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8 best healthy food subscription boxes that help you stay nourished with minimal effort

From ready-made frozen meals to a fresh box to sink your teeth into, these take the stress out of cooking

Rachael Penn
Tuesday 03 January 2023 16:52 GMT
The choice of dishes was exceptional, with easy-to-follow instructions
The choice of dishes was exceptional, with easy-to-follow instructions (The Independent)

Healthy food boxes can be an absolute lifesaver for anyone who wants to eat well but doesn’t have the time or inclination to spend hours slaving over a hot stove.

After the overindulgence of Christmas, we all look forward to getting back to healthy eating. Eating well can positively impact our body and mental health, from increased energy levels to bright, clear skin. But meal planning, buying the ingredients, working out the ideal portion size and then cooking it all means it’s not always easy to put your plan to eat healthy into practice.

Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy meal boxes on the market these days, and they can make reaching your goals in 2023 incredibly easy. There are food boxes for all different dietary requirements and tastes, too.

They can also represent excellent value – as the cost of living rises, healthy food boxes can be a great way to help manage your budget. Since everything you need for a delicious, healthy meal is all in one box, it allows you to stay in budget with ease. Plus, since food delivery boxes are delivered directly to your door, you’ll also avoid those last-minute trips to the supermarket, which usually result in the temptation to stray off plan and make impulse purchases.

We’ve put together a list of our favourite healthy food boxes, from those perfect for anyone who loves to cook and needs a menu plan and the ingredients delivered direct to their door to pre-packaged fresh and frozen meals that just need to be heated up.

How we tested

We reached out to a variety of different companies that make healthy food boxes and asked them to send us a typical sample. We looked at everything from how quick it was delivered, how well it was packaged, if the packaging was recyclable and eco-friendly, the variety of dishes, how easy they were to prepare and, of course, how good they tasted.

The best healthy food boxes for 2023 are:

  • Best overall healthy food box – Planty food box: From £5.65 per meal,
  • Best healthy food box for those who love to cook – HelloFresh food box: From £28.49,
  • Best healthy food box for a special occasion – My Supper Hero food box: From £25,
  • Best healthy food box for bespoke health – Field Doctor food box: From £6.79 per meal,
  • Best healthy food box for curated meal plans – FoodHak food box: From £6.25 per meal,
  • Best zero waste healthy food box – Dovebrook Kitchen food box: From £6.50,
  • Best healthy food box for weight loss – MuscleFood weight loss box: £49.99,
  • Best healthy food box for veggies – Oddbox food box: From £10.99,

Planty food box

Planty food box.png
  • Best: Overall
  • Type: Frozen
  • Cooking method: Oven or microwave
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: As and when
  • Number of meals in a box: Between six and 12

Planty offers ready-made meals that are 100 per cent plant-based. It’s the perfect choice for anyone who wants to enjoy nutritious food without waiting around. There is no need to spend time meal prepping with this healthy food box, as the meals come pre-frozen. You just need to select your ideal menu and then pop them in the microwave or oven to heat up when you’re ready to eat. There are plenty of choices when it comes to the dishes, and you can choose which ones are included, so there’s no danger you’ll be sent something you won’t like. We tested various dishes, including two of our favourites, “not-a-chicken tikka masala” and “mac no cheese”.

The dishes were superb, it was evident they used quality ingredients and they had just the right amount of spice and flavour. All the dishes we trialled cooked really well and to perfection. We absolutely loved the bright and colourful packaging of the meals too. The boxes also clearly indicate what kind of dish it is, such as gluten-free, low carb, etc, so it’s easy to make your choice. Plus, the packaging was recyclable.

Planty works on a subscription basis, with the price depending on the number of meals you purchase. If you have 12, they’ll cost £5.65 per meal, nine to 11 meals works out as £5.90 per meal, and six to eight meals will cost £6.50 each. Boxes can be built with 12 meals and up to 12 extras, which include a delicious range of puddings.

The subscription can be paused or cancelled at any time and you can also increase and decrease the number of meals you have in your next box by just logging in to the website.

