Chef’s Plate: An Honest Mixed-Feeling Review

Last night, we gave Chef’s Plate a try.  Someone provided us with a coupon and I thought the discount might make the convenience worth it.  We chose two meals for 4 people, all delivered in an insulated box with a ton of reusable ice packs right to our deck.  The two meals we chose were Spicy Thai Peanut Pork Noodles and Tandoori Chicken Naan Wraps.  We started with the noodles.

All the ingredients from our Chef’s Plate meal – Spicy Thai Peanut Pork Noodles

J. came into the kitchen after I started prep and quickly took over using the easy to follow directions card.  The meal was extremely tasty, but not anything we couldn’t pull together using our own ingredients by the time you wash, chop, mix, and cook.  I’m sure Just will add the recipe card to his growing collection. We enjoyed it. Kaleb (surprise, surprise) did not approve.

My thoughts on the meal as a whole was that a 4-person kit could easily have made 8 portions for our family.  Served as instructed, each meal was a whopping 1120 calories and 80g of net carbs.  Yikes.  I trimmed back to make 6 portions and eliminated some of the oil and eggs called for and I believe my plate still came to approximately 746 calories and I was somewhere between well-sated to uncomfortably full.  (Still yikes!). Divided into 8 portions, it’s slightly more manageable at approximately 550-560 calories per serving.

If I were to prepare this meal from scratch, some small substitutions would include switching out the chow mein noodles for a whole wheat or veggie noodle.  I’d reduce the amount of peanuts on top, and I’d probably add in some extra veg.  I’d also cut way back on the ground pork or – hear me out – eliminate it completely.  It wasn’t extremely necessary from a taste point of view and with the eggs, nuts, and nut butter, the dish had plenty of protein for a single meal.

From a budget point of view, I didn’t find it overly ridiculous WITH THE COUPON – dinner and leftovers costing approx. $15 for the meal.  And there are plenty of leftovers for three of us.  Seven servings at just over $2 per plate is pretty hard to complain about.  At full price, I’m not sure it would make the cut.  Sure, not having to think about dinner was fantastic AND it was simple enough for a young chef to follow along.  Plus, they delivered the box right to my door… but for slightly more than the actual cost of $35 a meal, I could feed the family with takeout from a local restaurant and not have to do any prep or cooking.

Final conclusion… if you want the home cooked experience without having to hit a grocery store or think about what’s for dinner, this might be worth it.  I am going to prepare our second meal before my menu cut off for next week and see if it feeds us as amply as the noodles did.  I may try to cut back to a 2 person menu next week and see if we can stretch that to accomodate all of us and cut back on calories and cost.  There’s lots to consider, but for two easy meals this week at a discount, I think it was a win.  Full price? I’m not sure it will be worth it for us.

TLDR: The food was tasty and fresh. Directions were easy to follow. Nothing that you couldn’t do yourself with some meal planning and a grocery list. Likely too rich (expensive) for a regular commitment from this family.

If you would like to check out Chef’s Plate for yourself and form your own opinions, I have a coupon code to make your first week a little more budget friendly.  Copy and paste referral code HS-UQG4Z1KJR at www.chefsplate.com for $40 off your order, and a $40 credit for me. Sharing is caring.  If you do select a box to try, let me know in the comments if you agree with my review.

Book Review: Tasting Grace by Melissa D’Arabian

My routine is looking a little different these days and while I’m not sleeping the day away, I may be sitting in my pajamas. Connection is all being done digitally (because I still don’t like the phone) and sometimes we go for a drive just to get out of the house. Streets are very quiet, many stores are closed, and life just feels uncertain.

One thing that remains is food. My boys seem to be constantly snacking and a trip to the grocery store is something I’m avoiding for health reasons. My husband has been the primary, list in hand shopper, but many times the needed items aren’t in stock yet because people still don’t understand that our food supply chain hasn’t shut down. Regardless, we’re spending time in the kitchen, cooking out of creativity, eating out of boredom, grazing a million times a day because food is there.

I’ll admit that the first reason I selected this title was the cover. The colours stood out and it piqued my interest. Reading more about the content intrigued me even more. Last night, after a meal that was less meal and more snack, I thought I’d dive in, not entirely sure what I’d be reading.

I’ll admit that the author’s name meant nothing to me, although in hindsight I’ve probably seen her one of the random times we’ve binged the Food Network. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read non-fiction but I just kept coming back to this title.

