21/06/2024 9:23 PM


Swing your Cooking

11 best vegetarian recipe boxes that make meat-free cooking easy


Whether you’re a vegetarian looking to spruce up your mid-week meal repertoire or are simply trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet, a recipe box is a great way of doing so without giving it too much thought.

Even before Covid-19 hit, trawling the supermarket was never one of our favourite activities. Thankfully today’s recipe boxes take away that hassle with conveniently portioned ingredients delivered to our doorstep, ready for us to turn them into culinary masterpieces by following a few simple instructions.

On average, it takes Brits 19 minutes to plan their grocery shop, another 25 minutes to complete the shop and then 39 minutes cooking the evening meal (and that’s not even including working from home lunches). That’s a decent chunk of time you could claim back for yourself – whether you choose to spend it reading a good book or catching up on Netflix, we’re not here to judge.

We’ve tried out all of the major subscription boxes, as well as one-off recipe kits from smaller brands to specifically evaluate how their vegetarian options live up.

When considering the right box for you, think about how many people you’re catering for, how many meals you’d like to order and the shelf life of ingredients. Some of the meals we tried were best eaten on the day of arrival whereas others could wait a little longer, giving you more flexibility when it comes to making plans.

Do you enjoy spending time in the kitchen or prefer to get in and out as quickly as possible? If the latter, look out for the quick cook options which guarantee a meal on your plate in minutes.

When putting our kits to the test, we were looking for easy to navigate websites that offered a wide and varied choice of vegetarian meals, across a variety of cuisines.

Our preference was for quality, long lasting produce, generous portions, and easy to follow instructions. Some boxes offered fully organic ingredients, many contained unusual, harder to obtain items and others could cater for dietary requirements. The vast majority of those included below are available nationwide but there are some exceptions which we’ve highlighted.

With precise ingredients and easy to follow recipe cards delivered directly to your door, these boxes make enjoying tasty, healthy meals from scratch a doddle.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Riverford vegetarian recipe boxes: From £13.25 (one recipe for two), Riverford

We love the easy to navigate Riverford website, which offers three new vegetarian recipes each week, as well as a further three that are vegan. To keep things clear, these are split into three categories: simple (quick to cook), light (under 550 calories) and foodie boxes for the more adventurous. As with everything at Riverford, all ingredients are 100 per cent organic and arrive in the quantities needed (albeit with very generous handfuls of fresh herbs), along with easy to follow instructions. The most joyous meal we created was the summer minestrone which had all hands on deck podding peas. The produce was the best quality we tried, with fresh veg arriving muddy, straight from the farm.

Each recipe arrives in its own mini box which fits easily into the fridge. The brand will also collect the outer box to recycle at its farm if you can’t recycle it yourself. The boxes are available as a one off, or you can subscribe for a delivery every one, two, three or four weeks with the option to pause if you’re not going to be around. The more recipes you add to your cart, the greater discount you’ll receive – add an extra one for a five per cent discount, or two more to get 10 per cent off.

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Gousto vegetarian recipe box: From £24.99 (two recipes for two), Gousto

Gousto offers a broad range of vegetarian options, with an impressive 13 new menus on offer each week. Included within the range is the popular “lean in 15” recipes which are created by brand ambassador (and the nation’s favourite PE teacher) Joe Wicks. A combination of low carb and carb refuel meals designed for rest days and exercising, vegetarian options include the protein packed miso tofu with stir-fried ginger greens – a lean dinner packed full of flavour. Not all the recipes are quite so virtuous though, with the likes of bean chilli with avocado and lime or lasagne primavera with feta and rocket also on offer. However, be warned, this last one required flour, milk, and butter from our own kitchen. Available seven days a week, prices include delivery, with meals available for either two or four people. We found the step-by-step photo recipe cards very easy to follow and the portion size filling.

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The Cookaway vegetarian box: From £24 (two recipes for two), The Cookaway

Taking inspiration from around the globe, The Cookaway menus are split by cuisine, with a choice of Japanese, Indian, Italian, Spanish, and “healthy”. Across these categories, there are a total of 13 vegetarian menus, six of which are vegan. Every menu comes with two recipes – a main and accompaniment, with an option to add on an extra side dish.

