Dinner in a Box
Our Week with Smartmat

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You like to eat well, enjoy cooking but don’t have the time and/or nerve to put together a menu for the whole week in advance and then go shopping accordingly? Then this might just be something for you.

Smartmat is based in Antwerp, but have expanded to deliver in Brussels and the region of Wallonia-Brabant as well. We were recently invited to try their concept first hand.*

The concept is very much straight-forward: You can see the menu for the coming weeks on their website, where you can choose between different Smartmat boxes, ranging from 4 meals for 1 to 5 meals for 4, with the option of a vegetarian menu as well as a “Quick and Easy” for those with very little time to spare. We chose the “normal” – i.e. not veggie and not “quick and easy” – box for 2 people & 4 meals.

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Compared to our various experiences with the Belgian post and parcel delivery services in Brussels, the delivery with Smartmat was extraordinarily smooth. We knew the box would come on a Monday, and a couple of days before we got an email with the exact time-frame – one hour – in the evening, after office hours.

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Inside the (chilled) box we found all the ingredients needed for 4 meals, as well as a checklist of what should be in the box (it was all there) and cooking instructions.

Everything you need to cook the meals is in the box – except certain basic ingredients, such as olive oil, salt and pepper or other spices.

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The menu also lists the expected time you need (usually between 30 and 45 minutes), which we found to be pretty accurate. It should be noted, though, that we were cooking together and that we are rather experienced cooks – if you never cook and try Smartmat on your own, it might take you considerably longer.

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Our first recipe was for pitas filled with chicken and vegetables. A nice touch: Not too complicated to cook, but still not a true “standard” recipe, so it had a bit of an exotic touch to it. I have to say we were positively surprised about the taste – the kofte-meatballs were quite nice and the carrot-based tsatsiki was a nice touch on top. Meal #1 was also meal #4 – there’s always one recipe that will provide you with two meals; the chicken pita were still very good and fresh after two days in the fridge.

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Meal #2: Fish fillet with pumpkin purree, quinoa and salad. Again, nothing too exotic, but not exactly your typical home-cooked fish dinner, either. Tasted lovely and, against our initial concern, the portions were big enough, too.

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While we tried to stick to the Smartmat ingredients & instructions a hundred percent, we had to experiment a little with the final recipe, quinoa-salad with goat cheese, since we both are not that much into fromage de chévre.

So instead of the goat cheese we added some shrimp atop the salad, which had quinoa, greens, the rest of the pumpkin and backed oranges.

Our impression after one week with Smartmat: It’s a concept that definitively works. The delivery process was smooth, the meals were nice and, as promised, at the end of the week all the ingredients were completely used, there was nothing left of the box (except the box itself).

It’s not cheap, though: The box we got (4 meals for 2 people) sets you back 65 € – not a lot when compared to eating out in Brussels, but quite a lot when you usually shop at local markets or at your neighbourhood discounter.

So – as mentioned at the top – for people without time for planning menus, reading cookbooks and going shopping, but who still want to eat home-cooked meals as opposed to frozen ones, this might be a good idea. Also, you don’t have to sign up for a weekly delivery; you can just browse the menus and order a Smartmat box every other week or just once a month – whatever you feel like.

 

* Disclaimer: Smartmat offered us – and other bloggers – a box for 2 to try their concept; there were no strings attached and we were under no obligation to write anything about it. Since we liked the concept, we decided to post a review; naturally, Smartmat did not have any say in this and they did not see the text in advance.