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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.