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Are meal boxes on the menu for FIRE seekers?

Image of a fancier dinner prepared from meal boxes

This article on meal boxes is by The Mr & Mrs from Team Monevator. Check back every Monday for more fresh perspectives from the Team.

For years, money slipped through the fingers of The Mr and me. Our outgoings kept pace with – and often outstripped – our earnings.

Even once we’d noticed this insidious ‘lifestyle creep,’ our immediate options seemed limited. 

We had little scope to increase earnings, invest savings, or slash housing or travel costs.

But we could cut other spending. Significantly.

Our fight back began with food.

Ending the bloat

For the past decade, we’ve experimented with ways to feed a family of four (plus dogs) on a tight budget. Our efforts have ranged from discount stores to tending an allotment.

Yet holding down our food costs was a slog.

The Mr has always loathed shopping, particularly supermarket shopping. And I resented the time and energy I spent planning, prepping, and cooking nutritious food for an unenthusiastic family.

However, swapping household roles would be worse!

Every so often, tiredness, boredom, or disorganisation would get the better of us. We’d rebel against our self-discipline and seek a quick fix.

Comfort snacks. Unscheduled takeaways. Blowout restaurant meals. All bad for the budget and bad for our waistlines.

Each lapse would prompt tough measures to get us back on track.

This yo-yo scenario was how matters seemed set to continue, until…

Opportunity knocks

Five years ago, on a day when The Mr was home alone, a vivacious sales rep called by. The rep was signing up customers for a new subscription food service.

The Mr: I don’t remember using the word ‘vivacious’ but maybe my description conveyed it.

When I returned home, The Mr excitedly brandished glossy leaflets at me and explained we no longer had to eat crappy food. In fact, the rep would be back later to collect our payment details.

The Mr: For the record, this is literally the only time I have ever bought anything sold door-to-door. But – just sometimes – good things can happen this way!

I flicked through the blurb. So, there were companies that specialised in delivering meal kits to your door?

Wow – didn’t we already have online shopping?

When the rep returned, I was ready with a stern expression and my arms crossed. No way was I spending extra money and more time in the kitchen, whatever fantasies The Mr might be entertaining.

I said to the rep: “Sell meal boxes to me.”

The pitch that got us into meal boxes

“Imagine that a large box – carefully packed with fresh ingredients – lands on your doorstep each week. You’ve chosen the delivery date, some delicious meals, and the number of servings you require.

The menu contains more than 40 meal options. These change on a weekly basis. High-quality seasonal ingredients are bought in bulk and the savings passed on to you. There’s minimal packaging and minimal waste as you buy only what you need. Meals are planned by professional chefs and are healthy, nutritious, and portion-controlled. Clear step-by-step instructions and timings are available online or on reusable recipe cards.

It’s easy to suspend delivery if you’re away. Or to alter the number of meals required. There’s no need to trawl the supermarket aisles or to fret over balancing the family’s dietary needs.

We aim to deliver fine dining at home at a very competitive price.

Any questions?”

Reader, I signed up… on a discounted trial basis.

The Mr: Phew!

Meal boxes unpacked

It’s tricky to compare exact like-for-like options between the various subscription services. Some have tried though: BBC Good Food recently analysed meal kits from the main UK providers.

For the budget-conscious Monevator reader, the best value is usually a family box containing three or four meals for four or five adults (or two adults and three kids).

Introductory discounts for new customers can reduce costs for a few weeks while you try out a service.

Fixed-price family boxes are offered by HelloFresh (a German company that began UK operations in late 2012) and Gousto (appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2013).

During the pandemic, Morrisons entered the field with a meal-kit box containing five family meals. But while the cost is much lower, Morrisons doesn’t offer a choice.

  • HelloFresh family box costs £54.99, or £3.25 per portion
  • Gousto family box costs £47.75, or £2.98 per portion
  • Morrisons family box (five meals) costs £30.00, or £1.50 per portion

Not falling into the budget meal bracket, but potentially useful for post-FI readers, is UK company The Mindful Chef. It’s aimed at the health-conscious and caters for (some) dietary needs ( for example gluten-free).

The Mindful Chef also offers meal boxes for one person.

