Muddy loves Mindful Chef
Desperately hoping you'll stick with the healthy eating regime this year? You need this recipe box on your doorstep.
I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to share this little nugget with you and, if you’re anything like me, then I reckon now might be the time to spill the beans. We’re well into January, the sparkly, revitalised, full of vigour and vim ‘You’ has dulled a little (a bit like your new top from the sales after that first wash); and now you’re just clinging on to hope that you can stick to the new, healthy regime.
But, man alive, surely it can all be a bit easier than it has been so far? Hell yeah! It can and I’ll tell you the how and the why.
A few months back, while eating my way around the Dartmouth Food Festival, I snuck in on a chat with two lovely chaps called Giles and Myles. They, along with the absent partner, Orlando are old friends, who grew up going to school together in Exeter. Back then, life was probably all about who was best at rugby, or who could totally walk the geography exam without doing any revision. But fast forward to now and the trio have gone on to become the brains behind Mindful Chef. Heard of ’em?
To tell you the truth, I had, but had dismissed it as just another one of those food boxes (which it is), that will a) completely flummox me with random ingredients and b) leave me with guilt pangs when I end up throwing much of it away, because I didn’t know what to do with it. (Which it hasn’t). I managed to snaffle myself a box to road test and I’m impressed enough to tell you that this is 100% one to try.
So what’s the lowdown and what makes this one so spesh?
Put really simply, Mindful Chef food recipe boxes contain pre-portioned, premium ingredients to give you a menu of healthy dinners each week (you can choose a box that’ll feed either 1, 2 or 4 people). Everything you need to make dinner is in the box, except for salt, pepper and olive oil (even I tend to have that in my kitchen). The box contains a natty recipe card for each meal and you should be able to comfortably get dinner on the table within 30 minutes. The only legwork that has to go into all of this beforehand is hopping online, choosing your recipes and making sure you’ve placed your order before midnight on a Thursday. Then it turns up on a Monday (maybe even Sunday if you’re within the M25) and boom, you’re good to go for the week ahead.
That’s the black and white version of the story, but here’s 5 more reasons why I think this one’s a keeper.
1/ I like the back story. Having grown up with friends who are farmers, Myles, Giles and Orlando saw what a raw deal farms tend to get, selling their produce to the big-named supermarkets. With an appreciation of the wealth of ingredients, from fruit & veg, to meat and fish on their doorsteps, Mindful Chef was a seed sown in Devon to help the producers get a fairer deal and more recognition for what they offer. And the happy footnote? We, the humble consumers, get cracking ingredients in our boxes.
2/ I love the *thinking*. This isn’t just another business that’s cashing in on the ‘Mindful Movement’, without any substance. There’s lots that’s mindful here, starting with the boxes themselves. Aware that we’re all so damn busy and can’t always be at home to take delivery of our goodies, they’re packaged so the food will keep up to 36 hours before it has to be refrigerated, using plant fibre insulation (very cool), that’s recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. Lots of ‘able’ words, which means it’s very good indeed.
And then the recipes themselves are developed from a holistic view, rather than purely calorie counting (although they’re good for the waistline), considering how food and nutrition can affect sleep, stress, the gut and productivity. The other bit that they don’t shout about is that the recipes are gluten and dairy free, too.
But while the thinking behind the food box is to help the cognitive load, since you don’t have to plan and prep for meals, what they don’t do, is all of the food prep. And that’s because tasks like chopping, although seemingly mundane, allow you to immerse yourself in a recipe. It’s a simple thought, but engaging yourself in stuff like that will help you build on other mindful skills in your everyday life.
3/ There’s no chance of getting bored. There are a gazillion recipes to choose from for all manor of diets, with more coming every week; that beats trawling the internet for new recipes, while there’s a new episode of Stranger Things to catch up on, in my book. For my box, I chose crispy pork schnitzel with carrot fries, balsamic and mustard beef with squash mash and mustard pork with butterbean mash (whaaaat? I like mash!). And as an FYI, I didn’t struggle to follow any of the recipes (a first for me).
4/ They’re keeping it straightforward. While at first it’s tempting to ask ‘why don’t you do lunch and breakfast options, too?’ the decision to stick to just dinners was a conscious one, the rationale being that sometimes you can send people too much. It’s true, the more ingredients, the higher the chance of skipping a meal, leading to wastage. I’m a case in point, since I’ve tried food boxes in the past and felt slightly overwhelmed at the volume of ingredients, leading me to panic and retreat inside a pizza box. Dinner is the meal that none of us like skipping, so dinner is what’s on the menu.
5/ It’s a box that suits us all. Who ‘gets’ it? Everyone, really, if you think about it. A 19 year-old nurse will love the convenience, as will an 85 year-old widow, looking for easy nutrition that doesn’t involve a fork and a microwave. It’s great for people who live in the countryside and can’t be bothered to schlepp to the nearest supermarket. It works for families and, for couples, there are even recipes for ‘date night’ (*wink*). And that’s before name-dropping the sporting stars who’ve backed the value of these boxes, like Andy Murray and Victoria Pendleton.
So what’s the damage for all this premium, mindful, indulgence, then? For 2 people, it works out at around £14 per meal (there are often introductory deals on the website, by the way). I thought that was pretty good value, considering the hunks of beef and pork and the quality of the veg that arrived in my box. Plus, you don’t get the guilt of having a fridge full of wilting, sorry-looking veggies wondering why they didn’t get slung into a stir fry, or tossed in a salad, at the end of the week. No wastage = winning.
So there you are, my friends. There are ways to stay on track with the diet and this one’s a good’un. Go cook up a storm!