Mummy Review: I have felt so time poor lately with everything, and meal planning sometimes winds up taking a back seat to other chores and obligations.
Enter Gourmet Dinner Service.
Disclosure: I was provided these meals in exchange for my honest opinion and experience. All opinions are my own. (My apologies for the terrible photo quality on my part of the actual meals as I overcooked some of them. They have let me use some of their photos to display what they do look like if they are cooked properly. )
As a mum of three and never-stop-thinking person, I often find myself running around trying to get so much done that some things have to take priority. Things slip my mind and we wind up eating take-away. Again.
I wondered to myself if there were any options out there for the crazy lady like myself who while rather not spend over $50 for a half decent (and probably not so healthy) fast food for my family. One option I came across was various snap-frozen meals (and some just pre-made ready to cook meals) prepared and sent to your door. You order online and they deliver. All you need to do after is thaw and cook your dinners. Too easy!
Gourmet Dinner Service sent me a great variety of meals for my family, so I wanted to talk a bit about the options with this meal delivery service before getting into my review! I’ve included things that I feel are relevant to things I think about when it comes to services like this and have answered those questions accordingly. Please feel free to contact them with any further questions you may have yourself.
About Gourmet Dinner Service:
How it arrives: Styrofoam box packed with ice and meals in bags with labels of meals and best before dates. (Box is kept to return upon next delivery.)
What you need: Freezer space (or fridge space, if you plan to use it within a day).
How does it come? Pre made (frozen). Some meals are not, but that will be indicated on the pack. Just cook and eat. Freeze until preparing (be sure to have freezer space),
How long it is good for? Good until marked date (a decent amount of months),
Sizes Available? Small mains (serves 1), Mains (serves 1-2), Family Meals (serves 2-8, depending on size stated), and Cocktail (serves 4-20 depending on size stated)- They also offer desserts, sides, catering and do gift hampers of meals.
Delivery Area: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and surrounds (check your post code here to see if they deliver)
You are also free to pick up your delivery at the Brookvale, NSW and Clayton, VIC kitchens.
How far in advance to order: Order by 7am day before for delivery (which is on indicates days.) Order by noon for same day pickup from kitchen.
Pickup delivery available? Yes. If made before noon, pickup same day available from NSW and VIC kitchens.
Specific dietary plans available? Yes. You can sort the menu by meals. Vegetarian, gluten free options are available.
Cost? Price Per Serve? Meals range from around $12 (smaller single meals) to $38 (family size meals). Minimum for delivery is $50 total. Delivery fee varies. Per serve it starts from around $8/serve, and prices do vary as the menu changes.
Plans available? Order as you go, no meal subscription.
Frequency? Whenever you order.
Self-renewing or manual? Manual
Delivery days range? Big or small? They have designated delivery days (checking your post code will tell you when they can deliver).
Variety of food? Large selection of a menu from dinners to desserts to cocktail foods. Menu does add new items every so often, too.
Groceries/Fruit available as well? No.
Coupons available? No.
Need to be home for delivery? No. You don’t need to be home for delivery, and you can leave instructions for delivery. The insulated box is ok for up to 8 hours.
As you would expect, food that is easy to prepare and has been pre-done would cost a bit more than just going and getting the ingredients. Fair enough! This was pretty pricey (mainly because of the shipping costs), however comes out to the similar cost of other meal subscription services and similar or slightly less than fast food and restaurant food. If you use this service, I recommend ordering a fair bit at a time, so the delivery cost is justified. It does arrive fairly soon after you order, so I understand the high delivery cost as well. The cost is worth it I’m sure to people who could truly use a lot less fuss for dinner and just have it delivered to their door.
My delivery came on a day I was home, so I signed for my box, which was quite heavy and full of good things! The styrofoam packed box held ice and the meals packed in plastic to keep the ice from getting them. (Note: My ordered box the second time had little ice in it, but was a smaller order.) The packaging would be weather resistant to an extent, so even if it sat outside for a bit, it would have been fine (and it took about half of the day for the ice to melt, so it would have stayed cool, too).
