Can a meal kit from a restaurant ever rival the real thing?

Can Valentine’s Day dinner in a box live up to the restaurant experience? As doors remain shut, FEMAIL tries gourmet DIY kits costing up to £150 to find out which meals are worth the money and what leaves a bad taste

  • Restaurants will remain closed on Valentine’s Day this year due to UK’s lockdown
  • As an alternative thousands of Brits will be ordering restaurants kits at home 
  • So, can the DIY kits ever compare to the real deal? Here Femail taste tests the most popular kits to try at home

As the UK remains locked down, couples across the country won’t be able to head out for a dinner for Valentine’s  Day, and instead will be looking to cook at home to create a romantic atmosphere on February 14th.

While most supermarkets will be offering a two can dine meal deal, some shoppers will be seeking out an alternative and picking up a DIY dining kit instead.

From Michelin-starred meals from the likes of Tapas-bar Sabor and Nordic mainstay Aquavit where a kit for two cost close to £100, to an indulgent fondue and burger kit from Honest Burgers for just £26, there’s dozens of kits on the market this year for those hoping to step up their home dining game.

So is it worth splashing out £150 for the likes of Aktar Islam’s Pulperia, or can a dish of ramen for less than £20 compare? 

Here, FEMAIL tries the most talked about DIY kits for Valentine’s Day 2021… 

La Tua Pasta, the fresh pasta supplier to top restaurants such as The Dorchester & Claridge’s, has created two Valentine’s meal boxes which include filled heart shaped pasta.

What’s included in the La Tua Pasta box? 

  • 2x 140 Focaccia
  • 190g Black Olive tapenade
  • 2x 250g Heart shaped Tomato and Mozzarella Ravioli or 2 x Heart Shaped 
  • 2x 300g Sugo al Pomodoro (Tomato Sauce) or 2 x Truffle butter 
  • 2x 30g grated parmesan DOP
  • 10x Chocolate hearts by Caffarel
  • 2 x heart shaped linen placemats 
  • Optional extra: Bottle of proseco 

 

La Tua Pasta San Valentino Kit

Rating:

COOKING TIME: Less than five minutes 

WHAT IS IT:  La Tua Pasta, the fresh pasta supplier to top restaurants such as The Dorchester & Claridge’s, has created two Valentine’s meal boxes which include filled heart shaped pasta. 

The two limited edition boxes using two of their most popular fillings, tomato and mozzarella and black truffle and ricotta. 

As always with the La Tua boxes, easy antipasti and dessert are included, and for San Valentino it will be a fresh bake at home focaccia with olive tapenade as well as a little sweet treat of Italian chocolates to finish off the meal. To give it the right setting and tabletop, they’ve also sourced beautiful linen placemats made in Italy, with two included in each box.

FEMAIL’S Bridie Pearson-Jones tried it out… 

PRICE: £46.00 or £69.00 with a bottle of prosecco  

VERDICT : I have to admit, when I first saw the price I thought it seemed a little steep for a nice pasta thinking you could probably get something similar to it in Watirose or Sainsburys – but I was very wrong. 

While, I’m not sure I’d be particularly pleased forking out £46 for two bowls of pasta and some foccicia in a restaurant, other than pasta I’ve made from scratch, this is easily the nicest I’ve tried. 

Firstly, the portions were very generous, and last about five or six servings.

It was incredibly easy to prep, essentially just heating it up, which took minutes and took any stress away from cooking 

The pasta itself was very fresh and it was easy to tell it was made with high quality ingredients to an authentic Italian recipe.

I tasted both the truffle and the mozzarella versions, personally I preferred the mozzarella as it was a cheesy heaven (especially topped with parmesan) but the truffle was delightful too and not too overpowering.  

The box included: 2x 140 Focaccia 190g Black Olive tapenade 2x 250g Heart shaped Tomato and Mozzarella Ravioli or 2 x Heart Shaped 2x 300g Sugo al Pomodoro (Tomato Sauce) or 2 x Truffle butter 2x 30g grated parmesan DOP 10x Chocolate hearts by Caffarel 2 x heart shaped linen placemats Optional extra: Bottle of prosec

FEMAIL’S Bridie Pearson-Jones tried it out. Pictured is the foccicia, olive tapenade and pasta

What really made it stand out among the hundreds of meal kits on the market was it’s small touches. The olive tapenade (to go with the foccicia) was delicious (I would happily eat it straight from the jar with a spoon while the heart placemats gave it a really nice date-night feel.

Even the instructions suggested playing music and dancing with your loved one, which made it feel like a special treat. 

While the dessert was small – just a few pieces of chocolate – the first two courses were very filling so it was the right size, a great option with February 14. –

Sabor en Casa box with Estrella Galicia

Rating:

What’s in the Sabor en Casa box with Estrella Galicia? 

