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HelloFresh Meal Kit Review

Dave Beaulieu October 4th, 2018

Review Summary

HelloFresh is one of the only truly international, meal kit providers. Founded in 2011 in Berlin, Germany, HelloFresh is an international food company with a presence in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland. The company provides meal-kits that contain everything required for weeknight meals, delivered to their subscribers’ doors. Customers have the option to customize their delivery times to fit their schedules.

Here in the US, Hello Fresh offers about 15 weekly meal choices packaged up into Classic, Veggie and Family plans. You'll be asked to select a plan when you start, as well as the number of meals & servings you're looking to receive every week.

In addition to meals, you also have the option of getting wine shipped to you as well. HelloFresh offers a red, white and mixed plan. Each is priced at $14.83 per bottle for a shipment of 6 bottles.

While the registration process itself was straightforward and as I expected, I did find some parts a bit clunky and found some screens that I couldn't easily figure out how to do what I wanted to do. By default, meal options were picked for me; and while you can browse other meal options and change those defaults, it took me a few minutes to figure out how to do it.

The cost of Hello Fresh varies a bit based on the options you choose, but range between $6.99 per serving and $8.99 per serving, plus shipping costs.

Like most meal kit providers, HelloFresh is a weekly subscription service, and they will put you into default meal choices every week. You can choose the day you'd like to have your food shipped, and unless you've got wine coming, you don't need to be home when the food is delivered. Packed in an insulated box with cold packs, it will be good until you get home. You can skip a week or pause your subscription any time.

I tested four recipes from HelloFresh, Carnitas Tacos, Steak with Peppercorn Sauce, a Juicy Lucy Burger, and Sriracha Chicken; shipped in two shipments in separate weeks. Each each box, both of the recipes came bagged together, which each recipes' ingredients packed together. That made it super easy to put everything away into the fridge until I was ready to cook them.

The produce & pantry ingredients that came where all quite fresh and of good quality. The steaks (sirloin) where about 8 ounce portions, a bit smaller than I normally get in the grocery store, but very similar in size to the steaks, I've gotten from other providers. My one major issue was that one steak has a fair amount of grizzle on it - which was pretty disappointing, and made about 1/5 of it inedible. The other proteins where all great.

All of the recipes were well composed, and the ingredients went well together. While not enormous portions, there was plenty of food for the 2 servings it was supposed to be; which the exception of the Juicy Lucy burger. in that recipe, there was a medium size burger and side salad. It tasted great, but will likely leave some hungry.

The recipes cards were well written, although one did neglect to provide a temperature setting for oven roasted potatoes; which may cause a novice home chef a bit of angst. Also, the Carnitas Taco's were really ground pork tacos - which tasted quite good - but that probably shouldn't be called carnitas. Other than those couple issues everything was clear and the cooking times were accurate.

Overall I was happy with Hello Fresh, and enjoyed the meals. Give them a try and I think you'll love it too.

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Pros of HelloFresh

  • Get $60 off for new members
  • Offers a classic, family & veggie plan

Cons of HelloFresh

  • The registration process was a bit clunky/confusing
  • Variety of meal options is only so-so

HelloFresh's Cost

Cost Per ServingClassic PlanFamily PlanVeggie Plan
Lowest Cost$7.47 (12 servings/week)$7.49 (12 servings/week)$6.99 (12 servings/week)
Middle Cost$8.99 (6 or 8 servings/week)N/AN/A
Highest Cost$9.99 (4 servings/week)$7.87 (8 servings/week)$8.99 (6 servings/week)

How HelloFresh works

HelloFresh has three core meal plans that you can choose from.  The Veggie, the Classic, and the Family Plans. All of them are subscription programs, which you can pause, cancel at any time - or you can choose to skip a week if needed. Each plan has at least a few different recipe options.

The Veggie plan provides 3 recipes every week, and you can order them in 2 or 4 person quantities. This plan costs $8.99 per serving.

The Family plan lets you order either 2 or 3 recipes per week, but each recipe has enough for 4 people and costs $7.87 per serving.

And the Classic plan provides the most options, where you can order 2, 3, or 4 recipes per week, for either 2 or 4 people per recipe. The classic plan costs $8.99 per serving and has about 15 recipe to choose from.

