We sampled the UK’s top rated recipe box service Simply Cook, who do all the sourcing, grinding and developing for you, so you can create restaurant quality meals in the comfort of your own home.
How it works
Simply cook are a convenient food subscription service that create exciting, easy to follow recipes for you to make at home. After ordering online you receive a handy letterbox-sized box in the post.
What you get
Each box contains 4 recipe kits, which each includes a step-by-step recipe card and 3 flavour pots. Each kit has been designed to cater for between 2 – 4 people (depending on portion size.) and includes a small shopping list for each recipe. All you need to do is buy between 4 – 6 fresh ingredients per meal and follow the simple instructions to create a delicious meal in 20 minutes.
Why get Simply Cook?
My partner and I had been getting fed up with cooking the same old thing during the week and so Simply Cook sounded ideal. After getting home from work, we are both usually tired and end up resorting to our usual roster of uninspiring meals. Cooking had become a bit of a chore (more of a necessity) and we had heard about Simply Cook and thought it would be a great way to liven up mealtimes. Plus, I was intrigued to see if it was really possible to cook healthy home-cooked meals from scratch in the 20 minutes that Simply Cook claim. My fingers were crossed!
After ordering our sample box online (for just £1 including free delivery with the Thrivo deal), we received our box within a snappy few days. The handy sized box fits through a letterbox, which is ideal as it meant that there was no having to be in to receive the parcel and no annoying trips to the Post Office, either!
Upon opening the box, we discovered 4 recipe cards and 3 flavour pots per recipe (12 pots in total), all neatly packaged in their own box. We had been given recipe kits for the following dishes (all of which were gluten free): ‘Malaysian Laksa’, ‘Chipotle Grilled Steak Salad’, ‘BBQ Tandoori Chicken with Sweet Potato Wedges’ and ‘Vietnamese Pork’.
All of these sounded fantastically exotic (and many of these were completely new to us), so we were looking forward to trying these. I was really intrigued by the flavour pots, which were not simply herbs and spices, but a variety of culinary pastes, infused oils, garnishes, rubs, stocks and herb and spice blends.
The shopping list
Eager, to get started and try out these meals we headed off to the supermarket to buy the ingredients. What’s really handy is that the recipe cards have tear-off shopping lists, so bonus convenience points there! Each recipe only required between 4 – 6 easy-to-find fresh ingredients so nothing you couldn’t find in a local supermarket or convenience store.
We actually found that for a number of the recipes, we already had the ingredients in our cupboard (such as rice) and fresh basics like onions, potatoes. With the exception of some meat and fresh veg, we didn’t have to buy too much, which was brilliant and it also meant that our shopping bill was much more modest than we were expecting, too.
The cooking experience
The prep time for the meals was surprisingly quick and required some basic chopping and peeling. Ideal for even the most novice of cooks! The step-by-step instructions were incredibly easy to follow and within minutes delicious aromas started to fill our kitchen. The little flavour pots were brilliant and each one (whether it was a stock, or garnish) added a new dimension to the dish.
Amazingly, each meal took on average between 20 – 30 minutes to make, which included all of the preparation and cooking time. (The 30 minutes recipe was more due to the stubborn butternut squash and a blunt knife that I had to contend with, so not the recipe itself.). I have to say I was initially sceptical that of the speedy time claims but I was really impressed to create a fresh meal from scratch in just 20 minutes.
‘Malaysian Laksa’: We loved this fresh, coconutty noodle curry dish. Incredibly aromatic, with notes of ginger, lime, basil and lemongrass. The combination of chicken and squash was brilliant and I was surprised at how great the addition of asparagus was, too. What a great way to add a bit of crunch to a curry! This rich coconut noodle soup was fantastically filling, too.
‘BBQ Tandoori Chicken with Sweet Potato Wedges’: A fantastically fresh, light meal that was gluten-free, too! Juicy grilled chicken marinated in a Tandoori blend of paprika, cayenne, cumin, ginger and creamy Greek yoghurt. The sweet potato wedges were fantastically crispy thanks to dry aromatic spice rub of coriander, turmeric, nutmeg and cumin. If you had time, it would be great to marinate the chicken a least a few hours for an intense Tandoori flavour!
