“I tried two of the Checkers ‘Ready to Chef’ meal kits”

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Meal kits are fantastic for anyone who gets too busy to creatively think of a dinner menu and browse the grocery aisles every day. Who has the time?

We’ve seen very cool South African start-up meal-kit delivery companies provide us with boxes of goodies for three to four days of the week. But as convenient as that can be, it’s sometimes a bit too much to commit to. Plan-wise and monetarily. Enter Checkers, who have just launched a range of #ReadyToChef meal kits that serve two for a single meal. Basically, it’s your dinner in a cardboard box with a recipe card.

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What's in the box? 

There are 16 meal kits in rotation over a month-long period. Basically, four new ones every week and then it all changes the following month. Ah, variety! The boxes range from R120 to R180, depending mostly on the type of meat. The most affordable ones are the vegetarian/vegan options. The initial release saw meal combos such as: butter chicken with rotis; beef stroganoff with courgette noodles; mushroom, pea and mint risotto; cauliflower cottage pie; Asian beef and sesame seed salad… So quite a mix of flavours and many options tending towards the low-carb scale.

The review

Just to state upfront: I find meal kits notoriously difficult to choose, because I don’t eat wheat or dairy. It’s easy to meet one of those dietary requirements, but both is tricky, so I was ready with my alternatives when I reviewed these two vegetarian meal kits…

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Box 1: Chickpea and butternut harissa curry

To my great surprise (and pleasure), I didn’t have to fork out any extras from my pantry with this first meal kit. It was vegan (big tick!); and I could eat everything in the box (second tick!), plus it taught me to relook how I would normally make my own butternut curry at home (third tick for learning something new). After sautéing the onion, garlic, harissa paste etc, you don’t just add everything to the pot and boil away… Instead, this recipe asked for me to roast the butternut separately before adding it to the curry near the end. This resulted in a great texture (not too mushy) and a beautiful caramelised sweetness thanks to the roasting.

Portion size: It fed my boyfriend and me generously, with more then enough for second helpings for both of us. It can easily feed three adults.

Difficulty rating: Easy. The instructions were super clear and it was very simple to follow.

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Box 2: Sweet potato and lentil dahl with buttered naan

I love the smell of the rogan josh spice mix – something I usually associate with lamb, so I was intrigued to see how it would work with a vegetarian dish. The ratio of sweet potato to dahl is way in favour of the sweet potato, so the curry is quite a hearty, chunky dish. Because I’m allergic to wheat and the friend I cooked with is vegan, I made some basmati rice for us instead. The naan contained gluten, egg and milk.

A note on this box: The packaging states that the curry contains all the allergens mentioned previously, however the allergens are all just in the naan. I know of some people who avoided it because they thought the allergens were in the curry and that the curry was not vegan. But it is!

Portion size: There was enough curry to take a third portion to my boyfriend, who also ate the naan.

Difficulty rating: Easy. Note: I had to add an extra 200ml water to the pot as it evaporated quickly. Keep in mind that you’ll need to add more water when necessary.

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Who are these boxes for?

If you’ve ever found yourself wandering the aisles aimlessly searching for inspiration, just head straight over to the Ready To Chef sign (near the ready-made foods and deli section) and pick up a box. It’s defiantly worth trying.

Benefits

  • Time-saving
  • A way to break out of a cooking-the-same-old-stuff rut
  • You can learn something new
  • Inspiration to start cooking again (or for the first time?)
  • A new way to have a date with your partner – cook together!
  • A new way to get the kids involved – think of it as unwrapping a present and making a project together
  • Or simply get your kids to make dinner for you

Cooking healthy food does not have to be a schlep!

This article was first published on Women's Health SA.

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