One other thing this did have going for it, was that it made a great little activity for the kids before and after the ice melted. They enjoyed playing in the ice and water and having a lesson in the different states of water. If you are doing this, however please remember that leaving any amount of water for children to play in must be a supervised activity.
I had to ensure I had enough freezer space for the meals, so definitely something to consider depending on the size of your order, or how long you plan to keep them. They are obviously not separate ingredients, so they can’t be squashed or conformed to fit a space. Ours came in foil containers and plastic containers, so they are solid and rectangular in shape.
Honestly, they are brilliant to have on hand since it’s cheaper than fast food on a whim! The length of how they last is also good, just in case you don’t eat them straight away.
They usually require defrosting for about 24 hours before you eat, so sufficient fridge space, too.
Preparation is so simple! It just involves defrosting (if indicated on the pack) for 24 hours and then cooking in the oven as directed. Some meals require cooking as well, but most are just a “put in the oven” meal. The desserts could just be thawed and the pie had a “straight from freezer” instructions as well. All instructions were clearly marked and expiry dates were well indicated, so there was no question of what to do with the food. I’m a big fan of clear instructions, as being a mum always has my brain going in a million directions and thought processes, so keeping it clear cut is essential.
Even though the instructions were as clear as day, I still managed to burn two of them (failure to take out when they were done was the verdict). Fault goes to me on that one.
Now, maybe I’m a big eater, or maybe my family eats dinner as a larger meal, but these serving sizes suited me as a person, but not my hungry husband. The family sized pasta meal just filled us (and the one child who would eat it), and my husband said he was still hungry afterwards. We did eat other things alongside which helped, but the size reflection was not one of our typical family dinner. (I understand the portion is more of an estimate anyways.) I know it probably is in accordance with being healthy and is true serving sizes, but my family are big dinner eaters. We have found the same issue with other meal subscriptions though, so this is not limited to Gourmet Dinner Service and by no means is a bad reflection on them.
My husband says he was impressed with the pasta and how it tasted. Coming from him, that is big. We both have a bit of an expectation from frozen food, that it doesn’t taste as good as fresh ingredients. (Note: they do have a few dishes which do require cooking such as fish and some other dishes.) While this is a little true, the meals were still tasty. Hubs and I are quite picky with foods, and it probably doesn’t help that I burned two of the meals. Seriously, this doesn’t happen often, but I was way too preoccupied. Our favourite of the meals was the Pasta Al Forno. I wound up ordering my own and tried the Beef Burgundy which I also liked the taste. The desserts of course were very tasty! I tried the lemon tarts as well as the chocolate mousse. Both were great!
With the portion sizes, we didn’t have enough food for leftovers for any of the meals besides the Greek Meatballs. I’m not a huge fan of leftovers though, so that’s one thing that doesn’t effect me here. For anyone who likes to use leftovers, you just need to be sure to order a slightly bigger size to get that as well.
Disposal/Removal of Packaging: (4/5)
The Ice melted, so that was fine. However, the box it came in was a pretty big styrofoam box which had to be stored away to be collected at your next delivery. It is essential that you drain the water once the ice has melted, as it creates a slight safety concern for curious babies. Be sure to be mindful of this if you are leaving the ice in the box. The method of how they pick it up upon your next order does need to be a little more clear though, possibly included clearly in the delivery pack. Some deliveries do not do a box return, so you will need to figure a way of disposing it yourself, which can be tricky and time consuming.
Overall, it is a great option for people who are very time poor and don’t have time to organise or prepare dinner, one downside is that you do need to thaw some of the meals around a day before cooking (according to instructions). Honestly, it would be a great option to have something more healthy than fast food just in case that is nearly zero effort. I like the option, too, for the microwavable options of food for a decent lunch. They have hampers available, too, so you can give the gift of meals. The fact that you can order and have the next day (of delivery) is a big appeal as well, rather than waiting until the next week or whenever as is common with some services. The storage you need is a bit much if you order a lot at once. However, being able to order just a day ahead makes the need to stock up a bit less. A big plus for me is also that they deliver to my area. Several services don’t deliver to my area (but will deliver somewhere around 15 minutes away). The portion sizes were a little small for us as I mentioned, but I love that they have family size options in addition to the individual serves.