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13 best meat boxes

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, US-style factory farming has spread to the UK in a bid to keep up with our rampant meat consumption. With overcrowding, routine use of antibiotics and short animal lifespans, these factories are as far removed from our mental image of a jolly farmer and his tractor as can be. Of course, it stands to reason that if we’re paying less for meat, corners will be cut – both in regards to animal welfare, but also our own health.

But if you enjoy eating meat, is this your only option? No. There is a better way and as consumers it’s our duty to vote with our spending power and support the farms that are doing it right. 

So whether you’re an ardent meat eater or practise a more “flexitarian” approach, it’s time to start asking more from meat. And if you do, you’ll start to see a number of keywords popping up. We’ve put together a cheat’s guide so you can make informed decisions. 

  • Free range: animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.
  • Grass fed: animals whose diets come from grass and the outdoors, as opposed to those that are denied access to the outdoors and are given grains instead (which fatten them up quicker). A grass-fed or pasture-fed diet is better for both the animals’ health and ours, with a higher ratio of vital omega 3 (the good stuff) to omega 6 fatty acids (the bad guys).
  • Organic: the avoidance of manmade fertilisers and pesticides. It’s worth noting that some smaller producers may not carry the organic label, which must be obtained from an official regulatory body, but are nonetheless practising organic methods.
  • Slow reared: animals that reach maturity slowly and naturally, resulting in higher animal welfare and, arguably, better taste.
  • Heritage breed: breeds that have been raised for hundreds of years. They haven’t been tampered with so may take longer to grow and require more feed.

Beware of the fake farm names that some supermarkets plaster their products with – often the contents come from a factory setting where animals have never seen a blade of grass. If possible, we’d advocate buying your meat from smaller, family-run farms that raise animals in humane conditions, on grass-fed, nutrient-rich diets. This selection of meat boxes has been checked and verified, so you know you’re getting the real deal. These processes all directly impact the flavour and we’re confident you’ll taste the difference. 

Most of the producers we’ve chosen offer a selection of delivery frequencies, so you can adjust to fit your lifestyle and family size. Boxes are delivered fully chilled, meaning you don’t need to be in for the delivery, they’ll survive until you’re back home from work.  

Farmison The Chateaubriand Box: £37.95, Farmison

Delivery options: One-off

Farmison has built great relationships with its farmers over the years, supporting traditional butchery and husbandry. All meat is cut to order and shipped to you within 48 hours to make sure it’s the freshest it can be. The Chateaubriand box that we tried was an absolute beauty. As well as the 550g free-range, grass-fed steak, the box also included a pot of fiery horseradish cream – so all you need to do is add the chips. Totally indulgent, this was a real treat – we’ll be ordering one each month for “date night”. If you’re after something a little less extravagant, the award-winning steak and bone marrow burgers were as good as any restaurant versions we’ve tried. There are 20 meat boxes to choose from (from full English breakfast to cooking-for-one boxes), so you’ll be sure to find one that fits into your lifestyle.

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field&flower Lean Box: £40.12, field&flower

Delivery options: Weekly, fortnightly, one-off

Set up by two friends who met while studying agriculture, field&flower sources its meat from independent Somerset farmers who share the same ethical and sustainable values as itself. It has recently teamed up with personal trainer and health coach Max Lowery to offer this hamper full of grass-fed lean cuts. Lowery believes that what the animals eat and how they are treated directly affects the taste and overall health benefits of the meat – and after trying this box we’d have to agree. Contents include rib-eye steaks, salmon fillets, smoked mackerel fillets, sage and black pepper sausages, boneless chicken thighs, burgers and salted butter, all of which lends themselves well to speedy midweek meals, such as Lowery’s soy and honey-glazed chicken with coconut rice, which can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes. Other boxes are available, and you can also curate your own.

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Abel & Cole Roast with the Most Organic Box: £18, Abel & Cole

Delivery options: Weekly, fortnightly, every three weeks, monthly, every eight weeks

We may have nailed a classic roast chicken but our Sunday roast repertoire could certainly do with an injection of inspiration. Thankfully Abel & Cole has created this box, which contains a British joint of meat (it changes each week), all the herbs and spices you’ll need and a foolproof recipe card. We recreated the roasted pork shoulder with gingered apricot sauce, which served four people well. All of Abel & Cole’s meat is completely organic or wild, making us feel like the hosts with the most. Aside from its range of meat boxes, the brand also offers fruit and veg selections, as well as meal packs, recipe kits and ingredients for smoothies.

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The Dorset Meat Company Student Survival Meat Box: £26.95, The Dorset Meat Company

Delivery options: One-off (regular deliveries can be arranged by calling 01747 811077 or emailing info@thedorsetmeatcompany.co.uk) 

If you’ve recently packed off a loved one to university, you may be wondering just how long they can survive on beans on toast. The Dorset Meat Company has put together a survival package stuffed full of sausages, pork steaks, beef mince, braising steak and beef meatballs, so they can feed themselves and win some friends in the process. Animals are grass fed and allowed to grow outdoors at a natural pace on one of the 20 family-run farms the company works with across Dorset and Wiltshire. There are 13 other options in the range, including boxes for curries, English breakfasts and family roasts.

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Riverford Quick and Easy Meat Box: £37.85, Riverford

Delivery options: Weekly, fortnightly, every three weeks, monthly or one-off

Most of us don’t have much time to spend creating culinary extravaganzas midweek, so with that in mind Riverford has put together a selection of cuts that lend themselves to speedy cooking. Perfect for frying, grilling or griddling, the selection changes each week but includes the likes of beef steaks, pork steaks, beef mince, chicken breasts and lamb steaks. All of Riverford’s meat is sourced from small-scale, organic producers whose animals enjoy the highest welfare standards.