For comparison purposes, The Mindful Chef’s family box (three meals) varies in price according to the recipes chosen. A test selection costs £64, or £6 per portion.

Note: prices quoted were noted on 31 July 2021 and do not include any promotional discounts.

But is it good value?

When we started using meal-kits, I obsessively price-checked each recipe against buying the same ingredients from the supermarket.

On the whole it was roughly equal, though some proved more expensive.

However I was not including delivery charges or petrol costs. Nor the re-planning on finding key ingredients were out-of-stock. Nor had I put any monetary value on the time that The Mr and I were saving.

The Mr: These are not to be ignored. And we find some ingredients (like Henderson’s Relish) aren’t even stocked by the local supermarkets.   

However for the geeks out there, we price-checked a recent Gousto recipe.

Gousto: chunky veg stew with goat’s cheese

  • Stew incorporates 13 ingredients including fresh red peppers, courgettes, red onions, cherry tomatoes, rocket, and an excellent goat’s cheese. Cost from Gousto is £2.98 per portion.

Matching the exact quantities – regardless of actual packaging amounts – for this meal against our three nearest supermarkets:

  • Tesco – £2.89 per portion
  • Sainsbury’s – £3.46 per portion
  • Asda – £2.47 per portion

But wait! Unless you’re buying at a market, it’s tricky to buy exact quantities. Most food is sold pre-packaged, or bottled in set amounts. While you may end up with a larger quantity that lasts longer, it will cost more at the outset.

Assuming that you had none of the ingredients – except olive oil, which Gousto also requires as extra – we recalculated the costs of this recipe using the closest packaging match and loose veggies (where these are available or work out cheaper).

We’ve also given a portion-cost for consistency, although you will have surplus ingredients like pumpkin seeds for other meals:

  • Tesco – £4.18 per portion (£16.71 total)
  • Sainsbury’s – £4.78 per portion (£19.10 total)
  • Asda – £3.42 per portion (£13.69 total)

Again Gousto’s £2.98 per portion charge holds up fairly well by comparison.

I hope you can see that meal boxes are not the luxury purchase you might have thought they were.

Not to taste

Meal boxes will not suit everyone. Here are some who might pass.

Rarely in – If no one’s around to take delivery or there’s nowhere sensible to leave a package, then meal boxes don’t make sense.

Those on a tight budget – Simpler low-budget meal plans can be quite a bit cheaper per head. If you’re time-rich and cash-poor, meal kits may raise your costs.

The Mr: The really budget-conscious people I know look for alternatives to supermarkets. For example, Suma deliver wholefoods very cheaply but only in bulk. You need somewhere to store it, or else to club together with other households.

Foodies – While meal-kits may inspire some of us, others will be reluctant to outsource all their fun. Some of my friends spend hours poring over recipe books and heading off to the shops with a long list. There’s no accounting for taste…

The Mr: I know some people who need to ‘eyeball their vegetables’. It won’t work for them either.

Tasting notes

Originally, I saw the costs of a regular meal box as being akin to having a fixed-rate mortgage.

There’s a certain relief in fixing your mortgage costs, provided you don’t then agonize over whether the variable rate is lower.

I thought meal boxes would similarly make things simpler, but also add to our monthly spend on food.

In fact, our spending has decreased, despite the national rise in food prices.

One reason is that having restaurant-standard meals at home means we don’t feel deprived and so we rarely eat out these days.

Plus nobody in our family now minds our own boring cheap meals that help to balance out costs for the remainder of the week.

We create far less food wastage. Yet we don’t overeat because something is about to go off and we can’t bear spoilage, either.

And – saving the best until last – armed with clear instructions and all the ingredients, our kids have turned into good and confident cooks.

In short, I spend less time in the kitchen. The Mr spends less time at the shops. The family eats well. And spending on food is kept in check.

It’s an approach that works for us.

See all The Mr & Mrs’ articles in their own archive.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • 1 Genghis August 9, 2021, 10:32 am

    Interesting article. We used the different meal boxes years ago when there were different offers on. We found them useful for ideas – indeed we still cook things from the recipes nowadays. I remember doing some rough numbers at the time and things just didn’t work out. Maybe I should relook.

