This COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus has really changed the world and how we live. Even the basic things we take for granted like being able to go to the shop and buy meat, bread, rice and toilet paper have become difficult tasks.
We have a family of four. Two adults and two children, my son is four years old and my daughter is fourteen months old. Out of frustration of not being able to find basics in the stores like; flour, eggs, rice and mince, we decided to explore home meal kits.
In Australia, you have a plethora of different options like HelloFresh, Marley Spoon, Dinnerly and a few others I am failing to name here. Ultimately, we settled on trying out HelloFresh first.
We had avoided meal kits up until now because we prefer shopping and cooking for ourselves, and the cost of meal kits can be really expensive if you don’t get a deal. HelloFresh is notorious for their first-order offers, to the point where it is a no-brainer to give it a shot (especially in times like these).
Ask my wife or anyone that knows me well, I am a sceptical person and when we decided to try HelloFresh I was sceptical that it would be any better than cooking food ourselves. As a family of young active children who keep us busy, sometimes coming up with ideas for what to cook is actually one of the hardest parts of cooking for a family.
Before continuing, I want to point out this is not a paid review. I didn’t receive any free boxes or meals, this review is based on our own experience of trying out HelloFresh.
The Initial Experience
The ordering experience is quite smooth. Like all meal kit providers, you don’t actually get to see what options are available before going through the order process and putting in your details because the meals change on a weekly basis. We chose the Classic Plan and we opted for the two servings given our kids are not adults, they eat a lot less.
There was a decent variety of dishes to choose from, as well as a nice selection of premium meals you can add which cost extra per serving on top of the base box cost. After choosing our delivery day and timeframe, we hit submit and chose our meals. You have a little bit of time to make alterations to your box before it gets delivered. We chose a delivery between 12:00 am and 7 am, so we could wake up to the box at our door.
The selection of meals changes from week-to-week, with a selection of the meals you get included in your chosen box and the option to add one or more “premium meals” into your box for an additional cost.
If you’re sceptical about the meals, they offer their recipes up for free on their website here which is crazy. So, if you wanted to try before trying, you could theoretically buy the ingredients yourself and try out some of the meals.
The Food // Ingredients
Before we get into the recipes themselves, the packaging and coordination of the recipes themselves inside of the box are fantastic. The bags are colour/pattern coded to match the recipe cards, so you know what belongs to what recipe. Everything is nicely contained.
Now, we got the Classic Plan box but, we also added a premium meal into the box as well, the Tarragon Fillet Steak. Based on the images and recipe, we were looking forward to this one the most (we ate it last).
Houston, we have a packaging problem
Like many, as a household, we are conscious of our footprint and try minimising waste. Which is why when you open up your HelloFresh box for the first time, you might be shocked over the amount of packaging inside. From the food packaging itself to the cool gel bags keeping the cold stuff cool, there is a lot of packaging inside of the box.
However, I want to commend HelloFresh for using as much recyclable and biodegradable packaging as possible. There is actually very minimal use of single-use plastics, and the box through to the cool gel bags can be reused for other purposes.
One thing that immediately stood out was the freshness of the ingredients. The salads looked fresh, nothing was wilted or depressed looking. Onions and garlic for the dishes equally as fresh and quality of the other more expensive inclusions like meat and parmesan cheese equally impressive from a quality perspective. The fillet for the Tarragon Fillet Steak above was exceptionally trimmed and a decent portion as well, nice colouring to the meat.
Of all of the meals we got in our first box, we kept the recipe cards for all of them. In fact, just last night prior to writing this review, we tried out the Tarragon Fillet Steak recipe again, but using storebought ingredients because we loved it so much. And the only noticeable difference between ours and HelloFresh was we didn’t use the same quality parmesan cheese as they provided, but it still tasted amazing nonetheless.
One thing I want to point out is the portion sizes are HUGE, a lot bigger than we anticipated. We chose the two-person option for our family of four, between my wife and I, as well as kids, we still had instances where we had some leftover food. You get really good value for money with the Classic Box, I cannot speak for the other boxes and portions.
One thing to be aware of if you’re cooking for younger kids or people who do not have a tolerance for spice, many of the meals HelloFresh send you will contain chilli or some degree of spice. Nothing was “blow your head off” level of spice, but our 4.5 year son hates anything spicy and seems to be quite sensitive to it. Fortunately, like if you were cooking at home, leave the chilli out or only put a little bit in.
HelloFresh teaches you how to cook
Just because HelloFresh is an at-home meal kit doesn’t mean it is lazy. This is the one thing that will surprise you about HelloFresh (I can’t really speak for other kits) you learn cooking techniques you might not be accustomed to. The boxes advocate for making as much from scratch as possible, from fragrantly throwing spices into a pan to a classic French technique of cooking in butter, you will learn invaluable cooking skills.
While there are some meals which require very little time, there are some that require upwards of an hour (cooking and preparation), but I can assure you that the end result makes it all worth the while.
Is HelloFresh Expensive?
While I understand everyone has a different budget for their weekly grocery shop, the benefit of HelloFresh meals is they come with basically everything but the pantry staples like oil. For some, HelloFresh beyond the discount you get off your first box (using something like the link below) will understandably be too expensive to continue on with.
We are currently in an unprecedented time in society where the COVID-19 pandemic is causing people to lose their jobs and livelihoods through no fault of their own. For the Classic Box, you’re looking at about $10 per serving (per person), so two meals for $20. Honestly, that’s a lot cheaper than eating out, even if you get a good deal at the local pub (which nobody is right now given everything is closed).
From our perspective, we spend around $250-$300 AUD per week in household grocery expenses. Keep in mind that is for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and other snacks and pantry staples. HelloFresh really only covers the dinner component, leaving you with two other slots and two in-between spaces to fill.
If you compare HelloFresh to eating out, like I mentioned above, it works out cheaper. The quality of the meals is quite high, that they make eating out not seem like an attractive option. Even if you were to splash out for a premium meal, it would still work out cheaper than eating out.
I don’t think HelloFresh is expensive if you view it as “eating out” if you view it as a replacement to grocery shopping, that changes the perspective and equation entirely to the point where I do not think you can compare them. Another upside we appreciated is everything is portioned out, with nutritional information meaning if you’re counting calories it takes out the guesswork.
If your family is on a budget, maybe you recently lost your job or were stood down, or you know how to meal prep and enjoy grocery shopping, HelloFresh probably isn’t for you. Still, giving it a try using the generous first-order discount below might be a nice little treat, even if you cancel your subscription afterwards. A week without having to meal prep or budget might be a nice change.
If you do give it a try
If you’re interested in trying it out and getting a cheap box, using this link will knock $59 AUD off of your first order. You don’t have to use my link, I’m sure you might be able to find a deal elsewhere, but if this review helped to convince you to try it out, it would mean a lot to my family and me if you use our link if you were going to try it anyway.
If you have already tried out HelloFresh, drop a comment below and let me know how it went and if it worked out for you.