One thing I want less of in the new year is takeout food and trips to the grocery store. (Okay, that’s two things.) Just in time, a friend offered me a free trial box of HelloFresh. Neither of us was paid for me to write this post…I just like free food and talking about myself.
I had never tried any sort of meal delivery service, so I didn’t know what to expect. The HelloFresh website was pretty easy to use and I chose three meals for my box: pineapple chicken quesadilla, Mediterranean salmon, and pizza burgers. (True confession: I tried to choose expensive proteins to get the most bang for my free box.)
The box arrived on the scheduled day, which wasn’t a particularly cold day. I was home to receive the delivery and get everything in the fridge quickly, but they do include a big ice pack to keep everything cool.
The non-meat ingredients for each meal are bagged separately. The ice pack is under a piece of cardboard at the bottom, along with the meat and fish ingredients. They also include full-size recipe cards and nutrition information.
I’ve been cooking for myself since I was 19, so none of these recipes were rocket science. Everything comes in preportioned packages with clear and sequential instructions. The most work you have to do is wash and chop some produce and protein, find the proper pan, and turn on the stove or oven.
Mediterranean salmon with couscous and green beans
This was promised to be a 20-minute prep time, and if you discount the 15 minute distraction of our neighbors coming over to deliver cookies, that promise was pretty much kept. The salmon was fresh and all the flavors meshed well together, though I probably could have salted my couscous and green beans a little more. I was also Chinese and cooked the couscous in a rice cooker instead of a pot because, duh. The green beans even fit in the steamer basket of my rice cooker, so double win!
Pineapple chicken quesadilla
This recipe was more complicated, but probably my favorite meal. The pineapple flavor didn’t come through very well, but chicken, cheese, and carbs are pretty much a guaranteed winner in my book. I cooked chicken, peppers, and onions in the pan before assembling the quesadillas and broiling them in the oven. I threw in about half of a bell pepper I had left over, and the box included an entire chicken breast while the recipe only called for half, so I ended up with enough leftovers for 3 meals when bulked up with extra tortillas. The only thing I didn’t love was the pico de gallo. I’ve never been a fan of salsa, though, so that’s not a diss on the recipe.
By the time I got to this recipe, I was admittedly a little bit tired of cooking. (Even though I’d spread the recipes out over about 5 days. Yes, I am just that lazy.) I was *supposed to* make tomato sauce and burger patties to layer on ciabatta rolls and serve with arugula salad. Science Guy, who is a bit of a burger snob, pointed out that pan-cooked burgers aren’t amazing. It was too cold to grill, so I just browned the ground beef in the pan and dumped the tomatoes in to make a sort of sloppy-joe-with-more-self-respect concoction. (I also didn’t crush the whole peeled canned tomatoes in a bowl like I was supposed to, or make the arugula salad.) But it tasted great! Again, I probably have a bit more than the promised two servings, so I’ll be able to make another meal of it with some rice.
The meal plan and preportioned ingredients are certainly convenient, I won’t deny that. It seemed a little weird that they included extra chicken, especially since the breast was cut in two, and way more dill than I needed. (The recipe said to use it as garnish. Meh.) I did appreciate having extra food, although I tend to eat proportionally less protein than the average person. If you were creative with vegetables and starches, you could probably stretch each of these meals to at least 3 portions. The recipes were simple but not totally boring.
I don’t love the amount of plastic packaging. (I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste I personally generate in order to compensate for the enormous quantities of baby food tubs my child goes through.) The amount of fossil fuels burned to ship this to me isn’t my favorite thing ever. (Though Science Guy pointed out that almost all of our groceries were trucked to us.) And the regular price of each box is more than I’m willing to pay for convenience, but that’s mostly because I already know how to cook and the grocery is five minutes away.
HelloFresh would be really good for someone with any combination of the following circumstances:
- travels frequently or works long/irregular hours so they can’t get to the grocery regularly
- is living on their own for the first time
- wants to learn basic cooking processes
- may not have an extensively stocked and equipped kitchen
- wants to try different foods (they have a veggie menu) or foster better portion control
- needs meal prep to be easy for a few days (me!!)
It would also be a neat option to do on vacation! Science Guy and I like to frequent AirBnBs with kitchens, and having a box of ingredients delivered would certainly save time, hassle, and money over eating out or navigating a grocery store.
So there you have it! I hope this HelloFresh review was helpful. Have you ever tried a meal delivery service? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.