One side effect of Mom losing the control of her right hand is that Dad has to step up to the plate to make dinner in my house. As Oliver says, “Daddy is good at peanut butter and jelly and pizza.” True enough, but we definitely don’t want to eat only that for the six weeks I’m going to be recovering. Thankfully, we just had a great experience with Hello Fresh so we have a healthier option to get us through the next few weeks. Note: As usual, this isn’t any kind of paid endorsement – just me telling you about something I liked that I spent my own $$ on.
All of the ingredients come in a box with a huge ice pack, so everything is fresh. The ingredients for each meal (minus any raw meat/fish) are enclosed in a box within the box with the recipe title on it, nutritional information and a card with step by step instructions for each recipe, as well as a list of all of the ingredients in case you mixed things up. Note that there are some things in the box that need refrigeration and some that don’t, so be sure to open the box. The meats are at the very bottom of the big box, beneath a cardboard divider to keep everything separate.
Some of the things we loved about Hello Fresh:
- Darrell really likes the specific, step by step instructions. They help him streamline things by knowing what order to do things in to optimize your time. It generally takes Darrell hours to cook a meal (for anything other than the grill, I’m not exaggerating here) but he’s been able to get these done in about an hour at most – some have been less. The one that I’ve cooked so far (very little chopping, so I could manage it) took about 30 minutes. Very doable!
- Everything is put together for you, down to the cutest little bottle of soy sauce you’ve ever seen. Note: This might be considered a little wasteful, in terms of excess packaging, but Oliver loves the little bottles so they get reused in his toy kitchen! The box includes the main and dishes, so you don’t have think of what you’ve going to serve with any of it and don’t have to hunt for random ingredients other than olive oil, salt and pepper.
- So far, they’ve tasted great! Even Oliver has liked them. They’ve also been reasonably healthy. We’ve enjoyed the taste but especially the fact that the things that put these dishes over the top for us are little, anybody-could-do-it things like fresh lemon zest or a quick sauce. It’s definitely got us thinking of food differently and I think will improve our normal home cooking.
- The portions are reasonably (even generously, as you can see below) sized. We get the four person serving sizes for our two and a half people and have had leftovers for lunch every time. We could probably switch down to a 2 person serving and still have plenty for the three of us.
There are, of course, a couple of drawbacks.
- It’s an automatic renewal process, so if you don’t remember to turn it off, you’ll get boxes of food when you’re not expecting them. I’d forgotten to turn this week off and now Darrell and Oliver have a box of food to cook while I’m away in Memphis. I confess, I’m okay with them having something sort of healthy to cook instead of relying on the usual pizza and PB&J. Now I’ve gone through and turned them all off in the app for the foreseeable future and will only go in to turn one on if I specifically want it.
- We had one box arrive with a hole in one of the two packages of fish so we couldn’t use it. The parsnips in that box were also disappointingly shriveled. That said, out of three boxes so far, this was an anomaly. Everything else has been very fresh. Also, when I contacted HelloFresh about this box, they gave me a $60 credit with apologies and no questions asked.
- Cost, of course, is always a concern. This is more than I’d spend on groceries normally ($10/person/meal), but we’re not wasting food and are spending less than we’d spend if we were eating out every night while I’m injured. It would also be worth it in busy months where I don’t have time for normal cooking and meal planning, especially as we’re eating healthier food than if we were eating out. I’d definitely look online for a coupon before you try it out if you’re interested, so you can get it a little cheaper at least the first time.
Ultimately, the biggest advantage for us is the fact that Darrell can cook them and enjoys it. That is a huge win and load off of my shoulders. We’ve also tried a Blue Apron box, which was more exotic in terms of ingredients and combinations. One of the two recipes in our Blue Apron box was a win (blackened chicken over rice with kale and citrus fruits) and one was not (a pasta with a cauliflower/caper/currant sauce that was bland).
I prefer this approach to the EatFitGo option we tried for healthier take out last fall. This is more food and a better price, so I think we’ll keep this in our rotation occasionally both for the sake of convenience and to introduce us to new recipes. After all, one of my goals this year was to cook more.
Have you tried one of the meal-kit-in-a-box options? What did you like about it? Anybody else hear that there is now a Tom Brady version you can try if you want to eat like Tom?