Review: Abel & Cole Very Veggie Box (Small)
I’ve always liked the idea of fresh fruit and vegetables, but working full time makes it difficult to pop out to the shops come Wednesday to top up the weekend’s haul from the veggie aisles. I also try and avoid the supermarkets during the week, as I am partial to a bit of ‘oh – what else have they got here?’ and end up forking out about £30 on stuff I don’t really need (that means you, Bella magazine and rice cakes).
So, when I heard about fruit and veg boxes being available for delivery, I wasn’t massively surprised. It’s a good idea… although probably a bit of a rip off, right?
Well… that’s what I thought for a fairly long time, until a little Abel and Cole voucher landed on my doorstep and I thought, ‘hell with it. Let’s go mad online’.
Abel and Cole
I won’t bore you with the particulars, but suffice to say, Abel and Cole are one of the leading veg box distributers. The company, started by 1988 in Keith Abel and Paul Cole was bought by the firm who own Aunt Bessie’s four years ago. But, they are still operating under the Abel and Cole name and indeed, Keith Abel is still pretty much running the show.
So What Do You Get?
Abel and Cole offer a variety of veg and fruit boxes at various prices. Needless to say, the bigger the box, the more expensive it is. But there is a wide variety of box type, not just your average fruit and vegetable. You can choose from salad options, to speedy cook vegetables (for those of us who get in late from work), to juicing boxes and full on meal-in-a-box, err.. boxes. Further to this, Abel and Cole offer meat boxes and there is also a new fish box, with the choice of three sustainably caught fish to add to your weekly menu. And, there’s a load of other ‘cupboard essentials’, such as milk, cheese and butter, which you can add to your delivery too.
Very Veggie Box
So, I get the Very Veggie Box. The small one. It’s £12.50 +P&P a week, but I get it fortnightly. I’m the only vegetable eater in our house. The BF likes peas and sweetcorn, but that’s it when it comes to the vegetable aisle. Very annoying for me, as I love vegetables and salads. As a consequence, it means I can’t buy big bags of the stuff as it will only go to waste. And as you know, once you’ve opened a packet of salad up, or starting chopping away at a cucumber, you kind of have to eat it up pretty pronto. Soggy vegetables are not the one! I have found that Abel and Cole vegetables tend to last a couple of weeks, as long as your fridge is very cold.
Yes, there was a deal when I signed up to Abel and Cole. In fact, there were two deals. I could either get my first and fourth box at 50% discount and get a £10 voucher to use for their larder and fridge store products (eggs, yogurt, butter etc) or I could get the Abel and Cole cookbook for free. I looked up the cookbook on Amazon and saw that I could purchase it for 1p + P&P. 1p!!!! Naturally, I decided to get the discounted box and buy the book separately.
One of my favourite things about Abel and Cole is that you can blacklist some vegetables. So I will never receive turnip, swede or anything tomato related. You can also choose to swap out vegetable. So when you review your up coming order (you always know what’s going yeah week), you can choose to swap some produce for another. I really like this feature and regularly swap things out if I don’t fancy it, or happen to have it lurking in my fridge already.
Oh, there’s also the ‘surprise vegetable’ option, which you can choose. Abel and Cole will simply surprise you with a surprise seasonal vegetable. Who knew vegetables could be so much fun?
Abel and Cole tell you when the delivery day is for your area. So you can’t choose the day your box gets delivered. Mine comes on Wednesday, which is ideal as a mid-week top up on vegetables. Your driver will leave a little card as well on his or her first visit, which I thought was a nice touch. (Hello Mark!)
You don’t need to be in to collect your box. I never am. You can leave a note stating whereabouts you want it left.
Abel and Cole are hot on sustainability. Your vegetables will come delivered in a reusable, recyclable box (leave it out for Mark or one of the other drivers to pick up). Most vegetables are packed in the box without packaging, although curiously, mushrooms come in a plastic container, the cucumber comes wrapped in plastic (pet hate) and some of the greens arrive in a plastic bag. Why they don’t use paper bags (as they always do for their spuds), I don’t know.
Ok, so now to the bones (or not!) of this post – what’s the actual produce like?
Well, I’ve been and Abel and Cole customer for about eight weeks now, and I can say as a whole – their food is pretty good. The produce is tasty and most of the time lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge. Portion sizes are not the most generous, but these can totally vary. I have found that their mushrooms aren’t all that, but green stuff tends to be good.
The box is meant to serve 1-2 people over the course of a week. I think if you were just having one portion of vegetables a day each, then yes, it could service you and one other person. But realistically, you’d still want to add some extra vegetables to your box to ensure you had enough veg for the week.
Onions: Just a quick point on the onions. They are quite a lot smaller than the ones you’d pick up in the supermarket. Not a criticism as such, just a point to make.
Potatoes: These are a weekly staple. I’ve had a few different types, including the wonderful Violetta spuds, which are purple. They create a beautiful mash and quirky roast potatoes (although preparation is slightly different to your usual white potatoes. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the potatoes from Abel and Cole need to be eaten in first three days. They will start sprouting otherwise.
Beetroot: Unusually for Abel and Cole, when beetroot turns up in your box, it’s normally a pretty big portion. I can highly recommend this soup should be lucky enough to get beetroot in your delivery.I am sure this soup would be just as tasty, although I’d add in a potato (violetta would be perfect here!) to thicken it up.
Right, so – The Book. You have to get this book!! Number one, it’s amazing to look at. The pictures are beautiful and your mouth is bound to water when you see how you can cook your vegetable to make marvellous meals.
Secondly, the copy is brilliant. The book is said to be written by Keith Abel, but whoever it was deserves a medal. It’s funny, engaging, slightly off-beat. Laughing at a cookery book is a new concept for me.
And that’s the other thing. It’s not just a cook book. It’s more of an inspiration book. It gives you lots of ideas on how to cook your produce, alongside random facts and anecdotes. There’s even a page with jokes on. I mean seriously?! You don’t get that in a Mary Berry book.
So Would I recommend Abel and Cole?
That book? Yes. In a heartbeat. The food itself? Hmmm, well, yes I would. Although it is pretty pricey for what it is. Yes, I know – organic and all, but if I needed to adjust my budget, Abel and Cole would be the first to go. I’m not sure how Honey would feel about missing out on one of her favourite boxes though!
I suggest you grab yourself one of the deals that are always knocking around and see for yourself whether it’s worth it.
And get yourself that book. It’s stupid cheap and even if you don’t ever cook a single meal from it, it’ll look good on your bookshelf and provide you with some light entertainment.
Have you ever tried Abel and Cole? Do you think it’s worth it? Hit me up in the comments below.