Welcome to I Promise, It’s Vegan, Paste Magazine’s completely plant-based column. Here we’ll taste vegan products, discover new ways to cook cruelty-free, and embrace the veggie lifestyle.
Not vegan? That’s totally okay, but it might be something you’d like to consider. Veganism is great for your health. “Research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer,” according to The Vegan Society. It’s also beneficial for the environment! Alluding to an article in Nature, CNN said that eating less animals will lead to the avoidance of greenhouse gases, which is scientifically a detriment to our ozone layer. And lastly, animals shouldn’t have to suffer, whether it’s in the dairy industry or in a slaughterhouse. Just a bit of (vegan) food for thought.
Our first series of I Promise It’s Vegan is dedicated to testing and tasting meal kits. Last time, we explored VegReady. Today, we look at Green Chef.
Green Chef is what many would consider to be an archetypal meal kit. It’s exactly what you’d expect based on popular meal kit opinion: You order a box and it arrives in the mail, full of fresh ingredients that you might not have cooked with before. You prepare said fresh ingredients into picture-perfect meals, feeling proud and accomplished, and like a vegan Ina Garten. Those shallots don’t chop themselves, after all.
Green Chef boxes are tailored to your preferred diet, making them suitable for just about anyone. Obviously, I chose the vegan box, but for vegetarians, pescatarians, omnivores, and even those following paleo, keto and gluten-free diets, Green Chef has got you covered.
The box arrived to my office and I forced myself not to open it there. What if I lost an ingredient and ruined the integrity of my home-cooked meal? Surely, I couldn’t do that. As soon as I got home, it was game time. Inside the box were paper bags containing multitudes of more bags, these ones plastic and full of pre-portioned ingredients. You had enough to prepare two servings of each recipe, which were written out easily and prettily on glossy cards. Included in my box were three meals: a creamy corn and potato chowder, a Moroccan stew called Shakshuka, and Teriyaki portobello bowls.
Here are what the meals should have looked like. Pretty, huh?
The entire process from unboxing to eating was aesthetically pleasing and surprisingly calming and somewhat fancy and … is this what self-care feels like? Is it possible to self-care with a meal kit? After Green Chef, I’m starting to wonder.
Let’s break it down.
Between the mushroom bowl, the chowder and the stew, I had three very different flavor profiles throughout my week of cooking Green Chef. The mushroom bowl was full of umami, that deep, savory flavor that’s hard to describe and even harder to replicate. The chowder was surprisingly sweet due to the coconut cream and sun-dried tomato topping, but still had a bit of smokiness to tone it down. The Shakshuka was hearty thanks to the crispy crumbled tofu, but I felt like it was missing something to beef it up a little more. Maybe a bit of soy sausage? Overall, these hit the marks on taste and I can’t complain. The mushroom bowl was the best by far, and I’m excited to recreate that. My boyfriend called it “serve-in-a-restaurant food,” which is a fairly high compliment.
Here it is, the mythical portobello bowl. It was very tasty.
Ease of Preparation
Because you’re basically playing Master Chef with this box, it’s a bit more difficult than just throwing a few things together and calling it a day. This box requires A LOT of chopping. Not that chopping is difficult, but you have to know how to do it. What is the difference between chopping, dicing, mincing? You better have a good background knowledge of cooking to make this box, otherwise you’ll be googling quite a bit. This box did, however, teach me a few new tricks. For instance, did you know you can ”gut” a mushroom? You can!
Chop, chop, y’all.
While I only tried one week of boxes, I know that the menu rotates weekly, so if you’re actually subscribed to this box, you have something different every week. I wouldn’t be surprised if you never got the same meal twice. All three of my meals were starkly different in flavor, so the variety points are pretty dang perfect here.
Here’s where things get a bit dicey. One week of vegan meal kits from Green Chef costs just under $72 before shipping. That’s only six meals total, remember, bringing each meal to $11.99. That’s pretty pricey for cooking at home. To put it in perspective, I, as a 27-year-old social media manager for a media company, try to cap my weekly grocery budget at $50. For myself (and my boyfriend, when he’s eating with me), that $50 stretches much further than six meals a week. Meal kits like Green Chef include what I like to call the “convenience and aesthetic” fee. You can certainly pick up these ingredients at the farmer’s market or the grocery store for much cheaper, but you’re paying for the pre-portioning, the packaging, the included recipes. If you’re willing and able to fork that over weekly, more power to you. Unfortunately for me, I am not.
I felt fully satisfied after every meal, except for the Shakshuka. Like I said earlier, I think it needed something extra to make it more filling. I’ll admit for that one I didn’t use all of the ingredients (I do not eat red bell peppers. I do not like them, Sam I Am) but it needed more.
OVERALL RATING: 8.4/10
The variety is what makes this meal kit shine. In one week, I ate a creamy soup with homemade croutons, a Japanese-inspired rice bowl, and a Moroccan stew. It don’t think I would have ever made Shakshuka at home or really even been able to veganize it (the original dish is pretty meat-heavy), so I’m supremely thankful that the minds behind Green Chef think outside of the proverbial box. These types of meal kits are surprisingly therapeutic, and I’d recommend them to everyone at last once. Luckily, there’s a discount for that first try. After that, you can decide for yourself if you’d like to continue, which for my opinion, really depends on if you’re willing to fork over the $72 a week.
Annie Black is Paste’s social media manager and resident vegan writer. She’s on Twitter.