Cultures & Cuisines: Food Subscription Box Explorations

Once bitten by the travel bug, it’s hard to resist the urge to visit new places and experience new things. Sightseeing, shopping, and socializing are all part of the package, of course; but there’s also the thrill of discovering different dishes. Whether it’s savory or sweet, street food on a stick or a complete sit-down meal, local delicacies reveal so much about a destination.

It’s not always practical to plan a trip–you might be low on funds, or out of vacation leaves at work–but there’s an innovative way to satisfy that wanderlust: food subscription boxes! These days, you can find anything from bi-weekly meal preparation boxes to monthly snack samplers–take a look at our list of the best food subscription boxes if you’re curious–and there’s a very special subgenre that caters to the travelers at heart. With food subscription boxes like these, you can explore cultures and cuisines, without ever needing to leave your house.

Serve Full Courses with Discourses

If you want to learn and eat at the same time, why not get something that can help you to whip up something substantial in the kitchen? Most of these services send out boxes with a monthly theme focusing on a specific region or country. There are some that will give you everything you need–ingredients, recipes, and more–while there are some that give you only extra souvenirs, plus what’s exotic and hard to find, like herbs and spices.

Top Pick: Takeout Kit

Starts at $32.00/month + free shipping

Ships to US territories; including Hawaii, Alaska and APO/FPO addresses

Takeout Kit is one of those all-inclusive boxes: a true meal preparation service that even comes with a two month shelf  life guarantee. With a penchant for putting together international dishes, this service specializes in providing tested and properly measured ingredients for recipes from around the world. Although these good-for-four kits are not recommended for those with serious food allergies, Takeout Kit does accommodate common dietary restrictions. Vegetarians, pescatarians and those on a low glycemic index diet need not worry.

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Kitchen Table Passport

Every box is themed, and comes with a welcome guide, mementos, 10 country trivia cards, a grocery list and recipe, plus herbs and spices to cook the dish–good for four to six–twice. No accommodation for different dietary needs, but you’re free to tweak it on your own. Starts at $29.95 with free shipping; currently only ships to the US. There is also an option to do away with the extras and pay only $9.95 for the food items.

The Spicery

You get a recipe card, plus freshly ground and blended herbs and spices enough for a meal serving two to four; depending on the spicebox type. The Spicery offers eight–BBQ Around the World, Date Night, Food Truck, Friday Night Curry Discoverer, Indian Restaurant Favorites, Meat Free Magic, Spicery Highlights, World Kitchen Explorer–and you can choose a different one monthly. Starts at £22.00, plus shipping and handling, for three months; ships internationally, except to Australia.

Food Trip To…

Each box focuses on one country; and contains a travel journal, music playlist, a souvenir, authentic items, and recipes–good for up to six people–to try, using products included. Vegetarian or allergy-accommodating versions of the recipes may also be provided. 10% of the proceeds from every purchase is donated to OXFAM Québec. Starts at Can$37.90, plus shipping and handling, for a single box; currently only ships within Canada.

From Foreign Countries to Filling Your Pantries

Ever come across a dish when you’re on vacation and think, “I bet I can figure out how to make this”? For more experienced cooks, per-recipe subscription boxes may be restrictive and can limit creativity in the kitchen. It’s a good thing that there are services catering to people like you, too. Not everyone needs a set of instructions; some will appreciate just being able to stock their pantries with items that may be difficult to find at local supermarkets and groceries.

Top Pick: Yummy Bazaar‘s Destination Food Club

Starts at $9.95/month + free shipping for club members

Ships to US territories; including Hawaii, Alaska and APO/FPO addresses

Yummy Bazaar’s Destination Food Club gives you two options: the World Sampler and the Full Experience. The former is a steal: up to eight sample-size products from up to three countries each month–all for less than $10.00. However, the latter is what will really fill your pantry; starting at $35.95, you get up to eight full-size food items from a single country. Great customer support options, the ability to skip deliveries any time and an easy way to cancel your subscription all make this service well worth trying.

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Try The World

This company offers three different boxes: Countries, Pantry and Snacks. Each monthly box contains a culture guide, along with artisanal food items. The Snack box is a little pricey, starting at $19.00 month on month for five all-natural snacks from five countries; the other two subscription options are better. The Countries box starts at $39.00 a month for up to eight gourmet delicacies from one country, curated by a notable chef. The Pantry box is a little less expensive at $29.95; you trade curation for customization, as you receive five international food items monthly based on a taste profile that you fill out. Shipping is free within the US; Try The World also ships to Canada.

Snack and Sample Before You Pack and Travel

When you think of foreign cuisine, you typically think of food you might find on a restaurant menu; but that’s far from a complete experience. Snacks matter, too! Think back to what you saw lining the shelves of convenience stores at the last foreign country you visited. These products may not be gourmet, but they are likely the things that immigrants miss most about their home countries. After all, you can always cook a dish, but not every local candy or bag of chips will be available internationally. Snack boxes are part discovery and part nostalgia, and often add sense of fun. After all, candies and treats tend to bring out the child in everyone.

Top Pick: TopMunch

Starts at $22.00/month + free shipping for US customers

Ships internationally

TopMunch sends you more than just a collection of snacks each month; it gives you a full cultural experience. Each box contains not only up to seven exotic and full-size treats from one country, but also a language guide with common local phrases, a travelogue with recommendations and tips, and a collection of local music. There are also enclosed details about each food item. The monthly packages function as quirky primers for pre-travel; the curated boxes basically give you a taste of what to expect during an actual visit.

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Treats

This company offers a no-nonsense version of what TopMunch provides its customers: a collection of one country’s best snacks, delivered to your doorstep each month. Starting at $13.95 for a Standard Pack, you get over five treats; the Premium Pack at $25.95 contains over 10 treats. Shipping is free if you’re located in the US–excluding APO/FPO addresses, sadly–but the service is available worldwide.

Universal Yums

These monthly country-themed boxes are sort of the middle ground between TopMunch and Treats. They come in two sizes: the smaller Yum Box starts at $14.00 and contains at least six food items, and the bigger Yum Yum Box starts at $25.00 and contains at least 12 food items. Treats and candies are a mix of salty, spicy, sweet and more. An information card with fun facts about each snack is also included. Shipping is free for US residents, and the service is available in selected countries only (Australia, Canada, Israel, the US, and the UK).

SnackCrate

Each crate’s contents are half candy, half snacks (chips, cookies, crackers, and more)–all from one different country each month. For an additional $6.00, a foreign drink from the same locale will be included. There are three crate sizes to choose from: Mini, starting at $12.00, with up to six food items; Original, starting at $20, with up to 12 food items; and Premium, starting at $35, with up to 18 food items. Shipping is free, and SnackCrate only delivers to US addresses.