Veestro, Maestro

Michal from Veestro sent me a generous amount of vegan meals to try, and now the time has come to review them. As much as I enjoy cooking, I’m not against taking a break from it every rare chance I get. Kitchen freedom: all right!

If you’re not familiar with Veestro, here’s the gist: they send you carefully prepared and portioned meals you get to pick from their site, all vegan, some gluten-free, and always frozen. Don’t worry about the “frozen” part: you don’t need to be home when the shipment arrives. It’s all packed with dry ice, so your food will be safe. Not for two weeks, but it will be just fine waiting on the porch all day as long as you throw (preferably not literally) your meals in the freezer once you’re finally home.
Where have you been anyway? Oh, none of my business. I see how it is.

Shipping is free when you order a meal plan. Considering the shipping fee for orders that aren’t part of the meal plans is $12 in the Los Angeles area, or $35 for the rest of the States, it’s a nice chunk of change to save.

While on the subject of money: these meals are prepared with quality ingredients, packed individually then sent to your door, and therefore not exactly cheap. If you can afford it and don’t have much time or inclination to be in the kitchen, it’s a good option to have. Nutritious and tasty meals you just need to defrost* and reheat? Undoubtedly more appealing than the limp PB & J some of us might normally go for when we can’t be arsed making something more elaborate.

Here is a link to the FAQ for extra info. Now onto the review…

Tortilla Soup: Pictured at the top of this post. So. Freaking. Good. Chaz, the commonly and frustratingly pretty nonchalant food feedback-giver, was over the moon with this soup. Fair amount of spices, chunky vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, corn), and a portion size fit for a side dish or filling snack.

Enchilada Casserole: I don’t think I’ve ever eaten enchiladas before (bad Californian wannabe, bad), but Chaz sure did and managed to compare these to those he had. We both found them excellent, but noted a certain lack of hot, hot heat. As a lover of spicy food, I still support the lack of heat: just like salt, it’s obviously easier to add more if you want it than to remove it.

Pan Seared Cajun Tempeh Dinner: Served with a red sauce not pictured here. The pilaf underneath the tasty Cajun-flavored tempeh slices is composed of quinoa and veggies (green peas and carrots), and it pairs up quite nicely with the tempeh and sauce.

Pan Seared Tofu with Veggies and Tempeh Bacon: I love that there is a bountiful amount of veggies in this fairly simple meal that would be perfect for a savory kind of breakfast served with a couple slices of whole grain bread, with the protein boost from the seared ‘fu and tempeh ‘con.
Speaking of the bacon, they need to sell the stuff on its own so that I can buy it all: only 3 ingredients (tempeh, sea salt, maple crystals) and it’s the best vegan bacon I’ve had in all my vegan years. Hats off.
There were no shrooms or shallots in the portion I received even though they are listed on the site and label, but I’m no fan-gi of fungi anyway so look who isn’t complaining. For once.
Still, I asked Michal about this out of curiosity and he mentioned they are in the process of updating their labels to reflect changes in the recipes.

Soba Noodles With Peanut Sauce: Peanuts galore! Well, I actually added those peanuts on top but the dish itself already contains ground peanuts, and there’s also peanut butter in the sauce. Studded with red cabbage (I wish there were more of it) and pan-seared tofu cubes, these noodles can be served both heated and cold. I tried both ways but preferred it warmed up a bit. This is quite a generous portion for a satisfying lunch- or dinnertime meal.

Gluten-Free Quinoa Burger Patty: Veestro people, you rule at creating the most gorgeous grill marks. Your skills. I must have them.
As the name indicates, the huge patty is free of gluten. I enjoyed it on a nice bed of kale instead of on a bun because it was so big that bread on top (and bottom) of it would be too much. I actually think my patty was even bigger than the one pictured on the Veestro site, score!

Savory Croquettes with Veggie Hash: The croquettes are so cute and tasty! Similarly to the burger up there, the ones I received seemed larger than those pictured on the site, which might explain their ultimate demise: unfortunately, they were a little fragile and awkward to grab out of the packaging once defrosted* so they didn’t make it to the baking sheet in one piece. Moment of silence please. (Note that it didn’t keep us from devouring this faster than you can say “Celine, you’re just a damn klutz.”)

Portobello Steak Dinner: A portobello mushroom cap with mushroom sauce, served with perfectly cooked peppery carrots and pearl onions, and with steamed kale alongside a grilled round of polenta. As I mentioned above, I’m not usually into mushrooms but it all worked well together here. I was especially taken with how awesome the veggies and polenta were both in flavor and texture. If you’re a bit peeved by mushrooms like I am, I have to say this one isn’t the number one looker of the bunch. But its taste definitely makes up for that.

So, would I place orders on the regular? The meals are solid and I loved having a variety of food without having to break out ten thousand pans. While I’d love to support every vegan company worth its weight in gold like Veestro is, the cost is a little too high for my own pocketbook. But as I mentioned at the beginning of this post: if you have the means, it truly is a great alternative to eating out and an awesome way to take a vacation from cooking.

Good news: Veestro is ace and offers 15% on all orders to have cake readers until December 31, 2013. Simply enter coupon code “HAVECAKE” during checkout.

*Heads up: the current labels don’t seem to mention it, but the site says you need to defrost your meals before heating them.