Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: HelloFresh

While don't mind cooking, I don't care much for the meal planning or shopping part. We have our favorites that I rotate and i continuously keep items on hand to make things easier. I also have some picky eaters, so it is difficult to successfully introduce new meals that get a thumbs up from all.  Instead we end up with a lot of leftovers and ingredients that won't be used up in future dinners. This also forces me to stay safe with those things we often enjoy.

The end result is things sometimes get a little boring at the dinner table.  We also tend to go out to eat once every week or two for some variety, but that can get expensive.

If are looking for a way to liven up your dinner table without heading out to eat, HelloFresh might be your ticket to gourmet meals at home.

HelloFresh is a weekly subscription service that makes cooking easy for everyone.  Each week the HelloFresh chefs create three recipes, do the shopping for you, and send you a box of fresh, pre-measured ingredients delivered right to your door. Everything needed is included in the box. You only need to provide such items as salt, pepper, butter, and cooking oil. There are two box types available, Classic and Veggie, with options for two or four people.  I received a Classic Box for two for review.

Recipients of the Classic Box are able to choose three standard recipes with two alternative meals with which to switch if they don't like one of the three selections.  At this time, the Veggie Box recipients are not able to switch out one the three meals with an alternative.

The recipes for the week I received the Classic Box were: Stuffed Squash with Cherry Balsamic Reduction, Apricot Glazed Turkey with Beets and Orzo, and Dill Crusted Tilapia with Sweet Potato & Cranberry Medley. 

From the website:
"HelloFresh works closely on recipe development with the Michelin star restaurant, Aquavit, and has a team of in-house chefs who graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education and worked at restaurants including Momofuku and Eleven Madison Park, to name a few!"
Deliveries are made each Wednesday. Mine arrived fairly early in the day.

Since the ingredients are fresh and perishable, packaging is very important.  I was impressed with the packaging, which included a well-insulated box and ice packs.  The ice packs were still frozen solid!
Three recipe cards with step-by-step instructions are included. The ingredients are placed in separate bags and clearly labeled with what recipe they belong.

Since my box arrived the day before Thanksgiving, I simply unpacked the items and placed them in the refrigerator for a few days. I didn't have any problems with the items remaining fresh until I was ready to try the recipes.

I'll be honest and admit that the recipes provided were probably not ones I would have selected from a recipe book or website.  There were several items in each that wouldn't be well-received by various members of the family nor would have been something I'd normally include in my cooking (i.e. dried cranberries).  Our teens were out and about with other dinner plans for most of the meals I made from the box, so I was mainly cooking just for hubby and me.  However, my husband can be pickier than the kids.

The first meal I made was the Dill Crusted Tilapia.
I loved that everything was pre-measured.  The above is for the Sweet Potato & Cranberry Medley that was being served as a side.

The recipe was easy to make.  I personally felt there was a bit too much dill in the crust, but that would have been remedied by going lighter on the coating.
The portions were huge, more than either of use could eat.  This could have easily fed our family of four with some added slices of bread and salad.
What surprised me on this meal was actually the side dish.  My husband isn't crazy about sweet potatoes or cranberries.  However, the medley was his favorite part of the dish.  The combination of tastes and textures really worked.

The next recipe I made was the Apricot Glazed Turkey. After Thanksgiving, turkey wouldn't have been my pick, but there was nothing Thankgivingy about this recipe.
This was one of those recipes that had ingredients I would have been tossing if I purchased from the grocery store, particularly the apricot jam and edamame. I would have never used up a normal size jar or package of either of these items.

My teenage son joined us for this meal, so I added a salad and garlic bread.  It was plenty.

This was the least favorite of the meals, mostly because of the beet side dish.  However, I had never tried beets before making this dish, so I didn't really know if I'd like them or not. I got my husband to take a taste, too. While neither of us liked them, I was happy we had the opportunity to try them in a tested recipe.  My son wasn't as adventurous, but he did eat everything else.

