26 February 2021

Post Lockdown: will the recipe box surge last?

The Recipe Box trend has been boosted to new heights in lockdown. But will it last? And if so, what’s the long game?

What is it people like so much about getting a box of freshly prepared recipes in the post?

It’s not exactly a money saving exercise. Online shopping usually means getting things a bit cheaper (unless they sting you on the delivery charges! Happens to all of us). But the cost per Recipe Box meal is still higher than if you were to traipse down to the supermarket and fill your basket.

Could it be that the recipes are that mind-blowingly good? Special brown bags loaded with secret ingredients that make you dance around the kitchen. I can tell you from my experience, that while there certainly are some recipes that are really yummy, not every one blows me away. Which is to be expected, no one wants to have a blow-away experience every time they sit down for dinner. Some dinners are meant to be humble — you know, the kind that take 10 minutes with very little washing up.

Besides, if not knowing how to cook wowsome-food or not having decent recipes is your problem, surely you can just sign up to said‘Recipe Box Brand’, and once you’ve got enough recipe cards in your collection, hit cancel subscription. That doesn’t sound like a very sustainable model for them.

So, if it’s not price and it’s not the wow-factor, what is it that keeps hungry customers coming back for more?

The C word.


There’s a line between fast food and slow food. Brands like Hello Fresh, Gousto and Mindful Chef exist on that line.

Their food is healthy and cooked fresh — two things we get from our supermarket shop.

It comes straight to your door and takes about as much faff as the “what’s everyone having” chat you usually only do on weekends — two things we love about our takeaways.

And once they’ve got through your door with one of their 50% discounts or free boxes, you’ll be likely to try it again, just for the ease and variety it brings to your routine.

This convenience is most useful now, during pandemic days, when lots of us are working from home; able to get deliveries and not having to worry about staying late in the office or going to an impromptu midweek pub visit. But what happens… afterwards?

In the reality where the pandemic comes under control, there’ll no doubt be some drop off from the big spikes Recipe Box brands have seen. The powerful pull of convenience will be tested as consumers become more sporadic, not wanting to plan five nights-in, one week ahead, and instead look for something a little more flexible.

But let’s not forget, this trend was growing at pace before the pandemic. Its converts are cultish, and now increasingly coming from outside the M25. That’s a big deal. The unpredictable and irregular city lifestyle may not be compatible with the Recipe Box Religion, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

Following lockdown, these brands are now deep rooted throughout the country, stretching their logistic chains to places that were probably unreachable pre-pandemic. Reaching further, in some places than Uber and Deliveroo.

The pandemic spike in uptake may not last forever, but it has certainly cemented the place of Recipe Box brands in our futures, for a long time to come.

Written by Alex Hamilton.