The 10 best recipe boxes and food deliveries for 2021

chopping board and ingredients

Even the most enthusiastic cooks struggle to rustle up cooked-from-scratch perfection seven nights a week – hence the explosion in delivered-to-your door recipe kits and food boxes. But are they any good? And which one is best for your family? With the help of Mumsnetters, we give you the full lowdown.

Recipe boxes are a great way to spice up meals. They contain all the ingredients you need to cook at least one delicious meal – everything from prepared meat to portions of veg and thimbles-full of exotic spices. Plus, step-by-step recipes cards which walk you through the dishes.

As more of us look for quick and easy ways to eat healthily, the food subscription business has boomed. There are lots of different options available, from organic pay-as-you-go boxes to quick and easy subscription meal kits delivered to your door.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, many food subscription services have been flooded with new customers. As a result, several companies have limited or closed their service down to new users.

To help you find the right recipe box and food delivery service for your family, we've sifted through online reviews and Mumsnet recommendations to give you the 10 best food recipe boxes for 2021.

Abel & Cole, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer are also offering deliveries of fruit, veg and other groceries on a subscription basis.

1. Best low-carb recipe box: Mindful Chef

1. Best low-carb recipe box: Mindful Chef

It can be difficult to eat healthily and maintain weight-loss progress when you're juggling home school, piano lessons and more. Luckily, Mindful Chef is on hand.

Some Mumsnet users find the recipes in recipe boxes a bit overly complicated, but all Mindful Chef recipes are guaranteed to take less than 30 minutes to prepare and have less than eight steps to follow.

They don't use refined carbs in any of their recipes – that means no pasta, no white rice, no bread – making them a good option if you struggle to meal plan without these staples (or you just don't like them). Coeliacs don't have to miss out on the fun either – all Mindful Chef recipes are dairy- and gluten-free.

  • Feeds: Up to four adults (or two adults and two to three children)
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Up to three recipes, delivered once a week
  • Cost: From £6 per portion

What's in a Mindful Chef the box?

There's a choice of 16 recipes every week. Fresh pre-portioned ingredients and matching recipe cards in an insulated cardboard box.

Is it family-friendly?

Mindful Chef doesn't offer a special family box, but there's the option to order specifically for a family. However, the maximum number of portions you can have delivered in one box is five (in a one-person box), 10 (for two people), or eight (for four people). So, for a family of four, each box will contain two meals of four portions each. You can opt to receive boxes on a biweekly basis, though.

They support families in other ways too – for every meal they sell, Mindful Chef donates a school meal to a child living in poverty, so you can eat well and feel like you’re making a difference. There's also the option to send a gift voucher to a friend or family member in need of some TLC.

How often will you receive your box?

You can opt for weekly or biweekly deliveries and you can skip, pause, or cancel your boxes at any time. The organised among us can order a box up to six weeks in advance – especially handy if you want to have something waiting for you when you get back from holiday – or you can just order what you fancy at the beginning of the week.

What Mumsnet users say

“We use Mindful Chef and love it. It's healthier, lower carb, the quality of the meat and fish is great, and there are plenty of veggie and vegan options.”

Find out more

2. Best recipe box for herbs and spices: Simply Cook

2. Best recipe box for herbs and spices: Simply Cook

Simply Cook is different from other recipe box providers because, instead of sending you a big parcel packed with everything you need to make your chosen recipes, they send you a letterbox-sized kit containing recipe cards and all the spices, herbs, and hard-to-find-in-your-average-supermarket ingredients that will make your food taste amazing. Your recipe card will tell you which fresh ingredients (usually about four and no more than six) you need to buy to make the recipe.

  • Feeds: Up to four (but you’ll need to buy the fresh ingredients)
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Four recipes, delivered once a week
  • Cost: £9.99 (or £3 for a trial)

What's in a Simply Cook box?

Your box will contain four easy-to-follow recipes – chosen in advance by you – and four corresponding ingredient kits. Each kit contains ingredient blends devised by professional chefs. It's not just herbs and spices though, your kit might feature culinary pastes, infused oils, garnishes, rubs, or specialist stocks as well.

Is it family-friendly?

