Before you buy everyone socks (again!) check out this cracking selection of food subscription gifts.
Whether they go crazy for curries, are complete chocoholics or enjoy nothing more than discovering a new cuisine, we think food is the perfect gift.
Not only will a regular delivery of their favourite treats always be gratefully received, but unlike socks, you don’t need to worry if they’re going to fit and you definitely don’t need to keep the receipt.
Gift them a recurring delivery over a set period of weeks or months, or go for a rolling subscription (that you could renew next year if you were feeling lazy).
Delighting them on the big day and well into the New Year, for the gourmand in your life, giving the gift of regular food is surely the most generous thing you can do for them.
When putting these subscriptions to the test, we were looking for the boxes that gave us a real thrill when they turned up on our doorstep. So much more than a regular food shop, we’ve included everything from cheese boxes, homemade curries, chocolate tastings, meal kits and more, so you’re bound to find their favourite.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The Sous Chef Club monthly tasting box
A one-stop-shop for people who love cooking, Sous Chef’s monthly club contains five hand-picked ingredients, delivered direct to your door. There will always be a treat you can unwrap and taste straight away (such as raspberry and dark chocolate), a couple of ingredients to use in a single dish, and finally, one or two that will stay in your fridge or store-cupboard, lifting dishes for weeks or months ahead. We’ve never seen such pretty pasta and our pantry has never looked happier.
The Dorset Meat Company steak connoisseur box
Everything you see on online butcher, The Dorset Meat Company, is available on subscription, but it was this steak box that caught our eye. Containing one 500g bavette steak, a 680g sharing rump, two rib-eye, two fillets and one garlic and herb butter from Sublime, it’s all grass-fed and a pretty luxe way to fill the freezer. Available as a one-off or once every one, two or four weeks – all that’s left for them to do is add chips. Date night, sorted.
A Cook’s Tour
Combining two of our favourite pastimes – travelling and eating – A Cook’s Tour is a fortnightly meal kit subscription, focusing on a new part of the world each time. We tried the “Temples of Balinese Cuisine” where we made barbecue almond and coconut chicken satay, shrimp leaf tacos with grilled lime aioli, and wild nasi goreng (a fried rice dish), while tucking into jungle crackers and house-made pickles and chutneys. We made everything in real-time, following the YouTube video, and were so impressed with the thoughtful packaging, excellent quality ingredients and attention to detail – hello, edible flowers! So much more than a meal kit, this was the highlight of our week.
Chocolate Ecstasy Tours online mystery chocolate tasting
Sure, you could just buy them a box of chocolates, but why not go one step further with this fun virtual chocolate tasting? Each month, chocolate expert Jennifer Earle personally selects six artisan chocolates for you to try together on Zoom. She’s joined with a different foodie guest each time, and they, along with you the audience, try to decipher what each chocolate is. There will always be a range of textures and flavours – we tried one with burnt butter and another with black sesame. It’s a lot of fun and a great way of connecting with friends and family you might not be able to see in person right now.
BoroughBox discovery club food gift subscription
Browsing the BoroughBox website feels a little bit like mooching along an artisan food market. It’s packed with exciting products from independent brands, some of which you might have heard of (like Joe & Seph’s popcorn) while others will be new discoveries. Each box is a monthly edit of the collection. We received a super fun selection, including a large bottle of apple cordial, the aforementioned popcorn and our new favourite treat – Flat Brew caramel macchiato spread, which we added to ice cream. Choose from one, three, six or 12 month subscriptions.
The Cheese Collective
We never need an excuse to indulge but The Cheese Collective is a subscription with a conscience. It’s partnered with The Trussell Trust, a charity sadly seeing huge demand this year, and for every cheese box purchased, the company donates a meal to a local food bank. With hospitality closed, it has also been a very challenging time for cheesemakers, but this box is packed with an award-winning range, covering hard, semi-hard, soft and blue. You can also customise, opting out of blue and choosing goat’s cheese instead, for example. Beautifully packaged, the box also contains info cards, detailing the cheesemaker, flavour profile and awards. Over on the website, you’ll also have access to “meet the makers” videos so you can get to know your favourite suppliers.
Mighty Small monthly discovery bundle
Mighty Small is an online platform, hosting small independent food and drink brands under one convenient roof. In this monthly bundle, you’ll receive a new surprise selection of treats and can choose from classic, vegan or gluten-free boxes. We opened it up to discover Lucy’s roasted garlic and pepper mayonnaise, cookies ‘n’ cream biscuits, peanut crunch granola and so much more.
