If you’re looking for quick and easy ways to cook dinner every night, recipe boxes might be the convenient solution. Recipe subscription services let you pick your meals before delivering direct to your door with ingredients portioned up and ready to get cooking, minimising food waste and saving you on shopping. We’ve tested out a range of delivery services, from the most well-known to bespoke organic, nutritionally balanced or restaurant-inspired options.
A fan of having things delivered direct to your door? Read our reviews of the best coffee subscriptions to start your mornings right, or treat yourself to an afternoon tea delivery for a special occasion. If a one-off meal delivery would suit you better than a regular subscription, take your pick of our favourite restaurant kits, from DIY burger kits to the best vegetarian meal kits and boxes.
Founded in 2012, Gousto’s premise is to ‘make it joyfully simple to create delicious meals at home’. Boxes can contain two to four recipes and arrive with pre-measured, fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes that should suit any skill level.
Choice: Gousto offers an impressively wide choice of over 50 recipes in its weekly changing menu, making it an easy long-term meal-planning solution without repetition. From a speedy 10-minute stir-fry to an hour-long stew, there are options for busy midweek meals as well as more relaxed weekend options. Recipes can be easily filtered by healthy choices, dietary requirements and number of servings.
Occasion: Although there are a range of recipes to suit various occasions, Gousto mainly focuses on everyday wholesome meals, useful for busy professionals and families looking for convenience. It is also ideal for beginner to intermediate cooks who are looking for new recipe inspiration to liven up their culinary repertoire.
Quality: All the ingredients are high-quality, especially the British-sourced meat and seasonal veg. Refrigerated components are kept fresh in an ‘eco chill box’ – the first of its kind in the UK. Ingredients are clearly labelled and recipe card instructions are easy-to-follow, with pictures for guidance. We enjoy all finished recipes; our favourite is a flavourful vegan chickpea curry. Portion sizes are generous and the extra herb and seed garnishes are a nice touch.
Packaging and delivery: Recipe box deliveries are managed by the Yodel service, which sends regular text updates and allows you to choose a safe place for the box to be left. You can customise the chosen delivery day as well as frequency (weekly, fortnightly, monthly or temporary halt).
Gousto state that ‘most of the packaging’ used in its recipe boxes is ‘fully recyclable, or biodegradable’. All cardboard originates from FSC-certified sustainable sources, while other recyclable elements include the plastic pots, tins, recipe cards and ice packs. Although there is still quite a lot of plastic around smaller food items, Gousto is continually updating packaging; in the last year, its amount of plastic for sauce packets was reduced by 50 per cent and for herbs by 25 per cent.
Value for money: Gousto is affordable and the more you order, the better value it is per portion – for example, a box of four meals for four people is the lowest price at £2.98 per serving, compared with £6.25 for two meals to feed two.
Since 2015, Mindful Chef has been delivering healthy recipe boxes (think minimal sugar and refined carbs) across the UK. The name ‘Mindful’ applies to both its approach to healthy eating and its values – it uses only ethically sourced produce, is a certified B-Corporation, and donates a school meal to a child living in poverty for every meal it sells.
Choice: The ordering process on the website is very simple and there’s an impressive variety of meals to select, from a lemongrass tofu noodle bowl to roast pork with pear, crispy sage and celeriac. You can choose up to five recipes per box (plus whether to serve two or four) and there are plenty of vegan and pescatarian options included. All recipes come with full nutritional information.
Occasion: The meals on offer are more everyday rather than special occasion, although that’s not to say they’re ordinary.
Quality: Meals feature 100 per cent grass-fed, free-range meats and sustainably sourced fish, and produce from ethically minded small farms and independent producers. Everything in our recipe box is fresh and high-quality, and perishable ingredients are kept chilled with eco-friendly cotton insulation and ice packs. Recipes are easy to follow and the end results are delicious and heartily portioned. One thoughtful touch we like: Mindful Chef emailed slightly revised cooking instructions for one meal based on community feedback and retesting by its chefs.
