I was in no way sponsored or asked to write this Hello Fresh Review. I just believe there are a lot of misconceptions about meal and recipe delivery services and I wanted to give an honest review of my experience with this service provider.
I hardly notice the ads which run along the flanks of my Facebook page or the ones draped over the top of almost every news article and blog post. They are so commonplace I, like most computer-obsessed Americans, no longer click through based on the promise of 40% off or a free widget with purchase. But I have noticed a trend when I go down the rabbit hole known as the interweb; there are more than a couple grocery and meal home delivery services, and they are all targeting me with their internet advertising.
I've had friends and neighbors mention these meal delivery services to me, but I shied away, afraid that if I fell into the habit of having my meals left at my doorstep, I would somehow be jeopardizing my love of creating regular, fresh homemade meals. I had some preconceived and unsubstantiated notion that all of these services were cookie cutter versions of off-the-shelf suburban meals which lacked soul and substance. I was wrong in many regards.
I recently took a chance and tried Hello Fresh, and for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised.
Here's how it works:
1. You pick your plan and your weekly quantity. There are three different options - Classic Plan, Veggie Plan, and Family Plan. We chose the Family Plan and opted to receive 2 meals each week, each portioned for 4 people. Since I have two little ones, we have a healthy amount of leftovers with each meal. Each time the leftover dinner heated up nicely for day two.
2. Choose your meals. Each week there are five different meals from which you can choose. You merely go to hellofresh.com, sign into your account, and make your selections. When you are looking through the options, you can read through the recipe and instructions. There is also a list of all the required instruments and any additional materials you might need for each recipe. I have an extensive pantry and spice cabinet, which I can tap into when necessary, but you will likely need salt, pepper, olive oil, sugar, and butter for any given recipe. Also, you can choose to "Skip the Week" for any reason. I really like this feature since I have a family of picky eaters and it can be challenging to find two out of five meals which work for all four of us.
3. Wait for your groceries. After you place your order, you just sit back and relax, especially since you are saving yourself time at the grocery store. You might just have half a second more to do that certain something you've put off for the last couple months, or not, no one is judging you.
4. The delivery. When your Hello Fresh box arrives, it will be packaged in a brown box and clearly marked. Inside there is plenty of insulation to ensure your food is fresh upon delivery. The meals are wrapped individually in brown paper bags, and all the meat for the meals are located underneath the brown bags, sandwiched between two big frozen insulated liners.
5. Move the food to the fridge. Make sure you properly store your meals and ingredients. I move all the bags and meat to the refrigerator until I'm ready to prepare them for dinner.
6. Make dinner. Once you're ready to cook, you'll want to locate the 11 x 8.5" recipe card which corresponds to the night's desired meal. The recipe cards include clear written instructions paired with step-by-step images to help guide you through the cooking process.
7. Serve dinner and enjoy. Once you've assembled the meal according to the instructions and plated it, sit down and enjoy a well-balanced, homecooked meal.
After my first two weeks using Hello Fresh, I'm mostly impressed, but there are some aspects I didn't love. Here is a list of some of my personal pros, cons, and misconceptions:
- As I mentioned my family is comprised of picky eaters and this allows us to try new recipes, which might not otherwise be on our radar.
- The meals are well balanced, with correctly portioned proteins and lots of fresh veggies.
- The recipes are easy to follow, and you can save the recipe cards so you can recreate the meal in the future.
- You can review the entire recipe ahead of time, and you can make the recipes without having them delivered. If you really want to try three or four of the five meals, you'll need to do some of the grocery shopping, but the recipe is available to you to prepare it at home.
- While the ingredients are provided, you are still cooking each meal yourself. It really doesn't take away from the feeling of proving your family with a healthy, home-cooked meal.
- You can look at the available menu options for the next month if you are a super planner.
- I've been a little suspect about the freshness of some of the ingredients. For example, one of the recipes included asparagus, and on the outside of the package, it said, "Best By" and listed the day the Hello Fresh box was delivered. Typically I do not plan on cooking the meals the day of delivery since I don't know what time the box will arrive. I was surprised they didn't choose to send produce which was best by a date later in the week to ensure freshness. I also once received chicken which smelled a bit.
- There are a lot of potatoes. I grew up in a potato-loving home. We had some version of potato with most of our meals, but when it comes to a meal delivery service, I would except a little more diversity. I want to caveat this and make sure you know there are different types of potatoes, sweet and Yukon, and they are prepared differently from recipe to recipe. I wish there were some more recipes with pasta, rice, quinoa, barley, or some other starchy options besides just potatoes.
- One of my meals required eggs, and one of the two eggs was cracked when I received it. As I noted above, I have most of the ingredients on hand, so I just grabbed an egg from the refrigerator, but it did run onto some of the other package ingredients.
- I'd like to see some fish options for the family meal plan, especially since it's Lent and many families do not eat meat on Fridays during this time.
- We don't have as many scheduled leftover nights.
- I thought the food was delivered prechopped and ready to cook, that's not the case. You still need to prep your ingredients. Some of the components come premeasured in their packaging but not all of them.
- These meal options really do not cut down on time spent in the kitchen. There are multiple steps, and each recipe that I've made takes about 45 minutes of combined prep and cooking time.
- I cook a lot, and I like to experiment with different flavors and techniques. I've actually learned a couple things from following the recipes, and I honestly didn't expect to learn anything new.
Overall, I'm happy with our experience with Hello Fresh, and I am going to continue to have meals delivered in the foreseeable future. I doubt I'll keep it up long term but for the next couple months its fun to stretch my family outside of their comfort zone and learn a couple new recipes.
If you'd like to give Hello Fresh a try, you can save $40 off your first week by using this link: Save $40 off one week of Hello Fresh
Have you ever tried Hello Fresh or any of the other home meal delivery options? If so, I'd love to know your thoughts and recommendations.