Hello Fresh is a meal delivery service that sends you a box full of ingredients with recipes and you cook fresh, healthy meals that are supposed to take less than an hour. They have a handful of recipes you can choose from each week, or you can let them surprise you and they just send the most popular meals.
I tried Hello Fresh because it was free for me, in an odd and roundabout way. For Christmas in 2016, my mother gave me and my husband tickets to a murder mystery dinner. The problem with this was that there were only two options for us to go—in January or July. The Groupon expired November first of 2017. We couldn’t go in January because my husband had no help yet at his grocery store. Also, the dinner was “Old Western” themed. Yeah, right. Like I’m really going to take my Arab husband to a dinner full of people decked out in cowboy hats and boots? No, but thanks. Of course, July was out because of ThrillerFest. Luckily, she was able to trade it in and get something different. She let me pick what I’d get, so I chose two weeks of Hello Fresh.
I quickly realized I’d have to analyze each meal before I ordered it to ensure it contained no pork. It seemed like they hid chopped pancetta in quite a few of their recipes. I’d checked the “no pork” box in my profile, which was supposed to disinclude any pork options. It didn’t. They not only still showed up, there were a few times that my chosen selections were changed to meals that had pork in them. By the second week, I realized that I had to check my Hello Fresh account several times a week just to make sure they hadn’t changed my choices on me.
I was so excited when my first box showed up. I even made an unboxing video.
Then I opened the actual meal bags and got fairly disappointed. My arugula was slimy and had liquid rot accumulated at the bottom of the bag. The squash was teeny tiny and beat to hell. It was dented, bruised, and starting to get spongy. I had to make a trip to the store to replace them. I wasn’t happy about it. Enough so that I emailed them.
I pretty much told them that I wasn’t happy with what I got and I wasn’t going to be continuing their service once my free weeks were up. What did they do? They gave me a $40 credit to make up for the five bucks I spent at the freaking grocery store! So, yeah. I wound up getting a total of three boxes from them on my account. Two “free” and one half off. But the free boxes weren’t free because I’d upgrade to one premium meal each week. For $5 per person, we got shrimp and lobster instead of beef or chicken, though I kind of didn’t have a choice for that first week. Everything that I didn’t choose was either pork, or spicy, or took way too long to cook. I mean, who has time to roast a chicken after working eight to eight?
Still, that shrimp with lobster ravioli was fantastic. I even found out what company made the pasta in case I want to order that directly from them.
The second meal I cooked from the first box was crushed peppercorn steak with creamed kale and potato wedges. It was good. I’d never had kale before, but I think I’d make this again. They sent way too many peppercorns, so I just used my own roughly ground pepper and saved their little half-ounce packet to refill my grinder when I need to.
I saved the crispy chicken Milanese for last since I’d replaced the rotted ingredients with fresh ones from my grocery store. It was good. Good enough that I made it again when my husband brought home a huge bag of chicken breasts. I made way too much the second time and now we’ve been whittling down a large container of frozen, cooked chicken breasts.
Box two didn’t bring as much disappointment. But I was fully over my efforts to document it, so I have no more pictures. We got meatloaf and two kinds of steak. I was forced to upgrade to a premium meal again, though. Everything else was either pork or spicy and my hubby doesn’t eat either. But that premium meal was ribeye steak with béarnaise sauce and asparagus. Sweet Cheesus, that was the best freaking steak sauce ever! I’ve made it twice more since then and I plan on making it again soon. It was definitely worth the ten bucks it cost us to upgrade our last free box.
The meatloaf was good. I hadn’t eaten meatloaf in thirty years due to a traumatic childhood incident involving copious amount of vomit and my cousins having to clean me up because I couldn’t stop crying. I think I’ll always be haunted by my aunt’s meatloaf, but I might actually make this recipe again. They’re little, personal meatloaves so it’s easier to ensure that they’re cooked well.
I wasn’t impressed with the chimichurri sauce for the other steak and actually threw away the recipe. It was super bland without the jalapeno, which had arrived bruised, broken, and a little slimy. Oh, well. It was going into the trash anyway.
I skipped the next two weeks of deliveries. I needed to mix up some of the stuff I’d learned and make food my husband brought home from his grocery store. I did a week of my own meal planning and cooking. Then there was Thanksgiving and a week of eating those leftovers. We had a ten-pound bird for just the two of us, but that’s a whole other story that shan’t be told here.
For our third week of meals, I upgraded to a premium meal—again because of limited choices. Scallops were new to me. I’d never eaten them, let alone cooked them. The directions were pretty shitty when it came to determining if they were cooked or not. I probably overcooked them, but I don’t know. They were, themselves, absolutely devoid of flavor. The only flavor came from the hazelnuts, Meyer lemon, tomatoes, and potatoes.
All three meals that final week had potatoes that needed to be peeled and diced. One meal came with one large potato. Cool. Another came with two medium potatoes. Fine. The other meal came with six new potatoes. Two were wrinkled up and spongy. One was green! WTF?! Most people don’t know this, but green potatoes are not edible. They can actually make you ill. I pitched those little buggers and used my own damned potatoes.
The carrots that came with the chicken were floppy as hell by the time I went to use them. I was pretty pissed. But I’ve figured it out. I know now why the food they sent me kept rotting. It’s those fucking brown paper bags they put everything in. What do you do with green bananas? Green avocados? Green tomatoes? Put it in a brown paper bag and it ripens way faster.
So, lesson learned. I’ve canceled my service with them. It’s too much of a pain in the ass to keep checking my account to make sure that they’re not going to charge me and send food I don’t want. It’s too expensive to pay $60 or $70 a week for three meals when I can cook every night for that much otherwise. Also, we still rent. I’m not down for wasting money like that when we’re trying to save up for a house.
All in all, I’d say it was worth it. We got nine meals for two sent to our door for a total out-of-pocket cost of $50. That’s a savings of $160. I was also able to send a free box to my mother, my brother’s wife, and two co-workers. Two other free weeks I gave out went unredeemed before I canceled my account. So that’s $350 worth of meals they gave to me to give out to others. That would bring the grand total of value to $560 worth of meals delivered for the $50 I paid plus the $60 my mom paid. Cheesus Crust…
Oh, and they sent me a sample canister of wild garlic flavored sea salt along with a coupon for 40% off anything on that other company’s website. But that, my friends, is going to have to be the subject of my next blog.
But until then—have you ever tried one of these meal delivery services? How’d you like it? Do you still get it every week? Which company do you use?