Here in the UK we have several healthy meal in a box companies to choose from. Two of the most popular at the moment are Mindful Chef and Hello Fresh. Over the last 6 months I’ve tried out both services and have listed out the pro’s and con’s of each of them – so you can make a decision on which, if either, is right for your household.
Update July 2021: I have been trying out another food delivery service called Gusto for the past several months and thought I’d let everyone know how that’s been working out!
Hello Fresh Review:
Hello Fresh is an easy to set up meal delivery service. It’s pretty reasonably priced as well and they offer loads of discounts for new customers. I had 50% off my first weeks worth of food and they also have a ‘refer a friend’ scheme where you can send a free weeks worth of meals to a friend.
This is great if you know anyone who needs some free groceries as there is no obligation on their part to continue after they receive their free boxes.
All in all, their meals were tasty, pretty healthy, and you could choose from a good range of meals each week.
The downsides to Hello Fresh are as follows:
They cannot guarantee any of their meals are vegan, due to potential cross contamination.
I personally found that after the first week the freshness of the ingrediants – particularly any meat and fish was not good. I had to contact them on a weekly basis to get a refund for some meat or fish that had gone off before I had time to cook it. They refunded me quickly, so that wasn’t a problem. But, because I was constantly having to deal with meat that had gone off I ended up with bags of food that I couldn’t cook because I was missing the main ingrediant.
Seeing as I had ordered this service so I wouldn’t have to go out to the shops during lockdown this was a very frustrating and inconvenient aspect.
After several long conversations with Hello Fresh via their Facebook page I learned that they only guarantee their meat and fish products for 3 days, including the day it is delivered. I was ordering food for a week (typically 5 days worth of food) so you can see how this was a major problem.
We tried to adjust by cooking the fish dishes first, the meat dishes second and then leaving the veg dishes till last. This did not work either, I often found the meat/fish was rank by day 3. Hello Fresh declined to do anything to solve this problem so after about 2 months of using their service I cancelled. It wasn’t worth the trouble.
Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Mindful Chef Review
After leaving Hello Fresh I was on the hunt for a new meal delivery service. Now that I knew a bit more about how these services work I had a better idea of the features I was looking for.
Features I wanted:
-Really fresh meat and fish that would last an entire week
-Good selection of tasty and healthy meals
After looking around the various options I settled on Mindful Chef. One thing that you need to know is that in this industry you get what you pay for. Mindful Chef is more expensive! But, on the flip side all of their products are really fresh. I have now been with Mindful Chef for over 3 months and not once have I ever had to complain about anything.
-super fresh food, nothing has ever been off or wrong in 3 months
-they give you fun free samples in the boxes all the time, I’ve gotten healthy snacks, some hand cream, a spray for my pillow to help with sleep. All sorts! It’s pretty fun.
-They do have Vegan meals and they are amazing! I’m an omnivore but with Mindful Chef I’ve been eating so many more vegan and vegetarian meals and I feel healthier than ever.
-Their packaging is recyclable and they have a system where you collect all the insulation and boxes and then send them back for recycling every few weeks, for free.
-They donate free meals to children in the UK for every meal you purchase. So far with their service we’ve had 40 meals donated.
-Extra features such as: ready to blend smoothie mixes and healthy frozen ready meals that you can order. The smoothies are really good and if you’re short on time their healthy frozen meals are pretty tasty as well.
-They are more expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget this might not work for you.
However, they do donate to charity, and their food is of a very high quality so if you can afford it then this is definately the better option.
Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
If you want to check out Mindful Chef here is a £20 voucher just for you!
After a few months with Mindful Chef I decided to change companies again. After my glowing review above you’re probably asking youself why in the world would I switch! The answer is pretty simple really, after a few months their meals started to feel a bit ‘samey’ they were still fresh and healthy but I personally felt that I wasn’t getting the variety that I wanted out of my meals.
That’s not to say they don’t rotate their recipies often – they do, it’s just that to me at least it seemed that the overall theme of their food was ‘Traditional British’. I’m sure it’s great for people who like that and I do like British food, I just don’t want to eat it ALL THE TIME.
So, for a bit more variety I shopped around and settled on the Gusto food delivery service to try out next.
Selection: Gusto has an incredible selection of meals, hands down the most variety I’ve seen so far. They even did a month when they focussed on Korean food and OMG guys I was in love with it! Funnily enough their Korean food month coincided with my binging ‘Alice’ on Netflix. If you don’t know, it’s a mind-bending Korean TV show with time travel – and they always seem to be eating the most amazing food. I was craving Korean badly and then Gusto came to the rescue with tons of awesome Korean recipies. Talk about good timing!
Better Price: To my surprise, despite the higher perceived quality of the brand Gusto is actually cheaper than Mindful Chef. They run at about £7 per portion for 2 people whereas Gusto runs at £4.37 per serving for 2 people.
Vegan Food: Gusto has a great selection of absolutely delicious vegan food. As mentioned I am an omnivore but…I also love animals it’s a difficult bit of cognitive dissonance that I’m engaging with here. With Gusto I found a brand of Vegan Chicken that is F***ing AMAZING! The texture is awesome and this is now going to be my go to when I want some chicken. If you’re curious about the brand its called either Taste & Glory or Naked Glory (the company seems to be in the middle of rebranding) and you can get it as most of the major UK grocery stores, here is a link to it at ASDA: https://groceries.asda.com/product/vegan-frozen/naked-glory-vegan-meat-free-roast-tenderstrips/1000185650281
Gusto does TRY to be environmentally concisous. They package all your meals in a cardboard box and have frozen bags of ice in paper that you can then empty out an recycle. For me I prefer those to the Mindful Chef frozen bags.
This may just be me but Mindful Chef fills their freezer bags with some sort of gel? I don’t know what it is, but they say to just squeeze it out the bag and rinse it down the sink…They SAY it’s all biodegradable but honestly – I don’t know what it is and the gel is just gross. I hated emptying them :(. Gusto uses water and that is easy to empty and recycle so I definately prefer their packaging.
The meals themselves are numbered and the recipie cards are included in the box. The numbers on the cards correspond to the numbers on the paper bags of ingrediants. Pretty easy to keep track of. The best part? Gusto offers a cute little binder FOR FREE on their website that you can use to store all your favourite recipies! A total win for organization!
I don’t really have much to say as far as negatives go for Gusto. Great variety, great pricing, nicely organized recipies. The only thing they’re missing is the Mindful Chef Smoothies! Those are great and I’m still a customer for Mindful Chef simply for their smoothies which I order on a semi-regular basis.
Score: 4.8 out of 5 stars