Wow. That’s all I can say (which is obviously untrue as I’m going to say a lot more below.) I read this in one sitting and will be buying a copy to read again, to highlight, to make notes in. I’ll be recommending it to a ton of friends and family members who are about food or passionate about people. That’s how much it spoke to me. My hope is that the tagline reads as true for them by book’s end as it did for me: Discovering the Power of Food to Connect Us to God, One Another, and Ourselves

I’m not entirely sure I interpreted each chapter in the spirit it was given and there were a few statements that made me pause – not in a bad way, but more of a I need to think about this a bit longer. Each chapter includes an invitation at the end, drawing the reader into a real-life application of this refreshed viewpoint on food. I thought of them as little morsels of food for thought – and in all honesty – much of the book itself was food for thought.

Part autobiographical, part motivational inspiration, D’Arabian tackles subjects of acceptance, grief, success, value, identity, connection, and so much more. For such an easy-to-read book, it’s chock full of anecdotes and reflection on a variety of topics relevant to our relationship with food, society, and more. It’s not a follow this diet tome at all, but a gentle encouragement to reshape your connection with food and others.

Throughout, I found myself copying statements that aren’t new, but that hit me with their transparency and how I could relate to them. I felt as if I was having a kitchen conversation with a good natured, down to earth friend.

Overall, Tasting Grace provided a unique perspective into food and spirituality. It’s a gentle call to authenticity and connection, written in a captivating tone as it invites conversation, introspection, and most importantly, a call to accepting grace. I’ll be contemplating this further while I attempt the author’s Potato Bacon Torte.

My thanks to WaterBrook & Multnomah for the complimentary copy via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

This title is available through your favourite bookseller now. It published in September 2019. Go pick up a copy for yourself and let’s compare notes.

Meal Plan Monday (on a Sunday): January 26th Edition

It’s been a long weekend – meh (not to be confused with a long weekend – yeah!) We are looking ahead at a week that is going to require some creative juggling again. You know what those look like.

Work will include helping to facilitate a busy visitation and funeral, sitting down to discuss wedding plans with an engaged couple, and some Annual General meeting prep plus all the usual… with one less day to do it all. Parenting this week will include accomodating teacher strikes, exams, another hospital visit with the youngest, and all the usual chauffering. A book review is due Tuesday as part of a publisher’s blog tour. Come back and read it!

In an effort to stress less, I’ve put my meal plan and grocery list together tonight, and, hopefully, included easy, no-muss meals. I’ve started marinating my chicken drumsticks for tomorrow’s dinner. Let me tell you… it’s going to be delicious. Now I just have to make sure I’m home from work on time to throw them in the oven and be out the door again to get the boys back to town for 6:30. It may not have been the best pick for tomorrow, but it’s going to be worth it, taste-wise.

On this week’s menu:

  • chicken braised in coconut milk, served with carrots, potatoes, side salad
  • creamy coconut chicken and rice soup (using leftovers)
  • a dinner out or takeout depending on timing after the visit to SickKids
  • cashew ginger stirfry with sweet potato spirals
  • DIY pizzas
  • grilled cheese and fresh veg, maybe soup
  • pesto bruschetta pasta

We may be busy this week, but as long as my energy remains, we’ll be eating fairly healthy, tasty meals. Wish us luck as we juggle the rest…

Meal Plan Monday: December 2 Edition

I haven’t been very diligent in the meal plan department lately. My grocery shops have been few and far between as I try to use up the contents of our cupboards, fridge, and freezer. I meal plan on the weekends usually – even if it’s just a loose idea of what I can come up with and often the complexity of the meals will vary with how I’m feeling. This Sunday when I sat down to meal plan I was “done” and it reflects – there’s a lot of quick meals or comfort food. Nothing wrong with that! Before I type up my grocery list, like most people, I try to shop the cupboards first. I’m also notorious for forgetting something on my list or the whole list entirely so I also approach my meal plan with a certain flexibility. It’s not always a happy flexibility, but we try to make it work (even if there’s a certain degree of cupboard banging and very loud sighs in the process.)

Today was the first snow day of the school year for the boys and bonus, I was given the work-from-home option – which sounds delightful, but in reality made me crave the office. My productivity levels were way off and throw in a borderline migraine for fun and well, let’s just say we’ll be making up some hours this week. We were *supposed* to have leftover butternut squash soup with biscuits, salad and fresh veg, and smokies for some protein for those who would say soup doesn’t fill them up. Unfortunately, my plan backfired as many of my plans do lately as the soup was still frozen solid by the time dinner rolled around. Plan B was to make a tortilla soup with smokies instead of chicken and that would have been delightful but between Friday’s “don’t eat the tortilla chips” and today, said bag of tortilla chips disappeared. Meh. To top it off, I *destroyed* my stock pot the other day and there was no salvaging it – I have a teeny tiny saucepan to cook in… and was clinging to that almost-migraine. Dinner prep felt like a disaster.

