If coronavirus taught us anything it was that the small businesses across the UK are some of our true British heroes. In the depths of lockdown, it was the independents that went above and beyond to keep delivering food across the country, to keep the UK going when supermarket delivery slots were booked for weeks on end and the idea of beans on toast (again) all got a bit too much.
One of our big takeaways from an otherwise pretty rough year is that supporting these small businesses is more important than ever, so that when this is all over they come out stronger than before. An easy way to show our solidarity is to – of course – shop with them, and some of our favourite small-scale producers are meat farmers. We believe passionately in backing high welfare companies and can attest first-hand to the difference you’ll find in the flavour of your meat when it comes from top quality farms. So, instead of picking up a few bits in the supermarket next time you’re shopping, why not choose to have a meat box delivery slot booked in instead. You can choose to get most meat hampers delivered on a regular basis, tailoring them to you and your family’s needs. This means one less chore on your shopping list, and one more small busines supported – we think it’s a win win.
It’s really easy to buy meat online, and some of the best examples are organic meal delivery boxes which mix and match family favourites for a weekly roundup of easy-to-cook cuts. From chicken to sausages, these packages are sure to see you through many a mealtime. Aside from the more regular meat hampers, there are also luxury meat boxes which focus on specialities or rare breeds, and all of the below have high welfare standards for their animals to help produce ethical meat in a market which is awash with mass production.
Ultimately though, even aside from all of the above, we’d recommend the meat box delivery companies below because their food simply tastes great. Explore our favourites, and let us know if you have a regular farmer or business you buy from – we’d love to hear from you.
Already well known for its high-quality veggie boxes, Riverford also deals in delicious organic meat. Each of the company’s meat hampers are available weekly, and you can pick between small, medium and large, depending on the size of your household. All the cuts have been farmed by a small group of Westcountry specialists and have been butchered in house to give you good variety each week. As an example, a large ‘Quick and Easy’ box might include sirloin steaks, beef mince, lamb chops, pork steaks and chicken breasts.
Buy it: Organic meat boxes, from £18.90, Riverford
Abel & Cole
Abel & Cole prides itself on its award-winning organic meat which is bread to high welfare standards. If these points sound like principles aligned to your own then its weekly seasonal meat hamper is perfect. In the winter this means the butchers picking out the perfect pieces of meat to roast, stew and slow cook, and in the summer you might find barbecue classics and quick-cook cuts included. Whatever the season, each week you’ll receive three different delicious dinner staples, from mince and sausages to chicken breast and meatballs. Abel & Cole shows you what will be coming in the next two weeks’ worth of boxes too, so you can opt in and out depending on preference, and if you like to mix it up there are also dual meat and fish boxes, which – of course – include seafood alongside the regular selections.
Buy it: Meat and fish boxes, from £18, Abel & Cole
Mac & Wild
With successful restaurants in London, Mac & Wild has widened its offering to include all kinds of consumer goods – from meat boxes to bottled cocktails. Partnering with small-scale producers in the Scottish Highlands, Mac & Wild now allows you to buy meat of the same quality that it serves in its critically acclaimed restaurants. Treat yourself to a couple of regional specialties – like a haggis or a packet or lorne sausages – or go all in with a meat box which might include venison and beef mince, sausages, chicken and more.
Buy it: Meat boxes, from £28.82, Mac & Wild
With solid sustainability credentials, Knepp Wild is first and foremost a rewilding project surrounding a Knepp Castle in Sussex. The people behind the project are passionate about meat that has been reared carefully and slowly, in the wild, on grass. This results in some incredibly flavoursome beef, pork and venison. All meat is sold frozen to ensure ultimate freshness, with beef cuts matured on the bone for extra flavour. While Knepp Wild doesn’t offer one kind of meat hamper, it does have plenty of individual meat choices so you can build your own basket. Unusual options include homemade charcuterie and simple ways to practice nose to tail eating, like with the brand’s ox tail, beef kidneys or tongue. For those who prefer to stick to what they know, there are all the usual options too – from beef mince through to wonderfully spiced black pepper and fennel sausages.
