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  • Cathy Henderson

4 ways to think outside the recipe box

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

A challenging, epoch-making time it may be, but it has encouraged diverse perspectives on doing things differently. The kitchen should always be a happy space this most often leads to other enlightenment...

Delving into recipe and food delivery boxes hadn’t really arisen as a main priority before, but when stockpilers and stressful shopping threatened to overwhelm, @HelloFresh popped up as one way out of a provision-sourcing quagmire. A range of similar concepts are out there, and most offer free delivery to your doorstep if you sign up to one of the plans, along with newcomers’ discounts. A few controversial comments referred to 'repackaging', but in fact, this brought so much more to the table than convenient delivery alone.

Much more than convenience

The idea provides a quick-and-easy as well as versatile and economical choice, and moreover, a good dash of inspiration along with a sprinkle of new ideas. Options exist to skip weeks and menus are fairly versatile for nutritional requirements. The idea of 15- or 30-minute meals might not be new, but recipe boxes take a quick and practical approach in a busy week next level. The easy planning ahead and delivery of each menu’s ingredients leave one with the energy to return to your own creative, more leisurely approach on the weekend perhaps, and the mental space to be immersed again in much-beloved recipe books or feel inspired to go foraging anew.

All in the prep – a crucial ingredient

There’s a rather child-like delight about receiving a big box of goodies. Out of the box and into the kitchen, while opening each little bundle and setting out all the ingredients, the essence of truly well-organised prep hit home as enthusiasm bubbled up. And by the end of the week, it hadn’t diminished… that rather sinking feeling of consternation over what to cook each day, and coming up with a tasty but wholesome plan of what, where and when to shop had dissipated. Instead, the pre-selected menus and parcels of exact ingredients immediately presented all the fun bits, ready to go – instant gratification (in a good way)! A key ingredient behind it all appeared to be in the prep… with the pleasure found in the simplicity of having only what you need to hand, leaving nothing more taxing to do than just enjoy the process of bringing it all together fuss-free.

Simple steps but big flavours

Provided in print form or on the smartphone app, it also dawned how handy and appealing the visual thumbnails of each step were. A straightforward chop of a few items becomes quite therapeutic and enjoyable. The end results show that flavours and ease of method have indeed been well-researched and thought-through.

It’s encouraging and satisfying to try something you might not necessarily think of mid-week such as a chorizo-crusted cod, and an oven-baked risotto practically cooks itself 😉 Chinese dishes don’t leave you wondering what’s missing as sachets of Ketjap Manis, for example, add that authenticity. Plus, unlike a takeaway, you know exactly what’s gone into it. Brunch ideas such as the chocolate with orange and plum pancakes bring a triple treat to the breakfast bar but with half the effort. During a hectic week, it’s all far more amenable and enticing when much of the heavy lifting has been averted.

Less waste, more recycling

In many a dish, the success is most often in the careful selection of particular ingredients like the pre-made, homemade stock pots, and the added little extras that you don’t find in your everyday supermarket obviously sourced quite carefully from a multitude of places… you’re not likely to come across ingredients like Ketjap Manis just anywhere, of course. It isn’t necessary to spend time searching various sites or places as it’s boxed for exactly what you need, with no waste. Most of the packaging is recyclable with a good focus on sustainability.

As shops return to some normality, it often feels good to go out and forage again, but the full impact of food delivery boxes and aspects of their usefulness beyond the average expectation will definitely stay on.

There are many options to consider, prices and nutritional needs organic to vegetarian and also varying in priorities from recipe to food delivery box, so this is absolutely not an exhaustive list and in no particular order, here's a sample:

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