When the country went into lockdown, ordering food became the only option for many. While online deliveries from supermarkets went into overdrive, getting a slot was often harder than a Glastonbury ticket. With their customer base disappearing overnight, many companies usually delivering to the restaurant or food industry have had to switch their business to homes instead.
One of the benefits of using one of these companies is that they don’t waste money on packaging, and come in cardboard boxes with very little other wrapping.
We appreciate that many of the businesses listed below are in London, but this is a nationwide trend. Look locally and you’ll find others. If you’ve had a good experience with a fruit, veg, meat, dairy or essentials delivery in your area and think they should be included, please let us know via email@example.com. Title your email ‘delivery’.
For the best recipe boxes tried and tested, look at our reviews page. Check out our cheese subscriptions and deliveries guide, tested in April 2020. Thirsty? Read our review of the best beer subscriptions. If you’re an avid baker short on essentials, discover where to buy flour in lockdown.
Mixed orders of fruit, veg and essentials
When the UK’s restaurant and catering businesses closed their doors in March, Pale Green Dot temporarily swapped from growing produce for some of London's finest restaurants, to delivering fresh food to UK homes. Their offer has grown over the last few months from seasonal fruit and veg with a few essential thrown in (eggs, bread and milk), to delivering meat from HG Walter, as well as pasta, beer, wine and dairy boxes. We’ve been using them weekly and they are very efficient. Veg boxes from £15 per week, veg, fruit and staples from £20.
Their delivery map is here and you can order a one off or a weekly delivery.
Out of the blocks early with doughnuts, milk, bread and fruit and veg, Crosstown have expanded their remit and are now teamed up with St. JOHN Wines, The Estate Dairy, Millers Bakery, Caravan Coffee Roasters and Ted’s Veg to create curated boxes (including vegan versions of each) to deliver across London six days a week. There has never been a better reason to order doughnuts. A Collective box includes fruit and veg, eggs, 4 litres of milk, lots of bread and six doughnuts for £49.95.
These Manchester-based greengrocers will deliver within a 60 mile radius of the city and offer a standard box for £25 that includes bread, milk and eggs, plus fruit and veg.
Natoora has been available to the public via Ocado and from their shops for a while but now you can apply to use their app for home delivery. The early version of the app used a real time shopping basket but you can now place and confirm an order, prices vary depending on what you order. Deliveries to London, Cambridge and Oxford.
Farm to Fork are delivering fruit, veg, meat and some essentials in mixed boxes in Manchester, check which day they deliver to your postcode. Where possible, they use local suppliers. Boxes start at £26.
The London market is home to a collection of businesses mainly aimed at the restaurant trade. As well as fruit and veg, most have add-ons including dairy, bread and pasta. You can also buy produce you might otherwise find hard to source, eurofrutta have micro greens, edible flowers and a good selection of mushrooms. Covent Garden Fruit Co allow you to pick the contents of your fruit or veg boxes and have a good range of herbs. Mighty Small bills itself as a supermarket of small brands.
Find a full list of Covent Garden suppliers.
Your milkman revamped, Milk & More have a great range, including lots of plastic-free options. Delivery is countrywide, aims to be on your doorstep before 7am (this has changed to end of the day during lockdown), and free. They have a freeze on new customers at the moment, but you can register your interest and receieve an email when that option becomes available again.
Seemingly an outlier in the veg box world, Lola’s stepped into the breech early on. They deliver fruit, veg, dairy and groceries to London, Birmingham, Slough, Reading, Hemel Hempstead, Luton, Oxford, Guildford and Stevenage. You can build your own grocery box or opt for something ready-made, the deluxe bakers box contains everything from cupcake cases and sprinkles, to flour, eggs, bananas and lemons, £45.99.
Smith & Brock are usually a wholesale business for restaurants and hotels. Now Londoners have access to a range of fruit and veg boxes plus some essentials. The Perfect Veg Box is £18.50.
As would be expected, tomatoes are the go here – though you can order Isle of Wight asparagus and aubergines in season. A mixed 3kg box of tomatoes is £20.50 and a 1kg chef’s box is £7.50. We also really like the tomato juice, tomato balsamic and fabulously fresh tasting passata. UK postage free on all orders over £25.
Sustainable, local and low-waste, Odd Box use misshapen fruit and veg that would otherwise go to waste in their boxes, paying fair prices to producers. They deliver in London and boxes start from £9.45.
Delivering countrywide, The Estate Dairy milk and cream comes from the Chew Valley, near Bristol. The milk is unhomogenised and, like the cream, very rich, it makes excellent paneer. As well as dairy products, you can order meat (HG Walter), juices, non-dairy milk, eggs, cheese and charcuterie. You can order as little or as much as you like, check for delivery charges.
Fish and shellfish
As well as fresh fish and shellfish, ranging from a dozen Jersey oysters for £15 (shucking your own oysters is a new lockdown skill), to a fish box for two for £60 (all items are freezable) delivered to your door nationwide, you can order a larder box of fruit and veg for £30.
Sign up for alerts and buy direct from the fishermen. There’s a day boat box available or choose what you want, you are committed to buying whole fish but they will prep them for you. Prices vary, spend over £35 and overnight delivery is free.
We often use this butcher for our test kitchen and are big fans. Meat is delivered well presented in immaculate packaging, ideal for freezing. You can choose a box from £22 or build your own. Deliveries are within the M25.
This organic supplier deliver countrywide. As well as meat, they have a well-stocked organic deli. They also sell bones for stock and beef dripping. The organic beef box of mince, braising steak and diced beef can last a family for a month (four packs of each) for £49.99 and a BBQ box is £22.
This company does what it says on the tin, from the meat it sells, to the packaging, everything is considered in the light of the cost to the earth. An end of season lamb and beef freezer box is £55.
Good-quality charcuterie though the post. Sign up for a weekly/monthly subscription service, either a trio of salami or the survival selection (£25), or order individual items. The subscription offers a discount.
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