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If your lockdown meals are stuck in a rut, a subscription to a food delivery box can be a great way to add some variety to mealtimes without the hassle of planning out recipes.
Many come with pre-measured ingredients and step-by-step instructions, making it quick and easy to whip up a satisfying meal without any food waste.
Our recent survey results show that Hello Fresh is the most popular food subscription box among Which? members*. But is it the best?
Staff from across Which? have given their verdict on a range of recipe kits, as well as drinks, cheese, fruit and veg subscription boxes.
- Recipe kit subscription boxes
- Fruit and veg subscription boxes
- Cheese subscription boxes
- Drink subscription boxes
Recipe kit subscription boxes
Hello Fresh boxes contain all the ingredients you need to make a home cooked meal for two to four people. You can choose from four plans – family, classic, rapid or veggie – with prices ranging from £3.40 to £5 per portion.
What do Which? staff say about Hello Fresh?
- ‘The portions were good and it introduced us to some recipes we hadn’t used before. However we cancelled at the end of the trial as, when not on offer, the meals are expensive, and I found the meals to be really salty.’ – Shefalee Loth, Principal Researcher/Writer
- ‘The recipes were certainly good and it was exciting being able to try new dishes.’ – Munro Page, Sales and Service Adviser
- ‘The main downside is the amount of waste – for example, spices for each meal come in tiny single-serve pots and some of the fruit and veg comes in unnecessary plastic packaging.’ – Georgina Holt, Senior Policy Researcher
- ‘We like to eat quite a lot of vegan meals and the options were slim (and tended to be quite meat-heavy).’ – Taylor O’Callaghan, CRM manager
Pasta Evangelists is designed for those who want to enjoy restaurant-quality pasta at home. There are 10 recipes to choose from each week that take as little as five minutes to prepare, and serve one or two people. Prices vary depending on the dish with a single portion ranging from £6.75 to £13.50.
What do Which? staff say about Pasta Evangelists?
- ‘The dishes were very tasty! The cooking instructions were easy to comprehend and follow; each ingredient has a coloured sticker, and the recipe tells you which colour sticker ingredients to use. Most dishes come with a portion of fresh pasta, a sauce and a pot of cheese. It’s as simple as boiling the pasta, warming through the sauce in a pan and adding the pasta to the sauce’ – Alexandros Panteli, Which? Tech Support Adviser
- ‘The food was great but the portions are small’ – Alice Williams, Senior Researcher/ Writer
- ‘I liked that they send everything all separated out for you to prep yourself as it definitely was fresher than a normal takeaway.’ – Emily Seymour, Home Content Editor
Gousto recipe boxes provide plenty of choice, with more than 40 recipes to pick from each week. Its offering spans family favourites, healthy choices and 10-minute meals, as well as vegan and gluten-free options. Boxes are designed to feed two to four people with prices ranging from £2.98 to £6.25 per serving, depending on the number of meals ordered.
What do Which? staff say about Gousto?
- ‘It has a really good variety in terms of vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, 10-minute meal options etc. It works out at around £4 per person for each meal, which although isn’t very cheap, the quality of the food is very good. We also like that it’s got a big emphasis on recycling and sustainability.’ – Taylor O’Callaghan, CRM manager
- ‘We’re working our way through our first box and so far I’m impressed. There’s a good choice of meat and vegetarian options and while there is a lot of packaging, much of it is recyclable. Most recipes take around 30-45 minutes to prepare so aren’t too laborious and portions are generous.’ – Shefalee Loth, Principal Researcher/Writer
- ‘Great mix of veggie recipes, everything is measured out so there’s no waste, big portions, free gifts.’ – Jade Harding, Senior Content Producer/Writer
Mindful Chef is a health-focused recipe box that uses ethically sourced ingredients, with all meals free from gluten, dairy and refined carbs. Its partnership with charity One Feeds Two means a school meal is donated to a child in poverty for every meal bought. There are 16 recipes to choose from each week and you can order for one, two, or a family. The cost varies depending on the dishes you choose – one-person boxes start at £8 per portion and family boxes start at £4.50 per portion.
What do Which? staff say about Mindful Chef?
- ‘It’s not cheap but good value as the box includes good-quality sustainable ingredients – creating restaurant-quality dishes.’ – Jo Rhodes, Senior Researcher/Writer
- ‘I’ve really enjoyed some of the recipes, bringing together things I usually wouldn’t eat or would have to go out of my way to find, and I’ve recreated a couple of my favourites too. You can post back the cool box packaging for free via collect plus and they then reuse it.‘ – Jess Carson, Home Content Editor
Unlike other recipe boxes which contain all the ingredients you need for a dish, Simply Cook boxes provide pots of pastes, oils, garnishes, rubs, stocks and herb/spice blends for your chosen recipe. It comes with a shopping list for the rest of the ingredients which you need to buy separately. Each box costs £9.99 and contains four recipe kits designed to feed two to four people.
