If juggling your social life with work, exercising and doing a food shop often leaves you wishing there were eight days in a week (or maybe nine), meal prep delivery boxes could help lighten your load.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with meal prep or fall into a rut of the same uninspiring dinners.
Recipe boxes reduce stress and eliminate the need to traipse up and down supermarket aisles looking for inspiration. You receive ready-portioned ingredients, which can help reduce your food waste, and clear step-by-step instructions.
They are a great option for those who love food and like to cook but sometimes struggle to think of recipes and/or apply portion control. Some services go one step further and deliver oven-ready meals or all the food you need for a day - including snacks!
Not only was Gousto the cheapest box we tested, it also offered the most variety of meals in terms of cuisine and dietary options. The recipes were flavoursome, interesting and easy to follow, so we also crowned it the best overall meal prep delivery service.
If you’re looking for a treat and love carbs, we can’t recommend Pasta Evangelists enough. Picture restaurant-quality pasta that’s ready to plate in five mins. Yes, really!
We were really impressed with the oven-ready meals from COOK too. They can be cooked from frozen and all you have to think about is a side dish, but even these can be added to your online order. For hearty, homemade tasting food with minimal cooking, we can’t think of a better option.
How to choose the best meal prep delivery box for you
Some meal prep boxes mean you can cross a supermarket trip off your to-do list altogether, while others will require you to stop in for breakfast, lunch and snack supplies.
If you have dietary requirements, your options may be limited with some services. All of the services we reviewed catered for vegetarians but vegan and gluten-free options were sometimes scarce.
Some boxes offer single portions but most of the services provided recipes for a minimum of two.
If you regularly find yourself having beans on toast because you can’t muster the energy to cook anything else, or haven’t picked up supplies for a more adventurous dinner, it’s likely a meal prep box is going to cost more than you’re currently spending. However, this is a good thing if it means eating more balanced, wholesome meals but it’s a consideration nonetheless.
Think about how much time you want to spend in the kitchen. Most of the boxes reviewed deliver portioned ingredients. So while they save you time thinking of recipes and going to the shop, you still have to cook.
There are ready-to-heat options and services that plan your food intake for the whole day but the convenience comes with a cost.
The best meal prep delivery boxes you can buy right now
The best meal prep delivery box for most people and the cheapest
Gousto has an outstanding selection of recipes which enable your tastebuds to travel without leaving home. Choose from two, three or four recipes a week with portions for two or four. The menu changes weekly and includes speedy 10-min meals which really do only take minutes to prepare.
There’s some oven-ready options thanks to a new collaboration with Charlie Bingham for night’s when you’re feeling lazy. Plus, it can satisfy your takeaway cravings with options like Paneer Jalfrezi With Buttery Cardamom Rice. You even have the option to add naan!
The instructions are clear and easy to follow with an abundance of tips and tricks on the website too. For the health-conscious, there are Joe Wick’s Lean in 15 recipes, plus low calorie options and recipes which target heart-health.
The best premium recipe meal prep delivery box
The ingredients were noticeably high-quality and we loved the farm-to-fork aesthetic. Who knew de-husking corn was so satisfying? The menu is limited compared to others but it’s the only recipe box that’s 100 percent organic. There aren’t enough meat options for a full week of dinners but you could substitute in veggie or vegan meals instead. With options like romanesco and chickpea korma, we were easily tempted to cut down our meat consumption without needing to compromise on flavour. We liked that deliveries are made on specific days to reduce food miles and the packaging had limited plastic. Before your first delivery, you get a friendly phone call from Riverford to confirm your address, answer your queries and thank you for your purchase. It was a lovely touch that made us smile.
If you love cooking for others, this is the recipe box for you
HelloFresh is one of the most widely recognised recipe boxes on the market and is loved by many. The recipes are exciting, easy to follow and perfect for those who need some inspiration in the kitchen.
The portions are generous and could sometimes stretch to three if you added a few extra ingredients. This is a great option for those who like to cook for friends, without the stress of finding a recipe you know will work.
We loved that you can choose premium meals for special occasions and add ons to your order like dessert, bread and wine! While the menu is more limited than competitors, there are still plenty of options. Unless you have specific dietary requirements, we don’t think you’d struggle.
Have a special night coming up? This one has celebration written all over it
We were shocked - and thoroughly impressed - with just how quick the recipes were. Simply reheat the sauce with a splash of water and cook the pasta al dente in three mins! The recipes fully deliver on flavour, comfort and style (the handmade ravioli is charming enough to distract any eye from chipped bowls and miss-matched cutlery).
It’s by no means a cheap option but perfect if you’re celebrating or want restaurant food without the service charge. If you opt into a subscription you can save 15 percent and if you choose double portions you save another 15 per cent.
The meals are quite calorific so you might not want a delivery every week but subscription options are flexible with once every other week and once a month among the most popular choices.
Single households might want to check this one out
Mindful Chef is the only recipe box service to offer a 100 per cent gluten-free and dairy free menu and a single-portion subscription. It’s the perfect box for those with dietary requirements and are health-focussed.
The menu is varied and exciting with 16 choices a week. Example meals include sesame chicken, egg & spinach rice, pork barbecue beans & sweet potato fries and sticky tamarind & ginger tofu with mangetout.
Quality is important to Mindful Chef which is why all meat is 100% grass-fed, the chicken is free-range and the fish landed fresh in the UK. Plus, for every meal Mindful Chef sells, they donate a school meal to a child living in poverty. To date, over one million meals have been donated. They’re also a certified B Corp, which means they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, as well as public transparency and legal accountability.
The best meal prep delivery box for time-poor people
This is the ultimate meal prep box for those who don’t want to think about food, but want a healthy, nutritious diet. There are two calorie plans to choose from (1,200 and 1,800) depending on your health goals.
There’s no denying this is a costly option but the meals are genuinely tasty and interesting. We tried a breakfast of smoked salmon, boiled eggs, avocado and rice cakes, lentil, carrot and feta salad for lunch and chicken, leek and mushroom risotto for dinner. Snacks include fresh fruit, nuts and in the afternoon you can choose a bar, or keep it for dessert!
With Balance Box calorie counting doesn’t feel like a chore and the food is microwavable or ready-to-eat so there’s no time for temptation to creep in.
One for the comfort food lovers
Handmade using high-quality ingredients, COOK have done all the heavy lifting you need for a satisfying meal. Simply grab the recipe from your freezer and pop it in the oven or microwave.
Many recipes, including the Moroccan spiced lamb tagine, have a prestigious and well-deserved Great Taste Award. Every meal is signed by the chef that prepared it in the Kent-based kitchen, which we thought was a lovely touch.
The meals don’t come with sides but you can add things like mash and rice to your order. We liked this flexibility and didn’t mind using pasta we already had in the cupboard!
COOK were also one of the UK’s founding B Corp members. So not only does it provide a fantastic service, it’s run to the highest of standards.