The box includes some of Sabor’s best-selling dishes that are now available to feast on from home, including 

  • Ham Croquetas – deep fried croquettes filled with Spanish ham;
  •  Tortilla – a potato-based Spanish omelette; 
  • Gambas al Ajillo – prawns in a garlic oil; 
  • Pulpo a la Gallega – a traditional Galician dish of sliced, paprika-dusted octopus atop a bed of potatoes; 
  • Arroz Negro – a traditional Spanish dish created using rice and squid ink; 
  • Iberian Pig’s Cheeks; 
  • Beetroot Salad with Horseradish Cream and a Basque Cheesecake to finish.  
  • Two bottles of Estrella 

COOKING TIME: 30 minutes max 

WHAT IS IT:  The Sabor en Casa Box with Estrella Galicia from Michelin-starred Sabor offers an indulgent, eight-course Spanish tapas feast with accompanying Estrella Galicia beers for two this Valentine’s Day. 

The box transports diners to the sun-soaked shores of Spain despite not being able to escape the country, and is priced at £96 for 2 people, with delivery available nationwide. 

FEMAIL’s Chloe Morgan gave it a go..  

PRICE: £96  

VERDICT: The ingredients for the Spanish tapas from Sabor en Casa arrived in sealed and clearly labelled bags, along with a booklet with easy-to-follow instructions for each dish – something even an amateur cook like myself could follow! 

The idea of having eight courses to prepare all at once was quite daunting when I can just about boil an egg, but there was absolutely nothing to worry about. 

With everything pre-cooked, the longest dish of pig cheeks took a total of just ten minutes, and the quickest dish – ham croquettes – just two. And I’m pleased to report the kitchen even smelt like a proper restaurant!

While getting all dressed up and having the luxury of a waiter bringing you the professionally cooked food is the perfect way to unwind, the DIY Valantine’s Day kit offered a completely different enjoyable experience.

It’s a great way for you to bond with your loved one – especially during a pandemic when everyone is looking for something to do which doesn’t consist of walking boots and a rain jacket.

However, I would say the downside of having eight dishes was trying to ensure they were all ready at once so they remained piping hot. 

Timing is key! It was also tricky having two people trying to cook at once on four hobs, which caused a lot of elbow shoving and something which looked like the end result of a game of Twister. 

The Sabor en Casa Box with Estrella Galicia from Michelin-starred Sabor offers an indulgent, eight-course Spanish tapas feast with accompanying Estrella Galicia beers for two this Valentine’s Day.

The box transports diners to the sun-soaked shores of Spain despite not being able to escape the country, and is priced at £96 for 2 people, with delivery available nationwide.

The indulgent meal was finished off with a basque cheese cake. Chloe said it was a ‘great concept’

While the flavour wasn’t compromised (a shock for both my partner and I!) the presentation left a lot to be desired…

When considering how much money you’d normally spend in a tapas restaurant, I’d say £96 for two people isn’t bad value for money for a special occasion – and the two Estrella beers were a nice touch…but an additional small bottle of wine would have been even better! 

I can’t finish without giving a special shout out to the squid ink and the octopus dishes because they were a firm favourite all round! Overall, a great concept for something a little bit different! – Chloe Morgan 

Pulperia: Valentine’s Menu for Two

Pulperia set menu for two, including starters of smoked octopus carpaccio, garlic smoked bone marrow, a main of Angus rib-eye with truffle fries and chocolate fondant and petit fours for dessert

What’s in the Pulperia Valentine’s Day box? 

 Aperitifs from our pulperia bar team & Bottle of Tillia Malbec // Mendoza Valley, Argentina

  • HOUSE BREAD, AGED BEEF BUTTER (G)(D)
  • Pumpkin seed ciabatta with herb butter
  • MARINATED OLIVES, CITRUS & GARLIC
  • SMOKED BONE MARROW (G)(D)
  • Served on the bone with parsley salad

TO BEGIN

  • PULPO Smoked octopus carpaccio
  • HUMITA EMPANADAS (G)(D) Sweetcorn, garlic, onion, coriander
  • ENSALADA (D)(V) Burrata, heritage tomato, basil, chilli

TO FOLLOW

  • WILD BOAR & BEEF SHIN RAGU (G)(D) with pappadelle pasta finished with parmesan

MAIN EVENT

  • 1kg MIGUEL VERGARA ANGUS RIBEYE with bone marrow pomme puree, heritage carrot, creamed spinach, truffle fries and bone marrow & malbec sauce

TO FINISH

  • FONDANT, Manjari chocolate fondant
  • SELECTION OF PETIT FOURS FROM OUR KITCHEN

Rating:

PRICE: £150 

COOKING TIME: 30 minutes  

WHAT IS IT: Pulperia set menu for two, including starters of smoked octopus carpaccio, garlic smoked bone marrow, a main of Angus rib-eye with truffle fries and chocolate fondant and petit fours for dessert.

Femail’s Jo Tweedy tested the kit..  

VERDICT : An opulent meal kit from the kitchen of Pulperia, which is headed up by top chef Aktar Islam, this was lavish Valentine’s Day dining with an Argentinian slant. 

The food wasn’t labelled so the initial challenge was working out what was what in the box of delights that arrived. 

Once over that hurdle, the starters were a dream to put together – we could chat as we plated up, with even the octopus carpaccio, which might sound daunting to home chefs, very simple to serve. 

