Gourmet food boxes are all the rage. Companies are sprouting up everywhere with promises of healthier recipes, fresh ingredients and locally sourced produce. It’s a tempting offer. Well, certainly moreso than that stack of convenience food I’ve stowed away in the freezer.

But just how good is one box from another, and are gourmet boxes an affordable way to eat healthily?

Unsorry Editors Lea and Sam put two market leaders to the test. Lea bought up a Hello Fresh box or two, while the peeps over at Gousto popped a box in the post for Sam to sample. Here’s the verdict…

Hello Fresh

My reviews are always honest, so I’ll start this one as such: I only got a Hello Fresh box because I had a discount. I’d never bought a gourmet box before, so a £39 box for £19 seemed like a pretty bargainous way to get stuck in. Some might say this is how I became a Fresher. No vodka shots this time round, I’m afraid.

hello fresh box

My normally £39 box contained ingredients for two portions of three different meals, a recipe card for each and a freebie bag of Pop Chips. The recipes differ from week to week, which although means I made no choices about what I was cooking, I actually quite liked. I cook well enough as is, and I wanted to be pushed to try new things. The excitement of my Hello Fresh box turning up was absolutely unprecedented. Everything – spices and all – was measured out in the correct portion size (a ball ache I was happy by bypass after a long day at work), popped into my box and sealed up complete with cool bag, recipe cards and a little wallet to collect them up in. At full price, each meal tots up to £6.50, but with my discount it worked out at £3.17 per serving.

quickdraw quesadillas
Quickdraw quesadillas – my favourite meal. Possibly not my favourite photo.

My recipes were:

  • Quickdraw chorizo quesadillas with tomato and corn salsa
  • Roasted cod with orange and beetroot salsa
  • Pan fried chicken with creamy leek and porcini lentils

 Sounds a bit complicated right? Wrong. What I like most about Hello Fresh is that the recipe cards were so damn easy to follow, and gave perfect guidance for prepping food that saved the most amount of time, which I find normal recipes just leave you to work out for yourself. Plus they are weary of the diet conscious – all calories are laid out on each card for you, and you can check this on the Hello Fresh website before your box arrive if calorific meals are a touch point for you. Nothing took more than 40 mins to make.

My absolute favourite meal was the Quickdraw Quesadillas. Before I got started I was unsure that two tortillas with stuff inside them and some sweetcorn salsa was going to constitute a meal for my bottomless stomach, but oh my god it did. All the meals were ENORMOUS. I ordered a second Hello Fresh box after this first one, and the Mexican Dirty Rice recipe served me for four meals.

mexican dirty rice
Endless Mexican Dirty Rice

My first box also saw me cooking fresh fish and beetroot for the first time. I am scared of fish, and without it physically turning up at my door I’d never normally touch it. When I got over the smell and the texture of it on my hands during the cooking process, I’m really glad I put myself through it. I ended up with the most gorgeous cod meal, and my first beetroot venture was one tinged with fresh orange and delicious crispy salsa. So good.

roasted cod
Roasted cod with orange and beetroot salsa

In conclusion, I love Hello Fresh. Realistically, £6.50 per meal is too expensive for me to afford this on the regular, but I’m happy to indulge in every discount box (obtained through their referral scheme) that comes along. So no membership for me just yet, HOWEVER I have a cheeky tip for all you bachelors and bachelorettes out there: Got a date coming over for dinner? Really want to impress them without spending the whole evening in the kitchen? Get a Hello Fresh box. And get a £20 discount off of your first one – just enter the code Y49J8J when you open your account at hellofresh.co.uk.

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Gousto Box

I was sent a Gousto Box to try, with three meals enough to feed Mr S and I. Delivery was really straightforward, and it was left on my back doorstep in a well packaged box ready for when I got home. Gousto Boxes start from £4.42 per person per meal, and you are given full control over what recipes you want to pick, which I really liked.

Gousto Box 1

This is what turned up in my box – mini bags of herbs and spices, enough for each recipe and little pots of sauces as well as individual veggies and the exactly amount of white rice required. I liked this, as it meant way less prep time for me, but I did have to wonder as a bulk buying budget grocery shopper what this did to push the price up. That said, it meant mealtimes were less of a faff, and I was completely down with that during a busy week.

As well as being nicely prepped, I received some excellent full colour and illustrated recipe cards. I found this really useful as sometimes when following recipes I like to see what it should look like, in case I’m getting it wrong (I usually am!).

Gousto Box 2

The recipes in the main were easy to follow too which was a bonus. They were probably a little more involved and took a little longer than I would usually spend on mid-week cooking, but that said they were certainly straightforward to cook. I was given:

  • Sausage casserole
  • Thai green curry
  • Posh burger and chips

All of them were DELICIOUS. I can’t stress this enough. Delicious to the point of Mr S actually commenting. Special shout out goes to the Thai Green Curry – I’ve never managed to nail the flavours before, but this was awesome.

Gousto Box 4
Thai Green Curry

My experiences with Gousto Box overall were very positive, but there are some things to note. The posh burger and chips I didn’t feel were worth the money – if I’m going to use Gousto Box, I’d prefer something a little more complex than what essentially amounted to potato and mince. Nice potato and mince, but not really worth the money in my view. Secondly, I didn’t find these recipes particularly healthy or diet friendly. There would have been ways I could have made these recipes a little healthier, by substituting ingredients, but having had the box delivered, I felt like I should use what was provided.

Gousto Box 3
Sausage Casserole

I guess the biggest question is would I get a box again? I think, on balance I would. It’s an expensive way to buy and cook food, but there is something lovely about how they’ve packaged it up and it certainly helped to lift me out of a boring cycle of evening meals. That said, I wouldn’t usually use highly priced kidney beans etc, and felt like those branded goods pushed up the cost per person unnecessarily.

What I’d love is for Gousto to develop a three course meal in a box – then I’d be right in there. If they could do that for the 18th of July (my wedding anniversary!) I’d be really grateful!

If you want to try Gousto for the first time with a £25 discount, just sign up using the code LEANN13422. How we spoil you…

What’s your favourite gourmet box?

**We were sent a Gousto box for free but we were not paid for this review.

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