Riverford Farm Recipe Box Review {Part One}

Friday, 18 March 2016

I started 2016 on a seriously pumped health-kick buzz- resolving (post-Christmasly) to both stick to a proper, gluten-free lunch schedule and get a bit fitter and a bit stronger... all in the name of my general wellbeing.

However, life being life, I've had a couple of minor setbacks since making those resolutions! I guess the one good thing about getting concussed is that it's given me a lot more free time to take Penny out and about for the odd walk here and there. So, even though I've not really been able to take up exercise in the hardcore way I had initially planned, I am still getting out in the fresh air from time to time! Small steps guys, small steps :) 

But when it comes to the food side of things, the healthy-eating has kind of gone out the window. I'm sure you know the feeling: you're a bit down, you're bored, you're home alone... the biscuit tin calls... Cut a long story short, my IBS has been flaring up something dreadful. So, the other week, I decided it was about time I did something about it.

That's when my Mum suggested we tried one of these locally-based, organic farm boxes she'd been looking at online. Available on a weekly basis or as a one-off treat, Riverford Farm Food Boxes offer fresh farm produce delivered straight to your door. What's more, according to their website, I found you could order their standard box of fresh veg or meat or you could order a box filled with all the ingredients needed to cook yourself a few meals.

Hmm. I was intrigued.  

I thought the best way to explain how the box works was to let Riverford tell you themselves! So here's a little vid all about their Recipe Boxes...

Suitably sold on the idea, I placed an order for one of their original 'Two Meal' recipe boxes- which would contain all the ingredients needed for one vegetarian meal and one meat-based meal. Sorted.

Placing the order was easy enough and I was told that my box would arrive on Friday 11th March, any time between 6am and 8pm. I was even told who would be delivering my box (shout out to Steve and Lynn) and that they would be my regular, local 'vegman and veglady'. All lovely and friendly, all very informative. Top marks so far, I thought.

Delivery is free and, as previously mentioned, can be any time between 6am and 8pm. The only downside to this was that my delivery arrived rather late on the day it was due to come. Around 7pm to be exact, which meant I couldn't make either of the recipes for dinner that evening. I was a bit disappointed by this but I cannot fault the lovely delivery man as he did apologise for calling so late and promised it wouldn't be late in the day next time.

Anyway, anyway, anyway, here's what arrived: An Original 2 Meal Recipe Box, containing enough supplies for two dinners for two people. Yes it was heavy.

And this is how the box looked- please excuse my scrabbly attempts to peel off the sticker at the front...I was super keen, obviously!

With my delivery I also received a welcome pack, which included a letter from my local delivery team (plus their contact details should I need any further help) and an A-Z veg guide.

When I opened up the box, I was met by this handy set of instructions. (On a side note here, Riverford Farm's recycling scheme is excellent- they've already rung me to ask if they could pick up the box and packaging to recycle...very helpful if you're too busy to organise this yourself!)

The aforementioned recipes were printed on little leaflets and stored in a slot on the side of the box. These were my two recipes for this box: Picada Chicken with slow cooked leeks & couscous and Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew with mushrooms, spinach & red rice. Yum Yum.

On the left hand side of the box was all the fresh veg. I had fun rummaging through my haul...mushrooms, leeks, onions, garlic, lemon, ginger...the list goes on! Each recipe had it's own compartment (recipe one was in section '1' etc.) and, being the organisation freak I am, I was very happy to find everything labelled, complete with measurements and best-before date, in its own little pot. 

On the right were the bags of herbs and the spinach...and underneath these was the big cool bag with all my chilled items.

The chilled goods come protected in this sustainable 'Woolcool' packaging. Everything was still cold when it arrived, which was really impressive considering it was late-ish in the evening. 

Inside the chill bag was a pack of chicken thighs, (these went straight into the fridge, hence no picture) a tub of soured cream for Recipe Two...

...and some tomato puree.

Under the salad bags and the chill bag were these chunky sweet potatoes.

I then took out all the ingredients in the middle section for you to see.

Here's all the stuff for Recipe One (the Chicken Picada): ground almonds, plain flour, wholemeal couscous, saffron, bay leaves, white wine, lemon, eggs, stock cube and garlic.

And Recipe Two (the Sweet Potato Stew): tin of chopped tomatoes, peanut butter, cayenne, ginger, red rice and mixed spices.

Here are the leeks and the onions- all still in tact! And below is everything I received (apart from the flowers), all laid out...

Overall, I was really really impressed with the contents of my recipe box. All the ingredients were very fresh (complete with mud and all), packed in a thoughtful way to prevent breakages or spillages, and clearly labelled for ease of access when cooking. Additionally, Riverford had been really generous with quantities (seriously no scrimping here, more on that in my second post!) and everything was laid out in a really helpful and easy manner for when the time came to rustle up a recipe.

I think the timing of my delivery was the only minor niggle I had with the order but, aside from that, everything else surpassed my expectations in terms of quality and helpfulness on the part of the company!

In my second post, I'll be letting you know how the recipes went, what my family thought of the meals I cooked them (!) and whether or not I felt all the produce I received was value for money :)

Have you ever tried a farm produce box? I'd love to hear any of your tips for trying to eat organic in the comments below!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Sian x

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