What do Which? staff say about Simply Cook?
‘The shopping list for each recipe is small so it doesn’t cost much to get those. You can either choose the recipes you get (you get four per order) or they select for you based on your order history, and there’s lots to choose from. Portion sizes are good – despite what the shopping list might sound like – and most recipe cards serve two and you can always increase accompaniments like rice or pasta.’ – Eugene Larkin, Data Compliance Analyst
Fruit and veg subscription boxes
Abel & Cole
Abel & Cole boxes are all about organic, seasonal produce. You can choose from a selection of fruit and veg boxes (£12.50 – £27.50) as well as meat and fish boxes (£16.50 – £37). It also sells recipe boxes, though these are currently on pause.
What do Which? staff say about Abel & Cole?
- ‘Generally, they’re absolutely brilliant. They’re really friendly and helpful whenever you contact them, their delivery times are consistent, and the food they deliver is really delicious and organic’ – Joel Bates, Researcher/Writer
- ‘My partner and I have been using Abel and Cole for about eight years and we love it. We usually get the fruit and veg box, and an organic meat box. At the moment things are a bit less flexible than usual (usually we can swap things in an out if we don’t like what they are planning to include, or we can say that we don’t ever want certain things), but they have constantly been sending us boxes during lockdown and we’ve really appreciated this.’ – Ivonne Hoeger, Principal Consumer Researcher
Riverford delivers organic fruit and veg boxes (£7.95 – £23.55) and meat boxes (£18.90 – £38.80) to your doorstep. It also has a range of recipe boxes which come complete with all the ingredients you need to make seasonal meals from scratch. They include vegan, vegetarian and meat options for two people as well as family recipe boxes for four people.
What do Which? staff say about Riverford?
‘The food is so tasty and it has meant we now eat a more vegetarian-based diet. Their cookbooks are full of wonderful recipes that are simple and not your run-of-the-mill. We also eat seasonally now and get vegetables we would never buy in the supermarket such as whole beetroot or fennel, but yet discover great dishes such as beetroot curry – now a regular on our menu! Also, the staff have been so friendly, they send a newsletter each week with how to look after, use and cook your vegetables, a recipe and a note from Riverford. Small touches, but they go a long way.’ – Catie Doherty, Premier Account Manager, Which? Trusted Traders
Cheese subscription boxes
The Cheese Geek
The Cheese Geek is all about artisan cheese, offering tailored cheese boxes to suit your preferences. Boxes contain four or five different cheeses and are designed to feed four to eight people. Each box costs £30 and you can choose to have it delivered every month, two months or three months.
What do Which? staff say about The Cheese Geek?
‘There were some nice touches in the box. They give you a little score chart so you can do a taste test, tell you where they were made, give wine pairings and types of crackers. Plus the packaging is all recyclable, and it comes packed with ice so it doesn’t spoil in transit.’ – Emily Seymour, Home Content Editor
Cheese company Pong sends you a selection of cheeses to try every month, two months or three months. A typical box contains four cheeses weighing 50g to 200g each and you can choose to have no goat’s cheese, no blue cheese and vegetarian cheeses only. It costs £22 per box and you can go premium for an additional £7 to get an ‘extra special cheese’ in your box.
What do Which? staff say about Pong?
‘We’re on the vegetarian plan, which means we got a lot of repeat cheeses. Not a big deal though because they were absolutely great. It was too much cheese for two people though; our lockdown cheese evenings have been… filling.’ – Michael Passingham, Senior Researcher/Writer.
Drink subscription boxes
Craft Gin Club
Craft Gin Club offers the opportunity to try a different craft gin each month, including limited and exclusive editions. Each box contains a full-sized bottle of craft gin, mixers, garnish and snacks to have alongside your creation. Boxes cost £40 and you can have one delivered every one, two or three months.
What do Which? staff say about Craft Gin Club?
‘It’s really well put together. They give you everything you need (except the glass and the ice) to make some really quite intricate drinks and then if you find a gin you particularly like, you can buy it from their shop’ – Lisa Webb, Senior Lawyer
Read our guide to the best gin to find out which gins were awarded Best Buys in our expert taste tests.
Each month, Whisky Me selects a different single malt whisky for you to try and posts it through your door in its letterbox-friendly pouches. You can choose a monthly subscription (£7.95 per month) or a yearly subscription (£7 per month).
What do Which? staff say about Whisky Me?
‘Small pouches means I can try out different whiskies they select without needing to commit to a bottle or being overwhelmed with too many options. They have a take-back scheme for the pouch for recycling (return 10 and you get a free pouch). The bag it is delivered in is biodegradable.’ – Eric Cheng, Digital Business Analyst.
Go to our food and drink reviews to see the results of all of our taste tests.
*Results based on a survey of 16,571 Which members in June 2020. Respondents were asked which food subscription boxes they had ordered since June 2019.