HelloFresh Meal Kit Review
HelloFresh is the largest meal kit company in the world. Since its inception in 2011, HelloFresh has expanded to 16 countries. In 2021, the company has delivered one billion meals and generated a net revenue of $8.1 billion CAD. As of Q3 2022, HelloFresh has 7.5 million active members. These figures demonstrate HelloFresh’s popularity. I’ve seen many ads for HelloFresh, but it was admittedly at the bottom of my list for meal kit companies to try. But after seeing the stats, I wanted to see whether HelloFresh lives up to the hype. So, I signed up for a plan and ordered some of their recipes. After using HelloFresh for one week, I have positives and negatives thoughts on my experience. Below is my in-depth review on HelloFresh.
Pros and cons
Delicious recipes that are easy to make
No gluten-free recipes. Vegan recipes have limited availability
Expanded menu (e.g., breakfast meals, grocieres, prepared meals etc.)
Diverse menu (e.g., low carb, calorie smart, customizable meals etc.)
Website and recipe bags base nutrional info on different portion sizes. Can create confusion
Helpful recipe cards
Well designed packaging
New member discounts
Available in every Canadian province
User friendly website
HelloFresh uses a flexible subscription service that lets users skip weeks free of charge. Any changes to your order must be made by 11:59 PM (PST) four days before your delivery. This date is indicated on the menu selection page at the top left-hand corner. Meals can be selected up to six weeks.
Note: HelloFresh is not recommended for people with extreme food allergies. HelloFresh cannot guarantee that cross contamination does not take place when kits are packaged. Potential allergens are listed for each recipe.
Price and availability
HelloFresh delivers to every Canadian province. This a major plus over competitors like Chefs Plate or Goodfood. Contact the HelloFresh customer support team to check if you are in the company’s delivery area.
There are two plans offered by HelloFresh. One is for two people, while the other is for four. With each plan, you either order three, four, or five recipes per week. The price per serving and box price depends on the plan you select. I selected three recipes per week for 2 people. My box price was $73.00. The cost will be higher if you select more recipes for more people. There is $9.99 shipping fee added on to your bill. In Newfoundland, the fee is $19.98. With this additional fee, my total order cost $82.99. HelloFresh has discounts for new users, which applies to your first three boxes. I got $50.00 off my first delivery. The delivery fee was also waived. This discount lowered the cost to $32.99.
Some of the prices were on par with the ones I saw for Goodfood. The additional shipping fee is the main difference. I wondered why HelloFresh has one while many other companies do not . To me, it seemed like an unnecessary charge.
Ordering meals and dietary variety
During sign up, HelloFresh asks you your menu preferences. The four meal categories are meat & veggies, quick & easy, veggie, and family friendly. HelloFresh provides additional meal options such as high protein, pescatarian, flexitarian, and smart meals (less than 650kcal or 50g of carbs per serving). The weekly menus will be catered to the preference you select. HelloFresh automatically selects your meals for the week. If you’re not happy with the selection, click the minus (-) symbol to remove recipes. To add a recipe or increase the number of servings, click the plus (+) symbol. Some meals are marked as custom recipes. This means you can swap or add ingredients to the meal. For example, you can swap chicken thighs with chicken breasts, or add a double serving of salmon to a fish recipe. These edits cost between $0.99-$.99 per serving. Some meals cost an extra $1.99-$9.99 per serving. These recipes are labelled as special, special plus, bison special, fresh pasta, or 20-min meal. Lastly, you have the option to add an extra item for almost every recipe. For example, you can add garlic bread to the tomato-garlic beef spaghetti recipe for $2.12 per serving.
Managing your delivery is quick and intuitive. Click “Edit delivery” to bring up the options. You can change the delivery day, box size, or skip the week if need be. Each edit takes a few simple clicks.
HelloFresh has an expanded menu that includes ready-to-eat foods, grocery items, and recipes for breakfast/brunch, lunch, or dessert. These items cost extra; prices range from $6.79 to $23.99. These prices were too expensive for me. However, I was tempted to order some items, especially the banana chocolate pancakes. The menu items might be worth the cost if you are hosting a dinner party. The menu would also suit large families.
HelloFresh’s menu provided plenty of options. I actually had a hard time deciding which recipe to pick; they all looked delicious. The special recipes added variety, as did the items off the expanded menu. I did notice that there were many Asian and Italian recipes each week (e.g., curries, rice bowls, tortellini, linguine etc.). However, each dish was unique in its own way, which helped keep things fresh. Some people find this repetitive, but I had no issues with it. The carb smart recipes are perfect for keto diets, and the calorie smart dishes are great for people working to lose weight. There are no gluten free recipes, which is a significant drawback. Some weeks include one Beyond Meat® recipe, although most do include animal products of some kind (e.g., milk). To follow your dietary requirements, you can swap certain ingredients with ones from your own kitchen.
Packaging and recipe cards
For my HelloFresh order, I picked the:
- Smart bacon and egg spinach salad.
- Roasted salmon.
- Beef-thyme meatballs and onion gravy.
Like other meal kits I’ve tried, my HelloFresh order came in a carboard box. The recipes came in separate bags, with the recipe cards tucked in between them. The frozen/refrigerated ingredients (salmon, ground beef, bacon, eggs, cheese.) were stored underneath along with an icepack to keep them fresh.
