Hellofresh, the freshest thing on the market
As you know, I’m always on the lookout for innovative, newfangled tools that make healthy lifestyle more achievable for everyone. When I heard about the meal-prep start-up called HelloFresh, of course I had to give the concept a whirl.
What It Is
HelloFresh was founded in 2011 by Dominik Richter and Thomas Griesel in Berlin, Germany. Ed Boyes is co-founder of HelloFresh UK and is now CEO of HelloFresh US. Ed Boyes had this cool idea of having chefs create original, healthy recipes and then assembling all the ingredients, precisely portioned out for the dishes, and shipping directly to consumers’ doorsteps. Since its arrival, the start-up has been on the up and up.
How It Works
Each week, chefs design new, original recipes, collaborating with Michelin star restaurant Aquavit. Then, subscribers browse and select from each week’s recipe menu — not just any recipes but healthy, nutritious recipes. The three meals I sampled included ingredients such as Greek yogurt, fresh arugula, garlic and onion, along with health-promoting spices such as Indian-inspired cardamom and turmeric. So you select a recipe, and delivered to your doorstep will be a padded, ice-pack-cooled box, loaded with laminated, simple recipes (we’re talking five steps or less), all of their associated ingredients, which are bagged, labeled and perfectly proportioned for each recipe.
Pro: Generous Portions
At first, looking at the individually wrapped ingredients, I was skeptical that there was enough food for two people (hey, my man, like most men, likes a hearty meal). But when my guy and I cooked two of the dishes together, we were pleased to see that each meal provided enough food to satiate us both. While this means no leftovers for lunch, it also means no waste. And HelloFresh says that typically 40 percent of our food is wasted.
Pro: Healthy, Farm-Fresh Ingredients
One of my personal favorite go-to ingredients is fresh ginger. Now, I was not asked what I wanted to try, but was just sent three sample, standard meal preps. How pleased was I to discover that each recipe included fresh ginger, along with other faves like garlic, onion and fresh herbs and spices — not to mention nonflavored Greek yogurt. It was very clear to me that whoever is putting together these recipes places good-for-you ingredients at the core of the menu.
Con: It’s a Time Commitment
These aren’t 10-minute, grab-and-go recipes. And while you won’t have to shop — and endure the hassles of traveling and line waiting — you will actually have to cook. Maybe we’re slow in the kitchen, but while each recipe was supposed to take us 30 minutes or less, each took us more like 50 minutes from prep to plate. One of the chicken recipes even had me trimming fat from the bird, which was something new to me and a bit more intensive than I expected. But I can see how this would appeal to people who really enjoy cooking and want to be involved in preparing the food they are eating, handling the ingredients, peeling, mixing and chopping. If you’re more of a rip open bag; dump; and, eat type, this isn’t for you. If you’re a couple who enjoys whipping up your dinner together over a glass of wine after a long day, then done! Date night to your doorstep.
Con: You Do the Dishes
Obviously, when you come home from work exhausted and place a call to your fave neighborhood restaurant, your dinner also arrives on your doorstep … all hot and prepared for you, complete with utensils and containers you can just use and toss. Yes, this is wasteful and we’d rather not go this route, but we all know there are those nights when you’re just too tired to care. You just don’t want to lift another finger to prepare food — or clean the dishes afterward!
Pro: You’ll Learn to Cook … Seamlessly
If your New Year’s resolution involves learning how to prepare your own healthy meals at home, you’d no doubt greatly benefit from trying out a nutritious meal-prep service like HelloFresh. That’s because you get to keep the easy-to-follow, slickly laminated and designed recipes. Just by following the recipes you will start to see what healthy ingredients health nuts routinely buy and have around (hint: think garlic, onion and lemon juice). Once you have the recipes, you don’t necessarily need to keep buying the delivered ingredients. You with me here? These recipes are so simple and clear, they really can turn anyone into a healthy cook.
Con: It Ain’t Cheap
As with many health-boosting, convenience-minded services, ordering a recipe/ingredient box from HelloFresh will set you back a shiny penny. So, here’s what you need to know. While the website will tell you meals start from $11, and they do, at the moment, you have to order a minimum of three meals together, which will arrive packaged in one large box. Boxes are for two or four people, with or without meat, delivered each Wednesday or Thursday (depending on which of the participating 30 states you’re in).
In terms of pricing, all meals are $9.99 per serving, making a Classic Box with 3 meals for 2 people $59.94.
As with all spending, it’s all about the comparisons. If you’d otherwise be dining out or ordering out and tacking on tips, you may save. However, if you’re used to buying and pricing out healthy ingredients, then you may be spending more. For example, one of the ingredients in one of our meals was a can of Goya garbanzo beans. Now, what came to my mind? Well, if you know a bit about health, a bit about food shopping, and the sport of saving money, you know that beans are one of the most underrated superfoods out there, and cans of Goya beans are quite cheap. It’s worth pointing out, though, that our three meals also came with fresh chicken, shrimp and beef. Tip: while there is no minimum requirement for subscriptions, you must give one week’s notice if you want to stop receiving boxes.
Hey, I’m all for trying new things, but don’t take my word for it. If a healthy lifestyle is something you’re striving to get closer to this year, a meal-prep delivery service like HelloFresh, or one of its competitors (like Blue Apron or Fresh Dish), is certainly worth a try.