Jazmin Kopotsha | Culture Writer | Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Recipe Box Delivery Services Actually Worth The Money

Are Those Recipe Box Delivery Services Actually Worth The Money?

The Debrief: Because who doesn’t want to eat better food without having to battle your way through a supermarket on a Saturday afternoon?

It's safe to say that we're probably the most food-conscious generation there is. But we can also be pretty lazy and impatient at times (and I stress, 'at times' for any millennial haters out there, thank you very much) because, hell, most of us shudder at the recollection of a life pre- 4G, Amazon Prime and 29-minute Dominos delivery. So it's no wonder that we're all pretty intrigued by this booming business of food box delivery. Fresh food, restaurant quality recipes and all of the ingredients weighed and measured on your doorstep at the click of a button. 

But is it all worth the hype (and money)? Is the food actually that fresh? And how complicated is the process? Well, we did the hard (lol, not very hard) work for you and put some of the most popular services to the test (all ordered to feed two people/leave you with a portion to have for lunch) to find out which are worth your time, money and taste buds. Hungry? 

Gousto

What do you get?

With this service, you get to choose from a huge selection of recipes (22 to be precise) which is unashamedly exciting and satisfying to scroll through when your stomach is rumbling on your way home from work.There’s always a good range of veggie options if you’re not a meat eater but I’d definitely advise getting in there quick and try to get your head around which recipes are available on which dates in advance. What's on offer is rotated each week and they can sometimes run out of meals you really want to try. 

How much does it cost?

This is where you can do with being a bit savvy. You can order anywhere between two or three recipes per box and as you might expect, it becomes more cost effective per meal if you go for more recipes. Buying in bulk still applies to this method of grocery shopping, pals. Same goes for ordering the family box instead of the two-person one. But if you want the best value for money for two servings per dishes, get the four recipe box for £41.99. It works out as £5.25 per meal and will get you through most of the week. Also, delivery is free AND available seven days a week if you don’t fancy lugging it all home from work.

Do I need to subscribe?

It’s not a subscription, no, you just sign up and go without an extra fee. The only thing is that it seems you kind of automatically agree to receive another box the following week so you need to give three days’ notice if you want to skip/cancel a delivery. If you’re only in it for a one time fling, create a reminder on your phone to cancel! 

Are the recipes difficult? 

Nowhere near as difficult as they look on the pretty recipe cards! In my box I had a recipe for Feta and Sweet Potato Taquitos, which had they not have been in my box I would never have even thought to give them a go. Also, I was very grateful for the little pictures at each step on the recipe card for confirmation (reassurance) that everything looked the way it was meant to. The only thing that’s hard is the patience you need when chopping all the veg. I’m neither skilled or speedy, so it all took a while longer than planned. 

What’s the food like? 

SUPER yummy and way more there than I expected there to be in each portion. Could have quite happily turned two portions into three if I was being particularly crafty. 

Riverford

What do you get?

Another big old box of lovely fresh food over here. I quite enjoyed that some of the ingredients were split by recipe in the box so to save precious minutes of rummaging and trying to work out which unfamiliar vegetable is meant to go where. Sadly, you don’t get as much flexibility between recipes with this one as they're set for each box. I had the ‘Quick & Light’ box but there’s also ‘Quick’, ‘Vegetarian Quick’, ‘Vegetarian’ and ‘Original’. Oh and these guys recently partnered with The Happy Pear chef duo to make a couple limited-edition guest edition boxes which look really good too. So, you know, still plenty to chose from in a way. I just wouldn’t blame you for having to toss a coin between two boxes that each have one dish that you’re desperate to try. 

How much does it cost?

Each box comes with the option to have two or three meals and are all portioned for two people. There’s roughly a £10 difference between the two and three meal boxes. The veggie ones are the cheapest but my Quick And Light, three dish one was £39.95. So £6.66 per meal.

Do I need to subscribe?

No subscription, no delivery charges, no nothing. Apart from food, obvs. 

Are the recipes difficult? 

I felt that these ones were a little bit more laborious that some of the other ones but in a way that was really satisfying by the time I’d unclenched my hand from my kitchen knife and actually sat down to eat. There’s normally a little tip on the face of the recipe booklet but the lack of pictures at each stage of the making of my Beef Koftas with Beetroot Tzatziki & Green Herb Tabbouleh (fancy, right?) put a bit of strain on my little, tired head. 

What’s the food like? 

Erm, tasty and satisfying obviously. The Riverford box reminds me of going to a relative’s house when I was younger and being served a plate of food that I neither understood nor wanted to eat because, where my nuggets at. But now I’m doing this grown-up thing I’m eating grown up food and my palette is happy about it. I think this is the only one I wasn’t convinced that I had quite enough on my plate though.

HelloFresh

What do you get?

