The recipe for success this January
January is the month for failed resolutions. Overnight, we hope to undo all the cheese, booze and chocolate we consumed, but I decided I wouldn’t fall into this trap. Instead I would ease into the new year in style and carbs would be my friend in the dark January nights.
Before we even hit midnight on the 31st however, I’d ordered my first ever recipe box from Gousto – inspired by a whopping 50% discount. In case you’re not familiar, recipe boxes typically provide all the ingredients you need to create a meal. You can personalise the number of servings and whether its veggie, healthy and sometimes speedy. On average it’s £35 for 3 meals for 2.
Recipe boxes tick a lot of boxes (pardon the pun):
- They can be healthy,
- They can reduce waste,
- And often reflect some of the top foodie trends
Right now the recipes reflect the healthier January focus with a good selection of veggie dishes. The herbs, spices and sauces are often pre-portioned – so you avoid the bottles of fish sauce and garam masala that sit in the back of the cupboard until you finally have that clear out. They typically feature at least one or two of your five a day and the portion sizes are filling, but avoid you mounting up your plate. The best bit in my opinion is that they break you out of auto pilot. The only fish I cook at home is in finger form, yet I’ve been cooking Sea bass, smoked mackerel and Salmon. It provides lots of simple tricks and short cuts. I now know equal parts flour and butter are a Beurre Manie and easily thickens stock to make a gravy!
We’re seeing food prices rise and we’re all feeling it. Recipe boxes are an expensive way to eat, even when you factor in the reduction in food waste. Most of the cooking and chopping needs to be done yourself, so it’s not as simple as assembling the dish despite the price tag. It’s also tricky if you have a really specific diet. For example, if you’re on a high protein regime, you’ll need something more specialist and more expensive still. You may only get one large chicken breast between 2 people, which although filling, is not a high protein option.
Recipe boxes have been called many things; the end of supermarket shopping, a passing fad, an absolute rip-off and game changing. Whilst we don’t expect the British public to turn to recipe boxes overnight, we do expect a shift away from prepared convenience food towards more ‘authentic’ scratch home cooking made easy. Particularly as we see British pallets become ever more sophisticated and adventurous.
In the short term I expect to see an ever expanding range of smaller recipe kits such as the curry spice kits already available and more recipe boxes available in higher end supermarkets. In the longer term, as recipe boxes gain in popularity, I expect to see online recipe kits becoming increasingly personalised to diet (e.g. higher protein, gluten free) but only as economies of scale make this feasible.
The recipe box providers who offer the most convenient app, most Instagram-able dishes, convenient delivery options and compelling branding are likely the ones that will succeed. I for one will be continuing to use them every couple of weeks just to keep me on my toes in the kitchen whilst using the tips I’ve learnt in my everyday cooking.
Anthony Carter, Associate Director