If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I love the idea of recipe boxes. It takes the guess work out for you when you’re stuck for ideas, and all the ingredients are provided in the box for the meals that you need to cook, eliminating food waste. So when a company asks me if I would like to try out their recipe box, I’m always likely to say yes!
Riverford Organic Farms started a box scheme, when Guy Watson started delivering vegetables locally to 30 friends in Devon. We now deliver around 47,000 boxes a week to homes around the UK from their regional farms. The new organic recipe boxes contain everything you need for 3 home-cooked meals.
Inside each box, you’ll find the freshest, seasonal organic produce, step-by-step recipe cards and all the ingredients in exact quantities.
No waste. No missing the vital ingredient. All you have to do is cook.
-Riverford Organic Farms
We received an original recipe box for 2, priced at £39.95 for three meals. There is also a vegetarian recipe box priced at £33 (for 2) and £58 (for 4), as well as a quick recipe box for 2, priced at £39.95. When ordering the boxes online, you can also add other items from the Riverford Organic Farm Shop, including beer and wine, fruit and dairy to your order, making it a very handy service for your organic food needs.
My box arrived when I was out, and was left safely in my porch. The meat and other refrigerator ingredients were in a cool bag, and I would hope that this would keep everything fine for a few hours. The Riverford website say that you should put things in the fridge as soon as possible once you are home.The fruit and vegetables in the box are fresh from the farm, so should be washed before using. The perishables (meat etc) had good use-by-dates on them.
As well as all the ingredients, which are very neatly packed inside the box, you receive the recipe cards, as well as a list of all the ingredients that should be in your box. I found this very handy to check everything off. Nothing worse than going to cook one of the recipes and finding you have an ingredient missing!
The meals in the recipe box changes each week, so if you are a regular subscriber, you won’t be faced with the same meals, week in, week out – which I think most of us are guilty of when cooking for our families, am I right?!
The three meals in our Riverford recipe box were…
- Lamb Meatballs and Lentils, with rosemary, courgette, and olives
- Chunky Steak and Veg Chilli with avocado and soured cream
- Glamorgan Sausages, with mushrooms and baked beans
I’ll start off by saying that all the meals were delicious and very generous – easily serving 3, which is what we were able to do. My personal favourite was the lamb meatballs and lentils; the ready-made meatballs were so flavourful, and the combination of Mediterranean ingredients was lovely.
What I didn’t like so much about the box, were the recipe cards, which, I found a bit too wordy than necessary, and actually, had me a bit confused at times. I consider myself to be an experienced cook, and follower of recipes, so I have to say this did mildly annoy me! As an example, here is step 1 of a recipe:
Boil a kettle. While the kettle boils, wash and peel the potato(es). Chop them into approx 2-3cm chunks. Put them in a saucepan with a good pinch of salt. Trim the top and bottom of the leek. Halve it lengthways, then finely shred it. Wash well to remove grit.
The natural chef in me would be doing these things any way, so seeing it all written down felt unnecessary. Of course, there are people who can’t cook (won’t cook!) or not as confident with following recipes, so they may need that helping hand. I think putting how an ingredient should be prepared in the list of ingredients on the front of card, (e.g., onions, finely chopped) would have been more helpful, and given the cook the ability to get things ready in advance. As I re-read through the recipe, I can see the style it is going for, a description of the natural progression of how you cook at home: “whilst that is doing that, you can do this” and so on. But for me, it was too much.
The other problem I found, was that the timings seemed to be off. Now, this could be my cooker and level of heat when cooking on the hob, but again, this is not my first rodeo, so it was disappointing to find something wasn’t cooked through in the time it said.
I did like that there were some cook’s notes on the front of the recipe card, along with when you should cook it by (e.g., within 5 days), how long it would take (although, see above!) and the equipment needed. There is also a lovely photo of the finished dish, and I’m happy to say, that I did end up with what it should have been!
Lamb Meatballs & Lentils
I took photos (in very poor light!) of some of the steps of this recipe. I will have to order the meatballs (which are ready made) from Riverford again in the future, as they were soooo good! I laid out all the ingredients that were in the box for this recipe to show you. I only needed to add olive oil, salt and pepper from my store cupboard. The organic chicken stock smelled fab, and is the next best thing to making it yourself. As I said, the meatballs were ready-made, and had to be browned off first before being added to the saucepan with the other ingredients. And the only bit of faffing about, was peeling the tomatoes; me, I can be a lazy cook, so would have just left them on :D
Chunky Steak & Veg Chilli
Since I’m not a celery lover, I left that out, but it was nice to cook a chilli from scratch and not use a packet mix like I would do usually. The unusual ingredient here was a piece of dark chocolate! I do know that this is a traditional ingredient, but it has to be super dark and not a piece of Dairy Milk! For our tastes, we thought the chilli could have had more kick, and the brown rice, did not cook in the time stated, which was a bit of an “aarrgh” moment, but we just left the chilli cooking, until the rice was done. I cut the already cubed steak into smaller pieces to make it go further, and this easily fed the three of us.
These ‘sausages’ are actually vegetarian – they’re an old Welsh recipe that uses leeks and Caws Cenarth Caerphilly cheese. For added crunch to these alternative bangers, the breadcrumbs have added flaked almonds. My husband attempted this recipe, and said it was easy and straightforward to follow, (which goes against my feelings of the recipe cards being wordy), and enjoyed making them as it was something different to what he would normally attempt to cook. The Glamorgan sausages were so full of flavour, and the tin of organic baked beans we had to serve with them were yummy. They had a cinnamon kick to them, and were a nice change from regular baked beans.
At just over £13 per meal, it is on the pricey side if you are watching the purse strings, but organic food is more expensive than mass produced stuff…. For me, a box from Riverford would be an occasional treat, rather than something I would buy every week. The Riverford website shows what recipes are in the current and following week, so you can decide which box is right for you. They also show the previous weeks boxes too. And for when you don’t/can’t buy from them, there are lots of delicious sounding recipes on their site too.
Overall, I have to say that I was very impressed with the quality of the produce in the Riverford recipe box, the dishes were all tasty, and the ingredients and measurements are on the recipe cards, so you can make them again if you wanted to (and I want to!). The portions were also generous, and I found that we could share these between the three of us. I think, at a push, you could even feed four.
At the moment, the recipe boxes are starting off with a limited delivery area, which they plan on expanding. Why not head over to Riverford Organic Farms and check their new recipe boxes out?