Introducing: Carrefour Simply You Box

At the end of 2016, Carrefour launched their own meal box called Simply You Box.

Offering a similar concept to Smartmat & HelloFresh – a cardboard box filled with 3 different recipe cards plus the fresh ingredients to make these recipes. Each week, the Simply You Box offers 9 different recipes from which you can pick/choose which 3 meals you would like to cook. Just like the other recipe/fresh food boxes offered by competitors, they too promise that meals can be ready within 30minutes and are easy to follow.

Turkey schnitzel with roasted baby potatoes and salad (10 April 2017 menu)

What you need to know:

  1. Choose 3 recipes out of the 9 menus that offered
    • 3 vegetarian, 3 traditional & 3 family friendly
    • Menu’s change weekly
    • View 4 weeks worth of menu’s online
  2. Number of people to feed: Currently options are only 2 people or 4 people?
    • 40€ for 2people = 6.67€ per meal per person
    • 60€ for 4 people = 5.00€ per meal per person
  3. Collect on a Monday from your nearest Carrefour Drive pick-up point (available all over Belgium). They are investigating delivery options for the future!
  4. Payment via debit/credit card online
  5. Order by midnight on Monday to collect the following Monday

I got the opportunity to test out one of the boxes (2people) and can say that the whole process was very EASY – especially the collection at the Carrefour Drive pick up point in Auderghem where Carrefour staff were super helpful and took at total of 5minutes!

As you can see from the box above – the quantities were GENEROUS for 2people! (A whole packet of linguine for 2people for one recipe! Obviously, splitting their pre-existing packaging for this concept doesn’t make sense – but it means that not only is the concept pretty cost effective at 6,67€ per person per meal but that you might be adding to your store cupboard as well!)

Coming back to value for money => how does this stack against the competition?? Pretty well considering that HelloFresh is 34€ for 2 people for 3 meals = 5.67€ per person/per meal and Smartmat Original Box is 59€ for 2 people for 3meals = 9.83€ per person/per meal. So Simply You Box is only just more expensive than HelloFresh but definitely cheaper than Smartmat Original box.

creamy risotto with roasted pumpkin & mascarpone (10th April 2017 menu)

Additional Comments

  • Positive:
    • Easy to follow simple recipes (each card is printed recto-verso, so Dutch on one side and French on the other side – but even with that – the recipes were so easy, that you didn’t really need to pore over each line of instruction)
    • Fresh ingredients were exactly that… FRESH
    • Excellent quality/price ratio;
    • Pretty balanced nutrition (IMHO… that I could see – although I am not a nutritionist, I am sure that they are consulting with one and having carbs/protein/vegetables etc in each menu seems pretty level headed to me)
  • Negative: finding something negative to say was really difficult as this is a great concept that is executed professionally!
    • Having to collect box on a Monday (looking forward to delivery options becoming available);
    • Website & recipes only available in Dutch/French

Website: www.simplyYouBox.be

PROMOCODE: Use unique code WHIMNTSYB before 31/05/2017 and you will get a discount of 10€ when you purchase a Simply You Box of min 40€

Introducing…. Cirkle

I remember a few years back being told about a BIO fruit/vegetable delivery service called Reason2Be, and I looked at the site… but decided that I didn’t need a regular fruit/vegetable box delivered … and left it at that.

However, the joys of having a 4.5month old in my life while going back to work full-time, means that HIM spends his days with her and his nights working, and I spend my days working and my nights with her. Which doesn’t leave much time to head out to do grocery shopping (except on Saturday mornings and even then, our time is completely dependent on Little Miss – when she last slept, ate, poo-ed, etc….) and sometimes you just want to relax on a Saturday and not rush around like a mad thing – right??

I had previously had the honour to test our recipe kit delivery services like Smartmat, HelloFresh and Flavour Delivered (these tests were done as a blogger and I didn’t have to pay for their services or the test boxes that I received) – but this time, I made the decision to try out a new option on my own (i.e. this is NOT a sponsored or promotional post)

circkle logo

Back to trying out the CIRKLE  concept–  the new & improved site for Reason2Be which offers a whole range more than just fruit & vegetable boxes! You can now get quiches & tarts from Les Tartes De Francoise, meat products from well-known Butcher Jack O’Shea’s, a full range of different types of breads from Lowy,  dried natural & organic foods from SuperSec, dried tea from Unami, Oxfam fairtrade products, delicious biscuits from Maison Dandoy… not to mention a range of craft beers, Bio wines and obviously… fruit & vegetables!!!

