There are countless benefits to subscription-based recipe boxes or food delivery services; from the sheer convenience of having everything delivered to your door instead of schlepping to the shops, not to mention time off from dreaming up what to cook.
And we're pleased to report that most are pretty reasonably priced too — earning themselves a permanent slot on our weekly meal plan.
What is the best recipe box?
Recipe boxes are, by nature, meant to simplify and shorten meal prep while still allowing you to fill up on delicious and nutritious grub. So, the best recipe box for you is going to be one that helps you hit your goals (whether they involve building muscle or simply getting food on the table lightning-fast), features ingredients and recipes that make you salivate, and ticks the budget box, too.
You might also choose to bear in mind factors such as whether ingredients have been consciously sourced (both ethically and environmentally speaking), whether allotted delivery days suit your schedule, and the level of clean-up required post-cook (nobody wants to wash 30 pans on a weeknight).
We have scoured the web to find the best recipe boxes and food delivery services to meet all requirements. And, if you’re looking for the best vegetarian and vegan meal kits, we’ve got you covered there too.
Can recipe boxes help you to reduce food waste?
Whether you’re preparing meals for one, two, or a bigger household – you’ll know it can be difficult to avoid wasting food, particularly with so many supermarkets insisting on multipacks of fruit, veg and meat.
Shockingly, waste-prevention organisation WRAP reports that each year we throw away the equivalent of one in every five bags of shopping. Only buying what you need can help tackle this, and we think recipe boxes are a good place to start.
How we test recipe boxes
To check these boxes really delivered all they promised, the Women's Health Lab spent weeks putting them to the test. From initially selecting the recipes, through to the finished meal, we crunched the macros, analysed the nutritional value, and ensured they could all be completed in the time advertised.
Of course, they needed to be delicious and filling too, so we cooked for a variety of guests who collectively gave these dishes the thumbs up.
You can find all their panel-approved picks – marked with the WH Lab logo – below, plus a selection of favourites from the WH Editors, to boot.
1. Mindful Chef Recipe Boxes
Best for dietary requirements
If you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, Mindful Chef ticks a lot of boxes. Not only are recipes dairy-free for the vegan or intolerant among you, but they’re also naturally gluten-free (anyone with coeliac disease, take note).
Nutritionally balanced, whether you eat animal protein, are pescatarian or vegan (all of which are filters online), all meals take a maximum of 30 minutes to cook.
You can choose two to five recipes a week, from a choice of weekly changing recipes to keep life interesting. The site is slick and straightforward, enabling you to filter by cost and cooking time (a godsend for busy calendars).
Our panel whipped up a pan-fried seabass with a zingy fennel, coriander and lime curry sauce. Unlike some other meal kits, the portions left us full (hello, lunch leftovers!) and we appreciated the detailed macros provided.
With celebrity ambassadors including singer Pixie Lott, Olympian Victoria Pendleton and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, to name just a few, our test proved this one lived up to the hype.
Price: From £25 for two meals for two people
Delivery: Free nationwide, seven days a week
2. Gousto — Joe Wicks' Picks Recipe Box
Runner-up recipe box
If a long day in the office followed by a late-night gym session leaves you with approx. 10 mins to spend in the kitchen, you might find yourself resorting to more ready meals then you care to admit.
Gousto has collaborated with Joe Wicks, which aims to provide speedy weeknight dinners, all while hitting your nutritional goals. There’s something for everyone (we’re talking meat-eaters, pescatarians, veggies and vegans), with timesaving, pre-portioned ingredients and straight-forward recipe cards to follow.
Our testers tried a vibrant Brazilian sweet potato and black bean stew, which delivered tonnes of flavour and included all 5 of our 5-a-day – how’s that for a worthy winner?
Price: From £24.99 for two recipes for two people
Delivery: Free nationwide, seven days a week
3. Pasta Evangelists Recipe Kits
Best mid-week meal
Really, what's not to love about restaurant-quality grub you can cook at home? Each recipe comes with freshly made pasta, a delicious and authentic Italian sauce and garnishes, plus step-by-step instructions to prep your dish.
Recipes can be whipped up in mere minutes, so if you're someone who either doesn't see cooking as a self-care activity (fair) or doesn't have time for the slicing, dicing and sautéing that recipes usually require, Pasta Evangelists' recipe kits are for you.
Our panel tried one of the most popular recipes – a rich, comforting beef ragù with malfade pasta and parmesan – but there are loads of equally tempting options to choose from. We fancy the pea and mint raviolini next!
Price: From £7 for one recipe for two people
Delivery: 7 days a week, via Ocado
4. Simply Cook Recipe Kits
Best letterbox recipe kit
This one works a little differently to the rest in that you still need to buy four to six fresh ingredients yourself (normally a protein and a few veggies).
However, with boxes priced under a tenner for four meals, it can be a cost-effective way of buying into the recipe box idea. Spice kits come with a recipe card, along with a helpful shopping list that can be torn off, avoiding our normal 5pm frantic Google search to try and decide what to have for dinner.
With kits having such a long shelf life (they last months), you can say 'yes' to last-minute plans without worrying about wasting the fresh food in your fridge. It pushed us out of our comfort zone, trying cuisines from around the world, without having to buy hard-to-find spices which would inevitably end up being thrown out before we used them up.
Recipes can be sorted according to your dietary requirements and preferences – such as veggie, gluten-free or family-friendly – with over 100 tempting options to choose from, whether you opt to subscribe long-term or pick and choose as you please.
Price: £9.99 for four kits
Delivery: Free nationwide (letterbox-friendly)
5. HelloFresh Recipe Boxes
Best for global cuisines
With recipes featuring Korean-style fried chicken and halloumi burgers and Thai-style beef, we love that the HelloFresh Recipe Box allows you to dip into a different cuisine every night of the week. Ingredients arrive precisely measured so, as with most recipe boxes, there's minimal food waste, and the step-by-step instructions are super easy to follow.
Price: From £28.49 for two recipes for two people
Delivery: £4.99, mainland UK
6. allplants Plant-Based Meals
Best for vegans
Not a recipe box as such, but a speedy and faff-free way of prepping delectable and nutritious dinners when just the thought of planning, shopping and cooking exhausts you.
allplants deals in freezer ready meals, but not the kind you're used to. These ones are entirely plant-based, made using responsibly sourced ingredients, and every meal contains at least 2 of your 5 a day. Win!
There are 50-odd recipes to choose from, including chillis, pasta dishes and curries, and all can be cooked from frozen in minutes. Consider us converts.
Price: From £4.99 per portion. Minimum spend is £25.
Delivery: Free delivery over £40, otherwise £4.99.
7. Brindisa Classic Spanish Paella Kit
Best for a boujee date night
At £49.99 for two, Brindisa's paella kit is best reserved for those extra-special occasions (we’re talking anniversaries and birthdays), or when you can’t secure a spot at your favourite restaurant for date night.
As well as the ingredients, you'll also receive a four-person paella pan for you to use again and again. However, it's worth noting that there's no recipe card included in this box, so this is definitely one for more confident cooks.
Despite that our panel managed to knock up a tasty selection of veggie and chicken paellas, and thought the quality of ingredients was exceptional.
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Think these are great but still intrigued by juice cleanses? Read our honest account of what happens when you chug rather than chew and don't forget to check our ultimate weight loss tips. We've got you covered from healthy eating to fitness programmes.
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