Even we, as self-confessed restaurant obsessives on a mission to weigh up all the merits of the UK’s best restaurants, can’t deny the joys of a homecooked meal. Sure, eating out is a wonderful thing (and someone else deals with the washing up, crucially) but for a cosy evening in you just can’t beat a bowl of something comforting eaten on the couch – preferably in your pjs – in front of your favourite TV programme.
If you’re not blessed with natural abilities in the kitchen then help is at hand by way of one of the many best recipe boxes in the UK. These clever copouts come delivered to your door packed with all the ingredients and instructions you need to whip up something seriously tasty in no time at all. In fact, even if you are the next Gordon, Jamie or Nigella you might just need a night off and these meal boxes come in handy as a bit of a middleman, not quite eating out, not quite having to haul yourself to the shops to start from scratch. Recipe boxes are also a great way to discover new favourite dishes, cuisines or techniques as the people behind them pour hours of development time into every detail, making sure each instruction is perfected, honed and tried, tried, and tried again for delicious, fool proof results.
When weighing up the best recipe boxes the results differ depending on your needs. Are you looking for a food subscription box to feed a family or do you fancy giving your diet a bit of a reboot with a healthy helping hand? We’ve got ideas for all those and more. Plus, aside from recipe boxes there are also meal boxes on offer which send a few boxed-up dinners your way, ready to just heat and eat – a sort of homecooked, deluxe ready meal deal.
We’ve made our way through all the best recipe boxes we could get our hands on to come up with this list of tried and tested favourites. Some send you a few spices and sauces along with instructions for how to make them into meals, which allows you to cater to your individual dietary requirements, while others send you every last detail from the meat and veg through to the seasonings. Elsewhere the full meal food subscription boxes send you high-brow ready meals for when there’s a need for speed. Whatever you’re after, we’re pretty confident you’ll find it below.
The best recipe boxes
If you prefer to cook from scratch but want to scrap the shopping, then these are for you. Neatly packaged, perfectly proportioned ingredients sent to your door with clear recipe cards make these some of what we consider to be the best recipe boxes in the UK at the moment. We’ve ordered them from least to most expensive, but it’s worth noting that some use higher quality ingredients than others.
Why: With plenty of flexibility as well as family favourite recipes, Gousto goes the extra mile to make sure it’s offering something to suit everyone. The precise measurements for each meal mean there’s no food waste and all meat is sourced from trusted UK suppliers. You’re able to pick the recipes you like the sound of from a weekly selection – with categories including deluxe versions for fancy fine dining or crowd-pleasing classics like sausage and mash for easy family eating – and you can order for either two or four people.
How much: From £2.98 per serving
Best for: Families
We say: Gousto’s recipes are probably among the more sophisticated offerings out there when it comes to recipe subscription boxes, but don’t be fooled into thinking that means they’re difficult to make. We found the likes of sticky ginger beef noodles remarkably easy to rustle up (a 10 minute job overall), while the light spice of Indian-style chicken and grains was tempered by lashings of turmeric yoghurt. We also loved that veg was incorporated into practically every meal, without ever feeling dull – great for convincing little ones to eat their greens.
Buy it: gousto.co.uk
Why: Perhaps the most recognisable of all the recipe boxes in the UK, Hello Fresh was one of the first companies offering the format when it began nearly ten years ago. Recipes usually have a handy hack to make them as speedy as possible and frequently feature slightly more unusual ingredients which is a nice way to keep yourself experimenting and trying new things. Each recipe is accompanied by a handy recipe card complete with picture step-by-steps and you’re able to choose between family, classic or speedy recipes with up to 21 meals to pick between each week.
How much: From £3.44 per serving
Best for: Couples
We say: Easy to follow recipes and measured out ingredients will make you feel like you’re cooking from scratch but without the stress of scrambling through the fridge for ingredients. Portions are generous but the results were delicious so we weren’t complaining. It seems like the perfect solution for those who want to get into cooking but feel a little overwhelmed about where to start.
