I pride myself on the fact that I can retain TED talk levels of detail about the things I love (and I like to inflict them, unsolicited, on the people I love!). My evangelical zeal for HelloFresh is one such TED talk that will never see the light of day. Until, well, now.
For way too long my husband and I have been grimly aware that we were wasting criminal amounts of food and money - throwing food away or putting it in the halfway house "Neverland," what we call the freezer, only for it to remain in its icy home and never see the light of day again.
There are a lot of opinions floating around about this type of service, but as someone who has been using HelloFresh for more than a year, I wanted to give you the proper, user-tested lowdown. So, here's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (I binged watched Law and Order last week) about HelloFresh.
The Skill Level
Even if you're not a confident cook, HelloFresh makes it easy thanks to their step-by-step recipe cards with photos to show you precisely what you should be doing.
A top tip would be to make sure you read ahead – I've been caught out a few times getting stuck into prepping veg without realizing the next step meant that I should also have been pre-heating the oven/roasting some seeds/some other such task. The recipes also don't require a lot of cooking equipment, typically just the essentials and – where anything fancy is necessary – they offer workarounds based on what you have (no garlic crusher? No problem!)
What's on the menu?
Each week you can choose from their changing weekly menu of 20 recipes.
Some of their recipes are super quick - their Rapid range has dinner in 20 minutes or less (the 10 minute 'Extra Rapid' recipes are a game-changer), and the others are mostly prepped and on the table in 30 minutes.
It also caters for all palates and tastes (yes, even fussy eaters!) and you can try things you'd probably never commit to in the supermarket, or gamble on in a restaurant!
I have to admit, using HelloFresh has also helped us reduce our meat intake, as some of the vegetarian options have really caught our eye and taken us out of our comfort zone.
The Taste Test
For people like us who (maybe pretentiously) consider ourselves foodies, I wasn't expecting the recipes at HelloFresh to be as delicious as they are. Their spices and curry pastes are a real fave of mine and are tastier than anything I'd find in the supermarket. If you're not really into spices or prefer a simpler taste, you can leave out anything you don't like.
Lower Carbon Footprint
When the food tastes as good as it does, you have to notice the quality of the ingredients you're cooking with. Sourced from local farms and butchers, the vegetables are typically from what's in season – nice if you care about your food's carbon footprint and if you want to get into the habit of using what is readily available and reasonably priced. The meat, in particular, has consistently impressed us. We've had a few limp looking veggies in our box (as you would in a supermarket!), but we've always been refunded by the customer service team.
When it comes to the box, I like that all the ingredients are pre-portioned (down to the little spice pots!), which means there is never any worry of having leftover food lurking in the fridge.
We're often working late during the week, so our box usually arrives when we're out, but ingredients are kept fresh and cool with a smart insulated pouch filled with ice packs (this is for things like meat, fish, dairy, etc.) We've found an incredible range of uses for the ice packs, from cold compresses on champagne inflicted injuries to using them as 'cold water bottles' in the armageddon-Esque heatwave.
The Captain is not included – sorry!
Commitment-phobe? No worries...
You choose your delivery window, which is not as narrow as I would like but, the delivery team sends you regular email updates on the status of your box's delivery.
If you fancy a week or two off, you can easily pause your deliveries (just make sure you do it on the Tuesday before your next delivery!). Also, if you don't know what you're in the mood - or will be in the mood - for one week, they will send you their 'chef choice' recipes, which is like getting a lucky dip!
You can pause or cancel your subscription at any time (unlike some subscriptions I have signed up for!!), so if you're a bit of a commitment-phobe, fear not.
Deals are out there so you can give it a good trial: we got our first 4 boxes on discount, which was a pretty amazing deal on a cost per portion. We were fairly convinced we'd enjoy the trial then stop, but the recipes were so good, and it just fit into our lives so easily, that we still have our subscription.
I cannot even begin to calculate the saving in terms of food waste. Pre-HelloFresh we were always throwing away the fourth chicken breast in the packet because we only needed two but four was 'better value,' but now we get exactly what we need for the meal, and spices at a pinch (like saffron) that we'd never have bothered to buy in bulk. The portion sizes are varied; typically, the pasta dishes leave enough leftovers for the next day (not for me, but I understand this is the case for people who have impulse control).
Some have been on the small side and more suited to lunch than an evening meal. That said, you might be surprised how full you are (if you're like me and your eyes can be bigger than your stomach…) and it's actually taught me a lot about portion control – particularly when it comes to rice, that I can now miraculously always cook the right amount of.
So, this is my love letter to HelloFresh, one of the best decisions I have made from a cooking point of view. Admittedly it is not for everybody, but if you value your time and have the means to afford it, it's incredibly good value.