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Did you know that your household probably threw out $1,100 worth of edible food last year? We also spend 153 hours a year shopping for some of the world’s most expensive groceries. If you’re in a metropolitan area you’ve almost certainly been given a flyer for HelloFresh or Marley Spoon with a $35 off promotion. We tried three different meal boxes to see what the fuss was about.

HelloFresh, Marley Spoon and Aussie Farmers Direct boxes are all delivered to you free with the promise of healthy, nutritious meals using seasonal produce. They provide most of the ingredients you need and straightforward recipes. Meals take between 30 and 45 minutes to prepare and, as HelloFresh promises, “If you can read, you can cook”.


HelloFresh

HelloFresh was founded by former Masterchef contestant Tom Rutledge. It now operates in nine countries and delivers boxes to over one million households globally.

What the box costs: $8.75-$11.66 per person per meal.

What we did: As well as your printed recipe, HelloFresh has a recipe app with nifty little timers for each stage of the cooking.

What we thought: Introduces a lot more variety into mealtimes. There’s no flexibility with the menu but they do have a veggie meal box and a family box with less spicy recipes. You have to cancel five days in advance.

What’s in the box: Spanish Meatballs with chickpeas and rice, Thai Beef Salad or Rainbow Sweet & South Pork stir-fry this week


Marley Spoon

Marley Spoon launched in Germany in 2014 and Australia in 2015 and now serves 1.2 million households around the world.

What the box costs: $8.95-$13.75 per person per meal.

What we did: Recipes were the easiest to follow, with illustrations for each stage of the cooking.

What we thought: This feels like the rich man’s version of the HelloFresh menu and you can choose from 12 meal options each week. Generous portions of some truly good food.

What’s in the box: Brown rice and quinoa congee with poached chicken, Moroccan beef pilaf and feta and sweet potato rosti are among the offerings this week


Aussie Farmers Direct

Aussie Farmers Direct started out delivering bread and milk in Melbourne in 2005 and is now an online grocer offering “a fair deal to farmers”.

What the box costs: $9.31-$13.66 per person per meal.

What we did: Meals were easy to prepare but we added in extra carbs.

What we thought: You can add some other groceries to your order and we liked that the box came with less packaging. But I was plagued by follow-up marketing calls and this is a common complaint.

What’s in the box: Pork and veggie stir fry, Greek rissoles and pasta and roasted pumpkin and bacon are on the menu


When it comes to reducing food waste and saving money on groceries, the meal box gets my vote. A big plus is not having to buy special herbs and spices which then sit unused in your cupboard – star anise, anyone? We don’t visit the supermarket at all in meal box weeks, except to buy bread and milk. And sometimes there are leftovers for lunch the next day.