Simply Cook! A Review & Giveaway (Closed)

During the last few weeks we’ve been enjoying some very quick and tasty dinners at home, thanks to Simply Cook – one of the many recipe-by-post subscription services now available in the UK.

Unlike many of the competitors, Simply Cook’s offering is a little different. Instead of sending a full set of ingredients including fresh items with limited shelf-life, they provide letter-box friendly packs containing the flavourings and cooking instructions for 4 dishes, all of which can be stored for a few months, often more.

Each recipe needs only a handful of fresh ingredients to be purchased and takes only 20 minutes to cook. The range of dishes available is wide and appealing, with lots of globally-inspired dishes packed with flavour.

Inside the box you’ll find four recipe cards and the three flavour pots needed to make each one. These pots might contain flavoured oils, herb and spice blends, marinades and pastes, dressings and sauces, and even garnishes to top the finished dish. Each recipe is sized to feed 2-3 people.

One of the key attractions for us is to bring a wider range of cuisine into our weekday repertoire – it’s so easy to fall into a rut, especially at this time of year when the excesses and meal-planning extravaganzas of December are just behind us.

Scroll down for our review and giveaway and to find our special discount code to try a box for yourself for just £1.

Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7755 Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7766

There are three ranges to choose from – the original Discovery Box, a Gluten Free Box and a Light Box with all meals less than 600 calories (based on 2 people sharing the recipe as written).

Simply Cook’s resident chef Anisa Jamal sent us four of her favourite recipes to give us a taste of the range.

Each recipe card has a handy tear-off slip at the top to use as a shopping list when buying fresh ingredients, just 4 or 5 per recipe.

Goan Fish Curry - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7770 Goan Fish Curry - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7773

Goan Fish Curry comes with Goan paste, coconut paste and a spice blend and you’ll need to buy an onion, tomatoes, rice, coconut milk and some cod fillet.

Malay Laksa - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7785 Malay Laksa - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7789

Malay Laksa comes with laksa paste, chicken stock and Malay garnish and you’ll need to buy butternut squash, chicken, coconut milk, rice noodles and asparagus spears.

Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7812 Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7813
Cajun Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7819

Jerk Chicken comes with jerk seasoning, jerk paste and chicken stock and you’ll need to buy chicken, basmati rice, coconut milk, black-eyed peas and an onion.

Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7775 Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7776
Jerk Chicken - Simply Cook on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7780

Cajun Chicken comes with garlic oil, cajun seasoning and red pepper stock and you’ll need to buy sweet potatoes, chicken, bacon and either okra or courgettes.

What We Thought

All four recipes were delicious and we particularly loved the Jerk chicken and Cajun chicken meals. All four were packed with flavour.

Additional ingredients, because there are only a handful for each recipe, are not hugely expensive and you are free to buy from your preferred shop or market. We spent £4-5 on each of these four recipes, but did have rice and onions already in the store cupboard. With some of the recipes, we had some ingredients left over, which we easily used in our cooking over the next couple of days. Add this to the £2.25 per-recipe cost of Simply Cook flavourings and that’s around £6-7 per recipe, £3-3.50 per portion (based on splitting each meal between 2). That compares very favourably with the £6.50 per portion from HelloFresh (based on 3 meals for 2) and £5.75 per portion from Gousto (based on 4 meals for 2).

Recipes were generous and certainly could have stretched to feed 3, especially the Jerk chicken. In fact, the flavour pots are pretty generous, so you could easily scale up the main ingredients a touch and feed four without compromising on taste.

None of the ingredients were difficult to find – all should be readily available across the UK in season; Simply Cook switch the recipes offered according to time of year, so you shouldn’t find yourself asked to buy butternut squash in the height of summer.

Pete, who did the shopping, cooking and prep, found all four recipes very accurate. He also really appreciated the little tear-off shopping list.

The recipes really did only take 20 minutes each to make; perfect for weekday dinners.

Any Negatives?

