When we are feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis, it might feel extravagant to be listing the best meat boxes. But, as the world also faces a climate crisis, it feels reckless not to support the farming systems that offer potential solutions. As such, we have sourced a range of different boxes exclusively from farms that are working to improve the environment.
We’ve listed a options for different price points and occasions, all with a focus on value. But, it’s important to note, value doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap”. Farming in a way that is good for the animals, the planet and the food on our plates is more expensive. So, we are following the age-old sustainable advice to “eat less and eat better”, here – and every farm featured offers mix and match options where you can choose to do just that.
Frankly, the difference in the quality of the boxes listed here is from a very high baseline. All offer an incredible story of farming done differently, and all offer incredible-tasting meat. But, the difference between this meat and more mass-produced stuff is huge – in terms of the environment and quality – and, importantly, animal welfare.
Free-roaming, pasture-fed cows have evolved naturally to forage and are not forced onto grains. Farmers are now grazing their cows “regeneratively”, in a way that helps to take the carbon out of the atmosphere (where it does harm) and store it in the soil (where it is a building block of life). This means their meat tastes of the terroir they have grazed upon. It’s also generally higher in vitamin E, which provides beta carotene – which is good for the immune system – and protection against toxins and neurological diseases.
In a similar way, sheep fatten up nicely by simply foraging in fields. They traditionally graze on land that doesn’t have much other agricultural use – such as poor-quality hillsides – and they convert that grass into oh-so-tasty and tender meat. And when it comes to quality, truly free-range and organic chickens are meatier because they have developed good muscles. They also offer more complex flavours because of their healthier lifestyle and feed, plus, there are less of the bad fats and more of the good fats in these chickens, and they are not routinely fed antibiotics.
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Meanwhile, organic and truly free-range pigs are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers common in intensive farming. When it comes to eating, the firmness of texture and depth of flavour is unparalleled in pigs that have been free to roam and fed a healthy diet.
Here, we recommend some of our favourite meat boxes on offer at the moment – organised according to meat type. The meat arrives chilled or frozen and will stay that way all day.
How we tested
To make our selection, we reviewed boxes exclusively from high-welfare farms with free-range animals . A lot of the produce is organic, too. We opted for a real variation in sizes of farm and meats on offer as well as prices of boxes.
Every farm listed answered a comprehensive set of questions about their farming practices and each offers a whole range of different meat, not just the box we’ve selected. So if you like the sound of one then click on the link to find more.
The best meat delivery boxes for 2022 are:
- Best for slow-grown, native beef – Cotswold Beef new summer taster box: £80, Cotswoldbeef.com
- Best for midweek variety – Abel & Cole marvellous meat box: £17.50, Abelandcole.co.uk
- Best for easy midweek meals – Riverford essentials meat box: £20.25, Riverford.co.uk
- Best for stocking up the freezer – Pipers Farm family favourite box: £65, Pipersfarm.com
- Best for wild meat – Knepp Wild Range Meat introduction to Knepp organic meat box: £60, Kneppwildrangemeat.co.uk
- Best for a sustainable BBQ – Field and Flower firestarter BBQ box: £44.86, Fieldandflower.co.uk
- Best for slow roasting joints – Rosewood Farm’s slow cook Saturday Dexter beef box: £70, Rosewood.farm
- Best for veal – Coombe Farm Organic the organic rose veal taster box: £60.50, Coombefarmorganic.co.uk
- Best for organic, pasture-fed steaks – Gazegill Organics the organic steak box: £62.99, Gazegillorganics.co.uk
- Best for a good, Honest steak – The Ethical Butcher honest and ethical taster box: £58, Ethicalbutcher.co.uk
- Best for Welsh wagyu – Real Food Hub Welsh wagyu: £19.95, Realfoodhub.co.uk
- Best for hogget – Lucie’s Lambs 1/2 hogget box: £85, Lucieslambs.co.uk
- Best for mutton – Heritage Graziers heritage mutton box: £85, Heritagegraziers.co.uk
- Best for a viking feast – Verwill Farm half viking box: £75, Verwill.com
- Best for pork – Helen Browning’s Organic kids’ favourites: £20, Helenbrowningsorganic.co.cuk
- Best for chicken – Fosse Meadows free range chicken portions box: £37.87, Fossemeadows.com
Cotswold Beef new summer taster box
Best: For slow-grown, native beef
If you could taste summer in the Cotswolds, this is what it would taste like. Cotswold Beef cows are mob grazed on wildflower meadows, herbal leys and permanent pasture and the flavour is captured in the tastiest of meat.
