After you all seemed to be interested to hear about my experience with one of Riverford's meal boxes, when a voucher code for a two person Marley Spoon box appeared in the goodie bag from the Observer Food Monthly Awards, I thought I'd turn these reviews into a bit of a series. I ordered a regular, meat eaters two person two recipe box, and from the seasonal recipe selection I got to choose from the week before I went for two Asian numbers: Stir-Fried Char Siu Pork Mince, and an Aubergine Katsu with Pickeled Cucumber.
The box came really well packed, with the recipe cards on the top and with the ingredients for each recipe together in brown paper bags. The pork I needed for the mince was fantastically well packed in an insulated bag with ice blocks, so it does not matter if the box arrives during the day when you're at work.
Everything is really well packed, but perhaps too well packed. I think some of the vegetables could have done without being in plastic bags (some people do order meal boxes to cut down on waste, remember), and I thought the way some of the Asian ingredients were oddly packed. How do you use 2/3 of soy sauce in once part of a recipe, then the final 1/3 later on without having to dirty yet another dish?
The Stir-Fried Char Siu Pork Mince was delicious, and just what I needed after a cold, busy Friday at work, on the table in around half an hour. Something Asian with a lot of veg on a bed of brown rice is a usual weeknight for me anyway and it was easy to regulate the amount of chilli in the dish by just using half of each chilli (I don't mind it hot, but my Dad who I was also feeding is sensitive to spice!) This is a dish I'm going to try to hack at home (the char siu sauce comes pre-made), and I feel it could fall into regular rotation. My only qualms for this one are that there is so much food! I knew there was going to be too much pak choi from the outset so I still had some leftover in the fridge I needed to cook something else to use up, and while my Dad ate all of his and some of mine, could not manage to finish my bowlful. Also, I'd have splashed a bit less sesame oil on the steamed pak choi, but cooking it this way dressed in the oil and a bit of sea salt is something I'm going to try and do again to go with a stir-fry in future.
The Aubergine Katsu was my hero dish from the box. How had I never thought of making this with Aubergine before? The portions were big and filling, but this time not too much. It was a little more involved than the stir-fry (but still really easy) and I loved the flavours, even leaving out the peanut butter in the katsu sauce (I hate the stuff and I had not expected it) and adding a bit of cornflour to thicken it instead. My only qualms here were that way too much cornflour and panko breadcrumbs were provided for the aubergine pieces (so again, more for my larder), and the cucumber arrived rather battered.
Price-wise, the two person, two recipe Marley Spoon meal box costs £29.80, which shapes up at £7.45per portion, and there is also the option of ordering 3 meals in a box, or ordering family boxes that are better value. You can see all of the options here, and each week you get to choose from seven different recipes logged into your account. For my international readers, the service also runs in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Australia and the United States.
As for how it holds up to the first box I tried, the Riverford Guest Chef two person, three recipe vegetarian box, and their two person, two recipe meat eaters box costs £29.95, so Marley Spoon is a little cheaper, though I think the Riverford ingredient quality and packaging was better. The recipes in the Marley Spoon box were just as original, and I like how there was more flexibility with what was delivered. As I tried a Riverford guest box from .delicious Magazine, I can't really compare recipe quality.
Do any of you have meal boxes, and which do you order. I should be ordering a Gousto box next, and Hello Fresh are also on my radar. Are there any others you'd like to see me review?