Let me start off by saying that I am not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. I am 100% coming at this from a meateaters point of view. That being said, I am trying to eat less meat for health and environmental reasons and I am most definitely time poor (show me one mum that isn’t!) so if there’s something that covers all those things that would be wonderful thank you very much.
I am intrigued to see whether this range of plant based ready meals from Mitch’s Kitchen are enough to persuade me to throw in a few more meat free days into the week and will also take the pressure off of mealtimes on the days where life just gets too much.
I was sent 6 different meals to try, all of which are nut free, gluten free and 100% plant based. They take between 10-12 minutes to cook in a microwave or 35-40 minutes in the oven, but lets face it who’s got time to wait for that! Each meal has a different coloured label incorporated into the striking black and white packaging, which gives it a stylish and sophisticated feel and each one contains enough to serve one person.
Here’s what I thought of each one:
With a thick and stodgy consistency this is exactly how I like my jambalaya to be. It contains lots of beans (kidney beans and white beans) and brightly coloured chunky peppers and instead of using rice as the dish would be traditionally made it uses buckwheat instead. A great way of mixing up your grains people! There are also 3 marinated tempeh (a soy bean product with a cake like consistency) balls which taste amazing and really helps if you’re a meat eater like myself. It totally gives the illusion of chorizo and having never tried it before I was really impressed with the lovely meaty texture and sausage like taste. One thing I wasn’t so keen on was the overpowering taste of thyme (has never been my favourite herb I’ll be honest) and personally I think the dish would have benefited without it. I did however love the addition of the lemon slice, in particular the jambalaya immediately underneath it which tasted incredible. My top tip would be to give it all a big old squirt of lemon before eating to create the ultimate zingy comfort food.
Coconut Kathal Massala
Based on the traditional North Indian curry this vegan version uses slow cooked jackfruit as a meat substitute. Jackfruit has long been on my list of vegan foods to try so I was excited to finally get an opportunity to taste it. It has a very stringy consistency which makes it ideal as a substitute for pulled pork or other slow cooked meats and when it is cooked it takes on the flavours it is cooked or marinated with making it an incredibly versatile ingredient. But I’ve got to say I was disappointed. I mean maybe I’d set my expectations too high, but it just tasted like soggy veg to me and not even remotely meaty. That being said the meal smelled absolutely divine as it was cooking and the addition of the Romanseco cauliflower made it look great. I love the red rice and the fact you can distinguish each and every piece of chunky vegetable. Despite the jackfruit this was one of my favourites.
Chocolate and chilli come on… this is going to be epic right? I totally thought this would be my fave and so I made sure this was the first Mitch’s Kitchen meal I tried, but I’ll be honest I was a little disappointed. On first glance the amount of rice looks a bit on the stingy side. I like my rice and I definitely could have done with another big spoonful. It smells really nice and smoky (that’ll be the smoked paprika) and the chunky vegetables and beans make it look really appetising. However, the rice was a bit dry (I’m wondering whether a tiny bit of water sprinkled on the rice before hand may help?) and I ended up mixing the chilli into the rice to moisten it up. Spice levels were just right, a nice fiery kick but not enough to blow your head off. Really filling, warming and tastes homemade, not like some other microwave convenience meals I’ve had, which often taste over processed and bland. Overall I enjoyed it, but if I was being super picky there was again just a bit too many different herbs and spices going on. It could have had a couple taken out and still been just as tasty in my opinion. I didn’t miss the meat in the slightest though and I would definitely be satisfied having this as my main meal on the nights when I’m in a rush and need something nourishing in a hurry. I do think the rice needs work on though, as the ratio of chilli to rice just ain’t good for me.
Glorified vegetable stew, that’s what I’ve always thought about tagines, well this one well and truly changed my opinion that’s for sure! The smell when I peeled back the lid was glorious, zesty orange and rich sweetness, suddenly I was licking my lips and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Big chunky vegetables (I’ve come to expect nothing less from Mitch’s Kitchen) with juicy apricots and a tricolour mix of quinoa, surprisingly this Moroccan Tagine ended up being my favourite of the bunch. It stands out from the others in that the taste is just so different and I loved every mouthful of sweet and sour deliciousness. This is way more than just a vegetable stew, this is glorious plant based food at its very best and if there is any meal that even stood a chance at converting me, this is it.
I love tapas, especially the whole concept of lots of little bits and pieces that you can share and means you never get bored with your meal because there’s always something new to taste. The label promised roasted hand rolled garlic and herb ‘Beet Balls’, skin on patatas bravas in a rich tomato sauce and a side of mini tofu frittatas. And yeah that’s what I got, but it all just looked a bit kind of ‘beige’ for me. The beet balls were dry – they tasted like stuffing and deffo needed some of the patatas bravas sauce to moisten them up a bit and the tofu frittata was by no means ‘mini’. My favourite part was the patatas bravas – the sauce was divine and I loved the black olives in it. But I felt as though it was missing something, like a hummus or some kind of dip. I wonder whether in future it would be a good idea to include a serving suggestion on the packaging to help inspire people to add additional bits to it like this?
Brown rice pasta, artichoke hearts, butter beans and cavolo nero kale, in a rich sweet potato and sun blush tomato sauce. sprinkled with sunflower seed parmesan – phew there’s a lot going on! It smells a lot nicer than it looks, and yet again I love that you can pretty much make out every ingredient. A smooth sauce, nice salty olive flavour and not too cheesy. Great with a salad to help lighten it up a bit and keep it fresh.
Having checked out the ingredients on all the meals I noticed that a lot of them contain not only a LOT of herbs and spices but pretty much all the SAME herbs and spices. And so come the end, certainly with at least three of the meals I felt as though they all started to taste very similar and I struggled to distinguish between them. Sometimes simple is best and while I totally get that vegan food arguably needs more flavours to give greater depth of taste I can’t help wondering whether these meals would benefit from having some of the ingredients stripped out of them. For example why does one of the recipes use mixed herbs (containing dried oregano) as well as dried oregano – it seems a bit herb overkill to me.
I did enjoy them though and I didn’t miss meat in the slightest, mainly I think because there was so much going on with them. Would I buy them? I’m not sure if I’m being 100% honest, as despite being a working mum, I do manage my time well enough to meal plan like a boss and I love to cook from scratch too much to rely on ready meals.
These meals are great for bunging in the freezer for emergencies and it’s fantastic that there is such a wide choice of plant based meals out there for those people who choose to be vegans. Ready meals are a lifestyle choice and if you do want something nutritious, filling and that you can cook in a hurry then to be fair you probably can’t get much better than these. Definitely worth a try 🙂
You can find the full range of Mitch’s Kitchen vegan ready meals on their website. They are priced from £6.75 each and are delivered frozen to your door ready for you to enjoy.
I also have a cheeky little discount code for you all that will get you 10% off. Just quote AOHL10 at the checkout or order through this link – https://mitchskitchen.co.uk/discount/AOHL10
*products gifted for review