The battle of the recipe boxes

We’ve all been there. Got home from work late, staring blankly at a fridge full of ingredients, trying to come up with some inspiration, failing miserably and before you know it the pull of Deliveroo is too strong and a Nando’s is on it’s way…

For 9-5 workers and especially those of us in London it’s a feeling all too familiar. According to London newspaper City A.M Londoners spend 107 hours a year on their commute so when combined with the hours actually spent working it’s no wonder the majority of us don’t have the motivation or inspiration to decide what to cook.

That’s where recipe boxes/kits come in. The concept of having food delivered to our door isn’t exactly new but what’s different about these deliveries are that you choose your ingredients based on the menus you choose. Meaning you’ve already decided what you want to eat so you’re only getting enough for what you’ve opted for. There are so many on the market but I put the main 3 to the test; Gousto, Hello Fresh and Mindful Chef. But which came out on top?

Mindful chef:

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The most expensive of the three I trialled mindful chef thanks to a 25% discount code through work. Each recipe is priced per portion and all recipes are dairy and gluten free. They’ve also partnered with food blogger Madeline Shaw to allow you recreate some of her favourite recipes.

The box:

I ordered a 3 meal box that came to £38 with the discount and included a Sri Lankan prawn curry, chicken and pesto courgetti and a fajita steak salad. Quite frankly I couldn’t taste the difference in the quality of the ingredients versus the cost and mindful chef really annoyed me with the courgetti dish. I know you can get pre-spirallized courgetti in the supermarket so given that the recipe stated the dish was courgetti it failed to let me know I required my own spirallizer until it was too late. Though perhaps this reflects more the target market of mindful chef. Furthermore the recipes used ingredients quite foreign to us so getting the cooking right with such new ingredients was a challenge and even sometimes just choosing the menu. Not everything I want to eat should come with pomegranate even though it’s one of my favourite fruits. We were supposed to have 25% off our first 3 boxes but I cancelled it after the first – a severe disappointment in our eyes.

Hello Fresh:

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Our first venture into the “recipe box world” we got a discount on our first 4 boxes with hello fresh. Unlike mindful chef the costing is broken down by number of dishes you have. The more dishes you go for in a week, the less the price per portion so at full cost 4 meals for the week would cost £34.99. Like with all these recipe boxes you can build your menu around you staring at the start if you’re vegetarian, vegan etc so your menu is completely tailored.

The box:

Of the 4 boxes we had total our general feelings were “ok”. We had some absolutely stand out dishes that we’ve often gone back to and our eyes have been opened to adding more citrus ingredients to stir fry dishes. However we also had some shockers including a turkey dish that resulted in us throwing away the “crispy kale” element. The recipe cards are on full sized A4 paper. A huge plus for both hello fresh and mindful chef are that the recipes are bagged up separately and numbered accordingly so all your ingredients are kept in one place ready when you need them. We went back to hello fresh again with another discount code but generally it still fell short of the mark for us. There were never really anything massively wrong with the meals (bar the odd few) but there weren’t any that really wowed either.

Gousto

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Ahhhhh our crowning glory. I literally LOVED gousto from the first box. The extra touches just seal it. From the info booklet on where the ingredients are sourced to the free wooden spoon there’s just something about gousto. At exactly the same price as hello fresh (4 meals for £34.99) it’s been a revelation. Not only have 90% of the dishes been super tasty but a lot have wowed us. There’s a particular Thai chicken curry that I’ve recreated at least 3 times it’s THAT good. If I could combine the individual ingredient bagging of hello fresh with gousto I’d never go anywhere else. All the recipe cards are pre hole punched and you get a nifty little ring binder with box 2 – and every subsequent 50th box to build up your own little recipe library.

The box:

As with all the above, the boxes come with the individual ingredients. All chilled ingredients come in a fully recyclable cool bag with ice packs that can be put in the freezer and re-used for picnics etc. This means you can have the box delivered when you’re not even home and it keeps the ingredients fresh. They stay fresh for a while too, there was one box we forgot to cancel over Christmas that had to stay in our foyer for a couple of days – still fresh. Gousto are also pledging to reduce their plastic packaging and already send a lot of ingredients loose for this reason. Big plus for the environment. Most of the recipes have been really tasty and if anything the biggest disappointments have been the ones that have been in collaboration with Joe Wicks aka ‘The Body Coach’. The next menu is released on Tuesdays at 12pm and gousto have a cross-platform app so you can easily choose your menu for the week. The subscription is completely flexible giving you the option to pause, skip and changed delivery dates with ease to suit your eating pattern for that week.

For the cost there generally isn’t much in it except mindful chef which is quite frankly not worth it in my eyes but there is just something about the gousto recipes that have been far superior to anything else we’ve tried.

To try and of these recipes boxes visit the sites below. These links are referral links and therefore I do receive “credit” to use on future boxes for myself but do not receive direct payment from the companies for the referral.

Gousto – Get 50% off your first box and 30% off any additional in the first month: cook.gousto.co.uk/raf/?promo_code=CHLOE18158490&utm_source=weblink

Hello Fresh – Get £20 off your first order: https://www.hellofresh.co.uk?c=TOMNOD&utm_source=raf-share&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=clipboard

Mindful Chef – Get £20 off your first order: https://www.mindfulchef.com/?referral_code=96ZMGQB