Buy it: hellofresh.co.uk
Morrisons Eat Fresh
Why: The first of the supermarkets to offer a recipe delivery box, as far as we’re aware, Morrisons make cooking up something hearty and healthy as easy as it can be. The boxes are packed with fresh produce and you can pick between a whole host of different recipes each week which are marked up for how long they take to make as well as how many calories each dish is - with things like flat iron steak with chunky chips or smoky turkey fajitas with lime yogurt on the menu. Morrisons give the option to order a one-off box too, so you can try before subscribing to weekly deliveries.
How much: From £3.75 per portion
Best for: Families
We say: We haven't reviewed Morrisons' offering yet, but we'll let you know as soon as we do.
Buy it: morrisons.com/eatfresh
Cook with M&S Recipe Box
Why: Marks & Spencer is a British food institution, with their ingredients and ready meals already firm household favourites up and down the country. The arrival of their brand-new recipe boxes takes the supermarket’s offering to a whole new level, helping them to guide their customer’s through some tasty meals, made from scratch. Included in the meal kit are ingredients to make a king prawn paella, a chicken tikka, and pork medallions with a cream garlic and mushroom sauce. At £32 this isn’t the cheapest option on the list, but with high-end ingredients a given, we reckon it’ll work out as good value.
How much: From £5.30 per serving, or £32 for the box which includes three meals for two people
Best for: Busy couples
We say: We haven’t tested the M&S recipe box for ourselves yet, but as soon as we do, we’ll let you know what we think!
Buy it: marksandspencer.com
Why: Feast Box are part of the Red Rickshaw brand, known in the UK as being one of the largest websites for sourcing exotic spices and ingredients through. They’ve taken this USP and applied it to the recipe box sector, now offering truly global dishes to your door. All your ingredients are delivered fresh and ready to cook, and recipes might include Indian, Korean or Japanese dishes among others. There are always plenty of vegan options and the website handily (or perhaps devilishly) throws up wine pairing suggestions that you can buy a bottle or two to enjoy alongside your weekly food subscription.
How much: From £5.50 per portion
Best for: World travellers
We say: Compared to a lot of recipe boxes, Feast Box actually doesn’t make the cooking part overly simple. The recipes can take a fair amount of time and often involve the use of ingredients that you might not have used before, but that’s the entire point of Feast Box. This isn’t a box for lazy cooks who just want everything made as easy as possible for them; it’s for people who want to take the time to enjoy making something completely new. The result is some exciting and delicious dishes which you probably wouldn’t make otherwise. On top of this, they’ve clearly taken sustainability into account when making the product, using minimal plastic and a recyclable cardboard box.
Buy it: feastbox.co.uk
Why: If eating organic food is important to you then Riverford could be the answer when it comes to a recipe box that suits your lifestyle. Having jumped on the recipe box bandwagon following the successes of people like Gusto and Hello Fresh, Riverford came up with a slightly fancier foodie-focused offering with recipes that are still family-friendly. Each week the Riverford team comes up with 15 seasonal recipes that are created using fresh, organic produce. You’re able to pick as many recipes as you like, so aren’t restricted to a prescribed amount and these boxes have the highest rating of any in our roundup on Trust Pilot, so it’s safe to say they’re popular with punters.
How much: From £5.60 per serving
Best for: Ethical eaters
We say: Riverford haven't supplied a box to review yet, but once we're able to test its meal kit, we'll let you know what we think.
Buy it: riverford.co.uk
Why: Passionate about pasta? So are the Pasta Evangelists, unsurprisingly. This recipe box subscription might not be the most diverse – so probably better for a one off treat rather than a regular spot in your teatime setlist – but who can argue with pasta being akin to food of the gods? With each order you’ll receive at least two pasta dishes (you can choose multiples if you prefer) and all the pasta is carefully crafted by Italian hands, while sauces are created with the best Italian produce for rich, comforting bowls of food. Like knowing what to expect? Think things like a lobster, crab and prawn tortelloni with a grissini crumb, samphire and sage butter might making its way through your door. There are gluten free options too, to allow for group dining with different dietary requirements.
