a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Jun, 2016

Dinner. Delivered. (a.k.a. A dream come true.) *

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Giveaways and product reviews|Ottawa|Recipes and Food

I posted about a lovely soup we had last week and promised a full review of Zestible, a new service which provides ready-to-cook meals for Ottawa folks.

First, I have to confess that I would enjoy dinner time a little more if (a) there were fewer steps involved (read: no shopping or pouring over recipes from every Pinterest board or website I’ve bookmarked) (b) everyone loved what I whipped up and (c) I had a personal chef. Fortunately, there’s a new service available to Ottawa folks that makes the whole process a little easier. In fact, it’s ALMOST like having a personal chef, but a lot cheaper. :)

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been giving Zestible a try. Zestible is an Ottawa-based service that is making dinners faster, healthier, and tastier.

First I have to backtrack for a moment. I met Zestbile owner, Valeria Iannitti, at her tidy industrial kitchen on Gladstone Avenue a few months back. I may be overstepping here (and Val may be surprised to be read this) but meeting Val felt a bit like meeting a kindred spirit. (I know, I know. How positively Anne Shirley of me to put it that way, but it cannot be helped!) Val is a mom, I’m a mom. She loves food, I love food! But here’s the difference: she’s so passionate about feeding people good food that she’s actually turned it into a viable business. So when Val asked me if I wanted to give her service a test run and I had to say yes.

Point of note: Zestible is run completely by Ottawa women, and supports local farms and artisans such as Rideau Pines Farm, Michael’s Dolce, Bekings Eggs, Suntech Tomatoes. Bonus.

So here’s how Zestible works:

  1. – You place an order on the Zestible website. It’s very easy. You can look at pods (these are groups of recipes) or individual recipes. Note it is more cost effective to order in pods. All do you is click, pay, and it’s done. Then you wait. The order deadline is noon Thursday and delivery is Tuesday by 5 p.m., just in time for dinner!
  2. – The ingredients and recipes arrive in a big insulated bag. Delivery is free if you spend $60 or more and you live within the main delivery areas. (They’ll deliver to areas outside of Ottawa proper for an additional fee.)
  3. – You assemble the ingredients at any time, and voila, dinner is done. DONE. Prep time is usually under 30 minutes.

I tell ya, I felt like a kid at Christmas when this appeared on my doorstep:

Zestible arrives!

This is what it looks like when you unzip it:

Zestible unpacking

I was going to do a whole ZESTIBLE UNBOXING video but I reconsidered because of the very high nerd factor. I will say that everything comes neatly and professionally packed and labelled by dish title. The meat was sandwiched between big flat ice packs at the bottom of the bag. All I did at this point was pop the meat in the meat drawer and line the bags up in the fridge.

What did we try? Oy.

– Baked Salmon with Apple Walnut Slaw and Pickled Onions
– Thai Coconut Soup
– Maple Dijon Marinated Chicken Breast with Kale Salad
– Mint Pomegranate Tabbouleh with Grilled Halloumi
– Smoked Trout and Fennel Mixed Green Salad

These are just a few of the dishes we enjoyed.

Honestly, every meal we ordered was a winner but there’s a lot to love about this kind of service overall. It saved me time at the grocery store and with meal planning. As an added bonus, dinners became very easy to, er, assign to family members. The girls made the first meal, which was chicken tacos with mango salsa:

Chicken tacos via Zestible

Zestible instructions are easy to follow too:

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Recipe example

There is some food prep involved here, but it’s minimal, just washing and chopping for the most part. It’s something the family can do together too, which I like.

What I didn’t really think about beforehand, but became clear as we made more meals, was how little food waste there was. Each recipe comes with exactly what is needed for that recipe. For example, a tablespoon of fish sauce or three pieces of lemongrass. No more rotting cilantro in the back of the fridge. Yay! Also, some of the recipes featured ingredients I may not have tried on my own… like pomegranate seeds in a chickpea tabbouleh. But you know, it worked!

Another Zestible winner

Dinners consistently provided me with some amazing lunches (many of which you probably saw on Twitter). This was one of them. The star of the show here was sustainably-sourced smoked trout that came via Whalesbone. Ack. It was so good.