We salvaged it though. One child made himself a smoothie and frozen pizzas (and you know what, I wasn’t cooking twice or didn’t have energy to win this one so his tummy is full and that’s fine.) I still made a sauce-pan sized pot of soup with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, corn, rice, and diced up smokies and it worked. Still made the biscuits. Still had salad for two of us and pulled out the Costco veggie tray we picked up and has been a hit at meal times as they graze the veggies they like. No one dared complain. (I may be extremely grumpy when I have an almost-migraine.) Here’s hoping the rest of the meal plan goes a bit smoother and our dinners this week are no fuss, no muss – while using up some of that frozen meat that was passed our way!

  • Sunday – leftover roast beef poutine, caesar salad, and fresh veggies featuring leftover
  • Monday – soup with biscuits, salad, fresh veggies
  • Tuesday – smokies, cornbread, fresh veggies, and that leftover butternut squash soup
  • Wednesday – veggie goat cheese flatbread (no kids!)
  • Thursday – chicken, broccoli, and rice
  • Friday – ribs, sweet potato fries, fresh veggies
  • Saturday – burgers and salad

How do you salvage meal time prep that’s gone awry? I’m sure we’d be using UberEats way more often if we didn’t live outside of town. (Probably a good thing that we don’t!) Also, if anyone is talking to Santa, could you mention I’m looking for a good pots & pan set and that I’ve been a VERY good girl this year!

Meal Plan Monday: November 18 Edition

My kids are heading out to more ‘things’ in the evening and this seems to cover the dinner hour – no appeasing two different appetites on these nights (impossible!) I count that as a win. However, the driving back and forth doesn’t seem like a win and Kevin’s been working erratically “late” some evenings. Even when I meal plan, things seem like a bust – and it’s often on the fly.

I do, however, continue to try. I dont always share our menu or mealplan because I don’t often feel its remarkable or that I’m successful in sticking to it. Despite that, every week I have at least a loose plan going in before I tackle the groceries. Making things interesting is the desire to clean up my freezer/cupboard/fridge. My in-laws leave us with their freezer contents every time they winter in Florida. We have so. much. pork. at the moment. It helps with my grocery bill, but I come to a halt in creativity while still trying to find balance.

This afternoon, the boys headed to a paint party. They are literally painting the walls of a new youth room and the leaders are buying pizza. Kevin and I had tomato soup I found buried in the forgotten corner of the freezer. I served it with a fried egg, salami (there were 2 slices left), and cheese on some slightly freezer-burnt toasted English muffins. Gourmet dinner it was not. Curbed the hunger? Absolutely. Wednesday will most likely be another day I can cull the fridge of leftovers as I’ll be on my own. Or perhaps I’ll indulge, and grab takeout mango salad on the way home.

Here’s the rest of our menu for the week:

  • steak, potatoes, caesar salad, and carrot sticks
  • crockpot pork roast with rice and broccoli slaw
  • pulled pork tacos
  • slow cooker jambalaya (minus the shrimp) – I’ll be giving this recipe a try for the first time and using turkey sausage
  • dinner for 1 (soup, leftovers, or takeout)
  • Spinach and chicken pasta

What do you prepare when you’re cooking for one? How do you deal with fluctuating schedules and last-minute change of plans while still cooking at home? Share your wisdom, please! We want to know what works for other families.

Meal Plan Monday: June 10th Edition

As we ate take-out once again tonight, I’ve decided I am horrible at sticking to my menu. In my defense, I’ve not been feeling well and tonight’s excuse is that at the time the two guys were complaining of hunger, I was fighting off hot flashes and a pounding headache and racing pulse. On one hand, I think I need to be preparing more food at home to combat some of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing, but by the time dinner-hour hits, I don’t have the energy or strength to deal with it or the complaints I inevitably get. Meh.

So tonight we enjoyed some Asian takeout… and there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow. That’s a good thing, because my bank account is more empty than my cupboards. Payday is still a few days away. (Maybe the money spent on take out would have been better spent on pantry basics and some fruit.)

The rest of our menu this week may include the following… depending on the curveballs life sends our way:

  • mac & cheese with side salad
  • chicken wings with roasted potatoes and fresh veggies
  • tacos (as part of a the drop in group I volunteer with – an end of school year dinner we’ve been invited to attend)
  • stuffed peppers & garlic bread
  • enchiladas with salad
  • sticky coconut chicken with rice pilaf (recipe via Leigh Anne Wilkes – Your Homebased Mom)
  • or soup… because comfort food still makes my list when I’m feeling crummy!

