Last updated on September 11th, 2017
Cooking should be the perfect way to wind down from a hectic day and set yourself up for a calm and relaxing evening. But the thought of coming up with a new idea for a quick and healthy dinner and then traipsing the shops for the right ingredients is enough to have anyone reaching for the takeaway menu.
Recipe boxes are a saviour for anyone short on time or inspiration in the kitchen. With a couple of clicks you can have everything you need to prepare a fast and delicious dinner waiting at your door, including fresh ingredients and step by step instructions with timings and pictures. You can cut out all of the hard bits and get straight down to cooking (and eating!) a healthy, hassle-free, home-cooked meal.
If you’re interested, you don’t have to sign up straight away – you can sample any of the boxes as a one-offs without any further commitment. Even if you do arrange regular deliveries you always have the option of pausing or cancelling deliveries any time you have a change of plan.
With so many recipe box services out there, the only way we could be happy with our choice was to try them all! Take a look below to see our favourite so far and click through to read the full reviews as they are published.
|Recipe Box||Rating||Pros & Cons||Price|
| Tasty organic veg
Recipes chosen for you
| Abel & Cole
| Loads of choice over recipes
Deliveries on any day of the week
|Family boxes for 4 people|
| Hello Fresh
Family friendly recipes
| Simply Cook
| International recipes
Good as a present
Still have to go shopping!
| Mindful Chef
| Gluten & dairy free
Higher cost per portion
1. Riverford – Best for ethical eaters
Winner of the Observer’s “ethical product of the decade”, 100% organic and lovingly grown for taste over appearance under the supervision of founder Guy Watson from his family farm in Devon.
Choose the Quick box for a 30 minute meal or if you’d rather take your time, go for the Original. Watching you weight? Go for the 500 calorie Light option. All boxes are designed for two people and include either two or three recipes per week. These can be topped up with extra groceries from other secitons of the site including eggs, diary and “store cupboard staples”.
The company’s commitment to freshly picked seasonal ingredients means that you have less choice over your recipes than with other boxes but we actually quite liked this as it forced us out of our comfort zone and removed one more painful decision from our week! If there is something you really don’t like on the menu, you can always swap to another box or just skip a week.
Deliveries are managed by lovely local “vegmen” & women rather than couriers and we found that ours couldn’t have been more helpful in arranging a suitable drop off time (to avoid the rain) and collection (to recycle the box and packaging).
The recipes were hearty without being over-complicated and the ingredients were refreshingly flavourful for someone used to supermarket veg. We also really liked the newsletter describing what was happening on the farm and the teaser of next week’s recipes.
Great service, tasty organic veg and a real commitment to sustainable and ethical business practices.
- sirloin steak & basil dressing
- chicken & corn jambalaya
- kimchi stir fry
- Italian style chard & white bean stew
- ricotta & basil courgettes
- tomato & barley pilaf
from £24.95 (veggie: 2 people, 2 meals – £6.25/portion)
or £29.95 (non-veggie: 2 people, 2 meals – £7.49/portion)
2. Abel & Cole
The dedicated Foodie box is aimed at those wanting to take their time over their culinary creations. The less adventurous or time-pressed can choose the Simple box and there are also Light and Veggie options too. All boxes are designed for two people and come with three recipes per week as standard. Hungry for more? The intuitive website makes it really easy to add or remove recipes week by week so you can feast on a maximum of 12 meals one week and then drop down to a minimum of 2 the next. Perfect for unpredictable work schedules. Produce is organic and boxes can be skipped at least 2 days before your delivery date.
Creole chicken with toasted corn & black beans; beef, pak choi & sesame udon; Tex-Mex chicken chimichangas
Veggie: tortelloni with creamy tomato & basil sauce; Cajun chickpea patties with roasted pattipans; broccoli cheese with carrot ribbons & lentil salad
from £27 (veggie: 2 people, 2 meals – £6.75/portion)
or £29 (non-veggie: 2 people, 2 meals – £7.25/portion)
Best for getting the kids involved
Brilliant for busy parents of young kids with boxes designed for 2 or 4 people (think 2 adults and 2.4 children!). Both 2 Person and Family boxes are completely flexible allowing you to “build your own box” of between 2 – 4 meals and receive up to 7 boxes per week. Gousto is also one of the few services that allows you to choose your delivery date although there is only one time slot of 8am – 7pm. Recipes are delicious and varied and deliveries can be skipped with 3 days notice.
sticky chicken With soy, sesame & chilli; sizzling sausages & potato salad, Moroccan lamb shepherd’s pie
Veggie: two lentil dhal & spiced aubergine; mushroomy woodland pasta; honey, walnut & thyme roast beetroot
from £24.99 (veggie/non-veggie: 2 people, 2 meals – £6.25/portion)
or £31.75 (veggie/non-veggie: 4 people, 2 meals – £3.97/portion)
4. Hello Fresh
Affordable family favourites for those in a rush. Boxes come in Classic, Veggie and Family for up to 4 people. Subscribers to Classic and Family boxes can choose which recipes they will receive but only if confirmed a week in advance. Vegetarians currently cannot choose. Recipe cards are well laid out and instructions are well optimised for efficiency in the kitchen so you can get on with eating.
Veggie: creamy tomato gnocchi, Mexican spiced squash, coconutty Caribbean Soup
Non-veggie: chicken shwarma, Thai chicken burger, easy beef enchiladas
from £34.99 (veggie/non-veggie: 2 people, 3 meals – £5.83/portion)
or £53.99 (veggie/non-veggie: 4 people, 3 meals – £4.50/portion)
5. Simply Cook
Best for adventurous eaters
Recipe and spices only service designed to introduce you to global cuisines and expand your cooking repertoire with minimal fuss. The boxes are slim enough to fit through a normal letterbox and can be left in a cupboard indefinitely without going bad. Delivered every week, fortnight or monthly, they contain a clear shopping list, easy to follow instructions and joyous little pots of flavouring goodness. These range from exotic marinades and infused-oils to rubs, pastes and spices that would be hard to find in your local supermarket. Explore new cultures and impress your mates. Gift subscriptions make a thoughtful present for wannabe chefs or newlyweds.
Veggie: aubergine rendang, Brazilian moqueqa, Iranian vegetable stew
Non-veggie: Korean bibimbap, Louisiana linguini, Malaysian laksa
from £9.99 (veggie/non-veggie – spices only: 2 people, 4 meals)
£3 trial boxes available
6. Mindful Chef
Best for Dietary Restrictions
Not the cheapest on the list but the UK’s first 100% gluten and dairy free recipe box is ideal for dietary restrictions and clean eaters. The athletically inclined should also pay attention as all recipes avoid refined carbohydrates in favour of complex whole foods. Also, the only service on the list to offer a single person box, although it does come in a little pricey at £9 per portion. Delivery is available on Sunday or Monday, setting you up for a positive week.
Veggie: Brazilian black bean stew & brown rice, Squash, mushroom & butter bean lasagne
Non-Veggie: Jamaican-style pork burgers with sweet potato chips, Lemongrass trout with coconut lime rice
from £27 (veggie/non-veggie: 1 person, 3 meals – £9/portion)
or £28 (veggie/non-veggie: 2 people, 2 meals – £7/portion)