Packaging and delivery: Your Mindful Chef account lets you customise deliveries across the month. Recipe boxes come neatly divided by meal in brown paper bags (useful so ingredients don’t get confused). All packaging is either recyclable or reusable, like the insulation and ice packs, which can be posted back to Mindful Chef free of charge.
Value for money: These are recipe boxes for those who want interesting, varied everyday healthy meals that don’t compromise on quality. Pricing varies (meat and fish dishes are generally more than veggie ones) but is reasonable, and not much more than you’d pay for a supermarket ready meal.
A giant in the recipe box industry, Hello Fresh is one of the leading recipe box brands, delivering simple meals with quality ingredients.
Choice: HelloFresh has a wide variety of ways to customise your delivery to suit your tastes. Preferences include a vegetarian box, family recipes suitable to children’s palates, or quick recipes that require under 20 minutes preparation time. There’s a wide range of dishes available, from a variety of cuisines – there’s everything from tacos to pasta and more, plus further options to customise recipes with additional ingredients or to add extras like sides and desserts.
Occasion: The recipes are most suited to midweek cooking, as the dishes are simple to assemble and quite substantial. You can customise the portion size from two to four people and the number of recipes from three to five – requiring a higher commitment than some of the other services, which let you start at just two boxes.
Quality: The ingredients are top-quality and perfectly fresh. Cooking is simple and stress-free, with detailed instructions suitable for beginners. We enjoy the variety of dishes and flavour combinations that we wouldn’t necessarily think to put together ourselves, with the only ingredients not included being oil, salt and pepper. You may have to double-check certain ingredients are the correct measurement for your portion size, which may be a drawback for some.
Packaging: The ingredients arrive perfectly chilled in insulated packaging, which was mostly recyclable. It’s worth noting that not all the ingredients recommended for the fridge come in the chilled pack, so be sure to double-check all the packaging for anything else that needs to be refrigerated. Each recipe has its own bag of ingredients, which makes it easy when it comes to gathering everything to cook.
Value for money: Overall, Hello Fresh is a great value for money, particularly for novice chefs or busy families.
This chef-led recipe box subscription, launched in autumn 2020, is an upmarket option that brings seasonal ingredients from restaurant suppliers into your home, along with tips from some of the UK’s most influential chefs.
Choice: The stylish site is easy to navigate, with a very simple choice between a rotating meat, fish and vegetarian option, that include the likes of caramelised rabbit legs, steamed pollock or wild spring mushroom spelt crêpes. Deliveries are every fortnight and each box is created for two diners.
Occasion: These boxes are all about recreating restaurant-quality meals at home for a weekend treat or special occasion, complete with thoughtful extras. These might include fresh bread to bake and serve with tapenade, plus petits fours and herbal tea to finish. There’s the option of adding a bespoke wine match for an extra £15.
Quality: Ingredients come from restaurant suppliers, so fresh market produce is guaranteed. Portions are extremely generous, and each element of the dish (meat/fish, sides, sauce, dressing) is given the same attention. All ingredients are provided and portioned-out, and cooking instructions are thorough, with extra chefs tips to crisp up crackling, create the silkiest sauce and achieve the most tender veg.
Packaging and delivery: Deliveries are on Thursdays and use minimal packaging, with chilled ingredients kept in recyclable wool, loose veg in brown paper bags, and a few pots for sauces.
Value for money: Though at the top end of the price range, this is a restaurant-quality meal that’s designed to make an evening of it, and the little extras make it extra special.
Guy Singh-Watson’s organic farm in Devon has long been supplying fresh fruit and veg boxes direct from the farm to your doorstep. Recently, the business has gone one step further and now offers seasonal recipe boxes for a true farm-to-plate experience.
Choice: The website is easy to navigate, with vibrant images to showcase how the finished dishes should look. Though there aren’t many recipes to choose from, the dishes are diverse enough to suit a variety of households. There are three vegan and three vegetarian options (with a light, simple and ‘foodie’ dish for each category), plus two meat, one prime-cut meat and two family meal choices (the latter serves four, whereas all others serve two). You can select if you want a one-off delivery or opt in for every week, fortnight or month.
