I tried Green Chef's Plant-Powered meal plan—here's what happened
These dinners are made for vegetarians and vegans, but are they worth it?
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As one of the resident vegetarians at Reviewed, I get really excited whenever a brand announces a veg-friendly product. There's the Material Soft-Edge Turner, my absolute favorite cooking utensil for stirring, flipping, and scrambling vegetables. For roasting seasonal produce, I always turn to my Great Jones sheet pan. But when it comes to meal kit delivery services, I'm usually disappointed in the lack of vegetarian options.
Enter: Green Chef's Plant-Powered meal plan, a plan that claims to "take plant-based meals to the next level." I tried a few of the recipes and here's what happened.
How does Green Chef work?
Green Chef operates like most meal kit delivery services. After you sign up, you'll select your meal plan (including Plant-Based, Balanced Living, or Carb Easy), number of people, number of recipes, and frequency (weekly or semi-weekly, depending on your preference). You can change your plan, skip as many weeks as you'd like, or swap upcoming recipes as long as you do so before the next week's cutoff date. You can also cancel your subscription at any time.
Unlike its competitors, Green Chef is committed to sourcing almost 100% organic ingredients, with an emphasis on sustainably grown and ethically raised produce, meat, and more. Green Chef is so committed, in fact, that they're USDA-certified organic, which means annual compliance inspections, required documentation or organic practices, and mandatory adherence to a list of strict guidelines to ensure each and every product meets these specifications.
This certification also means the menus are a bit higher priced than other meal kit delivery services, but if you're someone who prefers to shop organic (and maybe even local!), this should come as no surprise. Check out the Green Chef website for more information about sourcing ingredients, recipes, eco-friendly initiatives, and more.
What does “plant-powered” mean?
Plant-powered is Green Chef's way of saying these meals are entirely meat-free, making them vegetarian and easily adaptable for vegans (simply omit any dairy). Each recipe highlights one or more fresh vegetables as its star, like the Smoky Romesco Cauliflower with Kale, Red Peppers, Dried Apricots, Feta, and Roasted Potatoes transforms the cruciferous veg into a complex, flavorful centerpiece for the dish.
How much does Green Chef cost?
Pricing is based on which plan you choose and how many servings you order. With our current USA Today promotion, the Plant-Powered meal plan starts at $5.32 per meal (regular price $11.99) before shipping, handling, and sales tax.
I ordered a week of Green Chef Plant-Powered meals—here’s how it went
Full disclosure: I accidentally ordered one of my meals twice, so I only sampled two of the Green Chef Plant-Powered recipes. I didn't realize my mistake until it was too late and my open box was sitting in front of me, but had I realized sooner I could've absolutely changed my selected meals up until the week of delivery—this is actually one of the great parts of Green Chef!
User error aside (oops!), the Green Chef website is actually really straightforward and easy to navigate. And because 2020 is really about finding silver linings, my double ordered meant I had enough to feed my entire quarantine pod of three. I made the Chard and Artichoke Quesadillas for a weeknight dinner, and cooked the Smoky Romesco Cauliflower for a quick workday lunch. Here's what I thought.
Chard and Artichoke Quesadillas and Romaine Salad with Carrots, Hazelnuts, and Caper Vinaigrette
I tried to go into this with an open mind, but the mention of "caper vinaigrette" had me on edge. The "What You'll Need" section on the recipe card was especially helpful so I knew which utensils, cooking vessels, and additional pantry staples I'd need—there's nothing worse than accidentally burning half your dinner because you're rummaging through your drawers in search of a measuring spoon. However, I wish every meal kit like this would include scissors in their list of tools because without a good pair of these, those plastic packages are basically impossible to open.
Swiss chard is one of my favorite leafy greens, and I really liked that Green Chef included the stems as well as the leaves in this recipe because 1. they're delicious and 2. zero waste! The quesadilla filling came together nicely, and had major spinach and artichoke dip vibes. I had to cook each side of the quesadilla a bit longer than listed in the instructions in order to fully melt the cheese, but this adjustment was pretty minor in the scheme of things.
The tortillas are quite large, which makes the quesadilla difficult to flip (especially if you're using a smaller spatula). If I had to do this again, I'd fold each tortilla in half and make each person two halves instead of the hard-to-flip whole. The accompanying salad was easy to assemble, thanks to Green Chef's pre-portioned packets, but the caper vinaigrette was... weird. My biggest complaint with this dish is that the flavors in the salad don't compliment those in the quesadilla.
Flavor profiles aside, the portion for each serving is quite large and very filling. My husband said the quesadillas taste like something you'd order at Applebee's or Chili's, which he intended as a compliment.
Smoky Romesco Cauliflower with Kale, Red Peppers, Dried Apricots, Feta, and Roasted Potatoes
For someone who likes to cook, meal kits like Green Chef are great for inspiring future meals and teaching you to make things you wouldn't normally prepare. This dish is the perfect example of such a recipe—the combination of sweet apricots, salty feta, and super savory romesco is downright delicious. For those unfamiliar with romesco, it's a Spanish sauce traditionally made by puréeing charred tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and toasted almonds and/or bread to thicken.
You'll need to cook lots of individual parts for this dish, so it might not be the best option for multitasking parents. But when all of these separate parts come together—sautéed kale with roasted red peppers, crispy spiced potatoes, and smoky romesco cauliflower—they make for a really lovely meal that you'll probably want to make again and again.
Should you order Green Chef’s Plant-Powered meals?
Whether you're vegetarian like me, looking for a little help on Meatless Mondays, or switching up your diet in the New Year, Green Chef's Plant-Powered meal plan might be right for you. Even though I didn't love all components of every dish, I was impressed by the high-quality ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, and variety of recipes. After almost eight years of vegetarianism, I can confidently say that inventing new veg-friendly meals night after night is no easy task! And Green Chef really does make this bit a lot easier.
If this price point feels too high for a weekly delivery, consider once a month or semi-weekly delivery—we all need a break from full-on cooking sometimes! Green Chef's Plant-Powered recipes aren't all winners, but both dishes I tried had overwhelmingly tasty elements.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.