Hello, my name is Amanda. It's been over 7 months since my last blog post. I just don't have the desire or drive to really blog very often, unless it's something that I think is worth sharing. In fact, one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2015 is to share LESS on social media. There are so many moments as a family that I want to keep just as a family. I'm still active online, but just in a different way. On facebook, I mostly try to make people laugh. On Instagram, it's ALL the kid pictures, and Pinterest is just one giant list of things I wish I could afford and/or have time to do. But the blog... The blog is where I plan to share things I really find interesting, reviews of cool services, etc. Which brings me to....
You might have seen their new commercials on TV. On their website, their banner proclaims "We deliver delicious and healthy recipes with all the pre-measured ingredients to your door each week." Well, that sounds very convenient. I admit that Scott and I have been in a rut when it comes to cooking ever since the holidays. We're so tired at the end of each day that even deciding what to have for dinner was starting to become a monumental chore. When a $40 off coupon was advertised for HelloFresh, I decided to jump on it. There are other similar services out there (Blue Apron, Plated), and all offer promotional deals when you first sign up. However, after looking at all the menu options on each site, I thought the ones on Hello Fresh sounded the most appetizing.
HelloFresh is normally $69 per week for a Classic Box. That's three dinners a week for two people. The Vegetarian Box is slightly cheaper. So my first week was only $29 with my coupon. Heck of a deal for three meals. The other good thing about HelloFresh is that you can customize your deliveries. Say you only want to do it every once in a while. You can log into your account and select which weeks you want to receive meals. You can even preview the menu a week ahead and decide if anything looks appetizing to you, and skip if not.
With the Classic Box, you have the option to pick 3 of 5 presented recipe options. I chose:
1. Shrimp Jambalaya
2. Lamb Meatball Pitas
3. Wild Mushroom Fettuccine
All the meals come packed in a large insulated box with big, reusable ice packs. I was a little disappointed in the labeling. I eventually figured out which was which meal because most of the ingredients for one meal are packed all together. All of the above ingredients in the picture were packed together for the Shrimp Jambalaya. As you can see, the spices are not labeled, which is important since you need to use a teaspoon of chili powder, but only a pinch of cayenne pepper. We had to do a little smell test to figure out which was which. And we might have guessed wrong because...
Our Shrimp Jambalaya ended up being WAY too spicy. I only used a tiny pinch of the cayenne pepper, but it was so hot we couldn't even finish our meals. And this is coming from two people who LIKE heat in their food. Even Scott, who is prone to ordering the "Dragon's Tongue" or "Devil's Pitchfork" on any and every menu, found this to be way too hot. It's disappointing because this made enough for three meals. Too bad we couldn't even finish our portions.
The other disappointment with this one was missing ingredients. My package was missing both the scallions for the top and the stock concentrate - which I had to steal from my Wild Mushroom Fettucine package. I ended up adding some chives to the top instead which I had on hand. Hello Fresh meals assume you have nothing in your house other than olive oil, salt and pepper.
Our next meal we tried was the Lamb Meatball Pitas with a side of Sautéed Zucchini. It was a much more successful venture. Each card gives you a list of all the ingredients that should be included, nutritional information, recipe, and expected prep/cook time. All of these meals had a combined prep and cook time of about 40 minutes, which seemed pretty accurate.
The ground lamb was something we don't normally use to cook with, but we do love it in our traditional gyros we always get when we buy Greek take out. I actually really liked the herbs and the flavor of the zucchini side - I wish there had been more! The pitas were whole wheat and all the flavors in this meal tasted very fresh. I felt like I was eating a very healthy, well rounded meal. The tzatziki sauce was fine, but I think we make a better version on our own. Our own version uses fresh minced cucumbers and mint and garlic, but no lemon. Luckily, there were no missing ingredients for this meal.
Our last meal was the Wild Mushroom Fettuccine. I was a little worried about this one because of the no-meat factor. Scott likes meat in his meals, although I could take it or leave it. I actually sometimes prefer for there to be less meat in a meal. More of a side note than the starring attraction. However, Scott actually did eat all of his and said it was pretty good. This one also made enough for three meals.
Since I had stolen the stock concentrate from this meal to make my jambalaya, I substituted 1/2 cup of chicken stock I had in the fridge for the stock concentrate and 1/2 cup of water the recipe called for. I really liked the fresh lemon and herbs in this one!
Overall, I was happy with the HelloFresh experience, and it was a fun change up to our normal routine.
The pros of Hello Fresh:
• Great for lazy times since everything is already portioned out and prepackaged.
• Perfect for trying new recipes and using ingredients you might not normally consider - a good way to get out of the habit of making the same meals over and over.
• Saves you from buying a bunch of random herbs or ingredients when you only need a small amount of a certain thing.
• Good solution to the never ending debate about what to have for dinner.
• Great for novice chefs, since the recipes are very simple to follow.
• Ability to choose between recipes and preview upcoming deliveries.
• Ability to customize your delivery times and manage your subscription account online.
• Lots of options for special diets - gluten free, nut free, etc.
• The quality of the produce and meat is very high!
The cons of HelloFresh:
• If your package arrives missing ingredients, you may be SOL.
• If you're an experienced home cook, some of the flavors and recipes might be a little too simplistic (although if you're like me you can just add extra spices, etc. to your dish if you have them on hand. I added about an ounce of Boursin Spreadable Herb cheese to the Mushroom Fettuccine dish to make it a little creamier).
• The price of regular weekly delivery is a little spendy at $69/week.
• You don't actually save any time prepping your dinner. You still have to chop all the vegetables and herbs, measure out spices, brown meat, etc. The only time saver is not having to go to the grocery store or gather ingredients at home.
• The fact that everything is individually packaged = a lot of trash. Luckily we can recycle all the plastic. I also imagine if you get a delivery every week, you're going to be breaking down a lot of cardboard boxes.
Do you want to try HelloFresh for yourself? You can use referral code 4ANF4E to get $40 OFF your first box! $29 for three meals really is an awesome deal. I'd love to hear if you try it and what you think!
*this post contains referral links. I was not compensated for my review, and all opinions are my own.