Sharing my experience trying out HelloFresh. Is it the solution to all of our cooking woes?
*this article was in no way sponsored by or in partnership with HelloFresh. All products were ordered on my own.
Meal kit services have become all-the-rage in the last couple of years, and even more so during the pandemic. And so, after some family members of ours had tried it and encouraged us to, I thought why not? And I thought where better to share my experience trying it out than on the Cooking Adventures blog with all of you!
If you’ve seen advertising for any of these meal kit services, you know that they are being sold to us as simpler, faster, healthy meals that will make our lives easier, as opposed to grocery shopping and meal prepping. They are even advertised as being better for the environment. The idea is to make cooking feel less stressful and therefore take one thing out of a busy day. Might I say, maybe help our mental health and wellness?
And I have a lot of thoughts on this. First I will go through each of the meals we got and give a brief review of them.
We got a free 3 meal box, it was a promotion they were having at the time we decided to check them out. I will say, it is nice that you can try out the service completely free, and I would recommend giving it a try. Why not, its free food? We tried these three meals: Pork Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Avocado Salad, Fajita-Style Chicken Bowl, and Chicken Schnitzel with Garlic Potatoes and Mustard Green Beans. And here’s what we thought of them:
Pork Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Avocado Salad: Tasty, small portioning, not great if you are two bigger eaters, better for lighter eaters, also produce was hit and miss. The tomato was okay but not great, the greens were good, but the lime was horrible, dry and old barely could get any juice out of it. I will keep the recipe card as it was tasty, but I would make it with grocery store ingredients.
Fajita Style Chicken Bowl: Better portioning than the tacos. Tasty, easy to make. Nothing particularly special. This too came with a mediocre lime. The chicken they use is boneless skinless chicken thighs, which for this kind of recipe I would have preferred chicken breast but I’m assuming thighs are cheaper for them to get and they weren’t bad. Overall, we both enjoyed the meal but I did feel like it was something I could easily whip up and that I could have gotten better products for at the grocery store.
Chicken Schnitzel with Garlic Potatoes and Mustard Green Beans: This recipe was really tasty and was interesting because it was something I had never made before. It had good portions as well, there was definitely enough for both of us. The produce for this recipe was probably the best of the three, the green beans were very nice quality and there were lots of them. It had a little bit longer prep time as it was a slightly more complex recipe but still easy enough for a beginner cook to follow. Overall, this meal was the most interesting of the three.
Quick and easy to cook meals with easy to follow instructions and pictures.
Pretty good variety of recipes from what I saw on the website. Encourages you to try new recipes.
Delivery was on time and everything was kept cold.
Saves time by not having to go to the grocery store.
Portion sizes can be a bit small. If you are someone who needs to eat larger portions, you might find the portions small.
Expensive. Personally I find for how much you get it is a bit expensive. I think if you are someone who doesn’t cook much and therefore doesn’t have a fully stocked pantry it might be cheaper but if you are someone who cooks often it doesn’t save you any money.
Produce is unpredictable. Because you aren’t picking it out yourself, you may get stuck with not the best produce and that might make your recipe turn out less than perfect.
Overall, I think the food is good and I can see it being appealing in a few situations. One, if you were new to cooking it would be a great way to start, you don’t need to worry about figuring out ingredients and you get easy to follow instructions. Two, if you are the kind of person who doesn’t cook often and therefore don’t have a fully stocked pantry this might save you money on ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily use up. Or maybe you are in a temporary living situation and you don’t want to acquire excess food products. Third, you are a new parent and you want to cook healthy meals but going to the store and meal planning doesn’t feel manageable right now, or maybe you are recovering from a medical procedure and injury and your mobility is limited. Last, it could be a fun and different gift to get someone, something fun to reduce stress.
Why it won’t become a regular thing for me? I’m not convinced it is really better for the environment. All of this stuff being driven around and put it into individual packaging, even if that packaging is biodegradable or recyclable it still takes energy to produce, not to mention drive around. Also I’m not sure the food is produced in ethical and sustainable ways. All of the meats and products come in HelloFresh packaging which suggests to me they are produced and grown for and by HelloFresh on a large scale. I think it is more sustainable to buy local products made by small scale local farmers who love their work. While it may be better for food waste, that can be prevented by just not overbuying or by freezing extras to use later. And for me, I found it more expensive than what I would usually pay. While the individual meal might be cheaper than what I pay for a whole load of groceries, I can make a lot more food with those groceries. Buying bulk and preparing and freezing food is much more cost effective. You do save some time with not having to grocery shop but you can’t guarantee the produce will be good because you don’t get to pick it out. Lastly, I think it takes the personal out of cooking. I love to cook because it connects me with other people, my family, my ancestors, and my community. And to me, ordering from some huge multi-national company and following their recipes just isn’t the same. There is something so special about the process of finding a new recipe or passing down a recipe from an older generation, even just sharing one with a friend that you can’t manufacture.
So, I don’t hate it and I’m not even saying I would never buy it again, but it certainly won’t become a regular thing for me. Have you tried any of these meal kit services? What are your thoughts?