Funnily enough I was convinced to try Gousto by a door-to-door salesman (yeh, they do still exist, and yes, I am a little too easily persuaded). It wasn’t a completely cold sell because I’d been itching to try one of the various meal plan delivery companies on the market. Apparently I was bang in the target market too because I see ads for them everywhere.
In my opinion, food boxes are a bit of a sustainability paradox. Food waste is a big problem in the western world; and Gousto reckon UK households waste £700 a year worth of food. As a solution to this problem, companies like Gousto offer on-demand food boxes with the exact, measured ingredients required to produce a selection of meals from their weekly menu. Not only is this easier for the cook (the scales and measuring spoons can stay in the drawer), it means - providing you’ve cooked all your meals - your waste is nil*.
* Of course, the caveat is you obviously have to eat all the food you cook. The portions are pretty decently sized with Gousto, especially if you serve yours with bread or a side salad. But generally I’ve found between us we clear it up (even if I have to eat a bit more than I would otherwise).
The big side effect of this though, is packaging. Gousto are making strides to reduce packaging, but the fact remains - you end up with a lot of tiny plastic packets. Refrigerated and frozen items come packaged in a nifty, wool-insulted (more on that in a bit) packet, wrapped in plastic. It’s very effective and completely recyclable or compostable; but if you get a weekly Gousto order, you amount an awful lot of wool. It’s a real shame Gousto don’t offer a return service like other competitors.
Anywhere plastic can be gotten rid of in the box, Gousto have, to their credit (changes made apparently since the picture above was taken). But their sell - convenient, pre-portioned ingredients - is also their weakness from a sustainability standpoint. Whilst a jar of cumin can be bought once, sit in your cupboard, and used 20+ times; during that time with Gousto you might have gone through 20 small plastic packets of the stuff.
After 4 boxes, I’ve got a nice couple of “wins” displayed in my account area, which tells me I’ve saved 8kg of food waste and 4 hours of time saved. Not bad!
I don’t know if the excess packaging cancels out the food waste avoidance from a CO2 perspective, but it’s certainly a very intuitive, organised system of food preparation which is a cinch to use. Which brings me onto my next point: convenience.
I enjoy cooking, and I certainly enjoy eating. But sometimes it can feel like a bit of a chore. For me, Gousto is a great middle ground between ready meal and cooking from scratch. Most of the recipes are less taxing on those evenings after work where your brain is mush. You pick the meals you want from a vibrant, easy-to-use menu app, select a day for delivery (typically this day is stored in your preferences) and the compact box shows up. No popping to the supermarket after work, no running to the corner shop because you’ve run out of something you thought you had.
You can select between 2 and 4 meals for the week, and you choose the box frequency - weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. You can also skip orders (something I do quite often) or pause your subscription indefinitely.
For me, it feels like a break from everything involved in planning a meal; recipe sourcing, food checking, costing, food buying and eventually cooking. If your lifestyle involves more eating out, ready meals or quick, low-prep recipes, Gousto may feel longer and more of an effort for you. Essentially you are cooking from scratch, you just get a nice leg up. You’re cooking with wholesome, real, fresh ingredients so you’re getting a decent, healthy meal out of it in the end.
If you’re a stickler for tracking your calories and macros, you also get a full nutritional breakdown for every meal. And a lot of the meals are conveniently already in the MyFitnessPal database, if that’s your bag.
It’s actually very good for vegans. You’re obviously very restricted in what you can have on the menu (but you’re used to that by now, amirite 😏), but the plant-based options (as its referred to on the menu) feel like much more than just a token gesture. I’ve been more than impressed with the quality and flavours of the meals. The menu app is laid out really well; the meals are categorised under helpful sections like 10-minute meals, healthy choices and gluten-free. I only use the one section, but I’ve always found all the vegan options to be worth a try.
I touched on it earlier, but the insulated packs used to keep food cold - a technology called Woolcool, whilst made from recyclable and biodegradable materials, isn’t vegan. Boycotting wool isn’t something all vegans agree on - as sheering is something that can be done with no harm to the animal - but sheep, like many other animals, are susceptible to exploitation and cruelty. It obviously works pretty well, due to wool’s natural insulative qualities, but I imagine - or hope - that over time they will seek alternative materials.
If you’re interested in trying Gousto, you can get 60% off your first box and 30% off your first month with my referral code. It’s ridiculously cheap (£22.75 for 4 meals) and a month is a good amount of time to decide if it’s for you (I got 2 boxes in my first month but you can have up to 4).
Since trying Gousto, I’ve also had an allplants box delivered (and don’t plan to stop there!). Keep your eyes on the blog for a review of that soon.