Healthier than a takeaway and significantly cheaper than eating out, a home cooked meal can be a wonderful thing.
Yet many of us lack the time or skill to produce tasty, nourishing dishes of our own on a regular basis. And that’s where the recent trend for meal subscription boxes springs from.
All across the country, entrepreneurial food producers are portioning out their fresh produce (or that of their suppliers) before packaging them up with recipe cards and sending them out to the hungry working people of the UK.
Here are eight of the finest meal subscription boxes money can buy. We’ve taken into consideration the reputation and unique angle of each service, alongside the quality and affordability of the overall package.
Upvote your favourite service.
Related: Best coffee machines
Best meal subscription boxes
FeastBox faces East with its selection of recipes, drawing inspiration from Asia and the Middle East rather than the predominantly European fare found elsewhere on this list.
Think prawn masala, sweet and sour duck breast, and chicken laksa. Bespoke spice blends are part of the package, and you might even encounter a few rare ingredients you haven’t seen before. Prices do seem a little higher than the competition as a result, though.
Gousto provides some of the tastiest and most globe-trotting food selections of all the services, with up to 40 recipes to choose from each week. At the time of writing that includes such exotic delights as Filipino-style pork belly and chicken cacciatore with herbed orzo.
The service has also teamed up with Joe Wicks to provide a few healthier options, while they’re competitively priced at around £5 per meal when ordering three recipes for two people.
3. Hello Fresh
Hello Fresh offers some of the easiest-to-follow recipes around. Each order includes a step-by-step picture card for every recipe. Added to the well packaged, pre-portioned ingredients, it makes the whole cooking process a waste-free doddle.
The range of recipes is extensive and varied, but none take longer than half an hour to cook. Prices start from around £5 per meal when ordering three recipes for two people.
Riverford places the emphasis on organic produce above all else. You pay for this a little in terms of options, as there are only 12 recipes to choose from each week, and the recipes lean a little more towards the ‘hearty’ side of things.
Meanwhile, you can only order food for two people. Despite these limitations, you can be assured that each recipe is packed full of fresh veg and grass fed organic meat.
5. Simply Cook
Simply Cook takes a different approach. It doesn’t give you all of the ingredients. It’ll supply you with the recipes and all the spices you’ll need to flavour those dishes, but you’ll need to supplement these with four to six items from your fridge or cupboard.
As well as reducing packaging, this also cuts the up-front price down somewhat. Each £9.99 box contains four kits, each of which feeds two to four people.
6. Mindful Chef
As the name suggests, Mindful Chef is primarily concerned with keeping your waistline slim - and they have the celebrity athlete testimonials to prove it. The likes of Andy Murray, Victoria Pendleton and, er, Pixie Lott all lend a quote to the website.
All Mindful Chef recipes are low-carb and reduced sugar, with top quality veg and meat pushed to the fore. With prices starting from just £4 per meal, you might actually find yourself gaining a few pounds.
7. Pasta Evangelists
Now we’re getting seriously specific. While the other meal box services draw from multiple food cultures, Pasta Evangelists is all about those Italian carbs. This isn’t your Mum’s spag bol, though, but rather a range of silky pasta recipes fit for a restaurant.
A Pasta Evangelists box supplies you with chilled artisan pasta and top ingredients for making authentic (and seasonal) Italian sauces and garnishes. If you’re in London, they’ll even post the boxes through your letterbox.
8. Abel & Cole
Abel & Cole goes big on its organic produce, with a recipe box provision supplementing a straight up fruit & veg, meat & fish, and regular grocery delivery service.
When it comes to those recipe boxes, the onus is unsurprisingly on seasonal veg. The range of recipes is less varied than some of its competitors as a result, while prices also seem to be slightly dearer at around £6–7 per dish. Again, though, it’s all about the provenance.