While Simply Cook doesn't have a tailored option for families, the boxes they make are inherently flexible. Each ingredient kit can season up to four portions, but you can use less and save some for later if you're only cooking for two. Also, as you buy the fresh ingredients yourself, you can substitute any ingredients your family isn't keen on without any waste. You also don't need to be in to receive the delivery if you have a letterbox, which is a big plus for busy families.

How often will you receive your box?

You can choose how often you'd like to receive a box: once every week, two weeks, four weeks or six weeks. Simply Cook works on a recurring subscription basis, but you can cancel it at any time.

What Mumsnet users say

“There's lots of choice with Simply Cook. My kids are really enjoying choosing and helping to cook some of the meals. We had Kerala prawn curry tonight, and it was really delicious.”

”I use Simply Cook. I like it because it's much cheaper than the all-inclusive ones. I don't have to worry about a delivery, I can adapt the recipe to ingredients we like, and I can pop it in the cupboard to use anytime.”

”We've just had Chicken Katsu Curry from Simply Cook. It was easy to cook and tasted great!”

Claim your £3 trial box

3. Best comfort food recipe box: Pasta Evangelists

3. Best comfort food recipe box: Pasta Evangelists

If you can’t get enough of pasta, this might be the recipe box service for you. Pasta Evangelist offers fresh pasta and sauces delivered to your door weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

The recipe kits contain everything you need to make the meal, and they fit neatly through your letterbox. So you shouldn't have to worry about waiting for a delivery slot.

  • Feeds: Up to two
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Once a week
  • Cost: From £7

What's in a Pasta Evangelist box?

Choose from a weekly menu of ten dishes. Each box comes with all the ingredients for two main meals, serving up two adults per meal.

Is it family-friendly?

In short, not really. Each meal feeds up to two people, but the choices are so delicious, it makes for a special treat for the adults or for older children.

What Mumsnet users say

“I’ve used Pasta Evangelists regularly for about 18 months! It's delicious. I really look forward to it. Recently they've expanded the menu to offer more choice which is great.”

Find out more

4. Best pre-made family meals: COOK

4. Best pre-made family meals: COOK

Often recommended as the perfect gift for new parents, COOK deliver tasty, nutritious meals that need almost no preparation. While not strictly in the subscription recipe box category, these delicious dinners are a great option if you’re entertaining, or if you just need a night off from home cooking.

  • Feeds: Up to eight
  • Vegan-friendly: Vegan meals are on offer but the choice is limited
  • Delivery: No subscription service; minimum order value of £30
  • Cost: From £2.75 per meal

What's in a COOK box?

There are a few meal bundles to try if you’re short on time and want to test out what’s on offer, or you can fill your basket with meals you think you and your family will enjoy the most.

With plenty of veggie options and a few vegan ones to try, there’s plenty of choice. Word to the wise: the puddings are great too. There’s a minimum spend of £30 on deliveries, but you can also click and collect at selected stores.

Is it family-friendly?

COOK is one of the few specialist food delivery services offering portions that serve up to eight adults. They also have a great selection of kids meals. We just wish it offered a subscription service.

What Mumsnet users say

“We use COOK. It’s brilliant for family meals or larger dishes for when we have friends and family for dinner. Their side dishes and desserts are gorgeous.”

“COOK do things like family-size lasagne and stews which are similar to how I would make them if I had the time. The desserts are excellent too.”

Find out more

5. Best pre-made vegan meals: Allplants

5. Best pre-made vegan meals: Allplants

A good vegan-ready meal can be hard to find, but start-up Allplants is hoping to change all that. They deliver tasty, ready-to-eat vegan meals to your door. Perfect for busy weeknights.

  • Feeds: Up to two people
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Flexible
  • Cost: From £6.75 per meal

What's in an Allplants box?

Choose up to six meals from an ever-changing menu to be delivered to your door weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Dishes arrive ready to throw into the microwave or oven.

Is it family-friendly?

Allplants don’t currently offer meal portions for more than two people, so they’re not particularly family-friendly yet. But if you have one or two vegans in the family, this might be a helpful way to reduce the number of different meals you need to cook in one night.

Find out more

6. Best for new family meal ideas: Gousto

6. Best for new family meal ideas: Gousto

Gousto is one of the original recipe box companies, and is perhaps the most well-known. If you're looking for a simple, seamless service to deliver fresh produce to your door, keep reading.

