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Dinner boxes seem to be getting really popular in the last few years and after many months of getting Hello Fresh discount codes, I finally caved in. Evenings here can be chaotic – I suspect it’s probably the same in all households with children, with all the after school activities. And even though I only have one child, I have my own Girlguiding evenings which now are not the same as Lily’s, as I volunteer in a different pack from hers, so I thought I could give Hello Fresh a try and see how it went. Then, I thought it would be nice to get a Gousto box or two and compare. And then, I got a reward on my John Lewis app saying I had 50% off a Waitrose Cook Well box – which I didn’t even know existed until then, so I thought I might add that to the mix as well.
First of all, I would like to make it clear that I wasn’t sent any free boxes for the purposes of these review. I bought them all with discount codes I had, so none of them were full price either. Second, I am sure it’s not an original post to write, there must be millions of reviews and comparisons out there, but I thought it would be nice to remind myself in the future in case I am tempted to get them again. I will be giving no scores, just say what liked or not about certain aspects of the boxes.
Delivery: My Hello Fresh and Cook Well were delivered by DPD and Gousto by Yodel. When we lived in Berkshire, DPD were great and Yodel was a bit less so. Now here in South Wales, I feel it’s the opposite. DPD treated the boxes dreadfully. Tins dented, little plastic pots of seasoning smashed, broken pasta, and on my very first box, a box of meatballs seemed to have exploded and there were meatballs everywhere. Hello Fresh were great and refunded a lot more than the cost of a box of meatballs. The one good thing about DPD is that they will give a time for delivery and I have found them generally reliable to stick to it, but I am a bit wary of using them for anything delicate now. (I would just like to point out that it’s not just the food boxes that were mistreated. My first ever delivery to this house was a couple of bags of cat litter and one of them was ripped. I thought it was unlucky as I had never had a damaged one before, but after I got my food boxes I am not so sure.)
Packaging: All boxes were well packed (though obviously not enough to prevent DPD damage), with a cool bag and cool packs that were still frozen when they arrived, so they definitely work. Hello Fresh was my favourite out of the box, as it is all very organised: the fridge stuff comes in the cool bag, and all recipes are bagged individually, with colour coded stickers so you know which recipe is which. All very efficient. Waitrose was similar. I was, however, a bit miffed by the amount of packaging for the individual ingredients. Loads of little packets and pots and plastic bags. My non-recycling bin was quite a bit fuller than normal – I blame the spices and seasonings. Waitrose was a bit better, with some ingredients portioned into paper bags or reusable little pots.
Flavour: Ok, I know this isn’t necessarily an objective assessment as everyone has a different taste, but we would discuss as a family after dinner what we thought of the recipes and we seem to agree, so I thought I would share our thoughts. The main reason I decided to sign up for these boxes, apart from the time saving, was because I was tired of my own cooking – same recipes, same spices and herbs, I wanted to try something new. Hello Fresh and Gousto have definitely delivered on this front: everything was very very tasty, and I have since reproduced some recipes from the recipe cards I got with the boxes. Waitrose, however, was a massive disappointment. Everything was very bland and I finished every single meal thinking I could have done it better my own way.
Time saving properties: This might be controversial but I think it saves very little time. Ok, it did give me recipes I wouldn’t have though of, helped me not have to think “what am I cooking tonight?” and saved me the supermarket run – which I normally do online anyway – but in prep time, although having it all separated by recipe helps, there’s still an awful lot of chopping, dicing and slicing, and most recipes still take a fairly long time to cook. Obviously it would help anyone who is getting them because they have trouble meal planning, or because food shopping is a chore, but to me, it wouldn’t be a deciding factor in getting them again in the future.
Portion sizes: All the boxes I bought were 4 portions, because there’s 3 of us and I normally make an extra portion for husband to take to work the next day, but in all of the boxes the portions are huge. One of the Waitrose recipes filled 4 takeaway boxes (!!!) after we had dinner. The ideal size for us, I think, would be 3 portions, but Hello Fresh doesn’t do the family recipes in 3 portions, and Gousto and Waitrose only do 2 or 4 portions. Looks like families of 3 are odd
no pun intended!.
Value for money: I got the Hello Fresh family box with 4 meals, which costs £63.99, the Gousto family box with 4 meals, which is £47.75 and the Waitrose Cook Well 3 meal box for 4 people, which sells for £66. I had £20 discount on my Hello Fresh order and 50% off both Gousto and Waitrose. Considering my normal weekly shop, I think the Gousto box is excellent value for money, even at full price and Hello Fresh is ok, though I would struggle to justify paying full price for it. Now the Waitrose one is ludicrous. I could eat out 3 times a week and spend that much, and not have the washing up to do after it. It was just about ok at 50%, because the food wasn’t that tasty.
Now, if you’ve made it this far, you’re my hero! 😀 After all the testing, the conclusion I have come to is that I would (and will!) definitely purchase from Hello Fresh and Gousto again, though I am not sure I would do it on a regular basis – I still need to find out if the Gousto 2 portions box is enough for us, and if the Hello Fresh classic menu would be ok for my fussy child, but they exceeded my expectations. And I was extremely disappointed with Waitrose, even though I though it was expensive from the start, I could have given it another try if they food were decent – and it was not.
And now, for some discounts! If you would like to give Gousto a try, click here. And if you’d like to try Hello Fresh, there’s a code for that too. You get £20 off your first box and I get a £20 credit. If anyone tries them out, let me know what you think!
(I am not sure whether or not I have a Cook Well discount code but I don’t recommend them anyway – if anyone wants one, let me know and I will try to find out.)
PS: Because of the popularity of this post, I have written an update if you’d like to read.
(This post contains affiliate links. I get a small commission for every Gousto box that you buy through this website.)