The best healthy meal box subscriptions on test

In recent years, the number of healthy food subscription services has boomed – so we put popular brands to the test to bring you the best on the market.

We tested recipe boxes which include pre-portioned ingredients ready for you to cook at home, and ready-to-eat meal packages which do away with the need to cook altogether – many options simply require you to heat and eat.

The healthy recipe boxes that we tested all came with chilled, fresh ingredients and recipe sheets showing you how to prepare the food at home, along with nutritional information for the meals. Pre-portioned ingredients result in little or no food waste, while delivery to your door cuts down on the legwork required to shop for your dinner’s ingredients.

The pre-prepared healthy meal services that we trialed all provided ready-made main meals, suitable for either eating cold or heating with minimal effort before consuming. Some brands provide a whole day’s worth of food along with snacks, while others focus on your main meal of the day, with dishes suitable for lunch or dinner.

When it comes to cost, recipe boxes and pre-prepared meals can quickly add up, especially when compared to bulk buying staple ingredients, picking up produce from local markets or timing your supermarket trip to snap up price-reduced items at the end of the day. Excess packaging and delivery transport emissions are an environmental cost to consider, too, although many brands are doing their bit to reduce the impact of their services, and the reduction in food waste may be welcome in some households.

The main factors to take into account when choosing a healthy food subscription service are value for money, health credentials and menu customization options (particularly important if you follow a free-from diet or prefer to opt for a vegetarian or vegan menu), convenience factor, environmental impact and the terms and conditions of subscription when you sign up. We’ve tested popular brands to bring you the best on the market.

For more, visit our reviews section and find over 400 practical buyer’s guides offering unbiased advice on what foodie products and services are worth spending money on. Plus, we have thousands of simple recipes for everyday mealtime inspiration.

The best healthy recipe boxes

1. Gousto recipe box

A Gousto recipe box filled with fresh ingredients

Best all-rounder

Find out how to sign up to Gousto

Industry giant Gousto received top marks from us for their health-focused boxes filled with ‘Healthy Kitchen’ and ‘Lean in 15’ recipes – designed with The Body Coach himself, Joe Wicks.

You can choose from over 40 recipes each week. Find recipes that suit you with the search filters, allowing you to browse vegetarian or plant-based (vegan) dishes, as well as gluten-free and dairy-free recipes.

The Lean in 15 menu included speedy harissa and tomato chicken with couscous and a spicy rainbow veg and black bean curry, while the health kitchen options included Indian chicken and grains with turmeric yogurt and fragrant lemongrass prawn stir-fry with black rice.

Inside the box are recipe cards (helpfully hole-punched in case you want to file them for future reference) with easy-to-follow, illustrated instructions, along with nutrition and allergen information. Ingredients are separated by recipe and most don’t require any special equipment to cook – although you’ll need to add oil, salt and pepper from your storecupboard.

We found the dishes easy and quick to prepare, and the finished plates were colourful and appealing to the eye. Portions were generous and included plenty of vegetables, with a good balance of carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats.

A two-person box containing four recipes costs £34.99, coming out at £4.37 per serving – good value-for-money considering the quality of ingredients you receive. Delivery is free.

Chilled ingredients such as meat, fish and dairy products are kept cool in Gousto’s innovative Eco Chill insulation box, which uses several layers of cardboard to keep the temperature inside the box down. Most of the packaging is recyclable, however some fresh vegetables such as spinach leaves and tenderstem broccoli are understandably wrapped in plastic.

One thing to note – when you open an account, you’re signed up for subscriptions automatically. However, the terms are very flexible, allowing you to pause or skip deliveries, change the size of your box, delivery day and address.

Find out how to sign up to Gousto

2. Hello Fresh

A Hello Fresh recipe box on a doorstep

Best for adventurous cooks

Find out how to sign up to Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh’s balanced recipes are developed with a nutritionist, and all clock in at under 550 calories per portion, are low in saturated fat and salt and without any added sugar.

