I’ve been getting three meals a week for two people from HelloFresh since September 2020, and have learned a lot from forty weeks of HelloFresh.
HelloFresh is arguably the world’s most popular meal delivery. Every week you receive “meal kits” with everything you need to prepare three, four, or more meals.
FYI, this is not an advertisement, and I have not been paid to publish this post. I pay for HelloFresh for out of my own pocket, err, credit card.
1. Zest For Life
HelloFresh meals often include zesting a lemon or lime, then squeezing that fruit, and using both juice and zest in the recipe. Zest is a remarkable addition to a whole lot of things.
For example, you can add lemon zest and lemon juice to sour cream or yogurt, add a bit of salt and pepper if you please, and you’ve got a simple drizzle.
I’ve zested more in the last nine months than I have in my entire life – and it was worth it.
2. Portion Size
So many of the recipes I used to make were for four people. I’d end up with a huge quantity of food and have to eat that same stuff for days in a row. Or I’d stick it in the fridge only to find a science experiment a few months later.
With HelloFresh, I figured out portions for me. I ordered three meals for two people, giving me six meals for one person. I usually prepare a meal, then save the additional portion for lunch or dinner the next day. And bonus: some recipes often make enough for three or more smaller servings.
That also left me with only a handful of meals to take care of for the rest of the week. And even with those, I’ve learned to keep it super simple and keep those portions smaller.
3. Goodbye Food Slump
Before HelloFresh, I was in a food slump and eating the same things over and over and over. HelloFresh lit my cooking spark all over again and introduced me to flavors and techniques I’d never used (or been too lazy/scared to figure out.) In forty weeks of HelloFresh, I learned that repetition with variation is awesome!
4. Not Enough Food
I learned that I probably hadn’t been eating enough. I often felt tired and just generally worn out. With HelloFresh meals being delivered every week, I quickly felt almost perky. Almost.
Regardless, I am now eating enough food. My plate is mostly filled at every meal, and I have just enough for me to feel full. I rarely feel uncomfortably full. It’s a “just right” feeling after most HelloFresh meals.
5. Cost Is Relative
One of the biggest complaints about HelloFresh is cost, and I totally understand. For me, it worked out to be about equivalent to eating both breakfast and lunch out five times a week – which I did when I worked in an office.
I was spending around $13.00 per day, 5 days a week, for a total of $65.00 per week. Three meals for two people a week from HelloFresh runs around $69. I know that I spent more than $13 on some days, so HelloFresh worked really well for me.
Now that I work from home, I’ve cut back on caffeine and sugar, and definitely don’t eat breakfast and lunch out anymore. Heck, I have to think hard to remember the last meal I ate at a restaurant. And I think that’s a good thing: I am preparing the majority of my own meals at home and I love them.
6. Set It And Forget It
HelloFresh is truly a “set it and forget it” kind of service. You look at the twenty or more available meals each week, select your three favorites, and then forget about it. You quite literally don’t have to think or shop for what you need to prepare meals because they will inevitably show up at your doorstep.
Now, that’s not to say that delivery has been perfect. On the contrary, there was one time that my delivery just didn’t show up. It was a very sad day as I knew that I had to plan, shop, and then prepare meals for the week – something I had just gotten out of the habit of doing.
One other time, my delivery didn’t show up at the normal time. I got onto live chat with HelloFresh and they let me know that it was definitely out for delivery and would arrive by 8pm. It sure did. So that’s only two instances of delivery problems – not bad for forty weeks of HelloFresh!
7. Minimal Shopping
Consistent meal planning and shopping is a challenge for me. I can spend two hours deciding on four or five meals, another hour hand writing an alphabetical list, more time at the grocery store, time driving to and from the store, and then more time unpacking those groceries. It can be exhausting, and I’d always get additional things I really, really didn’t need.
For forty weeks of HelloFresh, I only had to do that exhausting stuff one time. Naturally, for the other meals I did have to go to the grocery story, but it was one meal, two meals at most. My ‘eye’ has changed though, so it’s easier to keep these meals in portion size and super simple because I know HelloFresh would be coming with more complex meals.
8. New Techniques
I consider myself a decent home cook; heck, I even had a cooking blog for a hot minute. And I really didn’t think I needed or could learn much from HelloFresh until I tried it and well, consider me a convert. With HelloFresh, I learned new techniques that now inform my cooking, like
- Encrust everything. Mix up Panko breadcrumbs with your favorite chopped nuts and a little butter. goes a long way. Top chicken or salmon with mustard or mayonnaise, or whatever, and then top with that Panko mixture. Looks fancy, tastes, great, and really simple to do; no wonder restaurants use it so often.
- Sauces, sauces, sauces. I can now whip up a yummy sauce with easy. A little liquid in a hot pan, a balsamic vinegar, some cherry or apricot jam, some sour cream, salt, pepper, and it’s yowza for your tongue.
