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Review: 1st Abel & Cole Organic Fruit & Veg Box

If you know me, you will know that my reviews are detailed, honest and the type of review I would like to see if I was deciding whether or not to go for something. You may like to scroll down a bit to see the photos and a quick review of each of the foods in my fruit & veg box you came here to see.

For some time now, after hearing about organic fruit and veg boxes and also being signed up to be an affiliate of Abel & Cole, I have wanted to test them out.

A few of the barriers preventing me from buying my first box were: the ‘higher’ cost of ordering organic food, the not knowing of whether they would be any good, my life becoming very busy with work and general forgetfulness.

However, excuses out of the way, I set out about ordering my first organic fruit & veg box. I first of all ate most of the fruit and veg I had in my home, to prevent further food wastage when my box arrived.

Finally, I got around to checking out the fruit and veg (and other food items) Abel & Cole had to offer on their website. I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting to find shopping online a joyous experience. Other than store cupboard food items from Amazon, I have never shopped for food online.

Before I go into what I received in my first box, I wanted to educate you on a few things I now know about Abel & Cole and wish I knew ages ago:

  • Their website is so cool and easy to navigate. It is fresh and the photos have a similar background. This may not sound important at first, but having simple photos of just the food and no advertising helps me to have a better experience of shopping online. I am always put off by the idea that if I go on the website, I may be persuaded to buy something I don’t really want to buy. I like the way Abel & Cole displays it’s website; it is simple, fresh and colourful, but not OTT. It’s nice to know that when I go on Abel & Cole to buy food, I will only buy what I want to buy.
  • They have a low minimum order of £12, which is reasonable, especially for people living on their own who won’t need to order as much food. This also helps to prevent food wastage as it means that people are able to order just what they want and not feel forced into ordering more food (that they don’t need and won’t eat), just so that they qualify for home delivery.
  • The delivery charge is fair, at just £1.25. Even me, who hates to pay for delivery and loves to get free delivery, can live with that quite easily.
  • Here’s one of the biggest benefits: even though Abel & Cole is most known for its Fruit & Veg subscription boxes, you don’t actually have to commit to ordering a big box every week. On the website, you are able to select which size box you would like (ranging from extra small to large and a few other options) and also how often you would like to order it (from one off, every week, every other week, every 3 weeks, every 4 weeks and every 8 weeks); so it is fair to say that the box is very flexible and there is no commitment needed – which is a big plus for me and I assume a big plus for you.
  • Also this is one of the coolest things I love about the organic fruit & veg boxes – you can decide from the options what you would like in your fruit and veg box (as far as I am aware, there are no other organic fruit and veg boxes that do this). If you decide that what is already predetermined in the boxes is not your cup of tea, you can easily switch it to something you do like in seconds. There are so many alternative choices to choose from and its really fun to try out.
  • You will have a nominated day that your box will be delivered; to ensure a more eco-friendly delivery service they don’t deliver to everywhere everyday. My delivery day is Friday and I have until Wednesday at midnight to update my box and finalise everything I need in it. I find this useful as it means I can check my kitchen for the things I need and to add them to my next delivery as and when I need them.
  • I have been very happy to find out that because I now get my food delivered to my door and although per gram the organic food typically cost more than if you were going to the supermarket; I have actually saved myself so much money by not needing to keep going shopping multiple times in the week. Also, when I go to get something organic thats cheaper at a supermarket, I actually end up spending more than I was intending to as I have a habit of looking round all of the shelves (to ‘check’ to make sure I haven’t missed something I might need) and picking up things that I actually don’t need (which makes my total spend around 3x the price of the item(s) I was initially going into the supermarket to buy). Therefore, I have found that by paying a bit more online for the same thing that is organic (but with the bonus of being less packaged), in the long run I spend less and (health benefit alert) I buy and eat less junk food (so feel better about myself and have less food buying regrets).
  • Another benefit is that my organic fruit and veg boxes have less packaging than that I would have if I went to the supermarket. Also, some of the packaging can be given back to them, including the box and it can be re-used multiple times, which makes me feel good.