    We use a meal plan every week. Monthly shop at Lidl to stock up and weekly deliveries from Tesco for fresh. We rely on our freezers a lot – buying meat / fish in bulk, preparing some staple meals for use later, freezing leftovers for use next time etc. But it all takes thought and time.

    I look forward to reading others’ comments on how they manage to cook good food for a reasonable price, which doesn’t take ages.

  • 2 M Aurelius August 9, 2021, 12:13 pm

    I used Mindful Chef for a while, and (even with a semi permanent ‘please don’t cancel’ discount), the cost for a single/couple is around £7-10 per person per meal. Ok as a treat, but certainly not something I would use regularly.

    The recipes are good, but tbh a bit repetitive after a while, with overload of fancy ingredients replacing the normal varieties. Yes, I love sweet potatoes and black rice and beluga lentils, but I don’t need every meal to contain them in lieu of the normal potatoes/rice/lentils.

    Each recipe has a TON of ingredients, and it takes time to prepare everything. In the end I got tired of the huge amount of plastic wrappings and packaging materials, I thought it was a bit hypocritical to sell healthy, sustainable, organic, while at the same time packaging 10grms of sesame seeds with 5grms of plastic wrapping. And no, I don’t care if the packaging is recyclable, it’s still a massive waste, which adds to the cost.

    You can eat very well for <£4/person buying ingredients yourself directly, and cooking in bulk. It takes similar time, and no more skill than these recipes, the only convenience is that you don't have to think as much.

  • 3 ermine August 9, 2021, 1:16 pm

    I haven’t yet worked out whether this is indicative of:

    * capitalism innovating, which is no bad thing
    * me getting old- the world leaves you behind as it moves on


    * Truly the End of Days is on us, with the thundering of hooves of horsemen coming from all points

    But hey, I enjoyed reading about another piece of weirdness in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I am open to the idea of a decent takeaway curry as the next fellow, I am happy to go to a restaurant and I am fine with online grocery shopping. A takeaway that you get to cook yourself, and the existence of this as A Thing does my head in 😉

  • 4 The Investor August 9, 2021, 1:52 pm

    @ermine — When thinking about innovation I find perplexing, a useful framework I use is “okay, but what about in the best case?”

    So, for instance, would meal boxes make sense if they were the same cost as buying in a supermarket — if I think cost is a problem.

    Would meal boxes make sense if they always came 60 minutes before I wanted to cook, if spontaneity and/or storage is a problem.

    Would meal boxes make sense if I could order whatever I felt like cooking and it came in 60 minutes?

    Would meal boxes make sense if I had a big freezer and I could store several meals in advance? (There’s a vegan one that works on this principle).

    Doing this you start to see the advantages — not have to go to the supermarket, not having to plan a meal — and appreciate why for some people the disadvantages (e.g. cost) might not be a problem.

    This might seem facile but it’s a useful lens to see innovation through. It has helped me understand/anticipate everything from the rise of streaming music to the dominance of dating apps to the (imminent) triumph of electric vehicles. 🙂

  • 5 Factor August 9, 2021, 2:45 pm

    I am an unabashed outlier on this.

    Shopping and cooking for myself, and quite happy to eat meat if that were ever on a menu, I normally have the same food from Sunday through Friday:-

    breakfast – tomato juice, bitesize shredded wheat and a banana, tea

    mid-morning – tea

    lunch – steamed fish fillets, prawns, separate packaged mixed vegetables and fusilli pasta cooked together in chicken stock, an apple, apple juice

    mid afternoon – tea

    evening – double poached egg on a single slice of wholemeal toast with olive oil spread (I have innovated a way to cook the two eggs in a small saucepan at the same time so that they combine as one, before lifting it out with a larger size slotted spoon), two “my mate” wholemeal bread with olive oil spread sandwiches, apple juice


    breakfast and mid morning/afternoon – as for other days

    lunch – supermarket wholemeal bread prawn sandwiches and sushi, an apple, apple juice

    evening – the “Scottish” drive-through for a Filet-O-Fish (of course), large fries and a fruit bag, all brought home and consumed, apple juice

    Always – semi-skimmed milk

    Scoff not at how I scoff, it works for me 🙂

  • 6 Simon August 9, 2021, 3:12 pm

    The Morrisons food box service is closing this week. More details here:

  • 7 Andrew Preston August 9, 2021, 4:11 pm

    I wouldn’t go near these. Subscriptions to this, that, food, razors etc etc… just the latest global marketing wheeze to separate you from your money. In particular, Hellofresh with its exceedingly weaselly ‘comparison’ ads on Youtube is a complete no go for me. Their ads seem to have replaced the teeth grindingly repetitive Grammarly ads.

