Dineamic Meal Delivery: Tasty, but the Portions Are Small and the Plant-Based Range Is Bleak

Dineamic Meal Delivery: Tasty, but the Portions Are Small and the Plant-Based Range Is Bleak

There are a lot of meal delivery services available in Australia, such as Dineamic, My Muscle Chef, Soulara, MACROS, Youfoodz and Bondi Meal Prep. There are also meal kit platforms like HelloFresh, Marley Spoon and Dinnerly. Those aren’t all of the meal delivery services out there, but you’re no doubt getting the hint: it’s a saturated food on-demand market.

This means, above anything else, that for a meal delivery service to succeed, the food needs to taste good, be good for you and offer something that you can’t get elsewhere.

Usually, when we review something, the companies reach out to garner our interest. Dineamic did just that. The pitch from Dineamic was that it had added five vegan meals to its platform, just in time for World Vegan Month.

As the resident vegan at Lifehacker Australia, I jumped at the opportunity.

Prior to Dineamic, I had only tried My Muscle Chef meal delivery, HelloFresh and back in the day, Lite N Easy.

Dineamic appealed to me, of course, via the vegan pitch, but also the fact the meals were calorie smart.

Dineamic was kind enough to send out 10 meals. Three vegan, three vegetarian, two chicken and two beef. Despite Dineamic saying they dropped five vegan meals. Unfortunately, I could only eat three of them. My mum took the omnivore dishes and my partner, who is vegetarian, ate the vego ones. I did sneak a few mouthfuls of two of his meals as they had no egg and not much dairy in them.

What is Dineamic?

Dineamic was founded in 2008 by former AFL premiership player, Jason Johnson, and accredited practising dietitian, Karen Inge, with the goal of creating nutritious, balanced, ready meals for athletes. It has since grown to a ready-to-eat (except for microwaving) option for anyone looking for a healthy and easy meal.

Are Dinamic meals expensive?

The price for each meal varies. You can buy bundles that cover ‘customer favourites’, ‘low calorie’ and ‘low fodmap’ meals, with the price for those bundles (which include 10 meals) ranging from $79 through $100.

Individually, the meals cost between $8 and $15, which is competitive pricing in the market.

How long do Dineamic meals last?

Around seven days, but you can freeze them. I froze one meal just to see what it tasted like after defrosting it. It was fine, though not as good as fresh, so I’d recommend only freezing the meals if they’re going to otherwise go to waste.

This isn’t specific to Dineamic, I should point out. My experience was very similar when freezing My Muscle Chef meals previously. It adds a sort of grainy texture to pasta and makes fake meats a little gritty. Still, they’re more than edible, don’t get me wrong.

Is the packaging environmentally friendly?

I have to address the packaging from every angle first. They’re….they’re not pretty. I know this doesn’t really matter, but the stale-looking cardboard sleeve makes me feel as though I’m eating hospital food, or like I’m eating something that is good for me first, and tastes nice second (more on that soon, I promise). I get it, coated plastic isn’t recyclable, but some of the dishes come with a pretty picture of how the meal looked before it was vacuum-sealed into something resembling a dried prune.

To cook, you slide the cardboard sleeve off, pop the cardboard bowl and plastic-sealed meal inside into the microwave, scoff your face, peel the plastic off the bowl and place it in the trash, and the cardboard pieces go into the bin.

Sorry, this pic is a little gross. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Lifehacker Australia

Dineamic says it’s 100 per cent carbon neutral:

“Keeping Australia beautiful is at the forefront of our minds. We operate out of a 100% carbon neutral kitchen, prioritise low food miles, minimise waste by cooking to order, and use Halo Packs made from recycled cardboard, reducing our plastic consumption by 92%!,” it writes on its website.

Are Dineamic meals any good?

dineamic meal delivery food meals service
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Lifehacker Australia

For this review, I received:

  • Future Mince Sri Lankan Curry with rice & broccoli
  • Harissa Future Meatballs with Mediterranean vegetable couscous
  • Umami mushroom & Future Mince stir-fry with rice & green beans
  • Future Meatballs with creamy tomato sauce and casarecce
  • Creamy pesto pumpkin gnocchi with broccoli
  • Pumpkin & Future Mince Bolognese with ricotta tortellini
  • Chicken curry laksa with rice noodles
  • Smokey chicken with roasted chat potatoes, corn & black bean salsa
  • Beef lasagne
  • Beef chilli con carne with Mexican rice

Each of these meals had quite a small calorie count, and across the three of us that trialled them, the consensus was that there wasn’t enough food. While not on every occasion, my partner added a bread roll, my mum had a bowl of fruit shortly after, and I snacked on everything available in my pantry.

The cardboard bowls lined with plastic are….put your meal onto a plate to make it feel like you’re not eating a reheated meal. That’d be my advice there.

dineamic meal delivery food meals service
This isn’t exactly mouth-watering imagery, is it? Image: Asha Barbaschow/Lifehacker Australia

While I personally can’t eat the vegetarian meals, my gripe with this is that they’re quite boring. Having gone vego back in 1998, I thought long behind me were the days I had no choices for meals outside of pasta and hot chips. Out of all the vegetarian meals Dineamic could have made, they’ve invested their time and energy into pasta dishes. Ask any vegetarian, and they’d likely tell you their go-to ‘lazy’ meal is pasta. A little creativity would be much appreciated.

That said, two of the five new vegan meals were exclusively cooked up by MasterChef 2021 Winner and Future Farm Ambassador, Justin Narayan. And of the three I ate, the Harissa Future Meatballs with Mediterranean vegetable couscous was probably my favourite, despite it blasting my mouth with chilli. I love a hot meal, known around the office at work for putting too much hot sauce on everything I eat, but this is a risk, especially without being given the option to choose your heat preference. The only notice on the website is the mention of the ‘punchy house-made harissa sauce’, which I’d argue isn’t enough.

Mum had a similar experience with the beef chilli con carne with Mexican rice, but it’s really in the name, so that’s on you. Her complaints with the smokey chicken with roasted chat potatoes, corn & black bean salsa were that the chicken wasn’t as tender as she hoped and that there wasn’t enough sauce. In saying that, she LOVED the chicken curry laksa.

My partner’s favourite was the Future Meatballs with creamy tomato sauce. In fact, despite my gripes with the plant-based variety, Dineamic’s choice of ‘fake meat’ is a good one.

The verdict

Out of the lot, there wasn’t a meal we collectively didn’t like. We all just…wanted more. Dineamic meals are convenient, and if you’re looking to remove the complexity from meal planning, it’s hard to look past them.

The majority of meals are priced at $10.50 or $11, which is about what I spend on a meal when I buy groceries to make it myself.

I won’t be actively subscribing to Dineamic meal delivery for myself moving forward, but that’s a problem that exists with educating meat-eaters about what vego really means, and that there’s more to explore than just pasta and curry.

Meanwhile, my cat gives the Dineamic meal delivery box a 10/10.

dineamic meal delivery food meals service
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Lifehacker Australia

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