As much as we love cooking dinner, we would rather order takeout than brave the busy grocery stores on weekends. That's why we decided to try HelloFresh, one of the best meal kit delivery services that promise to handle all of the menu planning and food shopping for us.
But beware: Meal preparation isn't as simple as it seems. HelloFresh assumes you have certain culinary staples accessible and that know your way around the kitchen. Or, at the very least, you've minced garlic before.
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HelloFresh is an excellent option if you want to learn to cook or simply don't have time to figure out meals for the week, and you don't want to eat takeout from your local bar every night.
What is HelloFresh?
HelloFresh is a meal delivery service that ships ingredients directly to your door so you can prepare healthy meals every week for you and your family. If you're like many millennials who live off of Trader Joe's frozen meals and nuking bags of frozen vegetables, odds are you either aren't great at cooking or you just don't have time.
And speaking of time, cooking healthy isn't just about allocating time to cook it. You have to account for meticulous meal-planning, prep time, cooking, and cleaning up afterward.
It's no wonder we spend so much eating out – us included!
A meal delivery service like HelloFresh was designed to deliver you healthy ingredients so you can quickly (and easily) cook delicious and nutritious homemade meals, without all the hassle of planning, shopping, and prepping.
How HelloFresh works
Signing up for HelloFresh is fast and easy. Once you provide your email, address, and payment information, you can select what type of food you want, for how many people, and on what day of the week you want it delivered.
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Types of meal kit food options
There are four types of meal kits with HelloFresh. We appreciated this flexibility as a vegetarian.
Veggie. The veggie plan comes with “vegetarian recipes with plant-based proteins, grains, and seasonal produce
Meat & Veggies. This classic meal plan has the “widest variety of meat, fish, and seasonal produce.
Family Friendly. The Family plan features “quick and easy meals with all the YUM-worthy flavor the whole family loves.
Low Calorie. This meal option is for individuals who are watching their calorie intake, and HelloFresh ensures that you'll have a wide selection of dietician-approved meals that are around 650 calories each.
This is one of the things most people love about HelloFresh - that you have options in deciding which meal kit is best for you.
Meal plans for two and four people
Meal plan for 2 people – If you're just a single person, or it's just you and one other, you can choose a meal plan for two people.
Meal plan for 4 people – If you have a bigger family, you can select a larger plan for four people.
Order meal kits two, three or four times per week
You can choose whether to get two, three, or four recipes per week. Your choice altogether!
Selecting the actual meals
Once you've chosen your plan and selected the day of the week you want it delivered, you have the option to select your meals for the upcoming week – and there are A LOT options that got me hungry when I was looking at the enticing photos they have for each of the meals.
But honestly, the fact that YOU get to pick exactly what you want is a great feature, because you can pick which meals appeal to you and your family's tastes. It also prevents you from becoming bored with a certain type of food that you end up eating every week.
You can choose your plan and on your account page, you can view the details of each recipe before selecting it, too (allergens, ingredients listed one-by-one), nutritional information, steps to cooking, etc.).
Selecting the recipe level
There are three levels of recipes that you can choose from – ranging from easiest to hardest.
Level 1 recipes – are simple and familiar. You will only need 1-2 pots and pans and these are best to start with for non-experienced cooks.
Level 2 recipes – require a bit more multi-tasking and will be a tad harder than level 1 recipes. But once you're good with level 1 recipes, you'll want to try these recipes.
Level 3 recipes – much more multi-tasking with more adventurous ingredients and cooking techniques.
Every week on the same day, you'll get a box on your doorstep with carefully packed ingredients and recipe cards.
We love that HelloFresh is thinking about its environmental impact which reflects well on the company at large. Your food comes in a sturdy cardboard box that is fully recyclable and has neat cardboard separators to help separate all the ingredients so it's not thrown in there randomly. Plus there are insulated liners too that keep the food cold along with several ice packs to keep your food nice and cold – and the ice pack bags can also be recycled once you separately dispose of the contents of the ice pack.
