Recipe Box Comparison

So you’re thinking of trying out a recipe box. There are a few different ones to choose from and if you’re wondering where to start, who to choose and whether it’s worth it, do read on. I have tried six of the recipe boxes available and every one of them was tasty, delivered nicely and I cooked something I hadn’t tried before. This recipe box comparison will look at all sorts of things: price, flexibility, ease of recipe, quality and more based on the meals and experience that I had at the time but I have included the prices as of today.

Recipe Box Comparison

First things first. As I mentioned I have tried recipe boxes from six companies: Abel & Cole, Riverford, Deli at Home, Marley Spoon, Gousto and Hello Fresh. I will only be including five of them for this comparison as Deli at Home doesn’t appear to be around any more. If you’re not sure who to choose or would like to try someone new I would look at the company who most reflects your lifestyle. For example Abel & Cole and Riverford are both organic, Gousto and Marley Spoon are more customisable when choosing your meals and Hello Fresh have some recipes from Jamie Oliver.

Are recipe boxes worth it? I have to say that the price of a recipe box makes my eyes bulge every time I see it, compared to cooking up ‘normal’ weekday meals it is more expensive. However, these aren’t (well, certainly not for me anyway) your standard weekday meals. The meals are always something different to what I would cook up and, for that reason, I think it is worth spending a little extra; and remember they are delivering it to you. Getting a recipe box is good fun: no shopping needed, everything is in your fridge ready to go and chances are you’ll expand your cooking repertoire at the same time.

Abel & Cole

Abel and Cole Recipe Box Review

  • What I tried: Simple Box and Veggie Box
  • How many meals/people: 3 meals for 2 people
  • Price per box/price per meal: Simple box £36 (£6 per meal per person), Veggie Box £33 (£5.50 per meal per person)
  • Delivery charge: £1.25
  • Packaging: good, but not divided by meal
  • Ease of storage: easy to stick the chilled bits in the fridge but not divided by meal so you do have to hunt around in the fridge to find everything (no more than you normally would!)
  • Quality of ingredients: all organic, very good
  • Ease of recipe/instructions: all the recipes worked well for me

The meals I tried were: Abel & Cole kindly let me try out two of their boxes on consecutive weeks. From the Simple Box I tried Indian Chicken Salad, Beef and Mushroom Noodles, Sunshine Meatballs and Rice. From the Veggie Box I cooked Simple Singapore Noodles, Jerk Aubergines Rice and Peas, Pearl Barley Tabbouleh with Sheep’s Cheese.

Choice of meals to choose from: There are four boxes that you can choose from, Foodie, Simple, Light and Veggie and you can now swap recipes in the box if there’s something you don’t like as well as being able to add an extra meal.

Tastiness: All of the recipes in both boxes were tasty, had lots of fresh vegetables and the portion sizes for me were good, verging on the side of generous. I used lots of ingredients that I wouldn’t normally use, or used them in a different way which was great.

Overall: There were a few tweaks to the recipes that I would make if I cooked the meals up again as I think they could be slightly improved (cooking noodles later in the meal for example) and I really liked that the recipe cards gave you top tips for what to do with any leftovers you had.

See the full review here.

Riverford

Riverford Recipe Box Review

  • What I tried: Quick Box
  • How many meals/people: 3 meals for 2 people
  • Price per box/price per meal: £39.95 (£6.65 per meal per person)
  • Delivery charge: Free
  • Packaging: the best of all of them. In compartments to take out or put straight in the fridge
  • Ease of storage: really quick as it’s all divided and long shelf lives on all the food
  • Quality of ingredients: all organic, very good
  • Ease of recipe/instructions: easy to follow, accurate timings (everything was ready in roughly 30 minutes)

The meals I tried were: Carbonara with Alfalfa Salad, Chicken and Spring Green Curry with Rice and Cauliflower Harira.

