Fellow blogger and Mobbie winner Ann Marie Brokmeier has put up her hard earned dollars to try out a home food delivery service, Hello Fresh, that you may have heard of recently. Find out whether it’s worth your time and equally hard earned dollars!
You’ve probably seen this business model out there; you pay for a specialized product and then they send it to you in the mail, eliminating the need for you to shop for it. It’s happening everywhere right now with healthy snacks, dog treats, makeup trials, razors for shaving, everything.
Though, none quite as high-quality and detailed as HelloFresh. HelloFresh is a company that helps the busy grad student, the frequent traveler, or the new cook make a delicious and filling meal three times per week.
I tested this out and was really impressed with what the return on my investment was — a full stomach (for at least three meals!), cooking new items, and best of all getting to skip the grocery store. I began by registering with HelloFresh and choosing whether I’d like the Classic Box (with meat) or the Vegetarian Box (I went with vegetarian) and how many people I’d like to feed (you can choose two, four, or six; I chose two). At this point, you are able to vote on what recipes they’ll send you to avoid them sending foods that you hate or are allergic to. Once you pay for the product, you can also choose how often to get them as well. The default is weekly, but you can also choose to “pause” your meals, or get them on a semiweekly basis in case you’re out of town or simply don’t plan on cooking at home for whatever reason. You pay week to week, avoiding huge upfront monthly fees for food you may not even be able to enjoy.
Once I ordered, they sent me a huge (and heavy! see above) box filled with amazing ingredients. Fresh veggies, tofu, spices, grains. Everything I’d need to make the recipes that they included (besides olive oil, salt and pepper — seriously, that’s all that you need to provide). The recipe cards were extremely detailed (with photos) for each recipe included in the box. The recipes are printed on nice card stock so I plan to keep them for future reference after I was finished with the meal itself. Each recipe card has nutritional information printed on it, which is extremely useful and I think the only thing that I hope HelloFresh improves on is adding the prep/cook times to the card as well.
Once I dragged the huge box into my apartment and unloaded, I was ready to make some delicious meals! Because I have my own recipe blog, I do cook a lot, but not usually to such specific recipes and definitely not with every single thing measured out as I needed it. What an amazing relief! The three meals that I was sent this week were: Vegetable Enchiladas, Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry, and Wild Mushroom Polenta with Thai Basil. Two of the recipes included things that I wasn’t previously confident in making: quinoa (in the Stir Fry Recipe) and polenta.
The first meal I made was the Vegetable Enchiladas. I was a little weary because it came with three canned foods (black beans, corn, and tomato sauce), but it was actually pretty great. The vegetables (avocado, spinach, and green onions) as well as the dairy products in the bag were extremely fresh, and like I mentioned, the spice (in this case, cumin) was premeasured and prepackaged for me. Not to mention, the recipe itself was so easy to make! There was plenty of food (while I chose the option to feed two people, it could have fed three to four people) and very little waste outside of the little plastic bags and cans, which can be recycled.
Next, I decided to make the Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry. I have made stir fry before, but never with quinoa and I was nervous because I’ve never been able to make quinoa taste very good before. Not the case with this meal, however. This was definitely the most time-consuming recipe — and used the most dishes as well — but it was also the best-tasting, by far. Like the enchiladas, it was very filling (it calls for 11 ounces of cooked quinoa, six ounces of broccoli and eight ounces of tofu, among all of the smaller ingredients). I actually kept a lot of the quinoa and plan to use it for leftover recipes. And again, there was little to no waste after I was finished with the recipe.
Finally, I cooked the Wild Mushroom Polenta with Thai Basil. I was the most apprehensive about this recipe because I’ve never made my own polenta before, but it was by far the quickest and easiest to make of the three. Even though I made it last (and about a week after I received the box initially), everything was still very fresh. Because it used an entire onion and a huge bag of arugula, I did have some leftovers in that regard, but we devoured everything else.
After three meals and overall, I was pretty impressed with HelloFresh’s quality. I was, at first, unsure about spending $60 for the box, but all of that food fed my partner & me for at least three home-cooked meals (roughly $10 per person per meal). I am a busy person – as I’m sure most of you are! – and it was so relieving to come home to a prepackaged recipe that I could make myself, but that I didn’t have to design, shop for, and measure out. A much better alternative to frozen meals with the satisfaction of preparing them yourself, without the rest of the planning hassles!
Ann Marie is a Baltimore-based food blogger and 2012 Mobbies winner, among other things. She blogs recipes at Let’s Give Peas a Chance, will send you food-related updates on Facebook, and tweets incessantly at @annmariebrok. She also freelance blogs, so feel free to contact her anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.