‘Vietnamese Pork’: A completely new taste sensation – I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this. However, this dish was brilliantly fragrant, with notes of garlic, galangal and ginger and the rich beef stock marinade for the pork was rich, sweet and delicious. The recipe called for brown sugar, but we opted for GI friendly coconut sugar instead, which was an ideal substitute.
‘Chipotle Grilled Steak Salad’: This was hands-down one our favourites and amazingly, it was one of the quickest and simplest dishes of them all. My partner (usually a reluctant cook) took the reigns with cooking this one as a treat on a Friday night. This was an incredibly delicious Mexican-inspired low-carb meal that was surprisingly filling and had a delicious creamy smoky salad dressing that I am counting down the days until we have it again.
We found the portion sizes to be very generous for 2 – great for my hungry other half! In fact sometimes we had some leftover, which was allocated as lunch the following day – a welcome bonus to avoid having to prep for lunch! For some of the dishes, such as the curries, you could easily add more meat and veg and double the dish if you wanted to cater for a family of 4.
A subscription to Simply Cook costs £8.99 (for 4 meal kits), which includes free delivery, too. Including the kit, plus the fresh ingredients, each meal worked out between £3 – £5 per person per meal. Considering the generous portion sizes, I thought that this was actually great value for money.
So many times, when attempting to cook something special or different I end up over-buying, with leftover limp salad gone to waste, or ending up with whole jars of marinades or sauces that I only need a spoonful of. Ideal if you’re on a budget or a single person who doesn’t want to commit to buying big jars, that have to be consumed within a few days of opening. In that sense, we found that we actually experienced less food waste, which was a huge economic plus.
Having a Simply Cook box on hand would be a great substitute for a tempting weekend takeaway. The Indian and South-East Asian dishes would be a brilliant alternative that is not only kinder to your wallet but a much healthier option, too.
What’s great about Simply Cook is that you could easily opt for alternative ingredients in the recipes and cater dishes to your tastes. For example, if you weren’t too keen on prawns in your curry, you could easily swap to chicken instead (and adjust timings to suit).
Similarly, if you wanted to cater the meals to suit dietary requirements you could do that, too. We’re cutting down on sugar and so used coconut blossom sugar instead of brown sugar in the pork recipe and I’m also dairy-free, so used coconut yoghurt instead of the Greek yoghurt in the Tandoori Chicken recipe. I personally like my meals to be heavy on the vegetables, so for some of the recipes I added some extras that I had lying in the fridge to boost the veg content.
Simply cook have over 50 recipes to choose from, so you’ll never get bored. We particularly like to sound of ‘West African Peanut Stew’, ‘Scandi Salmon’ and ‘Balinese Chicken’ and so have these earmarked for our next boxes. These recipe kits are a great way of trying different cuisines and dishes that you may not otherwise have attempted to try.
Simply Cook also caters for a variety of diets including ‘gluten-free’ and ‘light’ options which are their healthiest and lowest calorie recipes, each under 600 calories per portion.
For us, it was great to see that a large number of the meals were gluten free. Personally, it would be great if they could increase the amount of vegetarian dishes in their catalogue. We are starting to consciously consume more plant-based meals and so delicious vegetarian meals would be a huge plus to their offering.
Fantastically convenient, these inventive kits are a great way of livening up meals and introducing new cuisines and dishes into your diet. The short shopping lists are very accessible (no unusual ingredients required as Simply Cook do all of the creative legwork for you) and each meal requires minimal preparation. My partner (who usually isn’t so keen on coming up with meal ideas from scratch) really enjoyed having a set, simple recipe to follow and so if you want fuss-free healthy meals, Simply Cook is a great choice. What’s particularly great is that when you tuck into your wholesome and tasty evening meal, you have all the satisfaction of knowing that you cooked it yourself. We loved our Simply Cook experience and are already looking forward to our next box!
If you would like to try Simply Cook then why not take advantage of our exclusive deal and get 50% off your 1st & 3rd recipe boxes