- Pickling onions takes very little time and really enhances a meal.
9. An Explosion Of Flavors In Forty Weeks
As I said before, my meals before HelloFresh were pretty boring. Over forty weeks with HelloFresh, I tried flavors I’d never had before and developed new favorites.
- Check out this list of Spice Blends from Joe’s Daily. I love the Fry Seasoning, Tunisian Spice Blend, and Tuscan Heat Blend. The cool thing is that, because I know the ingredients, I can mix my own: and leave out the hot stuff like cayenne or any and all chili peppers. (Seriously; I can’t handle cayenne or any chili peppers. Even jalapeno is too much for me.)
- I’d never had Za’atar before and now love it. It’s lovely on chicken. And the HelloFresh grilling cheese recipes uses Za’atar, too.
10. Potatoes, Carrots, and Couscous
I can’t tell you how many HelloFresh meals over the last forty weeks have included potatoes, carrots, and couscous. Of course, there are more than twenty different meals to choose from each week, but I always seem to pick the meals with potatoes, carrots, and couscous. What can I say? They’re yummy, filling, and easy to prepare.
That said, having these three ingredients in a lot of meals can get boring. Sometimes I’d change out potatoes for broccoli or cauliflower rice. But HelloFresh leans heavily on veggies that do not spoil quickly, so sometimes I’d just remind myself to make a meal with other veggies at home.
My Favorite HelloFresh Meals
Over forty weeks of receiving HelloFresh, I sure did have favorites – and could add more to the list. Actually, I had a hard time stopping…
- Mozzarella and Herb Hicken with Roasted Carrots and Buttery Couscous
- Chicken Gyro Couscous Bowls with Hummus, Tomato-Cucumber Salad, and Feta Sauce
- Salmon Limone over Herbed Couscous with Zucchini and Tomato
- Pecan Chicken Royale
- Zucchini and Tomato Flatbreads with Lemon Ricotta, Fresh Herbs, and Chili Flakes. (I never use the Chili Flakes because I can’t stand the heat.)
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad Wraps with Spinach, Tomato, and Cucumber
- Miso Apricot Chicken with Garlic Ginger Rice and Zesty Carrots
- Creamy Dill Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli
- Spicy Tunisian Bulgur and Salmon Bowls with Zucchini, Carrots, Chermoula, and Creamy Lemon Sauce
- Creamy Lemon Butter Chicken with Parmesan Zucchini Rounds and Scallion Couscous
- Southwest Stuffed Zucchini Bowls with Pico de Gallo, Avocado Crema, and Cilantro
- Tunisian-Spiced Meatballs with Apricot Glaze, Roasted Carrots, and Scallion Couscous
- One-Pot Pho-Style Beef Meatball Soup with Veggie Noodles and Spiced Broth
- Soy-Glazed Carrot and Miso Edamame Bowls with Pickled Cucumber, Sesame Dressing, and Peanuts
- Pub-Style Shepherd’s Pie with White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
- Aren’t you hungry yet? Look up the recipes for more mouth-watering flavor.
11. Bonus! It’s Not Perfect
Sure, I loved my HelloFresh deliveries each week, but it’s not perfect. There was the one time my weekly delivery didn’t show up. And there’s a pile of HelloFresh boxes in my garage because they’re really good boxes and I have a hard time letting go of boxes that I might someday, somehow use. Or is that just me?
- Those two packs of icy-something or other each week bother me. Their packaging says to put it all out with the garbage, but that just seems wrong. I have put the stuff down the drain, and that is definitely not the thing to do (though so far, cross fingers, no issues with that.)
- There’s the fact that these weekly boxes of delicious food are coming from somewhere, and that I don’t know WHERE they’re coming from – other than some warehouse or packing facility. I so wish that I could get something like this in my local area; I’d support it in a heartbeat.
- If you don’t clean as you go, each meal can create a mess in your kitchen. I use so many pans and bowls and utensils every.single.meal. I’ve gotten better at it, but boy – the kitchen sometimes looks like a hurricane went through (it’s a small kitchen, so a strong wind could make it look bad.)
- Sometimes the produce goes bad *very* fast. And sometimes even the carrots and potatoes feel a little limp. Sometimes that’s because I don’t cook things right away, and sometimes they’re probably just old: both can be stored long-term and they often feel like they’re hitting that storage limit.
I do know that if you receive spoilt or otherwise unusable ingredients, you just reach out to HelloFresh customer support and you’re taken care of immediately. For example, when that box didn’t arrive, they refunded my weekly amount and gave me credit for something in the future. Their customer service is stellar.
Over the last forty weeks, HelloFresh really worked well for me. With the coming of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season, I will either stop HelloFresh or take it down to two meals for two people per week. I’ll be getting a huge box of fresh veggies every week from a local farm! I have no doubt that I’ll head right back to three meals per week for two people when the sixteen week CSA run ends in October.
Have you tried a home delivery meal kit? What did you love about it?