Deciding what you want to eat isn’t always easy when you’ve already cooked for your children several times that day and are starving and knackered after putting them to bed. And even if you know what you fancy, have you got what you need to make it?
I’m not a bad cook. I’m just a bad planner. In the holy triumvirate of dinner – deciding what to have, having the stuff to make it, and eating it – I only succeed in the last step. As a result, we eat a lot of baked potatoes.
It’s not that I wouldn’t love to eat new dishes. I love reading recipe books. I just never find the time – and I also find it impossible to choose when I’m salivating over everything. Also, I need to do a whole special shop to be able to cook the meal – which usually means an online order late at night. My store cupboard is patchy at best – although we never run out of chocolate.
Enter Gousto: saviour of time-poor cooks. They deliver everything you need for three delicious meals-for-two – all you have to do is cook it, with the help of the super easy illustrated recipe card.
My husband is a huge carnivore, but being a vegetarian and wielder of the wooden spoon, I was kindly sent a box by Gousto that comprised:
They all looked so yummy it was hard to decide which to make first. In fact, there’s so much I liked about Gousto, I’ve written a list:
You get to feel like Delia. You know, with all the ingredients ready to go in little bowls: “Just a pinch of that, a handful of this,” I found myself thinking. “Ta da!” I trilled as I added the final touches. Proper celebrity chef stuff.
Delicious – my husband said, and I quote: “That was the best sag aloo I’ve ever tasted.” And believe me, we are not strangers to the local Indian takeaway.
Impressive. The only thing I usually serve with halloumi is, er, more halloumi. So it felt good to present the Persian Halloumi, with its aromatic spice coating and colourful bed of tabbouleh.
Great for a dinner party. I’ve never actually pulled the “pass off a takeaway as your own cooking” trick, but I’ve been tempted. With Gousto, it’s not a cheat – you really did cook that gorgeous dish. You can order a box for 4 and / or double up if you’re having friends round.
Organic, seasonal and British. This pleases me.
Thoughtful, environmentally friendly packaging. When I first opened the box, I was worried (almost panicking) that I’d find a load of polystyrene and plastic packaging. I’m a big recycler, so I was relieved to see that most of the bags were paper. Best of all, the chilled items arrive lovingly wrapped in a Woolpack – which is real sheep’s wool (which is compostable and biodegradable) in a recyclable package. They must have read my mind, because they even challenge you for your most inventive recycling idea. I used it to protect my camellia against the frost. I. Win.
Easy. Unpack box, follow step-by-step instructions – with pictures! And realistic timings. I’m looking at you, Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals.
Unusual ingredients. Barberries anyone?! I know my raspberries from my goji berries but I’ve never heard of these babies, which added a jewelled sweetness to the bulgar wheat tabbouleh in the Persian Halloumi dish. I’ve never “worked with” Ras el Hanout or used spring greens instead of spinach either.
Learning new techniques – I’ve iced a mushroom before, but I’ve never grated one. What a great trick!
You don’t have to cook it all within three days. I was all revved up knowing when my parcel was coming, ready to get a-cooking for the next three nights. But to my delight, all the meals come with a “Cook by” date, which in my case was within four or five days, which took the pressure off. Which is great if you or your partner is working late or on shifts, or you’re going out.
And obviously, only a few of the ingredients are actually perishable: the grains and spices keep for months, and if you really struggled to cook the meal within the timeframe, you could replace the perishable item. I couldn’t wait to cook all my meals but if I hadn’t, the only things I would have needed to replace were mushrooms, basil and mint.
Diet-flexible. As mentioned, you can request a box tailored to your dietary requirements. Also, each recipe card helpfully gives the calorie, fat and protein content. Although the dishes aren’t specifically aimed at weight loss, the fact that they are portioned obviously helps if you’re prone to adding that extra handful of spaghetti to the pan (moi). And if you’re not eating carbs? Leave ’em out! We had the sag aloo without rice and it was deliciously satiating.
Why wouldn’t you go Gousto? You could source all these ingredients yourself, with a little effort, and probably for a lower overall cost. But the point is to save you time and effort. When you’re both busy working and planning meals for the rest of the family, sometimes your own dinner ends up being Cheerios. I doubt you could get all the ingredients in one place (a quick search reveals that barberries are not stocked at Tesco, Asda or Ocado). And there’s no waste. I find when I cook a new recipe, I have to buy everything, including the spices. Then they remain in my cupboard for “the next time I cook it” – usually years. Also, if you are a natural / experienced cook with an ample store cupboard, you might not choose this service. But I think we could all do with a little refresh of our repertoire sometimes.
Browsing through next week’s menu, my mouth was watering. I could opt for Moroccan Spiced Soup, Woodland Gnocchi and Thai Red Tofu Curry, while my husband could have Harissa Beef Patties, Asian Fish En Papillate, Creamy Pancetta Linguine…
I wish every week were a Gousto week.