Are you struggling to find the time and motivation needed to plan and make healthy meals from scratch? The good news is that there are plenty of services that will take on that burden, as long as you’re prepared to stump up a premium.
These food box delivery services either offer pre-cooked meals you just need to heat up or recipe boxes complete with everything you need to make the meal yourself. Below you’ll find the best of each, so your diet doesn’t have to be as short on nutrients as you are on time.
There’s a lot to like about Gousto’s recipe box service. The range is huge and you can pick individual recipes to suit your tastes or dietary requirements, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free, and there are meals that take just ten minutes to make too. All the recipes are well thought out and easy to cook without rushing or having to focus on three different pans at once. Gousto’s meals are also cheaper than HelloFresh and the Mindful Chef.
The only real downside is that Gousto’s ingredients don’t come pre-sorted, so if you order a four-recipe box you’ll get four recipe’s worth of ingredients jumbled together – including a sack of spice sachets that need to be sorted. Do your sorting immediately and you’ll be fine, but leave it until to just before you start cooking, or worse, once you’ve started, and you’ll be frantically flicking through sachets trying to find the right spice.
From £4.37pp for two-person meals, £2.98pp for family meals, gousto.co.uk
The Mindful Chef website has some slightly dubious messaging about carbs and gluten (all their meals are gluten-free, which is great for people with coeliac disease and of no proven health benefit to anyone else), but the meals themselves are top-notch – with interesting recipes and plenty of vegetables.
We found the Mindful Chef recipes more complicated than other recipe box services, but the extra concentration required during cooking is rewarded with more novel flavours once you’re tucking in. The Persian mint chicken with pomegranate was a highlight when we tried a Mindful Chef box, even if we did spray pomegranate seeds all over the kitchen in attempting to prise them loose from the fruit. The instructions are generally clear, but they take some things for granted that probably shouldn’t be taken for granted. For example, the instruction “trim the purple sprouting broccoli” suggests they have unreasonable expectations of how many people are familiar with trimming purple sprouting broccoli. On the other hand it seems like it’s a tricky veg to trim incorrectly, so no biggie.
There are vegan recipes available, along with options that fit with nutritional targets you might have like high protein or low calorie (but not high carb, obviously). All the recipes are designed to be made in 30 minutes or less and we had no trouble completing them in time, apart from the occasion when we paused cooking to spend five minutes sweeping up pomegranate seeds, but that’s on us.
From £5pp per meal, mindfulchef.com
The concept is simple – microwavable vegan meals – but the execution is exquisite. We have no hesitation about labelling the meals as some of the finest vegan food we’ve ever tasted. The cashew mac (a vegan take on mac and cheese) was gloriously creamy despite there being no cream involved, and the fiery jerk jackfruit would convince even the most committed carnivore that plants can be just as satisfying as meat. The portion sizes are healthy too, although those doing a lot of exercise might want to whip up a side dish.
From £4.99 per serving, allplants.com
If you still want to cook your meals but would rather skip the planning and shopping, HelloFresh’s recipe boxes are an appealing proposition. You don’t even need to bother with the measuring either, as all the ingredients – even the chopped garlic – are shipped in the precise amounts needed. The recipe instructions are so clear that they are almost entirely foolproof.
HelloFresh has options to suit most dietary restrictions (although not vegan). The classic box comes in regular or vegetarian form, and the new preferences menu contains gluten-free, dairy-free, veggie and low-calorie recipes. If you’re always short on time, you can also opt for the rapid box, which contains recipes that can be made in 20 minutes or less.
The recipes are reliably tasty, though not always as healthy as some other options on this list. You will need to chuck in a few vegetables of your own to hit your five-a-day for most of the dishes in the classic or rapid boxes, but to be fair HelloFresh doesn’t stress its healthy credentials – it’s all about taste.
From £5.83/meal (classic box) and £4.92/meal (rapid box), hellofresh.co.uk
Fresh Fitness Food
Whatever your fitness goal is, Fresh Fitness Food will go all out to help get you there by providing every meal and snack you need. All your food arrives pre-made early in the morning (it’s probably worth making friends in your work’s post room), so all you need to do is heat it up between crushing it at your desk and the gym.
Even if you opt for the fat loss package, there is a lot of food each day so you can be sure you won’t go hungry, which can be a problem with meal delivery services. Other meal packages are designed to help you get lean, or gain muscle, and there is also a plant-based menu with vegetarian and vegan options.
It’s as convenient as it gets, but you might find a few of the recipes are a little lacking in taste, and the eye-popping amount of protein you get sent may take some getting used to.
From £20 a day, freshfitnessfood.com
Make Kit is not a good name, but the service on offer is very good indeed. It’s all plant-based recipes – either vegan or vegetarian – and they’re delivered once a week. You can get two or three meals, and opt for two or four portions per meal, though those who exercise a lot might feel the portions are a bit on the small side.
The recipes are tasty, healthy and simple to follow, and the cherry on top is that some of the money you spend on Make Kit boxes goes towards community healthy eating schemes, which involve free classes teaching families and young people how to cook more healthily. An admirable aim to ponder as you chomp down your quick and easy Make Kit meal.
From £4.20 per portion (£50 for three four-portion meals), makekitfood.com
The Pure Package
Another ready-meal delivery service that picks your menu based on your fitness goals, including weight loss, training support and, intriguingly, longevity. There are also veggie and vegan options, ante- and post-natal menus, and a Paleo-inspired package. And if you’re feeling especially flush you can even discuss your nutritional needs with one of Pure Package’s advisors and get a personalised meal plan.
You can also choose how many meals to get on the plan, right up to two snacks, three meals, and even pudding. The meals are delivered each day, so you don’t have to hog your office fridge with a week’s worth of food.
From £39.95 a day, purepackage.com