As I explained in my HelloFresh review here, we have been trying out at home meal kits because of the shortages of basics in the grocery stores here in Australia such as; mince, flour, eggs and so on.
After trying HelloFresh, we decided to try out Dinnerly which markets itself as, “Australia’s most affordable home dinner kit” it’s actually owned by Marley Spoon, just a cheaper version for those who cannot afford Marley Spoon which is one of the more expensive options.
The ordering experience itself was smooth. Enter your details and then choose your meals, it’s a similar story to HelloFresh and presumably every other meal kit service out there.
The menu we were shown for the week we were ordering was a stark contrast to HelloFresh. The affordability aspect of Dinnerly is most of their meals have just six ingredients and basic ones.
We got a box with four meals, and two portions in each. We assumed like HelloFresh, the portions would be massive and feed my wife and I as well as our two young kids.
On the surface, this all looks great. I was particularly excited for the tacos and if you’re wondering why I rated them 1 star, keeping reading because I explain why further down.
You get what you pay for
Like anything in life, when you pay less you get less. With Dinnerly the meals are the kinds of things that anyone with a copy of Jamie Oliver’s cheap meal recipe books would expect to make. Chillis, curries and chicken/veg.
The first sign you have ordered a cheap meal kit is the packaging. This is no HelloFresh, the ingredients are kind of just thrown into the small box that ships to your door. Nothing is categorised by colour or any system, you have to dig through and find what you’re looking for.
Quality-wise, the produce just didn’t look that good. The vegetables and salads just looked less fresh than what you might find in a supermarket. Allegedly they come straight from the farm, which is maybe an acronym for some large freezer where they keep everything stored.
Our favourite meal by far was the parmesan meatloaf, it was a pleasant surprise given we are not big meatloaf eaters. It was actually a really nice meal, we had this on the first day. It was a nice introduction to Dinnerly, until the subsequent nights.
Weird pantry staples
Because you get less in the box, you’re required to provide more pantry staples beyond oil, salt and pepper. For the Chimichurri Chicken recipe, this is what the recipe asks you to provide; red wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove, honey and olive oil from the pantry. The Indian Halloumi Curry required; 2 garlic cloves, olive oil and tomato paste.
Perhaps the most demanding of all of the recipes in terms of pantry staples was the Beef and Parmesan meatloaves. This recipe required you to provide; 1 egg, olive oil, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce.
This is a recurring theme with Dinnerly. They might ship you 6 ingredient meals, but they require you to have another six ingredients in your pantry. The oil is a common staple, but tomato paste not so much.
I am looking at this through a distorted HelloFresh lens and with HelloFresh they required pantry staples as well, but never to this degree. At most HelloFresh required oil, butter and an occasional egg. Never tomato paste, tomato sauce or anything else. They also always provided garlic when needed.
The Ranchero Taco Incident 2020
This is the recipe we were looking forward to the most. After eating our way through the collection of so-so meals, the tacos seemed like the redeeming meal of the week (or so we thought).
After meticulously following the steps, as the mince was cooking a noticeable amount of fat was present. The recipe calls for 1 tsp of olive oil added to the pan before cooking the mince, we didn’t do that and it was a good call considering the pan was incredibly oily, it didn’t need any more.
The disappointment of these tacos emanated around the dining table. Our kids who love tacos and were excited for these as well barely ate any. My wife and I were similarly disgusted with the amount of fat dripping onto the plate.
There was so much oil on our plates, I was convinced that the USA was preparing to invade our dining room.
This incident really cemented that Dinnerly was not for us. We are not food snobs, we just don’t like being drowned in copious amounts of oil and meals that have some semblance of taste in them.
Maybe we got a bad box or maybe Dinnerly is so focused on cutting costs and being affordable they’re willing to send inferior meat and produce to their subscribers.
I was so disappointed I contacted Dinnerly to let them know of my disappointment and frustration. I felt misled, these tacos were meant to taste good, how hard is it to make tacos? While they apologised, they said they would pass on my feedback to the “culinary team” which is probably code for, “We’re not going to do anything”
We will not be paying to try Dinnerly again. I wouldn’t recommend Dinnerly to my friends, family or even my enemies. It was subpar and disappointing, really not that much cheaper than HelloFresh. Save your money and get a HelloFresh box instead or just buy your own ingredients, your chances of disappointment will be so much lower.