Every week you can log onto their website and choose whatever recipes tickle your taste buds. You have complete control over what comes in your box, so there won't be any surprises on your doorstep. You can choose an exotic plant-based poké bowl with tomato sashimi, or keep it simple with an uptown fish and chips.

  • Feeds: Up to four
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Up to four recipes kits delivered once a week
  • Cost: From £24.99 per box

What's in a Gousto box?

A standard Gousto box will include produce and recipe cards for two meals, to serve two people. There's also the option to add additional recipes if you fancy upgrading your package for a week.

Is it family-friendly?

Yes! Gousto offer a specially crafted 'Family box' which includes up to four recipes and enough food for two adults plus to to three kids. You'll need to pay extra though, so if £47.25 per box seems a little steep, it would be better to seek out other options.

How often will you receive your box?

Gousto boxes arrive at your door weekly. As it's a subscription service, you'll need to tell Gousto if you want to take a break from your box.

What Mumsnet users say

“I love my Gousto boxes. There are only three of us, but we order four meals a week for four people, and if there are any leftovers (which is rare), I have them for lunch the next day.”

“I love the 10 minute recipes from Gousto. It's made us try lots of new meal ideas I never would have thought of.”

Find out more

7. Best locally-sourced food delivery box: Riverford

7. Best locally-sourced food delivery box: Riverford

While Abel & Cole are the champions of organic seasonality, Riverford are all about locally-sourced produce. With thousands of farms across the UK, not only will you be getting some lovely produce, you'll also be helping the local economy at the same time. Win-win!

Riverford offers a range of fresh ingredient boxes, from fruit and veg to meat and dairy, as well as a 'farm shop' box for your cupboard essentials. They're no stranger to recipe boxes, either. With options to suit a variety of dietary requirements, Riverford really come into their own with their 'quick' meals feature: quick meals are designed to go from box to table in around 30 minutes. They also offer 'light' boxes which provide recipes under 500 calories per serving.

  • Feeds: Up to four
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Once a week, on a day when the Riverford van is in the area
  • Cost: From £12.45

What's in the box?

The cheapest box includes everything you need to cook two delicious meals for two people, plus a handy step-by step-recipe card to make cooking a cinch. Another neat trick is the ability to supplement your weekly box with additional produce – just in case you fancy picking up a couple of Barbosa onions (don't we all?)

Are Riverford recipe boxes family-friendly?

Most Riverford boxes are designed to cater for two people, so you'll struggle to feed a family unless you're happy to have very small portions. There are a few family meal options, but the choice is more limited than other fresh food delivery services.

How often will you receive your box?

Riverford is a pay-as-you-go service which allows you to schedule multiple boxes at once. This means you won't be tied to a subscription service, but will need to remember what dates you have ordered your box.

What Mumsnet users say

“We've found the quality and taste to be consistently much better than supermarket produce.”

Find out more

8. Best easy-to-follow recipe box: HelloFresh

8. Best easy-to-follow recipe box: HelloFresh

HelloFresh's mission is to make cooking easier and more enjoyable. Instead of going down the organic or seasonal produce route, they've focused on ease – but that's not to say this isn't a quality box.

In each instalment, you'll receive the exact amount of produce to cook a delicious meal, meaning less food waste. Each recipe provides an estimated cooking time and a difficulty rating, so you can choose recipes to suit your skills (or lack thereof).

  • Feeds: Up to four
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Three, four or five recipe kits arrive once a week
  • Cost: From £3.25 per portion

What's in a HelloFresh box?

The entry-level box for HelloFresh is three meals for two people which comes to £34.99 – though your first box is only £9.99. You'll receive everything you need to cook your meal, from the actual produce to a detailed recipe.

Is it family-friendly?

Yes. HelloFresh offers a family friendly box. You can tailor the number of meals and portions you want to receive, and each recipe is limited to using two pots, so there's less washing up afterwards.

How often will you receive your box?

HelloFresh is a subscription service which allows you to set regular delivery slots (with a maximum of once a week). You can pause or cancel your subscription at any time. The dashboard is slick and easy to use, so you don't need to worry about mountains of boxes waiting for you if you go away for a couple of weeks.

