I burn things. Always. When a recipe tells me that the pan has to be set to a medium heat, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that to be the middle of the gauge on the hob dial right? Apparently I am wrong, and its cost me quite a few hours stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the base of these pans in the process. That is why cooking hasn’t been a good experience for me. I don’t know what I am doing, I don’t appreciate how the ingredients work well together and unless I have scientific like instructions that I can follow, I’m going to struggle. After all, how much is a knob of butter? Give me grams please!
All that changed when I took on Mindful Chef. With everything you need for a meal coming in one bag, it soon became very apparent to me that I couldn’t really stray too far off piste. And do you know what the best thing about that is? I am not deterred from cooking by the thought of having to go to the supermarket to find ingredients I have never heard of.
I mean where would you look for Harissa paste? What is Harissa paste even. Whatever I need is there in front of me, already weighed out, always labelled and all I need to do is prepare it.
My preparation for a meal remains the scientific experiment that fits in with the way my mind works. I can’t prepare and cook at the same time as my brain would need a reboot after 2 minutes. So instead, I get out lots of little white ceramic dishes that have been kept back over many years from rather expensive supermarket pies, and these are now used like I am a production assistant for a TV chef. Perfect!
Once the onion is finely chopped (just 10 minutes for me), garlic sliced and the ten bowls are laid out in front of me in the order I need I am ready to light the gas.
The first thing to say about Mindful Chef, very much as the name implies, is that the food is really healthy. It wasn’t the primary reason we chose it as if anything, that would normally indicate to us that the food could be less exciting. However, the food choices are never uninteresting and yet the menus remain super healthy.
One of the best things about having such a wide range of healthy meals to choose from, is that I am now discovering really tasty alternatives to food that I didn’t think I would ever not want. Mash potato – gone and replaced by mashed cannelloni beans. I mean, does that even sound like me?
The way the different food types are blended also has taught me that there are so many more flavours available when you become more adventurous with your food choices. In many cases they are foods I know, have eaten before and even have in the fridge. But would I put them together in a pan and look forward to them? Not normally. But I certainly do now.
Each meal is set out with precise information on the food groups including a break down of calories fat, carbs and so on. Not that I have ever looked at this, but I guess if I did I would be reassured to note that my dinner would tick a few boxes for anyone on a calorie controlled diet.
The end result for me has been that during 2020 when we switched to Mindful Chef, combined with a more active lifestyle with plenty of walks outside, my weight was reduced without me consciously trying to lose it and it is a remarkably good feeling when you look in the mirror and like what you see so much more!
Something I hadn’t factored into my initial thought process when I started evaluating the value of the meal, was the fact that the quality of the food would be so much better than what I was used. As it stood, our frequent visits to Waitrose would nudge us towards the more premium end of the meat selection as we really didn’t want to compromise on taste. It was only when we had worked our way through a couple of of weeks worth of Mindful Chef meals that we qualified our initial view, which was this was a whole new level. The chicken breasts are high end farm shop level, the steaks are inexplicably tasty and the salmon has made us question why we were ever eating anything else.
Now, when I add up the cost of Mindful Chef and take into consideration the overall value, I would put the food quality at good quality restaurant level and the meals at below cafe prices.
At one stage I think my wife was visiting the supermarket every two days. Not because we needed anything in an emergency, but in truth, it was because we were incapable of planning the evening meals any more than 2 or 3 days ahead and this meant we hardly had anything in the fridge. Despite this, whenever I would take out the food bin on a Monday, I was getting more and more annoyed that so much money was being spent in supermarkets, and yet the amount we threw away was getting heavier and heavier. That’s not great for the planet either. How ever much we tried to cut down on food waste, there was always something that was past its sell by date that ended up in the food bin.
Beyond leftovers, peelings and the last few stale slices of bread, our food bin is now the least of my worries. The meals arrive with just the right amount of food required for the meal and other than a lemon peel, there literally is no waste whatsoever. Even the amount of spices or sauce you need is carefully weighed out so you don’t have to faff about with measuring spoons and the nonsense of remembering the difference between a Table spoon and a Tea spoon!
Add that to the money saved on parking (£3.00 a time at our local Waitrose), the fuel, the time saved and the fact that we are choosing five meals a week in advance, I would have to mark the convenience of Mindful Chef as one of it’s most appealing qualities.
The menu options are changed every week and I believe they tend to rotate around every 5-6 weeks. We see some old favourites on there which we do tend to go back to, but equally we now try different things we know we would never normally order in a restaurant as we have become more bold in our choices. This has led us to eat a lot more vegetarian and vegan meals, to try many different food types like Tofu, lentils and all sorts of world foods from Morocco to Jamaica. In fact, from a purely food tasting point of view, this is my favourite part of Mindful Chef as some of the sauces, flavours and meal experiences are genuinely something we look forward to in the week.
After a good six months of use my conclusion is that Mindful Chef is good value and has proved essential for two busy people who want to enjoy good food without the hassle. So in summary would be:
- No more daily visits to supermarkets
- Introduction to various new menus and food groups
- No food waste
- Great quality ingredients, particularly the meats
- Fun to prepare
Let me know in the comments below what you think.