We spent about a month visiting our friends in England and one of the things they love is HelloFresh.
They work long hours and so finding time to go grocery shopping is difficult. Rather than default to ordering take away (and they have this fantastic Thai place in the back of a pub about five minutes away), they started doing HelloFresh off and on.
This ensures they're cooking more meals rather than eating out.
When we visited, we got a few HelloFresh boxes and were very impressed with the meals we made.
We tried Blue Apron before too and were impressed but we stopped doing it. When we made it back to the US, we thought it'd be fun to give HelloFresh a try to see if we can try different types of foods and cut down a little on the meals out.
I'm not going to give it the full photographic treatment as the Blue Apron review, there isn't a big benefit to that on the second go around, and just give you the highlights.
HelloFresh is priced similar to other meal kit services.
- Classic Plan – $9.99 per serving
- Veggie Plan – $9.99 per serving
- Family Plan – $9.74 per serving
There are no discounts for larger packages (2 vs 4).
Here's a surprising fact – the pricing in the UK is lower than in the United States (protein serving sizes were roughly the same). It could be how produce is sourced over there or maybe the competition is stiffer, but you could get the Classic Box for £4.90 a meal – or about $6.50 a meal. Veggie Boxes and Family were cheaper too.
Overall, food in England was more expensive in the grocery stores too. We were going to regular grocery stores like Waitrose and Tesco, rather than a Costco (though they exist over there too), but the pricing was slightly higher than what we'd be used to at a local Harris Teeter or Wegman's.
There were plenty of meal options:
We chose the Southwestern Steak Tacos, Turkey Chiles Rellenos, and the Cherry-Drizzled Pork Chops. There were five other options, including a Premium ($5 upcharge per serving), and a Breakfast. All recipes were available for you to print, so you didn't have to buy it if you wanted to make it later.
I liked how all the produce was in separate paper bags based on the meal. The proteins were vacuum sealed (though the beef for our steak tacos leaked) and placed at the bottom of the box under ice packs. Many of the items were not packed in little baggies, like Blue Apron did, so there was less waste.
The produce for HelloFresh was not as good as Blue Apron. One of our chiles was damaged (and thus soft, gross, and unusable) and the cilantro was wet and wilty. The vacuum sealed package of beef was no longer vacuum sealed and leaked inside the box. They offered us a $30 credit, which seemed generous, and we'll see what the next package holds. Sometimes you get unlucky but their response was good.
As for the three meals, some quick thoughts:
- Southwesttern Steak Tacos – The kiwi/avocado salsa was a fantastic flavor, the kiwis were sweet, the avocado was not ripe yet (I didn't realize until I'd cut into it) – not sure it would've been ripe even after another week. The steak itself… steak is a generous term because it was beef stew meat.
- Turkey Chiles Rellenos – This was our favorite meal of the bunch. The flavors of the rice/turkey mixture were delicious and the sauce, which was stewed tomatoes and chipotle seasoning, were a great pairing.
- Cherry-Drizzled Pork Chops – Another really simple dish that was good but not spectacular. The pork chops were just pan fried with some light seasoning. The sauce was a cherry reduction, the dried cherries (after being soaked) and cherry jam with shallots, over couscous mixed with more chives and green onions.
We view these meal kits as a way to expand our palates and try things we wouldn't normally try. It's nice to get small packages of spice mixes instead of buying bigger containers to satisfy one-off recipes and clutter our spice drawer. So far, it appears that HelloFresh's meals aren't as adventurous as we'd like. I think we're a little spoiled having done HelloFresh UK, where the food palette is different and perhaps a little more varied in spices.
What we do like is that the meals are fast to make, pretty tasty, and a good value compared to the time it takes to shop, measure, prep, etc. I'd say the three meals each took only about thirty minutes to make, plus or minus 15 minutes based on cooking time.
We were given a $30 credit for their missteps so we're giving it another week.
Have you tried HelloFresh? What were your experiences?