I’m not tying myself down this week – easy peasy, shortcuts, take out, veering off plan – whatever keeps the family fed!

Meal Plan Monday: April 22nd Edition

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. Mine was made perfect because Mom hosted a brunch (my favourite!) And dinner (not my favourite. I don’t love big family dinner. I’m weird. I think it’s because at heart I’m not a meat and potatoes girl and that’s what holiday dinners always seem to be.) The actual reason it was perfect though was all the baby cuddling… and I could still eat one handed, niece tucked in on my left (almost – the waffles were tricky.)

It’s so nice out today and I lost track of time. Dinner will be takeout pizza because I’m kind of done. Meh. Whatever.

The rest of our menu for the week is planned a bit better:

  • Carnitas nachos
  • Pulled pork “shepherds pie”
  • Canelloni
  • Crepes
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Stir-fry

All the above served with salad, fruits, and/or fresh veggies. I really can’t wait for some of my garden veggies to mature! The walking onions are just finally starting to poke through.

Meal Plan Monday: April 15th Edition

Lucky you! You get two doses of my ramblings today. I just have so much to say, but don’t always find the time to say it. It is April 15th and in our little corner of the world we got to enjoy some 0°C weather with some wind, snow, and rain. Yay spring! I have some seedlings started and am having a hard time reconciling a need for a coat and my urge to garden.

This week’s meal plan is not very creative in that I’m not attempting anything new. It is creative in that I’m tackling some of the leftovers found in my freezer and crisper drawer to create a yummy menu and pared down grocery list. We should be covered for dinners, but breakfast and lunch ingredients are pretty slim and the boys’ lunch bags did not contain any semblance of well-roundedness this morning.

Here is our forecasted menu for the week:

  • Chicken Fajita Bake
  • Chicken Quesadillas
  • Spaghetti
  • Pesto Tortellini
  • Stirfry
  • Soup(s)

Of course we’ll accompany the meals with salads or veggies on the side as needed. I haven’t planned a full week and may have to break out the KD and hot dogs. The kids will love it, but I’ll probably opt for a smoothie that night.

Meal Plan Monday: April 8th Edition

The week has gone by pretty smoothly and I’m feeling much more human. This translates into a full grocery shop ($$$) and an actual meal plan. Home cooked meals with a little bit of thought will be happening – no excuses.

Except… I have to drag the boys to the mall tonight and bribery helps us all stay sane. They’ve been given the choice of food court dinner as a treat. One will mostly pick KFC and the other will go with Taco Bell. (Why? I don’t know – there are so many better options!)

The rest of the week looks like this:

  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • French Dip Sandwiches
  • Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers (using the leftover beef)
  • Cheddar & Broccoli-stuffed Chicken Breasts
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Soup & Salad (variety to be determined)

As the weather hovers above zero, I’m antsy to use the grill. Unfortunately it needs more maintenance than I’m capable of or knowledgeable about. It’ll be a task added to the honey-do list. As soon as it’s ready, I’ll be throwing on a flatbread, some red peppers, and eagerly waiting for peaches to be in season!

What are your favourite summertime barbecue recipes beyond the burger?

Meal Plan Monday: March 25th Edition

My kids are home and they snack a lot. So much. I do groceries (carefully planned out), put them away, and poof, the food is gone. I suspect some growth spurts are to blame. Youngest son is currently eating melba toast, after he packed away an apple, a greek yogurt, and a Tim Horton’s cookie treat. He’ll demolish a full plate of food at dinner too. My metabolism doesn’t understand this. At. All.

This week’s menu was pre-planned and I kept in budget. That’s hard to do for me…especially with extra people shopping alongside. My secret was using the PC Express shopping option. I paid for convenience, but my cart didn’t contain impulse buys. Score 1 for Lindsey. Left on the list:

  • cashew veggie stir fry
  • breakfast for dinner (Kaleb’s pick)
  • tortellini with pesto, spinach and broccoli
  • corned beef, potatoes, carrots
  • corned beef on rye with tomato jalapeno soup
  • chicken, steamed broccoli, waffle cut carrots, and scalloped potatoes (Justin’s pick)

I also have a package of peameal bacon in the freezer and soup ingredients on hand for backup. Kev suggested I pick up a skillet freezer meal because he knows there will be at least one day that doesn’t go to plan where I’m home later than expected and have to rush out again shortly after dinner – anyone can pull it out and prepare it. It’s a cheaper option than pizza… plus easy to include extra veggies! I appreciate that he doesn’t *need* me to cook all the time and that he recognizes that my time is important too. #teamgoals

What are your quickest healthy meal options for the days you forget to take something from the freezer or don’t find time to prep?