The average university student, so it’s widely believed, arrives fresh-faced at their first home-away-from-home, and within their first week of experiencing university life realises that they have limited culinary skills, so will rely heavily on the easy things like pasta and cheese toasties. If this is true, which I doubt, since the vast majority of students I’ve met seem capable of cooking at least one signature dish, then I would fall into the minority of students who not only has a collection of favourite recipes, but enjoys cooking them from scratch.
That said, sometimes you’re too tired, have ran out of certain ingredients or simply have a craving for something you can’t quite make yourself, in which case meal kits are a godsend.
I’m actually a huge fan of meal kits – they require little effort, are cost-effective and sometimes the flavours are just spot-on. Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian, you’re almost spoilt for choice. However, until this week I had never tried a Thai meal kit, and my boyfriend, Jaydn, had never tried any kind of Thai food. So, when we were given two different meal kits by Thai Taste to try out and review, we nipped to our local Morrisons for the only ingredient required – chicken – and got started.
Having a higher tolerance for spice than Jaydn, I decided to try the Thai red curry meal, and let him have a go at cooking Pad Thai, one of my favourite Thai dishes. Though we were reassured by the easy to follow instructions on the back of the boxes and the quick estimated cooking time (6-8 minutes per meal), the ingredients were less appealing. The airtight pack of shallot, carrot and peanut for the Pad Thai looked and smelled so unappetising that we both agreed to leave it out of the dish, and the coconut milk came out lumpy and clotted, though I must admit that once it was cooked into the red curry paste it was fine.
While my dish wasn’t the most spectacular meal I had ever eaten, the flavours weren’t bad and it wasn’t far from restaurant quality, leaving me feeling full for a long time afterwards. Jaydn, however, was far less impressed by his first (and I can assume by his fairly vanilla food palette last) experience with Thai food, as the flavour was dominated by soy sauce and the chicken, which was tender before he stir fried the rice noodles and scrambled egg, had turned completely dry. I reluctantly told him that this was not what Pad Thai tasted like in a Thai restaurant, and he resorted to making a plate of cheesy chips to take away the taste, telling me that Thai food seemed ‘too Oriental’ for him. I suppose the equivalent would be having Taco Bell as your lasting impression of Mexican food.
The cost of the Thai Taste kits is comparable to other meal kit brands, around £2.40, and each pack serves 2-3 portions, making it cost-effective for students who want a quick meal, but also want to get value for their money and be able to pack away plenty of leftovers. The downside is that you sacrifice the actual taste of Thai, as the flavours aren’t brilliant. However the brand does sell a range of Thai ingredients to make meals with, so it all depends on your personal preferences, and whether you are already a fan of Thai food.
Cost – 4/5
Quality – 3/5
Range – 4/5