This family-run farm is out to prove a slow-growing native breed of cattle can be beneficial for the environment. As such, these farmers have been on a regenerative farming journey for more than 20 years, with a mission to improve soils, reduce carbon, increase the farm’s biodiversity and ensure its waters are pure. And apparently no order is too small or too big.
Cotswold Beef new summer taster box includes: 1 x packet of sirloin or rump (2 steaks in each packet); 1 x 500g flat iron (2 steaks) or bavette (1 piece); 2 x 500g minute steaks (4-6 steaks in each packet); 2 x packets of gluten free burgers (4 burgers in each packet); 1kg of flat brisket – perfect for smoking on the BBQ; 2 x 500g mince – perfect for smash burgers and meatballs
Abel & Cole marvellous meat box
Best: For midweek variety
Abel & Cole has been delivering organic food from farm-to-doors since the 1980s. Its sustainability starts on the farm and extends to the relationships it has with farmers and suppliers and its brilliant approach to doing business generally – it has an anti-racism charter that sets out a clear commitment to being an anti-racist organisation and it is transparent about gender pay, for example. Lots of businesses talk a good game, but Ed Ayton, who heads up sustainability, is someone that walks the walk.
We recieved beef strips, which were pefect and easy to whip up a a stir fry with, diced chicken leg that we turned into a curry and pork mince which we loved for our Vietnamese dish – all of which we already use in our regular weekly recipe repitoire. It’s a good value box for the quality of meat you’re recieving, that’s also really easy to use.
The Abel & Cole Marvellous Meat Box is a weekly organic meat box delivery that includes three changing cuts of free-range, high-welfare meat.
Riverford essentials meat box
Best: For easy midweek meals
This meat box is designed to make midweek meals easy. Each week, it contains different cuts of 100 per cent British, organic and grass fed meat, sourced from a small group of West Country farmers and is prepared at the Riverford butchery. And we should mention that all producers and farms are visited and approved by the butchery general manager to Riverford’s renowned high welfare and environmental standards.
Our box included pork sausages, a pack of beef mince and chicken thighs. The quality of the meat shines through even in our mid-week meals, especially in the chicken which not only is a darker colour, but has far more depth to it in flavour and feels very distant from your usual supermarket packs.
Riverford Essentials meat box includes: three staple, easy-to-cook, family friendly cuts, such as beef mince, chicken breast, and sausages.
Pipers Farm family favourite box
Best: For stocking up the freezer
Based in Devon, this 50-acre family farm has been a frontrunner in sustainably produced meat for more than 30 years. Everyone at Piper’s Farm is very vocal about what “genuinely” good farming looks like and it puts its money where its mouth is – using its growing platform to offer other small farms access to the market and customers access to wholesome natural food that has been grown with a respect for nature.
Pipers Farm has won a whole host of accolades for its great-tasting meat, from our very own best buys to Great Taste Awards. The family favourite box is a great introduction to what genuinely good meat tastes like, and offers brilliant value for stocking up your freezer.
Family favourite box includes: 1.75kg properly free range whole chicken, 250g properly free range chicken fillets, 1kg grass fed beef mince, 1kg saddleback breakfast sausages, 200g unsmoked saddleback back bacon, 4 grass fed beef sandwich steaks, 4 properly free range on the bone chicken thighs, 4 properly free range chicken burgers
Knepp wild range meat, introduction to Knepp organic meat box
Best: For wild meat
Knepp is famous for its rewilding project that has restored a range of habitats and helped bring back many of England’s most endangered species, including nightingales, beavers and purple emperor butterflies. And Knepp wild range meat is part of this pioneering rewilding project.
Animals here – which include longhorn cattle, Tamworth pigs and red and fallow deer – play a vital role in restoring habits and creating a variety of ecosystems that increase biodiversity and capture carbon. They have free range of an incredible 3,500 acres of land and are all 100 per cent grass fed.