Pleasingly, there’s a lot of variation in the recipes on offer, with flavours inspired by a range of different cuisines and culinary backgrounds (although many recipes aren’t ‘authentic’ in terms of ingredients and flavour profiles). Our box included garlicky prawn & tomato orzo and harissa chicken & lentil jumble, with a vegetarian coconut Caribbean-style kidney bean stew, all tagged with the ‘calorie smart’ label.

Recipe instructions were printed on A4, thin cardboard sheets with illustrative images for each step in the process. On the whole, they were easy to follow – although unnecessarily wordy at times – and didn’t require any special kitchen equipment. Nutritional information and allergens are clearly stated for each recipe.

Inside the delivery box, ingredients are conveniently sorted by recipe number into separate paper bags, while chilled ingredients are insulated in a cool pouch of spongy thermal insulation made using recycled plastics – it’s not currently possible to recycle this material, so this needs to be disposed of with household waste.

Subscription terms are flexible – you can skip a delivery or cancel at any time, and you’re not locked in for any particular amount of time.

Price-wise, Hello Fresh is almost exactly on par with Gousto – a two-person box containing four recipes costs £32, but daytime delivery costs £3, bringing the total to £35, coming out at £4.38 per serving.

Find out how to sign up to Hello Fresh

3. Mindful Chef

Mindful Chef box

Best for gluten-free and dairy-free diets

Find out how to sign up to Mindful Chef

Health-focused food box company Mindful Chef centre their menus around high-quality, nutritious ingredients and a low-carb, gluten- and dairy-free way of eating.

Ingredients arrive pre-measured in individual packets and sorted by recipe into paper bags (eliminating the extra few minutes you might spend hunting for a rogue lime at the back of the fridge), along with an insulated bag with meat, fish and chilled ingredients. There was a sachet of chilli paste missing from one of our bags, but luckily we had some at home.

Each box contains the ingredients for two to five recipes and you can choose from 21 recipes each week. At the point of recipe selection, you can see how long each dish will take to prepare, the calories and macronutrient information (fat, carbs and protein), ingredients and price. All recipes are nutritionist-approved, gluten-free and dairy-free, and there are plenty of vegan options to choose from. All the recipes are quick to make (under 30 minutes) and have less than eight steps – making them easy enough for even novice cooks to attempt. Included in the delivery is the Mindful Chef magazine, featuring all the recipes for that week.

The meals were very tasty, with high-quality meat and fish and lovely fresh vegetables. We tried sweet chilli salmon skewers with noodles & tenderstem broccoli and apricot harissa & chickpea stuffed Romano peppers – both of which were delicious, with generous portions.

Packaging is kept to a minimum, although as with all recipe kits, the individually-portioned ingredients results in some plastic waste. A returns label is provided so you can send 4-6 weeks’ worth of insulation and ice packs back to be reused.

The price you’ll pay depends on the recipes you select – many are reasonable, but some, which use more expensive ingredients, are pricier, such as the salmon dish, which came out as £8 per portion.

Subscriptions are flexible and easy to update – you can skip, pause or cancel deliveries at any time – as well as scheduling extra one-off boxes as desired. Deliveries can be arranged on any day of the week and you can choose recipes up to six weeks ahead.

Find out how to sign up to Mindful Chef

The best pre-prepared healthy meal services

4. Allplants

Allplants ready-made meals on a table

Best for plant-based dining

Find out how to sign up to Allplants

If you think frozen vegan food doesn’t sound exciting, think again. Allplants’ ready-made meals are full of flavour and rank highly on the convenience factor – simply stash in your freezer and cook from frozen when needed.

Allplants would be a great choice for both committed vegans and flexitarians looking to add more meat-free meals into their weekly rotation.

Choose from 40 main meal options (you need to select six to fill up your box), then add up to nine extras, including sides, smoothies, puddings and breakfasts.

