Ever since we landed in the UK, I have been dying to try out a meal subscription box service, like Gousto. There were similar ones available in Cape Town when we still lived there, but everything on offer in the UK just looked more delicious and easier to make. I’m not sure why I haven’t tried any of them sooner because they practically throw vouchers at you when you show even the slightest amount of interest – and I’m always looking for a good deal yet, somehow, I’ve been passing up “free lunches” all this time. Not anymore!
I was offered a discount on my first Gousto box and I decided that it’s time I did this! I was so eager to finally test out Gousto’s service, that I carried on my experiment for another two weeks at my own cost.
What is Gousto?
In its simplest form, Gousto offers recipe kits.
Each week, there are 22 recipes to choose from. You pick the ones you would like to try, and for how many people. Then, as if by magic, a box containing all the ingredients (in the exact quantities) you need to make the scrummy meals that you chose, arrives on your door step. (The ingredients are really well insulated and the ice packs will last the whole day.)
You control whether it’s a once off box or an ongoing subscription. If you take the subscription route, you won’t be billed until you’ve chosen your meals for that week and pausing (or cancelling) your subscription is done via the website and takes effect immediately. There are no hidden cancellation terms or conditions, or fees, whatsoever.
I was pleasantly surprised with the variety on offer and each week there are about six vegetarian options too. The rest of the meals are a delicious mix between old favourites, trendy dishes and even some truly exotic ones if you’d like to venture outside of your dinner comfort zone.
Each of the recipes also have a star rating left by users. I chose my recipes based on the highest star ratings and I was not disappointed. If more than 2000 people give a dish five stars, then it MUST be good.
You can view all the recipes they have ever had, here.
The seven meals that I decided to try were:
Smoky Pork Chilli with Popped Beans
Posh Open Burger & Rosemary Chips
American Chicken & Creamed Corn
Chestnut Mushroom Bolognese
Chicken Teriyaki With Sugar Snap Peas
Indonesian Chicken Rendang
Chicken, Red Pepper & Lemongrass Curry
Images sourced from the recipe links mentioned above.
The Ingredients and Equipment
Each box contains all the ingredients (minus pantry essentials such as butter, oil, salt, pepper, flour, sugar or tinfoil) that you’ll need. This includes things such as pre-chopped chicken pieces, 3 cardamom pods and even a teaspoon of nigella seeds. There is no waste apart from a few peels and tiny plastic packets that can go into the recycling bin.
You can tell by looking at the recipes on the website whether you will need things like an oven, a wok or pestle and mortar before selecting recipes. (If you don’t have an oven, don’t choose dishes that need to be baked.) I haven’t come across anything out of the ordinary but I didn’t have a pestle and mortar to make basil pesto so I used it as an opportunity to buy one.
My experience with Gousto
I placed the orders for all our boxes on Wednesdays and had then delivered on Saturdays. Weekends are when I have extra time to play around in the kitchen so it worked out perfectly for me.
All three boxes were delivered by DPD and I was given a time frame for when to expect delivery. I wasn’t home one Saturday and it went to the neighbours but everything was still ice cold inside when I went to collect it, four hours later.
The ingredients were of top quality and mostly organic. If I’m completely honest, they looked better than the majority of the groceries that I buy from Tesco BUT I don’t usually buy anything organic OR from Tesco’s Finest range so that needs to be taken into account.
The meat was sealed off well and nothing gave me the suspicion that it may have gone funky. I also waited about four days to cook some of the recipes and everything held up perfectly.
Every single recipe was incredible. The Chicken, Red Pepper & Lemongrass Curry is one of my favourites and I’ve made it three times since I got it. Maybe I just got lucky and chose the best recipes but I’m seven for seven. Sure there are some tweaks I’d like to make, such as substituting the coconut sachet for coconut cream – it’s much smoother, or dropping the cinnamon from the chilli recipe, but it’s all about personal preference.
Everything was easy to make and came out looking very similar to the pictures.
I’m so glad that I decided to give Gousto a try because I got to experiment with a bunch of recipes without wasting any food or money. I can’t tell you how many times I have spent about £50 on ingredients only for the recipe to be disappointing.
The whole experience was a positive one and exciting. It’s reignited a spark in me and reminded me that you CAN cook bomb food in under 40 minutes. I’ve been in such a rut in the kitchen lately and this was the breath of fresh air that I needed.
The Price Point
My fiancé and I argued at length whether the price was justified or not. I think it is… mostly.
Two meals for two people costs around £28 depending on the recipes chosen. At first, it seems really steep, but it works out to under £7 per person and that’s cheaper than decent/fancy takeouts (not donner and chips kind of takeouts).
My time is incredibly limited. I take care of our five-month-old son during the day, and freelance as a front-end developer and blogger at night. All the house work, errands and cooking are my responsibility too, so the time saved having to look for recipes, source all the interesting ingredients, going to buy them, measuring them out AND then still cooking the meal, is a big factor for me.
With Gousto, I can open up the app on my phone and order our dinners for the upcoming week with one hand, while I’m feeding my son, in less than five minutes. This level of convenience is priceless to me.
My fiancé’s mind works differently and wanted to crunch the numbers, so I decided to add all the ingredients to my online shopping list to see what the difference was. We shop at Tesco so I used them for my experiment.
The ingredients varied between £10 and £12 per recipe. That’s £2 to £4 cheaper per recipe. It’s not a massive difference, BUT you can make the recipe about three times by buying the ingredients yourself. Suddenly the gap his huge.
Simply buying ingredients doesn’t magically turn into a yummy meal though. You need a recipe and time for that – and like I said, I don’t have time to spends hours searching for a good recipe, vetted by thousands of people. So, we’re back to paying extra per meal for convenience.
I do agree (with my fiancé) that it isn’t realistic to do every day or even every week, but I think people need to remember that a service like this is never going to save you money, and honestly, they are not designed to. It’s about whether or not you can justify the price for the sake of convenience and time saved.
I love to cook, but as I’ve said over and over again in this article, I just don’t have the time to experiment as much as I used to and test out loads of different recipes. I still want to cook though, so Gousto has really brought it all together for me.
It’s been very cathartic too. On the rough days (like when my kiddo is teething) it’s nice to go into the kitchen and come out with something a little different to the norm but that still tastes amazing. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something with my day (because listening to a screaming baby and not getting around to cleaning the house, yet again, can make you feel a bit useless).
If you are looking to work on your culinary skills, or wow a special someone with a home cooked meal then I think you will find Gousto’s service invaluable.
Why not give Gousto a try?
Want (an almost) free dinner? I’ve got a discount code for you!
Choose your recipes on Gousto and enter the code TORNADO at checkout, to get £20 off your first & second boxes.
If you go for the two meals for two people option, then you will only pay around £6 per box. And as I mentioned, pausing your subscription is super easy but I doubt that you will want to.
This is a collaboration post with Tornado.
I received my first box for free but paid full price for the following two boxes.
I have not been paid to write this article or even asked to write it.
My views expressed are genuine and unbiased.
The discount code is not an affiliate code. I won’t make any commission if you use it.
Anyone can use the code TORNADO for the discount but it is limited to one use per physical address.