Knepp maintains that its customers complete the natural systems, ensuring that populations remain low and animals can live out their lives in as natural a way as possible. As such, animals are selected at various age ranges all the way up until 15 years of age. This maintains a natural herd structure ensuring that they continue to drive natural regeneration in the rewilding project.
There’s a huge range of cuts and different meats here, with our highlight being the venison stir fry strips, followed by the beef sausgaes. Although sausages made from beef might not be your first choice, they really lifted our usual sausage and fennel pasta dish and gave it more depth.
Knepp Wild Range Meat introduction to Knepp organic meat box includes: 1 x organic topside (minimum weight 900g), 1 x organic beef mince (minimum weight 450g), 1 x organic fallow venison burgers (2 x burgers), 2 x organic red venison haunch steak (minimum weight 160g each), 2 x organic beef rump pave steaks or flat iron steaks, 1 x organic fallow venison stir fry strips (minimum weight 450g), 1 x organic beef sausages (6 sausages per pack)
Field and Flower firestarter BBQ box
Best: For a sustainable BBQ
Another great value box this one promises to get barbecue’s started and be a crowd pleaser. Field and Flower say its reason for being is to connect farmers doing it the right way with customers who care about high-welfare and sustainable farming. To minimise food waste, the brand sources to order, which means as long as you’re happy to wait five days for delivery, you can choose the exact cuts you want. It also prioritises buying whole carcasses from fewer farms as Field and Flower believe this not only helps the farmers and processors, but it helps the customer, too – as buying in balance means it can offer stable and competitive prices.
Field and Flower firestarter BBQ box includes: boneless herb & salted chicken thighs (250g); chicken fillet burger in garlic & herb rub (250g); burger sliders (6 x 2oz); family pack of pork & sage chipolatas (640g); peppered ranch steak (400g); pork rib-eye steaks (400g); smokey schweet BBQ sauce (150ml); wood wool firelighters
Rosewood Farm’s slow cook Saturday Dexter beef box
Best: For slow roasting joints
Do you know what’s underrated for slow summer days and nights? A slow roasting joint, served with a seasonal salad and a slightly chilled red, preferably al fresco. And Rosewood Farm really serves up the goods. Specialising in conservation – its tagline is “food as a by-product of conservation” – it uses cattle for conservation grazing both on its own farm and for other landowners such as Natural England and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
As such, its other specialism is beef. Beef from 100 per cent grass-fed cows. Interestingly, Rosewood Farm doesn’t dry age its meat – a process that is widely practised by others to improve the meat’s flavour and tenderness – because it says this makes little difference to the quality of the meat and maintains it is a waste of resources. Its customers agree, as do we and the Great Taste Awards. We encourage you to taste for yourself.
Rosewood Farm’s slow cook Saturday Dexter beef box includes: 5kg of the following joints: rolled brisket, forequarter flank (Jacob’s Ladder), short rib roast and/or rolled chuck roast.
Coombe Farm Organic the organic rose veal taster box
Best: For veal
The organic rose veal taster box is making veal ethical again. Coombe Farm Organic is making use of the male dairy calves from Coombe Farm’s long-standing organic dairy operation. Unlike the veal from the Ninties, these cows are free-range and fed a diet of whole organic milk grass and protein-rich cake, in line with organic standards. As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is reported to have said about veal: “To be honest, if you drink milk or eat cheese, it’s crueller not to eat it.” The result is a very tender meat with a delicate flavour, and the veal taster box is a great way to reacquaint yourself with what’s on offer.
This newly launched and limited range, has already sold out once so if you want to get a taste you may want to act fast.
Coombe Farm’s organic rose veal taster box includes: organic rose veal osso buco (500g), organic rose veal topside joint (1kg), organic rose veal sirloin steak (2 x 225g), organic rose veal escalope (2 x 150g), organic rose veal diced (250g), organic rose veal mince (250g)
Gazegill Organics the organic steak box
Best: For organic, pasture-fed steaks
If you have ever questioned whether organic, grass-fed meat really tastes any different to what you can buy in the supermarket then order this box and you will question no more.
