Updated: Feb 14
Hello Fresh is among one of the many meal delivery services out there that send you healthy meals directly to your door. If you aren't privy to what these companies do, they send you pre-portioned ingredients and step by step directions to create a healthy-ish meal at home. My partner and I spent a little over a year receiving these boxes from February of 2019 to about March 2020. We took a few weeks off here and there, but I can confidently say that we made well over 100 meals in that time, so we put in the work for this review! Our main reason for getting them during that time was because we were very, very busy. My partner was working on his masters degree, while working at times 50-60 hours at his job. I was finishing up my coaching degree, had picked up a late evening part time position on top of my yoga classes and would eventually open my office and start my business during that time. Let me tell you these came in handy! We recently signed up to get another week of meals after discussing how we felt about them overall, which prompted this review.
Hello Fresh has several different box types and meal options each week to choose from. They offer meat & veggies, veggie, family friendly and low calorie and you can order between 2-5 meals each week. The number of meals you purchase will bring down your amount for each one. Per the Hello Fresh website they keep an eye on ethical farming via working with sustainable farms and suppliers. They also outline on their website how to recycle most parts of the packaging and have a link to a site to find where to recycle the plastic film that encases most ingredients.
So, thats all pretty good. But what are some of the pros and cons of ordering these, the nutrition quality and would I recommend them to my clients? Keep reading!
First things first it's convenient! It takes the guess work out of what you are going to be eating for dinner, inarguably the worst time to try and decide what to eat in the moment.
It tells you how long (approximately) it will take to make and if you have a partner you can sometimes shave off minutes.
The directions are extremely easy to follow. They are clear and concise and the only times we got lost were when we didn't read the directions fully. It can be worth it to take a quick prior glance over each instruction to limit missing anything and ruining your meal!
The meals are centered around real, whole foods. You know when you are making these recipes that aside from a very few pre-made sauces everything is pretty un-processed.
You don't have to be a master chef to tackle the recipes, but you'll probably pick up some new skills! We embarrassingly had to Google a few different techniques early on, but everything has a curve!
The recipes are varied and different each week, so you're not likely to get bored. Vegetarian, fish, pasta, a lot of Mexican and Asian styles as well. There are various styles and cultures that you may not be familiar with, so it's a good way to explore different cuisine than you're used to. We also developed favorites that we ordered almost every time they popped up.
They always feature at least one vegetable, prepared in a multitude of ways. An easy way to eat the rainbow.
The meals are pre-portioned out, so you are unable to go for seconds. They were typically filling, but didn't leave you with a stuffed feeling. Our American eyes sometimes would imagine that some of the meals would not fill us up, but I don't remember that actually ever being the case.
When I followed the plastic film disposal site locator, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were 60+ within 50 or so miles of me. That means at least in my area the entire box is recyclable.
We saved all the recipes we liked, so that we could make them again. We basically created an enormous Hello Fresh recipe book that I have referenced several times in our time off. They are also fantastic for side recipes! I find that to be the toughest part of creating a meal from scratch-knowing what will taste good or give a different flavor, but still work with the recipe. I now have a book of hundreds of side ideas that I know we already like.
Most of the meals are semi high in calories with a range between 500-800 per meal. However, they feature a few low calorie options each week, but you won't have a lot to pick from which could be a problem if you have any other overlapping taste, allergen, or diet restrictions. The calories that you see listed on each instruction sheet is for one, which we mistakenly thought was for the whole meal for the first few.
The stated calories on the card also do not include the added butter or oil you use from your own kitchen, but are called for in the recipe. I was completely unaware of this until I started researching for this post-so beware! Keep in mind a TB of butter or olive oil will have an additional 100-120 sneaky calories. Many of the recipes will have you add both 1-2 times throughout. So, you should add those calories to the total as well. You're meal could be well over a thousand calories by the time you finish cooking it.
The recipes also call for A LOT of salt. Some of the recipes will have you add salt to almost every step aside from the prep step. We began limiting and omitting the salt as we saw fit.
We found that some of the cook times were off from the instructions to our oven and stove top. We only charred a few things over the year though! We learned to watch the food and found our heat to be slightly higher, so we adjusted it down.
It can be pricey. While it is not incredibly expensive when you break it down per serving, especially if you are ordering say, salmon it is still more than you would be paying if you bought the items yourself(obviously, HF has to make a profit some where). We searched for deals when we could find them to lower the price at times, which was helpful.
So, would I recommend this service to a client? Of course the answer is, it depends!
If my client is actively dieting and trying to lose weight these meals are probably not their best option overall. I think that the starting calories are a bit higher than meals we could make ourselves if we were focused on weight loss. Throw
in those extra calories that are hard to keep track of, as they're stated as a "drizzle" of oil and I think a lot of the control over the total calorie count goes out the window. I think if a client is in maintenance with their weight and struggling to eat healthy dinners after a long work day, this could work! The recipes are nutrient dense and macro balanced for the most part. They could also be a great way to get in more vegetables throughout the week. We found we were much less likely to eat out if we had these in the fridge, so they may also help you save money overall, even if it seems like a chunk up front. Since they are priced per serving they may end up on the pricier side for families though, so I probably wouldn't recommend it to my clients with more than a few people at home. It could however, be a great family bonding and learning activity for kids!
I think Hellofresh is an awesome convenience option that may broaden your culinary palate and cooking skills, so for that reason I think the pro's outweigh the bad(as evidenced above). I think being aware of the things I noted can help be aware of some of the downsides and how to work around them. The advice I would give to anyone thinking of ordering HF would be to do the following:
Think outside the literal box and pull in your own side salad alongside your meal. I think then it could be a possibility to cut some of the meals in half to limit the calorie load per meal and then get an extra meal out it in the process. That would make it more budget and calorie conscious at the same time. Win!
Grab an oil sprayer like this one to limit the amount of extra oil you are adding throughout the recipe.
Order a variety of preparation times, so that you can adjust to evenings you have more or less time or motivation to cook.
What are your thoughts on Hellofresh? Have you tried it? Did you have any different pros and cons? Comment and I'll add them!