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HelloFresh food box

Hello Fresh food box.png
  • Best: For those who love to cook
  • Type: Fresh ingredients
  • Cooking method: Dependent on recipe
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Number of meals in a box: Three, four or five

HelloFresh is the ideal food box for anyone who wants to get adventurous in the kitchen but just needs a little help. The company offers a range of different boxes to suit dietary and time needs. So, whether you’re a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or just want a mixture of all, you can build a box to suit you. There are more than 44 different recipes to choose from each week, so it can be a little difficult to make your choice, as everything looks great. Plus, you can select dishes based on categories, such as calorie smart, family-friendly, global flavours and rapid.

We chose a mixture of meat and vegetarian dishes and found the quality of ingredients to be high, although the portion sizes were on the small side. There was very little waste, just a few herbs left over, which were soon used up in other dishes. The cooking process was made a lot easier by the recipe cards in the box, which also meant dishes we loved could be recreated at a later date.

The packaging was great, too – the box was padded with ice, and, despite a 12-hour delivery window, this will keep the items chilled for up to 24 hours. Boxes can be built for two, three or four people with three, four or five recipes per week.

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My Supper Hero food box

My Supper Hero food box.png
  • Best: For a special occasion
  • Type: Fresh
  • Cooking method: Oven/stove
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: As and when
  • Number of meals in a box: One, but you can select multiple

If you want a bit of luxury while still enjoying a healthy dinner, look no further than My Supper Hero. This meal kit service enables you to pick one or more dishes that you can put together in around 10 minutes and that won’t take more than 45 minutes to cook. Enjoy fresh, sustainable, restaurant-quality ingredients that you just need to cook at home. It’s ideal for a weekend treat rather than reaching for a takeaway or if you have guests over and you want to keep it healthy. Of course, some meals are healthier than others – when you visit the site, you’ll see the full range of dishes and you can make an informed choice.

We tested the whole roasted seabream stuffed with middle eastern freekeh, and, although we don’t cook fish very often, it was nothing short of amazing. One of our favourite touches was the hydroponically grown salad, you can’t ask for fresher. Everything came well packaged, and the courier will leave it in a safe space if you’re not at home. Meals can also be stored in the fridge for up to three days, so if you’re ordering for the weekend, you can get it in nice and early.

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Field Doctor food box

Field Doctor food box.png
  • Best: For bespoke health
  • Type: Frozen
  • Cooking method: Oven or microwave
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: As and when
  • Number of meals in a box: Six pre-planned meals or build your own box (unlimited)

Field Doctor provides dietitian-designed, chef-prepared frozen meals direct to your door. Whatever your dietary requirement, whether it be low carb, calorie-controlled, mood based or for specific conditions such as arthritis, this food box can deliver. Every dish this company makes is guided by science, so if you’re ready to take your health seriously, look no further.

We tried a mixture of meat, fish and plant-based dishes and each meal was delicious and certainly didn’t taste like it had just come out of the microwave. Plus, the portion size was perfect. Field Doctor is also very mindful of the environment and uses a lot of local and seasonal ingredients, which not only adds to the taste but also makes you feel good you’re supporting British suppliers.

There are two ways to get a food box from Field Doctor – you can either build your own from the menu provided or select one of their bundles, which include lean and lighter, menopause bundle, gut health, low fodmap, low calorie and high protein. The bundles include six ready-chosen meals. Delivery was great – you get a one-hour time slot, so you can make sure you’re in or make other arrangements.

The packaging was good, everything was recyclable and even the ice packs used to keep the food frozen are reusable, so they get a 10 out of 10 from us for that.

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FoodHak food box

FoodHak food box.png
  • Best: For a curated meal plan
  • Type: Pre-packaged chilled
  • Cooking method: Microwave/Hob
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Number of meals in a box: Three to seven

FoodHak offers vegan dishes designed to be anti-inflammatory, low-GI and gluten-free. The dishes are based on the theory of Ayurvedic medicine, which can help combat specific health problems and increase longevity, so, if you’ve been overindulging lately, this is a perfect way to reset.

There’s a wide range of dishes to choose from, and each dish is individually portioned, although we did try the Tom Yum soup, which was for two people. The food comes in little pouches, which can be stored in the fridge and heated up in the microwave or on the hob. We found each dish brimming with flavour and so good it didn’t feel like you were eating uber-healthy meals either. There are also desserts on this menu, including truffles and ashwagandha millet brownies, so, if you enjoy a sweet treat after your dinner, this is the perfect option.