All the sauces and dressings came prepped; the only real task we had was making it all look pretty on the plate.

Surprisingly, the main event, the steak – a 1kg of beautiful, tender Angus rib-eye – was really easy to cook, the instructions were crystal clear and it turned out perfectly, a delicious medium-rare. 

Although, we were worried about messing this dish up, so there was definitely some serious concentration going on. 

What took it to the next level was the bone marrow and Malbec sauce, which was rich but not too overpowering, and perfectly matched the bottle of Tillia Malbec that’s included.

Things we liked less? The delicious chocolate fondant for dessert had more than a punch of cumin, and we probably would have preferred them without the heat of the spice.

£150 is a lot of money to spend on a meal kit but we deemed it definitely worth the splurge price-tag; it was really generous with the amount of food – there was so much, that we ate like kings again the following day. 

If the labelling had been better, it would have been a sure-fire 5/5. 

The delicious chocolate fondant for dessert had more than a punch of cumin, and we probably would have preferred them without the heat of the spice

Aquavit London Valentine’s Day Dinner Box

Aquavit London Valentine’s Day Dinner Box

Designed for two to share, indulge in a starter of fresh sourdough bread and smoked cod’s roe butter, followed by chicory and pear salad with Stilton cheese, pecan cream and balsamic vinegar.

For the main, there’s langoustine bao buns with coleslaw, seaweed mayonnaise and pickles; and a showstopping honey and caraway roasted duck crown with beetroot and blackberry purée, with a side of rich and creamy Jansson’s temptation. 

Finish with a sweet for your sweet – chocolate Kladdkaka cake with lingonberries and whipped cream and petit fours, followed by a selection of Neal’s Yard cheese with quince and knäckebröd. A selection of fine wines and Champagnes is also available to order, to complete your romantic Nordic feast.

Rating:

Price: £150 for two 

Cooking time: One hour 

WHAT IS IT: The Nordic restaurant, which recently retained its Michelin plate, is offering a six-course Valentine’s Day feast curated by Head Chef Jorjon Colazo.

The meal includes a chicory, pear and Stilton salad to start, langoustine bao buns and honey and caraway roasted duck crown for main and chocolate Kladdkaka cake for dessert, followed by Neal’s Yard cheese and petit fours to finish.

FEMAIL’s Siofra Brennan gave it a try. 

VERDICT:   Even though every portion of food, down to pickled blackberries to serve with the duck and carraway seeds to sprinkle over it, comes individually vaccuum packed and numbered, my first thought that it looked a little bit daunting to prepare.

I read through the instructions a few times to get my head around it, feeling concerned that there was a lot of margin for error trying to prepare a Michelin star meal at home.

However, once I got started it was all very easy to cook and prepare, especially if you do it as a couple.

Our first starter was fresh sourdough bread and smoked cod’s roe butter, which still tasted a little stale despite being warmed up, and is probably best enjoyed straight out of the oven in the restaurant.

It was followed by chicory and pear salad with Stilton cheese, pecan cream and balsamic vinegar, which was light and fresh but full of flavour and crunch.

Our tiny langoustines were a little overwhelmed in the bao buns with coleslaw, seaweed mayonnaise and pickles, but I loved the flavour and it’s something that I’d never be able to reproduce at home, so it was a real treat.

Then it’s on to a oney and caraway roasted duck crown with beetroot and blackberry purée, with a side of Jansson’s temptation – a creamy Swedish potato and anchovy casserole, sprinkled with panko breadcrumbs.

Aquavit is offering a six-course Valentine’s Day feast curated by Head Chef Jorjon Colazo

The starter was followed by chicory and pear salad with Stilton cheese, pecan cream and balsamic vinegar, which was light and fresh but full of flavour and crunch.

Perfect for these last dark days of winter, this was really rich and comforting, although the duck was a little cold due to my own fault of not getting my timings spot on.

Chocolate Kladdkaka cake was another indulgent treat. It was very rich and definitely needs the lingonebrries to add some bite.

Just when you thought you had no room for more, there’s three strong cheeses from Neal’s Yard and chocolates to finish – we managed to squeeze them in.

The main course is  a oney and caraway roasted duck crown with beetroot and blackberry purée, with a side of Jansson’s temptation – a creamy Swedish potato and anchovy casserole, sprinkled with panko breadcrumbs.

To finish, a Chocolate Kladdkaka cake was another indulgent treat. It was very rich and definitely needs the lingonebrries to add some bite.

Unless you’re a highly skilled cook with plenty of time to spare, it’s unlikely you’re going to be whipping up a feast like this yourself, so I’d highly recommend treating yourself.

The reason I would mark it down is that it’s hard for a meal that’s been vaccum packed and prepared in your kitchen at home to reach the heights of perfection you would expect from a Michelin star meal in a restaurant, and £150 is a lot to spend.

I’d recommend this for real foodies who are happy to give it plenty of time and attention to make sure it’s cooked to perfection and your timings are spot on, so that you get the most out of it for your money.