The Gazegill farmland has been farmed by the Robinson family for nearly 500 years. Its ethos is simple: put more into the land than you take out. As such, its cows graze freely on their pastures throughout the summer months and their diet is made up almost completely of grass throughout the year (some peas, lupins and beans are fed in winter as required, especially to young cattle who need the occasional boost).
This ethos extends to the community to as the family works with a growing number of small farms and care farm communities. Plus, Gazegill Organics is 75 per cent self-sufficient for its energy needs and aim to take the farm completely off-grid.
Gazegill Organics the organic steak box includes: 2 x 170g fillet steaks, 2 x 198g sirloin steaks, 2 x 198g rump steaks, 4 x 100g minute steaks
The Ethical Butcher honest and ethical taster box
Best: For a good, honest steak
In case you hadn’t heard, Honest Burger recently announced its plans to exclusively source beef from regenerative farming systems and as such has teamed up with The Ethical Butcher for a pretty special partnership. This involves buying whole carcasses of beef to mince for their burgers. So, it needed an outlet for the surplus cuts – the steaks! Steaks as a bi-product of regenerative farming, you cry? Tell. Me. More.
Well, interestingly, until now, The Ethical Butcher’s beef has been exclusively 100 per cent pasture fed. The beef from this collaboration, however, has been fed some supplemental feed – namely arable byproducts such as brassicas, and also waste bi-products from local businesses such as brewer’s grains. You really can taste the difference; a cow’s diet changes the flavour of its meat. The steaks are buttery, tender and – excuse us for talking with our mouth full – very tasty.
The Ethical Butcher’s honest and ethical taster box includes: 1 x 250g ribeye steak, 2 x 250g sirloin steaks, 1 x 400g rump steak (serves 2), 1 x 120g fillet steak
Real Food Hub Welsh wagyu
Best: For Welsh wagyu
Alternative Meats has been supplying some of the UK’s top restaurants and direct to our doors for more than 21 years now. As the name suggests, it focuses on unique breeds, with its flagship product beig Welsh wagyu beef, bred and reared outdoors by Ifor in Montgomeryshire, Wales. Wagyu is a Japanese breed, revered for its intense marbling and these steaks are every bit as delicious and tender as you would expect.
If wagyu is your thing, also check out the meat from Alternative Meats’ Mangalitza pigs supplier. Real Food Hub describe it as the wagyu of the pork world. You won’t be disappointed.
The Real Food Hub’s Welsh wagyu includes a mixture of prime cuts of steak, such as fillet, sirloin, rib eye, rump and secret steaks (minimum 500g).
Lucie’s Lambs 1/2 hogget box
Best: For hogget
Lucie is a first-generation shepherdess with a small flock of native Romney sheep that she grazes on the Kent Downs. The sheep are 100 per cent grass-fed on pasture that is free from artificial fertilisers and you can buy both lamb (under 11 months) and hoggett (11 - 24 months) as individual cuts or in a bundle box.
For £85, the half a hogget box offers a lot of meat. It’s shipped frozen so it can go straight from the box to the freezer, and different cuts can be enjoyed over the course of time. Reared for longer, hogget offers a deeper flavour and Lucie’s Lambs certainly offer that.
Brilliantly embracing the nose-to-tail philosophy, Lucie Lambs also offer lambskin rugs, knitting yarn, and weaving yarn.
Lucie’s lamb ½ hogget box includes: 1 leg, 1 shoulder, 3 packs of chops, and either 2 bags of mince or a bag of neck and a bag of belly.
Heritage Graziers heritage mutton box
Best: For mutton
Wife-and-husband duo Katie and James are organic and pasture-for-life graziers without a farm. This means they have built up their own herd of cattle and flock of sheep, and seek out landowners with species-rich grasslands and wildflower meadows for their animals to graze in a way that builds soil health and biodiversity.
The livestock is slow-grown allowing the natural, species-rich grasslands to produce mature flavoursome meat; nothing is hurried. We were lucky enough to be a recipient of the mutton box (from sheep that are older than two years), which has just come on sale, and the chops were satisfyingly chunky, tasty and the fat melt-in-the-mouth.
