With nights out and trips to favourite restaurants currently off the menu, many people are turning to companies that deliver food boxes and meal kits straight to their door.
Food boxes can be convenient at a time when many of us are juggling childcare, home schooling and work. With social distancing in place at supermarkets and online delivery slots almost impossible to find, having fresh ingredients and step-by-step recipes dropped off on your doorstep is one less thing to worry about. Plus, it can feel a little more special than simply cooking the usual meals at home.
But do food boxes and meal kits offer value-for-money? With the average weekly family food shop costing £60.60 and most food boxes priced between £30 and £50 for just three meals, it’s clear that a box is a significant investment over the longterm. We take a closer look at five different options.
The Beckhams have been showing off their HelloFresh creations during lockdown recently on Instagram so it’s clearly all the rage. HelloFresh allows you to choose recipes from a weekly menu, and the pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step recipe cards will be delivered to your door. The only ingredients you’ll need at home are cooking oil, butter, salt and pepper and sugar.
Each week you can choose from 20 different recipes, including vegetarian and low-calorie options. Choices include sweet chilli beef, roasted cod, crumbed chicken burger, and veggie moussaka. If you’d rather not receive a box every week you can also choose a fortnightly or monthly subscription schedule.
Customers can choose from a Family box, Classic box, or the Rapid box which includes recipes that can be cooked in under 20 minutes.
Prices: The Classic box for two people will cost £5 per meal for three recipes a week (£29.99 in total) or £4.37 per meal for four recipes a week (£34.99 in total).
Example yearly cost for three recipes a week for two people (excluding offers):£1,559
Offer: Get 50% off your first box and 20% off the following three boxes.
Mindful Chef prides itself on providing 100% ethically sourced British meat and sustainably caught fish. It also offers vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options. For every meal sold, Mindful Chef will donate a school meal to a child in poverty.
Prices: Costs vary depending on the recipes chosen. A one-person box starts from £8 per portion and a two-person box starts from £5 per person per portion. Prices for a family box for four people start from £4.50 per person per portion.
Example yearly cost for three recipes a week for two people (excluding offers): From £1,560
Offer: Get £10 off your first and second box.
A Gousto food box includes pre-portioned fresh ingredients, along with your chosen recipe cards. All you will need to add is cooking oil or butter and seasoning. You can choose from more than 40 recipes each week, including coronation chicken curry, king prawn korma, 10-minute spicy chilli paneer noodles, and sticky beef and broccoli noodle stir fry.
Gousto also offers 10-minute meals, vegetarian and vegan choices, plus dairy-free and gluten-free options. It delivers seven days a week but is currently unable to take on any new customers.
Prices: For two people, three meals cost £5 per serving or £29.99 per box, while four meals cost £4.37 per serving or £34.99 per box. For four people, three meals cost £3.56 per serving or £42.75 per box, while four meals cost £2.98 per serving or £47.75 per box.
Example yearly cost for three recipes a week for two people (excluding offers): £1,559
Offer: Get 50% off your first box and 30% off all boxes in your first month.
With Simply Cook, boxes are small enough to fit through the letterbox. This is because, unlike many of its competitors, Simply Cook doesn’t deliver fresh ingredients. Instead, it provides flavour pots such as herbs, spices, pastes, garnishes and rubs. You’ll then need to add four to six ingredients of your own to make each meal in 15 to 20 minutes.
Each box contains four recipe kits and step-by-step recipe cards and each kit is enough for two to four people, depending on portion size. Recipes include Malaysian Laksa, Hungarian goulash soup, spinach and paneer curry, and beef stroganoff.
You can choose to have a delivery every week, two weeks or four weeks and can change your subscription at any time.
Prices: Each box is £9.99, which works out to be around £3 to £6 per person per meal, including the fresh ingredients you will need to buy.
Example yearly cost for three recipes a week for two people (excluding offers and based on £6 per meal): £1,872
Offer: Get a trial box for £3.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, take a look at Allplants which offers meal boxes made up of 100% plant-based food. Rather than cooking the food yourself, meals are delivered frozen so you can pop them in the microwave for 15 minutes or cook them in the oven. Meals can be stored in your freezer for up to six months.
Example yearly cost for three recipes a week for two people (excluding offers): £2,106 (based on 6x single portions per week)
Whether food boxes offer good value-for-money is likely to depend on how much you are prepared to spend and your individual circumstances. However, some offer better value-for-money than others.
Having calculated how much three recipes a week would cost for two people over a year, HelloFresh, Mindful Chef and Gousto come out the cheapest at around £1,560 – although bear in mind Mindful Chef’s costs can vary depending on the recipes chosen. Food boxes also become better value the more people you are feeding and the more often you have a box delivered.
Costs are higher than buying the same ingredients at the supermarket, but remember you are paying for the convenience of having the items delivered to your door. For those who are working long hours or who have limited time to spare, this can be a price worth paying – at least for now.