Trialling recipe boxes: Riverford


Riverford sends recipe boxes since 2010, but exists as an organic farm since 1987. It is situated in Devon and only operates in the UK. 3 meals for 2 people currently cost £40.
The big difference between Riverford and all the other recipe box services is that Riverford produces most of the vegetables, fruits and meat themselves!

The types of meal boxes are “original”, “quick” and “vegetarian”. You cannot choose the recipes themselves as they are fixed every week. You can order 2 or 3 meals for either 2 or 4 people.
You don’t need to subscribe to anything but you can. Either order one-offs or a weekly or fortnightly subscription. As Riverford produces and delivers not just recipe boxes, you can add other food to your order (vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, etc). Everything will be delivered on a specific delivery day every week (6am-8pm). You can find out what day that will be before you order. (E.g. my delivery day is Thursday for my home address and Monday for my work address.) You need to order until 2 days before that day. The parcel is not tracked as it’s delivered by Riverford’s own fleet of company vegmen/ladies.

The box and its contents when it arrived

Nearly everything Riverford produces and delivers is organic. They grow most of it on their own farms. And what they don’t grow themselves, they source as locally as possible. If it’s from outside of the UK, it’s never airfreighted.
Of course they also take the boxes and insulation packaging back and re-use them.
They know a thing or two about the environment as they were part of the Riverford Sustainable Development Project which was a two-year collaboration with the University of Exeter and others. Its website explains some of the seemingly odd choices and backs them up scientifically.
They explain everything properly on their website before you order, including how to cancel any time. They inform you about everything you need to know about the dishes beforehand. They are one of the very few services which lists sub ingredients (on a piece of paper coming with the box) and they mark clearly what is organic (99.9%) and what isn’t (in my case basically just yeast extract and salt).
But the best and most transparent bit about Riverford is that you know where the ingredients are coming from. They send a little interesting newsletter with each box, which gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of being close to their farms and knowing what’s going on with the third field on the right.
The only niggle I have is that they automatically subscribe you to a weekly “please come back” email without your consent. But you can unsubscribe from that easily.
Although the recipes themselves are written well, the way they have been laid out on the card is weird. The front highlights “Riverford recipe box” on the top left instead of the name of the dish. All recipes are unnecessarily numbered from 1 to 3. And the back always splits the instructions into 11 unwieldy steps, making it look messy as if the editor had problems fitting everything into it.
The Chicken & Saffron Risotto was amazing and well proportioned. I never knew you could prepare rice as described in that recipe (adding liquid very slowly). The Lemon & Rosemary Lamb with Roasted Vegetables & Olives was equally amazing. Although I usually hate courgettes and olives, it was a surprise how well I liked them in this case. The Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne with Tomato & Basil Salad was quite good, although I didn’t manage to prepare the sauce correctly. (One of the very few times that something went wrong during the 7 weeks of this experiment.)

Before (top) and after (bottom) of the three dishes of this box: Chicken & Saffron Risotto, Lemon & Rosemary Lamb with Roasted Vegetables & Olives and Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne with Tomato & Basil Salad (from left to right)


  • Everything’s organic
  • Sources of ingredients are very clear
  • Very yummy
  • Outer packaging gets re-used


  • Weird design choices on recipe cards
  • Delivery times not ideal for a single working household


(Please note, this rating is obviously subjective and only based on 3 recipes.)


Due to their transparency, eco-friendliness and great taste, I can highly recommend the Riverford recipe boxes. I would love to use them all the time, but their delivery times are unfortunately very inconvenient for me. I cannot really let them leave the box outside when I’m not at home. And I cannot let them deliver to my work either, because a delivery on a Monday means that the ingredients won’t be fresh anymore by the weekend. (I tried cooking within a working week but I find that too stressful.)
As such, I’m sure I will use them again, but only when I’m on holiday or have guests.

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