Back in January we signed up for HelloFresh, which is one of those services that sends you groceries and recipes and turns you loose in your own kitchen.
I think Blue Apron is the progenitor of the groceries-and-recipes method. There are a whole bunch of services that will send you heat-and-eat meals, too. We tried Freshly a few years ago, a heat-and-eat service. It was okay, but the portions were a bit small, the selection wasn’t particularly amazing, and it was kinda too expensive for what you get, we thought.
Back in January, I was on the search for a way to get healthier food into our eating habits. We were eating a lot of fast food, and when we did cook, it tended to be fried meats and tons of carbs, and I wanted something with less frying and more veggies involved.
Also, it had to be relatively easy. My boyfriend and I can cook pretty well – we spent years working in restaurants, for starters, so we’re no strangers to kitchens and cooking methods. But after a long day of work, it hits dinner time and we’re both kind of just done with the day. We don’t want to think about recipes or screw around trying to meal plan and dear gawd please don’t make me spend more than about 15 or 20 minutes trying to grocery shop or I will absolutely lose my mind, especially if I have to go do it in person.
(I honestly did not know how much I hated grocery shopping until I suddenly had the option to do it online. After a year+ of online shopping and grocery delivery, I get positively stabby when I have to go into an actual grocery store and deal with other goddamn people.)
So, after poking around online, we decided to try HelloFresh. We’d done a free trial with them several years ago, and thought it was okay, so we figured we’d give that a go for a few weeks and see what we thought of it.
Our first delivery showed up Jan. 12, and we’ve been loving it ever since.
So, let’s start with the cons.
The biggest downside of HelloFresh is that it’s a little expensive. We’re paying $70/week for three meals for two people, which works out to just a little under $12/meal. HelloFresh’s math says it’s $10/meal, plus $10 to ship the whole thing to you.
Which, fair, considering how fast things have to be shipped. Like, you can’t have meat and veggies sitting around in UPS’ or FedEx’s warehouse for three days before it rolls out.
And $10/person isn’t terrible, especially compared to how ridiculous grocery prices are right now.
But I’m reasonably sure that we could have cooked every single recipe we’ve been sent so far for at least a little cheaper.
The other big con is that sometimes the meat quality isn’t great. I’ve seen people online claiming their veggies were nasty when they got them, but so far ours have been pretty good. We had some slightly withered carrots a few weeks ago, but eh, we were roasting them anyway, so it didn’t matter that much. And the cuts of meat we’ve received haven’t been awful, but neither have they been particularly stunning. Like, they’re fine, mostly. Just y’know. They’re fine. We’ve gotten a couple of shitty pork or chicken cutlets (gristly-shitty, that is, not rotten-shitty).
One teeny little baby con is that the recipes are more work than you might be used to. There’s nothing hugely arduous or time-consuming happening, but you are going to be chopping, dicing, mincing, and zesting things, and mixing sauces, while babysitting stuff on the stove and/or in the oven. That’s no big to us – we know how to kitchen. But for other people it might be a learning curve.
And now, the pros.
These recipes are so good, people, and so easy, OMG. I think the worst meal we’ve eaten so far has rated a “Hey, that was pretty good.” Many of them have been downright amazing. And this week we did a pork noodle curry ramen thing that was out of this world, and so easy it was laughable. My boyfriend said “I think this is the best meal I’ve ever made in my own kitchen.”
Another pro is the lack of food waste. There’s only two of us, and it’s hard to shop and cook for two people without generating a lot of food waste. You end up overeating because you don’t want to waste what you’ve made, and we’re bad at leftovers, so even when we save some, it tends to go uneaten. HelloFresh has cured that issue. We rarely have extra left from the groceries (we do tend to end up with half-lemons or half-onions on the regular), and we’ve had extra food twice, and that was gone the next day both times.
A third check in the pro column has been the experience of cooking together. HelloFresh recipes tend to be a bit on the prep-intensive side – you end up chopping and dicing a lot of fresh veg, mixing sauces, etc., and the recipes tend to come together a lot more smoothly and faster if one person is prepping and the other is cooking. So we end up in the kitchen together dicing and mincing and reading the recipe back and forth and cooking and chatting and it’s just been really nice and enjoyable.
Like, we could do that without HelloFresh, and now that we are doing it we feel a little silly about not having done it more all these years, but the structure of HelloFresh enforces it for us, whereas the other stuff we’d been cooking tended not to require it.
And finally, one more in the pro column – we get to try so many new flavors with HelloFresh. HelloFresh’s recipes tend to favor a lot of Americanized international recipes, and particularly meals that are Indian-, Middle Eastern-, or Asian-inspired, and they are fucking delicious, people. It’s a style of cooking that we haven’t had a ton of experience with, so we’re learning some new things, and trying awesome new flavors, and it’s just been all-around cool.
HelloFresh has been an overall win for us.
Like yeah, it’s more work than fish sticks and mac n’ cheese, and it’s a bit more expensive, and the ingredient quality has occasionally not wowed us, but we’re having a ton of fun cooking together and learning new recipes and eating amazing food made with fresh veggies and neat new spice flavors. And doing all that while not wasting a shitload of food.
So 🎉🎉🎉, good job, HelloFresh. You get to hang around our kitchen for awhile.