I had been meaning to try out Hello Fresh for a fair while. I have received discount cards in magazines and festival goody bags, or from reps outside train stations. However, for some reason (read: sheer laziness), I hadn’t yet got around to trying it out.
So, when I attended the Wimbledon Park Food Festival and they were offering a half-price trial offer, I was pretty easily talked into giving it a go.
Hello Fresh is a weekly meal delivery service, providing the ingredients and instructions for three simple but nutritious meals. Designed to get more people into the kitchen and to reduce food waste, each recipe only takes around 30-45 minutes to prepare and the box comes with the exact measurements required for the meals so you don’t have to worry about measuring, wasting ingredient, or forgetting to pick that one thing up from the supermarket!
Cooking mostly for myself only, I opted for the two-person Veggie Box, which at half-price was just over £17. Given that this would make six meals total, it was quite the bargain!
There were two compartments within the box. One with the dry/pantry ingredients and one insulated and ice-bricked side with the perishable/refrigerator ingredients.
The box contained enough ingredients for three meals for two (or six meals for little ol’ me!).
Each meal comes with a recipe card, featuring step-by-step instructions as well as nutritional information for the dishes.
Although the meals in my box looked tasty, I was a little disappointed that all three involved (vegetarian) cheese. This is partly due to personal preference as although I am a vegetarian, I do try to eat mostly vegan, particularly for evening meals. However, I also think it shows a lack of creativity and lack of understanding of the variety available within a vegetarian diet.
My other main issue with the set meals was not being able to substitute items due to dietary requirements or preferences. With the Classic Box (including meat), you can choose your three meals from five options. But for the Veggie Box, there are only the three meals available per week. Thankfully, none of my meals contained eggs, which I have removed from my diet. Two of them did, however, contain – food of the devil – olives (which were charitably donated to my olive-loving housemate)…
That said, I did enjoy the meals overall, so here’s a brief run down of each:
Mushroom, Aubergine & Cheese Burgers with
Olive Tomato & Red Onion Salad
I’m not sure about this one being labelled as “healthy” when it’s literally dripping with brie but it sure is tasty! The roasted Portobello mushrooms and aubergine made for a hearty burger filling and the simple salad paired nicely with the indulgent main. The salad recipe called for green olives but as an olive-hater I subbed them with cherry tomatoes. This worked perfectly with the spicy chilli and balsamic dressing (which also marinated the vegetables).
Sumac Halloumi with Quinoa and Cherry Tomato Tabbouleh
This one was definitely my favourite as I am a sucker for halloumi. I had never even heard of sumac before, let alone used it, but I can now attest to its greatness. With a slight citrus tang, it paired perfectly with lemon rind to make the a delicious marinade for the halloumi. The couscous and quinoa tabbouleh was fresh and light and topped with marinated halloumi, it would make the perfect summer meal.
Sandro Petti’s Cheeky Pasta Puttanesca
This was the recipe I changed the most. Now before you call me fussy, I prefer to think of myself as someone who knows what she likes to eat and doesn’t waste time with things she doesn’t… I swapped the linguine for whole wheat penne (I can’t help that I hate the texture of noodle-y pasta…) and put the black olives and capers on my housemate’s fridge shelf instead of in the sauce.
Aside from that, the dish was tasty; very simple and more like a standard Penne Arrabiata once I’d finished with my ingredient-swapping but tasty nonetheless. Given that this dish is one that I would generally have all the ingredients for already, I wouldn’t rush back to order it again.
What I Loved:
- Convenience – a box of groceries delivered straight to my door at the time of my choosing without even having to decide what to get
- Quality produce – the ingredients were fresh, mostly organic, and stored well
- No food waste – there were exact measurements for two servings of each meal
- Great value start-up rate – at just £17 for six meals, it was a bargain
- Recipe cards – simple instructions as well as nutritional information on cards you can keep
- Introduced me to new things – I’m now a sumac convert
What I Didn’t Love:
- Lack of choice – meat-eaters choose from five meal options but vegos get what they’re given
- Too reliant on dairy – all three dishes involved cheese, which I don’t want to eat with every meal
- No substitutions – cannot state dietary requirements, allergies or preferences so you either have to accept all three meals or skip the entire week if something is not suitable
- Wasteful packaging – although the measured ingredients are handy, to me there was too much packaging waste compared to buying in bulk (eg. individual sauce pouches and and produce containers)
- Non-sale boxes quite pricey – at £36 per week, this is a little over my budget for 3-6 evening meals
Overall, I think the concept is a great one especially for busy families, people who don’t like to cook, or those who just have trouble finding inspiration for varied meals throughout the week. However, I prefer to cook inspired by what I’m in the mood for so I didn’t love having someone else choose my meals for the week, especially with no substitutions available and all dishes relying on dairy. (For the record, I’ve checked next week’s box and all meals contain cheese again so I will definitely be skipping that one.)
Helpfully, you can see the meal plans more than a week in advance so if the meals don’t look like your kind of thing, or you will be away from home, you can just skip that order. For now, I’m going to put my subscription on hold and wait until something really tempting comes up before ordering again.
My housemate (and recipient of all things I didn’t like) has actually been inspired to sign up for herself! I received a discount code to pass on, so if this is also something that you’d like to try, you can get £20 off your first order with this exclusive code: K73ZCJ (UK only), which for the smaller boxes is around half-price! Score!
Have you used Hello Fresh or any other recipe/grocery subscription service? I’d love to hear your thoughts!