Do you dream of a fresh food delivery service to alleviate the pain of meal planning and shopping? This review is for one of the most popular options, which we tried out – to help you decide if it’s worth trying for yourself.
What’s for dinner?
Those are, in my humble opinion, the three most dreaded words. You see, here is my problem: I don’t like meal planning, I don’t like to grocery shop and I don’t like to cook. However, I do like to eat and I like to eat healthy. And most of us know that eating healthy can also be a budget buster…one more thing I do not like.
I wondered: Is there an easy and affordable way to get fresh food delivered to me?
In an endeavor to eat healthy but do as little work as possible, I talked my husband into trying one of the fresh food delivery services that are becoming more and more popular.
How did we decide on which fresh food delivery service to try?
Well, it was easy. We received a coupon in the mail from HelloFresh and since we love a good deal, we decided to begin with them. [Want a discount on your first order? Use our affiliate link to get $40 off before the end of May.] And of course if we’re going to try it out, it only made sense to write this HelloFresh review to help you decide if it would be the best delivery service for you.
HelloFresh: Fresh Food Delivery
With so many options out there right now for fresh food delivery services – (Blue Apron, Home Chef, Plated, Sun Basket and more) – we decided to just pick one who was offering great first-time discounts.
As their website states, “HelloFresh delivers weekly recipes and fresh ingredients straight to your doorstep, so you can cook delicious, quick, and healthy meals at home.”
HelloFresh has three plans right now. The Classic and Veggie plans are both $9.99 per meal and customers can order for either two or four adults. They also have a Family plan which is only $8.74 per meal and includes food for two adults and two children.
Our experience with HelloFresh’s fresh food delivery
I absolutely loved walking up to our front door and seeing the big box waiting for us. Everything was in excellent condition and the cooling materials did a great job keeping everything cold. All of the boxes and included ingredients arrive very well labeled. The organization freak in me was very excited, especially when each meal was individually boxed that fit perfectly in our refrigerator! All of the produce was fresh and well packaged and the recipes looked healthy – which is a priority for us. There really focus on the details. Except for EVOO, salt & pepper they included every additional seasoning needed for the recipes. Again, very well labeled and easy to store. Overall we were very impressed.
I must say, and I do mention it below, that we did feel the meal prep and cook time took longer than what their directions state. This was not a major turn-off for us, but something I’d keep in mind if I were to order from them again. I know there are other meal delivery companies out there that offer already prepped and cooked meals, but I wonder how good they taste re-heated. That’s perhaps something to try out in the future, but the cost could possibly be higher too with those options.
Below is a summary of what we found to be the pros and cons of HelloFresh’s fresh food delivery…
HelloFresh: The Good
Easy online ordering
They couldn’t make it simpler. There are only 3 options – the Classic Plan, Veggie Plan and Family Plan. Since we’d only be cooking for the 2 of us and we are not vegetarians we chose the Classic Plan which serves 2 or 4 adults. We of course chose the 2-adult option.
No meal planning
You get to choose 5 meals from an option of 6 meals. You can view last week’s meals, current week’s and next week’s meals to get an idea of their recipes. For our first box we chose: shrimp risotto with tomatoes and chili, crispy chicken with brown-butter corn and cucumber
tomato salad, smoky black bean cakes, chipotle-rubbed chicken salad and caramelized-pineapple burgers. Boom. That was all that “planning” we had to do.
Seriously, this may have been my favorite part. The box of food just shows up. Like magic. The food ships with disposable ice packs so everything stays cold and fresh. Each item is labeled by meal and arrives in individual boxes (see pictures below). The only items they say you need to have on hand are extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt and pepper. They send everything else for the recipes. Even tiny sized bottles of balsamic vinegar!
Delicious, healthy and high quality food
Not only was each meal very tasty – they were also healthy. You can read on HelloFresh’s website where they get their produce and meat. I love that they focus on local suppliers. Also, each recipe lists whether it is gluten or dairy-free, which I know is becoming more and more important with so many common food allergies. While nothing on their website states organic, their beef that we received was labeled grass-fed, the chicken was organic and seafood was wild caught. It was easy to see that a lot of effort went into creating high-quality ingredients in each box.