Lastly, I made the stuffed squash.  This was a recipe that I was going to switch with one of the alternates, but decided to give it a try at the last minute.  I'm the only one who will happily eat squash, so I made this on a busy evening for just myself, putting the other half of the squash in the refrigerator for lunch the next day.
Surprisingly, this was my favorite of the recipes. I had it the next day for lunch and still had a ton of the beef and rice filling left over. My husband came home very hungry the next evening and wanted a very quick meal.  I ended up taking some of the filling and mixing it with the remainder of the Sweet Potato & Cranberry Medley from the very first meal.  It definitely got a thumbs up.  The next day my daughter was looking for some lunch and I warmed up the rest of the beef and rice mixture, which she enjoyed.  This recipe ended up as four servings for four adults pretty easily - and we all liked it.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to review the Classic Box from Hello Fresh.  It got me cooking with ingredients that were outside my normal cooking and even encouraged my family to be a little adventurous in trying some new things with pleasant results.  I particularly enjoyed using fresh herbs.  I usually don't buy fresh herbs because I only need such a small amount and the rest will go to waste.  However, it really made a difference in the taste. The recipes also had me trying some new techniques.  For example, I've made sweet potatoes plenty of times, but never cubed and thrown in a skillet.

As much as I enjoyed trying the recipes, a weekly HelloFresh box doesn't fit into our current food budget, though I suspect that if I were to buy the ingredients on my own the price would be comparable, as shown with this HelloFresh vs Grocery Store comparison chart. The ingredients were all fresh and I weighed all the meats and found them to be accurate to what was listed. While I found the serving sizes to be generous and likely to feed my family of four, my family enjoys more country cooking than gourmet and I tend to cook rather frugally within their tastes. As a family, a weekly HelloFresh delivery doesn't really fit our needs.

However, I don't think homeschooling families, who are mostly single income and feeding growing bodies, should rule out HelloFresh all together. Since you can put your subscription on hold for any week, there is some flexibility. Even if you don't think you could budget for or use a box every week, I can see plenty of reasons to give HelloFresh a try as an occasional treat.
  • HelloFresh is a great way to get your kids cooking and trying new things.  The recipes are simple enough for beginners and take about only 30 minutes, but look like they take more time and effort.  Your kids will feel like professional chefs and learn some great cooking skills.
  • HelloFresh will expand your dining experiences. It is a great way to try new recipes without a lot of frustration hunting down ingredients or having unused leftover ingredients.  If you like the recipe, you can always make it again on your own with the recipe cards.  It would be fun to order an occasional box to try new things.  If you have a very large family, you can make all three meals in one evening and have a sampling of each.
  • HelloFresh is an economical alternative to going out for something different or special.  When our family of four eats out, the bill is usually over $50.  HelloFresh meals are priced under $10 per meal per person, likely cheaper than a comparable meal out.  If you didn't want to share with your kids, couples can use the meals for a date night at home. Better yet, have your kids cook the meals for you!
You can view the current options for the next deliver of the Classic Box and Veggie Box at the HelloFresh website.  Selections need to be made the Wednesday prior to delivery. Delivery areas are currently available from Maine to Miami and as far west as Chicago. 

Check out the HelloFresh Facebook page where you can get a feel for the company, the recipe options, and also be informed of occasional special offers.

The Classic Box for two is regularly $69 and the Veggie Box for two is regularly $59.  However, if you use referral code KVUJJT, you will get $20 off your first box. 

HelloFresh may be just what your family needs for a little change of pace in the kitchen and at the table!

If you would like to hear the experience of other families using HelloFresh, visit Mosaic Reviews.

1 comment:

Diane Allen said...


Thanks for reviewing this. I knew if I lived long enough someone would develop a way to deliver my groceries and take the decision making out of the process (which I too hate). Now if only I can figure out how to afford this luxury!