One of my bugbears about recipe box companies is how many of them make it surprisingly tricky to browse meals on the website without starting an order, or hide the nutritional details of the meals. Worst of all, some make it hard to find out how much you’ll actually have to pay without going through several steps of an order.
Green Chef deserves plaudits for its refreshingly easy-to-use website. You can see all the meals available for the next three weeks, along with the nutritional info of each, broken down by which plan they belong to. The price of a box is also shown as soon as you start setting up your order, and doesn’t vary depending on the meals you choose.
There are five plans you can sign up to, and one of those is keto – a particularly low-carb, high-fat diet which until now has been underserved by recipe boxes. The other options are low-carb (under 35g per serving, compared with under 20g for keto recipes), vegetarian, vegan and balanced.
I tried three meals from the service, one apiece from the keto, balanced and vegan plans. All the recipes were easy to follow and the cards clearly listed the nutritional info on the front, including how many portions of your five-a-day are contained in each serving.
Despite being a committed consumer of substantial amounts of carbs, the keto recipe won me over by including a huge veggie stir-fry, which is one of my favourite dishes. It was tasty too, with a sesame and ginger-flavoured steak (pictured, above) on top of that stir-fry of so many veggies – including cabbage and pak choi – that the extremely low carb content didn’t really register.
I also enjoyed the other meals I tried: a teriyaki sea bass with black rice for the balanced option (pictured, below), and a chana masala from the vegan plan. Each of the meals took around 30 minutes to make – the stir-fry would have been quicker if I was more adept at chopping – and the instructions were clear.
The amount of vegetables was also impressive, and the actual vegetable choices were varied. Since speaking to a dietitian about fibre, discovering there are nearly 100 types of it and we should all be varying our sources as much as possible, I’ve been trying to increase the range of plant foods I eat each week, and Green Chef certainly helped on this front.
One thing I noticed in the meals I tried was that the calorie counts were quite high – 745 per serving in the balanced meal, and 542 for the keto meal despite its lack of carbs. There are lower-calorie options to be found on the site, but it doesn’t seem a big priority for Green Chef, and if you’re sticking to something like a rough 400-600-600 plan for your meals you’ll have to hunt a bit to find meals.
There’s also a relatively small range of meals compared with what Green Chef offers in the US. I’m hoping this will expand quickly now the service has launched in the UK, but right now there are only three balanced meals in a week, for example, so if you followed that plan you’d have very little variety in your meals.
The price is also slightly higher than competitors like HelloFresh and Gousto, with the cheapest option £4.70 per serving (four people, four meals per week), and the more standard three meals for two people per week costing £5.95 per serving. HelloFresh starts at £3.25 a meal, and Gousto £2.98. I wouldn’t say the Green Chef offers tastier or healthier meals than its rivals, though the keto menu is something different, even if other brands offer low-carb options.
Still, there’s little to fault about the Green Chef service, and it’s one worth checking out if you are especially keen on low-carb recipes. The balanced meals would be my preference, and here Green Chef impresses with the amount and range of vegetables. In short, it’s a very good recipe box service. Give it a go.
Buy from Green Chef | From £4.70pp
Green Chef Recipe Box Review: Healthy Meals For Keto, Vegan And Balanced Diets is written by jshannon for www.coachmag.co.uk