    I think that outfits like Hellofresh just feed on the laziness of their customers, whether those customers admit it to themselves or not.

  • 8 Nibex August 9, 2021, 5:42 pm

    What an interesting article. I always just assumed it was wildly expensive without investigating at all (now I think about it refusing even to listen to a salesperson at the door) but I shall look again! Thank you

  • 9 The Mr & Mrs August 9, 2021, 6:08 pm

    @ermine According the Mrs’ Mum the End of Days was reached in 1986 when the local Sainsbury’s started selling plastic pots of ready-made custard. In terms of understanding innovation, the Mr is keen on Clayton Christensen’s ‘jobs to be done’ theory (see https://hbr.org/2016/09/know-your-customers-jobs-to-be-done). For us, meal boxes are a low cost and convenient way of ‘doing the job’ of providing a good variety of food for the family.

    @Factor we scoff not! It is said that Warren Buffett eats a McDonald’s meal every day, thereby saving time for decision-making

  • 10 Ducknald Don August 9, 2021, 6:26 pm

    @Factor I could see myself doing that but there is no way my other half would put up with it.

    I know we are constantly told we need a varied diet but that is only because most people have such an appalling diet. If you get the right nutrients it should be fine.

    Coming back to the meal delivery I can’t see that ever working for us as my son is so fussy about what he eats. I’m guessing he would turn his nose up at 90% of their offerings.

    Also if have an aversion to subscriptions in general. They seem like an insidious way to increase your spending.

  • 11 Gizzard August 9, 2021, 6:56 pm

    We use HelloFresh and I think it’s excellent. The meals are very tasty. I used to be a big meat eater but we opt for the vegetarian meals and to my surprise I really like them. I’ve managed to lose a couple of stones in the process. I find we spend a lot less time going to the supermarket which is great because the nearest one is ten miles away and I hate trawling around them.

  • 12 Planalyst August 9, 2021, 7:19 pm

    We tried Gousto food boxes for 4 meals a week, and kept it going even after the discounted starter rate ended. After about a year of ordering, we compared our food costs with previous years’ averages of costs. We had been spending almost double that of a normal year on food!

    Though we wouldn’t do it again, we had kept all our favourite recipes from that year, in the little binder Gousto provided, and now include some of those in our monthly meal planning. Much cheaper due to buying most of the non-fresh ingredients in bulk. Some of the recipes are now family favourites though, so it was worth it. 🙂

  • 13 HariSeldon August 9, 2021, 8:20 pm

    This is interesting, I tried Hello Fresh a few times in 2016.

    2 people , 3 meals a week, £39 week then, now £26.99 thats quite a difference.

    Meals were generally good ( file your teeth a bit sharper if you get the flank steak) I found the preparation time, organising, etc made the whole cooking process take longer than was convenient.

    At £39 a box, £6.50 a portion it was expensive but clearly more competitive now, particularly with more meals per box.

  • 14 Neverland August 9, 2021, 9:10 pm

    This is a bit like the electric car article from a few weeks ago where 50-70% of the comments pick holes in it.

    There is an argument that these delivery companies can continue to operate below cost for a few years longer until their equity backers wise up so why not enjoy it while it lasts, but is going to the supermarket really *that* hard?

  • 15 The Hare August 9, 2021, 9:37 pm

    I have a coupon for HelloFresh. MOLLYBURKE14. It makes 3 recipes for 4 a bit more than £20. There is a discount the next delivery too. There are 2 of us and I’ll be freezing the extra.