As you choose your meals you can peruse the nutritional information for each dish, many of which have extra points for being good sources of protein, iron and vitamin C, as well as providing two or three portions of veg.

Our favourite was a nacho three bean chilli topped with cashew soured cream, sweetcorn salsa and crunchy tortilla chips, clocking in at under 500 calories and providing two portions of your five-a-day. Also on the menu – a clever, cheeseless mac and greens, comforting three-mushroom risotto and a protein power bowl with miso roasted tofu, veggies and grains.

Arriving in a cheery yellow branded box, all the meals are individually portioned and frozen, surrounded by innovative insulation made from upcycled excess fabric fibres. You’ll also be provided with a free returns label to send back a few boxes’ worth of insulation for Allplants to reuse.

Each box contains six meals, and you can choose whether you want to serve one or two people, with the service clocking in at £40.50 for six servings (£6.75 per portion), or £59.88 for 12 servings (£4.99 per portion). You can filter to exclude soy, nuts or gluten, and opt for recipes that can be heated up in the oven or microwave (we had good results using both methods of heating, but some recipes such as the nacho chilli are obviously best crisped up in the oven, as the packaging made clear).

Subscriptions are flexible and managed through the account section of the website, and you can make changes to order dates, portion sizes and delivery frequency, or cancel your subscription if desired.

Find out how to sign up to Allplants

5. Balance Meals

Balance Meals food in meal boxes

Best for flavour seekers

Find out how to sign up to Balance Meals

The first phrase that springs to mind when opening a Balance Meals delivery is ‘eating the rainbow’ – these are super-colourful dishes with plenty of fruit and vegetables each day.

Packed into the containers are generous portions of protein (chicken, salmon, halloumi), and tasty dressings and sauces. Highlights included tasty banana protein pancakes for breakfast, filling halloumi and quinoa with a passionfruit dressing for lunch, and sliced steak and sweet potato wedges with a mustard sauce for dinner. Snacks included spiced chickpeas, protein balls and granola bites, and were a welcome and tasty addition to the main meals. Meals can be eaten cold, as they come, or easily heated up in a frying pan or microwave.

The daily calorie count varies depending on the specific plan you choose – Trim + Slim is lower in calories and carbs, providing 900-1900 calories per day. Maintain + Sustain is a middle-of-the-road option, providing 1600-1900 calories per day (this is the plan that we chose), while Grow + Gain tots up to 2300-2600 calories per day.

For each week, you can choose five breakfasts, five lunches and five dinners, and up to five snacks – the dishes were very much to our taste and we would have happily eaten most of the options on the menu (although if you aren’t a kale fan, choose carefully). As you’re able to pick and choose which dishes you receive, you should be able to avoid any disliked ingredients, and each dish lists the nutritional and allergen information clearly. If you have any allergies, Balance Meals advise you to email them before placing your order.

Each week’s food is split into two deliveries, the first on Sunday (containing meals for Monday through to Wednesday) and the second on Wednesday (for meals for Thursday and Friday), any time from 9am-6pm (though you do receive a message with a time slot on the morning of delivery). The only downside was having to be in to receive the Sunday delivery – something to bear in mind if you’re often out or away at weekends and don’t have a safe place for the courier to leave the package.

Meals come in sturdy plastic tubs with close-fitting lids that are recyclable, but could easily be washed out and reused. Sauces come in small plastic pots with lids.

The Trim & Slim plan is £120 for the week (£24 a day) and comes with two free deliveries.

Find out how to sign up to Balance Meals

6. Balance Box

Balance Box food subscription service

Best for weight loss without losing out on flavour

Find out how to sign up to Balance Box

Offering two menu options, Lighter (providing 1200-1300 calories each day) and Market Plan (providing 1700-1800 calories each day), Balance Box is designed with weight loss in mind – while still providing plenty of healthy, tasty food to keep you satisfied each day. Although you can choose between Classic, Vegetarian, Pescatarian and Free-From boxes, you can’t select exactly which meals you want – so if you like to pick and choose based on specific ingredients or dishes, you might not enjoy all the menu options.

