Riverford Organic Farms is well-known for their 100% organic produce produced ethically and sustainably at a cost lower than most supermarkets. Recipe boxes – vegetarian, quick or original – is the latest edition to the Riverford range and we opted for the 3-meal 2-person quick box.
The Riverford driver pulled up mid-morning on a Friday with a recipe box and a warm welcome to the Riverford family. I was happy to hear that he thought the recipe boxes were pretty good and it was apparent that he wasn’t just delivering the box, he felt passionate about the company and was able to answer any questions I might have. A delightful start to what turned out to be a very interesting experience.
The contents of the box was superb. High quality, organic, fresh-from-the-farm ingredients that looked appetizing and was packed in little compartments that made it easy to track down the ingredients for each meal. We couldn’t wait to start cooking and I had a difficult time convincing my 4-year old that the orange and pears could not be eaten on the spot because it was part of a recipe.
Our three recipes were:
Warm bacon salad, with blue cheese, pears & rosemary fried potatoes
Lemony chicken with leeks, dill, parsley and capers
Fragrant squash & tomatoes with green herb bulgur wheat
The warm bacon salad was easy to cook and delicious, suitable for a mature audience. The lemony chicken turned out amazingly well and the recipe has been added to my personal collection to cook again. The Fragrant squash was a personal disaster.
The bulgur wheat ended up with a layer of oily water on the top, but managed to save it with a rinse and quick boil. There was a lot of spices and herbs in the fragrant squash – 9 to be exact. It took an hour to prepare instead of 35 minutes, we lost track of timers somewhere in the middle and although the end result looked lovely, we hadn’t got it quite right. It did make lovely squash and carrot soup for lunch the next day!
It is a high quality organic recipe box and we enjoyed the fresh ingredients, most of the meals and our verdict is a very positive thumbs-up on all accounts except one – the format of the recipes need a little work.
Price: £29.95 – £39.95
Included in the box: There are three types of boxes – vegetarian, original and quick. All for 2 people with ingredients for 2-3 organic cooked meals.
Paid Extras: Add your own olive oil, salt and pepper. Delivery is included in the cost.
“From one man and a wheelbarrow to an award-winning organic delivery company”.
Riverford’s slogan on their About page says captures the heart of the company. “The Riverford box scheme began when Guy Watson started delivering vegetables locally to 30 friends in Devon. We now deliver around 47,000 boxes a week to homes around the UK from our regional farms.”
Riverford has won many ethical business awards and is a company that values the environment, animal welfare and does what it can to help make fresh organic produce an affordable and sustainable choice. Read more about Riverford on their official site.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The Riverford recipe boxes are not versatile – you get what happens to be in the box that week – no choices, no switching out ingredients. This is a blessing in disguise that lead us to add quite a bit of versatility to our lives. We learned in three days that rice is actually easy to cook, what Saffron looks like and that fresh organic produce can’t be beaten.
Riverford’s recipe box may not lean itself to a variety of uses, users, situations or changing circumstances, but that is one of its selling points. It provides people, young and old, with the opportunity to cook fresh, organic meals from scratch without having to worry about finding recipes, sourcing the ingredients or even having to leave the house.
The ingredients in the box were good for 5 days and we cooked one of the recipes on day 5 and all the ingredients really was still fresh and usable.
The Riverford Recipe box has an ergonomic design – it is easy to lift, easy to open and unpack and the small containers was relatively easy to open. The meat was pre-sliced, which makes life much easier for everyone with some dexterity issues. We used a Kenwood mini-chopper for dicing vegetables and spices which eliminated chopping by hand from all three recipes.
How ergonomic cooking is would depend on your kitchen and level of access to adaptive equipment. All our recipes were pan-fried or boiled and although the estimated cooking times were 25 – 35 minutes for the quick box, it took us a bit longer to prepare the meals.
The recipe format looks good in theory but could be better designed. Recipes are time-based, require multi-tasking, there is no images with the instructions and many step contained multiple instructions. For example, step 1 in Recipe 3 contained 5 individual instructions. Mid-way through the recipe I usually had two threads of instructions, each on their own time-loop, combined in the recipe and the more out of sync I got because it took me longer than the recipe allowed for, the harder it became to keep track.
I found the recipes quite complicated for a quick recipe, but doable particularly if I didn’t follow the instructions and got all the rinsing, drying and chopping of ingredients done first. The lay-out really lets it down though, making the process unnecessarily complicated. It is not a suitable choice for anyone who cannot cook a meal from scratch or have a significant learning disability.
It is generally ergonomic, but does require some basic cooking skills and knowledge.
Environment & People
Riverford has an excellent reputation as an ethical and responsible business that values the environment, looks after their animals and is doing their best to provide people with high quality, healthy ingredients often at a lower cost than many supermarket chains. They even have regional farms across the UK to cut down on food miles. It doesn’t get any better than this.
I am not Vegan, but I value animal welfare and it is a great feeling to know that each ingredient in my recipe was sustainably sourced without any exploitation and all animal products were obtained from suppliers with top notch welfare standards.
Their packaging is minimal and well research to provide the lowest environmental footprint without compromising the quality or safety of their food. Packaging can be reused or returned to Riverford for reuse and recycling. There is extensive information about their environmental practices and decisions, have a look here.
Riverford is known for offering high value ingredients at a cost-effective price and their new recipe boxes is a great deal. Around £40 is the market price point for a 3-meal, 2-person recipe box. £39.95 for an organic box with three cooked meals is a bargain.
Box type: Quick cook
Size: 3 meals for 2 people
Ingredients: The recipes list common allergens used as ingredients, making it possible to choose a selection that is most suitable. There is no guarantee that ingredients will be cross-contamination free, so those who can tolerate small amounts should be okay.
Access to a standard kitchen for storing and cooking ingredients.
Riverford’s organic quick recipe box made a very good impression from start to finish. The recipe format looks good and is fine for those with some experience in the kitchen able to multi-task, chop quickly and keep track of information easily. It is less accessible to novice cooks or anyone who struggles to remain focused on lots of text after a long day.
Ingredients were delivered by knowledgeable, friendly staff were still good 5 days after delivery. It is packaged well, our box had a good mix of recipes that made for healthy, versatile evening meals and at just under £40 it is good value for money. Highly recommended.
The review is based on the Riverford Quick Cook Recipe Box kindly provided by Riverford. First published on 2 October 2015.