HelloFresh is a mail order food service committed to providing sustainably sourced food to consumers in a way that minimalizes waste. In this review, we will take a look at how they do that, pros and cons of the service, bottom line recommendation, and some pretty cool extras about the company.
How It Works
HelloFresh is pretty straight-forward with how they work. First, you pick from one of six different dietary restriction-based meal plans. Then your options are narrowed to that plan, and you pick how many people you want to make for and how many meals per week. You then pick subsequent sets of meals for future boxes. When you submit the order, you commit to a subscription of auto deliveries that arrive at your home at the dates you assigned every week. Boxes can be delayed to come less frequently, but that is not the automatic choice on the website.
Pro #1: Sustainable and Eco-friendly quality goes all the way to their packaging and beyond.
The company branding is geared towards buyers who are concerned about carbon emissions and responsible stewardship of Earth.
The shipment box itself was impressive because it was a cardboard cooler with instructions on it for how to recycle it. The separate meals inside were packaged in brown paper bags. Some of the ingredients were also repackaged into paper containers. For example, two cans of black beans for one recipe came in cardboard boxes similar to grade school milk cartons.
Pro # 2: Fresh produce really was fresh.
This should seem like a given from a company with the word “fresh” in the title, but it is not easy to do. Fruits and vegetables spoil easily–especially tomatoes–but ours were firm and nice from the point of delivery to final make (roughly a week later).
If you are on a clean eating diet, this freshness is a BIG plus. Even without the dietary restrictions, I experienced noticeable improvements to my health simply by cooking with fresh ingredients.
Pro #3: Fresh ideas bring fresh fun to the kitchen.
If you have gotten into a rut in the kitchen (cooking the same stuff over and over again), mail order food services give you something new and surprising to try. It is a food gift you give yourself and your loved ones. It is self care through homemade food instead of fast, processed, or frozen food.
Though all the recipes I picked for this box were simple, there were a few techniques and ingredients I wasn’t familiar with. I found it exciting to learn new skills and challenging to try to figure out how to prep new ingredients.
Con #1 : Inaccurate timing on the recipe cards
Almost all of the recipes claimed they took an hour or less to make, but that simply was not true. I ran a stopwatch on 2-out-of-4 meals. From start of prep to plating with no breaks except to read the instructions, most recipes took 2 hours to make.
The biggest chunk of the recipe time is in prepping fresh ingredients. If you can plan ahead for the day, you can prep the ingredients and have them ready so that the actual make time is an hour or less. I really can’t imagine it getting faster than that–not even if you are Gordon Ramsey.
Con #2: Subscriptions are pricey and only worth it if food waste is a real problem for you
HelloFresh claims they are cheaper than buying groceries, but I was able to get all the ingredients for my family’s favorite HelloFresh dish for about the same price as what I got them from HelloFresh.
What I couldn’t do was buy in less quantity. So, for example, I had to buy a whole bag of poblano peppers instead of just two. If I don’t use them all up or prep and freeze them, I risk losing money to spoiled food.
Con #3: Repetitive ingredients and messy instructions
I’m not a big fan of mayonnaise, but it was used a lot in the recipes we had to create dips and sauces. This particular dish was lovely without it. I recommend really looking at your recipe options before you buy. Here is a link to the directory of all their recipes.
In terms of messy instructions, this is particularly in terms of how the instructions guide you to work in your kitchen. The instructions take for granted that you have all the necessary cooking tools, oils, and lots of bowls for the ingredients. Many recipes could have been streamlined into 1-2 mixing bowls.
I loved the surprise of the meals and the self-care of eating more intentional foods, but these particular meals were frustratingly long to prepare for how simple the food really was. It was also not a cost efficient way of cooking for a family of three or more.
I would recommend trying the service if you have been throwing out more food than you have been able to actually cook with. I would also recommend it if you want to try a few boxes to just play with new food and ideas. If you are trying them out for play, be proactive about your subscription. If you want to discontinue the shipments, set a reminder to cancel future boxes before they ship and charge your card.
Some Pretty Cool Extras
If you give HelloFresh a try and become an avid supporter of the product, you may want to consider a job with them. HelloFresh is a global company with active openings in multiple countries including over 300 jobs in the United States.
I don’t often look for a chance to partner with a company and promote their product. I prefer to give my readers honest journalism; there is no payment attached to this post. That being said, it is pretty cool that HelloFresh offers options for partnering with them to promote their products. From including samples and gift boxes to new employees to being an influencer plugging their product, HelloFresh will entertain proposals for business partnerships.
Happy Cooking, everyone!