Subscription boxes are all the rage lately and meal kits are no different. Meal kits claim to make it easy to eat a healthy, whole foods diet. They deliver every ingredient needed for each meal in the proper proportions so there is no waste and no need to shop for ingredients.
I received a HelloFresh meal kit for free as a gift from my daughter-in-law. Since it’s no secret that I love free stuff, it should come as no surprise that I jumped on the opportunity to order.
It should also come as no surprise that I want to share my opinion with you. Have a seat while I share my review of HelloFresh.
Ordering and Receiving My HelloFresh Shipment
It was simple to sign up. HelloFresh is a subscription program that automatically bills for and ships a meal kit every week. The downside of this is that there would only be two days between receiving one box and being locked into the next box.
Because I wouldn’t be able to access my 6-meal box in two days, I decided to skip the box scheduled for the following week, which was very easy to do. It’s also very easy to change my menu options, adjust the number of meals I receive and cancel my plan if I desire. This makes the service very easy to fit into my life and finances.
There are several different lifestyle options to choose from such as pescatarian, meat & veggie, vegetarian, pork-free, family-friendly, quick/easy, carb smart and calorie smart. I chose the meat & veggie option and was “assigned” three meals but I did have the option of 22 other meals to substitute any or all these 3 meals. Some of these choices were an extra charge, others were not and the choices appeared to be from all the lifestyle categories listed above. I must assume that the lifestyle choice and “assigned meals” are in case I forget to visit the site and pick the meals for an upcoming order.
My HelloFresh shipment arrived on the day they promised. It was surprisingly small and light considering that it contained 6 meals.
As I unpacked the box, the reason became clear and, I have to say, I was delighted. I had received another meal kit as a gift and was disturbed by the amount of packaging I had to throw away.
The HelloFresh box contained an inner cardboard box as insulation and one frozen ice pack. The foods were all packaged in plastic bags, no containers of any kind. I am not saying that plastic bags are good, mind you, but a bag takes up less room in the landfill than a container. The meals themselves were separated into brown paper bags and clearly labeled.
Preparing The Meal
As advertised, the Hello Fresh box came with all the ingredients I would need to prepare the meals, except for olive oil, salt and pepper. All of the ingredients were fresh and in good condition.
The prep itself was easy and uncomplicated. I didn’t run across any ingredients or procedures that I hadn’t encountered before. Someone who is switching over to home cooking from convenience foods or take out will probably see the prep work as excessive but this is the price we pay for improving our eating habits.
I was overwhelmed at first because, when following the directions, I felt I was doing too many things all at once. I ended up overcooking my roasted carrots while I was mixing the meatballs and cooking the rice. I finally realized that I had to go back with the cooking style that I’m comfortable with: I do all my prep (chopping, mixing sauce, coating meat, etc) first and then get to cooking. This added a few minutes to their “box-to-table” estimate but at least I didn’t overcook anything else.
The only downside here is a personal one: There are a lot of dishes to wash. For the ginger meatballs, I ended up washing a knife, cutting board, 3 mixing bowls, two baking pans, a saucepan, spatula, vegetable peeler, plate and various cutlery. Maybe this is just a normal dinner for some but, in my opinion, the fewer dishes, the better. Of course, I did save time and trouble by not shopping so I guess I’m ahead of the game!
The Main Event
Saucy Ginger Meatballs
This entree was the first one I tried and it was wonderful, although, at 910 calories per serving (1820 calories total), I decided to turn it into 3 servings instead of two. Not only did this smaller portion fill me up, I think I would have had trouble eating a “full” portion.
The meatballs are dressed with Bulgogi sauce, which is a sweet Korean barbecue sauce. It was paired with Jasmine rice and oven-roasted carrots then drizzled with spicy sour cream and sprinkled with a generous amount of sliced green onions.
The spiciness of the sour cream complemented the sweetness of the roasted carrots and the combination of colors was pleasing. I would definitely order this again.
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Creamy Lemon Tomato Spaghetti
The calorie count on this recipe was a whopping 1090 per serving (2180 calories total) so I decided to divide this into 4 servings. I also added a side of baby spinach with dressing because I felt it definitely needed more vegetables.
The pasta was a delight. The sauce was a combination of cream cheese and butter, giving it a wonderful creamy texture, although the taste of either was not obvious. The lemon zest and juice added a brightness to it while the roasted tomatoes allowed for a touch of sweetness. The combination of flavors worked very well together.
The chicken was spread with a mustard/mayonnaise mixture and topped with a combination of panko crumbs, seasoning packet and parmesan cheese. I did enjoy it but I felt that the mustard flavor was far too dominant and overwhelmed the subtle flavors in the crumb topping. If I were to make this again, I would skip the mustard mixture.
Butternut Squash Agnolotti
This particular recipe had two things I have never tried before: kale and agnolotti. I enjoyed the kale more than I thought I would. In this recipe the instructions had me saute it in oil with the onion. The onion lent a soft sweetness, the kale was peppery with a nice chew to it.
The agnolotti is a ravioli-type pasta I haven’t tried before and it was very good. The pasta itself was fresh and relatively thick, the butternut squash filling was very mild. The added walnuts, garlic herb butter and parmesan cheese gave it a variety of flavors and its end result was delicious. I’m glad I didn’t have to share this with anyone!
The bottom line
Of course, it’s the bottom line that matters so here it is! Would I order this again? Yes, I definitely would and I did. The price per servings in my box would have been $10.48 each, including shipping. Because I had paired down the size of my servings on two of these meals, I ended up with 9 servings which come out to $6.99 per serving, including shipping. This is more than reasonable in regard to price.
The fact that the waste is minimal is a big plus for me. The meals are separated using recyclable paper bags and the outer and inner (insulating) boxes are both recyclable as well. The individual items that require packaging come sealed in plastic bags (no containers) that are just big enough to hold the items, which results in minimal throw away waste.
I am so impressed with this service that I have partnered with HelloFresh to give you a $40 discount on your first box!! What are you waiting for?
Have you ever tried a meal kit service? Which one did you try? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments below!
All My Best,