You can choose to purchase box sets (fruit, vegetables, or a combination of both, with or without meat & eggs, recipe kits, discovery boxes, wine boxes, craft beer boxes, etc….) or you can purchase items individually and add to your cart! You create an online account, load some funds into it (VISA, Maestro, etc) – and select your delivery day and time range (day/evening). You do need to finalise your order by 06h00 the day before your delivery day – but up until then, you can go in as many times as you like to make changes to your order.

On the day of delivery, you can check your online account and it will tell you who your delivery driver will be and what time frame you can expect your delivery to be made (i.e. 13h30-14h30). You can also check their twitter account to see if they are on time or not (as they load a daily tweet to say if they are on time or running late)

I placed my first order this week and spent 85euros (which included the 3euros delivery charge)… it may sound like a lot of money for a fruit/vegetable box… but I worked out that we got 5 full meals for 2 people plus fruit, cheese, bread, hummus, etc. So a weeks worth of meals (including 2 meals with meat!)

So what did I buy??

here it is…..

cirkle 1

 

  • Meal 1: small Quiche Lorraine from Les Tartes de Francoise (which I served with a salad (ingredients already in my fridge)… and also managed to take some to work for lunch the following day)
  • Meal 2: Recipe Kit* for Spaghetti di Timilia with aubergine, baby tomatoes, basil & goats cheese
  • Meal 3: Recipe Kit* for thick butternut, lentil & garlic stew
  • Meal 4: Recipe Kit* for bacon & mushroom risotto
  • Meal 5: Pork Sausages from Jack O’Shea which I will serve with carrot stoemp (potatoes already in our cupboard)
  • Fruit: Banana’s & apples
  • Vegetables: Carrots (already mentioned above to go into our stoemp), fresh herb pot of basil, 2 green peppers
  • Other: loaf of spelt sliced bread, Danish blue cheese, block of cheddar cheese and a tub of hummus

*The Recipe kit that I purchased was a 3meal pack for 2people (39.99€) and even included a mini bottle of wine for the making of the risotto 🙂

Recipe Kit #1
Recipe Kit #1: Spaghetti di Timilia with aubergine, baby tomatoes, basil & goats cheese

Not only was the driver, Fabien, on time and super helpful by unpacking the cardboard boxes from his cooler packs onto my kitchen counter, as I was one-handed holding Little Miss who refused to be put down in case she missed something exciting happening – but he also spent time explaining the recycling part of their offering! I can use the cardboard boxes that my delivery was made in to box up a range of items that they would collect at their next delivery. This includes batteries, old used vegetable oil, mobile phones, printer cartridges, books, CD’s, DVD’s and baby clothes to name a few. Some is for disposable and others (like the books, cd’s, etc) are then sold via Oxfam for charity.

Would I use them again? Yes… I reckon we will become regular users at least twice a month and am looking forward to trying out a few more recipe kits (not to mention their wine selection 🙂 now that I can enjoy a glass of wine again!)

Show your support and check them out: www.cirkle.be

 

Introducing: Hello Fresh Box

Last week, I spoke about attending a SMARTMAT event (read about it here) as well as testing out FLAVOUR DELIVERED (read about it here) – I was also recently given the opportunity to test out a food box delivery from a company called Hello Fresh.

HelloFresh

The concept is pretty similar – you can order a box of ingredients, which are delivered along with recipe cards – taking the hassle out of meal planning and grocery shopping. Which means that the only thing that you need to do is get into the kitchen and cook (and obviously eat!).

Firstly – you select what type of food box delivery you want – Original (Meat/Fish – which is what I got to test), Vegetarian or a humble (but yummy) Fruit box.

Secondly – you select the number of people you wish to feed (from an 1-6 people) and then you decide on whether you want ingredients for 3 meals or 5 meals! Prices are pretty reasonable… in my opinion, especially when you consider what eating out costs!

  • cost for 3 meals for 1 person = 36euros
  • cost for 3 meals for 2 people = 43euros
  • cost for 3 meals for 3 people = 53euros
  • cost for 5 meals for 1 person = 46euros
  • cost for 5 meals for 2 people = 53euros
  • cost for 5 meals for 3 people = 73euros

And finally – indicate the day & time slot that works best for you – keeping in mind that deliveries are only done on Monday & Tuesday evenings between 16h30 & 22h30.