Choice of meals to choose from: You can choose from four boxes, Original, Quick, Veggie and Original for Two People. Currently there’s no option to add extra meals or swap any recipes but I’m not sure the latter is necessarily a bad thing, you’ll just cook something you’ve never tried before!

Tastiness: The emphasis with these boxes was to have a big portion of vegetables or salad with every meal, with small amounts of meat, and for me that reflects what I would eat myself. The portions were generous and all the recipes were very good.

Overall: I liked that they used slightly different ingredients, for example spelt spaghetti for the carbonara and that I used ingredients in different ways (spring greens in a curry, who knew!) but the one thing I would have liked to see is the nutrition information on the recipe cards.

See the full review here.

Marley Spoon

Marley Spoon Recipe Box Review

  • What I tried: I chose the meals I wanted to cook
  • How many meals/people: 2 meals for 2 people
  • Price per box/price per meal: £34 (£8.50 per person per meal)
  • Delivery charge: Free
  • Packaging: lovely, handwritten and in individual brown bags
  • Ease of storage: easy to just grab a bag and stick it in the fridge
  • Quality of ingredients: very good, some organic
  • Ease of recipe/instructions: easy to follow, accurate timings

The meals I tried were: Chicken with Aubergine Caponata and Polenta and Paneer Curry with Carrot and Kohlrabi Salad and Rice.

Choice of meals to choose from: You can choose exactly which meals you want to cook. Now there is an option to change the number of meals you want to order (2, 3 or 4) as well as a family box. If you were to order 3 meals for 2 people (like the other boxes) the price of each meal is £6.50.

Tastiness: I liked both recipes but I would have left some of the ingredients out and used them for something else. For example the kohlrabi salad with the curry would have been good another day and the polenta I wasn’t that keen on (personal texture thing, no fault of the polenta!).

Overall: The portions were huge and could have easily stretched to feed three (or even four) people. I did struggle to make the curry paste the way that was suggested on the recipe but it wasn’t the end of the world. The ingredients, packaging and recipe cards were all done so nicely and the recipes really interesting.

See the full review here.

Gousto

Gousto Recipe Box Review - Tahini Chicken

  • What I tried: three recipes (for the purpose of the review they were chosen by Gousto)
  • How many meals/people: 3 meals for 2 people
  • Price per box/price per meal: £34.99 (£5.83 per person per meal)
  • Delivery charge: Free
  • Packaging: well packed but not divided by recipe
  • Ease of storage: all the cold ingredients together so easy to put away
  • Quality of ingredients: good
  • Ease of recipe/instructions: very easy to follow

The meals I tried were: Macaroni Cheese, Asian Pork with Rice and Pak Choi and Sweet Tahini Chicken.

Choice of meals to choose from: Again, with Gousto you can choose the recipes you want in your box, and for how many days and people, which means it’s very flexible.

Tastiness: All three of the meals were really tasty and filling and they made an effort to include veg in every meal. I liked how diverse the recipes were so cooking these recipes up was something to look forward to each evening.

Overall: I really liked how the recipe cards told you which day you needed to cook the recipe by (to ensure the ingredients were still in date) as that’s something none of the other boxes did. The flavours in everything I cooked really delivered. I did find this a bit meat heavy (bacon, pork and chicken) as I needed to cook everything within a few days after it arrived I couldn’t spread the meals out, however, as I mentioned I didn’t choose the meals myself.

See full review here.

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh Recipe Box Review

  • What I tried: Classic Box
  • How many meals/people: 3 meals for 2 people
  • Price per box/price per meal: £39 (£6.50 per person per meal)
  • Delivery charge: Free
  • Packaging: good, not divided by recipe
  • Ease of storage: easy to pick out the chilled food to put straight in the fridge
  • Quality of ingredients: good, the sorts of ingredients I would buy myself
  • Ease of recipe/instructions: easy to follow, all ready in around 30 minutes

The meals I tried were: Chicken Tinga, Halloumi and Chorizo Skewers with Tabbouleh, Salmon with Citrus Wholegrain Cous Cous.