Marianne Lumb x Finish and Feast, three courses of fine dining 

Rating:

Marianne Lumb’s Winter Menu includes

Starter

  • Vitello Tonnato & Artichokes

Main

  • Baked Stone Bass・Blackened Celeriac Puree・Beurre Noisette

Dessert

  • Yorkshire Rhubarb・Pistachio Macaroon・Cardamom

COOKING TIME:  About 30 minutes

WHAT IS IT: Marriane Lumb has put together a Valentine’s menu to replicate the art of dining out. Her hyper-seasonal menu for two includes three courses of romantic classics like Vitello tonnato & artichokes, Baked stone bass, blackened celeriac puree and buerre noisette finished with a standout dessert of Yorkshire rhubarb, pistachio macaroon and cardamom cream.

FEMAIL’s Claire Toureille gave it a try.

PRICE: £90

VERDICT: I loved the menu, it had a good balance of flavour and was very easy to manage on the hob. Each plate did not take long to prepare, and everything was very intuitively packed, in order to make things even easier to serve. 

The cooking instructions for the fish, broccoli and puree were easy to understand.

The veal starter was light and savoury, very easy to serve. The fish main was tender and not dry, though it did require a lot of hovering around the hob to check each pan – three in total, cooking at roughly the same time, on top of the oven. 

The dessert was sweet and fresh, and felt very light after a generous meal.

I liked that each dish was packed in paper bags tagged ‘starter, ‘main,’ and ‘dessert,’ however, it was a shame to see that almost all ingredients were wrapped in plastic. Of course, it might be the most convenient way to transport the goods safely.

Overall, I thought the all meal was flavoursome and easy to manage

The Plattery: Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Platter 

PRICE: £35 for two 

Rating:

COOKING TIME: None, but allow 15 mins for prep

A no-cook Valentine’s Day feast! Femail’s Stephanie Linning tried The Plattery’s Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Platter, which costs £35 for two, and was delighted with the selection

Neatly packaged: The food came packed in a cardboard box, with each component in a separate sealed plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination (pictured)

What’s in The Plattery Valentine’s Day set? 

To Start

Smoked salmon blinis (to be completed at home)

The Charcuterie Selection

Jamon serrano, Salami Milano, Iberico chorizo & Saussicon sec

The Cheese selection

Brie de Meux, Port Salut, Spanish Manchego, Chevre & triple cream camembert

The Fruit & Crudités Selection

Vine tomatoes, organic cucmber rounds, seasonal fruit & grapes

Accompaniments

Mixed nuts, chutney, halkidiki olives, medjool dates, Scottish oat cakes & seasonal follaige for decorating

To finish

White & dark chocolate covered strawberries

Femail’s Stephanie Linning tested The Plattery’s Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Platter.

The no-cook meal, which serves two people for £35, includes everything you need to create a beautiful Valentine’s Day platter, including a range of hams and cheeses, fruits and crudités, plenty of accompaniments, and chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. 

VERDICT: As someone who is anything but a natural chef, this Valentine’s Day meal couldn’t have been better! 

The Plattery’s charcuterie set had everything I needed to make my husband a romantic dinner for two, without the worry of getting a recipe wrong. 

The platter arrived neatly packaged in a small cardboard box – so small, in fact, that I worried if there was going to be enough in there to feed us both – with each component wrapped in its own sealed plastic bag. 

While this is not the most environmentally friendly delivery, it did reassure me that there was no cross-contamination between the various ingredients. 

In terms of preparation, it was very straightforward and was simply a matter of removing the items and laying them on a serving plate in an attractive manner.

My attempt was nowhere near as elegant as the one pictured on The Plattery website but the combination of colours and textures means it’s almost impossible not to put together a plate that has serious ‘wow’ factor. 

It also took just 15 minutes to pull together so didn’t eat into our evening too much.  

There was a good variety of food contained in the package. We particularly enjoyed that it moved from the ‘starter’ of smoked salmon blinis to the main course of cheese, charcuterie and accompaniments, and then onto the chocolate-covered strawberries… yum, yum, yum! 

My fears that there would not be enough for two – including one man with a big appetite – were also completely unfounded. In fact, there was enough cheese for us to enjoy with crackers the next day, too. 

If you’re in the mood for a hearty winter warmer then this meal obviously isn’t for you, but it is ideal for anyone who is looking for something a little different without the stress of having to cook. 

I can also imagine these platters tasting great in the spring once when we can get outside for picnics in the warmer weather. Would definitely order again!  

Easy to do: The platter (pictured being assembled) took just 15 minutes to put together

What’s in the Honest burger fondue kit? 

  • Chopped British chuck steak & rib cap patties
  • Dry cured pancetta
  • Five-cheese fondue mix from Mons Deli
  • Garlic clove (find it in your cheese mix)
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • White wine onions
  • Honest pickled cucumber
  • Honest burger buns
  • Rocket
  • Salt & black pepper 

Honest burger fondue kit

Rating:

COOKING TIME: Less than 30 minutes 

PRICE :  The kits are £26 for 2 burgers and £36 for 4 

There’s also some rosemary salt thrown in for good measure to recreate Honest’s signature rosemary salted chips at home. 

