Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hello Fresh - Subscription Review

The box is giant!
I love a subscription box!  Seriously, send me a box of miscellaneous stuff and I'm all in.  I've subscribed to Birchbox, ipsy, MyIreland, Le Tote, Stitch Fix and FabFitFun. Then I started seeing all the ads for the different dinner subscriptions and while I was intrigued I just didn't see it working for me.  For one thing I was cooking for 4 to 5 people and for another most of the people I'm cooking for are ridiculously picky.

But then all of a sudden I was only cooking for 2 actual people and 1 child who mostly exists on air AND I was in the middle of a serious cooking slump.  I mean I did still cook but I definitely wasn't feeling it - especially when you throw in list making and grocery shopping.  So when my sister-in-law mentioned that they'd had a really great experience with Hello Fresh AND Anna at Herding Cats and Burning Soup posted her positive review the next day I figured it was a sign.  So I signed up and I gotta say - I've been loving it!

What It Is:

Essentially a subscription box of 3 meals.  Everything you need for those 3 meals (with the exception of the very basics - salt, pepper, olive oil) is included along with detailed recipe cards.  You can pick what meals are in your box or skip a week all together.  I've found the ingredients of good quality and the meat is labeled as to where it came from and is antibiotic and hormone free.
The Meal Box - Everything but the protein is in here

Why Sign Up:

For me, I've enjoyed having someone else do the shopping and planning for me.  It's nice to have all the ingredients I need for one meal all together.  Plus, choosing from their menus has shaken me out of my slump a bit.  I've also found that I'm willing to try different techniques because I'm following instructions and everything is right in front of me.

After my success, my mother signed up for the service as well.  Her husband is not a very confident cook but his commute is much shorter than hers.  Having everything together and the detailed recipes has made it easier for him to have dinner on the table when she gets home and has kept them from eating out as much.
Inside of the box 

The Good:

Some of my favorite meals so far:
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Potatoes and Zucchini - Probably not the most unique meal but the flavors were amazing!  
Bacon Apple Breakfast Pizza - This I got just for me and I'm glad because I did not want to share!  Between the apple, the ricotta, the balsamic onions and the bacon I just couldn't get enough.
Chicken Lo Mein with Carrots and Green Beans - The sauce was restaurant quality and the udon noodles were amazing.  
Hunan Cumin Beef Stir Fry - I had never really done anything with cumin seeds before so I thought that was interesting.  The flavor combination was delicious and unusual and made for a yummy bowl of food.

The Bad:

While none of the meals I've gotten have been really bad there were a few that I probably wouldn't get again.
Winning Pork Medallions - This has Brussels Sprouts which we decided we just weren't fans of and I thought the Tarragon Cream Sauce was a little heavy on the Tarragon.
Sesame Beef Tacos - I liked the pickled veggies but not sure I liked the red cabbage mixed with the ground beef on my tacos.
The Recipe Card - Lots of pictures and clear instructions.  Everything you need for the recipe is listed on the left hand side

When Something Goes Wrong:

No company is perfect but for me the main thing is how a mistake is handled.  On my 2nd box the proteins were left out completely.  Luckily, UPS gets to my house pretty late so I wasn't planning on having one of the meals for dinner and I could run by the grocery store the next day so my meals weren't ruined but it's still not okay.  I emailed their customer service that evening and within 30 minutes I had an email from a person with an apology and a credit for a free box which left me a pretty satisfied customer!  

Other Issues:

I've noticed these subscriptions (not just Hello Fresh but all the meal subscriptions) seem to be ridiculously controversial on social media so I thought I'd respond to some of the biggest complaints.
Amount of packaging - There's a decent amount.  There's the big box it comes in, the individual box each meal comes in and the different containers plus the ice packs.  However, most of the packing material is from recycled materials and they have recycling instructions on their website.  Plus if you have kids in sports or do anything that requires a cooler those ice packs are reusable and pretty great.
Cost - This isn't low cost but I don't find it crazy expensive either.  For a 2 person Classic plan box it's $59 (so around $20 per meal - $10/serving).  I can definitely eat cheaper if I really try but it's definitely cheaper than getting a similar quality meal at a restaurant.  Plus I do notice a corresponding decrease in my grocery bill on the weeks when we have a Hello Fresh box.
Processed or Flavorless Food - This seems to come up a LOT and I think most people who complain about this don't understand what the service is.  You're actually cooking so you're in control of salt and pepper or any other seasoning.  As for processed foods I haven't seen much of it.  If a recipe calls for a zucchini I pull an actual whole zucchini out of the box.  

Overall:

I've really enjoyed my Hello Fresh subscription and get excited anytime the box arrives.  We don't get it every week but only on weeks where the meal selection has 3 we really want to try.  So far that seems to be 2 or 3 times a month.  Something about having everything all together makes cooking seem easier and more fun.  Not to mention it's encouraged my husband and myself to try new things and we've found a few new favorites!  

