Chefly: Subscription meals done right
7th June, 2021
As a single man in his mid-forties, working in the I.T. sector (specifically e-commerce) where a company can live or die based on the availability of their website, and where on-call is one week on, one week off, this can limit the amount of time I want to cook. Back when I was married, I used to do a lot of cooking. Proper cooking. With vegetables and everything, and no microwave.
But as my career has progressed over the past 25 years, so has the responsibilities and the requirements for being on-call. Even with the pandemic where I don't have to suffer the commuting hell that is South Western Railway, where it could take 2 hours to get home, I'm not always in the mood to get out the pots and pans and prepare food. I've had a good number of takeaways over the past year - mainly to support delivery drivers and restaurants, but mainly because I just didn't want to spend time cooking for myself. When you're cooking for two (or more) people, it's pretty simple and food doesn't go to waste. But when you're on your own, you have to either be very careful with how much you cook, or you make a load of the stuff and freeze it for later.
As for supermarket ready meals, they either contain a lot of fat, salt or just don't taste very nice. Or they run out of a particular favourite on a particular week and it's ages before it's available again. So I went to look for alternatives.
In a rare move on my part, I clicked on an advert on Facebook when I saw their ad for Chefly, a subscription meal service that offers good quality meals weekly for a reasonable price. The price you pay depends on how much you value your time and the number of meals you take out weekly. For me, my 6 meals-a-week plan costs £7.50 per meal (£45/week) which isn't that much more than what my weekly shop costs anyway.
Every week they ship (by DPD) a big box containing your meals - protected by a recyclable/compostable bag and similarly recyclable cool packs. All one has to do is pierce a hole in the vacuum-sealed film and stick it in the microwave for three minutes. These are the meals I've ordered at the moment:
The first thing to note is that the meals won't look as good as they do on the company's website, in the same way a McDonald's burger or Burger King burger looks on their menus. All the means are vacuum-packed, so it will definitely look a bit different (but obviously not TOO different). As you are effectively just reheating it, the meal simply just won't look quite as good as it would do if it was freshly cooked and served immediately. But the meals ARE cooked freshly before they're packed away, so the taste and flavours are still very much there. I must stress the emphasis on taste, rather than looks.
The same food, after spending 3 minutes in a microwave - it tastes absolutely delicious
Baked Cod with Barley and Squash Risotto, Spinach and Salsa Verde after cooking
It's super-easy to manage one's subscription through the company's website (though they should fix one pet peeve - it's FAQs not FAQ's), with options to pause the subscription (like I do - I fancy a change now and again) for a week or couple of weeks or cancel completely. Support is just an email away, with good turnaround times for a response.
Overall I'm very pleased with my subscription. You can change the menu as needed, and it has to be said that there could do with more options, but overall the full menu should cater for most needs, though note that you're out of luck if you're a vegan - with just one meal available. But judging from public comments, they are working on it, so hopefully the range will soon cater for every taste and dietary requirement.
If you fancy giving Chefly a try, please use the following discount code to get £15 off your first order. I'll also get £15 off my next payment too, so you'd also be helping me :)