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Gousto recipe box review: The UK's best recipe box subscription service

Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2.98
Per meal VAT Inc

It overdoes the plastic, but Gousto's box of recipe ingredients saves food waste, improves your cooking and offers good value for money

Pros 
Wide variety of recipes for all cooking levels
Top quality ingredients in precise measures
Great value for money, especially for families
Cons 
Still too much plastic waste
Some meals cost extra
Automatic subscription may catch you out
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Recipe box services are a thoroughly modern way to make dinner. TV cookery shows inspire us to recreate ever-more exotic meals, but who's got the time for that? Not just to cook, but to plan ingredients, find them in shops, buy the right amounts, and then ferry them all home.

With recipe boxes, precisely-measured ingredients are delivered to your door, at a time you choose. The only effort you put in is ordering online, then unpacking the ingredients and following the clear cooking instructions.

Gousto came top in our recent round-up of the UK's best recipe boxes, thanks to its recipe range, quality ingredients and value for money. For this review, I ordered a few more deliveries to find out if Gousto is still top of the boxes.

Gousto recipe box review: What you need to know

Gousto was founded in 2012, to “make it joyfully simple to create delicious meals at home” using fresh ingredients that are largely UK-sourced.

Like most other recipe boxes, Gousto lets you choose a number of meals per week, and then signs you up automatically for a weekly delivery unless you tweak your schedule or 'pause' your subscription. The more meals you sign up for, the lower the cost of each one.

There's an ever-expanding repertoire of more than 40 recipes each week, in categories including 10-Minute Meals and Healthy Choices. Choosing recipes for each delivery is arguably the hardest part, but Gousto helps out by outlining each recipe in detail online.

The Everyday Favourites category is a reliable roster of national and international treasures (Mild Chicken Curry, Feel Good Fish N' Chips and so on), but the other categories offer an almost endless variety that changes each week.

Gousto recipe box review: Price and competition

Even at its most expensive (£6.25 per meal in a £24.99 box, plus more for certain plus-price meals), Gousto is significantly cheaper than a takeaway. And at its cheapest (£2.98 per meal, in a £47.75 box), it costs less than the supermarket. Delivery is free, unless you want to specify a time, and the servings are generous enough to allow for seconds or tomorrow's lunch.

Factor in the savings on travel, time and food waste – and even cookery lessons – then Gousto's value for money becomes truly impressive.

But how does it compare with the competition? It's not bad at all. Gousto works out cheaper than Riverford (whose meals vary in price, average £6/portion) and Abel & Cole (from £6). It's not as cheap as Morrisons Eat Fresh (from around £2/portion) or Hello Fresh (maximum portion price £5), but we felt Gousto's recipe range and ingredient quality gave it the edge over both those companies.

Simply Cook is much cheaper (as little as 62p per meal), but that's not a like-for-like comparison. Instead of sending you fresh ingredients, Simply Cook sends recipe cards and only measured dry ingredients in a package that fit through your letterbox.

One thing that annoyed me about Gousto's prices is the add-on cost for certain meals. Some of its most mouth-watering recipes cost up to £2.99 extra per portion, on top of the box fee. To be fair to Gousto, this additional cost does cover extra (and extra-exotic) ingredients and is displayed clearly upfront.

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Gousto recipe box review: Ordering and delivery

Gousto does let you explore its recipes and prices before you sign up for anything. Clicking Get Started on the homepage pulls you into choosing a box size and delivery schedule, but you can skip straight to the food by clicking Choose Recipes at the top. There's also a Box Prices link for skipping straight to the bottom line.

Whichever route you take on the website, you're not forced to hand over any personal info or payment details upfront. You don't even have to create an account until you're ready to check out. It certainly feels less pushy than Hello Fresh.

You can even browse each recipe in detail before ordering anything. Click a photo to see an illustrated breakdown of ingredients, cooking steps, nutrition and allergy info. Clicking Add Recipe doesn't commit you, either – you can alter portions and choices as much as you want.

Once you place your order, you're automatically signed up for a weekly delivery. I found this a bit cheeky and in fact only discovered it was the case when I got an email urging me to choose next week's order. Luckily it's easy to pause your subscription (under My Gousto on the site) until you're ready to order again.

