Foodepedia Rate the Finest New Ready Meals from Tastily: Can They Compete with Home Cooking?
The Tastily meal subscription service claims to be the next generation of pre-made fresh meals for modern brits.
These are chef-made, nutritionally balanced dishes with seasonal ingredients and at least two servings of veg in each dish.
Will McDowell conceived the business during a 14 day quarantine upon his return from New York. After having already embarked on a personal health and wellness transformation which involved losing 31kg, mainly thanks to the use of a meal-subscription service, he realised there was no UK equivalent and so set up Tastily.
It’s not a diet plan per se but each serving is calorie counted at 450-500 per regular meal (large portion sizes are available +£1) and you can order anything from x4 meals to x14 either weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Straight off you think – ready meals in plastic? We all know those, an eco-nightmare, however, Tastily have considered their sustainability credentials well. Their food trays are made up of 85% recycled plastic which can be fully recycled into new food grade products again and again and their delivery boxes and printed sleeves are made from untreated kraft card to be fully recyclable.
But what about all that delivering? Yes, they thought of that too and use delivery partners who can make carbon-neutral deliveries to the whole of the UK.
So now it’s passed the green tests, will it pass a week of Foodepedia taste tests?
The first dish we taste is the Chicken and Ham Hock Hotpot and it is instantly better than any regular ready meal.
All the elements are real ingredients – strips of meat as opposed to factory clones moulded into perfect cubes. There’s more chicken than ham but plenty in total and overall, the portion size is not bad.
The cabbage is surprisingly good, as you might expect it to be overcooked after reheating. The peas also manage to taste nice and fresh. The potatoes aren’t crispy – how could they be after microwaving? But they’re not mushy and you can reheat the dish in the oven if you want to.
Enjoying the international menu range, we liked the Miso Glazed Salmon which was tasty and moist. It comes with perfectly cooked goma ae vegetables (carrots and green beans dressed with sesame seeds) retaining their structure and that delicious coating.
We next feasted on a combo of South Asian curry dishes. Moist Hariyali Chicken which is plump and tender, served with a lovely spicy dal. This was supplemented with the Pumpkin Curry & Rajma, a traditional Indian Petha with nice big cubes of pumpkin with kidney beans. This came with signature Kerala Red Rice, offered in partnership with London restaurant, Atcha, which is fragrant and has a good bite to it.
The meal trays feature a large and a small side, so here the Chicken and rice got the big side, and the dal the small. But on the veggie dish the small side is the lovely rice which might feel a little tiny if you were only having this dish alone.
Travelling another large culinary distance, we next enjoyed the Aubergine Moussaka, feeling it was special enough to put the oven on and heat it that way. Without thinking we decanted it into a loaf tin before realising the tray it came in can actually go straight in the oven, how do they do that?
I probably wouldn’t dare anyway as I can’t get my head around plastic in the oven. The dish contained nice layers of aubergine and the lentil sauce had a great texture which felt quite meaty.
The béchamel was creamy and the Mediterranean veg on the side was really fresh tasting. It’s definitely worth cooking in the oven to achieve that crispy topping and it only takes 20 mins.
Lastly, we tried the Jerk Chicken with Rice & Peas which once again offered tasty, moist chicken with a good spice kick and a lovely creamy coconut texture to the brown rice.
The only let down was the plantain which was a little dry and lacked taste. This dish is part of Tastily working with the charity Chefs in Schools, which brings food education to young people. Every Tastily box ordered contributes to the funding of a child’s cookery course with them.
How much does it cost? The subscription model scales with the amount you get, working out at about £8 per meal if you only order x4 at a time, reducing to around £6 if you subscribe to order x14.
Apart from tasting delicious, not containing any E numbers and having a list of normal and recognisable ingredients just like you’d cook with at home, the really fantastic thing about Tastily dishes is that you get all this quality in 3 minutes.
You soon realise cooking from scratch takes so very long – you suddenly get all this time back. Plus, that mountain of dirty pans and utensils is a thing of the past.
I note Tastily have now added a Festive Turkey Dinner and a Festive Mac n Cheese with sprouts and pigs in blankets.
This could be Xmas completely sorted, leaving loads of time to watch both The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Great Escape back-to-back on the big day …I may need to subscribe to a sherry delivery subscription too.