What Mumsnet users say

“I like it because whilst I’m a competent cook, I’m not an imaginative one, so HelloFresh has shaken up our meal routine. We’re eating things I would never normally cook.”

“I was a long term user of HelloFresh for about 18 months and I loved it. We tasted lots of new foods and kept all the recipes for the ones we liked. The app is easy to use, and in the long run it saved money as we didn’t waste anything.”

“We've been using HelloFresh for almost four years now. No more stress over meal planning, no more multiple trips to the shops, no more throwing out half empty packets of gone-off food. It is more expensive at first, but it definitely saved us money in the long term.”

“The meals are great, I love how everything is included and pre-measured. Most meals take around 30 mins start to finish. The customer service is brilliant and it’s really easy to swap meals and pause delivery for holidays.”

Find out more

9. Best seasonal food delivery box: Abel & Cole

9. Best seasonal food delivery box: Abel & Cole

Abel & Cole were among the first off the block in the fresh-food delivery business and have now been in it for 28 years. You're probably already familiar with their huge selection of fruit, veg, meat and fish boxes, plus extras like wine, cheese and even shellfish. They've branched out into ready-to-cook recipe boxes too.

As with their famous veggie boxes, there's a big emphasis on seasonal, organic produce. They can't help when you fancy strawberries in the middle of a snowy winter, but they'll give you an eco-friendly glow and it's a great way to try new stuff without too much risk.

Recipes range from the intriguing-sounding halloumi, chickpea and spinach curry, and crispy skin Thai salmon salad, to popular classics like Tandoori chicken skewers with raita and golden pork schnitzel with tomato and basil spaghetti. Plenty to get your teeth into.

  • Feeds: Up to four
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: From every week to every eight weeks
  • Cost: From £12

To help people access groceries during the Covid-19 quarantine, Abel & Cole have launched a new food delivery service called Food on the Table. The subscription service delivers non-organic fruit and vegetables originally destined for restaurants to family homes. Fruit and Veg boxes are £18 and Pantry boxes are £20. The boxes can be delivered weekly, and you can cancel your subscription any time. They have paused their recipes boxes for the time being.

Find out more about Food on the Table

What's in a standard Abel and Cole recipe box?

Each box includes three meals with enough food to feed two people comfortably. If three meals isn't enough, you can easily add more recipes from Abel & Cole's extensive menu. The box is priced according to which recipes you pick, so throw in some of their veggie and vegan options to keep it more affordable.

Is it family-friendly?

They don't yet offer a box specifically targeted at families – each meal serves two adults as standard, but you can increase the number of portions to suit your family.

How often will you receive your box?

Abel & Cole recipe boxes arrive weekly, so once you've chosen your preferred box, you'll find one at your door every seven days – simple. There's also a nice feature which allows you to skip a week (in case you're going on holiday), and you can cancel your subscription at any time. There's a £1.25 delivery charge for each box.

What Mumsnet users say

“Abel & Cole has challenged my cooking in a really good way. It’s helped me to try veggies I've avoided since they were ruined by school dinners.”

Find out more

10. Best value recipe box: Morrisons Eat Fresh

10. Best value recipe box: Morrisons Eat Fresh

Morrisons was the first major supermarket to offer a recipe box delivery service. And while the Eat Fresh box is a little more basic than what Gousto or HelloFresh have to offer, the principle is the same. Select the meals you want to make and the number of portions you need, and Morrisons will deliver pre-portioned ingredients and recipe cards to your door.

  • Feeds: Up to four people
  • Vegan-friendly: Yes
  • Delivery: Flexible
  • Cost: From £2.50 per serving

What's in a Morrisons Eat Fresh box?

You can choose up to four meals per delivery in an Eat Fresh box. The recipes are selected from their website. Options are a little less adventurous than some other food delivery boxes, but if you’re looking for convenience over anything else, it may be worth a try.

Is it family-friendly?

The Eat Fresh box is very family friendly. The portions are generous, there are plenty of meal options to choose from and, best of all, it’s a little bit cheaper than its competitors.

What Mumsnet users say:

“My mum gets the Morrisons Eat Fresh boxes. All the recipes have been really nice and the ingredients seem good quality too.”

“Morrisons Eat Fresh is really good.”

Find out more

Read next: The best bread makers

Mumsnet carries some affiliate marketing links, so if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale (more details here).