The Arrival

My first Abel & Cole box arrived in a cardboard box tied with colourful string and in a plastic bag as it had been raining. As I live in an apartment block, the driver had struggled to find me, so they left it downstairs for me to collect. Whilst this wasn’t ideal at first and left me disappointed that I had to walk to get it (lazy), this was soon sorted out for my next order that was handed to me at my door without the unnecessary plastic bag around it.

The organic filled boxes always come with multi-coloured string wrapped around it like it is a present, which is nice. And you could always repurpose it by platting some and make some wrist or ankle bracelets, so that they have not been created for just one use.

A Hearty Welcome & Discount Code

There was this cute little card on top of the box, welcoming me to the A & C family, which was a nice little touch (but wasn’t necessary in my opinion). I returned it to A & C in my next delivery in the hope that it would get to be used again. There was also a welcome booklet and discount booklet, which I haven’t took any notice of to be honest, so I think they should ask customers in future whether they would like to receive them to save on paper (and the precious trees that are destroyed to make them).

Packaging

Most of the items were either package free, loose in the box; or in a paper bag. Some were in plastic. The paper bags had stickers on them to keep them closed, but upon trying to rip them, I sadly discovered that they were likely plastic as they were unrippable. This was disappointing and sometimes two stickers were used, which to me was unnecessary as the bags didn’t need a sticker to be kept wrapped up, and at the most one sticker would have been ample.

Fortunately, the stickers on the box with my details on, were rippable and made of paper, which I was really happy about.

What was in my box?

Organic Sweet Potatoes

One of these had a tiny bit of damage at one of the end, but aside from that they arrived in great condition. I actually didn’t end up eating these until about a week after I received them. By that point there were some areas that needed cutting off. Me and my partner enjoyed these as homemade chips and they were very sweet and delicious. Due to their length, they were a great shape for sweet potato chips. I actually think they were more sweet than I was expecting, with a lot of flavour, which was refreshing as a lot of (non-organic) sweet potatoes nowadays are flavourless with the tiniest bit of sweetness.

Overall, nothing against them and if you love sweet potatoes for their sweetness, you are guaranteed to love these more than any other you’ve tasted. I would buy them again, but as a special treat as they are slightly more pricey than standard potatoes and I prefer white potatoes anyway. I loved that they came in a brown paper bag.

Organic Strawberry Jam

This jam was so lovely that I ended up buying another in another box. It was very sweet, but not too sweet. I also liked that it had actual lumps of strawberry. I got it on offer twice and now I am waiting for it to go on offer again so I can buy it. 100% recommend.

Organic Tomato Ketchup

I had bought this exact tomato sauce from a local wholefoods/bulk store in Leicester, so I already knew I would like it. This tomato sauce has a very good strong tomato taste, which was a shock at first; clearly being used to poor tomato sauce, but now I have tasted it I will keep buying when I run out.

Organic Bananas

These first lot of bananas needed a little bit more ripening for my taste, as I like my bananas softer and with some brown spots on. They were easy to peel though, which was nice. Two of them also had a bruise on, which was a bit disappointing. I have ordered more bananas since and they were perfect. I think I was just a little unlucky on that occasion. I loved this little paper slip (although it was a shame they included another exactly the same – unnecessary excess).

Organic Sweet Salad

The first time I had this sweet salad I was very impressed. Usually when I buy salad, even organic mixed salad from the supermarkets, they usually have some parts that are unusable because they are already starting to go bad. It lasts for the whole week in a reusable tub with some tissue in there to absorb any excess water and to further preserve the salad. I have ordered this multiple times. Highly recommend.

