Meal kit delivery services: some people swear by them, some only use them on busy weeks while others may never have tried them at all.
Whichever category you fall into, you are sure to have noticed that every few months, there seems to be a new food delivery service on the market, coming in hot with a round of Instagram influencer promos and no doubt a discount code for your first order.
But with so many recipe box services now on the market, how do you decide which is best for your needs?
We decided to put three of the most popular boxes to the test, comparing My Food Bag, Hello Fresh and Woop over the course of three delicious weeks.
As a fulltime working 28-year-old with a husband that prefers to spend his time in the gym and not the kitchen, making fast and healthy meals is really important to me. For that reason, I generally do my grocery shopping online, that way I can stick to a budget, and make sure I know exactly what is going in my food.
However being the primary cook in the household can get boring, and I do get sick of my own cooking. So I was really excited at the prospect of having someone else decide my meals for the week while seeing what goes into them.
Here's how they ranked:
My Food Bag
Classic box $129.99 for four meals for two people = $16.24 per plate
Menu: Chicken Filo Pie, Za'atar Lamb Steaks, Parsley Crumbed Fish, Kasundi Beef.
Best suited to: A couple, potentially with a little extra time on their hands as this one did take a little longer than my usual dinners. A retired couple would be the perfect fit for this box.
Comments: From the moment the nicest delivery driver I have ever met knocked on my door, My Food Bag screamed quality.
The packaging was eco-friendly with minimal plastic and the produce and meat looked to be of a very high quality.
While this was the most time-consuming box I tried, it also trumped the competition in terms of quality and creativity. I did, however, find it a little niggly that some ingredients were used over the course of two meals: it was so easy to accidentally use all five asparagus spears in one meal.
The only other downside is if you're not too clued up in the kitchen. My lovely, but not kitchen-savvy husband, served up the delicious Kasundi Beef dish sans couscous. He got a little overwhelmed with all the steps. However, it also makes for a great way to learn to be a better cook or get your kids into learning to follow recipes.
Classic plan $129.00 for five meals for two people = $13 per plate
Menu: Seared Pork & Tarragon Sauce, Cheddar & Courgette Fritters, Chinese Garlic-Ginger Beef, Panko- Crusted Chicken & Lemon Sauce, Beef and Pineapple Tacos.
Best suited to: A couple looking to make dinner within 20-30 minutes and have some left over for lunches the next day.
Comments: The Hello Fresh portion sizes were seriously impressive and left us with enough for lunch the next day.
What I loved most about Hello Fresh was the unique sauces and flavour combos which inspired me for future cooking, should I go back to my grocery-store ways.
While there was a little more plastic used than My Food Bag, I still felt Hello Fresh made a conscious effort to avoid plastic where possible.
Not only was the taste of Hello Fresh delicious, but it was also surprisingly easy to make. Using my trusty cooking-novice-of-a-husband to test it, he managed to make an impressive looking Chinese Garlic-Ginger Beef - and even added his own creative flare.
If a food delivery company can get my husband "Salt Baeing" spring onions onto the plate then it gets my stamp of approval.
Foodie Box $150 for four meals for two people = $18.75 per plate
Menu: Sergio Maglione Zucca E Salsiccia Pappardelle, Belgian Gin and Juniper Venison, Pulled Pork with Pickled Red Cabbage Mexican bowls, Teriyaki Chicken with Sesame Ginger Quinoa Slaw
Best suited to: People short on time who want something to prep quickly and go with pre-chopped ingredients.
Being the most expensive option, I expected a lot from Woop. And while I did enjoy the taste - the sauces were seriously to die for - I couldn't help but cringe every time I opened yet another plastic-sealed bag or plastic pot of sauce.
Yes, most of it was able to go in the recycling, but some of it had to go right in the rubbish bin: I opened a vacuum sealed carrot and potato mix on day two to find literal sludge. It had a strong plastic odour and was sticky to the touch. Guess the veggies weren't a fan of the plastic either.
It very nearly passed the now infamous Novice Husband Test, until he mixed the coleslaw from one of the dishes with the tongs he was cooking the chicken with. Needless to say, we did enjoy what became a cooked slaw all the same.
I do see a place for Woop in environmentally conscious 2018 and love the idea that even if you only have 10-15 minutes you can create a fast, healthy meal, which is a hell of a lot better than swinging through a Drive-Thru, right?
As someone new to the idea of getting my groceries delivered in pre-set meals, I was surprised how quickly I was converted.
The idea of coming home and not having to think about what I was going to rustle up for dinner was bliss.
With each service, I found there were at least a couple of meals I would never have thought to make, and now I will certainly be keeping them on file for future use.
Of all the meals, the one I enjoyed most was the pork with cream tarragon sauce and mustard mash from Hello Fresh. The simple sauce seriously elevated the dish and the mustard in the mash gave me an easy idea for future dinners needing a spruce up.
For my own personal situation, I found Hello Fresh best suited my needs. It provided enough food for dinner and lunch the next day, as well as giving meals and instructions that were simple to follow, yet delicious to eat.
In saying this, should I have a bit more time, and not require work lunches, I would totally try My Food Bag again, maybe even over Christmas, as it was fresh, low waste and full of flavour.
As for Woop, I would be more than happy to give this a go on a week I felt rushed - providing the company had a look into their packaging and waste in the future.
All in all, I do recommend trying a food delivery service if you're cooking has gone a little stale, you're short on time, or you just want to give the novice cook in your life some much-needed guidance. Just be sure they use separate tongs for the chicken and slaw.