This week! Green Chef! Now, this one attracted me because the ingredients are 95% certified organic. They source local, sustainable ingredients as well as recyclable, reusable packaging. Created by Michael Joseph and a crew of baconators, meat eaters, celiacs and grain lovers, this company strives to delivery hand-picked ingredients, kitchen crafted sauces and vinaigrettes and chef-inspired recipes to your door. They pride themselves on taking the extra steps in cutting, portioning and prepping certain ingredients to cut down cooking times for customers. Currently, they are delivering to most of the USA, except Hawaii and Alaska and some rural areas in Wisconsin & Minnesota. My box came from New Jersey, but I think the company is locally in Colorado. The fact that I don’t know that for sure, only shows that they don’t focus on the corporate nature of their business and are devoted to the products they provide and the huge contribution they make to the environment. I was certainly intrigued by their dedication to food quality and the environment, so I had to try it…here we go!
Ok, so as I started this process, after my email and zip code, I was brought to the usual ordering page which entails a box type, delivery day…this one had a whole lot more. The automatic default is for a 2-person box, 3 meals. You can choose to get 1,2,3 boxes per week, but not more meals per box. They have a family option available, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to change the preset. They have dietary specific boxes which is a huge perk so that you don’t have to sift through a whole list of recipes and decide which ones you want. The meals are already narrowed down per your preferences. The dietary preferences are: Omnivore, Carnivore, Gluten-Free, Vegan, & Vegetarian. I chose the OMNIVORE, 3 meals for 2 ppl and only ONE BOX that week. Here are the other options and pricing below:
FAMILY PLAN – 2 dinners for a family of 4 (8 dinners total)
Omnivore Box, $11.99/per meal
Carnivore Box, $12.99/per meal
The minimums are 6 meals for 2ppl and 8 meals for family. Notice how there is no box price, only per meal pricing. There is also a $9.00 delivery charge not included in the price.
So, the usual confirmation email came as I placed my order. I got a shipping email for an OVERNIGHT shipment from FedEx. I liked that they don’t cheap out on shipping on the hopes that their packaging will keep the produce and meat fresh and safe to consume…just like Home Chef. At least this time I know how it’s getting delivered, I don’t have to be Nancy Drew anymore.
On, Thursday afternoon, the box was delivered outside my whole complex, inside the main gate on a stoop. At this point, I have given up on FedEx and assume all my packages will be delivered outside, in the cold, in a random place, inside the gate. Oh the unpacking was fun…so as I opened the box, I saw just a plethora of bags filled with spices, herbs, veggies, grains and other ingredients. I also saw a bunch of reusable jars filled with sauces, dressings and pre-cut vegetables (UGH). Each vessel/bag was labeled well and color coded. NOW, I realized though that nothing was grouped together by recipe. Things were just in a huge box with colored labels. What happens if you are color blind? You will have to take more time to read everything and look at the menu card, there is no easy way to sort this stuff out. It’s easy to miss something too, trust me, I forgot to use an ingredient as you will see below.
Then underneath were environmentally safe ice packs and the pork and chicken were nestled underneath. Everything looked really fresh, so I wasn’t too upset. I still had my reservations about the rest of the chaos that I had to sort through. First glance at the produce, looked good…the three dinners I got were Five-Spice Pork, White Bean Chili, Dijon-Maple Chicken. First up, Five-Spice Pork!
Five-Spice Pork with Coconut-Ginger Quinoa, Green Beans, Corn & Endive
Calories: 580 per serving, Fat: 11g, Protein: 45g, Carbs: 75g, Sodium: 770mg
So right away I notice that there are no additional nutrition facts about the recipe other than calories. Upon further review I saw that the facts are listed with the online version. That’s annoying. The menu is color coded in green, so yes you guessed it…all the green labeled ingredients need to be extracted from that stockpile. As all the others though, they list ingredients, things you need from your own kitchen and equipment. The usual allergies and public service announcement about washing produce are listed and they do let you know about the dish being gluten-free. Nothing great, nothing bad.
