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Food subscription boxes: are they worth it?

Whether it be HelloFresh, Gousto, Mindful Chef, Simply Cook, or one of the various others, food subscription services have skyrocketed in popularity over recent months and years. But what is the reason behind their success? And is it time for you to sign up? 

In today’s day and age of ease, convenience and the internet, food subscription services tick all three of these boxes, providing UK consumers with a choice over what food they want to eat, theoretically, making their life easier in the process. 

In this article, we take a detailed look at the various advantages and disadvantages of UK-based food subscription services, and ultimately aim to answer the question: are they worth it? 

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Pro: No need to grocery shop. 

If you hate taking hours out of your day to go grocery shopping, searching for the best meals for you and your family to have, food subscription boxes offer an effective alternative. No longer will you need to queue up with trolley-loads of food – thanks to food subscription boxes, you simply pick the recipes you want for that week and get them delivered to your door free of charge. It’s that easy. 

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Pro/Con: Less random snacks. 

While on the subject of not needing to grocery shop as regularly, this means consumers will be less tempted by supermarket special offers and should, theoretically, come home with much less random snacks as usual. Depending on how you look at it, this could be seen as good thing or a bad thing. I know for me personally, if snacks are in the house, I’ll eat them. Whereas, if the only food I have available is the food box dinners I’ve ordered, then I’ll eat them instead of gorging out on snacks. 

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Pro: Portion control. 

If you’re looking to implement a healthier lifestyle, food boxes are pre-portioned to encourage you not to overeat. It can be incredibly tempting, after all, to eat a lot more than you should when cooking a family meal. Food boxes take that temptation away, providing you with the exact number of calories and vitamins you should be ingesting. 

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Pro: Less wastage. 

Since all the ingredients are pre-measured before they’re sent to you, there is much less wastage. Once an ingredient has been used, you simply throw the packaging away and free up the room in your fridge or cupboard. This also means you don’t need to worry about finding a load of sneaky ingredients at the supermarket – food subscription boxes provide you with everything you need to get cooking. 

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Pro/Con: You have to cook. 

This again could be seen as a pro or a con, but food subscription boxes do require you to cook. While you don’t need to have a Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay-level of cooking ability, you will need to know how to cut things up and cook things on both a hob as well as in the oven. If you have a habit of burning everything you touch, these boxes might not be the best thing for you. 

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Pro/Con: More adventurous recipes. 

Depending on how much you enjoy trying new foods and recipes, this again could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing. Many food subscription services change their recipes on a regular basis, meaning you get the choice over what you want to eat. If you prefer sticking to meals you know you like, these boxes might not be for you. However, if you’re more adventurous with your food, they could provide you with a whole new world of recipes, meals and flavours that you’ve never explored before. 

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Con: Price.

One of the main drawbacks of food subscription services is how much they cost. When done right, they can be fairly cost effective but generally speaking, they tend to cost a lot more per person than traditional grocery shopping. However, one of the key reasons behind their higher price is the fact that the ingredients are locally sourced and as organic as possible. The packaging and delivery services are also chosen to be as eco-friendly as possible, which accordingly drives up the price. 

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Con: Smaller portion sizes.

While you may see smaller portion sizes as a good thing, there is a big difference between how much an 80kg man needs to eat, compared to a 40kg woman, yet the portion sizes are the same for both. This, in turn, can leave some people feeling unfulfilled and as if they’re not getting good value for money from their subscription service. 

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Con: Time to cook. 

Many of the meals that food boxes offer are supposed to take 30 minutes or less, but that isn’t always the case. According to many reviewers, the meal preparation alone can sometimes take more than 30 minutes, let alone the cooking on top. Therefore, signing up to a food box is certainly a commitment. If you tend to have a fairly active social life, they may not be the best choice for you. 

Final thoughts

So, there you have it – a very quick overview of the pros and cons surrounding food subscription services. 

In answer to the overall question of ‘are they worth it?’, the choice really depends on your personal circumstances. If you are a big foody at heart and enjoy the thrill of cooking once you get back in from work, they could be a great option. However, if the thought of having to cook every night fills you with dread, you should probably stick to shopping in the supermarket. Just watch out for those pesky snacks if you do. 


By Annie Button

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