The desire to eat delicious, home cooked food is increasingly at odds with our busy lives. I love to cook but the reality is that I often forget to restock the fridge with groceries, which makes actually cooking anything quite a challenge.
This is a problem that recipe box companies like Hello Fresh and Gousto set out to solve: just the right amount of ingredients delivered straight to your door for recipes with easy-to-follow instructions. The idea is that it’s convenient, delicious, idiot-proof and prevents food waste – but what’s the reality?
We ordered a box of both so that we could review both Hello Fresh and Gousto. Here’s our results.
What’s in a Hello Fresh or Gousto Box?
Both companies deliver fresh, (mostly) organic, high quality produce in just the right quantities to cook easy-to-follow recipes.
Each box contains all the ingredients you need including an array of spices and the chilled ingredients come packaged in a wool lining with ice packs.
Both schemes let you choose the number of meals and the number of portions you need. Hello Fresh offers from 3 to 5 meals per week for 2 to 4 people. When selecting a Gousto box you can choose ingredients for 2 or 4 people and you can choose 2, 3 or 4 meals per box.
There are slight variations here but both are offering pretty much the same numbers of meals for similar numbers of people. After one round, both Hello Fresh and Gousto are pretty evenly matched.
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What Types of Recipes Are in a Box?
Both companies provide a wide choice of recipes and allow you to filter based on your dietary preferences.
Gousto gives customers a choice of over 20 different recipes per week. I’ve yet to see the same dish appear in multiple weeks so their recipe repertoire must be pretty extensive. When selecting recipes you can filter by
- Meat: either chicken, beef, pork or fish
- Other Meat, typically lamb or duck
Users can leave a star rating and reviews of each dish they’ve sampled and many of the dishes have thousands of ratings already.
Try Gousto for yourself and get 60% discount off your first box and then 30% off any other boxes in your first month.
Hello Fresh Recipes
With Hello Fresh you can choose from three different box types:
- Classic: for 2 adults with options for 3, 4 or 5 meals a week, or for 3 to 4 adults and a set 3 meals a week. The menu each week consists of of the largest variety of meat and veggie recipes with a minimum of 3 vegetarian recipes.
- Family: suitable for 2 adults and 2 small children (3 people) or 2 adults and 2 older children (4 people) with the option of either 3 or 4 meals a week. Each week there is the choice of up to 6 easy to cook recipes designed specifically for families as well as a selection of other non-family recipes. Confusingly they do have the option for a Family box for 2 people, but I’m not really sure what purpose that serves?
- Rapid: the same box configurations as the Classic box but with 4 rapid recipes to choose from along with another 14 recipes from the classic collection. Rapid recipes are quick to make using a maximum of 20 minutes – perfect for those that lead busy lives.
The classic box offers the option to filter as vegetarian but restricts the recipes per week to 3 no matter how many people. It appears that there are no other allergen filtering options.
Give Hello Fresh a go and get £20 off your first order with discount code PF28TC.
Having the ability to choose the dishes you’ll cook and eat is hugely important. Both companies provide this feature but I felt that the filtering, ratings and choice offered by Gousto gives them an edge here. Let’s hope they continue to offer this level of customised service as they grow – although I imagine this will be a real challenge to pull off behind the scenes.
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The quality of produce in both a Hello Fresh and Gousto box is very high. All vegetables are delivered fresh and crisp and both use local suppliers and provide organic produce where possible.
Both companies deliver meat and dairy products in insulated bags filled with ice packs to keep ingredients cold during delivery. The ice packs remain solid for hours so even if your delivery comes in the morning, you’re not at risk of your food spoiling on your doorstep. Even in the hot summer months we’ve had no issues from either company.
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Will It Break the Bank?
Hello Fresh’s best value box is 4 meals for 4 people, where a box will cost £63.99 and works out at £4.00 per meal.
The best value option for a Gousto box is also 4 meals for 4 people priced at £47.75. This results in a meal cost of £2.98.
In reality you can often get an extra portion from each recipe, sometimes two, thus driving the cost per serving down even more.
The two companies have slightly different pricing structures for different boxes, numbers of meals and numbers of people. However, comparing like for like (3 or 4 meals per week for a family of 4) Gousto comes out significantly cheaper and has the best value for families who order 4 meals per week.
Gousto prices as at February 2019
|2 meals||3 meals||4 meals|
|A box for 2 people||£24.99 or £6.25 per meal||£29.99 or £5.00 per meal||£34.99 or £4.37 per meal|
|A box for 4 people||£31.75 or £3.97 per meal||£42.75 or £3.56 per meal||£47.75 or £2.98 per meal|
Hello Fresh prices as at February 2019
|3 meals||4 meals||5 meals|
|Any box for 2 people||£34.99 or £5.83 per meal||£41.99 or £5.25 per meal||£48.99 or £4.90 per meal|
|Any box for 3 people||£48.99 or £5.44 per meal||£56.99 or £4.75 per meal||n/a|
|Any box for 4 people||£58.99 or £4.92 per meal||£63.99 or £4.00 per meal||n/a|
Despite being similar in price, both companies are pretty expensive compared to a manual trip to the supermarket or online shop. I guess that’s the price you pay for quality and convenience but it’s certainly not cheap.
