During the peak of my diet and exercise regime this year, my lunches at work were largely either home-made veggie-only salads, or kilojoule-controlled meals straight from the freezer section of the supermarket. I became closely acquainted with all the different meal variations offered by Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers. It was a big change for someone who was used to taking tasty leftovers to work every day, but it did mean that I was better able to track the kilojoules I ate each day which helped me to lose 23 kilos in nine months.
However, there’s only so many times that you can have Lean Cuisine’s Lamb Koftas with Mildly Spiced Cous Cous before all your lunches start tasting like cardboard. That’s why I was so excited when I heard about Dish’d, a new online ordering system that delivers frozen meals straight to your doorstep. Unlike the frozen meal companies already on the market, Dish’d don’t just do single-serve meals. You could order a full dinner party meal complete with entree, main course and dessert for four people from Dish’d if you wanted to!
However when my main aim was to diversify my lunches at work, single serve meals were the best option. When I received a $30 off voucher from my Gourmet Traveller subscription, I took advantage of the deal and ordered seven single serve meals for $56.50, or $26.50 out of pocket with free delivery.
The online ordering service is very easy and the website is well designed with all the information you might need to know about each product, including dietary information (kilojoule counts*!). You can also specify a preferred delivery date, however cannot specify a delivery window. So while you can ask for it to be delivered on ‘Tuesday’, you don’t get to specify Tuesday 9am-12pm or similar. Luckily, all meals come packed in a foam esky with dry ice so they do stay cool until 10pm on the day of delivery.
*Note – not all the meals on Dish’d are low kilojoule – I had to check the dietary information on all of them before I ordered it. However, as the meals are generally created with healthy options in mind, there is quite a good selection if you’re kilojoule-conscious like me.
I started my Dish’d journey with the Seafood Bouillabaisse. A few of my colleagues were doubtful about how this would actually taste, and with good reason. After all, is it actually possible to microwave seafood for six minutes and have it not turn out rubbery and/or dry? The answer is yes…and no, at the same time. While the prawns were still surprisingly firm and plump, the mussels had shrunk and the fish dried out by the time the bouillabaisse had cooked through in the microwave. On the plus side, the stock was really flavourful, and it’s through the pure stock that you really get the benefits of Dish’d’s philosophy of no artificial additives or preservatives.
My second attempt at Dish’d of their Cabbage Leaves was very disappointing. While the rice and raisin mix inside was very tasty, the cabbage was soggy and old, and the lemon and dill sauce was extremely tart without any true depth of flavour. I struggled to get through this dish with any measure of enjoyment.
My opinion of Dish’d picked up on the following two days though, with the Prawns en Papilotte and the Cod en Papilotte. The little grease-proof paper parcels worked really well to keep the moisture of the dish during the microwaving process, and resulted in seafood that was still plump and tender without being overcooked. The vegetable mix of both was fantastic as well – the edamame beans in the prawns gave a really nice pop of flavour, and the almonds added a textural crunch to the cod. These were real winners at lunch, and earned a few envious glances from colleagues around the lunch table who were eating sandwiches and salads.
The Hake en Papilotte on the following day was similarly well cooked with an interesting blend of flavours – though perhaps it was a little bit heavy on the pesto sauce. The Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni on the other hand, was very disappointing. Though topped with an overly generous coating of bechamel sauce which should have helped to moisten and soften the cannelloni, the pastry remained quite chewy and hard in places. The spinach and ricotta mix inside was also overly dry.
Dish’d redeemed themselves on the final day of my trial with the Zuppa Ortolana – a healthy soup chock full of a variety of green vegetables and barley and other grains. Despite an initial mishap where I didn’t read the instructions and add water to the frozen mix (I quickly remedied my mistake!), the soup turned out really well. The grains added some bulk to keep you full, the vegetables tasted fresh (the peas in particular!), and the frozen cubes of herbs that dissolved in the cooking process really helped to give the soup some depth of flavour. A winner all around.
The single serve meals I ordered from Dish’d were a bit hit and miss. If I was to generalise, I’d say that they really excel at the “en papilotte” dishes – the cooking method really seems to lock in the moisture which helps during the microwaving process. The soups where you have to add water also result in a really tasty meal as well.
Would I order from Dish’d again? Unfortunately, I think they’re generally a bit too pricey to justify a regular order. $9.45 for a frozen meal is pretty steep, especially when compared to the usual $5 Lean Cuisine meal ($4 on sale). I think I would only re-order if I was really sick of my usual meals and needed a short break and a change.
If you’re interested in ordering from Dish’d and trying it out for yourself, they’re currently offering the same $30 discount to all new orders, for orders over $50. The offer only applies to the first order (one per household!).
Disclaimer: Gourmanda made these purchases from Dish’d independently, and was not invited to review these products. She used a voucher provided through a Gourmet Traveller subscription to obtain a discount.