Meal kits are taking off in a big way in South Africa.

Start-ups Ucook and Daily Dish have signed up thousands of South Africans, who now receive weekly boxes with all the ingredients needed to put dinner together.

Read: We compared SA's dinner-kit services UCook and Daily Dish – and the winner was clear for one key and one minor reason

Earlier this year, Checkers launched its own series of meal kits.

Read: We tried Checkers’ new meal-in-a-box, and discovered we paid R18.83 for 12 minutes and a recipe

Woolworths has also jumped on the bandwagon, and we tried its offering.

The different meal kits are available from a dedicated fridge from Woolworths stores, and you can also order them online.

We choose the “Rib-eye Steak, Mushroom & Pearl Barley” option.

Unlike other meal kit offerings, which come in boxes, the Woolworths meal kit seemed more efficiently packaged with a combination of cardboard and netting.

The meal kit came to R210 for two people.

This is pricey compared to the Checkers Ready to Chef meal kits which are priced between R119.99 and R179.99 per box, also with enough food for two people.

UCook charges R630 for a box with three meals for two people; Daily Dish's "classic" box for two people holds four meals for R870. (Vegetarian meals are cheaper.)

On per-head per-meal basis, that means UCook comes in at R105 – while Daily Dish costs R109. But both of these options include delivery costs.

This is what you get for R210:

300g Free range matured rib eye steak [Estimated price: R81 (R269.99/kg)

20g Rosemary [R10.99]

150 Exotic mushrooms [R32.99]

250ml Whipping cream [R19.11]

250g Ready to eat barley [R26.99]

60g Grated hard cheese [R34.95]

Together, the ingredients total R206.03.

That means that you are paying less than R4 for the recipe and the time saved to walk the aisles to source the difference ingredients.

The premium is far smaller than that of the Checkers meal kit we tried, which came to almost R19.

The meal was easy to put together, and – largely thanks to the ready-to-eat barley – was ready in record-breaking time compared to some of the other meal kit options.

It was also delicious and plenty. While red-blooded carnivores may balk at getting only 150g meat each, it left us with some leftovers for the next day.

This was how the Woolworths meal kit differed from others we tried:

There were food bits left over.

Unlike other meal kit services, which carefully measure out ingredients (including spices and condiments) to ensure no wastage, we ended up with a container of rosemary (only two sprigs were required in the menu) and half of tub of hard cheese.

On the menu card, Woolworths gives a top tip to deal with the rosemary (chop up the remaining sprigs and add to salt to create “rosemary salt”). But we probably won’t get around to do that, and the rosemary will grow old and nasty in our fridge.

The recipe was quite heavy.

Where the other meal kit services emphasise their health-consciousness, this ultra-rich Woolworths menu basically aimed to put us into cardiac arrest. It didn’t hold back on the cream and cheese; in fact, we only used half of the cheese suggested. Still, as an occasional dinner treat we thought it was worth the extra gym time in the morning.

It assumed you have red wine vinegar in your pantry.

This may not sound like a big deal – but the other meal kits we tried didn’t demand much more than olive oil, salt and pepper from us.

While at first glance, the Woolworths meal kit seemed on the expensive side, it was tasty and we will probably will try some of the other options – which include Tomato, Spinach & Paneer Curry (R175) and Hake Korma Curry (R190). 

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