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 re-stock the fridge with groceries, which makes actually cooking anything quite a challenge.
This is a problem that ingredients-in-a-box companies like HelloFresh 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 and idiot-proof – but what’s the reality?
Editor’s note: this article was originally published in February 2016 but has been revisited and updated as of July 2017. 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.
How Hungry Are You?
Both companies deliver fresh, (mostly) organic, high quality produce in just the right quantities to cook easy-to-follow recipes.
Both schemes let you choose the number of meals and the number of portions you need. HelloFresh offers from 3 to 5 meals per week for 2 to 4 people. With Gousto you can pick boxes with 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 HelloFresh and Gousto are pretty evenly matched.
What Do You Fancy?
With HelloFresh you can choose from their ‘Classic Box’, ‘Veggie Box’ or a ‘Family Box’. Customers who choose the Classic or Family boxes can choose their favourite recipes every week via the HelloFresh website or app.
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
- Most popular
- Quick & Easy
- Family Friendly
Users can leave a star rating and reviews of each dish they’ve sampled and many of the dishes have thousands of ratings already.
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.
The quality of produce from both HelloFresh and Gousto 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 wool 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.
Will It Break the Bank?
For 3 meals for 4 people, HelloFresh’s Classic box costs £58.99 per week which works out to £4.92 per meal. This is the cheapest option for the HelloFresh Classic box.
Gousto’s price for 3 meals for 4 people is £51.99 which works out to £4.33 per serving. The cheapest option for a Gousto Family box is to have 4 meals for 4 people which works out at £59.99 per week or £3.75 per serving.
The two companies have slightly different pricing structures for different boxes, numbers of meals and numbers of people. However, comparing like for like (3 meals per week for a family) Gousto comes out slightly cheaper and is even better value for families who order 4 meals per week.
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.
Ready, Steady, Cook!
Both services provide recipe cards which are easy to follow. HelloFresh 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.
HelloFresh 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.
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 HelloFresh offering is good but not as adventurous and not quite as tasty.
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.
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 (slightly) 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 discount 60% off your first box and 30% off any other orders in your first month. We’ll receive £15 off our next box.
If you’d also like to give HelloFresh 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.