am I just kidding myself that if I get a riverford box we'll all start eating healthier and I'll stop spending so much money on crap in tesco?

(47 Posts)
Fairylea Sat 08-Feb-14 12:13:56

Well what do you think?

Anyone with any recent experience of riverford?

I'm doing utterly rubbish with our food budget at the moment. I know it's my fault. I can't stick to a meal plan or a list and what should be a budget of 70-80 a week always seems to be embarrassingly about 130 a week sad

(Yes I'm an idiot).

I have this vague idea that if I get a fruit and veg box delivered and possibly the meat too then I will have to eat more healthily and hopefully reduce the amount of nonsense I buy at supermarkets.

Any ideas or slapped wrists appreciated.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 08-Feb-14 14:48:29

Your fruit and veg box won't help your budget really. You'd actually be better off sticking with a mainstream retailer but staying out of the stores & going for their home delivery service instead. Plan the meals, work out the shopping list to fit your budget and reduce the amount of impulse buys that tend to bump up the totals.

gretagrape Sat 08-Feb-14 16:06:07

It depends on how varied your tastes are - unless you eat everything in it then you'll be wasting money. I found that when we had a veg box, we'd have a list of dislikes that they would then substitute which is a great idea but the sub tended to be a bit obscure - like a massive Chinese lettuce 3 weeks in a row in the middle of winter.
Also I think you need to be a good cook for them to be worthwhile - if there's going to be 1 or 2 subbed ingredients then you'll never be 100% sure what you're going to get until you open the box.
Agree that meal planning is the way to go as then you know that everything you are buying is going to get used.
I also have a rule that I only buy things on multibuy offers that are non-perishable - I don't agree with people who say never buy anything that's not on your list, because you can save a lot of money, you just have to be careful - I haven't paid full price for laundry stuff / cereal / toilet roll / even tinned tomatoes for at least a year.

ratqueen Sat 08-Feb-14 17:11:59

Prob depends what box you get. I didn't get on too well with the pot luck veg as I didn't always know what to do with the veg. But I now get a favourites box every week and it def helps me eat healthier and budget. It is the sort of veg I'd buy anyway. I tried buying it all at the supermarket and really missed it. Especially the it arriving on my doorstep bit. I do a monthly stock up on cupboard stuff plus about once a week for additional fresh stuff. We use everything in the box as anything leftover I make soup with. But I am a cook with what I've got in type not a planner. On the other hand if you did want to plan they send emails every week with box contents that I don't read

Fairylea Sat 08-Feb-14 19:24:31

Thanks... I know in my heart you're all right. I seem to have grand images in my head of swanning about in the kitchen with my box of organic goodies planning what to cook and producing some amazing hearty meals. Hmmmm.

Reality is more like me spending 70 quid on mostly snacks and not really thinking about things that make main meals and then resorting to chicken nuggets and chips and beans.

I think I'm going to have to meal plan and stick to it. (Says me again). My main problem is I get so bored at lunch (am sahm and toddler ds still has a lovely long nap at lunch in his cot) so I tend to treat myself to something to eat then - a ready meal or some nice chocolate or cake or whatever else.

Hmmmm. Thanks for the replies.

We started with Riverford about 4 months ago, it has definitely helped with meal planning because of being a fixed day every week unlike supermarket deliveries. We vary the order every week depending on what the boxes are going to contain, we get salad, fruit, eggs, milk and butter with it. Our delivery day is Monday, so we have to finalise the order by Saturday. So our routine is on Saturday print out the following weeks calendar, sit down with that andcthe school dinner menu and plan the weeks meals over lunch. Then sort out the Riverford order for Mon, put everything else on an Ocado order for Sunday evening. I do a top up shop on Thurs for more fruit, milk etc. I don't think it's saving much money but we are eating more veg. Riverford send recipe cards each week too, some of those have been great. Also we got our entire Christmas dinner from them, delivered free on Christmas Eve.

Fairylea Sat 08-Feb-14 19:45:44

Wow whoknows. You are amazing ... that's what I need to aspire to. You sound very organised!

I like the idea of the receipe cards and Christmas eve delivery!

K8Middleton Sat 08-Feb-14 19:49:20

There was a great thead a while ago about Abel & Cole. I love my veg box plus extras delivery. It had saved me money too.

Fairylea Sat 08-Feb-14 19:58:29

Thanks I will have a search for the thread and able and Cole too.

Bananapud Sat 08-Feb-14 20:05:09

I haven't done Abel and cole for years but what I like about Riverford is you can see what's in all the different boxes and choose the one you want each week. So I don't have a regular default order - I just do it weekly. And if I don't like the set boxes I might make my own selection of fruit and veg. So you avoid getting loads of cabbage or whatever you don't want.

Occasionally they substitute if something isn't available. I wasn't that impressed by cauliflower instead of purple sprouting broccoli and it's still sitting in the fridge 3 weeks later, bit mostly we eat it all. And I make a lot more soups than I would otherwise.

You can usually get a free box from a refer a friend or other special offer so I say try it. Their homemade mince pies and Christmas puddings are also great and I have often passed off their treacle tart as homemade!

Ask around and see if there is a local scheme anywhere near you. We had one and it was far cheaper than Riverford, which was totally out of my budget, although the one I used you couldn't choose what veg you had or swap anything and there were just 2 sizes (although of course nothing to stop you ordering more than one bag if you needed more).

