A home-cooked meal is a solid option for Valentine’s Day – not only does it get you off the hook for not getting a decent restaurant reservation, but it gets you extra brownie points – meaning you don’t have to bother with chocolates/novelty boxers/soppy cards. But can you be arsed to dig out your bags for life and traipse around your local supermarket to hunt down niche ingredients while everyone else in there is fighting over the last bunch of lifeless roses? No, which is where food boxes come in. You know, the ones where you get sent a handy box filled with everything you’ll need to cook a delicious dinner and all you have to do is try not to burn anything? Yeah, those. Come Val’s day, you’ll look like a culinary genius while having actually put in minimal effort – at least, that’s the theory. We tried out five food box services in London to see if they live up to the hype. Here’s what we learned.
1. It’s more practical than you’d expect
It’s useful that you can get the food boxes delivered to your home, rather than having to lug them back from work on the tube. All the food boxes we tested use packaging made from sheep’s wool, which means that the perishable foods can survive sitting on your doorstep all day without festering into a rotten meaty mess.
2. But it’s quite a lot of effort
For something that’s supposed to make your life easier, it’s quite hard work. We'd imagined the boxes providing everything we needed with minimal effort involved – y'know, like one of those TV chefs who has all their ingredients laid out in pristine white bowls and all they have to do is chuck them in a pan and get all the glory.
3. And it ain’t cheap
When it comes down to it, food boxes are essentially a shopping and recipe-choosing service. You could pretty much get the same result by doing an online food shop and using a little thing called Google – and it would cost you a hell of a lot less (some of the dishes are around £8.50). But if you’re craving home-cooked food, and really haven’t got the time to be faffing around looking up recipes, we can see the appeal. As long as the call of the local pizzeria isn't too strong.
4. But it’ll cost you way less than going (reluctantly) to a pretentious restaurant
If you are going to treat yourself (and someone else) to one of these boxes, Valentine’s Day is probably the best time to do it – if only to save yourself from shelling out for oysters for another year running.
Can't be arsed to cook? Take a look at these alternative ways to spend Valentine's Day in London.