FEMAIL’s Jo Tweedy gave her verdict. 

VERDICT:  If love is a marriage of fondue and beef patties, then Honest Burger has hit the Valentine jackpot. Neatly packaged and labelled in recyclable packaging, this meal kit came with an A4 sheet of instructions, and a link to a video if needed too. 

The fondue was super-easy to create, simply pouring a small bottle of sauvignon blanc into a pan with a pot of prepped five-cheese fondue mix from Mons Cheesemongers and leaving to simmer to cheesy perfection. 

And the burgers, usually hard to get right at home, were restaurant delicious, with the thinly sliced pancetta offering a crispy topping that proved the perfect foil to the cheese and white wine onions. 

We loved the rosemary salt too. The fondue makes for an indulgent topping and, though perfect for a freezing winter’s eve, it wasn’t the easiest thing to eat with elegance… but assuming no-one’s having first dates right now, that’s less likely to matter. 

The Honest Fondue kit contains all the goods to recreate Honest’s limited-edition ‘FONDUE’ burger at home*, including five-cheese fondue mix from Mons Cheesemongers, pancetta, white wine onions, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and Honest beef patties. There’s also some rosemary salt thrown in for good measure to recreate Honest’s signature rosemary salted chips at home.

Jo said: The fondue was super-easy to create, simply pouring a small bottle of sauvignon blanc into a pan with a pot of prepped five-cheese fondue mix from Mons Cheesemongers and leaving to simmer to cheesy perfection.

Ampeli’s Valentine’s Day kit

Rating:

COOKING TIME: Less than 30 minutes

PRICE : £100

WHAT IS IT?  The menu consists of sourdough bread with smoked red wine butter, a choice of starter between citrus and ouzo cured salmon and Zaladina, or a smoked ham hock, leek and carrot terrine. 

The main is a choice between braised featherblade with artichokes, kalamata olives and saffron potato mash, or a baked lobster with metaxa cream sauce served with lemon patates. All of this is rounded of with a chocolate krema with pistachio crumble and a blackcurrant preserve

FEMAIL’s Monica Greep gave it a try.  

The menu consists of sourdough bread with smoked red wine butter, a choice of starter between citrus and ouzo cured salmon and Zaladina, or a smoked ham hock, leek and carrot terrine.


Monica said: The pudding (left) was also fantastic and while I don’t usually like the taste of rose, with the blackcurrant compote and the chocolate it worked really well. She added, The salmon was good quality and the oregano coleslaw had a really nice flavour and the veg was fresh (right)

VERDICT : The meal kit arrived in a huge refrigerated box, with each individual food item labelled and in the right quantity, so that was a good start. I was surprised by how little extra I needed to supply (pan, foil, and an oven tray). The kit came with a menu and step-by-step guide explaining how to cook each dish.

The salmon was good quality and the oregano coleslaw had a really nice flavour and the veg was fresh. But there was far too much of it for the small piece of salmon. The ham hock was my least favourite dish of the kit, which wasn’t great because there was so much of it. The side bitter salad was nice enough but overall the dish was not that exciting.

The beef was incredible. Tender and tasty and went perfectly with the choice of veg and saffron mash, which was creamy and not to overpowering. The pudding was also fantastic and while I don’t usually like the taste of rose, with the blackcurrant compote and the chocolate it worked really well.

The kit was also washed down with a bottle of Greek red, which made for a nice accompaniment and some sourdough bread with red wine butter which was delicious.

Cote at Home’s Valentine’s Day special

Rating:

COOKING TIME: Less than 30 minutes

PRICE : £45

WHAT IS IT:  The French-inspired range from award-winning restaurant group Côte Brasserie can deliver freshly prepared, high quality bistro meals created by its own chefs, traditional French breads and pastries from its Boulangerie, artisan cheeses from its Fromagerie and wines and beers from their Cellar to doorsteps all over mainland Britain with free standard delivery.

Femail’s Jessica Green gave it a try.  

The French-inspired range from award-winning restaurant group Côte Brasserie can deliver freshly prepared, high quality bistro meals created by its own chefs, traditional French breads and pastries from its Boulangerie, artisan cheeses from its Fromagerie and wines and beers from their Cellar to doorsteps all over mainland Britain with free standard delivery.

VERDICT: This brand offered an excellent Christmas meal kit, filled with delicious, easy-to-cook dishes and so I had very high expectations for their Valentine’s Day offering. And they did not disappoint!

Customers are offered tasty, tender pieces of steak, fresh green beans, french fries, a beautiful sauce as well as a delicious garlic bread as a side.

To top it off, your meal started and ended with superb dishes, offering a chicken liver parfait, which on its own I’d rate five out of five, while dessert was a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate fondant each.

The cooking instructions were clear and simple to follow and by the end of it you had a lovely meal for two. A bottle of champagne finished off the excellent, restaurant quality offering.

The only slightly negative point would be that the french fries had a lot of salt already on them which proved to be too much for me and my partner.

