CrateChef Review + Coupon: Featuring Sam The Cooking Guy
CrateChef is a bi-monthly food & cooking subscription box, curated by a different chef, food-related celebrity, or author every other month. Each box includes artisanal foods sourced from around the globe, kitchen gadgets, plus a cookbook or recipe cards from the featured chef to help you put your ingredients to good use. I always learn something new from these boxes and enjoy trying the different techniques and flavors that they introduce me to.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: CrateChef
The Cost: $49.00 per box + $8.00 shipping. Save with longer subscriptions.
COUPON: Use code ADDICTION10 to save 10% off your first order!
The Products: Artisanal foods, recipes, and kitchen tools curated by a different chef each month.
Ships to: The U.S.
Good to know: CrateChef recently added a “build-your-own” box option, where you can curate your first box from a selection of products featured in past boxes!
CrateChef December 2020 Review, featuring Sam Zien aka Sam The Cooking Guy
This month’s box features Sam Zien, also known as Sam The Cooking Guy. Despite the fact that I really do enjoy the art and science of cooking, I honestly don’t follow a ton of food bloggers or YouTubers. I wasn’t familiar with Sam until getting this box. I spied a number of super useful items in this box upon opening, so I had a good feeling that I’d enjoy Sam’s style in the kitchen.
I was thrilled to see a Q&A with the featured chef in this box! CrateChef used to include these regularly but it’s been a few boxes since I’ve seen one. I loved reading Sam’s words about the relationship between food waste and planning to cook food with leftovers in mind. I’ve been shifting more towards making 2 big meals every week that feed us through most of the week with leftovers (and a couple of quick dinners thrown in between), and I could totally use some new ideas!
Sam The Cooking Guy: Recipes With Intentional Leftovers by Sam Zien – Retail: $24.95
I’m going to jump right into the hero item of this box: the cookbook. I always get SO excited to get a new cookbook from CrateChef, and it’s such a nice touch when they are signed by the author as this one is. The layout of this book is super simple and effective: 18 master recipes, each followed by 4-7 more recipes that you can make with the leftovers. BRILLIANT. (I’m not the only one who thinks so: 92% of reviewers on Amazon gave it 5 stars!)
I saw tons of ideas in this book that we’re sure to use. I actually laughed out loud at the Meatball Bahn Mi recipe because I’m currently in my second week of making a very similar recipe as one of our main meals for the week. There’s also a great Thanksgiving section that includes a Thanksgiving Eggs Benedict and some really delicious looking Turkey & Stuffing Tacos with Cranberry Sour Cream, which frankly sound delicious.
Some of the ideas are really simple, like Pizza Eggs: It’s a cubed slice of leftover pizza served with a couple of eggs. I love pizza, and I love eggs, so I’m honestly surprised I’ve never thought of this before. I’m sure my husband will look at me like a crazy person on the day I inevitably make this for breakfast, but I gotta hand it to Sam, it sounds delicious.
Let’s see what else we have to help cook through this book:
Regency Cooking Twine, 25 Ft – Estimated Value $6.41
Cooking twine is one of those things I rarely need, but never have when I actually do need it. I’m honestly not even sure where to find it in the grocery store. Sam’s cookbook includes a section based on a whole roasted chicken, so I’m tucking this away to use for that exact purpose. I’ve got a couple of turkeys under my belt but have never actually done a chicken, so this is a perfect excuse! 25 feet should last a good long time, too.
Everything Bagel Seasoning, 3 oz – Estimated Value $2.75
This is a CrateChef branded item, but I appreciate that they’ve shared that it’s sourced from Olde Thompson, a supplier for grocery chains nationwide. Pricing for this blend online varies from one extreme to the other; I saw everything from $1.99 to $7+ for ~2.5 oz containers. At Aldi and Walmart, pricing was around the $2 mark for 2.3 ounces.
