My Gousto Box has arrived.
Don’t know what Gousto is?
Gousto is one of several companies that sell and deliver fresh meal kits. We had a trial parcel a couple of months ago and then wavered over reordering, until now. In the meantime I have evaluated (at a theoretical level) other offerings such as Hello Fresh, Mindful Chef and Simply Cook.
Most offerings include everything needed to make a tasty and healthy balanced dish, including the recipe. The exception is Simply Cook, who provide the recipe and the more esoteric ingredients for flavouring – in their case you still go and shop for the main ingredients.
None of the offerings are cheap, for what they are. In fact they are downright expensive. My Gousto package of four by two-person servings works out at £5.25 a serving; Ouch!
So, if it is so expensive?
All things are relative. My home-cooked meals work out a great deal more economically, to be sure but life becomes dull and cooking starts to be boring and we find ourselves at the local pub for dinner. Dinner for two with drinks about matches the cost of a Gousto Box but is not so tasty nor as healthy. If I can get four tasty meals for the rice of one very mediocre pub meal, what a I going to do – kick the pub into touch, that’s what. I’m funding the Gousto delivery by not going out for chips and beer. That is a very grown-up decision, I reckon.
So why do it?
- Variety – we like to challenge our palates and try new dishes as often as we can
- Convenience – the food comes to me and I don’t have to waste my time in planning meals, writing shopping lists and going shopping
- Wider choice – due to our habit of living in extremely rural locations, more exotic ingredients (and even some everyday ones) can be difficult or impossible to source. At the very least, supplies may be classified as “unreliable.” Our diet can become boring indeed and sometimes less than healthy.
- We are right behind the ethical reasoning of food waste reduction (the box contains only what is needed for the dish, no more hoarding out of date condiments or binning slimy vegetables) and reducing carbon footprint (it is more efficient to use couriers to deliver than for every household to burn fuel going to the supermarket)
- Portion control – we are both porkers in need of waist reduction. I have never learned how to cook for just two persons and always make too much, then my early years training of not wasting good food kicks in and I overeat. Delivered meals are portion controlled and will educate my stomach to eat less and teach my eyes and my hands how to buy and cook just the right amount when making my own meals.
As van-dwellers we have additional considerations such as the lack of storage space for maintaining supplies of dry goods. It’s expensive to have just 150g of rice at a time but where am I going to keep my cheap bulk-buy 10 Kg bags in a campervan, eh? The same thinking applies to everything really, from spuds to tomato paste… where does it all go? As I cannot store supplies I end up shopping more frequently than I would wish to and then also throw out lots of items that simply will not fit in my tiny fridge.
What’s in the box?
The sturdy box is divided into two sections
The delivery box (ours comes by Yodel and is tracked) is a sturdy cardboard affair that no doubt can be repurposed once unpacked. It is divided into two section, one of which holds the non-chilled items such as vegetables and salads, grains, spices and condiments. The other side holds all the chilled items such as meat, vacuum-packed then packaged inside a wool-insulated sheet inside a plastic bag with ice packs.
Gousto will deliver a parcel for two or four persons, of two, three or four meals. This week we ordered the four meal pack. The choice of dishes is wide, allowing me to select four dishes that I am able to cook with the van’s limited facilities.
One point against Gousto’s website here is the fact that the week’s available recipes do not indicate whether an oven is required to cook the dish, nor do they publish the recipes so that this can be determined independently. Hello Fresh make their recipes available but lack the choice.
It is worth pointing out at this stage that I had planned take the Hello Fresh introductory offer this week in order to make comparisons with Gousto but it proved impossible to have three recipes that did not need an oven or a grill.
I conclude that Gousto’s great strength is its wide range of choice but this of course must be a factor in keeping the prices high.
Meats, cheese, yoghurt and fresh flavouring pastes came packed in the cooled packaging
This week’s recipes range from 614 to 763 Kcals per portion, cover a range of cuisines and include Beef, Pork and Chicken (though I could have chosen vegetarian options.)
Dishes influenced by Mexican, Indian and Japanese cuisines – nothing dull!
The non-chilled components
We had one casualty this week, with a little pot of fresh Chipotle Paste arriving broken and leaked.
Now, this I do not quite understand, given the standard of packaging. The pot was inside the meat pack in an inch-thick woollen overcoat, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag and housed in its half of the compartmented stout cardboard box. The outer box was undamaged and nothing in the meat pack itself seems likely to have done the damage. Obviously the chilling of the plastic tends to render it brittle but all the same, it seems likely to have been broken before packing and unnoticed by the packer (who also included an un-ordered pot of sea salt.)
The Chipotle Paste was for the Pork Chilli. I obviously can’t just nip out and buy a jar to replace it so am a bit stumped. Do I make an under-flavoured version of the dish or use the pork to make something entirely different, I can’t yet decide. I have contacted Gousto to let them know and to ask if they can post me a new pot but have to confess that there is a body of comment on the Internet that suggests that Gousto are not great in the Customer Care department. We shall see.
One breakage is not sufficient to turn us away from Gousto so today we have ordered next week’s box:
- HARISSA HALLOUMI SANDWICH & CARROT SLAW
- CLASSIC LAMB MOUSSAKA
- PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM & PESTO PASTA
- CHICKEN & CHIMICHURRI QUESADILLAS
Once I become accustomed to using the Remoska we shall try the Hello Fresh offering.