  • 16 Paul August 9, 2021, 11:04 pm

    We had Hellofresh deliveries in the early days, but rather than as a customer, my wife, who enjoys cooking more than I do, signed up with them as a recipe tester. We received the recipes each week, together with the unusual ingredients. The rest we had to buy. She had to upload a photo of the finished meal and give online feedback each week. The payments covered the ingredients plus her time, so we got free meals while it lasted. Sadly, a year later, they took the testing in house, but it was great for that year. Most of the recipes were delicious, with one or two duds. Certainly cost effective!

  • 17 E&G August 9, 2021, 11:16 pm

    We’ve done Hello Fresh and Gousto, usually when we want a wee change and are stuck in a cooking rut. Found the former a bit uninspiring and the quality has declined recently on previous years. In general terms good for a change and when you get a deal but 1) a bit expensive and 2) largely very time consuming for busy families looking for a midweek meal. Couple of pasta delivery meals where 2) doesn’t apply but the rest does. Think one of the comments above is correct – their business models are all about driving numbers up for future funding rounds so take advantage of the deals when you can.

  • 18 JimJim August 10, 2021, 11:27 am

    Not for me at this moment as the dietary requirements of the tribe are too varied and I like the weekly shop in town and cooking too. Mrs JimJim abhors shopping and will always spend more than I would on a weeks shop often due to impulse buys – it is better for both of us if I can shop.
    I CAN see how many will take this on as a viable option for feeding a family, how “sticky” the clients will be would be one good number to look at if you were to analyse this as a business, I can’t see it continually spending on acquiring new clients and being viable long term, however good the product.
    The majority of the Monevator audience is perhaps not the audience that will use this service. I suspect that, as convenience has been a marketable product since the dawn of time, there is a market here and it stands a good chance of success.
    Would I invest in this type of business? Utterly undecided so probably no.

  • 19 The Investor August 10, 2021, 1:27 pm

    @JimJim — You write: “Would I invest in this type of business? Utterly undecided so probably no.”

    I invested in one, SimplyCook, that does spices/herbs/sauces and menus but you add the bulk ingredients. Got a return when it was acquired recently for a very small premium (about 5% from memory) though it was an EIS investment so more around 50% after tax relief. Must admit I was disappointed given lockdown / stay at home tailwinds, though if you’re still going to the shops for some of the ingredients I suppose it wasn’t much of a beneficiary as some others.

  • 20 JimJim August 10, 2021, 1:56 pm

    @TI (19)
    Yes, I have invested in a slightly different but in some ways similar company in Naked wines which I acquired some time ago (circa £2.28 when it was part of Majestic), it seems a bit frothy in its current valuation and I have contemplated getting out a few times. Why I like its subscription model better. 1. you don’t have to buy the product. 2. You could get your subscription cash back out if you really wanted to. 3. The website and communications from them are very good. 4.The clients that it has spent much money and time acquiring seem sticky
    I would not buy at current valuations.
    (Sorry for the active post in advance)

  • 21 Simon 2 August 10, 2021, 2:35 pm

    I think this article and the electric car article suffer from the same problem, they provide just enough financial details to give a feeling of accuracy, when in fact they are both written by people who are justifying what they are doing/done. I suppose if convenience is what you are after this works out just fine at giving a balanced diet. However on the financial front its totally misleading save maybe for the not going out to eat as often. This lack of clarity is demonstrated with the Chunky Veg stew example, 13 ingredients but only 6 are mentioned, so impossible for a proper comparison, these should have been listed side by side, isn’t that what we come to Monevator for, the ability to see the information side by side and make our own minds up. I am filling in the blanks that were left but I guess a lot of the other 7 were onion, garlic or herbs, all with minimum cost. So I did a quick tot myself from Tesco online and I get 1.85, which leaves a 1.04 difference to cover the items we are not told about. These are single items, multiple buy item options would cost less per item….
    Red pepper (One per person) 45
    Courgette (One per person) 40
    Red onions (One per person) 10
    Rocket (1/4 bag) 25
    Cherry tomatoes (1/4 punnet) 20
    Goats cheese (1/4 packet) 45
    Total 185

    I understand the last response I got after I left a not glowing comment on the electric car article, trying to encourage new writers and broaden the article base and therefore hopefully keep more people entertained. But I don’t know, at what cost to integrity of the previous outstanding work done by Monevator. You will be glad to hear I will not comment negatively again on articles like this.

