As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I’m a little overwhelmed by how fast time seems to move. You put something off for a day and all of a sudden two weeks have gone by and you still haven’t completed that task. You get a job ‘just for now’ until you’ve got time to discover what it is you want to do and then it’s a year later and you’re no step closer to either having the time (because, job) or the money (it’s incredible how fast you get used to spending it once you have it), or the ideas for what to do in order to ‘find yourself’. What does ‘find yourself’ even mean anyway? I know exactly where I am – not exactly where I want to be right now, but living relatively comfortably in central-ish London.
So, first day (hopefully) back to normal after staying down in Havant for work for three weeks! (Minus weekends, of course). And also, excitingly, parcel day!
I’ve been looking forward to this all week. A couple of weeks ago I received a money off voucher for a website called Gousto. It was one of the leaflets at the bottom of an Amazon box that I usually throw out without reading, but I noticed it was food related so it caught my attention. I thought £25 off was a decent amount, but it probably meant that I’d have to spent £50+ initially.
Anyway, one bored day at work the week before last, I decided to take a proper look at the website. Gousto is a service that allows you to select three meals, and they will then deliver the ingredients (in the exact amounts) to your door, along with instructions for the recipe. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that picking three meals “for two” (for four was the other option) only came to £34.99 – take the £25 off and I’d only be spending £9.99!
I would never normally pay £35 for three (or, six) meals. I can – or rather, have done so in the past – spent £35 on an entire week’s worth of shopping. As much as they try to prove how good value the ingredients are, the meals work out at £5.83 per portion if you pay full price. Yes, it’s a cheaper alternative to eating out every night, but it’s definitely not value for money if you’re going to cook regularly. However, compare it to the price of a takeaway you’re going to regret straight after eating, and it’s perfect!
However, I could definitely get behind spending £10 for 6 meals, so I decided to put my voucher to good use.
As you’re aware I’m currently trying to watch what I’m eating, so I did look at the calorie and protein content of the meals when making my decision, although that wasn’t the only factor I took into consideration. However it must be said, that these three are three of the lowest calorie content meals that were on offer this week , and they come in at 538 (beetroot risotto), 595 (chicken and potatoes), 618 (lentils and butternut squash). I take these numbers with a pinch of salt mind you, as when I put the recipe for the chicken into MyFitnessPal it came out at 800+ calories per meal. It remained similar to Gousto’s count until I added in the olive oil.
Anyway, all that aside, I was very excited to be receiving the parcel today. Ignoring the fact it meant I’d be working from home rather than the office (yay!), my calf muscles are in agony right now. I did this Pop Pilates video two evenings ago, without any weights and taking three or four breaks, and whilst yesterday was uncomfortable, I can hardly walk today. Definitely didn’t fancy nipping out to the shops before lunch, although I may still go this evening.
I have to say I did love the experience of taking each new ingredient out of the box, seeing what I’d get. I hadn’t paid too much attention to the ingredient list when picking the recipes, and it genuinely felt like Christmas. Everything is portioned exactly as required, and over half of the ingredients are organic. It’s all from British farmers too, and I really admire the dedication to reducing food waste. There was minimal packaging, and I really liked the way the chicken and crème fraîche had been insulated. There were two ice packs that are definitely reusable (and in fact were used several hours later to try and ease the pain in my calves), and this:
No styrofoam chips here! This is pure sheep’s wool (and smells like it too). I thought this was ingenious – it makes complete sense, but I would never have considered using it. It’s biodegradable and reusable, but I must admit I’ve no idea what to do with it. Might ask my flatmate – she’s very craftsy/DIY-y and loves to knit. Maybe she can use it?
So lunch today: French Chicken and Crispy Potatoes.
It was a very simple meal to make. The chicken was cooked by itself, seasoned and skin-side down in olive oil for about 10 mins (then 4 mins on the other side), whilst the potatoes were being prepared and put in the oven. Then it was placed to one side whilst the beans were cooked.
This was definitely my favourite part of the whole meal. Thinly sliced leeks and chopped garlic were cooked in the pan used to cook the chicken, so the oil had already been infused and there was a fair bit of chicken fat in there. I actually took several spoonfuls of fat/oil out of the pan before adding the leeks because I couldn’t stand the idea of using that much. Then to the leeks and garlic was added cannellini beans, chicken stock and fresh tarragon. Simmered for 5 minutes it became deliciously and creamy, and I could eat a bowlful of it by itself.
As for the finished dish as a whole:
It was ok. Like I’ve now said several times, I really like the leek and beans combination. My main issues were with everything else. The chicken was just a bit plain. I know I was the one who seasoned it, but fried chicken with a bit of salt and pepper isn’t really my favourite thing. I like to slow roast it with lots of garlic, or cumin, or numerous other things. There is something to seasoning simply, but I just thought that it was a bit plain. Again with the roast potatoes. Literally the only thing they were cooked in was olive oil. I’ve grown up with dad adding chilli flakes, or fennel seeds, or even salt and pepper, but this recipe called for none of that (and I tried following it to a ‘t’). I’m sure for people who are used to ready-meals and takeaways it was great, but I just felt it lacked that extra something. Basically, there was nothing special about the chicken or roast potatoes.
My other main issue was the sheer amount of oil/fat in the dish, even though I removed quite a lot of it part way through! The chicken was fried in 1-2 tbsps E.V.O.O. and released a lot of fat itself, especially since I was provided with 320g chicken thighs, most of which were skin. On the two smallest thighs there were only scraps of meat.
So when I bit into the chicken later on, even though it had been resting/draining on a paper towel, you could practically squeeze the oil out of it. It didn’t help the plainness at all. The decision to remove several spoonfuls of fat was definitely a good decision I feel, because the beans and leeks were cooked in the chicken pan and it would have made the beans far too oily. The potatoes were also coated in 1-2 tbsps oil.
I’m reserving my judgement of the whole thing until I’ve tried the other two meals. The spice mix to go in the lentils already smells delicious, and I can’t imagine how beetroot risotto tastes. And whilst there was far too much oil in the chicken meal, I a) could have reduced the quantity myself as I’ve done before for other things, and b) it was still miles better than any takeaway I’ve ever had (bar healthy one I discovered recently). You know each and every thing that has gone into the meal, and it’s all healthy, delicious ingredients.
I may not use the service again, but I’m definitely enjoying it as a one-off so far!