Tastesmith Meal Kits Review
We have been trialling a few “scratch meal” kits from various providers over the last few months. Mainly to see how easy they are for meals when Mrs Savvy returns to work at the end of her maternity leave. We’ve looked at boxes with weekly meal plans (we’ll post those reviews later) and simple off the shelf starter kits. For the purposes of this review we dedicated a few meals one week to trying out a couple of curries from the lovely people at Tastesmiths.
Take Away, Meals Kits or Supermarket options?
Curries are a firm favourite in our house. They are on the table at least once a week. We have a great Indian takeaway in Norwich called Eaton Spice. We highly recommend them and they sorts most our takeaway needs. However, they’re not cheap and rarely have offers or incentives. Their meal deals also rarely feature a mix of our family favourites. So, Eaton Spice is fine for the occasional treat. For most weeks however, our budget and focus is on scratch cooking. We don’t mind supermarket bought curries, but overall they’re not as flavoursome. They’re also certainly less healthy then the scratch cook versions where you can control your ingredients. With cooking from scratch our focus, I set about gathering ingredients for two Tastesmith kits. The Madras, and the Rogan Josh.
Testing out the Tastesmiths kits
The Tastesmiths Kits are available direct from the company or from selected retailers like Ocado. They retail, at the time of writing this, at £3.59 in the supermarkets. For this price you’ll get the pack of base ingredients including the spices, chillies, curry leaves, cloves of garlic etc. You’ll then need to supplement these with cupboard essentials you’ll most likely have, like oil, salt, and sugar. Then fresh ingredients are needed, usually onion, tomatoes, and either meat or veg depending on your carnivorous status.
So, are Tastesmiths kits easy to use?
The bonus of the kits is they pull together some of the more obscure or harder to get ingredients in the right amounts needed. They also have, or at least ours did, reasonably long “best before” dates on them. In addition, the kits can also be frozen. The packaging does state that some ingredients, such as the chillies, may be slightly softer upon defrosting. This shouldn’t matter in the cooking process though.
The packaging itself is mainly transparent allowing supermarket customers to view the content. For the full range of Tastesmiths Kits, customers can use their own online site to order regular deliveries with more variety. The cardboard part of the packaging features handy food prep tips for those less familiar with culinary creation. It also has a tear off section with the instructions. These instructions are well worded and simple to follow.
All of the chilli-based Tastesmiths kits we were sent featured a guide on how to prepare the chillies to your own preferred heat level. We found this slightly off in relation to our experiences of cooking these particular dishes, mainly due to the fact these curries had less liquid than we’d usually cook with. If anything we would suggest scaling down the level of chilli they suggest for mild, medium and hot. On the flip side, we think the spices could be added in larger quantities than those given.
Tastesmiths kits: Are they worth the cost and effort?
Ocado sell the kits for £3.59. Based on the vegetables and meat needed to complete the dish, you’d average around £10 to complete the ingredient list. The kits suggest 2-3 servings, we’d say 3 servings easily. Costs can be cut be using tinned tomatoes or passata instead of fresh tomatoes etc. I highly recommend Musclefood for fresh meats to freeze and save for meals using kits like this. The takeaway version of this dish from our local is £6.90, but that serves 1-2 people, so it’s £13.80 excluding delivery. The supermarket version was £1.50 up to £3.59, depending on whether it was the premium brand or not.
The Tastesmiths kits are not hugely cheaper than a take away, unless you cut corners on tinned and frozen vegetables to supplement the kits. For example, most of the time you can get frozen diced onion, peppers and alike to fit into recipes. However, these kits really do have a purpose in the market. I think they give a good platform for those wishing to develop skills and tailor their own tastes via recipe adaptation.
The Tastesmiths kits can easily be adapted for the slow-cooker, as long as you cook off spices and brown onions etc for the depth of flavour. They also give confidence to those who might never cook a curry from scratch to try it themselves. Tastesmiths help page on their own website contains extra guidance on slow cooking for cheaper cuts of meat. I suggest using coconut milk to control the hear in the dishes and passata to add liquid content if slow cooking. Incidentally, adding lentils and pulses into a slow cooker attempt will work well also.
Overall, there are cheaper options, but these kits give the family a chance to craft themselves and become their very own Tastesmith. The heat of the dishes as mentioned was hotter than expected for their suggested spicing. Also the flavours were there but, not with huge depth due to what I think were spices in too smaller quantity.
We would certainly recommend these kits to friends, family and readers alike. Although, once any budding amateur chef gets the hang of spicing, there’s no real need to use the kits other than convenience. For the speed, convenience and experience, the £3.59 price tag is I believe well worth it for at least the trial of a few dishes.
Disclosure: The lovely people @ Tastesmiths sent us 4 samples for review. My views, as always, remain unbiased and my own. While we welcome services and products to review for families, I will always be honest and focus on value for money for my readers.