Buy it: Various meat cuts, from £2, Knepp Wild
Field & Flower
With a whole slew of awards under its belt Field & Flower is a meat box delivery company that holds real clout. With a focus on high-welfare, free-range and organic meat, this is properly good stuff all started by a Somerset farmer who spotted a gap in the market for meat that is both traceable and of a really high quality. We love that Field & Flower offers a real range of boxes, so have something for every occasion. There are your usual family-style boxes in various sizes but also things like the ‘Summer Grill’ box which is perfect for barbecues and the ‘Kitchen Essentials’ box which includes four chicken breasts, a whole chicken, beef mince, chicken thighs and pork sausages – perfect for a regular subscription order we reckon.
Buy it: Mixed meat boxes, from £41, Field & Flower
There are many valid concerns over the environmental impact red meat has on our planet, but there are companies doing their best to bring us beautiful beef while also taking care of their own little slice of the world. Cotswold Beef is a front-runner, being a company that produces sustainably grown cattle, running its award-winning farm on a carbon neutral basis. The results are incredible quality meat that has real depth of flavour to it, all with a low environmental impact. There are various meat boxes on offer from Cotswold Beef but we like ‘The Taster Beef Box’, which – as the name suggests – gives a lovely introduction to some of the company’s best-selling bits. For £75 you’ll receive a roasting joint, two packets of steak, two packs of mince, stewing cuts and braising shin.
Buy it: Mixed meat boxes, from £30, Cotswold Beef
Grass-fed and award-winning, Pipers Farm meat is a wonderful way to support sustainable farming in the UK. The company’s artisan butchers hand-prepare each order, and boxes are delivered to your door making buying meat online a doddle. There are all kinds of collections to choose from, from seasonal selections to slow cooking specials. For those looking to eat in a more eco-friendly way, there are hampers which hero mutton and there’s even a ‘Nose to Tail Pork Box’ which includes pigs cheeks, pork steaks, streaky bacon, sausages, leg of pork, liver, mince and even pork skin (hello, crackling!). With dairy and pantry items as well as poultry and Christmas specials available to add to your order, Pipers Farm is a bit of a one stop shop for fine produce dropped to your door.
Buy it: Meat boxes, from £50, Pipers Farm
The Free Company
The Free Company is somewhat of a farming utopia found just outside Edinburgh in Scotland. The family-run farm grows all their own fruit, veg, herbs and pigs so that they’re able to host amazing supper clubs in their hayloft throughout the various seasons, where food has been entirely grown or reared on site. While dining at one of The Free Company’s supper clubs is a wonderful experience, if you don’t live close by, you’re able to get a little slice of the action from home by joining their Pig Club. Pig Clubs were traditionally little syndicates of people who would collectively buy and rear a pig in return for a share of the meat. While The Free Company don’t expect you to have a hand in rearing the animals, they are willing to share the spoils come slaughter. You can sign up to receive ‘The Whole Hog’ or ‘The Half Hog’ where each month you’ll receive a pack of staple items, which across a year either equates to half or a whole animal. Typical inclusions in a pack would be sausages, home-smoked bacon and a selection of joints like rolled shoulders, tenderloin or ribs. The pigs are hand-reared on a free-range basis and are rare breed Berkshires and Mangalitsas. As a bonus, there’s no plastic in the packaging, no nitrates used in curing and all smoking is done with ‘windfall’ timber found around the farm.
