Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hello Fresh Meal Delivery Review

Note: this review was not sponsored by Hello Fresh -- all opinions are my own.

When a friend of mine said she had 4 free boxes of Hello Fresh to give away to friends, I jumped on the chance!  I had been interested in trying a meal delivery service for a while, but hadn't bit the bullet - so a free box was just what I needed!

Hello Fresh is a meal delivery service that delivers a refrigerated box of ingredients to your home with everything you need to make 2-5 (based on the plan) meals! They offer a Classic Box, a Veggie Box, and a Family Box. You can choose from a 2-serving or a 4-serving size for the Classic and Veggie Box, and the Family Box serves 4 and has "child-friendly" meals.  The 2-serving Classic Box can be ordered in 3 ($69), 4 ($84.90), or 5 ($99) meals per week; the 4-serving Classic Box ($129), the 2-serving Veggie Box ($59), and the 4-serving Veggie Box ($109) are only available with 3 meals per week, and the Family Box can be ordered for 2 ($79.95) or 3 ($105) meals per week.   I opted for 3 meals of the Classic Box in the 2-serving size (regularly $69).

For the week I selected, there were 6 menu options, from which I chose 3: Chicken Gyro Salad with Tzatziki Dressing, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Cucumber; Steak Fajitas with Kiwi Salsa and Crispy Beans; and Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Shallot Thyme Pan Sauce, Peach Arugula Salad, and Couscous.

The box was scheduled to arrive between 8 AM and 8 PM on Monday, August 22.  At 9 PM on Monday, when my box still hadn't arrived, I called Hello Fresh customer service.  They showed that the box had been delivered at 4:52 PM, but I told them it had not.  They credited my account for a replacement box.  Then, on Tuesday, I got home from work and the box was on my porch.  Not sure what happened there, but I was frustrated that the box hadn't come the day it was supposed to, leaving me with a night without dinner planned!

The box was well packed with insulating pads, 3 boxes with all of the ingredients (except meat) for each meal, 2 giant ice packs, and the meat separately packed on the bottom of the box so it wouldn't leak on everything else if it got punctured.  Given the mix-up with the delivery, I have no idea how long the food had been sitting on my porch, but the ice packs were still frozen and the food plenty cold.

I liked that the ingredients for each meal came in their own, labeled, cardboard box, so I didn't have to sort through the ingredients to figure out what went with each meal.  I did feel guilty, however, about all of the packaging waste -- I can't imagine creating this much waste on a weekly basis!  Luckily, one of my neighbors wanted the ice packs (for what, I have no idea), so at least I didn't have to throw those out, and most of the rest was recycleable.

My first meal was the Chicken Gyro Salad.  Here's what came in the box for this meal:

The instructions were super clear and well-ordered in order to maximize efficiency of the meal prep time -- getting the couscous on the stove and the chicken in the oven upfront, so that I could chop the veggies and make the tzatziki dressing while they cooked.  

The instructions said that it would take 30 minutes to cook, and I found that to be accurate - although that was a full 30 minutes of hands-on, non-stop cooking/prep time, not waiting around for something to finish baking.  This is definitely more "active" cooking time than I would normally spend on a weeknight meal, but the result was also a little more impressive.

We thought the meal was delicious -- the chicken was perfectly cooked, and it seemed pretty healthy.  The portion was large enough for my husband and I, along with our 2-year-old, to eat for dinner, which was a bonus.  Normally, if I spent this long cooking, I would make extra so we'd have leftovers for the following night, and that was not the case here -- the 3 of us ate the full serving.  (To be fair, it is only meant to be 2 servings -- it's just longer than I would normally spend for a single night worth of food).

The next meal was Steak Fajitas with Kiwi Salsa and Crispy Beans.  

This was also a winner!  I don't know what was in the Southwest Seasoning mix (a bummer for trying to recreate it), but this had a great flavor - and kiwi is not an ingredient I would ever have put in salsa!  This one did take me longer than 30 minutes due to all the chopping for the salsa.

Our third meal was Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Shallot Thyme Pan Sauce, Peach Arugula Salad, and Couscous:

This was our favorite of the 3 meals - everything about it was flavorful!  Pork chops were something I'd always steered away from because I didn't really know how to cook them without being dry and tough, so this was a good excuse to learn to cook something I'd been avoiding!

Although I loved the ease of the meal prep and the result, this is probably not something I would do on a regular basis.  Since 3 meals per week runs $60, this averages $20 per meal for 2 people -- for that, we could have gotten takeout, and certainly cooking at home with ingredients purchased at the grocery store would have been MUCH less expensive.  However, it was fun to try new recipes and not have to meal plan or grocery shop.  This would have been a great option for us pre-kids -- when we were both busy working professionals who had the disposable income for this kind of convenience.  I will probably recreate some of the recipes on my own in the future.  (As a bonus, they include the recipes for all 6 meals for the week - not just the 3 you select in your box - so you can try to recreate those recipes on your own as well!)  

Interested in trying Hello Fresh?  Use my referral code to receive $40 off your first box: 


I'm curious to try other meal delivery services too - we're getting our first Blue Apron box next week, and Green Chef (which is all organic) the following week.  What's your favorite service?

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