Pizza Pilgrims Valentine’s Day Spritz Kit Package (via City Pantry)

Rating:

COOKING TIME:  Around 15 minutes

PRICE: £35 

WHAT’S IN IT?:  Each kit comes with enough ingredients for two pizzas, a Nutella ring kit and a snazzy Aperol Spritz kit for two.

FEMAIL’S Bridie Pearson-Jones gave it a try. 

VERDICT: I love Pizza Pilgims and was really looking forward to this kit.

The recipe was really easy to follow and the ingredients were fresh and high quality  but as soon as I opened the kit my dough exploded and was pouring out sticking to the other ingredients. 

I’m not sure if it was related, but I really struggled to stretch the dough out, which meant my pizzas were smaller and thicker than they were supposed to be. 

Each kit comes with enough ingredients for two pizzas, a Nutella ring kit and a snazzy Aperol Spritz kit for two. Bridie’s dough exploded on arrival

Bridie said her highlight was the nutella pizza ring (pictured) which was was easy to cook and tasted delicious


Bridie’s dough was unable to  stretch meaning her pizza (left) was small. Right: The Nutella ring

I tried the truffle and mushroom pizza, which was delicious, nonetheless. The pizza making is a really fun activity to do as a couple, but could also be an easy and different task to do with kids.

Pizza Pilgrims in the pan cooking technique is a really great way to cook a pizza at home, and the most successful I’ve found. It’s definitely the best method (unless you’re lucky enough to have a pizza oven).

The kit also comes with prosecco, tonic and aperol to make a nice aperol spritz.

However, the crème de la crème of the meal was the Nutella pizza ring, the dough mixed with ricotta and chocolate hazelnut spread is mind-blowingly good. 

Matsduai Ramen Vegan Sunset Red Tonkotsu Kit

Rating:

PRICE : £19.99 for two

COOKING TIME: 15 minutes 

WHAT IS IT? Matsudai Ramen in Cardiff claims to be Wales’s only proper ramen spot and is delivering hand-made ramen kits across the UK. This vegan alternative comes with a   rich shiitake-kombu dashi and oat milk brot, with shio tare , handmade hakata noodles , double d’s hot sauce x matsudai chilli oil, spicy sunset powder, tofu chashu, kikurage, spring onion. Option to add eggs for non-vegans.

Femail’s Bridie Pearson-Jones gave it a try.

atsudai Ramen in Cardiff claims to be Wales’s only proper ramen spot and is delivering hand-made ramen kits across the UK. This vegan alternative comes with a rich shiitake-kombu dashi and oat milk brot, with shio tare , handmade hakata noodles , double d’s hot sauce x matsudai chilli oil, spicy sunset powder, tofu chashu, kikurage, spring onion. Option to add eggs for non-vegans.

VERDICT : The kit comes at a very good price, I’d happily pay £20 for this in a restaurant.

It’s very tasty and full of flavour and easy to adjust to personal spice levels. But the instructions weren’t that clear and my kit was missing mushrooms which is why I deducted a point.

While it was delicious, and eventually easy to assemble it good me a few times reading the instructions to make sense of them. It also caused a lot of washing up, you need a pot for the noodles, a bowl for the ramen, a pot for the broth and a frying pan.

The tofu came pre-marinated and had a rich umani flavour, it was really nice to see it treated properly and have a distinctive taste from the oat milk broth.

Bridiei said: ‘It’s very tasty and full of flavour and easy to adjust to personal spice levels. But the instructions weren’t that clear and my kit was missing mushrooms which is why I deducted a point.’

The broth itself was also perfectly flavoured and had a good kick without blowing your head off with spice.

I added the Ajitama egg – an semi-hard boiled egg that’s been marinated in soy for 48 hours – I was a little apprehensive as I fear powdery eggs but the yolk was gooey and it really took the meal to the next level.

While perhaps not the most romantic of kits (the instructions say to gulp it down as quickly as possible and slurp it, and the flavours (spring onion and chilli) don’t leave you with date-ready breath, it’s a great dinner option without the frills of some of the other kits. 

The Cookaway Valentine’s Box

Rating:

COOKING TIME: One hour 

PRICE: £46 (an extra £15 for wine)

WHAT IS IT:  Created by former MasterChef finalist, Jack Lucas, the new Valentine’s Menu from The Cookaway is a majestic pairing of 30-day aged Aberdeen-Angus fillet steak with a rich Béarnaise Sauce and is available to order with extra delights including delicious Truffled Mac ’n’ Cheese and Crunchy Corn Rib side dishes, desserts, chocolates or specially paired wines and Champagne. 

The recipe box comes with a QR link to access the cooking instruction video where Jack Lucas talks through each step of the cooking process to ensure everyone has an unforgettable, restaurant-quality meal cooked at home.

FEMAIL’s Hayley Richardson tried it..

Created by former MasterChef finalist, Jack Lucas, the new Valentine’s Menu from The Cookaway is a majestic pairing of 30-day aged Aberdeen-Angus fillet steak with a rich Béarnaise Sauce and is available to order with extra delights including delicious Truffled Mac ’n’ Cheese and Crunchy Corn Rib side dishes, desserts, chocolates or specially paired wines and Champagne.

