I love to cook. Locking myself in the kitchen with my bluetooth speaker and a glass of vino has always been one of my favourite ways to relax. That being said, I’m the first to admit that even though I own more than 30 recipe books for browsing on the sofa, I don’t always find time to cook from them.
Instead, I often return to the same repertoire of tried and tested recipes over again – or end up throwing together an on-the-spot creation from whatever is left in my cupboards come dinner-time. Sometimes it works, sometimes I am very glad I live near all of the great take-aways in Canton!
It was with enthusiasm, then, that I agreed to give Gousto a go. They hooked me in with their mission statement – of “taking the planning and trekking out of home cooking, leaving you with the fun bit”. They do this by inviting customers to select a minimum of two dishes from their website, and then delivering the full recipe card and almost all of the pre-portioned ingredients needed to rustle up the meals from scratch (assuming that you already have cooking oils, butter, salt, pepper, and sugar).
I was gifted a Gousto recipe box for the purposes of this review.
Our Gousto Box
I selected my choice of three recipes from the website; Goan Prawn Curry, Silky Cashew Noodles (vegan) and Chestnut Mushroom Bolognese (veggie) – each would serve two adults. The cost for a box of 3 recipes (to make 6 meals) plus delivery is £34.99 (or £5.25 per head). It’s certainly more expensive than shopping for ingredients in bulk, but would it be worth it?
My box arrived at work in a recycled cardboard package filled with reusable ice-packs and lots of natural wool stuffing which not only keeps things cool and fresh for up to 24 hours, but is also bio-degradeable or again, re-usable (as pet bedding, cushion stuffing, anything you can think of).
However, I definitely do NOT need some things (e.g. carrots, pasta) to be wrapped in non-recyclable soft plastics. I hope this is something that they look to get rid of very soon.
In terms of the ingredients themselves, I was impressed with the quality – from the fat, raw king prawns to the organic veg.
Goan Prawn Curry
I chose to cook the Goan Prawn Curry first as the use-by-date was just 24 hours after my delivery, and – already unable to stick to a recipe 100% – I planned to stretch the ingredients out to serve three people, as I was having my parents over for dinner. I have can’t usually be arsed with raw prawns, having always bought the frozen pre-cooked version, but I was really surprised how simple the recipe card was to follow and how quickly I had a delicious dinner on the table. What’s more, with the addition of some extra rice in the pan and a half head of broccoli added to the curry, we had more than enough to suit us for an average sized evening meal.
Chestnut Mushroom Bolognese
As Pete and I don’t normally eat a lot of meat at home, our other two box choices were vegetarian, in the hope that we’d get a couple of new meal ideas to add to our regular week-day repertoire.
First of all, we tried the Chestnut Mushroom Bolognese. Usually if I make a veggie bolognese, I make the recipe up as I go along and use puy lentils in place of mince; it generally tastes okay but not brilliant. This one on the other hand, used both soy sauce and balsamic vinegar in the sauce itself (which I never do) and grated mushroom in place of meat mince – it was flippin’ delicious! I was chuffed to have found another easy dish that I couldn’t wait to cook again.
Vegan Cashew Noodles
The final recipe was for Vegan Cashew Noodles made with carrot, onion and courgette, and cashew nuts blended with honey and a few other ingredients to make a creamy sauce. Again, this isn’t something we’ve tried before, and although this was my least-favourite of the three recipes, it was still something we would definitely make again – also, the portion size on this one was MASSIVE!
In a nutshell, I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed our experience of Gousto. A delivery box would be a great gift for someone who is relatively new to cooking from scratch (e.g. a student living away from home for the first time), as a way to help them build confidence in the kitchen and try new things with ease. But it’s not just new chefs who would like it – we liked the speediness of having everything pre-measured for us; it really does mean you can get straight down to cooking and get an exciting new meal on the table in record time, but the amount of single use plastic involved is a big issue. My other gripe would be that the veggie meals are currently priced the same as the meaty ones, when surely the ingredients cost per recipe is lower?
Gousto won’t be right for everyone. You pay a premium for the convenience, and if you’re already the type to experiment with new recipes cooked from scratch, then it’s almost certainly something you won’t need. But if you have found yourself in a rut with the same old meals, or just too knackered to go shopping for ingredients at the end of the week, Gousto is a great way to learn a few new dishes which you can then re-create whenever you like with your own locally-bought ingredients.
And as for that added expense? Well, £5.25 per head is still a lot cheaper than a takeaway, plus you get the satisfaction of learning a brand new recipe every time.