Buy it: Half Hog boxes, from £35 a month, The Free Company
The Ginger Pig
The Ginger Pig was started by a Yorkshire farmer called Tim Wilson who has a passion for farming the old-fashioned way and sustaining rare breeds. Having grown over the years into a nationwide company with shops across London, Tim and his team have brought on more small-scale farmers who share their passion for high-quality meat. Aside from the farmers The Ginger Pig also employ a whole host of artisan butchers who dry age the beef in house and make all the sausages and burgers by hand using natural casings, while hams and bacon are hand-salted and brined. There are a few different meat hampers you can choose from at The Ginger Pig, and our favourite is the ‘Weekend Breakfast Essentials’ pack which is great for stashing away in your freezer for rainy days. Inside you’ll find sausages, bacon and black pudding as well as being delivered a few fresh free-range eggs and a homemade Ginger Pig ketchup.
Buy it: Meat boxes, from £25, The Ginger Pig
Coombeshead Farm is one of the many-such businesses across the UK which ‘pivoted’ when lockdown came into play. What started out as a well renowned restaurant with room is now selling its high-end produce online to bona fide foodies. With a larder stuffed with hams, sausages and pies – among other things – Coomeshead gives you a taste of the very best restaurant quality meat in your own home. Aside from the artisan handmade sausages, there are also jars of potted pigs’ cheeks, air dried belly pork, pork rillette and even lardo ready for melting over veggies or to simply serve on toast. On top of all of this the farm has just introduced its duck boxes which contain a dry aged crown, confit legs, duck pie, duck rillette, duck gravy, duck liver pate, crab apple jelly, quince jelly, smoked duck sausage and duck fat. Throughout the year similar lamb and pork boxes are available on a very limited basis, so be quick if you want to snap one up.
Buy it: Duck meat box, £120, Coombeshead Farm
With a far-reaching range of various boxes, Eversfield Organic has something for everyone and also deliveries fruit and veggies as well as dairy, fish, chilled and larder goods making it a one stop shop. With a nod to current trends there’s a ‘Keto Box’, while classics cover a family medley as well as a chicken box which includes items such as legs, breasts and thighs which chop and change as the week go by (at least in as much as one variety of meat will allow).
Buy it: Meat boxes, from £24.45, Eversfield Organic
The Ethical Butcher
With a simple moto that reconnecting with nature is better for us and better for the planet, The Ethical Butcher works with famers across the UK who practice organic, holistic rearing methods that result in unparalleled produce. Meat boxes vary from steak specials through to premium selections. The latter includes T-bone, fillet and ribeye steaks as well as a whole chicken, beef mince, burgers, a shoulder and a rack of lamb. While the Ethical Butcher’s meat boxes certainly aren’t the cheapest on the market, they are very high quality, and alongside the regular offerings there are also marinated, and seasoned cuts should you fancy something quick and easy to throw in a pan or on the barbecue.
Buy it: Meat boxes, from £55, The Ethical Butcher
Farm Drop acts as a middleman between farmers and consumers, allowing you to order from various independent suppliers and have everything delivered to your door in one easy drop. There are a few different organic and high-welfare farms that you can pick between, with various selections from each. There are barbecue picks as well mixed meat variants and beef or pork only packs. We love the ‘Park Farm Mixed Meat’ box which includes pork loin chops, beef rump steaks, lamb chops, leg and shoulder of lamb, beef topside and a leg of pork – enough to see any family through a few weeks.
Buy it: Meat boxes, from £22.40, Farm Drop
Gazegill are a small-scale producer with big ambitions. The company’s meat box offering is one of the largest we’ve seen, with various assemblies fit for all kinds of households. We love that they’ve thought of everyone, with meat hampers varying from a kids special (burgers and sausages plus some organic ketchup!) to an organic stewing selection perfect for the cooler months. Availability flexes with the seasons, but there’s always something new to try should you favourite be out of stock, which in itself is exciting. With really affordable organic options – the kids boxes start from £19.99, for instance – these are perfect for families who want to up the ante on the food stakes (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Buy it: Meat boxes, from £19.99, Gazegill Organic
Prefer something more prescriptive? You might like our round up of the best recipe boxes in the UK.