Putting Meal Boxes to the Test

With convenience on the rise, people have less time to spend in the kitchen cooking up nutritious meals. As a result, meal kits have grown dramatically over the last few years and are predicted to grow even further in 2019 as consumers become time poor, yet want to ensure they are eating well. Brands such as Hello Fresh have been in the market the longest, but we have recently seen the explosion of meal kits from other brands, with Waitrose launching their version in 2018. With this rising trend, we thought it was time to review some home delivery meal kits, ranging from meat, vegetable and vegan based meals. Read on to see which dishes really impressed.

Mindful Chef, Thai Pork Meatballs in a Courgetti Soup (serves 2 people), £7.00pp
Meal contents: pork mince, courgette, chestnut mushrooms, mangetout, lemongrass stalk, lime, red chilli, veg stock cube, fresh ginger, coconut milk


A dish that really packs a punch in terms of flavour. We used the chilli sparingly but the overall flavour of the dish had a Thai infusion, was creamy and flavoursome – you could really taste every element of the dish, and it was clear that the ingredients were premium and of great quality. The dish itself wasn’t a quick whip it up, it certainly look a bit of preparation time, more than some may wish to invest in after a long day at work. Nothing too tricky, but you need to get your hands dirty making the meal balls, grate the ginger and spiralise the courgette. All very worthwhile as the end result was delicious!

Mindful Chef, Lamb tikka kebabs & apricot cauli rice (serves 2 people), £8.00pp
Meal contents: lemon, turmeric, brown onion, cauliflower, red pepper, tikka masala spice, diced lamb leg, spinach, dried apricots, cardamom pods, skewers


Another dish from Mindful Chef that demonstrated the high-quality ingredients, with each element of the meal tasting great. Not the quickest meal to make and then after making the cauliflower rice our taster’s kitchen looked like the inside of a snow dome. However, the portion sizes were very generous, with plenty of lamb, so much so that the meal stretched to three adult meals (initially intended for two). The food looked very appetizing when prepared and we’d certainly order the meal again. However, for some this may be more of a Saturday evening meal due to the time taken to prepare. We appreciate some family meals in the week need to be quick, with little preparation time. Also at £8.00 per person, the price per person makes this more of a special meal.

Eat First, Mains for One, £37.99
Meal contents: grilled miso chicken; honey soy chicken; teriyaki tofu; miso chicken with roast veg; jerky


At £37.99 this isn’t the cheapest selection of meals, however, each meal was packed full of high protein and high carb content. The portions were fairly small, but incredibly easy to cook and the taste was just delicious. The chicken used in the dishes was clearly from cuts of thigh meat so was extremely tasty and the sticky rice and veg/beans mix was great too. The packaging was simple, yet stylish – unfortunately, one of our taster’s boxes got damaged in transit so was leaking miso sauce over everything (oops). What we loved about Eat First was the broad variety of food on offer for delivery – some simple crowd pleasers, others a bit more adventurous. Our taster had never tried Miso or Terriyaki before and was pleasantly surprised. She was a miso convert by the end of this trial! The cards included in the box contained information about the dish, cooking instructions and allergy information.

Riverford, spring greens and hazelnut spaghetti, approx. £6.50pp
Meal contents: leek, clove of garlic, cannelloni beans, lemon, spaghetti, white wine, hazelnuts, green pesto


We liked this vegan dish, however, it wasn’t without its faults. Our taster loved all of the ingredients supplied, found everything looked very appealing and having hazelnuts with a pasta dish was new. The overall dish was tasty however we felt it could have used a little more sauce or liquid as it ended up being rather dry. The flavours through the dish were fairly mild and the hazelnuts made a great addition (one we’ll certainly be using again). For a quick midweek dish, this ticks some boxes but it wasn’t a special meal that would be repurchased in a hurry.

Cook Well from Waitrose, Meals for 2 people, approx. £7.00pp
Meal contents: Beef Teriyaki; Hoisin prawns; Mango Chicken

Waitrose.1 Waitrose.2

You can always rely on Waitrose to provide great quality food, and their new Cook Well range is no different. Like the food in their store, it comes at a premium price but you are paying for convenience. Our taster tried three dishes from the home delivery recipe range and all of them were packed full of flavour and had great visual impact. One thing we would like to see a little less of though – the single-use plastic containers. Compared to some of the home delivery kits, Waitrose use a lot of packaging but overall we loved the Cook Well range and would use all of the recipes again.

Abel & ColeKale & Tofu Scrambled Quinoa, £6.00pp
Meal contents: quinoa, red onion, red pepper, kale, Thai red curry paste, Worcester sauce, breakfast scramble tofu


A great success with our taster – the recipe card was very visually appealing, easy to follow and thorough. It was a speedy recipe which was great, and only took 20-30 minutes to cook with very little mess in the kitchen (even better!). She normally has the ingredients for this dish except for the scrambled tofu which was something new. The dish was very tasty fried in the Worcester sauce and Thai red curry paste, and there was a nice range of textures through the dish. Overall she would cook this again and thoroughly enjoyed trying the scrambled tofu.

Abel & Cole, Root Vegetable & Cheddar Crumble, approx. £9pp 
Meal contents: leek, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, flat leaf parsley, cheddar cheese, half fat crème fraiche, breadcrumbs, oats, sunflower seeds


We felt this dish was verging on the little too expensive side, however the ingredients were of great quality and the dish was packed full of vegetables. The bake could have done with some further liquid as it was a little dry however we loved all of the veg and would be sure to try this recipe again. We also loved the paired back packaging – no overuse of plastic pots which was good to see.

Feast, Asian meals for 2, approx. £6pp
Meal contents: Ginger chicken; Tandoori chicken


A fabulous meal kit, with inspiring, flavoursome food. Each dish had great visual appeal with plenty of food for the price. Our taster loved trying these new dishes and the mash with the onion and seeds was very tasty. She found these kits great for getting her children to try something new and they also really enjoyed cooking them. What more can you ask for? Happy parents, happy children.