Gousto – living the mealbox lifestyle

I love cooking, or should that be I did love cooking? Over the last year, I’ve got home first so dinner has been my responsibility. This year, I have things I want to accomplish: I need to claw back time. So, to save myself mental energy and time, I decided to use a mealbox.

Portobello mushroom burger: not something I would have thought to cook.

Portobello mushroom burger: not something I would have thought to cook.

What is a mealbox?

A mealbox contains everything you need to cook a set of meals. I order four meals for two delivered once a week. The only thing I need to have at home is oil, salt and pepper: all other ingredients are delivered to me in precicely measured amounts.

They come in a bog box (which I repeatedly forget ot photograph before unpacking) with a bag of dry ingredients, a compartment for veg and a wool-based cool box for dairy and similar ingredients.

I’ve reviewed a one-off Gousto box in the past which is why I went with them. There are other meal box options out there, like Hello Fresh.

Select meals, receive box, cook!

The processis simple. Once a week I select four meals from the vegetarian selection. I can set the delivery date – currently Thursday although Tuesday would be more sensible. We eat out once a week, have take away once and can use our brains to create something from storecupbard basics once a week. Four deliveries works well.

Recepies don’t seem to repeat very often: so far we’ve eaten 12 different meals. It costs us £4.37 per meal. We could eat cheaper but it’s an acceptable cost.

With the food are recipe cards. They set out what each recipe needs on one side (I find it oddly satisfying to collect the ingredients in a little pile) and the method on the other. None of the dishes I’ve ordered takes more than 30 minutes to cook.

Crispy tofu with satay sauce, Jamaican stew, mushroom and lentil salad, sweet potato and peanut stew.

Crispy tofu with satay sauce, Jamaican stew, mushroom and lentil salad, sweet potato and peanut stew.

Pros and cons

We eat a more varied diet. When I get bored with cooking I bring out the same dish again and again and again. Noodle bowls are lovely and flexible but it’s nice to have something else.

So far, we’ve enjoyed everything we’ve eaten and even seen a couple of recipes that we can adopt. The cowboy beans went down a storm and were super-simple.

Because we only get the ingredients we need, there are no leftovers in terms of food or bits of herbs or fogotten veg. We don’t have to get jars of spices we then won’t use (so far we haven’t had any spices I don’t have in the cupboard – I’m not sure my collection is representative).

I do save mental energy and time on planning, shopping and thinking about meals. That’s good because I have a novel to edit and that is prio #1.

But it’s not all wonderful.

There’s a lot of packaging. I know Gousto are doing what they can to keep packaging down but needs must and you can’t chuck a tablespoon of smoked pepper in with the carrots: it needs it’s own container.

Some of the recipes are really calorific compared to what I’d normally cook. I like my three meals a day to be around the same size and leave room for a couple of apples or other snacks. When dinner’s going to be 600 cals I need to think about what I have for lunch. That’s annoying.

We’re two adults but we’re not two equal adults. We have different calorie needs so I take a smaller portion than C. It’s not a problem as such, just something I hadn’t thought about before I cooked my first Gousto meal. Neither of us is left hungry.

Then we have the delivery company. In the first six weeks, they failed to deliver twice. OK, it snowed once, so I’ll give them that one. We’ll see how they get on. Now they know where I live, it should be OK. (The first week did not go well.)

Linguine with kale pesto and chilli encrusted goats cheese.

Linguine with kale pesto and chilli encrusted goats cheese.

Conclusion

It works for me. The box arrives at ten o’clock on a Thursday, I then cook them over the next few days. I don’t have to think about what we’re having or plan for it during the day. No big weekend shops.

All I have to worry about now is lunches. Hurrah for the slow cooker.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

One Comment

  1. Interesting your comment about two non-deliveries. Search Goustocooking on Twitter to view comments about them (not just their twitter feed) and you find this is not at all unusual. You also find they use cold calling door to door sales that call repeatedly on the same day (reports of up to 4x) often well into the evening! Their product quality appears dire too, with cases such as 4 meals delivered with use within 2 days, vast numbers of damaged/inedible ingredients and even raw meat mixed in with veg. Gousto have got millions in investment this month (£24M March 2018) and their CEO seems keen to force Gousto upon us all whatever the product and service is like. It’s noticeable that many of their own Twitter posts are reviews of a similar formatted style suggesting paid for/ bought good reviews (hardly independent) unlike your own.
    Gousto appear to be a company intent on spending its investment regardless of consequences which look like they will be terminal for the company. Anyone considering Gousto should research their approach, including the overuse of packaging as you state, and will, if they do so, no doubt look elsewhere.

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