Simply Cook provides ‘flavour’ kits to enable you to cook tasty meals in less than half and hour. You provide the basic ingredients, many of which may well already be in your cupboard, and they provide the flavours and variety.
The meals I have here are for meat-eaters, and designed to feed two to three people. When you subscribe you choose your recipes, but on this occasion I gave my basic preferences (no shellfish, no aubergines) and these four were selected for me.
You can also get ‘light’ recipes, vegetarian recipes, and gluten-free recipes.
One note: there are pictures of all the dishes I made. They were taken in my kitchen, at night, in bad overhead light, with the result that they do not look like perfect food pictures. I didn’t spend hours setting up special meal photoshoots, not least because we eat late, we were hungry, and I wanted to eat actual freshly cooked hot food. So please don’t take the less than magazine-perfect food photos to be any kind of negative. It’s just how food actually looks when cooked for the purposes of eating, not photographing.
You get a flat box through the mailbox.
Inside are the four recipe cards, plus a welcome booklet.
Each meal has its own little box, helpfully labelled. Each box contains three pots. These contain dry herbs or some kind of paste.
These four meals, Italian Ragu, Beef Massaman, BBQ Tandoori, and Jambalya, represent very well the variety of recipes on offer.
Here is the recipe card and flavour pots for the Beef Massaman.
As you can see, the instructions are very clear, and you have a shopping list of items you will need. It’s all quite simple, and nothing you would have any difficulty buying in the supermarket. As an extra little help, there is a tear-off strip on the left of the card you can remove to take to the supermarket with you. Clever!
This is the curry when it was just at the end of cooking. You can see the steak, green beans, and potatoes.
I did make one substitution in this recipe. It was supposed to be served over plain rice. Now I’m not a rice fan because it doesn’t agree with me too well, so instead I bought cauliflower rice in the supermarket. It’s pretty flavourless like regular rice, and it worked perfectly with this curry.
This was good. I mean really good. Thai food is not something I eat often (I’m allergic to shellfish so it’s not a great cuisine choice for me) but my husband adores it. He thought this was utterly delicious, and we ate the lot.
We ate all four meals over the course of about ten days, and each of them were equally easy.
None of them took longer than a half hour, and the average was about 20 minutes, because I am a relaxed cook.
Here are the rest (remember what I said about non-fancy photography):
Italian Ragu. This was not the usual tomato-based ragu sauce, but rather a rich and meaty/umami meat sauce. I usually cook my ragu (with tomatoes) for at least two hours, so we were amazed at the depth of flavour that this ragu had, given that it took 20 minutes. Delicious.
BBQ Tandoori. Two alterations here.
First, my husband can’t eat anything cream-based, so we substituted the regular yogurt in the ingredients for non-dairy coconut yogurt. It worked absolutely perfectly.
Second, this should have been served with spiced sweet potato wedges, for which there was a pot of lovely spice mix. I discovered that there were no sweet potatoes to be had in the supermarket, apparently there’s a shortage. We did, however, have some oven chips in the freezer. Not very classy, but we used the spice mix pot on the oven chips instead and it worked just fine.
Our second utterly delicious meal. We cooked four chicken thighs, but there was enough mix to have covered at least a couple more.
Jambalya. Cajun food is something else I can’t usually eat as it’s full of shellfish. So these are flavours with which I am not familar. It was so good! Warming and slightly spicy, and very, very tasty.
This was another rice-based dish. This time the rice had to be cooked with the contents of a stock pot, so there was no substituting here. I tried not to eat too much of the rice, for reasons I said above, but it tasted so good I didn’t care! My husband and I both cleaned our dishes, and to hell with the consequences.
I also didn’t follow the recipe instructions for making the rice, as I have my own foolproof method of cooking rice. I also used jasmine rice rather than long grain as my husband prefers it. It didn’t affect the flavour in any way though.
When I first got this box I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I like to do proper cooking very much, but it’s something I like to take time over. I batch cook a lot because it’s easy, and I dislike ready meals or those flavouring packets you buy in the supermarkets.
But wow, this really was eye-opening. It really is proper cooking, but it’s incredibly easy. Basic ingredients are easy to come by, but this transforms them into what feels like something of a treat!
The recipe cards also list the ingredients of each pot. They are all reassuringly crap-free, no anti-caking agent or flavour enhancers, or anything else dubious you find in those supermarket flavouring things.
Having a proper recipe also takes away the need to think very much, which is very important at the end of a long day! All the things that would be fiddly in a recipe, such as measuring things, are taken away, leaving you to check the ingredients, shop for any bits needed, then prep, add little pots as per instructions, cook, and eat.
These recipes were for two to three people, but I think they could probably stretch to four by adding more meat etc. Everything was so delicious we ate the lot in one meal, but if you were feeling less greedy you might get some leftovers.
Each set of recipe pots costs £2.50, £10 for the box of four, which I think is entirely reasonable. The ingredients to buy are basic, such as pasta, rice and vegetables, and are all inexpensive. There’s also no waste. You could also keep costs down by buying cheap meat (but don’t).
The flavours created are fantastic. Perfectly seasoned and incredibly tasty. The recipe options on their website are incredibly impressive, so you’d
My husband and I were both bowled over by these meals. Cooking a proper meal was easy, and eating it was a pleasure.