June 17 #dailylunches- leftovers from Zestible, includes sustainable trout from Whalesbone. Such a treat.

The portions were generous and at no point was I worried that we wouldn’t have enough food. This was especially true with my order of marinated sous vide chicken. All it needed was a quick sear – and I had enough for leftovers AND for a second dinner. (Which was a BBQ chicken pizza of my own making.)

These dinners SAVED MY BACON on soccer night. And when my meeting ran late. And when the girls were out and it was just me and Mark for dinner and I was fresh out of ideas with no energy to shop and no desire to hit up a drive through.

As an added bonus, the recipe cards that came with my delivery are now a permanent part of my repertoire. Bwa ha ha! So I can now recreate these dishes on my own. (And I have already done so! My co-workers really enjoyed a salad I brought for the office pot luck last week.)

So who is this service good for? (Other than busy parents of course. Ha.) Seriously, anyone! Seniors, singletons, people who are new to cooking, people who hate grocery shopping, people who want to eat better (try the vegetarian pod!). Employers can also buy meals for their staff (I love this idea so much) and gift certificates are also available. It’d be perfect for newlyweds, housewarming, baby shower gift, or if someone is getting over an illness and can use a little extra help. Wouldn’t it make an awesome gift for a teacher too?

Every week there are 5-7 new recipes added to the site, which includes vegetarian and meat/fish-based options, along with a delicious quick salad. There are also extras such as True Loaf baguette, Bekings eggs and a healthy smoothie.

All in all, it’s a delicious idea, and I know when I’m feeling busy – or in a rut – I will be ordering again.

*Here’s the fine print: Zestible fed my family but the deal was that this would be a fair and honest review. Opinions are my own. If you’re keen to try it out, use my promo code for a special discount on your first order. The coupon code is fishdish and it’s good for $10 off your first purchase plus free shipping (meaning that the minimum order to access free shipping is waived). The discount expires July 14 so don’t delay. :).


4 Responses to "Dinner. Delivered. (a.k.a. A dream come true.) *"

1 | Claudette

June 28th, 2016 at 7:42 pm

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I wonder if they have something similar in Toronto…Sounds exciting! And your pictures are absolutely stunning. :)

2 | andrea tomkins

June 30th, 2016 at 4:20 pm

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Thank you! And I can’t speak to Toronto-based services. It is definitely a great idea whose time has come!

3 | andrea tomkins

June 30th, 2016 at 4:23 pm

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Something I forgot to mention in my original post… I had someone ask whether we ordered meals for two or four. The short answer is: both! When I knew four of us were eating together I ordered for everyone. Other orders – like the Thai soup which I assumed the girls wouldn’t like – was an order for two (although we actually got three meals out of it)!

4 | Kelly Rusk

August 2nd, 2016 at 7:50 pm

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I heard about this service from my mom (of all places) and tried it out immediately because the recipes that week sounded delicious!

I just got my second vegetarian pod and so far really pleased! As a single, busy professional this makes a lot of sense–the pod gives me 3 meals with 2 servings each which I usually use for lunch the next day so I am not wasting extra ingredients and I’m still taking the time to have a delicious homemade meal!

Also I love that it’s not a subscription service like chef’s plate so I pick and choose when I want it, although now I’m even thinking that would be a great option!!

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  • SJM: My father sent epic care packages when I was at Uni - one per term. It included a 6 pack of beer and lots of food. This was when postage was much chea
  • andrea tomkins: I KNOW. It's crazy that we are now the parents of an adult. I can hardly believe it myself most days! :)
  • Allison: What!!??!! How is your daughter in university?!! That just cannot be!!! So glad to hear she is adjusting well and having fun and enjoying her classes
  • andrea tomkins: Great ideas Joy! Especially the POST-its! They're actually an expensive purchase for a student, so they'd make a nice addition to a care package.
  • joy: cute and fun - I would love to receive things like this! How about notebooks, magazines, post-it notes, seasonal treats, lip balms, gift cards for fav
  • andrea tomkins: Ooh! Good one Alison! A good (long!) phone charge cord could be welcome as well.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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