Jan 21, 2020
Health & Lifestyle | Lauranne Heres
When I was younger, food delivery meant a pizza, or some other form of take-out. The bigger the city you lived in, the more you could get. But no-one ever thought about delivering you raw ingredients and a recipe, urging you to do it yourself. Yet here we are, in 2020, and I, like many others, wait around for a box of food to be delivered to my house.
There are many different variations of the service, but here in the UK, it started quite small with Graze back in 2008. I remember being at Uni and trying the subscription for free. The small portions of snacks like nuts or dried fruits are very useful to have around at work or when you’re out and about.
But why stop at snacks when you can provide full meals? Several meal-kit providers started between 2011 and 2015, all of them offering a similar service where you are sent a recipe, and part or all the ingredients. The only exception is All Plants which sends you vegan frozen ready meals.
When asking around on Facebook, most of my friends had used either HelloFresh or Gousto, and they all had mixed reviews about the services.
Kimberly, a paid social media buyer from the USA, used HelloFresh for around 6 months while she lived in London back in 2017. She thought it was a bit expensive for one person but appreciated that she could use the two person recipes to make herself dinner and have leftovers for lunch the next day. She also loved that the recipes included a lot of vegetables which she would not have usually used. Recipes were easy to follow, but she felt like all the individually wrapped ingredients took up a lot of fridge space. She also hated having to wait around for a box all day, wishing there could be a pick-up location where she could get it at a time that suited her.
Claire, a trainee detective constable, also used HelloFresh for a couple of months, but was thoroughly disappointed when several boxes were either missing an item or had the wrong item inside. She says that customer service was always great, and they would usually offer her a discount on the next box, but that it happened so often she decided to cancel the subscription. Instead, she bought the HelloFresh cookbook as she liked the recipes, and she’s been using it ever since.
Katrin, who works as a configuration specialist, started out using HelloFresh for a year on and off, but switched over to Gousto when she got tired of the limited vegetarian choices. Her sister was using the service in Austria, where there is more on offer, and together they decided to switch to Gousto as it offered them more variety. She appreciates that this kind of service offers more portion control than when you cook yourself from scratch, and this is very helpful when trying to lose weight. The main drawback for her is the amount of waste you end up with. The cardboard box and cans or tins are often the only things you can recycle, and while Gousto is constantly advertising that it’s trying to be more eco-friendly, you still end up with individually wrapped items such as cheese, herbs and sauces which end up in the bin.
Personally, we started using Gousto a few months ago. It has more recipes that appeal to me and my partner, and I’m also a fan of the portion-control effect. Sometimes you think it won’t be enough and then you end up with a full stomach by the end of it. It has also forced us to eat a lot more vegetables that I wouldn’t usually buy. We’ve also experienced some mishaps with boxes and missing items, but Gousto always refunds part of the meal price and the customer service is very friendly and efficient. But it is true that the waste is quite substantial. I would love it if things like spices and sauces came in reusable containers which you could then return with your next box (something like the zero-waste shopping service Loop which has taken off in the USA).
Now whether you are sick of always cooking the same old thing, or whether you are always buying ready-made meals from M&S on your way home because you don’t have time to cook, take a moment to go through these different meal-kit services and see if you can’t find the one that suits your needs. If you’re cooking with your significant other, your friends or your siblings, there is bound to be a box that works for you and your budget.