Each day you’ll get three meals and two snacks. All main meals are packed into sturdy, recyclable plastic tubs and clearly marked with the day and meal (e.g. Tuesday, lunch). You also get a printed menu in your box, which is very handy to pop on the fridge to keep track of what to eat and when. Deliveries are made twice a day to ensure that the food is fresh.

The box itself is packaged with a cardboard divider for each day. Each pot is labelled with the day and the meal. The menu comes separately on a sheet of paper. Accompaniments (e.g. rye bread, oat cakes, granola topper) are in a separate paper bag, fruit (kiwi, apple, pear) in another, bars, nuts and seeds (trail bar, pumpkin seeds, berry bar, peanut bar, nuts) are in another.

Breakfasts included a delicious banana and blueberry bircher and roasted pears with Greek yogurt and granola, while lunches include rainbow rice salad, carrot, coriander & ginger soup and a classic tuna niçoise salad. Dinners included peri peri chicken and tomato rice and a falafel tagine. All were perfectly prepared, tasty and filling.

Prices start from £22.99 per day, and delivery outside of London and the M25 costs £4.95. You can try a one-off box, or save money by ordering a subscription – you can pause or re-schedule deliveries if necessary.

Find out how to sign up to Balance Box

7. Munch Fit

Munch Fit meal in packaging

Best for big appetites

Find out how to sign up to Munch Fit

One of the more premium options on the market, Munch Fit offer a huge range of gluten-free dishes prepared by chefs and tailored to specific health goals. They have four core plans; Lean, which is centred around lower-carb, lower-calorie dishes, Balanced, which provides a variety of macro profiles in your menu, Strong, which is aimed at active people who need more carbs and protein to fuel them, and Green, which is packed with plant-based protein sources.

We opted to try the Balanced Plan, three meals a day (including breakfast), for three days. The menu included Middle Eastern turkey patties, quinoa and harissa, paprika salmon with broccoli fritters and pesto and lime chicken madras, cauliflower salad and butternut bhajis – which were all as delicious as they sound. The portion sizes were huge – we’d wager it would be impossible to feel hungry or unsatisfied after eating a Munch Fit meal.

You can choose between two to four meals per day, eaten on three to six days per week. Deliveries are on Saturday (Sun, Mon and Tues meals) and Tuesday (Wed, Thurs and Fri meals) between 8:30am and 5pm.

The only downside to this plan is the cost. You can choose your duration, and opt for a trial week for your first delivery – the longer you subscribe the more you save, but you are locked in for the duration of the period. As a guide price, a four week subscription to a Balanced plan (comprising three meals each day, five days a week) tots up to a hefty £541.80 for the month – working out at £9.03 per meal. On top of this, the two deliveries per week will set you back an extra £12.

Find out how to sign up to Munch Fit

8. KBK

KBK pre-prepared meals in boxes

Best customisable meal prep menus

Find out how to sign up to KBK

KBK offer flexible, adaptable meal prep plans and pre-made meals delivered straight to your door – ready to heat up in just three minutes in the microwave.

First, you need to choose your plan – Stay Lean (which we opted for), Get Lean, Build, Vegetarian, Plant-based, Student, or Just Prep. Prices start from £3.55 per day, increasing in price depending on how many meals you and how many days you want per week. The plans are very customizable – you can choose exactly which meals you want to receive, enter allergies and intolerances, and select disliked ingredients. Vegetarian and vegan plans are available.

On the Stay Lean menu, dishes included jerk chicken, rice and peas, a full English frittata, and (as we were testing in December) a traditional Christmas dinner. We were really impressed by the quality of food and the plentiful servings of veg – it really tasted like a homemade meal and we were left with no doubts about KBK’s health credentials.

