While restaurants were closed during lockdown it made us all appreciate just how special it is to have a meal prepared for you by talented chefs and passionate restaurateurs. I believe one of the best things to come out of the pandemic is the creative ways restaurants have continued to get their food to customers, whether it be in a takeaway bag, microwavable boxes or a box of raw ingredients and a set of instructions. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing meal kits from local restaurants and national chains but there are three that I found to be a real highlight and now that lockdown is coming to an end, you need to get your hands on them while you still have the chance!
My first parcel of sustenance came from Honest Burgers who specialise in working with small, independent producers to create local specials that reflect the neighbourhoods of all their restaurant locations. Their meal kits in Manchester offered the honest, tribute and plant burger DIY kits of which there are options for 2 or 4 burgers. I opted for the plant burger as I have had the pleasure of trying their other burgers before. Within the box is everything you need for the perfect burger, the only thing you have to add is lettuce and chips. The pack comes with easy to follow instructions or you can watch a video tutorial with Honest’s co-founder Tom who cooks the kit in real time. Honestly, (see what I did there?) It really is one of the easiest things to prepare and you only need a frying pan and a grill to make this tasty burger. If you can boil an egg, you can make this no problem. Although the kit does not contain their chips they do supply some of their rosemary salt in order to season your own should you choose to make them (personally I think a burger without chips is just wrong). It was a real game changer, taking my chips to a level of scrumptious I never knew I needed before, delicious! You’ll notice I haven’t even mentioned that it’s vegan and that’s because you can barely tell. The taste and texture is incredible and even the cheese is a perfect addition. If I was given this in a restaurant I wouldn’t even question if it was real meat. It’s the combination of flavours and textures that makes it, the pickled cucumber I couldn’t get enough of and mustard wasn’t usually an ingredient I used on my burgers but it really was needed. Sensational.
While my partner worked night shifts throughout lockdown I found company in a live cook along with Mandira’s Kitchen. I’ve written about Mandira’s frozen meal delivery service before but this lockdown they have upped their game and have created a kit that gives you all the spices and flavourings you need to create their incredible recipes yourself. I received my box of spices and flours and bought my fresh ingredients ready to create my own onion bhajis and fish tikka. The cook along is live on their instagram every Thursday night with Mandira herself and it was lovely to see the face behind the brand.
It was also great to see questions being asked by other customers such as why we use a certain flour, could we use a different kind of oil, is there a substitute for spinach etc and these were all answered. The whole process was a doddle, the recipe was sent along with the ingredients so you had that for reference but I found that it was so much easier following along with someone so you could see if what you were doing was right. Such a great idea and so much fun! However most importantly, the food was absolutely delicious! Being a lot healthier than my local Indian takeaway, this is something I tuned into more than once and have since made several recipes that were each better than the last. The kit contains spices for a number of dishes that Mandira cooked each week and are available on her Instagram TV channel, here you can watch these at your own pace and cook along to create your own authentic dishes that you’ll make again and again. They also have a BBQ box available just in time for summer.
For this final kit you certainly don’t need any kind of special occasion, you just need a love of food and flavours. During lockdown, Michelle Trusselle from London based supper club Myristica came up with the ‘At Home by Myristica’ concept, a more casual version of their supper club but with undeniable flavours of the Caribbean done well, and with a few modern techniques. She started off delivering flyers locally and was often found on her bike delivering Caribbean food to neighbours in London’s Caribbean cultural home: Notting Hill. But thankfully it is now available nationwide so now more people can try Caribbean food while at home. And in true Caribbean style there is no shortage of food in this kit.
The website says the 2 person meal kit is suitable for 2 or 4 people and they’re not wrong! There is more than enough here for your lunch the next day (unless you live in our house where we’re both gannets!). The kit contains half a chicken quartered and marinated ready for you to cook at home, chilli sauce, rice and peas, peppers with a thyme and garlic marinade, chilli carrots, fried plantain, mixed leaf salad and citrus dressing, sweetcorn with a lime and smoked salt butter and a quarter of fresh pineapple and fresh mint. This was an absolute flavour sensation: my favourite kind of food is a variety of flavours and textures that’s made for sharing and this ticked all the boxes. I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face while eating and wished I was sharing it with my auntie and friends with a bowl of rum punch.
I also have to mention that when you order your box you get an email containing all the links to the instructions you need as well as a ‘Sounds of Myristica’ playlist on Spotify to play while you cook. I absolutely loved this idea and it shows how much Michelle cares about the customer experience. You best believe I played it full blast in the kitchen while I prepared it all. It was one of those meals where everything was good, there was nothing you pushed to the side of your plate because it wasn’t to your taste, everything was just so moorish. This was one of my favourite meals in lockdown and would normally inspire me to find some recipes and learn how to cook each dish. But when it’s so easy to warm in the oven and great value why go to the effort? Just order one here instead.
Now I’m not saying you need to continue staying at home and not enjoy your local restaurants, they need our support and it’s wonderful to get out and see friends and loved ones again. But for those of us who have found a new love of home comforts and don’t like sitting in the cold, any one of these options I guarantee you will love.