Due to the sharp increase in coronavirus cases across the country, Boris Johnson announced that from midnight on Monday 4 January, England would be entering a third national lockdown.
The new restrictions mean that pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops are now closed, along with entertainment and leisure venues, including gyms.
Additionally, travel will only be allowed for work, education, healthcare, to shop for essentials and to care for vulnerable people. As a result, many have turned again to online shopping for their groceries.
To beat the rush for a delivery slot, which are fast becoming booked up, now is the time to opt for a food subscription box, that can be delivered straight to your doorstep in time for dinner.
They’re the ideal opportunity to provide some much-needed inspiration for mealtimes and improve your culinary skills, especially as many of us will be continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future.
It’s not just limited to boxes of vegetables either, with many food delivery boxes serving up handmade pasta, prime cuts of beef and poultry, plant-based dishes and delicious desserts, with something to suit all taste buds and dietary requirements.
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Topping our guide to the best recipe boxes was Pasta Evangelists, the letterbox friendly subscription service that delivers a weekly drop of two fresh pasta meal kits (or more if you want), which you can pick from 10 recipes.
Among it includes a vegan orecchiette with pesto and a pistachio crumb or fettuccine with nduja sausage, Amalfi lemon and mascarpone.
Each dish takes very little preparation or cooking time, meaning more time spent eating and less time clearing up afterwards and costs start from £7.25 for weekly delivery.
It’s also teamed up with Age UK to donate £5 per box sold to support the charity, encouraging customers to send a pasta care package to an elderly relative you can’t visit in person.
Meal delivery service, Mindful Chef offers British reared, free-range meat, fresh fish and plenty of gluten and dairy-free options in its recipe boxes, with a focus on healthy eating.
Each week, there’s 16 dishes to choose from, and you can select two to five recipes per box for one or two people, or a family-size which feeds four adults or two adults and two to three children.
There are dishes such as almond-coated chicken, green beans and herb yoghurt, sliced duck, Asian-style nectarine and noodle salad or hake with sunflower seed, mint and basil pesto. Prices start from £10 a meal for an individual serving size.
Gousto offers two boxes; one made for two people, the other a family-style alternative that will feed two adults and two to three children. It comes with all of the exact amount of ingredients you need, limiting food waste.
Whatever box suits you best, both offer the choice of two, three or four recipes. Prices start from £24.99 and delivery is free, seven days a week.
There’s 50 recipes a week across meat, fish and vegetarian dishes such as paprika chicken with tomato and coconut dal, cheesy baked fish with Mediterranean vegetables or smoky Spanish garlic prawns.
It also featured in our review of the best recipe boxes and our testers praised it for for its seasonal meals that were great for kids and grownups.
"Food arrived pre-packaged and pre-sliced, keeping cooking and faffing times down, and the company spent the past year working to reduce the amount of plastic it uses by 50 per cent, a goal it met comfortably, and it will soon roll out an eco chill box made out of recycled paper and zero plastic," they said.
During the lack lockdown, Gousto stopped taking on new customers as it struggled to meet the huge surge in demand.
Starting at £5 a meal, HelloFresh is one of the best value and most convenient options out there, with recipes that take 20 minutes to cook.
There’s three plans, family, classic or rapid, each differing in how many people it will feed, and how many recipes you’d like in a week. According to our reviewers in our recipe box guide: “The company has dedicated itself to making wholesome homemade food accessible to all, which means that alongside keeping its meals affordable, it works hard to source produce from brilliant suppliers like The Tomato Stall on the Isle of Wight, or the Kepak beef farmers in Ireland.”
Starting from £12.45, the Riverford recipe box earned rave reviews from our testers too, which we found easy to whip up dishes like cashew stir fry on a bed of spiced cauliflower rice, and a tofu tom yum with "noodles" made out of ribbons of vegetables.
All of its Devon-grown produce is organic and seasonal too, developed by a team of leading chefs.
“It gets an extra thumbs up for including a leaflet with instructions on how to recycle every last bit of packaging, and it reuses the ice packs, wool liners and chill bags,” said our reviewers, who tried the light range, where every meal is under 550cals.
They described it as one for food-lovers who want an organic, interesting meal without the fuss.