Helloooo giant box of Fresh food. But if we're being specific you the ingredients for three or five recipes in either a ‘Classic’, ‘Veggie’ or ‘Family’ box. You can have a browse on the website to see what’s on the menu each week but there are only about six or seven recipes on offer at a time. Also, if there is anything you particularly like it is possible to select them but you need to go back into your account once you’ve paid for your order and then make your selections. Tad confusing and a bit of a faff, I know, but worth persevering through the process in the end. 

How much does it cost?

I had a three recipe classic box which comes in at £34.99, so £5.83 per meal. But HelloFresh does give you the option to up the servings to either three or four people and up the meal count to five if you’re up for some serious meal prep and want to save £1 or so per meal. 

Do I need to subscribe?

Yeah kind of, but in a flexi-ish way. Like the Guosto one you can cancel or pause the service at any time but this one requires notice a whole five days before your next scheduled delivery. So if you’re not sure about how frequent you’d like dollar leaving your account and food arriving at your door, make some notes in your calendar. 

Are the recipes difficult? 

All of the recipes take around 30mins or so (but took me about an hour what with all the chopping and stuff). My Prawn and Chorizo Spaghetti was really straight forward to make and is probably not all that far from something we’ve all knocked up on our own at some point. That said, if you’re particularly kitchen shy the recipes are really easy to follow and yes it had those handy little pictures of each step that I enjoy so much. 

What’s the food like? 

Probably one of my favourites because it really made me notice the whole ‘using fresh food tastes different’ thing because of how closely it resembled something I’ve thrown in the microwave before. Also the portions are huge and I had to top my wine up before I finished my serving.  

Mindful Chef

What do you get? 

Okay, you get a big bag of food rather than a box, but same difference. Also there was a lot more food in my bag than demonstrated here but my housemate kindly put it all in the fridge for me and it took me too long to find it all before taking this less exciting picture. But never mind. Mindful Chef is one of the only specifically gluten free recipe box services that I could find. Also they’re big on helping you to reduce your sugar and refined carb intake so you won’t find any pasta, bread or white rice in their recipes. Just a heads up. Also you actually have the option to order a one person box, hurrah! 

How much does it cost?

This is most expensive of the lot by far, but I suppose that won’t come as too much of a surprise to those who are used to having to spending a bit more for the sake of a meal sans-gluten. A shame really. Two people boxes are £7 per portion and the single ones are £9. So might be a bit too spenny if you’re ordering for the sake of saving some money rather than the convenience. 

Do I need to subscribe?

You don’t have to pay extra to receive the boxes on the regs, but you do need to manually pause or cancel your account if you don’t want to receive food the following week.

Are the recipes difficult? 

No not at all, which was nice to find after being a bit intimidated by the intricacy of the food in the pictures. They’re probably some of the quickest to whip up of the ones I tried if you’re in it for the speed, but there isn’t all that much visual guidance on the cards. 

What’s the food like? 

Yummy but most definitely the most ‘healthy’ tasting. I made Sundried Tomato & Olive Cod en Papillote and could tell it came from the Mindful Chef, which is a shock to the system when your diet usually consists of cake, chicken nuggets and the odd block of cheese. 

Abel & Cole

What do you get?

Able & Cole is another provider of lovely food. You can mic and match recipes and add extra ones if you happen to have acccidently invited your mates over for dinner without realising that it would involve actually feeding them too. Box options include Simple (I chose this one), Foodie (if you’re a bit more adventurous), Veggie and Light. 

How much does it cost?

Veggie boxes naturally come in as the cheapest, but the Simple and Light ones are £39 each. You get three meals for two per box, so that make it £6.50 per meal. There is a £1.25 delivery charge on this one though. Fair warning. 

Do I need to subscribe?

Much like most of the others you enter into a kind of rolling weekly thing but you can cancel whenever you like. But, again, this will take a bit of planning ahead to make sure you don’t end up with three day’s worth of food before you go away for the bank holiday weekend. 

Are the recipes difficult? 

Well, as the name of the box suggests, ‘Simple’ ones are pretty straight forward. When I made the Korean Pork Steaks with Garlicky Greens the recipe was really easy to follow but didn’t have any step-by-step pictures to go with the instructions and unlike all of the others (except Riverford), didn’t even bold the important bits to make it a bit easier to glance at while you’re busy making magic happen. 

What’s the food like? 

Really good but OMG so much rice. Do people normally eat a mountain of rice with their regular sized portions of meat? Is this a thing I wasn’t told as a child? 

What’s the verdict?

If you like to live a life of options, definitely go for the Gousto box and if you're fed up of traipsing around supermarkets trying to hunt down the gluten-free aisle, I understand the appeal of the MindfulChef service, even though it is really, really expensive considering. Having tried them all and worked out that on average I normally spend about £7 per day on lunch (which is ridiculous, btw) I think the boxes are worth trying. But I don't see myself signing up to any as a weekly thing, but would definitely consider doing one once a month for the sake of making meal prep a whole lot easier. 

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