Is HelloFresh Worth It?
I don’t remember what convinced me to take the plunge, but about six months into the pandemic lockdown, I decided to try HelloFresh.
I had grown tired of cooking the same six meals from my limited imagination. As a result, Daniel and I were spending far more on delivery than we could reasonably afford. We decided to take advantage of a HelloFresh intro deal, reasoning that 1. we could always cancel after the promotional period was over and, 2. if we liked it, it was still less expensive than delivery.
But, we didn’t end up canceling. Instead, I cooked dozens of HelloFresh recipes over the course of a year-and-a-half.
Why I Like Hello Fresh
Each week, HelloFresh sends a notification reminding you to customize your meals. You can elect to receive two to six meals per week. You can choose to order for two or four people, and select between special menus like Calorie Smart, Family Friendly, Pork-Free, or Vegetarian. Then, choose your delivery window and get to work choosing from more than a dozen weekly options.
Daniel and I order two meals per week. We tried the Calorie Smart and really liked it, but now we’re trying out the Meat & Veggie options.
Your order will arrive in a cardboard box containing a cardboard cooler insert, a recyclable/reusable ice pack, and your meal ingredients packaged in individual paper bags for ease of preparation. Unlike a lot of meal prep kits, HelloFresh is really intentional about reducing plastic waste. Produce is often included without extraneous packaging and many spices, concentrates, and liquids arrive in Tetra Pak or paper packaging.
HelloFresh also purchases carbon offsets for 100% of deliveries.
Prep & Cooking
Like I mentioned above, I’m not a particularly creative cook. I grew up in a house where my mom cooked because she was expected to. And as a result, cooking for the family carried a lot of anxiety and occasional resentment. I viewed cooking as bowing to the patriarchy until I discovered I actually enjoyed it in my mid-20s.
I didn’t expect to like HelloFresh as much as I do. What’s great about it is that you are provided a very thorough recipe sheet along with precisely measured ingredients so the prep phase (mise en place) is simplified – which is half the battle really. In a way, I feel like HelloFresh subtly teaches you to cook. I have now gotten into the habit of prepping all my ingredients before I turn on burners or start cooking; it reduces the panic.
They also do a really good job of timing everything so components are done at approximately the same time, and encourage you to plate just so, which is an artistic component I enjoy.
Flavor & Portion Size
Of course, none of this would be worth it if the food wasn’t good. But the food is really good. Like, I’m so impressed it’s possible to make restaurant-complex food at home. And even more so that I’m the one who made it.
I have also found the portions to be just right. I thought about buying the four-person portions for the benefit of leftovers, but I appreciate the precise portioning and the way it helps me understand when I’m full. There’s a calorie count on each recipe card, too, so you can know how much you’re consuming if that’s important to you.
Quirks & Downsides
HelloFresh is obsessed with ginger and lime. It’s become a kind of joke in our household to talk about how many limes they sent this week. They must get a good deal on bulk limes.
They ship with Fedex – at least in the CT area – who do a notoriously terrible job of delivering to the right house or notifying residents about delivery. One week they delivered to a house five doors down from me and the neighbor didn’t notice until almost two days later, by which time the meat had gone bad.
One thing that has seemed to help is contacting HelloFresh to ask them to write delivery notes on your account. I haven’t had issues since that incident.
Price & Discounts
Then, there’s the price. After promotional periods end, each meal costs $10.99 plus $6.99 delivery. While more expensive than buying your own groceries, it still ends up being cheaper than ordering delivery once you factor in service fees and tip.
I would definitely recommend taking advantage of short-term promotions if only to benefit from the refined process HelloFresh helps you develop. The recipe cards are very clear, as well, so if you really like something, you can repurchase the ingredients on your own and make it for less money.
If you’re a student, you can sign up for UniDays and get an unlimited 15% off plus free shipping, which gets the weekly price down to $37.37 if you purchase two meals for two people. Just keep in mind that you can only apply one discount per account, so be smart about which discounts you opt into.
Check the HelloFresh website for promotions!
So, is HelloFresh worth it?
For me, yes, it has been worth it. But keep in mind that I’m using the student discount, which helps me justify the price on my student budget.
Thanks to HelloFresh, I feel a lot more confident in the kitchen and more capable of developing my own recipes and flavor profiles. When I’m back to in-person school, I may not feel like I have the time or motivation to cook as much. But in pandemic times, it has been a welcome respite.
See my Public Goods and Imperfect Foods review here.