Recipe boxes: the concept
First there were veg box schemes, and then recipe boxes were next to spring up on the scene. When I lived in London there was an explosion of companies offering to deliver all the ingredients you’d need for a set of meals you could cook up for dinner, so you wouldn’t have to shop or think about your evening meal. You’d just arrive home, get out the recipe card and then get stuck into making it, safe in the knowledge you’d have everything you needed.
Perfect for busy workers who don’t have the time or the inclination to cook elaborate meals every night, but didn’t want to resort to takeaways or ready meals the whole time. Hello Fresh were there right at the beginning of this trend, and a few years ago I was sent a box to review.
Fast forward three years and it seems to be a growing market, and while it just used to be a London thing, it’s now spread across the nation. When Hello Fresh got back in touch to see if i’d like to review one of their Family Recipe Boxes over half-term, I was delighted. Having gone back to working full-time, any help with the planning and shopping of meals is always going to be welcome.
How does it work?
When you sign up for a Classic Three Meal Box, you can pick which recipes you’d like in advance from a list of five, otherwise you get a bit of warning on the website as to what to expect that week whether you’ve opted for the Veggie or Family box, but you can’t pick and choose.
How much does it cost?
It’s £64 for the Family Recipe Box which consists of four meals to feed 4-5 people, but it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for introductory offers.
How did we get on?
My husband is not a confident cook, so he really loved the clearly laid out recipe cards which had step-by-step pictures of how to make the meals. He got the kids to help out with the cooking, so the fact that all the ingredients are portioned up and ready to use made it even easier. There are also labelled steps ideal for little hands clearly marked out on the recipe cards too. If you’re trying to teach your kids (and husband) to cook, having everything so clearly labelled with a fantastic set of instructions is just the best thing.
The sell-by dates were all excellent, so there wasn’t the pressure to have the meals back-to-back. There are some nights when all you have the energy to make is beans on toast after all!
What did we eat?
Souk-ulent Chicken Tagine with Apricot, Almonds and Yoghurt
Mexican Tortilla Stack with Guacamole and Black Bean Salsa
Stir-Fried Chinese Chilli Beef with Smithfield Steak
Cheesy Cheddar Bake with Grilled Chicken Skewers
The quality of the ingredients was really excellent, and we couldn’t believe how much of it there was! I’d like a little more choice when it comes to the recipes, and we’re awkward customers with having a vegetarian in the house and children who are not that adventurous. We’d be a cross between a Vegetarian Box and a Family Box in an ideal world. But we are experts in adapting meals for everyone so it worked out okay in the end.
The cheesy cheddar bake with chicken skewers as the perfect example of this as Matthew could just eat the pasta part, and it was a very kiddy friendly meal. The best meal by far was the chilli beef… the quality of the meat was incredible and it filled the house with the most gorgeous scent for about two days!
For the convenience I think it’s a really smart idea for busy people who want to eat delicious high quality meals, but don’t have the time to plan or shop for them. It’s quite pricy though so it’s not something we could afford to regularly do. Also, there was a fair amount of time involved with making these dishes, and when you’ve got in from work and have hungry children flying around they’re not going to be patient enough to wait 40 minutes for dinner.
However we had lots of fun road testing this kit and would definitely do one again – it’s great to try recipes that perhaps you’d not considered before. The kids often surprise themselves trying new things that they initially turn their noses up at.
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Disclosure: Thanks to Hello Fresh for sending us a complimentary recipe box to try. This review has not been paid for and is my honest opinion.