Occasion: Riverford’s boxes are ideal for two people or families who want to eat seasonally, while being adventurous and healthy. You can choose how many recipes to include in each delivery, so you can build a meat-free, plant-based or flexitarian menu to cover meal occasions throughout the week, with more adventurous options for the weekend.
Quality: The box comes neatly packaged with every ingredient needed for the recipe. Portioned out pieces of meat and high-quality organic veg are kept cool until arrival, nestled beside bespoke Riverford pots of the exact amount required of oils, seeds, pulses and other dried goods. The cooking instructions, complete with clear images, are clear to follow and portion sizes are very generous.
Packaging and delivery: Due to environmental commitments, the boxes are delivered on specific days depending on your postcode. There is minimal packaging, and, as with its veg boxes, Riverford collects the boxes the following week when in the area to recycle and reuse.
Value for money: Though at the more expensive end of the scale compared to other recipe boxes, the portion sizes are generous and the quality of produce is very high, making this a great-value recipe box.
Kurami is a premium meal delivery service offering eclectic menus that are nutritionist-approved, chef-crafted and freshly prepared. With a focus on gut health, Kurami’s nutritionist works closely with a team of chefs to create balanced and nourishing menus.
Choice: The site is beautifully designed and easy to navigate, with clear instructions on how to customise your plan. We try the ‘signature mealpath’ which offers everything you need for a full day of eating: breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack and drink. This option comes in at around 1,600 calories, or there’s an alternative calorie-controlled plan (1,300 calories). All of Kurami’s meals are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugars, and cater to a variety of dietary styles.
Quality: Each meal in the mealpath offers an enjoyable variety of grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. If you’re eager to try some new flavours such as sorghum, teff and turmeric milk, you’ll certainly find them here. While the meals are satisfying – we especially recommend the teff pancakes – the calorie count is on the low end, and we do find a few extra snacks are needed to keep sustained throughout the day.
Packaging and delivery: Meals are delivered every morning, and the beautifully crafted box feels luxurious. All of Kurami’s packaging is 100 per cent recyclable and the company is certified plastic neutral.
Value for money: The signature mealpath is £39.40 per day, but you can reduce your number of meals for a less expensive option (prices start at £20.50). Kurami is certainly a more premium service, but for those who might be struggling with certain food intolerances or gut health issues, the Kurami meal plans could be a great way to get started and explore new foods and flavours while learning the ropes of how to manage your health requirements.
Planty is a meal delivery service providing 100 per cent plant-based, chef-prepared meals designed to help their customers to eat more plants.
Choice: The site is simple and easy to navigate, offering customers the option to build their own Planty box, choosing six, eight or 10 plant-based meals from its online menu. Meals are fresh-frozen and delivered to your door on your chosen date. They can then be stored in your freezer and simply reheated in the oven or microwave as desired.
The company offers a good range of meal options, including classics like shepherd’s pie, sweet potato curry and truffled wild mushroom pasta, to more unusual combinations like butternut mango madras and BBQ banana blossom burrito (one of our favourites).
Quality: The meals are simple, tasty and satisfying. We appreciate the clear nutritional signposting to indicate whether a dish is gluten-free or low in saturated fat, or whether it provides a source of fibre or contributes to our five-a-day. Quite a few of the meals are on the spicy side, which we enjoy but might not be to everyone’s taste. It’s also worth nothing that for a main meal, some of the options are on the lower protein end, so it’s important to be aware of this within the context of your daily requirements.
Packaging and delivery: All of Planty’s packaging is 100 per cent recyclable, compostable or reusable, and the company allows you to return packaging free of charge so that it can be reused. Our only quip is that the available delivery slots are a week from the order date, so you definitely want to allow time for that.
Value for money: Prices start at £4.95 per meal as a subscription or £5.45 per meal as a one-off purchase.