For example, we made a vegan paella with artichoke, butter beans, and saffron, and served it with asparagus with tomato confit. The extra dish was aubergine rolls with mojo sauce which we served as a canape. Bear in mind that this means you’ll be juggling multiple recipes and following separate cards all at once, which makes the experience more suited to those that enjoy cooking and have a little more time to spend in the kitchen.

A key difference with The Cookaway kits is that some ingredients are needed in more than one recipe so it’s really important to check the large recipe cards for exact quantities. The Cookaway is a no subscription service, with all menus available at all times. The plus side of this is you always get your favourite menu without any tie in, the downside being you’ll need to order as a one-off rather than a regular delivery (unless you don’t mind eating the same meals on repeat).

We were impressed that even cooking oil was included in our kits. However, we were left with some excess ingredients (tomato puree, half a can of tinned tomatoes) so for that reason, we feel the recipes would work better for four people rather than two. Having said that, all recipes are completely transparent (you won’t find pre-prepared spice mixes), which means you could easily keep your recipe cards and try them again.

The meals don’t have a very long shelf life and are best cooked and enjoyed within 48 hours of delivery – something to bear in mind when meal-planning for the week. All recipes are developed with The Cookaway’s head nutritionist to make sure each menu is packed with plenty of fresh vegetables, a good balance of protein and slow release carbohydrates.

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Mindful Chef vegan recipe box: From £22 (two recipes for two), Mindful Chef

Mindful Chef offers boxes for either one or two people as well as a family of four. There are 16 new recipes available each week (and these won’t repeat themselves in a 12-week period) but you can only search using meat, pescatarian or vegan filters, with no option for purely vegetarian recipes. This is because all Mindful Chef recipes are 100 per cent gluten and dairy free and you’ll never find pasta, bread or white rice on the menu.

With each delivery, you’ll receive a booklet containing all the recipes from that week along with numbered paper bags filled with everything you’ll need to make your selection. Dishes will never take longer than 30 minutes to make and ingredients have a shelf life of around a week, which makes working them into your schedule a doddle. We tucked into sesame maple tempeh with fresh mint and noodles, a super spicy vegan take on a chilli con carne using sunflower mince and the comforting tikka masala chickpea and quinoa bowl.

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Feast Box: From £20 (two recipes for two), Feast Box

Cooking with a Feast Box is all about trying food that’s inspired by countries around the globe, with all those hard to find ingredients conveniently delivered to your door in the exact portions you’ll need for each recipe. Available for either two or four people, there are four new vegan recipes at a minimum for you to choose from each week.

This global approach works particularly well with vegetarian food as plant-based ingredients like tofu, jackfruit and lentils have been used in other countries for generations. We tried cauliflower steaks with channa masala which utilised savoury tarka blends, palm sugar, and sautéed onion paste among other ingredients, but our favourite was the black bean and plantain stew with fiery scotch bonnet.

Every dish comes with a suggested drink pairing, either wine or beer, which can be added to your box. It’s easy to skip deliveries and update dietary preferences in your account page and with every recipe ordered, you’ll earn points which can be spent on treats such as Indian teas, ramen bowls and spice tins. Not sure what to do with your empty box?

The brand is partnering with Give Back Box, a service that distributes donation boxes to local charities. Simply fill it with unwanted clothes, shoes, books and other household items and you will be emailed a link to print a label so that you can drop it off at your nearest CollectPlus point for free.

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Pasta Evangelist vegetarian recipe kit: From £13.50 for two servings, Pasta Evangelist

Unlike most of the boxes mentioned, Pasta Evangelist delivers its meal kits in a letterbox friendly cardboard box, so you don’t need to be at home to receive it. Although the pasta and sauces are best eaten on the day of delivery, they can also be frozen if you’re not quite ready for them. Each week you’ll find at least two vegetarian recipes, as well as one or two vegan recipes now too – look out for different themes featuring a region or special ingredient such as truffle.

We tucked into pasta alla genovese with tagliatelle, and trofie with walnut pesto. Although the booklet will contain all the recipes for that week, you just match all the ingredients with the same coloured sticker. The simplest of all the boxes we tried, generally you’ll just be asked to heat the sauce and boil some water for the pasta, giving it a final flourish with cheese or nuts – the food will be on your plate in just five minutes.

