If you’re looking for a way to make midweek cooking easier, then recipe boxes could be a life changer…
Recipe boxes have been around for a while, but should you get one and, more importantly, which one?
We’ve investigated all you need to know…
Why should you get a recipe box?
Less waste: The ingredients in recipe boxes usually come in with the exact quantities you’ll need – so there’s no wasting food. There’s nothing worse than having to throw away a whole bag of spinach at the end of the week when you only needed a tiny bit.
Less time meal planning and shopping: Who among us hasn’t got to a Wednesday with no clue about what they want to have for dinner? For days when inspiration is lacking, there’s nothing better than having someone else put a menu together for you. Plus, it might actually encourage you to spread your apron-clad wings into new culinary ventures as you won’t be cooking the same old safe recipes you rely on week after week.
Healthier meals: If you struggle to fit cooking fresh meals everyday, getting yourself a subscription food box could actually make your diet a lot healthier.
Best recipe boxes: which one should you go for?
Gousto is one of the original recipe box providers, and we can see why. With 40 recipes available each week to pick from, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get bored.
The meals range from quick (as little as 15 mins!) and easy, to their ‘fine dine in’ option – an upgrade that means you get premium ingredients for a more indulgent meal.
They also offer a range for anyone who loves a British classic, the Everyday Favourites. You can choose from a few selected faves like Speedy Spag Bol, Spicy-As-You-Like Chilli Con Carne, Creamy Chicken Curry, Ready to Roast Chicken and Comforting Cottage Pie.
Earlier this year, Gousto teamed up with the Body Coach, AKA Joe Wicks, to offer some of his famous Lean in 15 recipes.
More recently, they paired up with Wagamama – so now customers can order their Asian-inspired dishes as well. GoodtoKnow features writer Amy Hunt gave the dishes a go herself: ‘I made the vegetarian Yasi Yaki Udon, and Teriyaki Chicken Donburi Bowl and they were both super easy to make – and tasted just as good as any dishes I’ve tried in the restaurant. I loved unpacking the box and discovering all the delicious inside, and I love that there’s no waste at all.’
Cost: £2.98 per meal based on a four-person box (£47.75 in total for four meals)
If you’re trying to lose weight, but don’t have the time (or the energy) to count calories or plan delicious, healthy meals you’ll actually look forward to eating – then Balance Box is for you.
Delivered twice weekly; each box contains all you need for either three or four days, including your breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with two snacks. The portions are controlled, and carefully balanced to keep cravings and hunger at bay and you can chose a plan that totals either 1200 or 1800 calories.
GoodtoKnow editor Anna Bailey tried the four-day pescatarian 1200 calorie box and was very impressed with the variety of dishes and high-quality ingredients: ‘Balance Box is like having your own personal detox chef – and is definitely the easiest and most enjoyable healthy eating plan I’ve ever followed. I loved trying news dishes I’d never think to make myself, and didn’t feel hungry or bloated at all.’
There are plenty of meat, meat-free, vegan and gluten free options, with dishes including: mango and chia seed yogurt with granola, smoked salmon ceviche salad, lamb curry and coriander rice, and Japanese miso cod and oriental style quinoa.
Cost: Prices range from £22.99 to £32.99 a day dependent on the meal plan selected, a £4.95 delivery fee is applied per box out of London deliveries.
With three different subscription boxes to choose from – Classic, Family and Rapid – Hello Fresh has most scenarios covered.
If you want quick family meals that use two pots or less (to save on the washing up) and have been tried and tested by kids and adults, the Family box is the one for your.
They also cater for the more adventurous to want to try different dishes with the Classic option, or for those who are always short on time and want recipes that are ready in 20 mins with the Rapid box.
Recipes are varied and include meals like Beef Ragu Rigatoni, Red Thai Prawn Curry, and Veggie Fajitas.
Cost: Classic box – £ 3.44 per meal based on a four-person box
Created by three school friends in 2015 and now funded successful sports stars like Sir Andy Murray and Victoria Pendleton CBE, Mindful Chef is the UK’s favourite healthy recipe box service according to Trustpilot reviews.
All recipes take a maximum of 30 minutes to prepare, which ensures you don’t spend too long in the kitchen, and the recipes are perfect for people who are stuck in rut and looking to innovate their midweek meals in a healthy way. There’s sixteen different recipes to choose from every week – think peanut satay pork with wild rice, leek & red pepper and Vietnamese pho with courgetti noodles, tofu & cashews.
They cater for different diets such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, flexitarian, vegetarian and pescatarian diets, so you can personalise your box to your lifestyle.
It’s also one of the healthiest options, as all recipes created to be nutritionally –balanced and are free from dairy, gluten and refined carbs.
Cost: £4.50 per meal based on a four-person box
Riverford is all about locally-sourced products, so you know you’ll get fresh ingredients for delicious meals. However, quality comes at a price – the cheapest recipe box (vegan) starts at £11.20 per meal for two, and can go up to £15.70 per meal for two for prime cuts.
You can fully customise the boxes before you buy them, with options like ‘quick’ meals (from box to table in around 30 minutes) and ‘light’ – recipes under 500 calories per serving.
The boxes are designed to cater for two people, so they’re not family-friendly – perfect for a special date night in though!
Cost: From £11.20 per meal for a vegan box and from £13.90 per meal for a meat box.