VERDICT:  This is a decadent meal for kitchen savvy couples and definitely worth the work you put into prepping it. At £46 (plus an extra £15 for wine) it’s a little on the pricey side, but I’d expect the meat alone to cost in the region of £15-£20, and this meal in a restaurant would probably set you back nearly double that.

I was really impressed with the Cookaway box – it came with everything you needed to prepare and cook the meal from scratch (one of my eggs was cracked in transit, but I had spare). I’d definitely set at least an hour aside to get everything ready and read the recipe cards through first to make sure your timings work out. The instruction video by chef Jack Lucas was handy to watch for prepping and cooking tips.

Hayley said: This is a decadent meal for kitchen savvy couples and definitely worth the work you put into prepping it

The 30-day aged Aberdeen-Angus fillet steak was absolutely delicious, one of the best I’ve ever had (thankfully my partner did a great job cooking it, otherwise he would have been in serious trouble). While the Béarnaise Sauce was the messiest and most work-intensive element to prepare (luckily I happen to have the three jugs it required!) 

I’d definitely make it again as it was gorgeous (though possibly the juice of an entire lemon isn’t necessary as it was very tangy). The sweet potato wedges were a bit on the spicy side for my partner (the portion of cayenne pepper was pretty generous!) but I loved the crispy polenta coating, I’ll definitely be doing that again – a big improvement to my usual home-cooked oven chips. 

The watercress salad was a nice colourful addition to the plate but to be honest we wouldn’t have missed it – and I definitely couldn’t have managed additional sides! 

The La Flor Pulenta Malbec (£15) was a great accompaniment, it complimented the meat well. 

Hayley said; ‘The 30-day aged Aberdeen-Angus fillet steak was absolutely delicious, one of the best I’ve ever had (thankfully my partner did a great job cooking it, otherwise he would have been in serious trouble). While the Béarnaise Sauce was the messiest and most work-intensive element to prepare (luckily I happen to have the three jugs it required!)’

What’s in the Night In With Rudy’s box? 

  • 1 Bake at Home Portobello Pizza
  • 1 Bake at Home Carni Pizza
  • 1 Bake at Home Calabrese Pizza
  • 1 Bake at Home Margherita Con Bufala Pizza
  • 1 Bottle of La Vita Sociale prosecco
  • 2 Cans of Northern Monk Eternal 330ml
  • 2 Rudy’s Negronis
  • 2 Bottles of Campari Soda

Rudy’s Pizzeria: A night in with Rudy’s

Rating:

COOKING TIME: Seven minutes

PRICE:  £55

WHAT IS IT?: Believing Neapolitan pizza to be the best in the world, Rudy’s dough is made fresh daily using Caputo ‘00’ flour which has been left to ferment for at least 24 hours, alongside the best quality ingredients imported twice a week from Naples, including San Marzano tomatoes grown on fields next to Mount Vesuvius, and Fior di Latte mozzarella. 

Their night in box contains four pizzas, and a selection of booze. 

FEMAIL’s Jessica Green tried it out.

VERDICT:  This pizza was mouth-watering and left you wanting more and more. 

It had plenty of toppings, ranging from vegetables to meats but didn’t overload the bread, making sure you could still taste the flavoursome cheese and tomato sauce.

The dough was soft and the ingredients seemed to be of a high quality. 

It came with easy instructions, making it a very simple meal to share and it definitely had a restaurant feel to it. 

I would’ve perhaps liked a dessert and maybe a larger cocktail or more of them since the kit only came with one.  

Believing Neapolitan pizza to be the best in the world, Rudy’s dough is made fresh daily using Caputo ‘00’ flour which has been left to ferment for at least 24 hours, alongside the best quality ingredients imported twice a week from Naples, including San Marzano tomatoes grown on fields next to Mount Vesuvius, and Fior di Latte mozzarella. Their night in box contains four pizzas, and a selection of booze.

Jessica said: ‘This pizza was mouth-watering and left you wanting more and more’

Little Pasta Company Valentine’s Day Box

Rating:

PRICE: £34.60

WHAT IS IT?: Two portions of fresh pasta, two portions of black truffle butter one 100ml bottle of black truffle oil, one selection of grilled courgette, aubergine, sundried tomato and olives. One portion of 100g burrata cheese, one portion of rocket and pine nut salad with balsamic dressing, one portion of grated grana padano cheese.

FEMAIL’s Bridie Pearson-Jones tried it out


The pasta kit from Little Pasta Company comes with Two portions of fresh pasta, two portions of black truffle butter one 100ml bottle of black truffle oil, one selection of grilled courgette, aubergine, sundried tomato and olives. One portion of 100g burrata cheese, one portion of rocket and pine nut salad with balsamic dressing, one portion of grated grana padano cheese. It is cooked left and in the pack right

Bridie said: ‘The burrata however was absolutely divine, and very easy to assemble. It came with rocket, pine nuts, balsamic salad dressing and roasted vegetables.’

VERDICT: While the burrata in this kit was amazing, the pasta was a little disappointing.