How much: From £6 per portion
Best for: Carb lovers
We say: It’s easy to match the ingredients to the corresponding recipe in the nicely produced ‘This Week’s Menu’ booklet, which comes with a history of each dish and nutritional information. However, none of these recipes could be called challenging and wouldn’t have taken more than half an hour to cook from scratch; we wonder just how lazy or inexperienced you would have to be to order a pasta meal kit. That said, the ravioli, orecchiette et al had the authentically eggy taste of the best homemade pasta and were a welcome reminder to buy fresh rather than dried whenever possible – next time from the Pasta Evangelists kiosk in the Harrods Food Hall, perhaps, which would cut down on all the fiddly packaging this came with.
Buy it: pastaevangelists.com
Abel and Cole
Why: It might not sound the most appetising of attributes, but Abel and Cole’s packaging really sets them apart from the rest of the recipe boxes we’ve seen on the market. While pre-portioned everything is nice, there is of course a lot of waste. The team here go some way to combatting that by making sure all packaging is returnable and recyclable. You’ll be picking between 15 recipes each week which are made up of organic ingredients, and there’s a specific emphasis on making sure there is plenty of veg in each.
How much: From £6 per portion
Best for: Families
We say: We're yet to put Abel and Cole's box to the test. As soon as we've had a go at cooking up a storm with its recipe box, we'll update you here.
Buy it: abelandcole.co.uk
Why: Mindful Chef claims to be the UK’s most highly rated recipe box and offers a lighter alternative to the typically carb-filled recipe boxes seen elsewhere. Each one of the meals is 100% gluten-free and dairy-free, so you won’t see bulky pasta dishes here, instead you might find grilled fish dishes or healthy stir fries. With lots of vegan options and any meat free-range or grass-fed this is great for those wanting to get stuck into eating ethically and healthily on a regular basis. Packages range from between two to five meals per week and there are typically 16 different dishes to pick between at any one time. Mindful Chef also run a scheme to match every meal bought with a school meal for a child in poverty, so that you can do good while eating well.
How much: From £5 per portion for a family box, from £5.50 per portion for a two person box or from £8 per portion for a one person box
Best for: Healthy eaters
We say: Lots of the alternative recipe boxes are carb-heavy and can feel a little stodgy, but Mindful Chef recipes are all gluten and dairy free as well as being refined carbohydrate free – bread lovers, look away now. With a whole selection of international recipes on offer each week, and a regularly changing selection, we didn’t miss the pasta or noodles which were replaced with nutritious ingredients like sweet potato wedges or black rice. Recipes are super easy to follow and mostly take under 30 minutes, which means they’re achievable after work. There’s also the added bonus of feeling smug about eating a healthy, homemade dinner each evening. We love that Mindful Chef helps you try new recipes when you’re in a bit of a rut, like the Keralan monkfish curry we were sent, which was creamy with coconut and fragrant from ginger, garlic, cardamom and turmeric.
Buy it: mindfulchef.com
Why: With three inspiring women at the helm, The Cookaway is a new recipe box service with a twist. Each of the three women specialise in a different kind of recipe, offering customers the choice between founder Nidhi’s Indian recipes, nutritionist May Simpkin’s healthy recipes or MasterChef finalist Sara Danesin’s Italian recipes. Under each category you’ll find vegan, vegetarian, meat and fish options which come accompanied by simple instructions from each of the corresponding chefs and you don't have to subscribe to a certain amount of weeks or boxes - you can dip in and out as you please.
How much: £8 per portion
Best for: Anyone in a recipe rut
We say: The recipes were easy to follow, and the portions were generous, with each box coming with a main meal plus two sides. We thought the sea bream with an almond crust was the best dish from the pick of healthy options, while the butternut and chimichurri orrechiette was the best from the Italian box. The only concern was the large packaging and all the waste it created. This being said, it was mostly paper rather than plastic and the team have gone above and beyond to ensure containers are 100% fully recyclable, with 95% of it coming from natural sources. The quality of the food was pretty good, although £11 per person seems a bit steep for raw ingredients plus a recipe card. Overall the concept of it is cool, so it will be interesting to see how the company evolves and if it can maintain authenticity of the cuisines (even more so given that there are soon to be Japanese, Spanish and Pakistani chefs coming on board). We think this box is best for treating yourself or if you're not a hugely confident cook and want to impress someone with a special meal.
