Winter Meals: Hello Fresh Review
Since about February 2017, Terry and I have been ordering Blue Apron. The concept of food being delivered straight to your door with all ingredients included for healthy, tasty recipes intrigued me. I always thought that whenever I wanted to make a special recipe, it cost me TONS of money to buy all the ingredients, especially the special ones. I would walk out of the grocery store with a $100 bill for one meal, wondering why everyone thought it was cheaper to eat at home. For me, I'd rather go out to dinner! I liked the idea of three special recipes that I could make and eat at home for $60 a week (believe me, this is a deal if you are only cooking these recipes for two--or in some cases, just one!!). Purchasing speciality ingredients, ingredients I did not have, or consistently stocking up on basics continually cost me money.
I became a fan of Blue Apron, as I was able to make delicious, restaurant quality dishes ON MY OWN! I learned to cook and was able to eat healthy, whether I was cooking for myself or for Terry and me. This is a great option for single people, couples, families (to teach your kids different flavors), or those who want to improve healthy eating habits or portion control.
After doing Blue Apron for about a year and taking off during the summer when my garden was in bloom, I began to wonder about all these other meal delivery options that were out there. I heard great things about Hello Fresh and Plated, yet there was Home Chef, Sun Basket, and even one from Martha Stewart! I only experienced Blue Apron--was there a better or more cost effective option?!
As a result, and because of my blog, I thought it would be great to try ALL of them and let all of you know my true thoughts on each (and these are MY opinion--no sponsorship or ad here!). So, in the coming weeks, I will try every food service known to man (or that I know of) and feature it here on the blog. At the culmination of the experiment, I will let you know how you can best use each food service and what may be best for your lifestyle. I AM sold on this service, as it fits my lifestyle and budget, but this series is to target the positives, areas for growth, and differences between the options out there!
If you scroll to the bottom, I have also linked up some items you may need for cooking your Hello Fresh shipment. :)
HOW TO ORDER
There are so many ways to order Hello Fresh and get a deal on your first shipment. You can google it, look in your mail, or use my referral code KRINOW here. Please do NOT pay full price for your first order--you do not need to!
If you are a SmartPhone user, I have found that the best way to manage your food delivery is via the app. Be sure to download the app via your Droid or Apple.
Once you download it and begin to plan your delivery, you have the option to choose either the omnivore (meat and veggies), herbivore (for vegetarians), or the family plan (for more than 2 people). You also have the option to pick either 3 OR 4 meals for the week. As a Blue Apron user, this was a change for me, as I am so used to three meals a week. I like having the option of 4, as this could be helpful if I will be home on vacation or snowbound! Most of the time, three is more than enough when you include leftovers or nights we go out to eat (or have frozen pizza!). If you are really monitoring your food or want to cook to have multiple meals, the four meal plan may be a great option! For three meals for two people, it is $59 and change.
You have the ability to pick from 8 meal options, and you are not limited in your choices. If you would like, you have ONE premium meal to choose for an addition $5 a person. This meal likely offers higher quality ingredients and is often very tempting. From what I can see, this option can include crab, lobster, or high quality steak. I'm a red meat girl and was lucky a great steak option was available without the premium price! It looks like it depends on the week. It is an option but does not appear to be a must if you want a great meal!
My thoughts on getting the most out of Hello Fresh or any food service is to ensure you are ordering a meat or protein for each meal (e.g., fish, chicken, steak, pork). This is the best way to get the most of your money in comparison to what is costs per meal if it were just veggies or pasta. Obviously, this is not an option if you are a vegetarian, but I do think this is the way to get the most bang for your buck.
DELIVERY, PACKAGING, AND RECIPE CARDS
As my experience. with other mail delivery food services, my Hello Fresh was safely delivered and waiting for me at my front door Friday evening. I prefer Friday evenings for this type of service, as I typically cook at least two (if not all three) weekend evenings. I like having the option of a tasty Friday night dinner if I don't go out, Terry and I usually like a home cooked meal on Saturday, and who doesn't like a Sunday night dinner?! I usually use the leftovers during the week and generally have one (or two) meals to make on a weeknight.
The box was very similar to Blue Apron, but I really liked how Hello Fresh packaged the ingredients. On the bottom of the box were the meats, but each recipe had its own bag for the separate ingredients. What an ingenious idea! Instead of having to unpack all these separate ingredients and store in my refrigerator haphazardly, they were neatly packed inside of these paper bags (see photo above) that I was able to easily store in my fridge!
The recipe cards were clean, neat, and easy to read. Each recipe card explained the details and included the calories for each meal (unlike other services!). I really liked these recipe cards, as I did not miss a step of the recipe. They were clear, concise, and easy to read. In addition, the box had one extra card that listed all the nutrition facts for the meal. It is easily accessible in the box (unlike other services where you need to look for nutrition facts).
In my first box, I received a coupon for their wine service, as well as a 20% off Keurig coupon (which I will use). The coupon for the wine was $45 off your first box, which I thought might be a free box of wine, which would have totally made me purchase another Hello Fresh meal if I could have received free wine. Lo and behold, it was only about half off the wine. Their wine service is six bottles of wine a month and does not appear to be specifically tied to the particular meals you order. While I may order Hello Fresh again, I may not subscribe to the wine service. After doing some research, it equates to about $10 a wine (cheaper with the coupon but still not enough). This is not bad, but it is about equal to what I would buy at the grocery store. If I'm buying wine in bulk, I need a better price per bottle to invest. With wine sales, case discounts, coupons, rebates, and apps like Ibotta, I'm looking for a deal.
I digress...my three recipes were: Sliced Steak Tagliata, Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches, and Orange and Cashew Chicken Stirfry.
PREPARATION, COOKING, AND TASTE
Overall, here are my thoughts about these three things:
- I liked how some items were already prepared. In Blue Apron, you are making everything from scratch. This is great in some circumstances, and I have learned much from it. However, in some cases (especially when I just want to eat because I'm han-gry), I would be more than happy to skip the grating or chopping in some cases. I liked this.
- Overall, the meals were 30 minutes or less to prepare. I thought the Orange Cashew Chicken took a little longer (but I cooked in Terry's kitchen and not mine-I prefer my gas stove/oven to his electric), but overall, the prep on these was much less than other services.
- The recipes offered seemed to mimic dinners I would actually make and eat without the meal service, which I also liked. it provided me healthy recipes for normal eating. I'm not always in the mood for crazy food or a new ingredient. I like steak and pulled pork.
- For Blue Apron, all you were required to do was have salt, pepper, and olive oil on hand. Hello Fresh does not give you sugar (this is required to have) and also discriminates between using olive oil and oil (Blue Apron is purely Olive Oil). I don't mind having to use my own sugar, but it was a change. I like knowing why I may use oil vs. olive oil in cooking, as there could be a difference in flavor.
- It's Hello Fresh, and this is no joke. I thought the ingredients were super fresh and were even fresh by the time I made my last meal for the week (not always the case in other services).
Initial Thoughts of Hello Fresh:
- It is FRESH.
- Quick, easy, and realistic recipes
- Great packaging for storage in your kitchen
- Easy to follow recipe cards
- TASTY and PLEASING TO THE EYE
What I would like to see:
- Different ways of prep (why not integrate the crock pot or grill?!)
Next up, I'm going back go the basics and actually reviewing and looking at my first love, Blue Apron, with a discerning eye. Stay tuned.
If you have tried Hello Fresh or other services, please comment below!