If you’re looking for the most authentic version of international dishes, Simply Cook doesn’t always provide that. The Malay Laksa was very enjoyable but didn’t much resemble the Malaysian versions I’ve tried, particularly in terms of fresh ingredients suggested – butternut squash and asparagus spears – rather than the flavourings. I don’t know Jerk or Cajun well enough to comment knowledgably on authenticity but we absolutely loved both. The Goan curry was pretty good and the flavours seemed right to me.

You won’t learn to cook new recipes from this subscription; because all the key flavours are in the secret-recipe flavour pots, you can’t keep the cards and use them again as you can with some subscription meal services, for example – we’ve made variations of a pasta dish we learned from a long-ago Gousto review a few times since.

Other Points Of Note

Simply Cook don’t currently offer the option of buying one-off boxes unless you are already signed up for a subscription. However this is very easy to cancel at any time, so you can certainly sign up for a discounted trial box and cancel your subscription before it rolls over to a full priced box if you decide it’s not for you.

Once you’ve set up an account the first box you get is selected by Simply Cook to introduce you to their boxes. After that you can swap one, two or even all four proposed dishes out for any of the recipes currently listed. When I played around with this feature, I had 51 recipes to choose from!

GIVEAWAY

Simply Cook are offering two lucky readers of Kavey Eats a 3-month subscription (of one box per month) each, worth £26.95. Winners can choose between the Discovery, Light and Gluten Free options. Delivery to UK addresses is included.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me about your favourite international recipe – what is it and why do you love it?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey and @SimplyCookCom on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a 3-month subscription to @SimplyCookCom from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsSimplyCook #KaveyEatsSimplyCook
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 26th February 2016.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Simply Cook.
  • Each prize is a 3-month subscription (one box per month) to Simply Cook. Winners can choose between the Discovery, Light and Gluten Free options. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following both @Kavey and @SimplyCookCom at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

TRY A BOX FOR JUST £1 (EXPIRED, SEE BELOW)

If you’re still not sure whether Simply Cook is for you, here’s a fantastic offer – Kavey Eats readers are invited to try a box for just £1 using discount code KAVEY1, valid through to the end of March 2016.

£1 TRIAL BOX

The above trial offer has now expired. However, you can still get your first Simply Cook box for £1 using this link.

Note that you will need to sign up for a subscription with future boxes priced at £8.99 but you are free to cancel after your first (discounted) box if you wish, though you may be hooked, as we now are! I signed up a new account and used the discount code myself to check, and it’s very easy to pause deliveries for a month at a time or to cancel indefinitely – in which case your account remains active but you receive no further deliveries until you go back in and kick them off again.

Kavey Eats received a review subscription from Simply Cook.

The winners of this giveaway are Lindsey Loughtman and Sarah N.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
98 Comments to "Simply Cook! A Review & Giveaway (Closed)"

  1. Elaine Savage

    I love moussaka because I think the juiciness of the aubergines goes perfectly with the garlic and cheese flavours

    Reply
  2. Alicia (foodycat)

    My favourite international recipe?! I don’t play favourites. Who can choose between the rich meaty comfort of cassoulet, the herbal freshness of pho or the briny simplicity of linguine vongole?

    Reply
  3. Abi

    We have reviewed Simply Cook ourselves and have to say that we found them thoroughly enjoyable too in fact we have just signed up again. Once a week we don’t eat with the children and actually find that, as a result, our meals tend to be unplanned and rather rubbish due to haste and hunger. These are our treat. They enable us to turn up the heat, it’s different each week and give us something to look forward to. I agree with your review that authenticity may not be perfect but actually it’s a lot better than not trying those flavours at all and I think some of it is down to keep ingredients realistic for everyone that can be easily bought.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Indeed, I mentioned the authenticity issue only because I know that for some food lovers, it’s a key aspect, but for us we enjoy eating the wide range of flavours Simply Cook provide, and the meals are so quick and easy to make that they work very well for weeknights after work.