Organic Mushrooms

These mushrooms were nice, although I was disappointed to see that they were in a plastic container and not loose. I contacted A & C and they said that some of their foods don’t last (go off and are inedible) if they are loose and plastic packaging seems like a necessary evil to avoid the other evil of food waste that also contributes to landfill and toxic gases being released into the atmosphere. They did however, say that if I returned the plastic packaging and any other packaging for that matter, they would responsibly recycle it where necessary. Sadly, they said that they could not re-use the packaging as they did not have the right cleaning infrastructure at present. i made sure I returned this to them in my A & C box when I got my next box from them (they take back your used boxes if you leave it out for them or give it to the driver directly).

I actually already had some mushrooms in the fridge that I needed to eat first before eating these ones, which was asking for food to be wasted – I didn’t think about that one. However, after about a week of not being eaten, they were still okay, abeit a little smaller in size (perhaps because the moisture had evaporated or something), but they were still great in taste and I would buy them again.

Organic Nectarines

I was really looking forward to eating these nectarines, as I hadn’t had nectarines for a while and I love them as a special treat. I was disappointed when they arrived, as they were hard, not ripe and I was impatient; wanting to eat them as soon as they arrived. Unfortunately, even after leaving them over half a week, they were still hard and when I decided to still try to eat them when unripened, they were mainly sour with the occasional bit of sweetness and they were bruised in the middle around the stone. This was really sad as I love nectarines for their sweetness and if I am honest, I haven’t tried to buy them again because the experience has put me off. However, I do know that if they were bad quality overall again, I could message A & C customer service and they would without a doubt offer me a full refund no questions asked, which is good. I think I will try them again in the future.

Organic White Onions

I was impressed with the quality of the onions, just thought they were being a little stingy with the portion size. However, having said that I would order them again, and have done many times since in recent orders.

Organic Red Onions

These onions were lovely. They were smaller than I am used to, but this turned out to be better for me, as usually I have to cut up one big onion and save half for another time and then I feel forced to hurry up and eat it before it goes off. I have bought these many times and would recommend them.

Organic Apples

These apples were lovely. Slightly smaller than I am used to, but this was beneficial as a lot of supermarket loose apples are too big for me and after eating about 3/4 of it, I feel like I cannot eat any more and feel compelled to eat it all to avoid food waste. These are the ideal size for a snack and I actually ended up eating 4 in a row before my dinner one day the week I had them arrive as they were so lovely. They had the right amount of sweetness, skin and crunch. I would even argue that I enjoyed them the same amount that I enjoy chocolate. None of them had a bruise and have since bought more. 100% recommend.

Organic Potatoes

The potatoes were lovely. I used the bigger one as a jacket potato and it was great. I used the remaining potatoes to make homemade oven chips/wedges using rapeseed oil generously sprinkled over them on a tray at fan 200*C for about 25 mins (turning half way through). Definitely recommend you give these beauties a try.

Everything in my organic box in photos

Before I go, just in case you were wondering, everything cost me £23.73 in total. Here is the breakdown of what they cost on their own.

  • Small Magnificent Mixed Box, Organic – £14.25
  • Apples
  • Chestnut Mushrooms
  • Sweet Mix Salad
  • Potatoes
  • White Onions
  • Red Onions
  • Nectarines
  • Fairtrade Bananas
  • Organic Strawberry Jam, Organic (340g) – £2.93
  • Mr Organic Tomato Ketchup (480g) – £2.45
  • Organic Sweet Potatoes (700g) – £2.85
  • Delivery charge – £1.25

So that’s it (I’m saying phew in my head btw – this has taken me a lot of time to do), I hope you have enjoyed this review of my very first organic fruit and veg box from Able & Cole and found it has helped you decide whether you would like to try an A & C box. I would say go for it.

When I get round to reviewing my other boxes, I will leave the links to them here. So stay tuned for that.

If you would like to see what is available from Able & Cole, feel free to click on the green image below as it will direct you straight to their website (your welcome).

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