Thursday, 3 May 2018

The April Degustabox review

The end of the month drawing near is always a sign that it's time for the postie to drop off the latest Degustabox and that marks a moment of excitement at The Madhouse, as the kids gather round to see if there are any sweets or savoury snacks that they want to get first dibs on ! It's usually an interesting mix of new products from well-known brands and totally unheard of brands that I'd never noticed before (but which often become regualr buys once we've tried them) so I'm always keen to see what's in there too.

This month's box is a nice mixture of snacks to keep the kids happy and useful ingredients that can be used to make dinner. As soon as we unpacked everything, I could spot alternative brands of everyday products that we are always using at The Madhouse, such as milk, tinned tomatoes and chocolate spread. There are also lots of energy type products, grouped together on the enclosed information card in an "active/outdoors section". Let's have a closer look.

 Starting off with a trio of store cupboard staples ...

I always like to have a bottle or two of long-life milk in the cupboard for emergencies and A2 Long Life Semi-Skimmed Cows' Milk (RRP £1.50) ticks all the right boxes. It doesn't need to be stored in the fridge until it's opened (although it's better to chill it before use) and it tastes just like regular milk, despite being naturally free from the A1 protein that can cause milk intolerance.

I'm always using tinned tomatoes but I wasn't familiar with the Mutti brand. In the box, there is a tin of finely chopped tomatoes (RRP £1.00) and a bottle of passata (RRP £1.40), both of which are food cupboard staples here at The Madhouse, for making everything from pasta sauces and pizzas to curries and soups. They're a high end brand, with a vibrant red colour, sweet flavour and no yellow or green bits of tomato in the tin.

Juicy Fuel Cola (2 x £2) was another brand I was unfamiliar with but I was very impressed with the concept and the flavour, if not the price. The non-alcoholic version of this month's box was supposed to contain two different flavours, Blueberry and something else, but I got two cans of Blueberry - luckily I thought it was very nice. It is a cola made with natural ingredients and no added sugar, artificial sweeteners or preservatives. As it contains fruit juices, it even counts towards your 5-a-day - bonus !

With three kids (including two teenagers) in the house, I constantly have at least one jar of chocolate hazelnut spread on the go, so I was keen to try out Nuttvia Hazelnut Spread, which is palm oil-free and contains 97% less sugar. Unbelievably, the kids thought it was just as tasty (and sweet) as their usual brand so it's a great swap.

Another great-tasting swap is Milkybar Wowsomes (RRP 2 x 55p), which contain 30% less sugar and also have a smaller size so they come in at under 100 calories. You can choose between white or white and milk chocolate, filled with a creamy centre and crispy oat cereal. We love the flavour, the texture and also the cute messages and pictures imprinted on the bars.

Another huge hit with the kids was Haribo Giant Strawbs (RRP £1.29) - a sweet they already knew and love, as much for the size as the flavour. They're suitable for vegetarians, which I didn't know.

The alcoholic version of this month's box included a can of Happy Down Lychee Guava Chilli, which is a crafted sparkling cocktail containing fortified wine. Each flavour in the range combines an unexpected fruity pairing with herbs or spices to enhance your drinking experience (also available in lemon cucumber mint and raspberry pomegranate basil flavours). It's a refreshing drink that would be great for sipping at sunset in the summer. I do think the packaging should be more explicit about it containing alcohol though, because it looks like a child-friendly soft drink to me.

Lio Bites Strawberry & Banana Smoothie Bites (RRP £2.35) are 100% natural (and 100% guilt free) fruit crisps that are made with fresh fruit, frozen and dried, to create a satisfying crunchy texture. They are vegan, gluten-free, contain no added sugar and count towards your 5-a-day. My only slight niggle is the price, but as a healthy treat, I'd buy them occasionally.

Lucozade Energy Orange (RRP £1.10) is a sparkling glucose drink, which uses sugar rather than caffeine to give you a boost (17g of sugar and 133 calories per bottle). Lucozade is a brand which still reminds me of being ill as a child - I always got to peel the orange cellophane off the dimpled bottle and spend ages looking at the world through an orange-tinted filter ! Best served chilled, it has a lovely sweet, fruity flavour, but the high sugar content would put me off buying it regularly.

Idahoan Roasted Garlic Perfect Mash (RRP £1.50) is an instant mash, ready in just one minute by adding boiling water, that is perfect for a midweek meal after a busy day at work. After growing up on lumpy, powdery instant mash Smash as a child, I was inclined to turn my nose up at the concept, but smoother, tastier French "flocons de purée" reconciled me to the idea. I'm pleased to say, the Idahoan version is another hit and I'd look out for this in the shops to see if they have other flavours, or just plain mash.

Trek Protein Energy Chunks (2 x £1.15), in both Cocoa Peanut Peak and Toffee Triumph, are cold-pressed nuggets of nutrient-rich wholefoods, including high-protein fruit, nuts and oats. They look like chocolate truffles and are surprisingly tasty, as well as being vegan, gluten-free and counting towards your 5-a-day. 

N!ck's Kexbar (RRP £1.20) (which sounds like a tribute band to 80's pop star Nik Kershaw !) is another product and brand I'd never heard of. It's a delicious crispy chocolate wafer filled with vanilla cream and covered in chocolate. Very tasty and it contains no added sugar, although each wafer still provides 195 calories, so it's not a completely guilt-free, healthy snack.

Mindful Bites (RRP: £1.49) are a range of nut butters in squeezable pouches designed to be eaten on the go - well, it makes a change to fruit puree and yogurt, I suppose ! Available in Almond & Maca, Hazelnut & Berries, Brazil Nuts & Cacao Nibs and Cashew Nuts & Baobab, subscribers received one flavour but as a Degustablogger, I got to sample all four. They're original and tasty, perfect for popping in pockets and backpacks on a long walk or for adding to lunch boxes as a mess-free, healthy treat.

Finally, The Food Doctor Smoking Edamame Mix and Full Of Beans Protein Mix (RRP : 2 x £1) are healthy snacks to pick at that are a great alternative to crisps. A blend of corn and beans, they are high in fibre and a good source of protein that will keep you going until lunchtime.

This month's recipe card suggests making Aubergine Parmigiana and Roasted Ratatouille Pasta with the two Mutti tomato products. They both sound like tasty, family-friendly meals that I'd like to try.

This month's box seems particularly well-stocked and is a great mixture of familiar products (if not brands) and total unknowns - things that I would never have given a second glance to in the supermarket but that I'd be tempted to buy again having tried them.

A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £7.99 - enter code 0BS6T at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.


  1. There were quite a few new products in the latest box. Loved Mutti, and nut butters are lovely too. We didn't get a hazelnut spread, but it sounds good. Haribos disappeared pretty fast.

  2. the milkybar wowsomes look good - haven't tried them yet!

  3. I need to get the chocolate hazelnut spread for my kids


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