It's not often that I do a food review, but this is an exception. I was contacted by a potential advertiser last week that wanted to buy an ad for Personal Chef To Go. Made for busy people who want healthy food without the hassle of preparing their own meals, the company asked if I'd like to try some of the food so when I did my "Advertise Here!" posts, I'd have something to say about them from personal experience. I accepted.
Personal Chef To Go sent me a big box full of chilled freshly prepared food via FedEx that arrived on Saturday. We invited our friends Aidan and Daniele to come over and do a taste test with Jerame and I. So our readers know exactly what they'd get if they ordered it, I thought I'd share the results instead of just a generic, "I've tasted it! It's good!"
Each week, the company offers a unique menu. They publish the menu early so you can decide whether or not to order. They also have the current and previous weeks' menus so you can get a better idea of the type of entrees they offer.
They describe the menus as "from the Mediterranean to the Pacific Rim." All items are 100% trans-fat free and made from all natural ingredients with no preservatives or additives. The meals are "heart healthy" and none of them were high in calories or fat. Each container is a complete meal.
An important note: the food arrived chilled, but not frozen. (They use a special environmentally-friendly shipping container.) The prepared items are kept in the refrigerator and reheated in the oven or microwave according to the package directions.
The dishes we judged were: (from top to bottom in the picture)
- Chicken Picatta with Roasted Mushrooms
- Spinach-stuffed Salmon with Roasted Cauliflower
- Pasta Salad
- Grilled Chicken Salad
- Salmon Salad
- Fresh Catch with Tomato Sauce and Broccoli Rice
- Beef with Mango Rice
Each taster rated the dishes based on three qualities: flavor, texture and presentation. There were five points possible for each category - 15 total. The higher the score, the better the dish ranked. There were two clear winners - the spinach stuffed salmon and the grilled chicken salad.
Neither Jerame nor Daniele like fish - and both have particular aversion to salmon. ("It tastes too fishy!") All four of us raved over the dish though and all of us had more than one "taste." No one at the table was a big cauliflower fan either; if it had a different side dish it would have swept the "competition."
The grilled chicken salad was also delightful. The chicken tasted fresh and didn't have a processed taste all too common these days. The lettuce was very crisp and perfectly sized. The dressing though, made it impressive. The salad was perfect.
Both Daniele and Jerame rated the salad highest. I gave the salmon a higher total while Aidan's scores ended in a tie between the two.
A couple small criticisms :
- The pasta salad noodles passed over the line from al dente into undercooked. The dish's dressing, vegetables and appearance were all positive and it would have scored much higher if the noodles weren't hard.
- The fresh catch was extremely well cooked and that garnered raves. Sadly, the dish didn't have much taste to it except for the mild tomato sauce. Paired with dry rice, it was the lowest rated dish we checked out.
Here's how we all averaged out:
| ||Aidan ||Bil ||Jerame ||Daniele ||Average |
|Flavor ||3.7 ||3.6 ||3.6 ||3.3 ||3.55 |
|Texture ||4.1 ||3.9 ||3.1 ||3.9 ||3.75 |
|Presentation ||3.6 ||3.9 ||3.3 ||3.6 ||3.6 |
Including shipping to Indianapolis, the week's worth of meals would have cost $13.67 each. Most microwavable meals cost around $6-$8 in Indianapolis supermarkets so this is a little pricey for us. Of course, we're not exactly well off either so use your own judgment on the price point.
The ease of having it shipped fresh directly to the house added to the ease of "cooking" makes me give it a thumbs up. The price point makes me hesitant, but we're at almost 20% unemployment in some areas of Indiana. They might be twice the price of microwave meals, but they're definitely more than twice the taste.