oh my veggie: a review of green chef

Since moving to California, with the exception of a few weeks, I’ve been using a meal service called Plated to help me eat well.  There are a few reasons I decided to go with a meal service.  It takes the guesswork out of meal planning and the associated shopping.  If you’re cooking regularly, you’re less likely to waste food due to it going bad or due to overbuying.  It’s actually decently affordable (Some have said that this is not true–but I call bullshit.  It’s very tough to find high quality meat and veggies that are responsibly produced at this price point and–at least with Plated–there are often hard to find/expensive items included like saffron threads and kaffir lime leaves and etc).  These meals also take up way less space since you’re not getting big containers of yogurt or mayo like if you were buying things normally.  And–sometimes–some of the prep is done for you.

For the most part, I’ve enjoyed every meal I’ve gotten from Plated–with their veggie dishes being my favorite.  But my criticism has been that the recipes are a little time intensive and complicated.  And sometimes require things like eggs or a food processor.   I don’t really want to buy a whole dozen eggs for such things (and I don’t eat eggs that regularly) nor do I want to drag out a blender or a food processor to make a salad dressing after working a long day.  And the whole only partially prepping things thing–ahem–butternut squash–they do?  Well, that is a whole rant.

And I’ve had issues with delivery during the holidays, and when I did Saturday delivery due to their reliance on FedEx.  FedEx here in the Bay Area is decent, usually, but all bets are off at Christmas.  And when that happens, Plated won’t replace anything.  They’ll just give you a refund.  This is also true if they eff up if you happen to be a Saturday delivery person.  I was so pissed off after a Christmas related debacle that I canceled the service for a few months and only recently resumed, skipping weeks fairly often still.  When I came back, I vowed not to order from them during the holidays and also to only do weekday delivery–mostly because my roommate works for the company that delivers to us during the week.

So, I’ve been kinda on the lookout for alternative services to try out–hoping to find one I’d actually like better that didn’t have delivery issues.  I haven’t been great at managing time/energy lately, so I wanted to see if maybe I could find simpler recipes and less prep.  Healthier options were also on the wishlist.  Plated isn’t unhealthy–but it’s not really restrictive of things like white sugar, cheap dairy, and gluten.  I’m not either, but I’d like to eat more veggies and cut a few carbs here and there.

I vaguely knew about Green Chef because it’s from Colorado.  Given its origin, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about where my food was coming from and that it would have decent veggie options.

I tried it out this week, opting for the Omnivore option.  Unlike Plated, you don’t get to choose your meals from an array of options each week.  I chose 3 meals at 2 servings a pop.  I’m allergic to shellfish, so I opted out of those dishes and I also opted out of fish since there is a chance of cross-contamination that I don’t want to deal with.  Given that, my menu was 2 vegetarian dishes and 1 chicken dish–which I did not mind at all because that’s what I usually choose when I do Plated–albeit that’s usually because I hate worrying about if my meat is still good or freezing it and having to do defrost roulette.  And veggie is usually healthier.

With Plated, this is totally fine.  Their veggie options are awesome and filling.  I saw the options for this week with Green Chef, and while I was excited about one of the veggie options, the other option didn’t look great and the meat option also didn’t look that interesting.  Later, when I checked in, I noticed people had reviewed things, and there was a lot of negative feedback.

On Tuesday, I got a notice saying my items had shipped from Denver for delivery on Thursday.  Since I live in the Bay Area, Plated items are shipped to us the night before and usually arrive around noon the next day, so I was a bit concerned that the box wouldn’t keep things fresh if it was just a few ice packs.  I was also concerned when I saw it was OnTrac doing delivery since I LOATHE them and had non-stop issues with them back in Denver.  This didn’t inspire a lot of confidence since it was being shipped from Denver, where all the problems happened before.

But I tried to keep an open mind and was pleasantly surprised when the box arrived around noon on Thursday.  The ice packs were still mostly frozen and everything was in good shape.  All of it seemed to be high quality, as I expected, but that was about as far as I got with pleasant surprises.

