelling means I also have more time and I am enjoying the prep etc and I have also found it’s an excuse to buy some new kitchen equipment!! My son has type 1 diabetes so all the nutritional info is very helpful for him.
scunnered! Type 1 is a bitch, it’s true this is useful for that
Why hadn’t I thought of this??! My husband has never been the cook in our house, pre or post kids which was fine. But I threw a massive strop last lockdown about the 24/7 cooking and he took mid week, when my energy is flagging. However, he’s not in the zone of planning ahead – so last Weds was 7pm ‘what’s for dinner?’. Erm, it’s your night. We had takeaway. Maybe this is the answer?
Give it a whirl! The two favourites seem to be Mindful Chef and Gousto
Have re-discovered Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients book – haven’t looked at it for ages but was just so bored with every god forsaken thing I’ve been cooking over the last however long it’s been. Forgotten what a terrific book it is! Lots of the recipes are for 2, but obviously very easily scale-able – the kids (including 1 x food fuss pot nightmare) absolutely inhaled his crispy garlicky chicken Milanese type thing tonight and it genuinely took about 15 mins. Going to cook my way through it. So glad to see a Spike email in my inbox tonight!
We had hello fresh for a few years but it started to get really samey. Now with Gousto which is much more varied and you can select meals which are under 600 calories if you’re so inclined. In three years or so of using them I can only remember two meals which absolutely failed. Most are absolutely delicious.
Mindful Chef I use for the smoothies, which are lovely. I have one every morning whizzed up with coconut milk and if makes me feel so virtuous and definitely negates the daily 3pm Jaffa Cake Incident.
Welcome back! I’ve missed the blog too. Thanks for this and the comment and cookaway- will look into that. We’ve tried Hello Fresh and Gousto – liked both though there were times when the packaging drove me mad (individually wrapped tiny portions of cheddar which you were supposed to grate…..err how????) and the meals did end up feeling a bit same-y. But maybe that was our choices becoming repetitive.
Anyway, the one we’ve stuck with is Simply Cook which is slightly different. They send the recipe cards and the spices/flavourings/stocks. 3 pots per recipe. You provide the actual meat/fish/pasta/tinned tomatoes etc. but they’ve been really good at introducing new recipes and getting us out of a rut. The kids can make them which is always a winner. 4 meals come in a slimline box that fits through the letter box and you can use them whenever you like so really useful to have in the cupboard and then it’s there for a night when you have no inspiration for a pack of mince or chicken.
That and a weekly takeaway are keeping us sort of sane.
Yes, welcome back! I won’t say Happy New Year because it isn’t. It’s awful. But your WEBSITE is a breath of fresh air. I’m in awe of how calm you and all the Spikers are sounding as you go through this yet again. Sending love and solidarity from Australia. x
So far we’ve used Cote at Home 3 times including their Christmas feast. Generally excellent. As well as prepared meals they also do fresh produce from their boucherie, fromagiere, and boulangerie. The rib eye steaks are excellent quality and good value. We’ve also had a three course meal kit plus wine from Rick Stein. Delicious. We had Hawkwsmoore festive feast for new year which was amazing. 3 courses, cocktails, lager, wine and champagne.
We have booked a Quality Chop House steak meal and a Pizza Express kit for this month.
I love cooking but I get bored at not being able to eat out. I appreciate that these things are not cheap but they are less than if we went to eat at these restaurants. My husband tells me not to worry about delivery charges as we’d probably pay more in service charges and tips.
I like the sound of your husband
We had a great time the other day with Comfort and Joy’s Zen box from Jikoni. Almost completely pre-made so that you just heat it up and delicious vegan/vegetarian food which you’d never bother to make from scratch and isn’t too heavy.
Peabody Bites says
Also – we had excellent Sri Lankan lamprais in banana leaf from a tiny cafe called Mother Canteen in Gospel Oak which has a Sri Lankan chef. I think it only does Sri Lankan food on the weekends
!!!! looking it up right now x
We do Hello Fresh too. Despite my husband hating the idea of it, with a passion at the beginning, he actually loves it. It’s quite pricey but I justify it on the basis that my teenagers can (in theory) do some of the cooking and there’s often enough left for a lunch or 2 the next day. I also get ridiculously excited when the HF box arrives! And I’ll take my excitement wherever I can get it, these days.
I used to do Hello Fresh and others and couldn’t get used to the damn packaging. I’m on GRUBBY now which is a veggie thing that is delivered by bike in London and posted anywhere in the country. Barely any packaging and it’s really lovely food and people. The two meal option serves four if you bulk up a bit from the fridge and it has literally kept us going through lockdown. I know I’m sounding crazily evangelical but I AM!
THIS IS HELEN RUMBELOW ISN’T IT
What? That terrible journalist? How insulting.
Lol you have convinced me to try Grubby, coming at me in a pincer movement via all channels
Rebecca Frampton says
Riverford Recipe boxes are amazing. You can choose from vegan/meat/fish/low fat etc and they are not too faffy plus the packaging is kept to a minimum or can at east be recycled/composted. All organic too obvs!