Pepper Leaf are a family-run, local Meal Kit Delivery company based in Melbourne. Running since 2015, they pride themselves on working with Australian producers and delivering food quickly from farm to table. With a majority of Meal Kit providers in Australia being foreign-owned large companies, I was excited to try a genuine local company that felt much more personal. The big question is whether they can compete with the big players? Read our Pepper Leaf meal kit review to find out.
Pepper Leaf Meal Kit Review
Pepper Leaf provides fresh ingredients and delicious meals for more experienced home cooks who want to support local business.
Ordering - Website - 7/10
Food - Quality - 8.5/10
Ordering - Meal Choice - 5/10
Food - Taste - 7.5/10
Ordering - Delivery - 9/10
Value For Money - 7/10
- Genuinely fresh farm ingredients.
- Tasty meal options.
- Kits for 1,2,4 or 6 people.
- Vague recipe cards.
- Some unexpected pantry ingredients.
- Limited options each week.
If you’re not entirely sure what a Meal Kit is or why you should give them a try, then we have the internet’s most detailed Meal Kit Guide here on Food Box Mate. We hope you find our site useful!
Founded by Simon Kahil, this Melbourne based Meal Kit service is founded on the belief that fresh produce is one of the most important things for a great meal. When you order from Pepper Leaf, you really do feel like it’s arriving from a family farm with the whole experience being just a little bit rough around the edges.
Immediately, if you want to support local Australian businesses then you should really consider giving Pepper Leaf a try!
- 1 Getting Started with our Pepper Leaf Review
- 2 Meal Options Available
- 3 Delivery Options
- 4 How much does Pepper Leaf cost?
- 5 Nutritional Analysis
- 6 My Pepper Leaf review box
- 7 How’s The Food?
- 8 Anything Else?
- 9 My Overall Thoughts
- 10 Competitor Discounts
Getting Started with our Pepper Leaf Review
Pepper Leaf have a really simple website, where you can learn more about their suppliers and the Meal Kit service they provide. Unique to Pepper Leaf, you are able to order 1 person Meal Kits as well as the standard 2 and 4 person options. I also love the option to order 6 person boxes as well. This would be a fantastic option for anyone with a large family.
There are some limitations on a 1 person box, where you need to order either 4 or 5 meals. This is totally understandable as it must be very expensive to process a whole order for just a few meals.
Your subscription is a completely flexible one that can be cancelled at any time (at least 7 days before your next delivery is due). This means there’s no risk to giving Pepper Leaf a try for just a week to see if it’s right for you.
Meal Options Available
I found that Pepper Leaf was quite limited on meal options each week, certainly in comparison to other competitors. They often have just 8 different meals available each week. Understandably, this is a direct result of the scale they operate at and the attention to detail they put into each ingredient. Of these 8 meals, 3 of them are always Vegetarian so it is possible to order Pepper Leaf on a plant-based diet although your options are going to be quite restricted. There are no alternate options for other restricted diets.
Some of the options available when I ordered included:
- Honey Ginger Chicken with Noodles
- Harissa Lamb with Tahini Dressing
- Curry Cauliflower Fritters
Despite the limited menu, I found it very easy to select 5 meals that I wanted to try. As long as you’re a slightly adventurous eater and you’re willing to try new recipes then this is a good way to force you to explore food. If you don’t like recipes in a certain week then it’s also possible to reduce or skip your order for that week without any penalty.
Pepper Leaf deliver to Metro areas in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Australian Capital Territory. They choose to limit their delivery areas so that they can ensure ingredients reach customers as fresh as possible. This means that your ingredients are picked and sent overnight to reach you the next day. It’s worth using their postcode checker to see if you’re eligible for delivery. The full list of delivery areas is as follows:
VICTORIA: Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong
NEW SOUTH WALES: Sydney, Newcastle, Central Coast, Wollongong
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Adelaide
Deliver is FREE with all Pepper Leaf boxes which can up to quite a big saving over the course of an entire year. Especially when competitors are charging up to $10 for delivery.
How much does Pepper Leaf cost?
As you’d expect, Pepper Leaf are a relatively premium option with boxes coming in about 10-15% higher than competitors like HelloFresh and Marley Spoon. This is slightly deceiving as that price difference comes down significantly when you add in the cost of delivery (free with Pepper Leaf). This makes Pepper Leaf far more comparable in price. The box prices are listed below:
With such a wide range of portion options, I wanted to fully analyse the cost per portion and see if I could find any sweet spots where you’re getting the most food for your dollars. The graph below gives a simple representation of the cost per portion depending on how many portions you order.
The green ‘trendline’ shows a rough approximation of where the average cost per portion is, so anything below that line is good value at Pepper Leaf. What’s interesting is that the slightly more unusual boxes for 1 or 6 people tend to be worse value. I guess this is simply paying for the convenience they provide. The 12 portion box (4 people, 3 meals) looks to be fantastic value and comes in at $10.48 per portion.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have analysed the nutritional qualities of the biggest Australian meal kit subscription services, with the summarised results published below with permission from the original authors.
All values are ‘per each recommended individual serving’.
|Dinnerly||HelloFresh||Marley Spoon||Pepper Leaf|
|Food Groups (no. of serves)|
|Total fat (g)||34.8||53.4||30.3||32.2|
Pepper Leaf are notable for providing the greatest amount of grains per serving, however only 11% of those are wholegrains. It’s possible to work around this by prioritising recipes with wholegrains although this will limit your choice quite considerably. This factor contribute heavily to Pepper Leaf having the highest average amount of carbohydrates per recipe.