Prep was interesting. It didn’t exist! There was no mise en place! I don’t get it! Isn’t the number one thing about cooking and staying organized is to have everything prepped and ready to go? Ingredients…yowza. The cabbage and carrots come precut and prepackaged…like they had a bulk bag of slaw mix and portioned out. The carrots looked dried out as it happens with most pre-shredded carrots. The endive was fresh, but something I had to randomly prep in the middle of the process. UH NO. The green beans were great! Now, let’s talk about onions. There is never a reason for onions to be prepped for 2 people, no. There is this jar of onions, garlic and ginger. It looked like someone blew their snots into that jar and shook it up with the onions. There is no excuse for slimy onions. I hadn’t even opened the jar at this point. And then it happened, this overwhelming odor of the main reason why people hate onions filled the air. The onion itself looked like it was cut with a lawnmower. I felt like Chef Anne Burrell comparing the horrid knife cuts of a contestant on America’s Worst Cooks. To make matters worse, the picture of the onions in the
instructions show these beautifully sliced red onions…something got lost in translation. It took me awhile to get past the onion situation and I seriously considered using my own. But I needed the ginger, and didn’t have any. This posed another problem for me…if there was really a reason the onions weren’t usable, it meant that the garlic and ginger wouldn’t be as well. It makes it hard to substitute ingredients if you so choose to. I don’t like being forced to use something I don’t find up to par, but that also meant I would forgo other important flavors in this dish. I had to deal with what I had. The pork was ok, it kind of reminded me of a McRib, as for the shape of it…a little too perfect, ya know??? Cooking the dish was fine, except for the interjections of random items that needed chopping that could have been easily done in the beginning. The endive and scallion needed to be chopped at some point and the endive (which was not seasoned on its own) was to be added to the roasted veggies. It was all very chaotic. The only serenity was the cooking of the quinoa…easy, simple and perfect and out of my way. I got the dish done with a lot of huffing and puffing…whew!
Taste and Presentation:
Wellllll….I ‘d like to say I liked this dish amongst all the chaos…nope, it wasn’t good. The pork was way over cooked and I knew it was going to be based on the timing listed. I promised to turn off chef brain, which doesn’t mean I turn off my chef palate. I can’t turn that off even if I tried. The dish was so discombobulated. The beans were too big, the slaw itself made very little sense as it was unevenly cooked. The endive was useless and added nothing, figures, it wasn’t even seasoned! It was bitter, like your older sister that never got married and is your maid of honor…she’s present and you can’t avoid it and it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The highlights? The sauce was yummy despite the rancid onions and surprisingly, I loved the quinoa…for those of you that don’t know…I HATE QUINOA. That has to tell you something.
Final Thoughts & Rating:
This meal sucked, it wasn’t well composed and nothing made sense. I understand the Asian flavors in the pork and quinoa, but the veggies were just an afterthought. I have never seen corn kernels in Asian food…maybe baby corn. It does plate beautifully, but maybe you should just eat it with your eyes and get your fill. All in all, I give this dish a 2.5/5. Next up, White Bean Chili!
White Bean Chili with Sweet Potatoes, Wild Rice, Corn-Cabbage Slaw
Calories: 630 per serving, Fat: 20g, Protein: 21g, Carbs: 95g, Sodium: 610mg
My first problem…cabbage and corn again? I mean yeah, I could have seen that when I chose my meals…but the alternatives weren’t any better. Moving on…I won’t dwell on the lack of prep issue again, because it’s just a recurring theme I have to get over. Again, the cabbage came from a package, pre-shredded…I’d like to give a shout out to Del Monte Salad Selects, great work getting into the meal delivery service! Sorry, I hate this precut crap, including sweet potatoes…what on earth??!!! However, that was the least of my concerns. The recipe called for green pepper and yellow onion, as most chili recipes do. This is what I got. Again, no room for mistake or if the product is bad. I understand that only a small portion of a whole vegetable is needed and they don’t want to promote waste. However, if that small portion was rotten or putrid, those ingredients would be left out of the recipe. I’m sorry, but of all the ingredients in chili, aromatics should NEVER be compromised. Moving on, the recipe itself was fairly easy. There were some jars with a vinaigrette and some kind of tomato based soup finisher. I can’t speak too much as I have no idea what was in there other than what the labels told me. I also hate shortcuts. From tasting those dressings, I can tell you that they aren’t hard to make and could have been made fresh. Nonetheless, the dish was done, plated and ready to eat.