Our favourite dish from FoodHak was the creamy mushroom and spinach risotto, which, despite being vegan, tasted creamy and full of flavour. FoodHak allows you to build your ideal box – you select how many people you’re buying for (between one and four people) and then you choose how many meals you want per delivery, ranging from three to seven. Meal prices vary based on how many meals you purchase.

Once you’ve picked your main meals, you get an option of grains – we love this because, in our household, not everyone likes quinoa, so it’s a good way of making the meal more bespoke. The packaging is good, it came well insulated and ready to be placed straight in the fridge. The pouches are really handy to store and they are also recyclable.

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Dovebrook Kitchen food box

Dovebrook kitchen food box.png
  • Best: Zero waste option
  • Type: Frozen
  • Cooking method: Microwave
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: As and when
  • Number of meals in a box: Choose your own or buy a bundle

Dovebrook Kitchen offers a selection of sustainable plant-based meals ready to go straight into your freezer. We tried various dishes, including a really delicious sticky umami aubergine. Dovebrook Kitchen meals come vacuum packed, pre-frozen and are enough for one person. There’s no need to thaw, they just go directly into the microwave and are ready to serve in minutes.

There’s no subscription model, you can just choose your selection of meals and have them delivered directly to your door. Although, we do love that they offer seasonal, decadence and Veganary bundles, as well as those for new parents. The bundles are made up of pre-chosen meals and desserts, and serve two people. The box came well-packaged and was completely recyclable.

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MuscleFood weight loss box

Muscle Food food box.png
  • Best: For weight loss
  • Type: Fresh
  • Cooking method: Various
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: Every five days
  • Number of meals in a box: 30

MuscleFood offers meat hampers and meal boxes for anyone who wants to up their protein and eat clean. We tried the weight loss bundle – a five-day plan comprising breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner and an evening snack. Each meal and snack is carefully calculated to keep you within a daily calorie allowance and provide you with optimum nutrition for losing weight.

We really loved how we could select our own meals and snacks, so there wasn’t any chance of getting something we didn’t like. The meals came packaged well and were for storage in either the cupboard or fridge. There’s an excellent range of food too, although it’s a little meat heavy, if you’re not really a meat-lover.

Another downside was that not all the meals were chef-prepared, some were just regular pre-packaged food you’d see in the supermarket. The meals we did have were really tasty, and our jeans did feel a little looser at the end of the week. Plus, it took the hassle out of counting calories and having to figure out the healthiest choices, so we’d definitely try it again.

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Oddbox food box

Oddbox food box.png
  • Best: For veggies
  • Type: Fresh
  • Cooking method: You can cook the fruit and veg however you like
  • Meat-free options: Yes
  • Frequency: Weekly or fortnightly
  • Number of meals in a box: N/A

Oddbox offers a selection of fruit and veg boxes, but there’s a twist. In an effort to combat food waste, Oddbox takes “wonky” fruit and veg that’s destined for landfill, and instead uses it to fill these boxes. We opted for a large fruit and veg box with nine varieties of vegetables and four types of fruit. The quality was really good and it’s such a shame they would otherwise be sent to landfill just for not looking a certain way.

We had a really good variety, including potatoes, pak choi, peppers, mushrooms, squash, oranges, apples and kiwis. We used it for meal prepping the week’s food, although, if stored properly, the items will last a few days. All the packaging was recyclable too. If you don’t want a mixture, you can buy just fruit or just veg boxes, and they come in a range of sizes. You also have the choice to exclude three fruits or vegetables, so you don’t have anything you don’t enjoy. Plus, with an Oddbox subscription, you can pause or skip a week, if you have too much.

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The verdict: Healthy food boxes

Healthy meal boxes are a great idea for anyone who wants to take the stress out of cooking. Whether you want to try ready-made frozen meals or a fresh box to test out your cooking skills, there’s a box for all. The Planty subscription was one of our favourites – the choice of dishes was exceptional and, as they were frozen, there was no pressure to eat them in a certain time frame.

If you’re looking for something to splash the cash on, definitely look at the My Supper Hero box, as you’ll feel like you’re having a restaurant meal in your own dining room. The Oddbox fruit and veg box is also worth looking at – it’s a great way of increasing your five-a-day, and you get to save the produce from landfill.

Going plant-based for Veganuary? Here’s everything you need to smash the challenge, from make-up to cookbooks

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