Ever thought about signing up to a healthy recipe subscription box? We put Mindful Chef to the test to see whether a delivery of ready-prepped, nutritionally balanced food is worth the investment.
Mindful Chef recipe box: pros & cons
Pros: Lots of choice in the weekly menus; tasty recipes; easy instructions to follow; good-quality ingredients; calorie-counted dishes; tracked delivery; well-insulated packaging; a range of serving sizes available (one-, two- or four-person boxes); recipes have fewer than eight steps; and generous portions of protein (I had salmon and chicken). The partnership with charity One Feeds Two is also a bonus.
Cons: Some plastic use and some unnecessary packaging (e.g. two eggs packaged up in two separate tiny plastic pots).
Overall score: 4.3/5
Read about how to sign up for the Mindful Chef recipe box.
Mindful Chef recipe choices
Mindful Chef is a health-focused food box delivery service, first launched in 2015 by school friends Giles, Myles and Rob. Each of the recipes are designed to be nutritious and low-carb, and all use ethically sourced ingredients from small UK farms and producers, including Farmison (grass-fed beef), Traditional Norfolk Poultry (free-range poultry) and James Knight of Mayfair (fresh fish). Mindful Chef has also partnered with the charity One Feeds Two and, for every Mindful meal sold, a school meal is donated to a child living in poverty.
What is the Mindful Chef recipe selection like?
Each week, there’s a rotating menu of 16 recipes to choose from. I found there was plenty of variety to cater to a range of tastes, and I would have happily eaten most of the options. After much deliberation, I opted for huevos rancheros, chicken & sweet potato and harissa salmon, mango salsa & black rice. There were also vegetarian and vegan options.
Are there special diet options?
All of the Mindful Chef boxes are gluten- and dairy-free. There are also four vegan options on the menu each week. While Mindful Chef doesn't cater specifically for a ketogenic diet, it does offer low-carbohydrate meals and says there are a number of Paleo-friendly options on the menu.
Mindful Chef flags allergens on its recipe cards and on the recipes on the website. However, if you have food allergies, it’s worth bearing in mind that they do highlight on the website that the warehouse which packs their boxes also handles gluten-containing products and other food groups, so they can’t guarantee there won’t be cross contamination.
Can you customise recipes?
You can choose which recipes you want to order, but you can’t change the recipe itself.
How many recipes do you get in one delivery?
I tried a box with two recipes in it, which is the minimum number of recipes you can order per delivery – the maximum is five.
Our first impressions of the box...
Simple but smart packaging in a nice, sturdy cardboard box. Inside, all the ingredients are neatly separated out into bags, which you can pop straight in the fridge. The recipe cards are neatly laid out, with beautiful photos of the finished dishes.
What's in the box?
Three separate bags: one with insulation and a gel ice pack, containing the chicken thighs and salmon fillets; and two paper bags containing the remaining ingredients for the two separate recipes, such as vegetables, harissa paste and honey. There are also two recipe cards with corresponding numbers to the different bags, so you definitely couldn’t be confused!
What's the quality of the ingredients like?
Really good – all the fruit and veg are fresh.
Are refrigerated ingredients kept sufficiently chilled in the packaging?
Yes – the chilled ingredients were cool to the touch when I opened the packaging. I did open the package as soon as it was delivered, as I was in to accept it, so I can't comment on how everything would have fared if left outside for longer.
What are the delivery options?
You can choose to have a delivery once a week, twice a week or every other week, and you can order up to six weeks ahead. They deliver nationwide on Mondays and Fridays; or, if you live in London inside the M25, you can choose a delivery on Sunday, Monday or Thursday. Mindful Chef doesn't delivery to certain parts of the Scottish Highlands, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Wight.
Can you customise delivery options?
You can customise your delivery day preferences from the days that are available in your area (nationwide on Mondays and Fridays; in London, within the M25, on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays). You can also schedule twice-weekly deliveries if you want more than one box per week.
How much packaging is there?
There is a fair bit of packaging but on the whole, it’s not excessive. If you’re not used to having individually portioned ingredients, it seems strange to have such tiny quantities of some ingredients in their own packets (e.g. a small portion of honey).
Is the packaging recyclable?
Part of Mindful Chef’s ethos is to become more eco-friendly. At the moment, the insulation is made from recycled off-cuts from the cotton industry and the ice packs are made from a non-toxic polymer gel. The insulation and ice packs are reusable and can be returned for free to Mindful Chef – they ask that you collect four deliveries' worth of these before you return them to be reused. The company is aiming to be plastic-free by the end of 2019.
Is Mindful Chef good value for money?
The cost of the meal depends on which recipes you choose. Pricing starts at:
Four-person box – £4 per meal
Two-person box – £5.50 per meal
One-person box – £8 per meal
This means that it’s on the premium end for a recipe box, but you do get what you pay for with the quality of the ingredients, the taste of the recipes and the convenience of delivery. It’s certainly not a budget option, though.
How easy are the recipes to make, assemble and serve?
Very easy. No special equipment is required – you just use normal pots, pans and baking trays.
Are the recipe instructions clear?
Yes – the instructions are clear and easy to follow, with fewer than eight steps per recipe.
Is there any food waste?
You'll be left with absolutely no leftover ingredients as everything is individually portioned out for that recipe, down to the tablespoon or so of harissa paste that’s required. The only issue is that this generates some excess packaging as the quantities are so small.
Is there any excess packaging around the food?
There's not a lot of packaging but, as mentioned above, the small amounts of some of the ingredients (e.g. 1 tbsp harissa paste or 10ml of honey) mean that you end up throwing away the tiny pots and sachets that these come in. The eggs were also individually packaged. Hopefully, Mindful Chef can move towards a more eco-friendly method of delivering these items.
How were the finished recipes?
Both finished recipes were delicious. My favourite was the harissa salmon, mango salsa & black rice served with roasted long-stem broccoli. The portion size was great for my partner and me; we both managed to finish off our servings but we were also pleasantly full afterwards. I only needed to use olive oil, salt and pepper from my kitchen – everything else was provided.
What utensils did you need to use?
A baking tray, saucepan, oven-proof dish (I used a glass baking dish), chopping board and paring knife. Nothing unusual.
Who would Mindful Chef be most useful for?
I think Mindful Chef would appeal most to people who want to eat healthily while saving time on planning and shopping for their dinners. As the recipes are all quite innovative and use different flavour pairings, it’s also good for those who want some inspiration in discovering new dishes that are still healthy.
What’s your favourite thing about Mindful Chef?
The recipes were both delicious and unusual. I was excited to try them and they didn’t disappoint.
What are the subscription terms?
There’s no ‘subscription’ as such. They offer a no-commitment guarantee, which is fully flexible – you can try just one box and, if you change your mind, you can close the account completely. If you don’t cancel, they’ll continue to send a box each week but will send regular reminders about the upcoming delivery so you can choose to skip or opt to change the recipes. You can also skip deliveries up to six weeks in advance, so you can pause the service if you’re going on holiday.
Mindful Chef recipe box review – scores
• Ease of cooking 5/5
• Quality of the finished recipes 5/5
• Delivery options 3.5/5
• Packaging 3.5/5
• Quality of ingredients 5/5
• Value for money 4/5
Discover how to sign up for the Mindful Chef recipe box.
This review was last updated in February 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at email@example.com.