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Feast Box review: 'the unique dishes on offer definitely helped to snap us out of our food funk'

Feast Box review:

The results: the Iranian Adas Pollo and Chicken Colombo

A litany of delicious Asian, South American and Middle Eastern dishes you wouldn't normally find on the menus of other subscriptions

Winter is here, lockdown is back, and let's be real: none of us are going anywhere soon. Whether we're mourning a scuppered holiday, or dreading a Christmas season potentially spent away from our family and loved ones, a healthy dose of escapism is now more needed than ever. That's where Feast Box comes in – another contender in the ever-growing field of recipe box services, except this one is pulling away from the pack with a litany of delicious Asian, South American and Middle Eastern dishes that you wouldn't normally find on the menus of other subscriptions.

Earlier this month, I received a sample box of two recipes for two people as a PR sample, and the timing could not have been better. After months of cooking at home, my partner and I were in a deep recipe rut, and were excited by the prospect of trying new dishes and expanding our existing repertoire. As vegetarians who occasionally dabble in chicken, we were pleased to see how many vegetarian and vegan options there were on the menu. There were 12 dishes to choose from – a bit less on offer than its competitors – but we still had a hard time deciding what we wanted.

The service itself is a bit more customizable than in other subscriptions we've used in the past: each dish is priced separately between £5—£8, and you have the choice of putting between 1–4 dishes in your weekly basket. A discount is added at the end, depending on how many dishes you'd like to order each week, which usually puts it pretty on-par with its competitors' pricing, but allows for a bit of wiggle room for those counting the pennies. For those diners looking to kick it up a notch and make dinner a special occasion, there's also a drinks pairing option that lets you add-on beers and wines that'll go nicely with your chosen meals.

Now, onto the food itself: we chose the Iranian Adas Pollo and the Chicken Colombo for our weekly basket, and both yielded very tasty results. It was exciting to be exposed to ingredients we'd never cooked before, much less heard of, like the sweet and mild chayote in the Chicken Colombo. We found there were more steps involved than in other subscription menus we've tried, but they were still clear and simple to follow, and we felt that they were the perfect level of difficulty for regular home cooks who are keen to try their hand at slightly more complex dishes. Moreover, the time estimates were bang-on, and had us from kitchen to dining table in less than an hour each time.

Feast Box review: 'the unique dishes on offer definitely helped to snap us out of our food funk'

Feast Box recipe cards

Our main bone to pick with Feast Box, however, has got to be the amount of packaging involved. The chill bag that the meat and dairy is packaged in is made from recyclable plastic film and recycled fabric offcuts, which is wonderful and certainly proves that it's possible to do a subscription meal service in an eco-friendly way. However, we were stumped by other packaging decisions that seemed wholly unnecessary, like wrapping up an aubergine in plastic, or sending plastic sachets of crushed garlic, rather than including whole bulbs. There are other, easier plastic-free swaps that the Feast Box team could be making as well, like sending easy-to-recycle aluminium tins of lentils, rather than opting for the disposable plastic carrier version.

Feast Box review:

Feast Box ingredients part one

Something else that we'd change about Feast Box was that both our recipes came with a generic fusion spice mix. While it was nice not to have to deal with extra packaging, the recipe card didn't list a breakdown of how much of each spice was in the mix. This might seem like a small issue, but one thing we've loved doing with other subscription services is to re-cook recipes we've enjoyed and buying the ingredients ourselves. Without this crucial bit of information from Feast Box, it made it less likely that we'd re-create these dishes ourselves again. It won't be a dealbreaker for those who look to recipe meal boxes as a happy medium between their usual home cooking routine and getting a takeaway, but might put off those who are looking to expand their culinary repertoires.

Feast Box review:

Feast Box ingredients part two

All in all, we really enjoyed our Feast Box experience. The unique dishes on offer definitely helped to snap us out of our food funk and made mealtimes feel exciting and special – the importance of which really can't be understated during the endless monotony of lockdown restrictions. Though the excessive packaging presented a major drawback, these are challenges that similar recipe boxes have been able to tackle, and certainly one that Feast Box can overcome as well, if they have a will to do so.

Taste and smell is inextricably linked to our emotions and memories, so it's no surprise that many have turned to food as a means to cope with the anxiety and isolation of this pandemic. For those looking to be inspired for their first post-COVID trip and briefly bring the outside world into the four walls of their kitchen, Feast Box can help whisk you away.

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