Choice of meals to choose from: There are three boxes to choose from Classic, Veggie and Family as well as a Trial box which you can have as a one off order. You can choose the recipes in the classic box only, and whether you would like three meals for two or four people. Again, as you can’t choose for the other boxes I don’t think that’s a bad thing, you’ll cook up something different.

Tastiness: All the recipes were really tasty and it was nice to have the variety of things I wouldn’t normally cook. The recipes all worked well and the portion size was good for me.

Overall: I liked that they included everything down to the skewers and when they had a last minute ingredient change they emailed you the amendment to the recipe so you knew about it. Although these meals certainly had vegetables or salad in the proportions of the veg were perhaps not as big or as noticeable as some of the other boxes.

See full review here.

If you find your stuck in a rut with your cooking, I think recipe boxes can be a great way to get cooking something new without needing to find a recipe and hunting down the ingredients yourself. It is hugely convenient having everything you need delivered all at once and you know that you have got a tasty meal waiting for you at home. Don’t be fooled though, you will still need to go to the shops for all your other supplies! Unless you use Abel & Cole or Riverford in which case you can stick some bread, milk, pasta and what not on to the order at the same time.

If I knew I was in for a particularly busy week, or when it’s summer and I just want to sit in the garden, I would consider ordering a recipe box. I don’t have a preference on how flexible the boxes are; sometimes it would be great to choose three things that really appeal to me, other times I like the surprise of not having a choice and broadening my culinary horizons. I like that you know, no matter how hectic life can get, you have got all the ingredients you need to cook something delicious and filling waiting for you at home with practically no effort on your part.

Thank you again to Abel & Cole, Riverford, Marley Spoon, Gousto and Hello Fresh for the recipe boxes the previously provided. All opinions expressed are my own.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Caroline, I have never tried a recipe box, though they do sound very interesting, it would be a way for us to try something we don’t normally eat or prepare. Great reviews.

  2. says

    Great reviews. I haven’t tried a recipe box, although I see how it might be useful for someone short on time who still prefers to make their own food.

  3. says

    If I had the option I would choose Riverford Organics as I loved shopping there when we stayed in Dartmouth. I know someone who uses one of these services and thinks it is great as the recipes give such clear indications even his partner who is not a cook can follow them. We have one company here that does this but their meals are so expensive it does not make it worthwhile at all 🙂

  4. says

    Great collection of thoughts here, Caroline! I’ve never tried one of those recipe box services, but I’ve definitely stopped and wondered about them. Thanks for sharing your insight! 🙂

  5. says

    Hi Caroline,
    Love your review. I only tried Gousto before so it was interesting to see what the others are offering too.
    When I received mine I was impressed with the quality of the service they provided, it is a real luxury to have these meals delivered to your home with all the ingredients and recipes too.

  6. says

    My husband and I have not tried this but I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews of a similar service. Very nice post – with great information!

  7. says

    Great review and intro to recipe boxes, Caroline. The boxes do appear to be a bit of a Pandora’s Box – but filled with good things! The Singapore Noodles and the rice dishes sing to me. Since I’m in the US at the moment, guess I’ll have to try out some of your mentioned recipes via a Google delivery of the how-to =)

  8. says

    It was interesting reading about the different companies and what they offer. We have Hello Fresh here but I’ve never tried it! They are all quite expensive and the ones that I have tried have been nice but there’s something that I don’t quite gel with them. If that makes sense! 😛

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never tried a recipe box but there are quite a few options and I know it’s a good bet for some. It’s something to consider if it’ll encourage more home cooking.

  10. says

    I’ve never given much thought to recipe boxes Caroline. It may have something to do with the many cookbooks I have. I sometimes feel guilty about not using them all and have a feeling access to a recipe box would really do me under.

    Thanks for the wonderful review though. I know quite a few people who should really think about it. Actually, a subscription to one may make a GREAT present!!!

    Thanks for sharing, Caroline…

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