Abel & Cole
We found there was a lot to love about Abel & Cole. “Plastic packaging was minimal (only tomato and Worcestershire sauce and the blocks of cheddar came in non-recyclable packaging), and Abel & Cole runs a return programme for the rest. Prices start at £6 a plate, which is pretty unbeatable in the world of organic food," said our reviewer.
Every week, there’s 15 new seasonal recipes, with new veggie dishes designed to feed a family of four that launched earlier this year, taking 20 minutes or less to cook.
We made a rosti-topped "shepherdess" pie – made with lentils and earthy mushrooms instead of meat – that our reviewer described as "fragrant and flavoursome", and brought an interesting update to a family classic.
Alongside its groceries, the supermarket is also offering essential food delivery boxes which have been specially created in the light of the pandemic.
Starting from £16 they consist of essential food and household items for vegetarians, meat-eaters, gluten-free diets and families.
Alongside this, Morrisons also launched a British farmers food box for £45, filled with fresh produce including meats, vegetables, milk and cheeses.
As many farmers distribution processes have been majorly disrupted as a result of the first lockdown, £1 from every British Farmers Food Box will be donated to British farming charities via The Prince's Countryside Fund.
Family-run farm and Devon-based Eversfield Organic caters to people unable to make it to supermarkets, or those deliberately steering clear.
It featured in our review of the best ethical meat boxes too, in case you needed more convincing. According to our tester, it works with a network of smallholding farmers and fishers to offer a range of meats, vegetables and fish to households.
There are 19 different boxes on offer, from exclusively meat, veg or fruit or a mix of both to keep mealtimes varied, starting from £11.95.
Mac & Wild
For any Scots in London missing home, order from Mac & Wild. With seven meat boxes available, starting from £28.82, there are huge platters on offer to fill your freezer to the brim with sausages, steaks, mince, lamb chops, bacon and haggis.
On its website, you'll also find its Venimoo burger kit for £28, which contains everything you need to make its famous beef and venison burgers at home. The kit contains four beef batties, four venison patties, four brioche bun, pickles, lettuce, burger cheese, onions, Bernaise sauce and Red Jon sauce.
If have a more adventurous palette, try Feast Box, which focuses on Asian cuisine so you can dine in on dishes such as paneer makhani, vegan tofu pad thai or sticky Korean pork chops.
In each box comes pre-measured ingredients and spices, making flavourful dishes a breeze to whip up. You can order a minimum of two recipes, or a maximum of four, from a selection of12, with added extras too like naan breads and sushi rolling mats. Prices start from £6 per person.
If you’re keen to keep your diet strictly plant-based, All Plants is an alternative option that won’t leave you feeling restricted.
From £68.04, admittedly pricier, it allows you to choose six pre-prepared frozen meals, all vegan of course, from the 22 dishes available.
It also featured in our guide to the best recipe boxes. “Each dish is as vibrant as the last: choose from the likes of three mushroom risotto, teriyaki udon, a bbq jackfruit burrito bowl, with new recipes being added all the time,” our tester explained.
They also liked the oven and microwave-friendly packaging that’s recyclable. You can place a one-off order, then freeze the rest for a weeklong menu of tasty meals if you’re too busy, or feeling too tired to cook.
By Ruby is the brainchild of former head chef Ruby and co-founder Milly, who together also make freshly frozen meals to order online, from a menu designed in Ruby's west London kitchen.
With dishes like butternut squash and tomato risotto, Scottish salmon with pak choi and grass-fed beef bourguignon, there's a wide range of meal options, all which have a six-month shelf life in the freezer.
Subscriptions start from £22 for an Indian takeaway box full of fragrant meat and vegetable curries. There's also meat, vegetarian, vegan, new parent and comfort boxes for £40.80, each with six dishes inside.
Elsewhere, Eight Season also offers three to seven meals from its menu a week that take the work out of deciding what's for dinner.
Prices start from £26 which will get you a seasonal organic fruit and veg box, while a £59 box will deliver three vegan recipes that'll feed four people. You can cook up a storm with meals such as lentil moussaka, plum and seitan stew or hasselback butternuts.
It's perfect for a family of vegans or if you're looking to reduce your meat and dairy consumption.
Make lockdown 3.0 a little easier by reading more on the other doorstep delivery options
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