December is a time for indulgence, but January… not so much.
After all that festive frolicking propped up by wheels of stilton, mince pies and too much Christmas spirit many of us find ourselves craving the opposite come the New Year.
Whether you’re resolving to eat less meat or just looking for some inspiration or to cut out the shopping, there are subscription packages out there to help you along the way.
Over a month, we tested services ranging from healthy vegan convenience meals to healthy snack subscriptions to find the best of the bunch for anyone looking for a bit more balance in 2020.
During our test, we were looking for convenience, affordability, satiety and of course how tasty the food and drink was.
Here are your subscription solutions for a happy, healthy new year:
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Wellmeals weekly subscription: From £29.50 for five meals, Wellmeals
After becoming unhappy with treating problems chemically that she believed could be prevented by a healthy diet, pharmacist Mina Khan created Wellmeals: a new nationwide service that delivers kitchen-cooked, nutritionally balanced frozen meals to your door.
Put aside any preconceived ideas about freezer meals, because Wellmeals taste how freshly prepared, nutritious and delicious food should, thanks to Khan’s love of authentic Indian home cooking (not all the meals are Indian, though) and her knowledge of ayurveda.
Choose from meals – like our favourite – tandoori salmon, peri peri chicken or vegan mushroom risotto, safe in the knowledge all ingredients are high quality, and dishes use freshly ground spices and are designed to nourish the body with essential macro and micronutrients.
The calorie count per meal is around the 450 mark with all nutritional info displayed; meals are low in saturated fats and sugar while being additive free. All packaging is 100 per cent recyclable. Wellmeals is an affordable and enjoyable way to eat healthily for the working week instead of running to the supermarket for a nutritionally inferior meal.
allplants six meals subscription: £40.50, allplants
We all know we should be eating less meat: it’s better for our health and the planet, but unless you’re a whiz in the kitchen it can be tough thinking up plant-based meals. Enter, allplants and its chef-made frozen meal deliveries. Born from a desire to create flavoursome, delicious meals that are kind to the environment, these meals are luxurious-tasting and not your typical health food, yet they are protein rich, low in sugar and contain at least two of your five-a-day. Choose from the indulgent-tasting lasagne noci, zingy burrito bowl and lots more – do make sure to include the rigatoni carbonara which is a lesson to us all in how to make something so intrinsically un-vegan, vegan. Packaging is carbon minimal and deliveries made by carbon neutral couriers. This plan is great for the time-poor, so whether that’s giving you your evening back after a busy day at work or gifting new parents with hearty, healthy meals in minutes, we’re impressed.
Gousto health kitchen box 3 meals for 2: £29.99 per week, Gousto
Gousto’s ingredients-delivery package allows you to whip up tasty, fresh and wholesome meals from scratch without the bother of thinking up dishes and hunting down ingredients. With pre-measured spices, just the right amount of carrots, salad, protein etc food waste becomes a thing of the past and most people will enjoy the variety of trying new dishes every week. We tried its brand new health kitchen box which included recipes and all ingredients for a gloriously green goddess salad (really tasty), a delicious herby salmon dish and a nutritious beetroot hummus veg bowl which all came in at around 450 calories for a filling, generous dinner taking the guesswork out of being healthy this New Year.
Hello Fresh classic box four meals for two: £30.64, Hello Fresh
You’ll have heard of Hello Fresh by now, we’re sure, but for anyone not familiar it’s a weekly delivery service (though you can pause anytime) of pre-portioned ingredients that allow you to create its chef-designed meals at home. Use the app to select your favourite meals for the week ahead from their classic, family or rapid boxes and choose their new balanced recipes if you’re looking to keep calories low (they’re 400-600 calories) and nutrition high. We made a really flavoursome roasted veggie lentil jumble with feta in under half an hour and really enjoyed the healthy sweet and sour chicken; the recipes are clear and easy to follow. If you enjoy cooking from scratch and want to feed a family with fresh, nutritious food this is still a good way to do it without trawling the supermarket or recipe books.
Oddbox small veg box: £9.45, Oddbox
Veg box deliveries are nothing new, but Oddbox’s service goes one step further. This fruit and veg subscription box service rescues surplus farm produce and the wonky stuff that doesn’t meet retailers’ strict uniform size, shape and colour requirements and sends it out to its customers.
A huge 3 million tonnes of produce is wasted each year before it even leaves the farm; this amount could feed 20,000 people for a year. Do your bit for your health and the environment and choose from differently sized boxes depending on your household and requirements.
A small box will provide six to seven vegetable varieties – then select either fruit, veg or a mixture to receive a seasonal selection of British favourites like russet apples, colourful heritage carrots, giant leeks and large bunches of leafy greens; our box also contained fruit like pineapple and mango which had been deemed surplus. The surprise element of what will be delivered is fun, plus there’s the knowledge that with every medium sized Oddbox you’ve saved an average of 7kgs of produce from going to waste and the equivalent of 12 showers’ worth of water wastage. So far, Oddbox reckons it has saved 1,400 tonnes of food: get involved.
The Goodness Project vegan maxi box: £17.95 per month, The Goodness Project
A healthy lifestyle isn’t about overhauling your diet. The Goodness Project’s monthly box of goodies means you’ll receive a hand-curated selection of healthy, natural treats to help you live a little better. Choose from vegan, classic (which contains vegan and vegetarian) or free from boxes of organic, plant-based products that make it easy to make healthy choices: we loved our Booja Booja truffles (who doesn’t?), which felt virtuous that we were snacking on dark chocolate covered pumpkin seeds and enjoyed discovering raw cacao and hemp spread on toast. With prices from £8.50, this makes a lovely present for your health-conscious pals, or for a spot of well-deserved self-gifting.
The Protein Ball Co happy snacker weekly protein ball subscription: £6.99, The Protein Ball Co
When the afternoon slump hits it’s all too easy to dash to the corner shop for a chocolate hit. But you can be prepared with a weekly protein ball subscription from The Protein Ball Co which provides four packs of actually very tasty protein balls to help you make it through the day the healthy way. Protein makes a great snack as it keeps blood sugar steady, keeps you feeling fuller for longer and provides your body with fuel to replenish and repair itself, but it can be tricky to find high protein foods on the go – many portable snacks are high in sugar, fat and carbohydrates. These protein balls are nutritious and balanced using three sources of protein (whey, egg white, vegan rice and pea protein), with no added sugar: sign up to receive a mixture of their eight flavours including peanut butter, coconut and macadamia, cacao and orange (our favourite).
Balance Box lighter plan 3 day box four week plan: £275.88, Balance Box
Balance Box is another plan delivering a full three or four days’ worth of perfectly portioned food to your doorstep to help busy people eat a high nutrient, low calorie diet without having to think about it. Temptation becomes a thing of the past, as your three meals and two snacks featuring dishes like mango and chia seed yoghurt and granola, smoked salmon ceviche with sea vegetables (amazing) and a lamb curry with coriander rice are carefully designed to boost energy and keep you on track to healthy, sustainable weight loss. We struggled to imagine anyone wouldn’t enjoy the food, which aside from breakfast comes in large portions and is very satiating. The chefs at Balance Box use high quality fruit and veg from their New Covent Garden base and protein is grass-fed, free-range and sustainable where applicable. Another brilliant package that we think is worth the investment for a special occasion or a proper reset.
The verdict: Healthy food subscription boxes
We were really impressed with Wellmeals weekly subscription as it’s an affordable and enjoyable way to eat – not to mention convenient as all the cooking is done for you – saving you from going to the shops and, it’s made with such quality ingredients, it’s hard to fault.
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