Dishes are priced individually so will change depending on your selection, however subscribing will get you 10 per cent off your order, plus free delivery. Some dishes contain non-veggie burrata and parmesan but only dishes that are truly vegetarian will be labelled as such. We found portions to be a little on the small side, so we’d recommend bulking out with a fresh green salad for a more complete meal, and don’t forget to order a double portion if you’re cooking for two – or else you’ll be eating different dishes.

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Simply Cook vegetarian recipes: £9.99 for four recipe kits, Simply Cook

Another letterbox kit, each Simply Cook pack contains the flavour pots to make four different recipes, but this time you’ll need to add your own fresh ingredients. The benefit of having a Simply Cook box to hand is they have a really long shelf life, so if your plans changed, your food won’t be wasted. There are 50 recipes in the range, the newest being the teriyaki aubergine donburi which comes with a tasty rice stock pot, teriyaki sauce, and yasai seasoning.

Recipes can always be rustled up in under 20 minutes and will only ever require four to six fresh or cupboard items, making it a great mid-week solution when you’ve run out of new ideas. We like the control of buying our own ingredients (in this case an aubergine, rice, baby corn, mangetout, and spring onions) because it means those that want to spend a little more on premium produce can do so, or those that are on a budget can keep it cheap. It’s super easy to pause or cancel your subscription, with vegetarian recipes easily identified as such.

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HelloFresh veggie recipe box: From £29.99 (three recipes for two), HelloFresh

HelloFresh has recently added an additional three veggie slots to its offering, meaning those avoiding meat now have a choice of six new recipes each week, including one fully plant-based option. Within this, there’s the option of rapid recipes, which take just 20 minutes to make, thanks to pre-chopped quick cook veg (perfect for working from home lunches) and balanced meals, which come in at under 600 calories. Recipe cards are large and easy to follow with step-by-step photos and full nutritional information. We loved the refried bean and halloumi tacos with chipotle mayo and were surprised to find we were able to make a creamy korma in such little time. You have to order a minimum of three recipes for two people, with ingredients clearly divided into separate paper bags, making it quick and easy to get started.

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My Breakfast Box weekly subscription: £7.50 per week for five portions, My Breakfast Box

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, although for many of us it can also be the most boring. Not so with My Breakfast Box – a letterbox subscription with five individually portioned plant-based breakfasts. Spanning flavoured porridge, muesli, granola, breakfast bars and protein bowls, recipes are nutritionally dense containing plenty of protein, fibre and healthy fats from ingredients like chia seeds, nuts and seeds. Fully customisable, you pick the recipes you’d like to try each week and all the packaging is plastic free and home compostable.

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Halal Fresh vegetarian box: From £35 (three recipes for two), Halal Fresh

Although only available in London for the time being, we’re told there are plans to roll out in Birmingham soon (with more places to follow) and we were so impressed that we couldn’t keep this one to ourselves. Available as a one-off box, Halal Fresh offers three halal friendly veggie boxes a week (meaning ingredients are sourced from certified suppliers and will never contain alcohol). We liked the nutritional snippets provided on the recipe cards and were impressed to learn that absolutely all the packaging was fully recyclable. Meals were varied, we enjoyed the crushed courgette and feta quesadillas, halloumi and Mediterranean vegetable traybake with pitta and garlic yoghurt and the comforting cauliflower and chickpea Thai yellow curry.

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Potage vegetarian bundle: From £46.80 (four meals for two), Potage

After eight successful years delivering fresh meals to happy Londoners, the latest iteration of Potage (which launches this August) takes 16 of the brand’s bestselling recipes (over a third of which are vegetarian) and makes them available nationwide via subscription. The six frozen veggie meals include an aubergine lasagne, butternut massaman curry, shepherdless pie, Thai green veg curry, macaroni greens, and cauliflower tikka masala. There are three different bundles available: classic (meat & fish), flexitarian (meat, fish & veggie), and the fully vegetarian. Each contains a selection of four meals, three of which will always be the same, and one will change each month. You’ll be notified ahead of each delivery with what’s new and have the option to skip, pause, or cancel at any time. Perfect for new parents, or those that simply want to stock up the freezer with quality meals, potions are available for either two or four people and can be delivered either every one, two, four, six or eight weeks on the day of your choice.

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The verdict: Vegetarian subscription boxes

With an easy to navigate website, fantastic quality produce and varied interesting recipes, we’ve awarded the Indy Best Buy to organic specialists, Riverford.

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