I had problems finding the menu cards–to the point that I thought they didn’t send any and only found them later, when dismantling the box.  I did like the menu cards.  They were thorough and organized the way I tend to cook–much improved compared to Plated.  The recipes were simple looking and took far less cooking time than Plated as well.

But there were about 12 gazillion plastic packets in this box.  Every single thing was individually packaged when it really didn’t need to be.  And none of it was bundled or labeled by recipe.  Which became a big problem when cooking.

It was, frankly, a pain in the ass to put all that plastic in the fridge and also very aggravating for this environmental activist.  Especially for a company called Green Chef.  Especially for one that originated in Boulder, of all places.

I’ve now cooked all three meals and here’s my feedback.

Lemon Gremolata Chicken

lemon gremolata chicken

  • This dish was decently tasty, but unbalanced–too much lemon juice and not enough richness.
  • The gremolata, prepared as instructed, looked more like a lemon vinaigrette.  It was good, though.  The orrechiette was whole wheat–which is not what was pictured.  I tossed it in olive oil and it stayed moist, but that wasn’t suggested by the recipe, so I’m guessing lots of folks had dried out pasta.
  • The recipe developers really like to do the sear and roast thing.  Which is just more work and more dirty dishes if you don’t have oven proof saute pans.  I cooked the chicken on the stove top and saved time.
  • The parmesan was not high quality.  It was flavorless and added nothing to the dish.
  • Overall, 2.5/5.

Spring Supergrain Salad

spring supergrain salad

  • This dish was probably the most hated by the community with lots of people saying it tasted like nothing and was cumbersome to prepare.
  • This dish was probably the closest to Plated in terms of prep routines.  Plated does a lot of roasted veg plus sauteing and etc.
  • The supergrain mix contained what is actually used for birdseed.  I didn’t hate it, but I would have preferred straight up quinoa or something more wholesome.  And it literally was just–toast and boil.  And not even with broth.  It was BLAND  BLAND BLAND.  Boiling in broth would have at least made it taste like something.
  • The roasted veggies were delicious. But I really wish they had added some variety here. Purple potatoes, rainbow carrots–that would have been fun and even more delicious.  The carrots were amazing.  But I am an expert roaster.  If someone didn’t season impeccably or just followed the directions, you’d get limp, bland veggies here too.
  • The slaw was a major pain in the ass.  No one wants to grate a yellow beet.  Yellow beets suck for grating by hand.  They really really do.  And they get EVERYWHERE and stain everything bright yellow.  But I loved the yellow beets–who knew?  I’ve always avoided them because I dislike their red cousins.
  • There were so many ingredients in the slaw and so many packets to track down that I actually missed two items–the cabbage and the chives.  I added them to the leftovers.  That’s kind of ridiculous.  Dinner should not have dozens of ingredients–all of which require prep of some kind–which is worse than Plated.
  • But they did make the sunflower dressing for us.  Well, kinda–still had to season it and add olive oil.  It was really unappetizing and completely bland.  I felt like I dumped so much salt in to get it to even taste like something, but it still tasted like nothing.
  • I think the point of this dish was to highlight the beautiful produce, and I love beautiful produce and did appreciate that.  But it needed acid.  Some kind of brightness.  Herbs.
  • 1.5/5.

Thai Veggie Pitas

thai veggie pitas

  • I opted to cook everything on the stovetop rather than browning and then roasting as suggested.  I also added the pickled peppers directly to the veg mix.  And I dumped the mandarins into the bok choy salad.
  • The mushrooms were stunningly beautiful, but I definitely wish I had prepped them the way I prep mushrooms rather than as they suggested.  It took longer to caramelize them.  The veggie mix was super yummy, but only because I doctored it–knowing it would likely be bland.
  • Didn’t really understand why bok choy AND spring mix needed to be on the same plate.
  • Wasn’t a fan of the 2-3 mandarins that were clearly from a can.  No citrus to speak of, really.
  • Not sure what exactly made this a thai dish.
  • And the pitas were moldy.  Keep in mind, I got this on Thursday afternoon.  Pitas from Plated last at least 5-6 days.  So, I didn’t get the full dish.  I threw them out and ate it as a bowl.
  • 3 out of 5.

I think I’ll probably be sticking with Plated.

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