We all know that we should cook more at home. Takeaways are convenient and tasty, but the most popular varieties are often high in calories and the cost of them soon adds up. If you struggle to find interesting recipes or just don’t have the time to go shopping for those special ingredients, a meal prep subscription (or recipe box as they’re also know) can be a great solution. These arrive at your door each week complete with all you need to make great dishes and detailed instructions on how to do so.
We’ve gathered together some of the best ones currently available in the UK so you can channel your inner Gordon Ramsey while in the comfort of your own home. Of course, the swearing is completely optional.
Gousto is one of the most popular meal prep subscriptions in the UK, offering around 40 different recipes each week. At the time of writing the selection included Lebanese spiced rice & crispy fish, Sticky chicken with soy, sesame & chilli, Three cheese veg-packed pasta bake, Beef & mushroom pie with buttery greens, and many other tasty dishes.
You can select the recipes that come in the box, so you’ll be able to specific whether you want meals suitable for meat-eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans, or those with food intolerances. These range from standard meals that take half an hour or so to cook or quick meals that can be prepared in around ten minutes. You can order these either through the website or via the dedicated Android and iOS apps.
There are two box-types, either for two people or the Family option that will feed two adults and two or three children. Each of these also come in different sizes that can make a set number of recipes.
For the two-people option you can select from two (£24.99), three (£29.99) or four (£34.99) recipes. While the Family tier includes two (£31.75), three (£42.75) or four (£47.75) meal plans. As you’d expect, everything you need is in the box and you can specify which day the package arrives each week.
Another great service, and one that’s also available in the USA, is Hello Fresh which gives subscribers a choice of twenty recipes each week. The boxes come in one of three types - Family, Classic, and Rapid – and each allows you to specify whether you want enough meals for two, three or four people and how many recipes each week (three, four or five).
The Family box incorporates meals that can be made in less than 30 minutes, are suitable for younger people as well as adults, and have two pot options for less washing up. A Classic box provides a mixture of British and world cuisine, vegetarian dishes, plus choices for low-fat or other dietary preferences. Finally, the Rapid box is a little different as the recipes are for people who don’t have a lot of time to cook, so each recipe can be prepared in less than 20 minutes. Due to this, you can’t select the meals as you can with the Family and Classic plans.
A typical selection of meals at the time of writing included Nutty sesame chicken, Creamy prawn rigatoni, Mango chicken wrap, and Harissa-spiced roast lamb. There is also the feature where you can add desserts, wine, and bread to go with your meals for additional costs. Hello Fresh is accessible via the web or the apps for Android and iOS.
Subscriptions begin at £4.20/$7.49 per meal and you can pause or cancel at any time.
Mindful Chef claims to be the ‘UK’s highest rated recipe box’, and judging by its five-star score on Trustpilot from over 5,000 reviews, that seems a valid statement. So, what does it provide that is so valued by its customers?
There’s a definite focus on locally sourced food, with the service boasting 100% free-range ethically-sourced British meat & sustainably caught fish. The beef and lamb come from grass-fed animals and the chickens are all free-range. Uniquely, all recipes are gluten and dairy-free, making Mindful Chef a good option for those with food allergies, and of the 16 different recipes available each week six are vegan.
Some of the dishes to choose from at the time of writing included Vietnamese ‘noodle’ broth with shitake mushrooms, Chicken arrabiata with courgette tagliatelle, and Swedish-style pork meatballs & parsnip mash.
Each recipe is individually priced, starting at £8 each, and you can order meals for either one person, a couple, or a family, with between two and five recipes per box.
If all that isn’t enough to tempt you, there are promotions offering money off meals in your first delivery, plus every dish you buy will be matched by the donation of a school meal for children living in poverty.
Simply Cook takes a different approach to the other providers on this list in that you don’t get all the ingredients for recipes. Instead, you get flavour pots that can be combined with your own fresh food to make the recipes outlined in the box.
This cuts down the cost of the packages, while still allowing you to expand your culinary skills and try out different dishes. Each box costs £9.99 and your subscription can be paused or cancelled at any time.
When selecting the recipes online you’ll see what’s in the box, along with a shopping list for the fresh ingredients you’ll need to buy at your local shop. It’s an interesting idea, as it negates the need to buy expensive sauces and garnishes that often come in bottles too big to finish unless you intend to cook the same meal regularly.
Riverford is not only a meal prep subscription service but also provides boxes of fruit & vegetables, meat, vegan ingredients, as well as wine, cider, and juices. On top of that there’s also the recipe boxes that make it part of this roundup.
The meals are mainly intended for two people, with the exception being the family options that serve a rather conservative three instead. Recipes are broken down into the general topics of Vegan, Vegetarian, Family, Meat, and Prime Cuts, with three meal choices available weekly for each category.
Prices vary according to the ingredients, with the Vegan options being the cheapest by starting at £11.20 for a meal that feeds two people, while the Family dinners begin at £17.95.
The dishes look very tasty indeed, with the ones that caught our eye being Mushroom Korma & Indian mash, Mild Mexican beef & tomato rice, and Grilled Mackerel fillets & lemon orzo.