The box was beautifully presented and the black truffle oil and truffle butter were box excellent, but the pasta was very starchy and it was difficult to shake the excess off, meaning the strands stuck together and gave a clumpy meal. 

All the ingredients were a good quality,  

The burrata however was absolutely divine, and very easy to assemble. It came with rocket, pine nuts, balsamic salad dressing and roasted vegetables.

Each part of the pack came packed up, and although there were no instructions it was very easy to chuck together and make. 

I think it could probably be great – and it’s more of a 3.5 than a 3 – butt the dough just wasn’t fresh enough to wow me, and for the price a dessert would have been great.

Rick Stein’s Luxury Breakfast in Bed hamper

Rating:

Cooking time:  Less than 15 minutes

Price: £72.50 

WHAT IS IT? With Valentine’s Day on a Sunday this year, a hearty Cornish breakfast box is a great way to kickstart your leisurely romantic morning. 

For breakfast, tuck into their newly launched Cornish Breakfast Box (£35) or Luxury Breakfast Box (72.50), packed full of heaps of delicious Cornish produce to make your loved one a slap-up breakfast in bed. 

Both boxes contain Bacon, Sausages & Hogs Pudding from Tywardreath Butchers, St Ewe Grande Eggs, Rick Stein Strawberry Jam, Trewithen Dairy Butter, Origin Coffee and Coombeshead Farm Sourdough. The luxury box then also adds inRick Stein Smoked Salmon, Half a bottle of Rick Stein Champagne and Cornish apple juice. 

FEMAIL’s Hayley Richardson tried it out.

With Valentine’s Day on a Sunday this year, a hearty Cornish breakfast box is a great way to kickstart your leisurely romantic morning. For breakfast, tuck into their newly launched Cornish Breakfast Box (£35) or Luxury Breakfast Box (72.50), packed full of heaps of delicious Cornish produce to make your loved one a slap-up breakfast in bed.

Both boxes contain Bacon, Sausages & Hogs Pudding from Tywardreath Butchers, St Ewe Grande Eggs, Rick Stein Strawberry Jam, Trewithen Dairy Butter, Origin Coffee and Coombeshead Farm Sourdough. The luxury box then also adds inRick Stein Smoked Salmon, Half a bottle of Rick Stein Champagne and Cornish apple juice

Pictured: Hayley’s breakfast with sourdough, egg and salmon from Rick Stein’s meal kit

VERDICT:  At £72.50 it is very expensive (I tend to think you’re paying for the name) but that does include a half-bottle of Rick Stein Champagne (a full bottle retails at £33.95). On arrival, two of the St Eve Grande Eggs were cracked and had to be binned, which was unfortunate as they did appear well-packed.

I was very impressed by the quality of the food, and the amount you got – this could have easily fed four, so we were left with plenty to snack on and enjoy the following day. The bacon, sausages and hogs pudding from Tywardreath Butchers were all lean and beautifully seasoned, while the generous packet of Rick Stein smoked salmon was a nice touch (I actually had this the following day with scrambled eggs as there was so much fry-up). Another star was the Cornish apple juice, which was probably the nicest apple juice I’ve ever tasted.

As a breakfast ‘dessert’, we enjoyed a few toasted slices of the (enormous) Coombeshead Farm Sourdough cob with the Rick Stein Strawberry Jam and Trewithen Dairy Butter, all washed down with a pot of the Origin Coffee. Given the price, it was a VERY special treat – but hey, it’s not like you’re going out for dinner is it?

Chef Akila’s low calories curry box

Chef Akila’s low calories curry box contains six curries with lowest calories & fat. All have less than 85 Calories/100g.

What’s in Chef Akila’s low calories curry box? 

  • Village Chicken Curry (63 Calories/100g) Medium. 640g, Serves 2
  • Goan Chicken Curry (83 Calories/100g) Mild. 640g, Serves 2
  • Chettinad Chicken Curry (69 Calories/100g) Medium. 640g, Serves 2
  • Vegan Tikka Masala (56 Calories/100g) Mild. 640g, Serves 2
  • Lentil & Vegetable Curry (60 Calories/100) Medium. 640g, Serves 2
  • Vegetable Salna (44 Calories/100g) Medium

Rating:

PRICE: £48

COOKING TIME: Less than 15 minutes 

WHAT IS IT?: Six curries low in calories and  fat. All have less than 85 Calories/100g. All are microwaveable.

Femail’s Jessica Green tried it out.

VERDICT: I’m a huge, huge, huge curry fan and love most of them. 

However, it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to this particular cuisine, and unfortunately these dishes just didn’t pack the punch I was hoping they would.

While the flavours were delicious and very spicy, the texture of the curries was slightly powdery, almost as if they hadn’t been cooked for long enough despite following the microwave instructions.

The rice was soft and fluffy and filled with ingredients but the meat used didn’t taste of the greatest quality, with the chicken quickly turning brown once heated.      

The dahls were very tasty as starters, but I did miss having a dessert.

Overall, while these meals would definitely beat most supermarket-branded, microwavable curries by far, they didn’t quite offer the restaurant quality I had been anticipating.

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