    Reply
  4. Kim M

    Love anything Italian especially lasagne, reminds me of summer holidays and eating outside

    Reply
  5. Jamie | The Kitchenarium

    I think subscription services like this are a nice way to introduce people to different cuisines. While they may not be entirely authentic it does provide a good intro and exposure for people to stick to the same meal line ups.

    Reply
  6. Dorota

    favorite? definitely chicken tikka masala I can eat it and eat it and never be bored of it – with naan breads for sure!

    Reply
  7. Hazel Rea

    Our favourite recipe is a Malaysian Fish Stew recipe my mother in law gave us. She was given it by a friend in China. It’s very flavoursome but the children liked it even when quite young – it’s a real family recipe.

    Reply
  8. Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs

    I’d love to win a subscription! My favourite international dish is probably…… butter chicken. I love Indian food and although I often pick something spicier when I go out for a curry to me butter chicken is serious comfort food which I love!

    Simply Cook sounds similar to a spice subscription serve we were signed up to for 6 months or so. We really enjoyed trying out different recipes we wouldn’t otherwise have cooked at home ourselves!

    Reply
  9. Noel

    Simple cooking is exactly what I try to accomplish … doesn’t always mean I have the most authentic dishes … let’s face it, to be authentic sometimes you have to put forth a lot of time, effort and special ingredients, so I’m ok with being close … lol

    pinned and stumbled!

    Reply
  10. Helen G

    I LOVE SimplyCook, I’ve been a subscriber to their service for a while now and I love discovering new dishes. One of my favoirites of theirs is the Balinese curry. Delicious. I also love their Cajun chicken and I don’t think I’ve had a recipie I didn’t enjoy, tonight I’ll be making their South African Bobotie! 🙂

    My favourite international recipie is jambalaya 🙂 it’s such a fusion of flavours and nations. Quick and easy. Perfect!

    Reply
  11. Judy

    I hadn’t heard about SimplyCook being from Canada, however we are starting to see different variations on the same theme. What a great idea as a post for your subscribers. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  12. laura banks

    i’ve always like gnocchi ever since i went to italy when i was a kid but ive never actually tried making it

    Reply
  13. Lynn | The Road to Honey

    There are some days when I simply don’t want to put much thought into meal planning. This is absolutely perfect for those days. I also couldn’t help but notice that Simply Cooking has quite a diverse array of meals. . .keeping the family from getting bored with mealtime. Can’t beat that.

    Reply
  14. Choclette

    I have too many favourites to pick just one, but I do have a stand out memory of a laksa we had pretty much every night for a week, when we were in Wellington, New Zealand. Was great for a very tight budget.

    Wonder how good these are for vegetarians?

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Choclette
    I did ask whether they have a vegetarian only box. They don’t but they have a conversion recipe book which advises which of their recipes has all veggie flavour pots and can readily be made into a veggie dish. A pretty good selection of the recipes are included, though obviously not the full range as some have meat stock pots and so on in the kit.

    Reply
  15. Sue Turner-Smith

    My favourite is Tom Yum soup, although anything Thai does it for me…..very healthy, quick to cook, and delicious!

    Reply
  16. charlotte

    I think probably Thai Green Curry. Super fast, vegan and incredibly tasty. Can throw any left over veg in it and turns out gorgeous

    Reply
  17. Lindsey Loughtman

    I love beef rendang and massaman curries, both from Malaysia. I love the spiciness and the flavours. Simply Cook is a great idea instead if a jar of sauce or using spices from scratch!

    Reply
  18. Monica Gilbert

    I love okonomiyaki (hiroshima style). It was one of my favorite things to eat while living in Japan.

    Reply
  19. Emily Knight

    My favourite has to be pastilla – a Moroccan filo pastry pie filled with pigeon and cinnamon and topped with icing sugar. Why is it my favourite? Because it’s an intriguing combination of savoury and sweet, and because it reminds me of an amazing trip to Morocco! (I ate it pretty much every day…)

    Reply
  20. emma miles

    Okonomiyaki 🙂 So interesting and a much more exciting alternative to pizza or other similar foods

    Reply
  21. ValB

    I love to make Greek Beef Stifado – so tender in a really rich sauce with lots of flavour. Reminds me of holidays spent in Greece – one of our favourite dishes

    Reply
  22. Stephanie Tsang

    My favourite international recipe is Malaysian Chicken and Potato Curry because it tastes absolutely amazing and is really filling.

