At this point I’m guessing everyone has heard of “HelloFresh”, Jamie Oliver’s meal-in-a-box subscription service. If you haven’t, it’s one of the many companies in that ever growing subscription box space, but taking a new twist, HelloFresh delivers pre-measured fresh ingredients and a recipe to your home. Imagine Birchbox for your belly,if you wanted to assemble your cosmetics on your own, at home.
I recently had the opportunity to try a few meals from Hello Fresh thanks to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Anytime someone says “Here’s a chance to try a free, new, food-based way to make life more exciting and easy!” uh, I’m in. So I went online, checked out my options and selected three meals mostly within my comfortability level.
When I came home to a little cooler bag of ingredients sitting on my doorstep, I’ll admit, I got excited. Not quite Christmas day excited, but definitely “Ooh someone brought dinner and now I don’t have to think about what only takes 20 minutes to make and uses only ingredients in my fridge” excited… Dinner prep was finished before I even thought about dinner. It’s a wonderful feeling.*Let me take this moment to encourage you to do what people are always recommending. Plan or prep elements of your weekly menu ahead of time. Spend a happy Sunday cutting veggies and making rice. Think about what meals you’ll have before you get to the grocery store. It makes everything better. Shopping, cooking, evenings throughout the week.
As you can see, most of the ingredients for each meal come packaged in their own little box, with any larger items hanging out in the cooler bag. My menu for the three days included Risotto with asparagus, Panzanella, and Spicy Kale soup. All things that I had never made before, but weren’t overly intimidating. Each week has vegetarian options, but this was back when I was eating meat so two of my recipes included meat. I made Panzanella on night one, followed by the kale soup and finishing with Risotto. I’ve been known to put Craisins, sunflower seeds, oranges, cheese, corn, most things really in salad, but large chunks of bread was new. That said, the Panzanella was quite good.
The kale soup was lovely and reminded me of an Americanized version of Japanese Ramen, which I love. Even if it wasn’t stellar on its own, it inspired me to make Ramen the next week, so I think that makes it a win 😉
The Risotto was an absolute bear to make. Have you ever made Risotto?! That’s a labor of love right there! It kind of negated all the time I saved by having Jamie chop all the veg ahead of time, but boy did I feel accomplished when it was done!
Enough about the food, let’s talk about all around the experience. Here’s the thing with getting dinner in prepacked, premeasured, tidy little boxes. There is so. much. packaging! Just so much. Each ingredient came in its own bag, and each meal in its own box, and the boxes in this huge bag. In spite of being able to recycle most all of it, my eco-friendly conscience was cringing every time I poured a table spoon of something from an individual plastic baggie.
As a person who very rarely follow a recipe, and even then probably only uses it as a reference point, following a recipe to make dinner three nights in a row was an interesting experience. I still varied things to my own taste as possible. The recipes were easy to follow and definitely written for the novice cook, so they have that down.
My overall thought?
HelloFresh is perfect for folks who are just getting into eating whole food, families who normally eat from the drive through, business people who usually order out and pick it up on the way home, and those who look at a vegetable peeler or a beet and get intimidated. It’s like having a mini cooking class in your kitchen every night in which you get to make and sample all sorts of dishes you wouldn’t normally try.
Their carbon footprint must be huge but again, an improvement over fast food or most restaurant meals.
Most of the time savings was in having the ingredients come to my house instead of spending an hour wandering around the grocery store looking for a specific chili or deciding which kind of pork to buy. I still had to prep work, not quite as much as I normally would, but I still had to chop and dice and clean and slice.
I don’t know how HelloFresh compares to other subscription food boxes, but for what they are they seem to do it well. Quality ingredients, easy to follow and tasty recipes, and the convenience of not having to think about what to make for dinner. Speaking of which…