  • 22 Jeff Brazens August 10, 2021, 4:16 pm

    I make my own version of Huel. I find huel too thick, and I prefer the taste of mine which is more oaty.

    Some people are positively *offended* by the concept, but often when pressed they admit “yeah I sometimes have a bowl of cereal for dinner if I’m short on time” or “I just get deliveroo if I can’t be bothered to cook”.

    It stops me ever eating junk food or takeaway because I know I have a healthy, 10-minute, £1 meal in the cupboard no matter what. No chance of perishing if I don’t eat it within a week. I can perfectly tune the calories and I guess I could flavour it if I want but the neutral, oaty flavour is pleasant enough and means I never get bored.

    Probably not viable if you’re trying to figure out family meals 7 days a week though.

  • 23 Andrew Preston August 10, 2021, 4:23 pm

    I was a customer of Naked Wines years ago, before Majestic, when as a start-up, they offered a free case of wine. ( Can’t recall if it was a six pack, or a full case ). I thoroughly enjoyed that case, and tried to repeat the experience by signing up again with a different email address.

    They weren’t having any of it.

  • 24 The Investor August 10, 2021, 5:05 pm

    @Simon 2 — I think your comment is fair enough in so far as it goes. 🙂 However as you identify we’ve decided to go down this route, at least for now, so we’ll see where we end up. I’m sure there’s more than a few people who feel like you who don’t comment out of general pleasantness/goodwill towards this blog. 🙂

    The trouble is neither me nor @TA scale. I’ve written over 1,000 articles for Monevator, and plenty more on a variety of subjects elsewhere, too. Frankly I feel a bit burned out! (We’re talking several million words). @TA isn’t quite so burned out, but he is a man of leisure nowadays. Moreover all the low-hanging fruit was long ago picked. That’s what has him diving into the minutia of emerging market bond funds over four posts… 😉

    You also have to compare apples with apples. The EV post and this post are just that — one article. If @TA had covered index funds in one article then suffice to say there’d be some blanks for readers to fill in. In reality, he’s covered passive investing over about 500 articles! 🙂

    Then there’s the fact our subject matter doesn’t really scale. We forever get readers for three months, they read the articles, set up their funds, and move on. It’s only really the hardcore — and the Weekend Reading fans — who stay around for years.

    Finally, both myself and @TA are on our terms financially independent. It’s a very different position to ten years ago. Sure I/we will cover esoteric stuff like venture investing, or the Lifetime Allowance, but the reality is we’re not hard scrabbling for our first £10K anymore or even our first £100K. I want to bring new voices in to cultivate some that can share that perspective.

    I suspect you know all this as someone who has read the blog for a while, but anyway just wanted to be clear I realize there are pros and cons to this tweak to the Monevator brand. Hopefully in a year we’ll have a broader, more colourful brand that still delivers the same core messages to a wider audience. But I accept it’s not pain-free. Cheers!

  • 25 weenie August 10, 2021, 7:26 pm

    Ignore the naysayers, Mr & Mrs – Gousto served us very well during lockdown as cheap and tasty alternatives to eating out and takeaways. We had 2 x family meals, every other week, choosing recipes we would normally not cook ourselves. I always timed deliveries so that I’d be cooking over the weekend so it was something to look forward to (seeing as we weren’t going anywhere!), plus we made a point of never repeating a recipe so that we could fill the binder with different recipes.

    I no longer have the subscription (not cost-effective for a singleton), but like @Planalyst, still use my favourite Gousto recipes regularly, cooking family sized portions and freezing them as part of my meal planning. I would recommend it for people wanting to try to cook different things (with different flavours) as you use everything in the box and nothing is wasted.

    Whilst this post may not seem to fit in with the Monevator “ethos”, I think it’s aimed at those wanting to cut their food costs and save time (hello FIRE peeps!) but who are struggling with cooking the same boring food at home. Perhaps not quite as cheap as buying your own ingredients, but massively cheaper than getting takeaways, plus you’re learning something new to boot.