Meal options vary across the plans, with the veggie plan obviously focused on meatless recipes. The meals themselves don't seem to follow any particular theme, and offer a pretty diverse selection. At the time of writing, between the plans, a sample of the recipes offered included:

  • Sriracha Cha-Cha Chicken
  • Juicy lucy burger
  • Pork & poblano tacos
  • Satay chicken stir fry
  • Hot honey barbecue chicken legs
  • Pear & Balsamic Flatbreads
  • Pasta Parmesan
  • Crispy chickpea tacos

The classic plan has the most meal choices with 15. While the veggie option only has 3, and the family plan 6.

So far, I've cooked four Hello Fresh recipes, a Juicy Lucy (burger), Sriracha Chicken, Carnitas Tacos and Steak with Peppercorn sauce. Two recipes came in one box, packed with cold packs. When one of the box arrived, one of the corners was a bit banged up, and one of the cold packs had punctured and leaked. But I put that on the shipping company vs HelloFresh. And because of how the ingredients were packed, none of the spillage got on any food.

The proteins for the meals were packed separately, closest to the cold packs, and were well chilled when I pulled them out. The other ingredients were separated by recipe and packed in their own recipe bags, which meant no sorting required. I simply put everything away in the fridge to cook the next day.

Along with each box were two recipes cards with directions for cooking each meal, as well as some other welcome material. The cards were well done, and all the directions made sense. The only major mistake I saw was the lack of an oven temperature for one of the steps. The cooking times were accurate, and met my expectations.

All of the vegetables and pantry items that came were good quality, and met my expectations. There were two items, sugar & butter, that the recipes called for that HelloFresh did not include. Which is fine, as most will have those on hand; but some of the other providers I've tried have included those ingredients.

My one major concern was with one of the two steaks sent for the Steak with Peppercorn sauce recipe. While one of the cuts of sirloin was very good, the other had a significant amount of grizzle that was just inedible. And with a smallish (~8oz) steaks, if a few bites are no good, it's a significant amount.

Registering & Ordering

You register for HelloFresh much like any other shopping/subscription site. Your first step is picking the plan that you're most interested in. It's that choice that will determine which recipes you're assigned by default every week.

Obviously, critically important is confirming that they deliver to your area. And early in the registration process you put in your zip code and address to ensure they can deliver to you. And you complete the process by providing your shipping & billing info, and picking a date to receive your first box.

Once signed up, there is a calendar interface where you can see what recipes your scheduled for and when; with the ability to look ahead a few weeks. HelloFresh picks your first recipes by default, but you're free to go in and change those if you'd like. The process to change recipes was a bit confusing, but after a few extra clicks I was able to figure it out.

As a subscriber, you'll get regular updates on when your next shipment is coming, and what's included. And they have an app for managing your orders on your mobile.

Where does HelloFresh Deliver?

HelloFresh delivers to all of the continental US. And through separate entities to many international locations. Unfortunately, like many other providers, Hawaii and Alaska are out of luck.

Is HelloFresh Organic?

On their website, HelloFresh acknowledges that while some of their ingredients are organic, the majority are not. Again, that's consistent with many other providers. 

HelloFresh's Quality

When I think about quality, there are two primary areas. First, how well the meal was composed or put together. Do the main elements work together, make sense and provided a balanced dish. The second area is the quality of the raw ingredients.

Overall, I liked both aspects of the HelloFresh recipes I tried. The carnitas tacos tasted really good with the right mix of spice, acid, heat and freshness from the tomato. Likewise, the steak with peppercorn sauce, the Juicy Lucy & Sriracha chicken, had good flavor, and the sides dishes worked very nicely together. The dishes made sense, and it's food I'd happy cook.

I do take minor exception to calling the taco recipe "carnitas", which are traditionally slow roasted pork shoulder/butt. Instead, HelloFresh provided ground pork, and I understand why. It can take a full day to make good, traditional carnitas; and they are not selling a full day in the kitchen. At the same time, calling these carnitas is a bit of a bait and switch. Although admittedly, not a huge deal.

The bigger deal is the quality of one of the steaks I got. While every other ingredient that came, met or exceeded my expectations, one of the steaks was pretty grizzled; with about 20% not really edible at all. It's pretty when the "star" of the plate is also the weakest part of the meal.

The only other issue I had was with the Juicy Lucy burger. It tasted really good. Was easy to make. But it's the one recipe that I felt was a small portion, with just a medium sized burger and a side salad. I think that's going to leave many folks still hungry.