Buy it: thecookaway.com
Little Cooks Co
Why: If you have keen mini cooks in your gang then Little Cooks Co might be the easy answer to letting them loose in the kitchen. These handy kits include everything you need to create healthy, nutritious meals and sweet treats for children, all with their help. With mum and nutritionist Helen at the helm, the practicality of each pack has been carefully thought through with simple steps to suit kids at various ages. Savoury recipes include things like veggie nuggets and cheesy bean bakes, while sweets could see you whip up heart-shaped jammy tarts or gingerbread muffins.
How much: From £8.33 a month
Best for: Kids
We say: Our Little Cooks box is currently with our mini testers, we'll let you know what they thought when they get a break in their busy schedule to update us!
Buy it: littlecooksco.co.uk
Why: For home cooks looking to up their game, try Wild Radish - a newly launched recipe box service that’s led by top chefs. Wild Radish collaborates with the likes of Elystan Street’s Phil Howard and The Goring’s Richard Galli, bringing some of their signature dishes straight to your door with all of the necessary ingredients.
How much: £70 per box with wine, £55 without
Best for: Accomplished home cooks
We say: We tried our hand at Galli’s spice-glazed duck breast with orange-braised fennel. Although this is definitely one for more experienced cooks (the instructions require you to have a digital meat thermometer at home) we did find the recipe easy to execute once we had prepared the ingredients and were mightily impressed by the results - the quality of produce shines through in the duck, while the accompanying veg has a real depth of flavour enhanced by Wild Radish’s own spice mix. The inclusion of date and walnut bread rolls to start, plus petit fours and speciality tea for afters, was a particularly nice touch, while wine is expertly paired by Matthew Jukes. Wild Radish isn’t for those who like to whip up a meal in five minutes, but it’s perfectly suited to keen home cooks who want to experience a restaurant-quality meal without leaving their front door.
Buy it: wildradish.co.uk
Why: Simply Cook brings a slightly different format to the fore, with its offer of spice and seasoning kits instead of a system where you receive every ingredient you need to make your meal. These non-perishable boxes include recipe cards and allows for you to be able store them up to use at your leisure. This means you’re able to buy your own meat, vegetables and other ingredients (you’ll receive shopping lists so you know what to get for each) and allows you to tailor each of the recipes to your liking, whether that’s buying all organic or snapping up that veg on special offer.
How much: From £2.50 per serving
Best for: Busy professionals
We say: We're yet to try Simply Cook for ourselves, but as soon we have put it through its paces, we'll update you here.
Buy it: simplycook.com
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Why: If you’re close to Herefordshire then you can support local business, while also getting your hands on a recipe box packed with ingredients. As this is a relatively new venture don’t expect swish packaging and fancy ingredients, rather a family focus with crowd-pleasing recipes like veggie lasagne or chicken and vegetable korma curry. There are vegetarian and vegan boxes if you prefer to avoid animal products and local delivery across the county. Vegetables are homegrown where possible and other ingredients sourced from supermarkets, saving you shopping time.
How much: Prices vary
Best for: Hungry families
We say: We haven’t tested the Growing Local recipe boxes as we’re not in their delivery area, but we’d love to know what you think if you’ve tried one.
Buy it: instagram.com/growinglocalhq
Veg Out Lincoln
Why: For those passionate about supporting local business in the East Midlands, Veg Out Lincoln could be just what you’re looking for. This vegan recipe box subscription is only available within Lincoln and the surrounding villages and makes use of locally sourced ingredients. Boxes are filled with recipes that are nutritious and veggie-packed, like a creamy mushroom and spinach risotto or a broccoli and chickpea curry. The rota changes each week, so you’ll never get bored and at £33 for four meals, it’s not bad value either. Gluten free boxes are available, as well as a bakes and cakes one for healthier treats and snacks.
How much: £33 per box
Best for: Healthy heroes
We say: As we’re not local to Veg Out Lincoln, we haven’t tried one of these boxes. We’d be keen to hear from customers though, so do let us know if you’d had one, and what you thought of it.