The calories vary depending on the plan that you choose. The Stay Lean plan averages out at 1,300 calories a day for two meals, and 1,800 calories for three meals each day. It’s also low in sat fats, high in vitamins and minerals, a good source of protein and high in fibre.

Prices vary depending on your meal plan requirements, but for reference, a three meal per day, five days per week plan costs £76.26 when ordered as a one-off package, so £15.25 per day (you can save money by signing up to a subscription). Deliveries take place on Sundays and Wednesdays, and you can cancel subscriptions at any time with seven days notice.

Find out how to sign up to KBK

9. Natural Ketosis

Natural Ketosis packaged food on a white background

Best for low-carb dieters

Find out how to sign up to Natural Ketosis

Restrictive weight loss regimes such as ketogenic diets always take some time to adapt to, but if you’re interested in this way of eating, a subscription service such as Natural Ketosis could be a fuss-free way to ease you into it.

Each delivery includes shelf-stable pouches of food which can be stored conveniently in the cupboard instead of the fridge, along with low-carb snack bars and tubs of granola and porridge. It’s worth noting that the delivery doesn’t include everything required to follow the plan – you’ll still need to shop for a few perishable items including milk, yogurt and berries, plus extra fresh vegetables if wanted.

The brand also provides booklets with extensive and clear information on following the plan, including how to prepare your food, substitutions and extra items that you can include, and what to expect from ketosis (headaches, lethargy and metallic breath are unfortunately side effects). We’d recommend checking with your doctor before starting any weight loss diet.

There’s no getting around the fact that this is diet food, and the portions are on the small side, but the food was satisfying and flavoursome (if a touch oily for our taste). We particularly enjoyed the creamy Thai chicken and hearty chilli bean soups, and the breakfast options, such as granola with yogurt and berries. If you like lots of variety each day, this might not be the ideal meal plan for you – but it does take the stress out of deciding what to eat each day and calculating nutritional targets such as net carbs, which can be particularly difficult on a keto diet.

A 14-day plan, with each day containing breakfast, lunch, dinner and one snack, costs £179, with various carb options available (e.g. under 20g carbs per day, under 50g carbs). Vegetarian boxes are available (but not vegan). Purchases are one-off, meaning you’re not tied into any rolling contract or recurring payments.

Find out how to sign up to Natural Ketosis

10. Potage

Potage salmon curry in bowls

Best for frozen home-cooked classics

Find out how to sign up to Potage

With a focus on seasonal, high-quality ingredients and traditional home cooking techniques, Potage offer a range of pre-made meals, flash-frozen to seal in nutrients and flavour. The dishes taste properly homemade, and it’s difficult to beat the convenience of a well-stocked freezer, doing away with the mess and time required to prepare and cook from scratch.

You can opt for five or ten meals per delivery (each serving two people, or one very generously) and choose from over 16 seasonal recipes, which would all make for very tasty dinners. Options are varied, hearty and comforting, including salmon massaman curry, Thai green chicken curry, classic fish pie and vegan shepherd’s pie (all priced at £12 for two portions). There are vegetarian and vegan options, but not loads, so probably best for flexitarians who do eat fish and meat but want variety in their weekly rotation.

There’s less of an emphasis on calories than some of the other brands we’ve reviewed, but the ingredients list is all-natural ingredients that you’d use in your own kitchen, and the website provides a full nutritional breakdown for each dish that you can read before you choose.

The meals arrive frozen and well-packed with insulation and a dry ice box. Packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable and can also return the delivery box, insulation and dry ice box (using the returns label) for reuse. Meal trays, slips and film are recyclable. Recipes should last for up to three months in a home freezer.

You can choose a suitable delivery day at checkout, and delivery is between 8am-8pm. DPD are the courier and text on the day with a one-hour delivery slot.

All Potage meals are priced at £12 and serve two people – so £6 per portion. Subscribers save 10% on every order and get free delivery, and the terms are flexible – you can edit meals, skip a delivery or cancel subscription at any time.

Find out how to sign up to Potage

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