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Eversfield All Round Meat Box: £48.90, Eversfield

Delivery options: Weekly, fortnightly, every three weeks, monthly or one-off

As the name suggests, this box contains a great selection of meat to stock up the fridge (and freezer). The star of the show is the whole organic chicken, but you’ll also receive pork sausages, streaky bacon, beef mince and an ever-changing “butcher’s choice” cut. Eversfield works with the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, which means its farmers must feed grass and herbs for an animal’s entire life, resulting in a nutrient-rich end product. All meat is butchered freshly on the same day it is dispatched. A number of other boxes, both meat and vegetable, are also available.

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M&S Meat Box: £40, Marks & Spencer

Delivery options: One-off

M&S is the only national retailer that can trace all of its beef back to both the British farm and animal it came from. Pretty impressive. This excellent value box contains a variety of beef steaks, burgers, mince and stir-fry strips. Aside from the beef there’s a great selection of quick-cooking, prepared options such as the veal meatballs, which come with a sachet of harissa sauce and are ready in just eight minutes. Our favourite was the pork saltimbocca – pork loin wrapped in prosciutto and topped with sage butter. Ideal for those midweek meals when you don’t have time to think.

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Heartier Classic Surprise Box: £44, Heartier

Delivery options: Fortnightly, monthly, tri-monthly or one-off

If you fancy yourself as a keen cook, this box of free-range, native-breed surprises is just the thing to keep you on your toes and keep things creative in the kitchen – although Heartier does provide recipe inspiration on its website in case you get stuck. We received pork mince, gammon steaks, skin-on chicken breasts, spare ribs, unsmoked back bacon, steak burgers, lamb cutlets, a Cumberland curl and a pork shoulder – enough to keep us going for weeks and weeks. Heartier operates as the middle man, helping us buy our produce from passionate local producers who we might not be able to find otherwise.  

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Primrose Herd Taster Box: £44, Primrose Herd

Delivery options: One-off

This award-wining, family-run farm, located within a world heritage site in Cornwall, specialises in heritage-breed, slow-reared pork. The pigs’ welfare is put before anything else, so they are left to roam outdoors and fed a diet free from additives, growth promoters or routine antibiotics. This care results in a higher fat content in the meat, which makes for the most incredible crackling. Each hamper includes a 1kg boned and rolled shoulder joint, leg steaks, diced and minced pork, sausages, and dry-cured bacon.

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Coombe Farm Kids Favourites Box: £30, Coombe Farm

Delivery options: Weekly, fortnightly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or one-off

If feeding little ones, you’ll want to make sure the meat is as nutritious as can be. This organic box is definitely the way to go, with all produce coming directly from the award-winning farm in Somerset where animals are reared on a grass-only diet. Expect sausages, chicken drumsticks, beef meatballs, lamb koftas, pork steaks, beef mince and bacon, all of which is delivered frozen. Coombe Farm also offers other meat boxes, as well as those containing fish. All subscriptions receive a permanent 5 per cent discount for as long as they are live. 

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HG Walter Steak Box: £100, HG Walter

Delivery options: One-off

A real treat for steak lovers, this is at the pricier end of the spectrum but the quality of these cuts is second to none. In fact family-run HG Walters supplies meat to a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across the country. Each box contains sirloin, rib-eye, fillets, steak burgers, cote de boeuf, rump, marrow bones (great in broths and gravy) and a béarnaise sauce. There are two other boxes available, featuring half a pig and lamb in each.

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Well Hung Meat Paleo Grass Roots Box: £29.99, Well Hung Meat

Delivery options: One-off

Whether you’re following the paleo diet (which supports going back to basics and eating as our very early ancestors did) or just want a good source of healthy protein, this excellent value box will set you on the right track. Each pack contains organic chicken thighs, lamb noisette rings (lamb loin slices), minute steaks and diced pork. As its name suggests, Well Hung Meat takes it time to raise its animals and hang meat longer than average before butchering – and it’s won many awards in the process. There are 11 other meat boxes in the range.

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Pipers Farm Marvellous Monthly Meat Box: £40, Pipers Farm

Delivery options: Monthly

With rolling hills and nutrient-rich red soil, Pipers Farm in Devon is as picturesque as they come. Practising sustainable farming just as generations before it did, Pipers Farm supports nose-to-tail eating, so that nothing is wasted (it means that the eyeballs are even given to a local school so they can be used in science experiments). This monthly box contains a whole chicken, chicken breasts, diced chicken, pork steaks, streaky bacon, sausages and finally mince and steaks from the award-winning Red Ruby breed of cows. All of which is from slow-grown native breeds eating a 100 per cent grass and forage diet. Seven further meat boxes are offered by Pipers Farm.

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The Verdict: Meat boxes

We’ve awarded the Best Buy to Farmison, which follows the commendable rule that the meat we eat should be grass fed, slow grown, free range and high welfare. Everything from “everyday” burgers to the special-occasion steak was exceptional quality – so much so that we’d probably rather stay in and cook then go out to a restaurant. That said, we really didn’t try any meat that was anything less than delicious. We hope this has inspired you to eat better meat and not settle for anything less.

Stacey Smith (editor of food and drink website Crummbs) took part in the Bafta-nominated series Blood, Sweat and Takeaways, where she worked in chicken and tuna factories across Southeast Asia. Having grown up with a grandad who worked as a butcher, she feels passionately that we eat better meat from farms, not factories

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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