    Reply
  23. Kerry Crowe

    Sumping Waluh – Balinese pumpkin cake made with steamed rice. It reminds me of my honeymoon! x

    Reply
  24. Tracey Belcher

    I am not sure I have a out and out favourite – I have a go-to which is a Thai Curry – Red or Green depending on what ingredients I have to hand and so easy – as long as you have some coconut milk in your cupboard and usual spices you can always make one quickly.

    Reply
  25. Holly Gibson

    I really like stir fries! They are so easy and yummy, and versatile too! Can do any protein, a mix of veg and there are so many sauces to make or be lazy and buy

    Reply
  26. Caroline H

    I think my favourite is my Thai green curry with tofu. It has lots of lovely, complex flavours and is light and refreshing. Plus it sounds quite impressive that it is made from scratch but is actually simple to make.

    Reply
  27. Sarah Corbett

    I love falafel, with chilli sauce, salad and pitta bread 🙂 Healthy, tasty, and easy to make

    Reply
  28. Maxine G

    I love trying new cuisines – at the moment, I’m loving different dishes from Vietnam and Korea. Bánh Mì is so fresh and spicy!

    Reply
  29. Helen Jones

    Spaghetti bolognese – the flavour aroma and colour remind me of sunny days spent in Italy

    Reply
  30. Emily Clark

    I absolutely love Sher Ping pancakes – a chinese dish of filled pancakes. You have them with pork and coriander, ginger and other spices – but now I’m vegetarian I have them with quorn mince. They’re so delicious and satisfying!

    Reply
  31. Claire Tucker

    Tempura prawns, I’ve only just mastered the batter and so enjoying the light taste

    Reply
  32. Angie Hoggett

    Quesadillas I’ve recently discovered them and I’ve got a craving for them now, I love the combination of spices, melted cheese and sour cream!

    Reply
  33. Bex Jones

    Tikka Masala … I make it with chicken , lamb or pork… its one I love to make and I know it isnt too fattening !! and soooooo tasty !!

    Reply
  34. Emily Hutchinson

    I have an Italian cook book and I’m working my way through lots of pasta dishes. It’s lovely to try something new and pasta is always quick to make

    Reply
  35. Susan B

    My favourite international dish is pavlova. Both the Australians and New Zealanders claim it as their own but it matters not a jot because I simply adore it, especially when smothered in exotic fruits from the South Pacific.

    Reply
  36. Elizabeth Gurney

    I love Panang Curry from Thailand. I discovered it when I was backpacking around the country 3 years ago and it is one of my favourite dishes (which you can never find here!)

    Reply
  37. emma walters

    my boys and i love taco night at home, they really love to design their own soft tacos adding lots of healthy salad etc. keeps me happy too knowing they are eating healthy

    Reply
  38. Samantha Atherton

    I love Italian food especial cannelloni, The flavours are just so fresh & delicious.

    Reply
  39. Victoria Prince

    My favourite international recipe is probably Mediterranean Couscous because I love the textures and flavours, and the ability to vary exactly what it’s made with 🙂

    Reply
  40. SUSAN L HALL

    I love Duck a l’orange and make it often for my guests – i seem to have the knack of making a sweet but meaty orange sauce which goes amazingly over crispy duck skin and served with potato gratin and green beans simple but effective

    Reply
  41. Lindy Hine

    My favourite dish is curry – I love it because you can make so many different variations and add chicken or prawns or make it a veggie dish. I’d happily eat it every night!

    Reply
  42. Jamie Millard

    i’m a bit obsessed with sweet chilli chicken at the moment – with rice, with potatoes, in a sandwich…

    Reply

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