As working parents of two young children, my husband and I find it tricky to meet our cooking aspirations, which would ideally include meals that are healthy, homemade and diverse. I’m guessing that we aren’t the only ones in this predicament, making meal services like Green Chef a welcome alternative.
Green Chef is part of a growing number of subscription meal services. What’s special about Green Chef is the ingredients are not only fresh and high quality, but they’re predominantly USDA certified organic. Green Chef is also the first meal kit service to offer a Gluten-Free certified option, alongside Omnivore, Carnivore, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo and Keto choices. You can decide between individually plated meals or family-style (family-style comes in omnivore or carnivore options and includes 2 meals for 4 people). With prices ranging from $10.49-$14.99 per meal, plus $9 per box for shipping and handling, the cost can add up, but it saves me the hassle of planning, running to the store and dealing with wasted ingredients since all ingredients come perfectly portioned for the accompanying recipes.
Our box came with 4 individual servings per meal for 3 meals. Knowing that my kids are a little less adventurous, I first cooked just 2 servings. As guessed, the kids weren’t as into the strong flavors, so more for the adults! While some may balk at the idea of separate meals for the kids versus the adults, I’m happy to do so now and then, versus regularly compromising somewhere in the middle. With Green Chef meals coming partially prepped, this 2-meal scenario becomes more doable. So, while the kids went with some safer family favorites, my husband and I had the pleasure of trying a variety of new flavors and cuisine types.
Our three Vegetarian meals included Greek Veggie-Stuffed Pita, Smokey Tempeh and a Barbecue Chickpea Bowl. The Greek Veggie-Stuffed Pita came with a generous side of couscous, which provided more than enough for a second meal. While we’ve done pitas before, this recipe pushed me to try a few ingredients I typically shy away from – olives and dates. The dish was tasty and healthy with a variety of vegetables – red and green bell peppers, zucchini and grape tomatoes – on wheat bread.
The Smokey Tempeh was our first introduction to eating tempeh as a solid steak (versus crumpled into smaller pieces), and it was a bit much for tempeh newbies. Now knowing more about tempeh, I’d likely cut it up into smaller pieces and marinate it longer in the hopes of soaking up more of the delicious maple-tamari marinade. The tempeh was accompanied by a giant Jersey sweet potato, which was also good, but much more than we could consume in one sitting. This meal was topped with a paprika-garlic aioli, which was absolutely delicious. The Green Chef sauces are truly yum!
Finally, the Barbecue Chickpea Bowl was magnificent and our favorite of the three meals. I love chickpeas, but for some reason, never make it at home. This was a great way to be introduced to cooking a favorite ingredient that I haven’t previously mustered the energy to tackle. This is probably why I’m most excited about Green Chef – it shakes me out of my regular routines to try something new and different, giving me enough guidance to tackle it in a way that will encourage me to try it again at another meal. Seasoned, sautéed, roasted, drizzled with barbecue sauce and combined with red onions, scallions, avocado and corn, the chickpeas were served on a bed of baby spinach for a hearty and mouth-watering salad. A carrot and cabbage slaw complimented the meal as a side.
The meals arrive on your doorstep weekly, biweekly or monthly, depending on your subscription. While there is quite a bit of packaging to keep ingredients cool and fresh, Green Chef does make an effort to encourage you to recycle or reuse as much as possible. We’ve gotten quite a bit of re-use out of the ice packs and the sauce containers, which we use for watercolor painting with the kids. Your delivery includes all the ingredients you’ll need and step-by-step recipes. While some ingredients are pre-chopped and sauces are pre-made, there are still a number of vegetables that require cleaning and cutting. This does require effort, but also ensures fresher, better-looking and better-tasting meals.
Reduced to 8 steps that are each accompanied by a photo, the recipes are easy to follow, though I do recommend reading all the way through to have everything ready to go. I take a while to chop vegetables, so I tend to do all the chopping first to make it less hectic once I turn the stove on. Ingredients are all pre-portioned and color coded, making it easy to match them up to each recipe. The only things you’ll need to add are common pantry items such as olive oil, salt and pepper. The prep and cooking time is estimated at about 30 minutes per recipe, but my cook time tended to run a bit longer than that. I’m not the most seasoned chef, so I do believe that 30 minutes is possible. It just didn’t happen in my kitchen.
Overall, I love how Green Chef can help expand my cooking repertoire and the ease of having ingredients and recipes show up right at my door. Green Chef delivers to most parts of the US, but not yet to Alaska, Hawaii and parts of Louisiana. While it is a subscription service, it’s easy to check out the menu ahead of time and skip a meal if you either don’t see anything you like or are not in a position to cook that week. Ingredients tend to last about a week (other than seafood, which should be consumed within a few days), which gives you some flexibility. You can find out more about Green Chef and if it’s right for you at www.greenchef.com.