Unpacking and cooking your meals
Once you open the box, you'll find that all the ingredients are also nicely labeled. Any produce and dry/pantry items are sorted out by their individual meal and packaged in different bags. If you choose a non-vegetarian plan, your meat and fish will be packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag to maintain its freshness.
After that, just throw everything in your refrigerator or pantry and get ready for cooking night. Your meals will have every ingredient you need to cook (except basics like salt, pepper, sugar, oil, and butter).
The recipe cards that HelloFresh provides are well written and super easy to follow. They have step-by-step instructions that walk you through the cooking process accompanied by photos too.
Plus HelloFresh includes separate cards on how to cook certain items, such as steak. With these cards, they'll give you tips on how to prepare it, and why you should prepare it that way. We think this is a nice added touch. With the meals, you will have to do some minor prep work, but overall it provides a very high-quality meal.
There are no commitments
There is no penalty at all to postpone your subscription with HelloFresh if you are going away or you simply want a break at any point and wish to cancel. We really appreciate that because the last thing you want is to feel forced into a plan if it doesn't work for you any particular week.
Who is HelloFresh good for?
People who want to learn how to cook – and are super intimated by opening up a cookbook and figuring out how to do it from A-Z. Especially level one recipes are easy and doable
You have time, but not a ton of time – If you don't have the time or desire to plan for meals, shop, and prep those meals, HelloFresh cuts out a huge amount of time so that you have everything you need waiting for you at your front door.
Convenience at your front door – HelloFresh is designed to deliver high-quality ingredients to your doorstep with preplanned meals and recipe cards so you can unpack the ingredients right into your refrigerator.
People who can cook and want to improve – with level two and three recipes, you can quickly improve your technique by making more complicated recipes. The recipes are doable and challenging, but not too challenging.
Vegetarians – lots of options if you are a vegetarian. For me, it opened up my eyes to types of food out there that are super healthy and also delicious.
Who isn't HelloFresh good for?
Gourmet cooks – HelloFresh isn't for people who consider themselves to be gourmet cooks. They may find recipe level 3 cards to be – on some level – too simplistic.
If you're REALLY short on time – If you're trying to save time and you're not that interested in the actual prep, you're better off just buying takeout instead of paying upwards of $25 per meal with HelloFresh. Because HelloFresh meals do take time to cook and prepare.
Vegans – there are no specifically vegan options with HelloFresh.
If you want 100% organic ingredients – the majority of the ingredients are not organic
HelloFresh cost: Is it worth the money?
Depending on the plan you choose and the number of meals you select, your cost per serving can go down. Here is the cost breakdown for each plan (without promos):
- 2 people, 2 recipes per week - $10.99/serving (43.96 total + $6.99 shipping = $59.95/week)
- 2 people, 3 recipes per week - $8.99/serving ($53.94 total + $6.99 shipping = $60.93/week)
- 2 people, 4 recipes per week - $8.99/serving ($71.92 total + $6.99 shipping = $78.91/week)
- 4 people, 2 recipes per week - $8.99/serving ($71.92 total + $6.99 shipping = $78.91/week)
- 4 people, 3 recipes per week - $7.49/serving ($89.88 total + $6.99 shipping = $96.87/week)
- 4 people, 4 recipes per week - $7.49/serving ($119.84 total + $6.99 shipping = $126.83/week)
The Bottom Line
As someone with a full-time job and hour-long commute each way, HelloFresh has transformed my relationship with food and my kitchen. We still have a hand in planning my meals, but we don't have to worry about the shopping and delivery. HelloFresh's meal kits have expanded our household's palate while taking the pressure off of making it to the grocery store every week. We wish the prep work took a little less time, though. We still had to commit half an hour (there are two of us) of our evenings to making dinner, even when HelloFresh suggested a shorter meal time.
If you use a first-time-user promotion, HelloFresh will send you a three-meal box at a discount. Try it when you're home for a week. Enlist a sous chef to make cooking less of a chore and more of an activity.
Or, don't tell anyone your secret, and let them believe you have your life together enough to put culinary masterpieces on the table all week. Bon appétit!