If you'd like to try a box for $20 you can use my link for the discount.  They have a few different options including a vegetarian box.  There's no contract or anything so no worries if you decide after 1 box that it isn't for you.   If you do try it I'd love to hear what you think and your favorites!

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads



18 comments:

  1. We tried it and I like it but the cost was too much for me. I will say their package is great, even the lone egg needed for one meal was wrapped well and fresh. We still prepare one of the meals in a rotation.

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  2. I did Blue Apron and I loved it. However my husband is of the picky eater variety and he rarely loved the meals. It bums me out because I loved having my meals picked, shopped for and ready to go. Glad you enjoy the service!!

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  3. We use this too and have had a pretty good experience with them. I don't mind the price because it's about what we'd pay to eat out and it has encouraged me to try new ways of cooking. I will say that I pick and choose, based on ingredients. We don't do brussels sprouts or cabbage or kale, but sometimes I just leave ingredients out. We don't eat garlic (makes my husband sick) and so I toss that as well.

    I've read some of the complaints about packaging too. I will say that I live in hot country and in order to keep things fresh and cold, all the ice packs, etc., is needed. I did have one bad experience last year. The delivery person (UPS, I think) left the box in front of our garage doors (though the instruction is to place on the porch). It was in full late afternoon sun. Stuff was melted and the meat had leaked inside. I was grossed out completely, but contacted them and also got a credit for the box. It's been fine over the winter, but we'll see how it goes as we move into summer. They deliver to me pretty late in the evening too. Wonder if that's on purpose. I also like the 'skip' feature. We're skipping right now, but will likely start up again before long.

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  4. I've been so curious about these boxes, but I'm a picky shopper -- I really look over every fruit and veggie to make sure I'm getting fresh, unbruised food. I worry about quality. Also we have a couple food allergies and I'm concerned about cross-contamination. But I should look into this for my mom -- it'd be great if she didn't have to shop but could still cook with fresh ingredients.

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  5. Sounds like a great option for many people, especially with full schedules, working, etc. I'd like to try one, if they deliver to Hawaii??

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  6. Your experience is very useful, as almost all of the reviews I have read were either paid ads or were from people with free boxes so they would review it, while you seem to have made the decision to buy and pay for what you received. Your view seems to be that they not only make the list and do the shopping, but it's also a RECIPE service where they introduce new menus.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  7. I need to give this a try - we have a couple of services like this - but they operate on the basis that you sign up for a number of meals and can't choose individual dishes . Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

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  8. Looks interesting, and it's always good to spruce up the menu plans once in a while. Sounds like they do most things right. The Hunan cumin stir fry sounds yummy...

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  9. I looks like you are having good success with the service and it's nice to read a real review on it. ;-)

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  10. I am using this in the UK - perhaps 1-2 boxes a month for me and my two boys. We get to eat for a full week from a box, more or less, so it compares favourably to the supermarket shopping and gives me lots of new ideas and minimum hassle. Some of the recipes have become huge favourites, but my boys are fussy so don't like everything. And I adapt the level of spiciness accordingly. They also take away packaging for recycling when they deliver. So all in all, highly recommended.

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  11. I've been so curious about meal subscription boxes. Thanks for sharing your experience. Have to say the breakfast pizza got my attention!

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  12. I like that it's a fun way of adding new ingredients to your diet. And trying out new recipes, without having to track down unfamiliar ingredients in the supermarket. But to be honest, it sounds very expensive to me. I think it's something I'd like to try but not do long term. It was really interesting to read about your experience though.

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  13. I don't think that any of these boxes would work for my family but I think they sound great if I were buying for just me. My husband and daughter both have a lot of food allergies so I would probably be eating alone anyway. Glad you are enjoying it!

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  14. I'm so glad it's been a hit! I've really enjoyed them, too. And, yes, the customer service is amazing! I've had a few issues since I started (almost 9 months) and each time they either credit me a meal or an entire box which is great.

    I've not had too much issue with the veggie price. It's about 10 per suggested meal but I always have a LOT of leftovers so probably knocks it to 5-6 per meal which for veggies...totally worth it. Those suckers are expensive! lol

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  15. I used the 2 person Classic plan from Hello Fresh for a month or so but decided not to continue with it. The food was good, but I missed going through recipes online and choosing enough for a week. Plus, I actually missed going grocery shopping.

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  16. Wow! You did a really good job of taking the guesswork out of the pros and cons, which I love. Anna always tells us how yummy these dishes are, and I love that you give some added details of what we can expect overall, outside of the yumminess. Hugs...

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  17. I had always wondered if there were vegetarian choices with these meal services. We only go shopping once a month, so I don't mind it too much. I have a meal plan and a detailed shopping list and my son and nephew go with me and it goes pretty quickly. The couple of things we might run out of Baz can easily pick up on his way home from work because Price Chopper is in the same plaza as his store. Maybe when he moves out simething like this woukd be really convenient. :)

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