This stuff is like gold in our household. I put it on almost everything: eggs, salads, avocado toast, or even on top of an everything bagel slathered with cream cheese. This is a solid blend that was well balanced and nice and toasty, unlike a couple of brands I’ve tried which are kind of raw and bland tasting. Sam recommends including some in ground beef for burgers! We’ll see if this lasts long enough for me to try that once grilling season starts (but I doubt it will make it that long).
Another super useful item! I’ve been putting off trying beeswax wraps pretty much forever, because I’m picky about cleanliness in the kitchen and I’ve been convinced they would just get gross immediately since you can’t wash them in hot water. So far, I’ve just used these in place of broken plastic lids for my Pyrex for storing leftovers in the fridge. This set comes with three in different sizes, and so far I’ve actually used all of them on various size containers. I’m super pleased to get something so functional in this box that otherwise I might not have ever tried on my own. One more thing to help reduce our plastic consumption, I’ll take it!
Do you use beeswax wraps? Any other tips for me?
Chosen Foods Avocado Oil, 8.4 Fl Oz / 250 mL – Retail: $12.99
I use a tiny Lodge cast iron pan (from a 2018 CrateChef box featuring Brad Leone!) almost every morning to make 2 eggs for my breakfast. I recently discovered that avocado oil seems to be the best oil to use when seasoning your pan. I assume it’s the high smoke point, but I simply have better adhesion and fewer issues with sticking when I use it.
Even if you don’t use cast iron, this is also a great neutral oil to have in the kitchen. I used to use coconut oil in place of olive oil a lot when roasting at high temps in the oven, but it always imparts a slight coconut taste to everything. We’ll definitely use every last drop of this bottle!
Bluegrass Soy Sauce, 100 mL – Retail: $8.00
This is a small bottle of “microbrewed” barrel-aged soy sauce made in Kentucky from Kentucky grown non-GMO soybeans! The backstory of this brand is really fascinating, too; they also use red winter wheat “from a downstate farmer whose family has been plowing Kentucky land since before the Civil War.” I honestly can’t remember ever buying any type of specialty soy sauce in my life, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I tasted this. It immediately took me back to eating at a high end sushi place that I hadn’t been to in years.
It’s hard to explain the added depth of flavor, but there’s definitely something special going on here that I don’t get with the Aldi-brand soy sauce I currently have in my fridge. It’s much deeper and richer. I used this today to make meatballs for bahn mi, and it definitely kicks the flavor up. Amazing find!
Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce, 10 fl oz – Retail: $3.99
Finally, a bottle of sweet chili sauce. It’s been awhile since I’ve had frozen dumplings from Trader Joe’s, but that’s typically how I use this type of sauce. Sam notes that it would also be great with Fresh Thai Shrimp Spring Rolls from his book.
He also says to put some on top of cottage cheese with salt and pepper, which is something I am now totally dying to try! I honestly love eating cottage cheese with just salt and pepper rather than fruit, and this seems like a fun way to spice it up a bit! If you’ve never tried savory cottage cheese before, trust me on this one: it’s a great snack.
Verdict: This CrateChef box was perfectly usable and fun! At first glance it doesn’t seem that adventurous in terms of flavor this month, but there are quite a few unique recipes included in the cookbook to explore. That soy sauce was amazingly rich, and I’m definitely feeling encouraged to finally try a roasted whole chicken! For as much as I love trying new things and incorporating new flavors into my meals, my reality is that we’re a family of 4 with two picky kids. Sometimes a good, simple recipe with broad appeal is really where it’s at, especially during the cold weather months where all we want is comfort food. True to the theme of the book and the box, nothing will go to waste from this month’s CrateChef box.
To Wrap Up:
COUPON: Use code ADDICTION10 to save 10% off your first order!
Value Breakdown: Food boxes are more about curation than sheer retail value, and I love this box for the overall experience. I still want to feel like I’m getting a good value, too. This box’s items totaled up to an estimated retail value of $77, which is really good! It’s even better that I’ll use every item in this box until it’s gone. CrateChef bi-monthly subscriptions cost $57 per box ($49 + $8 US shipping).
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of the latest CrateChef? What are you most excited to cook from this box?