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As a true 90’s kid, I have a vivid memory of the day I got my Easy-Bake Oven. It was Black Friday, probably right around Y2K, and it was the heyday of Toys-R-Us. We went, picked it out early in the morning, and stood in line while I clutched it and stared at the fluorescent pink graphics.
Recently, I got a Tovala smart oven and had hardcore deja vu to that moment in Toys-R-Us. This time around, my oven arrived at my doorstep, has beautiful earth-toned graphics that don’t require sunglasses to view, and cooks way more than baked goods.
Dinner Done Faster
The second generation Tovala ($99 with a subscription, $299 without) is a countertop smart oven that has several modes to create different culinary masterpieces. By connecting to WiFi and an app on your phone, the oven allows you to step away from the kitchen and manage your busy life (or chill out) while cooking breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Tovala even stops the oven automatically when the programmed cook time is done, meaning no more running from the couch to the kitchen to ensure your food doesn’t burn. How does it know the cook time, you ask? Tovala works with barcodes and QR codes to set a fixed cook time to ensure each meal is perfectly cooked.
Meals at Your Doorstep
Tovala also offers a meal kit service (starting at $11.99/each) that works in conjunction with the oven. Similar to other meal services, it is a subscription, meaning you pick the meals you’d like to try, which are sent to you on a scheduled basis. The fresh meals come in cute little boxes that are individually packed and can be ordered via the app or on a browser. When you’re ready to cook them, simply take off the protective plastic, scan the recipe with the QR code provided, and put the trays in. Twelve bucks a piece feels a bit pricey to me for meals, but you are definitely paying for the convenience of having virtually nothing to do to get a healthy, home-cooked meal.
Tovala’s meals accommodate many different dietary needs, including different allergies, gluten free, vegetarian, and carb conscious diets. My husband is allergic to shellfish, so we were able to easily steer clear of that. Like many couples who live together, we normally eat together. Tovala offers some meals that can feed two people, which definitely piqued our interest. The oven can fit up to four of the little trays from the meal subscription (most meals have two in the box), so ordering double portions of any meal will still guarantee you and your partner can eat together.
My husband calls it the “perfect bachelor machine,” wishing he would’ve had this back when we didn’t live together and his eating habits were less than ideal.
My husband calls it the “perfect bachelor machine,” wishing he would’ve had this back when we didn’t live together and his eating habits were less than ideal. I tend to agree; cooking for one is hard, often expensive with likely food waste. Having pre-portioned meals when I lived alone would’ve been a game-changer. Feeding a family would be a bit trickier because of the size, but for the two of us right now, it works quite well.
Easy, Healthy Weekday Meals
Branded as “part oven, part personal chef,” Tovala really puts an emphasis on creating and shipping balanced and tasty meals as part of the subscription service. My husband and I tried four of the meals, including the Chicken Parmesan, Sweet Hoisin Beef & Veggie Bowl, BBQ-Rubbed Chicken Breast, and Pistachio-Crusted Salmon.
We made two for dinner one night and two for lunch the following day. We both work from home, and it can be very challenging to eat well during the day between hours of back-to-back meetings. Tovala really made our lunch time easier and healthier with these meals. It even notified me when the food was done, so I could keep working while it was cooking.
My husband really liked the Chicken Parmesan and I most enjoyed the Sweet Hoisin Beef & Veggie Bowl. They both had good flavor and tasted fresh. The portion, at first glance, can look small, but I actually think this is a really good thing for us. We so often fit the food to the plate, not necessarily to the portion we should be eating. Tovala’s meals take the guesswork out of portion control.
Five Fabulous Functions
The grocery scan mode also opens up a world of possibilities; Tovala can scan over 850+ grocery items, so the guesswork is taken out of cook time. No more setting your microwave to power level 5; just scan the barcode and Tovala takes it from there.
If you ever need to take a break from the subscription service, you can still use your Tovala, as it has five functions outside of cooking the meals from the subscription, including bake, broil, steam, reheat, and toast. For those with counter space issues, the Tovala can easily take the place of your toaster oven, toaster, possibly microwave, and any device you use to steam. It’s a big device, yes, but for us, it has a significantly smaller footprint than all of the devices we were using before to do all of these things.
We went rogue outside of the meals and tried a few of the functions, specifically the toast, bake, and broil modes. I made some great avocado toast, cooking both the egg and the toast at the same time. The grocery scan mode also opens up a world of possibilities; Tovala can scan over 850+ grocery items, so the guesswork is taken out of cook time. No more setting your microwave to power level 5; just scan the barcode and Tovala takes it from there. Given I’m a huge fan of the Trader Joe’s frozen aisle, I especially geeked out when I saw over 150+ items from TJ’s can be scanned.
Cooking with the Tovala Smart Oven is easy, healthy, and literally feels like you are buying yourself time. Whether this will be your bachelor pad’s crowning jewel or a time-saving lifehack as a busy parent, Tovala certainly has a place in just about every kitchen.
5 More Reasons to Get Cookin’ with Tovala:
1. Oprah named the Tovala Smart Oven of her 2021 favorite things.
2. There’s a new menu available every week, meaning no more boring meals or meal prep every day of the week.
3. Tovala meals stay fresh for 3 to 7 days, meaning you have plenty of time to enjoy them.
4. The packaging for the meals is 100% recyclable.
5. Many meals are customizable, meaning you can sub different pieces of the meal out for things you might enjoy more.