In all other respects, Pepper Leaf are highly comparable to their more established competitors and you certainly aren’t compromising on nutrition by trying their service.
Thanks to Dr Alice Gibson and Dr Stephanie R Partridge of the University of Sydney for their research. If you want to read their paper, it can be found on the Nutrients journal.
My Pepper Leaf review box
I ordered a Pepper Leaf box for just 1 person including 5 meals (plus a free one). With no other companies offering single person boxes, this really had the opportunity to be a game changer. It was an exciting morning when the Pepper Leaf box arrived at my door, on time and in one piece. The delivery box was nicely branded and even included some instructions on which order to eat your meals in. I think this is a great touch to help you make the most of fresh ingredients.
The cupboard and fridge ingredients were loosely placed in the box, whilst the meat/dairy ingredients separated into an insulated cool bag. This means you do have to pick out which ingredient matches to each meal when your box arrives. Fortunately, Pepper Leaf make this easy to do by adding stickers to each ingredient, corresponding with a recipe card – picture below.
More pictures of the ‘unboxing’ can be found on my Instagram page.
I always check the ingredients when they arrive, just in case there are any issues. Happily, I had no issues with this Pepper Leaf box. All the vegetables looked fresh and every ingredient was in its rightful place.
How’s The Food?
I cooked six different meals from Pepper Leaf and found that the end result varied quite a lot. I thought that the Sticky Honey Pork was absolutely delicious, with Sweet Potato also cooked through that sauce. In contrast, the Halloumi & Veggie skewers recipe was just a poor way of cooking those veggies and left me with dry, tasteless quinoa. I felt like I saw both the best and worst of Meal Kit recipes in a single week.
My experience leaves me wanting to try more Pepper Leaf dishes, with one caveat. When reviewing, I try to stick as close to the recipe as possible to fairly mark what’s provided. With Pepper Leaf, I would want to modify recipes and add ingredients to really personalised and elevate those dishes. For example, pan frying the ingredients from the Halloumi Skewers and running some citrus through the Quinoa.
One of the nicest elements of any Meal Kit I’ve every tried was Pepper Leaf’s homemade red pesto. This was absolutely delicious! The recipe asked for it to be blended (I don’t have a blender) so I ended up using a Pestle & Mortar which just about worked.
You can check out my thoughts on each specific dish through my Instagram page.
Dishes We Loved
- Chickpea, Feta & Panzanella Salad
- Sticky Honey Pork
Dishes We Wouldn’t Recommend
- Halloumi & Vegetable Skewers
Meal Kits are intended for people who are looking to cook new dishes or perhaps aren’t too confident in the kitchen. As such, I would expect recipes to be as clear as possible so that even beginners can easily cook each meal. Unfortunately I found that Pepper Leaf’s recipe cards were lacking in detailed, clear instructions. This is seemingly a result of having much smaller recipe cards and without the resources to fully test the instructions. For example, in the recipe below it asks you to ‘peel and chop sweet potato’ but doesn’t make any reference to the size of pieces you should be cutting.
It’s not all bad with the recipes though, I was helped by the fact they ask you to prep all your ingredients before starting to cook. This takes slightly longer but makes the whole process much less stressful. If you have strong basic kitchen skills then you won’t find much difficulty following these recipes and producing quality meals.
How about those Meal Kit meals for 1 person? Well, I was very impressed by the portion sizes provided. Each dish was filling and healthy, whilst taking a maximum of 35 minutes to cook. There are some odd issues with this however, with recipes often leaving you with half an ingredient left. Mainly onion, carrot, tomato and other veggies. This is fine if you feel comfortable using those in other dishes (e.g lunch) but otherwise could lead to higher food waste. I’m also a fan of cooking large portions and saving some for the next day – a 1 person Meal Kit means you’re cooking every night.
Staple Ingredients – What’s Reasonable?
This is sure to create an element of debate within the Meal Kit community. All services ask that you provide basic store cupboard ingredients to finish each meal. I find this perfectly acceptable when it’s something like olive oil, flour or sugar. However, sometimes it feels like the definition of ‘staple ingredient’ is pushed too far. Most meal kit services have been expanding this to include items like Soy Sauce, White Wine Vinegar and Honey.
Pepper Leaf wins the award for pushing the limits the furthest however, asking for Ciabatta to be a staple ingredient. Whilst most people will have a loaf of bread lying around, I suspect it’s less common for a roll of ciabatta to be a store cupboard constant. Likely this was done because of the shelf life of bread, although there are surely alternative options such as sending Croutons. If you try Pepper Leaf, it’s worth checking your recipes before they arrive to make sure you have all the additional pantry ingredients.
My Overall Thoughts
Put simply, Pepper Leaf is not as polished as the big multi-national Meal Kit providers. However, what they do bring to the table is a personal charm, quality farm-fresh ingredients and genuinely tasty meals. If you’re considering a Meal Kit and want to support a local Australian business then you’ll definitely enjoy the experience with Pepper Leaf. Taking delivery costs into account, it isn’t even going to cost you much more money.
I’d recommend this to people who aren’t beginners in the kitchen and are open to experimenting with how they cook. This will make sure you make the most of Pepper Leaf’s star ingredients. I’d love to see Pepper Leaf expand their options each week, in particular adding more vegetarian meals would really open themselves up to people following a plant-based diet.
Want a meal kit service with more exciting meals? –> Check out my HelloFresh review
Want more choice and variety with your weekly meals? –> Find out more about the Marley Spoon offering.
Have you tried Pepper Leaf before? Let us know in the comments down below. I love to hear your feedback on each of these Meal Kits. Please also let me know if you enjoyed this Pepper Leaf Review, I hope you found it useful.