  • 26 Calculus August 10, 2021, 9:01 pm

    In terms of saving food bills in times of need, one of our smaller supermarkets reduces the near sell by date items down to 20p per item after 7pm of an evening. Meat, veg, fruit, ready meals, deserts, all of it 20p. So the savings can be 100s of pounds/month if you have the stomach for it 🙂 How do they do it – I guess it would go to waste otherwise, although it does say something about the system. I think higher discounts at sell by should be more widespread, although suspect the issue will be the scrummaging when the foie gras is up!

  • 27 The Investor August 11, 2021, 9:29 am

    @Calculus — Even today, I’d estimate I buy about 50% of my groceries on a discount, including about 20% yellow stickered! I have a few things working in my favour here, such as I love to walk and happily visit one or another of the local supermarkets every day. Also no kids so I can shop for myself and be very flexible. Plus I’m a pretty good cook so can turn this into that. 🙂

    It’s noticeable when I am cooking for friends how the bill jumps far higher for the same amount of ‘weight’ in my backpack*, as I have to buy specific items for a specific recipe and there’s a lot less yellow.

    (*Yes, I still carry stuff from the shops, too! Still the graduate student at heart: https://monevator.com/live-like-a-graduate-student-and-save/).

  • 28 The Accumulator August 12, 2021, 3:15 pm

    Interesting and enjoyable article that’s made me reconsider a service I enjoyed but ditched once the discounts ran out. Thank you for the fresh perspective.

    I was always one of those people that wanted to choose my own produce from the supermarket but COVID acclimatised me to online delivery and I’m never going back. The time saving is substantial and I’m happy to be less of a fusspot. Browsing aisles can expose you to new ideas just like browsing in a book store, but it seems like these delivery services solve that problem too.

    @ Simon – To be fair, the authors linked out to a price comparison by the BBC. I think you should criticise when you see fit, though. Any feedback is always food for thought as long as it’s considered, which I think yours is. My working assumption is that writing articles as detailed as mine likely puts off more people than it attracts because they can be very hard work to read as well as to write. It’s got to be worth trying some lighter stuff to reach more people.

  • 29 The Hare August 14, 2021, 9:36 pm

    To add, IMO this article isn’t only about convenience. There are lots of people who are not the standard working crowd. Health issues, limited energy, new parents, older folks, limited mobility. Lots of people who want to cook and also need short cuts. Personally, I am in active grief and for the first time I am trying one of these services as takeaways are expensive and mostly poor nutrition, I dont’ have the resources to be doing small talk with delivery drivers, and I don’t necesarily know when I am going to be in or have the spoons for online delivery and the other things mentioned in the comments.

    With these boxes, it takes all of a few minutes to order and personalise, you don’t need to be in or interact, and nutritious food is sorted with the enjoyment of cooking and variety and the thinking already done.

    Not everyone has access to being able to work and all the standard assumptions in the general FI(RE) community and this post can help those people (like me) looking at other options. It would also be good, since blog post topics has been mentioned, to have a contributor who doesn’t have the human capital/no health issues /unvariable/predictable income so FI can be sorted with those challenges. It’s rare it’s mentioned, never mind included in calculations.

  • 30 The Mr & Mrs August 15, 2021, 7:52 am

    Thanks all for your comments

    @Gizzard – The Mr and I have also shed weight – thanks to better portion control!

    @Simon – Thanks for the Morrisons update. It looked like a great deal for families but clearly was less viable for the retailer post-lockdown.

    @Paul – kudos to your money-savvy wife for getting paid to do something she loves while reducing the famijy’s food bills. Fantastic 🙂

    @Ducknald Don. For years our youngest never knowingly ate vegetables (and much else besides) so I find it deeply ironic that he is now a foodie. Things change.

    @Simon 2 – thanks for your feedback. Yes, for reasons of readability, I did not include my full spreadsheet of ingredients, quantities or quality. You can find the recipe here
    Quantities should be doubled for four people. The goat’s cheese was high quality.

    Recipe boxes got me out of a life / cooking rut – and, like @Planalyst @E&G and @weenie, we’ve kept (and often reuse) our favourite recipe cards.

    [Edited by The Investor as link to price of goat’s cheese was omitted from comment by accident. But by all accounts it was a nice cheese!]

  • 31 AJP August 19, 2021, 5:08 pm

    I’ve used a few of these and in the end much prefer the taste and plan from SimplyCook.

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