Gousto went up against Hello Fresh this week in a contest ran by the Guardian, and we’re extremely proud to say Gousto won with a score of 8/10!
See the full article below or click here to read on the Guardian’s own website.
Hello Fresh and Gousto – which is better?
Ingredients to cook meals from scratch are offered by Hello Fresh and Gousto. But which menu tickles your tastebuds in our great Guardian Cook Off?
Each week we look at two competing products and review what they offer consumers, from how much they cost to how they perform.
Our reviewer will offer some thoughts based on his or her experience, so we know this will just be a snapshot – we want you to help us build a better picture. Tell us which, if either, you have used and what you think, and if there is a better alternative we have missed.
Between us we can hopefully work out which is the best buy and inform wavering consumers which to go for.
This week we’re looking at companies that provide you with ingredients to cook meals from scratch: Hello Fresh and Gousto. Tell us what you think if you’ve used one of these service, ask any questions users may be able to answer, and tell us which services or goods you would like us to review in future weeks: it could be anything from train services to Christmas crackers. Also, if you would like to be a reviewer please email email@example.com.
Background Hello Fresh was launched in January 2012 by former lawyer Patrick Drake, who had to give up his day job after colleagues discovered him moonlighting in a restaurant at lunchtimes.
Set up Hello Fresh provides all the ingredients you need – already measured out – to cook a meal; it says all you need in your cupboard is salt, pepper, olive oil, butter and white sugar. Provided you eat meat and fish, you can choose to buy the ingredients for three or five meals each week, with portions for two, four or six people. If you are vegetarian you can only order three meals at a time for two, four or six people. No other choice is given as to the meals you receive. Hello Fresh provides recipe cards with a photo for every step and says that preparing and cooking the food typically takes no more than 30 minutes.
Price Three-meal box for two: £39 (vegetarian option £36); three-meal box for four: £59 (vegetarian option £57); three-meal box for six: £89 (vegetarian option £78). Five-meal box for two: £49; five-meal box for four: £89; five-meal box for six: £129. Delivery is free in mainland UK but there is a surcharge of £13 a box for deliveries to Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Wight.
Typical meals Cheeky chicken chow mein with oyster sauce and water chestnuts; the Emperor’s chocolate chilli con carne; decadent wild mushroom and truffle macaroni; undercover ratatouille with lemon roasted sea bream; and pork loin wrapped in streaky bacon with broccoli and mashed potato.
Deals The company is offering a Christmas Box for four to six people for £155 (usually £192) or eight to 10 people for £225 (usually £304). This includes ingredients for a prawn cocktail starter, turkey (breast only for four to six people) plus trimmings, Christmas pudding and brandy butter, gourmet cheese board, mince pies and crackers.
Quality The quality of the food is generally excellent: I’ve never had such crisp and juicy ginger and the meat and fish was well-prepared and fresh. The company provides full details of its suppliers, which include James Knight of Mayfair for fish, Tom Hixson of Smithfield market for meat and Covent Garden Supply for vegetables. Hello Fresh says it uses local, UK originating, seasonal, free range and organic ingredients, and only uses substitutes where absolutely necessary.
Verdict The amounts of meat and fish are very generous: I fed three people easily (with some left over) with ingredients meant for two. However, we could have done with more vegetables and three of the meals included broccoli as the main or only vegetable, which seemed a bit lacking in inspiration. One or two crucial ingredients had been omitted from the box: the noodles for the cheeky chicken chow mein, and an onion for the chilli. But the thing that annoyed me most was not being able to choose the recipes: I don’t like pork and I’m not a huge fish eater, so I spent much of the week dreading two of the meals. The chilli recipe was a bit weird too it left out tomatoes, using a couple of sachets of ketchup instead, and used star anise, which overpowered the other flavours. Hello Fresh says it aims to introduce choice in early 2013. The quality of ingredients is high, but this is reflected in the price.
Background Gousto was started in 2011 by two friends – Timo and James – who loved cooking but lacked time to go shopping. While they found ready meals from supermarkets to “do the job”, the quality wasn’t great and included lots of additives. They came up with the idea for Gousto, selling the first recipes from market stalls and using friends and family as guinea pigs.
Set up Gousto provides most of the ingredients already measured out – only items such as milk came in a full carton, leaving you with most of the litre to use on your cornflakes. Customers are given a choice of recipes, meaning you can avoid things you don’t like. The Gousto chefs upload a new menu to the website every week, which always has meat, fish and vegetarian options; a lot of basic recipes but some exotic and innovative ones too. Customers must place their order by Wednesday night for delivery on the following Tuesday (1pm to 6pm) or Wednesday (9am to 5pm). Gousto says most of its clients are out during these hours, but the food can be left (with freezer pouches) in a safe place as directed by the customer.
Prices The couple’s bag for three meals costs £42, or £39 for the vegetarian option. The family bag providing three meals for four to five people costs £67, or £62 for the vegetarian option. Delivery is free.
Typical meals Almond, rosemary and pepper lamb ragu (served with linguine); pearl barley risotto with sugar snap peas and goat’s cheese; mozzarella stuffed chicken with fresh corn polenta; Cumberland sausage casserole with kidney beans, leek and potato mash; stuffed mushrooms with ricotta, chestnuts and fennel.
Deals Gousto is offering 30% off the first bag of food until 12 December.
Quality Everything looked fresh and the recipes are tailored to the seasons: no asparagus in the autumn for example. The mozzarella used to stuff the chicken was the more expensive buffalo cheese rather than the standard cow variety. The vegetables are all organic, the fish is responsibly sourced and most ingredients come from the UK.
Verdict The ability to choose the recipes meant we got food we really enjoyed, while trying meals I’d never attempted before (freshly made polenta from grated sweetcorn?). The meals were a bit more spicy and herby than those developed by Hello Fresh and the lamb ragu in particular will become part of my normal repertoire. The website is easier to navigate, however it doesn’t seem to offer the choice of more than three meals a week (although we had five) and there is, as yet, no Christmas offering.