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Sustainability: Food Waste & Plastic
One of the common complaints I hear about meal kits is the extra amount of packaging that they contain. And it’s true, they do involve a lot of packaging, from the box that the meals come in, to the individual servings of spices.
But it’s not just about the packaging, there’s also the food waste to consider.
Fundamentally meal kits will always score high as an advocate for food waste reduction. Boxes only contain the exact amount of foods that you require so you’ll only be left with peelings and skins at the end of the meal.
Given that the UK households waste a staggering 7.1 million tonnes every year, meal kits provide a great solution to avoiding soggy strawberries and wilted lettuce often found in fridges.
Both brands achieve just a small amount of leftover vegetable peels and food scraps. HelloFresh typically have less fresh produce in their meals which has a knock-on effect of reducing the amount of food scraps.
Plastic & Packaging
Both brands use insulation packs to keep the meat and dairy cold during delivery. Gousto uses a natural Woolcool liner that can be repurposed or home composted. HelloFresh on the other hand use a liner made from recycled plastic which is difficult to recycle once received (most councils don’t accept this product).
HelloFresh state they are working on reducing their plastic but are not as definitive in their statements as to how they are doing that, nor have they set themselves a percentage target they’re aiming to achieve.
THE REMAINING WASTE
Both meal kits resulted in a significant amount of packaging waste but very little food waste.
Here’s what was left from a Gousto box with 4 meals. The minimal food waste can be found in the bottom right hand corner of the photo.
HelloFresh individually parcel up the ingredients for each meal in a paper bag which resulted in additional wate. While this is great for convenience, it’s perhaps a little unnecessary. This is what was left after a box, again with 4 meals.
Overall, if you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact, Gousto is the way to go as they appear to be more committed to sustainability. You’ll keep your food waste at a minimum and use the least amount of plastic possible.
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Ready, Steady, Cook!
Both services provide recipe cards which are easy to follow. Hello Fresh goes into a bit more detail, whereas Gousto tries to keep instructions brief and to the point – they also send you a handy folder for keeping all your recipes organised which is a really nice touch.
Hello Fresh instructions can sometimes be a bit prescriptive, for example we had the following tip: “the chicken is cooked when no longer pink in the middle”, which might grate on more experienced cooks but will be helpful if cooking is a bit out of your comfort zone.
One area that is always very hard to judge when writing recipes is the timings. I’ve found both to be a little optimistic with their 30-45min estimated cooking times.
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Can I Lick the Plate?
The ingredients from both providers is very good – much better than I ever expected before trying either of them. The majority of the recipes are good, hearty, home-cooked comfort food but occasionally there’s an interesting twist or exotic ingredient here and there. Here are some example recipes:
- Butterflied chicken with feta, leek and minted potatoes
- Sizzling steak stir-fry with purple sprouting broccoli and noodles
- Firecracker prawns with Chinese leaf and basmati
- Asian chicken skewers
- Trisha’s apple and pork tortillas
- Italian bangers and mash with cavalo nero and red onion marmalade
- Jerk chicken with rice and peas
- Halloumi steak with celery, walnut and grape salad
- Yasai curry aubergine with raw carrot and coriander salad
- Beef noodle salad with toasted peanuts and zesty lime dressing
The Gousto recipes are delicious and full of flavour, and many feature exotic herbs and spices. The Hello Fresh offering is good but not as adventurous and not quite as tasty.
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Service with a Smile?
We’ve had no issues with either company so have yet to take their customer support team for a spin although we did tweet Gousto to ask about a recipe card folder, which they responded to promptly. Both have easy to use websites and deliveries have always been on time, with no missing ingredients and no spoiled food.
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Recipe boxes definitely are a convenient option as I discovered while doing this Hello Fresh vs Gousto review. There’s less meal planning, no trip to the supermarket and also less time in the kitchen collecting all the ingredients together.
But which recipe box is the winner?
Both companies provide excellent quality ingredients and very tasty food but overall Gousto just has the edge. Not only is Gousto’s food more interesting and more full-flavoured, their service is (significantly) cheaper and they have a wider variety of recipes for you to choose from each week.
If you’d like to try out Gousto for yourself, use our referral link and you’ll get a 60% discount off your first box and then 30% off any other boxes in your first month. We’ll receive £15 off our next box. Please note, the discount will apply at checkout automatically.
If you’d also like to give Hello Fresh a go we’ve got a code for them too. Use discount code PF28TC which will give you £20 off your first order and we’ll also receive £20 off a future box.
Editor’s note: this article was originally published in February 2016 but has been revisited and updated as of July 2017 and February 2019. Please note, this is NOT a paid promotion and remains an impartial review based on personal opinion. Neither Gousto or Hello Fresh knew we wrote it at the time.