Meal ingredient subscription services make you feel like a kitchen pro by telling you what to cook and delivering every element in cardboard compartments. Does this mean well never have to go supermarket shopping again?
Unlike standard veg boxes, which feel like homework (what do you do with celeriac?), recipe boxes are the clever kid who’ll let you copy their work in class. They tell you what to cook, how to cook it and only give you enough ingredients to get it done. The recipes, which change every week, are broken down into an almost insultingly easy series of steps. The boxes make you feel like a kitchen pro, while removing the need to think or make choices. Are they the perfected form of home cooking? Or a symptom of our spoonfed uselessness? Can one live exclusively on them? To find out, I have ordered a selection of the best boxes available in the UK, and I’m going to spend nearly 10 days comparing them. I’ll barely have to leave the house, and will pass that time exclusively eating. In other words: the dream, squared.
I kick off with the daddy of recipe boxes from award-winning Riverford. It has a range of weekly recipe boxes: two or three meals, vegetarian or omnivore, with various light or quicker options in each category. I’ve gone for three regular vegetarian meals, which at £33.95 is not cheap. The huge box arrives, rolling into my flat like a tank into town, and I investigate its incongruously cute ingredients: three garlic cloves, two carrots, a baggie of bouillon, a mini-sachet of sesame oil. Meat and dairy are surrounded by frozen water bags, wrapped in wool-lined envelopes, which I will eventually acquire so many of, I could knit into a blanket. (As produce is seasonal throughout the boxes, I treble up on leeks, mushrooms and runner beans during the week, at one point owning eight punnets of cherry tomatoes, which is oppressive.)
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