This duo are out to prove it’s possible to farm for nature and to grow fashion for nature. As well as offering meat boxes, Katie makes fully traceable fashion garments and homewares from the wool of the flock, currently stocked in Liberty’s of London, through her business Loopy Ewes.
The Heritage Graziers heritage mutton box includes: shoulder of mutton (left on the bone); leg of mutton (tied, and left on the bone); rack of mutton (French trimmed); loin chops x 4 (cut from the loins), mint & apricot burgers (4 x 6oz gluten free burgers made with chump, breast and neck fillet), mince (1 x 500g pack made with chump, breasts and neck fillet)
Verwill Farm half viking box
Best: For a viking feast
If you’re looking to create a feast worthy of Valhalla, then Verwill is the place to go. It farms ancient breeds of sheep, inspired by their roles in the neolithic and mediaeval British landscape.
Verwill offers a full selection of cuts, but the sheep will be at least two-years-old and often three-years plus, before it is sent to you. The brand maintains this is because its ensuring the sheep have natural existence and are farmed in a way that helps to restore the soils, trees, wildlife and water. From an eating perspective, this means the meat is less fatty than your typical lamb and has a more delicate yet deeply satisfying flavour.
We roasted a lamb leg according to the instructions (make lots of incisions on the joint, stuff with salted butter, garlic and rosemary, cover with more butter and add some olive oil in the pan. Sit the joint on chunky carrots, shallots and celery sticks. After the 30 minute sizzle, add half a bottle of white wine, cover with foil and cook for three or four hours on low heat). It worked perfectly. And the leftovers were enjoyed for days.
Verwill Farm half viking box includes: 6kg to 7kg of meat. You request the joints you like and they can be delivered whole (bone-in) or boned and rolled.
Important to note: Verwill plan its meat production around the orders it receives, and are often over-subscribed, especially for the rare breed meat. Instead of an online shop, the website is a reservation service, where you specify what interests you and they get in touch when they know the likely delivery date.
Helen Browning’s Organic kids’ favourites
Best: For pork
How do you offer the kids the best of both worlds – food that feels like a treat, while you know you’re giving them meat that is GM-free, gluten-free and made from animals that have been reared to high welfare standards, without lots of chemicals? Enter Helen Browning’s Organic kids’ favourites.
Helen Browning is a pioneering farmer, who has farmed organically since 1986, in and around Bishopstone, near Swindon. It is renowned for its free-range pork and has recently started offering beef, too. The livestock is part of an ecosystem that improves soils and maintains the grasslands that harbour wildlife. It got a thumbs up, shouty “good sausage!” review, and a request for more from the kids.
At £20 a box, it provides four meals and great value for money too. All you need to add to the hotdogs is a film (and, according to taste, some crispy onions, mustard and ketchup) and you have the perfect Saturday night in.
Helen Browning’s Organic kids’ favourites includes: 1x organic speedy sausages, 1x organic wafer thin ham, 1x organic seasoned pork burgers, 1x organic hot dogs
Fosse Meadows free range chicken portions box
Best: For chicken
When you’re buying chicken, the costs between the free range and intensively farmed are significant. It’s often said that free-range goes further – you can make three meals out of one chicken, with a little bit more effort. Well, this box takes that effort away. It offers six meals for two people (at least), meaning the meat for each meal costs a little more than £3.15 per person.
What’s more, you’re getting better quality. The USP of Fosse Meadows chicken is that they are grown to 81 days. An average supermarket chicken is grown for around 35 days, so a Fosse chicken lives more than twice as long. This allows them to grow at a natural rate, antibiotic-free. They are also free-range, and forage in meadows that aren’t sprayed with fertilisers or pesticides. The result is meat that’s darker, more textured and offers unparalleled deep flavour.
Fosse Meadows free range chicken portions box includes: 4 x skin-on breasts, 4 x thighs, 4 x drums, 4 x wings, 1 x pack of diced leg or breast strips 450g typically
The verdict: Meat boxes
Selecting a best box, when they each cater to such different tastes, is an incredibly difficult task. All offer an undeniably pleasurable eating experience, but the Cotswold Beef box is awarded our best buy because it offers great quality and the family have been conscious stewards of the countryside for many years now.
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