Taste and Presentation:
This dish is really beautiful. That’s where the beauty ends. The chili is extremely unbalanced as is. I didn’t care for the base at the end, the flavors don’t have time to meld and become cohesive. The beans take on one flavor profile and the potatoes take on another. The rice is just an odd add-in that I deemed a total nuisance. I forgot the cheese, because I couldn’t find it in my stockpile and now my dogs are feasting on it. As for the slaw…again…why? Although I didn’t mind the acidity it brought to the dish, which it needed, but could have been sufficed with some fresh lime.
Final Thoughts & Rating:
The concept is actually great, it’s an easy meal to make on a cold, winter day…after all, I chose it for a reason. What I don’t understand is how a dish that is supposed to be a one-pot easy A, turns into an Advance Placement course in over-complication. I would not make this again or eat it again. All in all, I give this dish a 2/5. Final dinner…Dijon-Maple Chicken!
Dijon-Maple Chicken with Herb Roasted Parsnip Fries, Snap Pea & Cabbage Slaw
Calories: 750 per serving, Fat: 36g, Protein:47g, Carbs: 57g, Sodium: 640mg
Aaaaannndd…we have slaw again!! What is going on? It’s not the slaw part that bothers me, it’s the fact that there is so much CABBAGE??? Who over ordered the inventory? No one puts that much cabbage on one menu unless there was a HUGE delivery/ordering mistake. You ever wonder why restaurants have specials? It’s because they are trying to get rid of old inventory or are trying to utilize something they mistakenly have too much of. I was about to call and ask them. However, the delight in all this, I love snap peas and these were beautiful, so some redemption. The chicken drumsticks were a welcome change from the breast pieces from the other recipes from other boxes. Cutting the parsnip and snap peas was a welcome task as my knife was feeling really lonely. The chicken was dressed with some sauce and the slaw dressed with some dressing. Again…I didn’t make it…I don’t care. Cooking the chicken is where I had issues, chef brain comes back on. I will say this, when it comes to health and safety in question in terms of meat, I will not turn off chef brain. It’s tethered like that safety you use on the treadmill. The chicken needed to be cooked 5 extra minutes, which is slightly alarming for me. I don’t think everyone has a meat thermometer, and sometimes take recipes at face value and utilize them verbatim…which in this case, they would have been consuming raw chicken…that’s a big no-no. Being that there were chicken legs, there is more fat and more give that overcooking them isn’t going to hurt them, the recipe should have stated an extra five minutes could be necessary. Anyhow, the cooking was basic, a lot of wait time of which I utilized to get my clothes ready for the gym.
Taste and Presentation:
The dish itself wasn’t the most stunning of the three. It was the best tasting! Yay! The chicken was juicy and the sauce was tasty. The fries were a bit soggy for my liking, but the seasoning was nice against the sweet chicken. The slaw was fresh and the dressing was good with the cranberries. I can’t say it was amazing, but then again, my pool to choose from was pretty bleak!
Final Thoughts & Rating:
There isn’t much bad I can say, but there isn’t much to write home about. I have some concerns about the cooking process of the chicken and I am seriously never eating cabbage again. I hate the word slaw and I still don’t appreciate the sauces with no additional information. Nonetheless, this dish was tasty and I did finish it so I give this dish a 3/5.
OH BOY. I don’t want to tear these guys apart because I love their intention. The ingredients that weren’t prepackaged were great and those that were, well, that’s what they were. The onion thing is a huge problem for me as they couldn’t figure it out in any form. I don’t like not knowing more about what’s in my sauces, which also makes me wonder the validity of how really organic everything is. That must be the 5% that isn’t, I don’t know. I understand some of the pre-prepped ingredients to save time, except it didn’t save me time at all. As a matter of fact, some of the recipes took longer than Marley Spoon’s which had me cut all my produce. I’m failing to see where the disconnect is. Nutritionally, these recipes are much better than the last two companies I reviewed, but not without the sacrifice of flavor. The meals themselves are unnecessarily complicated and over accessorized…they should remember what Coco Chanel once said, ” Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off…” In this case, before you seal that box, take a look inside, and take few ingredients out! Green Chef gets a 2.5/5.
NEXT UP….I wasn’t going to do a fourth delivery company….but this one is a new concept that I couldn’t put off trying out! Terra’s Kitchen is next!