Gousto delivers every day, unlike most recipe box services, and if you're happy with an all-day slot (8am-7pm) delivery is free. You can pay extra for a more specific time, but I opted instead to specify a safe place for the driver to leave my box, which was lovely to come home to. I also received two texts on the day, letting me know when the box would arrive.

Gousto's delivery box is big and sturdy enough for many uses (and also popular with my cat). Inside is a reusable cool bag full of chilled ingredients and ice packs, which I transferred straight to the fridge, plus a paper bag of individually-measured cupboard ingredients. You also get oodles of loose veg and tins, plus an envelope of recipe cards and – if it's your first time – a free gift such as a wooden spoon. How glam.

Unlike Hello Fresh, Gousto doesn't sort each recipe's ingredients into separate bags. That means it takes more time to sort your ingredients, but it does save on packaging. And Gousto needs to do all it can to reduce packaging.

The photo below shows what was in the paper bag alone. It's great that each herb and spice is measured exactly, and Gousto has already reduced its sachet plastic usage by 25%. But this is still a lot of single-use plastic.

Many of the vegetables were also in single-use plastic, and even basmati rice was separated into plastic bags per portion. Compared with the almost wholly recyclable and reusable packaging from Abel & Cole, which uses zip-style bags for perishable items, Gousto's packaging falls short on sustainability.

Gousto is making an effort, though. It no longer wraps potatoes; has switched to cardboard punnets; uses recycled card for recipes; and fills the cool bag with wool-based Woolcool insulation, which can be reused or composted.

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Gousto recipe box review: Ingredients and cooking

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and Gousto's grub is very tasty indeed. The recipes did push me and my fellow test cook out of our comfort zone – which we wanted – but they were outlined clearly enough to ensure we coped well in the kitchen.

The ingredients impressed us straight out of the box. The vegetables were fresh and crisp, quite different from those disappointingly droopy deliveries I've often encountered from supermarkets. Gousto's fish is sustainably sourced (and now delivered in recyclable clear plastic trays) and meat is UK-sourced and often organic. 

I should point out that Riverford, Hello Fresh and Abel & Cole also impressed me with the freshness and quality of their ingredients.

Gousto doesn't send pre-made sauce and spice mixes, but instead sends individually-measured spices, which you then mix as part of the recipe. That may or may not appeal to you, depending on whether your priority is convenience or improving your culinary skills.

The recipe cards are clear and attractive, and give each step of the cooking process. They're also slightly laminated, making them durable enough to withstand splashes and survive years in a folder.

Gousto's timings are overly optimistic, though. Cooking and baking times are correct (you'd hope so!) but overall meal preparation times were way off. '10-Minute Meals' took me half an hour. Nothing I tried took more than an hour, though.

It's worth noting that other recipe box schemes beat Gousto in some ways. If you're an experienced cook wanting to be challenged, try Abel & Cole. For cooks who prefer to provide their own fresh ingredients, Simply Cook is ingenious. If you need to lose weight, you'll find Mindful Chef a safer bet than Gousto's hearty portions. And Riverford excels at ingredient quality and customer service, but it can't compete with Gousto for sheer number of recipes offered each week.

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Gousto recipe box review: Verdict

Gousto is not the only recipe box service to have its merits, but it still manages to edge ahead of the competition overall. Quite simply, it's the one that made me most excited about going back to its website to see what I could cook and eat next.

I'm a picky eater and an impatient cook, but I knew there'd be new and interesting dishes that'd appeal to me each week. I was also confident that the recipes would improve my skills without taking hours or turning my kitchen into a bombsite. I also loved that the ready-measured ingredients meant no leftover jars cluttering the cupboard and no veg rotting in the fridge.

You'll find even more advantages if you're juggling work and family. Gousto may cost a little more than the supermarket, but it's well worth it if you struggle to find time to shop and need to feed easily-bored kids. You can rope them in when choosing dishes online, then get them to help unpacking the big Gousto box. The array of recipes and box of goodies may even inspire them to get cooking themselves.

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