Sometimes finding something healthy and nutritious in the evening can become a little repetitive if you don’t have a big selection of recipes and ingredients that you can prepare and cook. When you’re on a diet as well, you want something that not only tastes amazing but has the ability to fill you up adequately.
This last week, we’ve been fortunate enough to have the freshest items with the most delicious recipes picked and packed especially for us – all calorie counted, nutritionally balanced and healthy and not by our local supermarket, or a personal chef (although this service is most definitely like having your own personal shopper) but by Gousto.
Gousto is an amazing concept. Started in 2011 by two friends who share a passion for food and cooking, they understood the difficulties that many people face when trying to cook from online cookbooks and TV shows as they simply don’t have the time to shop for the food they need. This then means, that instead of preparing and cooking fresh, healthy meals, people would rely on ready meals with lots of additives, getting stuck in a mundane rut of the bland and boring.
Surely, picking the recipes that whet your appetite, or what fit in with your daily calories, then having those ingredients delivered pre-weighed, already portioned for you, ready to prepare and cook along with a step by step guide, is the perfect idea for the busy mum, dad or couple that like to cook together. I know it is for us.
In our box this week, we were treated to enough for 6 meals. Ours was a box for a family of 4, so everything delivered was enough for 4 or more people. As there is only 2 of us, everything that was pre-portioned was just halved and stored for the next meal. It’s all measured perfectly (give or take a few grams) with the calories, fat and protein shown on the step by step cooking guide card. The cards are very easy to read, understand and follow, being set out in around 8 different steps from preparation of the raw ingredients to the final plating up and serving.
Our recipes were:
- Cajun Chicken – 610 calories, 10g fat, 65g protein per person
- Pork Steaks with Salsa Verde – 445 calories, 12g fat, 55g protein per person
- Italian Sausages with Lentils – 714 calories, 27g fat, 51g protein per person
Everything in the box was as fresh as a daisy (even though it had sat out in our garden for a few hours in the sunshine) I did originally think that it might have gone funny but the packaging inside is so good, it kept the frozen chilled and the fresh cool so I didn’t have to worry. That’s generally one of my concerns when I order food boxes of any kind since the couriers think that it’s ok to leave it out in the driveway or by the front door without a second thought to the weather, however if you know that they are safe where they are left and are packed sufficiently well that the fresh food inside of it won’t ruin then you can order without concern.
When I opened our box I was overjoyed. Packed from base to top with glorious fresh, beautifully colourful fruit and vegetables, huge fillets of chicken, hand sized pork steaks and some of the most delectable thick cumberland sausages that I had ever clapped eyes on. Smaller packets of herbs and spices were packed in individual bags and all calculated to at least a weeks worth of meals – deliciously hand picked and packed for taste, with just enough of each ingredients for minimal waste.
After packing everything away, we sat down to choose which meal we would try first. Andy thought Cajun Chicken would be a lovely dish to begin with as we hadn’t had chicken for a few days, so that’s what we decided on. He took out a couple of the massive chicken fillets (they were at least 8oz fillets which I’ve only seen and bought from Muscle Food before) and put them in the fridge for the next day. I was pretty excited about cooking with him the next day so wished away as many hours after waking as I could bear until it was time for tea.
All we had to supply to make the cajun chicken was salt, pepper and olive oil, as everything else – chicken, couscous, stock cubes, apricots, onions, natural yogurt, helda beans, cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano was already supplied.
First thing he had to do was chop the onions into quarters (we adore baked onions) and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt, place them in the oven until they were soft and caramelised. While he did this, I took the cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano and black pepper and put them into a casserole dish. Seasoned with salt and put to one side while he sliced the chicken up.
Whilst he covered the chicken strips in the cajun spice, I put the kettle on, chopped the apricots and dissolved the stock cube, adding the couscous then the apricots to the bowl, covering with boiled water and setting aside with a clean cloth over the top. This generally takes around 10 minutes and is similar to what we do when we make the Tabbouleh with bulgar wheat to soak and settle.
Helda beans (which are very similar to runner beans but less stringy) were then cut into pieces, put in a pan with some olive oil and the chicken. The onions then came out of the oven and were put to one side. Andy continued cooking the chicken and beans while I took the natural yogurt, seasoning it with olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
Final few steps were easy enough. Just fluffing the couscous with the soft and juicy apricots and mixing that with the chicken and onions bought this gorgeous meals to it’s crescendo. Once it was piled on the plate with a huge dollop of dressing on the side, I couldn’t wait to tuck in.
It was simply delightful. Start to finish about 30 minutes – easy as you like. No fussing, no shopping, nothing. Just choose what you want to eat, wait for delivery and then prepare the mouthwatering dish for you and your loved ones. Why didn’t anything think of it before! It’s genius!
But it didn’t stop there. The next day we were treated to Pork Steaks and Salsa Verde.
Again preparation was a doddle. From start to finish 40 minutes and this dish introduced me to something that I’ve fallen in love with – the sweet and sour peppers stuffed with tomatoes that formed our side dish. The sherry vinegar turned the peppers from what are ordinarily overly strong and too crunchy to a soft, sweet and luscious side dish that left me yearning for more. But the piece de resistance was the salsa verde. Who knew just how easy it was to produce such a gorgeous dressing. Just parsley, garlic and olive oil, took what could easily have been a bland meal into one with more vibrancy than seen at a Matisse exhibition.
The final meal Italian Sausages with Lentils although looked sensational, really wasn’t to my taste since I’m not such a big fan of puy style lentils which was a big part of the dish. But as 2 out of the 3 meals were amazing, it was worth trying it just incase I enjoyed the way that they recommended that they were prepared with rosemary. It wasn’t my favourite but nevertheless was still enjoyable and was something that I hadn’t tried before in that combination.
Buying the box for a family of 4, especially for us, was more economical as we could alternate the meals in the box to have something different each day, and then be able to top up the shopping for the one day we had left to cater for. You just have to pop onto their site and pick your next 3 dishes, booking them in for either a Wednesday or a Friday delivery, then just wait for it. I’ve ordered our next box for delivery next week and I genuinely can’t wait.
• Roasted Pork & Candied Orange
• Fresh Mozzarella Penne
• Goats’ Cheese Bulgar Risotto
Sound like something you would like? Want to prepare a special meal for a loved one? Want to impress someone with your culinary skills? Or do you just want to take out the worry of finding the ingredients, buying them and then carrying them home again getting them delivered, ready for you just to prepare, then get yourself a Gousto Box. I cannot recommend it highly enough and if they start producing boxes with complete meals for a whole week… I’m there like a shot.