Now onto the box itself………

hello fresh box

Mine arrived with ingredients for 2 people for 3 meals – a fish dish, a chicken dish & a vegetarian dish:

hello fresh box inside

I can honestly say that the cost difference for 1 person to 2 persons makes getting the 2ppl box much more economical… and lets be honest, if you are going to spend 30-40minutes cooking dinner for yourself – it is always nice to have some leftovers for the next days lunch or the freezer, right? And I also believe that 3 meals is sufficient for my lifestyle – my rationale behind this statement is that I don’t have time to cook 5 weeknights in a row… I am often out at least 2-3nights a week and our weekends are more “ad hoc” with regards to cooking or going out… plus we like the choice of last minute planning on the weekend.

In terms of meal planning – the menu’s are set for each week – so you don’t have any choice in mixing & matching meals from other weeks – but what it does do is give you the opportunity to make something that you ordinarily wouldn’t have thought of!

As you can see from below – I made each of the 3 meals… and although the protein offerings were on the smaller side – the veg & carbs were plentiful!

hello fresh box meals

Comments about their website –

  1. Positive: you can see what menu’s are available for the following weeks
  2. Negative: The Belgian website is only available in Dutch…

Would I make use of this again? I would definitely consider it – with the upcoming birth of our daughter – I am pretty sure that domestic chores like meal planning & grocery shopping are going to be pretty low on my list of things to do and if there are opportunities to ease daily life… then this is going to be one of them!

Hello Fresh is currently available in both Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, UK, US & Australia (although each country has a somewhat different offering)

Disclosure: I feel it is very important to disclose that I did not pay for this box – but I do promise that this a 100% accurate review of my experience & I was not reimbursed for writing this.

G G – Cucina Traditionale Italiana Restaurant (Maasmechelen Village)

Last week – the wonderful folks at Maasmechelen Village invited bloggers to come out and visit for a day whilst exploring the newly opened DeMeyer Store (serious chef cookware… of which I HAD to purchase, but that is a whole other story) amongst their backdrop of other exciting shops. Needless to say – 5 girls shopping parcels looked like this after only a few short hours: G&G 7 (Our 2 guys were clever enough to keep their parcels with themselves 🙂 as they travelled there by car – whilst we took the opportunity to catch the MMV bus from Brussels – making our return journey all about “show & tell” Anyhoo – we were not only spoiled by return transfers – but we also got treated to lunch at G&G – an Italian restaurant in the village offering family sized pizza’s (thanks to their Italian imported pizza oven that can make up to 200 pizza’s in one go!) plus delicious pasta’s.

GG
source: Maasmechelen Website

We started off with a bit of anti-pasta & mozzarella topped tomato bruschetta (whilst some sipped on Peach Bellini’s) – sooo good G&G 3 G&G 2 and then shared a Family-size Quatro Stagioni pizza (22euro – ham, mushrooms, artichokes, olives) G&G pizza along with Clam Spaghetti (which had half of the table drooling as it was SO good) – definite chilli undertones… Mmm (17.50€) G&G 5 and the other half of the table drooling over the G&G Penne (with saffron, cream & prawns 16.50€) G&G 6 Between 9 of us – we shared 1 Family size pizza & 2 of each pasta (after the platters of anti-pasta) and it was more than sufficient. Some of us didn’t sit around for coffees as we were eager to get back into retail therapy. Would I return? We have all agreed that a 6monthly trip to Maasmechelen Village for a day is a DEFINITE… and now that I have tried both Ellis Burger and G&G – I can honestly say that they are both excellent choices for lunch while you are there. Big thanks to M for providing some of her better looking photos 🙂 and further thanks to the MMV team for a wonderful day! G&G Restaurant address: Zetellaan 100, 3630 Maasmechelen, Belgium telephone: +32 89 20 49 93 website: http://gg-italia.com email: info@gg-italia.com Opening hours: Monday-Sunday: 09h30-22h00 (kitchen closes at 20h30)

Ellis Burger

The search for the perfect (yet humble) burger has not been easy… and the road is still long…

But I can honestly say that in Belgium (Brussels & surrounds) – I have a firm favourite… and that is Ellis Burger!

