In the last 2 years, monthly subscription boxes have become a hot trend. You can get the latest makeup, jewelry, outfits, workout gear, and even snacks delivered to your door every month without a second thought. Convenient and exciting, it’s like gifting yourself a box of surprises every month. Meal delivery services are right on trend with companies like HelloFresh providing either weekly or bi-weekly “made for you” meals or pre-measured ingredients that you can simply assemble yourself following the recipe provided. When I first looked at pricing, I wasn’t sure if it was worth it because I like cooking (sometimes) and I figured the meals wouldn’t be as healthy as whatever I could think up myself.
Luckily, I’ve got some awesome family members that gave me a Groupon for HelloFresh for Christmas ($35 for 3 meals for two – regularly $69). HelloFresh promises to deliver fresh ingredients to your door each week with chef-developed recipes that are approved by their in-house dietitian. Each recipe is intended to take 30 minutes or less to assemble. In an effort to be a better weekday vegetarian, I ordered the veggie box (much to the chagrin of my significant other). I decided to delay the delivery to a busy week I knew I’d be happy to have dinner taken care of.
My first delivery came in a HUGE box with lots of packaging. It was super organized and fun to open, but I felt bad about all of the waste. UPDATE: Hellofresh has since updated its packaging, become more compact, and cut way down on materials used.
The three recipes I received were:
Jamie Oliver’s Salsa Spaghetti with Black Olives & Fresh Basil
Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Feta and Pepitas
Southwestern Black Bean Chili with Cheddar and Sour Cream
The first recipe I went for was the salsa spaghetti because I was starving and it listed 15 minutes for the cook time. It actually did only take 15 minutes and the portion size was perfect (even though I wanted to eat more). My only complaint is that it turned out less saucy and more noodle-y than their example photo.
Next up: the risotto. This was my first time ever making risotto. For some reason I’d heard that risotto is time-consuming and complicated so I never attempted it. Risotto to me was akin to making your own pasta: unnecessary, and it’s a treat anyway so just leave it to the professionals. I was wrong. Making risotto isn’t complicated, it just requires some extra attention and stirring.
By the second recipe, I found the whole HelloFresh process to be relaxing and a huge stress reliever. I didn’t have to think about what I was going to come up with for dinner or what ingredients I needed to pick up. I didn’t have to chop the butternut squash or peel the garlic. Those little things made cooking fun again, not just a chore. It wasn’t like the normal “head-home-from the office, ugh, I have to cook again feeling.” I was excited to open the box and explore a new recipe. I turned on a podcast (The Tim Ferriss Show) and actually relaxed while risotto-ing. This one turned out much more like the photo (forgive the lack of natural lighting):
My last meal was Southwestern Black Bean Chili with Sour Cream. It was quick and easy to put together and tasted great.
The spaghetti from the first night was my overall favorite. Even though it was such a simple recipe, the quality of ingredients really made the dish. The tomatoes were perfectly ripe, the garlic was spicy, and the feta was strong.
Pros for HelloFresh:
I got to try new, healthy recipes that I may not have picked out myself. I made risotto for the first time.
It’s convenient. You don’t have to pick recipes or go get ingredients.
It’s fun. It feels like you’re getting a gift when the box shows up at your door.
The cost. At first I thought $59 ($69 if you opt for meat and seafood) was too much for 3 meals. However, 75% of the time, each recipe ends up making 3 servings so if I take 3 recipes x 3 servings = 9 meals, that means I’m getting my meals for $6.50 a piece.
Am I going to keep my subscription? Yes. The best thing about HelloFresh is that you can pause your deliveries for as long as you want. Just because I got a box this week doesn’t mean I need to get one next week. If I’m traveling or I don’t like the recipes that week I can skip. What I’ve been doing is getting the delivery on Monday, cooking all of the meals on Tuesday, and portioning everything out for lunch and dinners for most of the week. If you want to try HelloFresh yourself you can use my “refer a friend” code for $40 off: NF3LB3
Check back in next month for my review of Blue Apron where I’ll compare the two.