New year new start?

Simply Cook butternut squash risotto

Simply Cook butternut squash risotto - Credit: sub

The New Year can sometimes leave us feeling a bit bloated, partied-out and craving some new ideas for weekday cooking.

WORDS: Beverley and Sarah Milner Simonds

We have been impressed by a new phenomenon of companies that combine culinary inspiration with our good intentions to cut down waste and be more healthy. Four companies provide great flavours, food and recipes to the doorstep. We thought you’d be interested in what we found when we tested them all.


This is the only service we tested that lets you choose the recipes from a selection of 10 each week, allowing you to mix and match fast cooking times, exotic dishes or healthy options.

The recipe cards provided the cooking time, calories, fat and protein contents of each recipe.


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It worked out as £5.83/portion. Three meals for two people is £34.99. Delivered weekly

We cooked:

Chicken pad Thai

Parmesan crusted pork

Rosemary and king prawn linguine

We though that their ingredients are very high quality (British meat and all of the vegetables, fruit and herbs are certified organic by the Soil Association).

All were very generous portions and there were a limited number of extra ingredients to find. The cooking and preparation times were accurate and recipes were easy to follow. There were a couple of extra surprise products in the box and this is a regular feature.


These recipe boxes are the latest innovation from the Riverford team. We picked the Quick Recipe Box selection as we were looking for some speedy suppers as we had a busy week ahead of us. The produce supplied is all organic and recipes are developed to enable you to have more time to enjoy cooking, less waste and fresh seasonal meals. There are three types of boxes available: Original, Quick and Vegetarian.


It worked out as £6.66/portion. Three meals for two people is £39.95 for the original and quick boxes and £3 for the vegetarian. Delivered weekly.

We cooked:

Chunky chicken pasta bowl

Mushroom and walnut crumble

Chorizo quesadillas

They were three dishes we wouldn’t normally cook. The cooking and preparation times given were a bit short compared to how long it took us. There were a limited number of extra things to find. We thought that as a part of an established delivery scheme meant it was easy to add in other ingredients and drinks.

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh believe that everything positive in life starts with great food.

It offers a classic or vegetarian box but, like Riverford, you can’t choose what’s in the box.

All the health and nutrition information is clearly explained on the recipe card. There is a choice of delivery day.


Hello Fresh offers a range of number of meals and number of people.

Each choice affects the £/portion. It ranges from £4-6.50/portion.

We cooked:

Gammon steaks with roasties and lentils

Tiger prawn risotto with Irish shellfish butter

Charred Mediterranean vegetables with butterflied chicken and dill crème fraiche

These were three dishes we definitely wouldn’t normally prepare and we loved all of them.

The recipes were easy to follow.

We were very impressed with the quality of the ingredients – especially the meat and shellfish

Hello Fresh has a very active social media presence and offers a range of incentives to regular customers (and free products from partners and friends).

Simply Cook

A different model to the other three services we trialled.

It delivers a box of four tasty, healthy easy-to-follow recipes and the key sauces and spices.

The recipes include the listed ingredients for you to go off and shop for.

Each recipe serves two or three people. You may well have seen their sponsored adverts on Facebook offering a trial box for £1.

It offers a discovery box and a gluten-free box. After your initial box you can select your own recipes (more than 40 available at any one time).

All are 20 minutes cook time or less. It offers a monthly subscription service.


This ranges depending on which

recipes you select but varies between £3 and £6/portion, depending on where you buy the main ingredients.

We cooked:

West African peanut stew

Spiced butternut squash risotto

Malay laksa

The preparation/cooking time is impressive and we found these great for a speedy lunch.

We have a well-stocked store cupboard but the tear-off shopping lists make it very easy to do a top-up shop for the four to six missing ingredients, and we could shop wherever we choose.

The recipes were from a wide variety of world cuisines, easy to cook and with great flavours. These were great restaurant-style dishes, ideal for someone less confident with cooking.