Buy it: vegoutlincoln.uk
Roots and Shoots
Why: Londoners, this one’s for you: a healthy nutrition-led recipe box that has been carefully designed with fresh, quality ingredients. These boxes are also plastic-free and come with cook-along videos, health tips and are made by a nutritionist, so you know you’re getting well balanced meals. Recipes vary from fortnight to fortnight but include hearty, internationally inspired dishes like black dhal with turmeric cauliflower and a spicy sambol. The delivery zone stretches across East and North London.
How much: £15 for two meals
Best for: Fit fanatics
We say: We are yet to put this box to the test but will let you know as soon as we do.
Buy it: rootsandshootsldn.com
The best ready meal food subscription boxes
Like homecooked comforts but can’t face a night slaving away over the stove? These food subscription services deliver you hearty, healthy recipes all boxed up and ready to heat and eat.
Modern Persian Kitchen
Why: Modern Persian Kitchen shows off the diversity of this Middle Eastern cuisine in its handy, ready to heat ready meals. Unlike most subscription boxes, the hard work here is already done for you, with the team having homemade each box before freezing and delivering it to you for perfectly fresh plates of food. As you might expect each recipe is richly perfumed with spices and there are plenty of options to choose from. Mains, stews, veggie and vegan mains are all on offer with a whole section of the site dedicated to rice sides to bulk out your meals with.
How much: From £2.50 per portion
Best for: Middle Eastern food fans
We say: We haven't had a chance ot try our Modern Persian Box yet, but will let you know as soon as we do.
Buy it: modernpersiankitchen.co.uk
Why: There’s no denying that plant-based eating is on the rise, and with so many people now following vegan diets it was only a matter of time before a meal subscription popped up to service the needs of this whole section of society. Allplants takes the hassle of cooking away, delivering readymade, frozen vegan meals to your door ready to reheat. Meals include things like a rainbow falafel mezze, a rich daal and plenty of delicious sounding pasta dishes. It’s possible to order for one person, which is a nice change to the usual format, and there’s also the option to add a treats bundle, which for us is a no brainer when it contains a chocolate peanut fondant, a golden apple crumble pot and a sticky banoffee pudding.
How much: From £4.99 per portion
Best for: Vegans
We say: Overall, we were really impressed with the six Allplants ready meals we tried. Miles ahead of any we've had from a supermarket, each meal was carefully thought-through to include a variety of textures as well as flavours, which is something sorely lacking from the standard, sauce-heavy ready meals available elsewhere. We particularly enjoyed the spiced aubergine tagine, which was not only fragrant and warming but also wonderfully filling - a common factor among all the dishes we sampled. Our only gripe was the huge amount of packaging the meals came in, though in fairness to Allplants, it was necessary to keep the meals frozen and is all sustainably-produced.
Buy it: allplants.com
Why: There's no doubt that everyone is becoming more concious of what they're putting into their bodies, as healthy eating continues to be encouraged to help maintain good mental and physical health. However, one issue that a lot of people find is that it's difficult to maintain a healthy diet without giving yourself plenty of time to cook for yourself - something which isn't always possible. Founder of Tastily Will Mcdowell spotted this issue and during 2020's COVID-19 lockdown, set up the company which focuses on providing healthy, accessible and sustainable ready-made meals. All of Tastily's meals contain between 400-500 calories and contain at least three portions of vegetables, yet can be heated up in just three minutes. Healthy eating doesn't get much more convenient than that!
How much: £8-£6 per meal depending on amount ordered per week
Best for: People looking for healthy, sustainable, and convenient meals
We say: Our expectations were certainly exceeded when we tried Tastily. Every single dish we tried was full of flavour and didn't taste artificial like the average microwave meal does. We loved the fact that there were multiple portions of veg in every helping as well as usually a carb too. We particularly enjoyed the piri piri chicken, which packed a nice kick and came with some wonderfully crisp sweet potatoes too, while the steak and mash tasted impressively good considering it had come out of a packet. The Tastily website and system was also incredibly user-friendly and easy to find your way around. The price point may be a bit higher than some other offerings, but you'd really struggle to find microwave meals elsewhere which are as healthy and taste as good as these.
Buy it: tastily.co.uk
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