I found it helped because I used the veg I got as a starting point and went shopping the day or day after I got the veg bag and sort of meal planned around it, using the recipes included with the bag or searching online for new recipes or using them in things I knew how to make but planning for leftovers - e.g. if I got some leeks, I'd think OK, chicken and leek pie, that means we need to have chicken roast or something to get the chicken leftovers, and I can make leek and potato soup, so the potatoes can go into the roast or we'll have jacket potatoes later in the week and I can make chicken curry as well which will use up the sweet potato and cauliflower (probably not seasonally accurate, it was a while ago!) - obviously also depends on how much leftover you get from a roast, but you can always buy a bigger bird than you would usually which is cheaper than buying chicken breasts separately or something.

Also, I don't like wasting things, so actually having the veg there meant I had to be creative to use it up, if I buy from the supermarket then I tend to stick to boring veg like carrots and broccoli (usually in frozen bags too) and plan meals more around the meat than around the veg.

And yes, you can use up pretty much any veg in a soup as Bananapud says which make really nice lunches, especially if you treat yourself to some nice fresh bread (or even bake bread rolls yourself! Never did this but could be a nice activity with toddler or boredom-filler when he's asleep)

You can make some really interesting muffins etc with various veg in too - concept is like carrot cake but beetroot and courgette work well, weirdly.

LadyMaryLikesCake Sat 08-Feb-14 20:11:10

I don't think that you can substitute things with Riverford, I have a load million onions and squash in the kitchen. They also don't deliver bread, which isn't helpful. Abel and Cole are better and there's more choice. Looks like meal planning is the way for you to go though. It's more cost efficient to buy a whole chicken (for example) rather then pieces or breast, that way it will last a few days worth of meals rather then one. It's about stretching what you already have rather then buying more IYSWIM.

starfishmummy Sat 08-Feb-14 20:14:26

I usually make a big pot of "Friday Soup" basically to use up anything that is about to go over.

Also every now and the Riverford have an excess of something and put a freebie in the box.

ratqueen Sat 08-Feb-14 20:17:34

OP why couldn't you swan with your organic veg? I say swan. I used to shop exactly like you but basically got a box delivered each week til I didn't. There has been a lot of trial and error (I made a lot soup and mashy veg at first) but am now at the stage where I think, oh, I'll make a casserole tonight (as I did tonight).

Riverford have a fairly big selection of breads and lots of other non veg/fruit items.

Although you can't substitute with them there are a lot of different boxes and you can choose a different one each week, all the contents are updated weekly on their website. Although some week I look at it and groan because every single box seems to have a savoy cabbage in and we're all a bit tired of them now. Or beetroot, none of us like beetroot at all (and yes, I have tried several varieties of cake and they've all been grim).

JamNan Sun 09-Feb-14 10:23:21

Veg & meat boxes are expensive but they contain good organic food and you know where it comes from. If you can afford it go for it! I think you need to meal plan but you can get lots of ideas for seasonal recipes from the Riverford site (and Abel & Cole too). The trick is not to buy ready-made crap or snacks in the supermarket. Cook enough for one meal to eat now and another to put in the freezer. Soups, cakes, flapjacks, biscuits are easy to cook.

The Abel & Cole website has some inspiring recipes. link here

The Riverford website I think is not as good for recipes but great for other foods like grain bread and dairy.
link here

LadyMaryLikesCake Sun 09-Feb-14 10:42:51

I've had a look and I can't see any sort of bread for sale on the Riverford site. sad Their bakery section is pies and a few cakes. I could make it myself, onion bread to use up some of the millions loads of onions I have in the kitchen grin

I usually spend £40 a week with Abel and Cole (but will go to Waitrose for little bits that they don't sell which bumps up the cost, so £60-65 a week for 2 of us).

Just checked Riverford again and it says bread is only available if they have a baker in your area, we've got 11 different types listed, we've only tried it once but the loaf we had was delicious.

LadyMaryLikesCake Sun 09-Feb-14 11:39:47

sad They don't have one here see's a business opportunity if I could actually bake bread

I'd love to get a veg box, but it just seems so expensive. I get that it's all lovely organic produce, but a kg of bananas from Abel & Cole is £2.54 whereas in Sainsburys it's 68p. Onions are £2.20 per kg, in Sainsburys they're 95p a kilo. Makes it difficult for me to justify unfortunately.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 09-Feb-14 16:47:54

BTW the veg in Sainsbury, Tesco or other mainstream retailer isn't crap. Organic is always a mixed bag because, owing to patchy availability, the suppliers often have to procure from some very far-flung places. As the PP says, if keeping the cost down is your prime concern, the big retailers beat the expensive little box schemes hands down. There's very little to choose nutritionally between an organic cabbage at £2 and a conventionally grown one at £1. A banana is a banana is a banana....

WholeNewProblem Sun 09-Feb-14 17:06:14

Farm shop or greengrocer?

BonaDea Sun 09-Feb-14 17:12:37

We get the medium riverford box. I don't know about saving money as I'm not on that tight a budget, so don't really have comparison data if you know what I mean.

But, we definitely eat way more veg and work hard not to throw anything away. So far we haven't put down any 'dislikes' so we always just get what they send us. I've done tons of new recipes because of wanting to use stuff that they have sent which has so far been high quality and tasty.

Winter can be a bit grim in veg box land as of course they don't source from further afield than Europe, but certainly in the summer and autumn we had a lovely selection of British veg. You can always try it out for a few weeks and see - it is easy to cancel if you want.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 09-Feb-14 17:18:13

We did riverford for a bit but there is no way we saved money. It was "fun" and got us eating a wider variety of veg. Sometimes. Othertimes it was "what on earth else can we cook with an x".

We don't now for financial reasons but I love the idea of poncy recipe cards and interesting ideas!

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