Everything else was great, and I actually really liked the recipes. But I definitely consider the steak strike one, and would really have higher standards for the proteins.

HelloFresh's Variety

When you sign up for the Classic plan, you'll have about 15 meal choices every week, which is a good breadth of selections, and in line with most of the premium meal kit providers.

In the few weeks that I've been looking at the menu choices, they've got a decent variety of chicken, pork, steak and pasta dishes, but seem to light on the seafood, particularly fish. And while I do typically see some Asian/Latin American options, most of the recipes seem to orient around "American" fare.

If you've signed up for the Veggie or Family choices, your options are far more limited. The Veggie folks only get three choices per week, and those in the Family plan have 6 (most of which you'll also find on the Classic menu).

HelloFresh's Simplicity

As with many things "Simplicity" is going to be in the eye of the beholder. The recipes I made, and the directions were not very complex, nor did they required any advanced cooking techniques.

The directions were clear and simple, with the exception of one miss on the temp the oven needed to be at. The cook times on the cards were fairly accurate and it took me the time advertised to get the meals cooked.

HelloFresh does advertise a desire to make cooking fun and easy, and part of that is making things simple. However, they don't seem to go to extremes to limit the number of ingredients and provide "the simplest meals out there".

Looking though most of the recipes on the weekly menus, most of them suggest a cooking time of about 40 minutes. And I'm sure an experienced home cook will probably nail those times. However, my guess is that most people are going to need 10 - 15 minutes longer than suggested.

Is HelloFresh Kid Friendly?

Looking through the meals, I'd say most everything under the Family plan is very kid friendly. For example this week they are featuring, a pizza, a couple chicken recipes, a breaded pork cutlet and some pasta.

I think most kids would be up for just about all of that.

My guess is you're going to have a tougher time on the veggie plan, 2) Because it's a veggie plan, and 2) there are only 3 options.

The other important thing to consider if you have older kids is portion sizes. While my kids aren't there yet, I've heard about (and in fact used to be one) teenagers who can eat a whole side of beef. I find the portions perfect, but you're often going in for seconds, you may be looking for more.

Overall

My I overall experience with HelloFresh was good, but I was not blown away.

The registration & ordering process was not hard, but it did have a few steps that I had to think about/try a couple times before I was able to get what I wanted.

The shipment came as expected, and everything was packaged and organized very well. But I had a quality issue with one of the steaks that came - which is a significant quality issue.

Once the meals were cooked, I did really like the flavors that came out, and the dishes made a lot of sense - all the components worked together well. But again, there were a couple minor missteps on the directions on the recipe card.

I had a good experience and I'm comfortable recommending them, but I wasn't so blown away that I'd suggest trying HelloFresh above all the others.

Let me know what you think!

Review of HelloFresh Meal Kits

About HelloFresh

Founded in 2011 in Berlin, Germany, HelloFresh is an international food company with a presence in presence in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland. The company provides meal-kits that contain everything required for weeknight meals delivered to the subscribers’ door. Customers have the option to customize their delivery times to fit their schedules. 

HelloFresh features 15 chef-curated weekly recipe options, with Classic, Veggie, and Family Plans. “The Capsule Menu By Lauren Conrad" is also available, which consists of meals from the reality star and fashion designers own recipe box. Sample meals include Figgy Balsamic Pork, Chicken Cheddar Fajitas, Mediterranean Baked Veggies, Southwestern Beef Tacos, and Scallops Over Truffled Mushroom Risotto. 

All seafood is sustainably sourced and most meals are nut and egg-free. Each kit contains proteins and other ingredients sourced “straight” from the farm, easy-to-follow instructions, and fridge-friendly packaging. Meal plan costs are:

Classic Plan
2 people, 2 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $7.99 shipping
2 people, 3 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $5.99 shipping
2 people, 4 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $5.99 shipping
4 people, 3 recipes per week, $7.49/serving + $5.99 shipping

Veggie Plan
2 people, 3 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $5.99 shipping
4 people, 3 recipes per week, $6.99/serving + $5.99 shipping

Family Plan
4 people, 2 recipes per week, $7.87/serving + $5.99 shipping
4 people, 3 recipes per week, $7.49/serving + $5.99 shipping

Customers can skip any delivery week and they may cancel their subscription at any time. 

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