Mandira’s Kitchen monthly box
For curry lovers, what could be better than a monthly selection of authentic Indian food to fill the freezer? The subscription is flexible, leaving you to change the dishes you receive each month, and each box comes with naan bread and chutney (with plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options too).
We tried the likes of chicken biriyani, samosas and palak dal and were so impressed. Far superior to any supermarket ready meal we’ve tried, these dishes are packed with flavour and beautifully seasoned – and all for the price of what we sometimes spend on one takeaway.
Restaurant Kits monthly box
One good thing to come out of lockdown is the rise of the mighty meal kit. Restaurant Kits is an online platform, hosting a wide range of our favourite restaurants, who pack up the exact ingredients to recreate their staple dishes at home. This subscription will allow you to pick one kit a month, from a list of six. The first line up will consist of Mac & Wild, By Chloe, Vegan Dough Co, Biff’s and Rola Wala. Each month the platform mixes things up, featuring fresh new collabs. It can accommodate all dietary requirements and you’re able to pause, cancel or even send to a friend for the month. For those missing dining out, there’s simply nothing better.
Coffee & Kin coffee and chocolate box
Coffee and chocolate – two things we’d never tire of receiving on a regular basis. Each month Coffee & Kin showcases an independent British chocolatier, sending it along with its speciality grade coffee. You can choose from either 30 Nespresso-compatible plastic-free coffee pods, or a 250g bag of beans or ground coffee, as well as milk or dark chocolate or a mix of both. For even more of a feel-good factor, £1 from each box goes to The Blurt Foundation – a charity helping young people and adults affected by depression in the UK.
Good Cake Day brownies gift subscription
Receiving these brownies really does make it a good cake day. Made using premium chocolate, French butter and black cocoa powder, these oozy gooey brownies are drool-inducing. Ours had a caramel centre and a gold lustre but there are lots of flavours to choose from, as well as gluten-free options. They arrive in a handy reusable silver tin and founder Chinelo even includes a recipe card which can be baked in the tin once empty (which trust us, won’t be long).
Oppo Brothers ice cream subscription
An ice cream subscription is sure to be one of their more memorable gifts this year. Members of the Oppo Tasting Club will receive a gift box with a personalised message inside, an Oppo gold tasting spoon and ice cream tasting notes, along with codes for either one, two or three months’ worth of ice cream, delivered straight to their door. It’s packaged in dry ice to ensure it arrives in perfect condition. Subscribers select the six tubs they want to try, from the likes of festive cinnamon crunch, maple walnut, or the new dairy-free lemony “simply the zest”. And if you needed another reason to feel good about eating ice cream, 10 per cent of the profits go to the NHS as a thank you to our healthcare heroes.
Two Tribes monthly ritual
Celebrating beer, food, music and art, every month King’s Cross brewery, Two Tribes, uses this box to highlight freshly brewed beer, ingredients, and music from destinations around the world. We received a box inspired by Bangkok’s monsoon season which contained six cans of Metroland Bangkok, a limited-edition session IPA brewed with flavours of kaffir lime and sweet lychee and six cans of the original Metroland.
Accompanying this was a 7in record, featuring two new remixes released on the Two Tribes’ record label, a bamboo mortar and pestle, a Two Tribes T-shirt and a bottle of “night market” Thai dipping sauce. January’s box will have a foraging theme and February’s delivery will be a celebration of fermentation and live-fire cooking.
There are hundreds of wine subscriptions these days but what makes this one stand out, aside from the cracking selection of natural wines curated by restaurant sommeliers, is the artist-commissioned poster which changes each month. As a member, you’ll also have access to online wine tastings, art shows and parties (when they’re allowed again). Chin, chin!
If Santa asks, we’ve been very good this year because we can’t think of anything we’d like more than a champagne subscription. The ultimate indulgence, Sip collates artisan fizz from up and coming houses you might not have discovered yet, and sends them over with tailored tasting notes, food pairings and advice on the best glassware. We received a bottle from Gaspard Brochet – a wine and producer that will no doubt find its way into the hall of grower fame in the next few years.
The verdict: Food subscription gifts
In an ideal world, we’d have one of each, please! But with each box offering something completely different, it’s pretty tough to choose an overall winner. Sous Chef offers a little bit of everything and will keep keen chefs excited to get in the kitchen every month.
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