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And I am no stranger to the local Burger offerings – most of which have been pretty good (but none of them mind blowing – except maybe L’Amour Fou… which on a 2nd visit did not live up to the 1st visits experience) – and these include Hard Rock Brussels, Les Super Filles du Tram, Burger Republic, Boston Steakhouse, Les Canailles du Chatelain, The Loft & Cool Bun.

The thing with Ellis (and I have 2 visits under my belt to use as reference) is consistency & efficiency! The first visit was with Michelle from Very Hungry Explorer, HIM and moi.. while the 2nd visit was for Brussels Food Friends 3rd Event (#BxlFF3) where they managed to serve 30people perfectly cooked hamburgers at the same time… as well as starters, drinks, sides, etc…

On arrival at the Maasmechelen Village store – you will notice that there is a queue … and there is always a queue… BUT it moves really quickly and within 10-15minutes you will be seated & placing your orders! Then you can sit back and enjoy the funky ambiance…

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Our first visit had Michelle drinking a gorgeous looking milkshake (yes – people – I am also salivating just looking at the picture) – plus a veggie burger (mushrooms & chevre). While HIM kept it simple with a cheeseburger & I enjoyed their Chicken burger (which was so soft that it actually melted in my mouth!)

 

While our 2nd visit had us nibbling on a “food shot” – shrimp cocktail before chowing down on a delicious bacon & cheese burgers… with coleslaw, salad & frites as sides.

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The thing that I love about their burgers is that they don’t fall apart in your hands, the bun is the perfect mixture of soft & firm and the meat is cooked to perfection… slightly pink without being raw (an experience I seem to be getting on a more regular occasion) – and the salad garnish is fresh & crisp (and does not make the bottom of the bun soggy!)… yes, people … a sign of a decent burger!

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if you haven’t been to one of their many stores – we recommend it => http://www.ellisgourmetburger.com/en

Brewery Timmermans and “Keep on Toasting”

I was very fortunate to crack the nod and be invited to a private event hosted by Brewery Timmermans & Jean-Baptiste Nyssen from the infamous Keep on Toasting foodtruck.Timmermans Keep on Toasting

Imagine a Saturday late afternoon/early evening guided brewery tour, followed by some beer & gastronomic toastie pairings!! Yes… yes… I was that lucky!!

along with fellow bloggers in Brussels… we discovered that this particular brewery (Timmermans) in Dilbeek, just outside Brussels, has been brewing since 1702

Timmermans bottle caps

We are talking about some serious brewing committment… as the technique being used is the unique spontaneous fermentation method exclusive to only 6 breweries in the world! (PS – otherwise known as “Lambic” beer – spontaneous fermentation is the description used to explain that it is exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria in the air – as opposed to conventional ales & lagers which are fermented by adding cultivated strains of brewers yeast! Essentially this means that the bacteria in the air is used to ferment the beer instead of actually adding any yeast… also meaning that there is no brewing at this site in summer… as it is too difficult to control the amount of bacteria in the air.)

Timmermans Malt hopper Timmermans Malt hopper 2 timmermans crusher

Coming from a former beer background – I really found this interesting… plus the history of the place was thick and there were moments where it felt as if we had stepped back in time.

timmermans barrels 2

One other really fascinating fact about the Brewery Timmermans – is that although they don’t brew beer in summer – they do have a super efficient bottling section and therefore other breweries (like Guinness) send them their products to be bottled for local consumption!

Since 1993, the Brewery Timmermans joined the Martin’s group (of finest beer selections)… but retains its authenticity & flair whilst still being able to be part of a multi-national company who has their roots firmly ensconced in British Tradition as well as  Belgian savoir-faire.

Timmermans crates

With our heads swimming in knowledge (given by the most adorable little old man)… we headed back to the bar area to enjoy our beer & toastie pairings!

peach flavoured Kriek... let's just say that it reminded me of peach flavoured bubbles!
peach flavoured Kriek… let’s just say that it reminded me of peach flavoured bubbles!

I opted for a Croq’ Veggie (Green lentils, goats cheese with fig chutney & walnuts)… paired with a Bourgongne Des Flandres. (Yum Yum Yum)

Timmermans keep on toasting toastie Timmermans keep on toasting toastie 2

I didn’t stay long enough to get through the rest of the tasting menu… but let’s just say that my previous wonderful experience with Keep on Toasting was just the same…. “Wonderful”….

An enormous Thank you to Martin’s, Brewery Timmermans and Keep on Toasting for including me in this private event!!