If you’re someone who is short on time or inspiration, recipe boxes are the latest service intent on revolutionising your life.

With the news that Amazon is about to launch its very own recipe delivery service in partnership with Tyson Foods, it seems there are more to choose from than ever.

Unlike other subscription models that might send a random selection of snacks for you to enjoy at leisure, recipe boxes provide the exact ingredients and instructions for making just one or two meals.

In theory, this curated approach means less fuss, less waste, and certainly less time spent aimlessly wandering the aisles in Sainsbury’s. 

Here are four ways this service is winning over consumers...

Tapping into a trend 

As many food brands have already demonstrated, the act of photographing everything we eat is now a global obsession.

Gousto is a company that particularly exploits this visual preoccupation with food, ensuring that photography (and social media) is at the heart of its content strategy.

Reminiscent of both a food blog and professional recipe book, its Instagram feed is a masterclass in food photography, tempting the consumer with mouth-watering images of ‘what you could be cooking’.

Similarly, it also uses the platform's new video capabilities to demonstrate innovative recipes and show behind-the-scenes goings on.

Click this image to visit the original Instagram post.

Solving a problem

The brilliance of the recipe box is that it gives the consumer multiple incentives.

Who doesn’t hate the hassle of shopping after work, getting stuck in a food rut, or wasting food? 

Companies like HelloFresh point out these issues, before conveniently providing the perfect solution for them.

Of course, this initial incentive is not always enough, which is why the likes of HelloFresh also use blog content to help retain customer engagement.

About ‘more than just food’, the blog provides value for the consumer alongside a continued reason to return to the brand.

Offering flexibility 

Despite the pre-chosen aspect of the ingredients, many successful brands still provide the consumer with a certain amount of flexibility.

Evidently too much choice can be overwhelming, so companies like Simply Cook offer to take away the possibility of a dilemma by selecting the recipes for you.

‘Hand-picked and blended by experts’ – this gives the brand an authoritative and professional tone, while still putting the control in the hands of the consumer.

However, even more flexibility is favourable. 

Despite its low price-point, Simply Cook is still fairly restrictive when it comes to personal preferences. Each box comes with four recipes as standard, providing fewer options than other brands that allow the customer to select exactly how each box is built.

Finding a niche audience

Alongside a lack of time, many people are turning towards recipe boxes for reasons relating to general health and well-being.

With increasing numbers of people following gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo diets, there is clearly a market for those looking to easily maintain a certain lifestyle.

One example of a brand with a very clear identity is Abel & Cole, which uses organically-grown produce as its primary selling point.

Also promising minimal packaging and eco-friendly delivery, it is confident that it can deliver exactly what the customer wants, which in turn gives it a distinct tone of voice.

Lastly, by placing the farmer at the forefront of its brand identify, Abel & Cole also demonstrates how the authentic and ‘artisanal’ brand is still very much a strong selling point.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 19 May, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

I checked a couple of these and (from the information on their websites) not all of them "provide the exact ingredients and instructions for making just one or two meals".

HelloFresh does exactly what you say: "all the ingredients in the exact quantities that you need"

But SimplyCook expects you to "add 4-6 items of fresh food", so you still need to go shopping.

And with Abel and Cole , you'll see that ingredients are bought in standard sizes. As e.g. a 130g bag of baking powder is much more than you need for a rhubarb tart, you'll end up managing a store cupboard just like with normal cooking.

about 2 years ago

Andrew Chrysostom

Andrew Chrysostom, Social Media Executive at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

I'd take it with a pinch of salt

about 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff


I love the idea of baking powder building up, just like those IKEA allen keys do.

One thing I think is a problem with these services - don't they appeal more to those who can't cook / don't cook? Not sure what the attraction is to foodies.


Maybe you should road test one (expensable I'm sure) and bring in the results for us to enjoy.

about 2 years ago

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