While we enjoyed all of the benefits listed above I would being doing everyone a disservice if I didn’t mention what we felt to be the cons of ordering from HelloFresh.
HelloFresh: The Bad
While this is helpful in making decisions, I’m surprised they don’t offer a paleo or a gluten-free option. I gave them feedback on this and, as of writing this, they have not made any additional offerings. It is still Classic Plan, Vegetarian Plan and Family. Since my husband and I cook mostly paleo, for this reason alone I probably would not order from them again.
Small (normal?) serving sizes
For some customers this would not be an issue, but since we work from home we live off of leftovers for lunches and there was only one meal that really left enough for the next day. That was pretty disappointing. Of course we chose the 2-person meal option, so it matched what they advertised, but still, leftovers are key for us. They do have a 4-person option which would of course provide more meals, but it also costs twice as much. That’s definitely something to consider if you eat a lot of leftovers also.
Directions can be hard to follow
My husband and I cook on average 5 nights per week and while we may not be Top Chef contestants, we can definitely follow a recipe. However, we both felt the directions provided give you are rather confusing at times. Not only can they be challenging to follow, but we also agreed that they grossly underestimated the time it took to prep and cook each meal. While the recipes are put in a great booklet, they can still be a little confusing sometimes – it seems to us that the directions could be supplied in an easier to follow format.
Might not be cost effective
This may apply more just to us, and to other customers who cook more often than not. But if you dine out three or more times per week then HelloFresh may be a great cost effective option for you. Plus, I imagine for busy couples and families there are probably weeks when you are constantly on the go when having one big box of food show up would be a real blessing. If it fits into your budget then I say great, but for us it would become more of a budget buster.
NOTE: We a HelloFresh affiliate so if you use our special link to sign up you can get $40 off your first two orders (only valid until the end of May 2017 so do it now). That’s a GREAT value so I definitely say you should check it out at that price.
Here are some of the most popular “help center” questions answered from HelloFresh’s website.
Can you choose the ingredients and recipes?
“Recipes…yes! Ingredients, no. However, all ingredients are clearly listed along with specific allergens that correspond to certain ingredients. Everything is packaged and labeled separately, so substituting or omitting an ingredient at home is easy.”
Is the packaging recyclable?
What if an ingredient is missing or damaged?
“This is definitely not acceptable, and we apologize for the inconvenience. Please contact Customer Care at 1-800-733-2414 so we can make this right ASAP.” They also have an online form to initiate contact if you prefer email communication.
Are HelloFresh ingredients organic?
“Some, but not all, of our ingredients are organic.” There isn’t a 100% organic option. I suspect it would really drive up the cost so I guess this is a balance they need to consider in their model.
HelloFresh: The Verdict (for us)
So, after writing this I’d be more inclined to recommend HelloFresh for those super-busy times when it makes meal planning and getting to the store really hard, but you still want to cook and eat healthy. As a budget conscious couple we’d have a hard time justifying this for ourselves. We work from home so time-constraints are nearly as much of a problem for us as they are for some families. As much as we don’t like meal-planning and shopping, we’re willing to put up with it to keep our meal costs as low as possible.
Is Fresh Food Delivery For You?
If you are budget conscious (like we are), then compare these costs to what you are spending now. For two people to have five meals a week, that would take about half of our food budget. If the math works and you can stay in budget, this sure is a convenient option!
If you are a busy family – which is more the norm – that definitely adds some justification weight to this option. Removing the need to meal plan and shop can have big value for some families. In those cases, even if it cost a bit more than previously budgeted, it is worth considering. How much is your time and sanity worth?
So that’s my experience having fresh food delivered to me via HelloFresh. Overall it was a very positive experience.
Our bottom line is that if you are even slightly considering a service like this, check out HelloFresh. Sign up using our affiliate link to save money. The discounted pricing on the first order definitely puts this into the cost-effective realm – then you can decide for yourself if it is something you want to order regularly.
What do you think?
We are considering trying other meal delivery companies. Is there a particular one you’d like to see us review? If so, please let us know in the comments below.