HelloFresh did a good job with their packaging. The contents in the box were neatly arranged, which made unpacking easier. I liked that the protein ingredients did not come in a separate bag. It meant there was less packaging to deal with. The box and recipes bags were compact, making it easy to store them. I can safely say that HelloFresh is the least wasteful when it comes to their packaging. They claim to have reduced their packaging by 45% since their first delivery. Judging from my experience, I believe them.
One concern I do have with the box is the lack of insulation. The only thing keeping the box cool was a single ice pack. Without insulation, there’s a greater of the ingredient spoiling. I received my box during the winter when the temperature was around -15˚C. Therefore, I wasn’t too concerned with the lack of insulation; the temperature kept the box cool. However, If I received the box in the summer, I would be more worried about the ingredients staying fresh.
The recipe cards had informative instructions that were easy to understand. Each step was illustrated with a picture, which was very helpful; I could see if I was doing the step correctly. The measurements for each ingredient are listed on the left side of the instructions. The amounts are portioned for either two or four people. The cards also have helpful tips, like the minimum internal cooking temperature for various proteins. Even though the tips were helpful, I would have added a few more. For example, prep all the ingredients first before you begin. This speeds up the cooking process.
The nutritional values are not listed on the card, they are located on the HelloFresh website. The physical nutritional lists are printed as stickers, which are used to seal the recipe bags. Like Chefs Plate, the two versions base the values on different serving sizes. The website uses a 423g serving size for the smart bacon and egg spinach salad. The sticker uses 362g for the serving size. I also noticed that some of the values were different, while some were the same. This was very confusing, and it made me question the accuracy of the nutrition list. Using the same nutrition facts across the board would be more cohesive and less confusing.
Smart bacon and egg spinach salad
Nutritional values: per serving (423g)
- Calories: 610kcal
- Fat: 34g
- Saturated fat: 8g
- Carbs: 40g
- Sugar: 11g
- Dietary fibre: 5g
- Protein: 24g
- Cholesterol: 212mg
- Sodium: 920mg
Listed cook time: 35 minutes. Skill level: easy
This recipe required plenty of food prep, which lengthened the cook time. The prep wasn’t difficult, but having to cut, wash, grate, or peel various ingredients was time consuming. Cooking the ingredients was straightforward. The eggs were already hard-boiled and peeled, and the mushrooms and bacon took no time at all to fry. The potatoes had the longest cook time. I roasted them for 30 minutes, flipping them at the halfway point. One thing I had to be careful with was overcooking the bacon and garlic. Both can burn easily, so you have to watch them carefully as you fry them. The instructions say to leave some of the bacon fat in the pan once the bacon is cooked. When you cook the mushrooms, ad ½ tbsp oil to the pan. At first, these instructions were confusing. Why add more oil to the pan when there is already plenty of grease from the bacon fat? But once I started cooking the mushrooms, things became much clearer. The mushrooms quickly absorbed the fat. That extra bit of cooking oil prevents the mushrooms from drying or burning.
The smart bacon and egg spinach salad reminded me of a typical brunch meal. You can’t go wrong with bacon, and it smelled and tasted great in this dish. It had the signature crunchy and salty texture. The potatoes were worth the wait. They had a crispy outer layer, but were still soft to bite. The mushrooms were tender and a smoky taste thanks to the bacon fat. The eggs were filling, but were somewhat bland. I also thought the spice mix lacked some bunch. I added some of my own spices to the dish to improve the flavour. The bacon vinaigrette was the star of this dish. The Dijon mustard and maple syrup gave it a sweet flavour. The tanginess from the shallots, garlic and vinegar blended well. The vinaigrette also had a smoky texture from the bacon grease. The end taste was a fine balance between sweet, salty, and tangy flavours.
One concern I had with this recipe was the amount of grease it has. I wondered if this recipe was in fact a low calorie meal. Still, the smart bacon and egg spinach salad was a great way to start my HelloFresh experience. It’s a versatile dish that can be eaten at any time of the day.
Nutritional values: per serving (489g)
- Calories: 680kcal
- Fat: 43g
- Saturated fat: 13g
- Carbs: 43
- Sugar: 6g
- Dietary fibre: 6g
- Protein: 33g
- Cholesterol: 87mg
- Sodium: 380mg
Listed cook time: 30 minutes. Skill level: easy.
The food prep for the roasted salmon was much simpler. I only had to trim the green beans, cut the potatoes and tomatoes, and season the salmon. The cooking process was straight forward as well. I also learned a new way to cook green beans. The instructions say to fry the beans with 3 tbsp of water for 3-4 minutes. I’ve only used cooking oil to fry green beans, and I was unsure of this method’s effectiveness. But after trying it out, I learned that adding water is a great way to make crispy beans.
The roasted salmon recipe was packed with flavor. The salmon was tender with a crispy bottom skin. It was my favourite part of the dish. The garlic puree combined with the dill-garlic spice blend enhanced the flavour of the vegetables. The spice mix was a little weak on its own. But combining it with the puree really brought out the dill flavour. The potatoes were crispy while remaining soft to bite. I usually like crispier fried potatoes, but the ones in this recipe still tasted great. However, I think the potatoes could have used more seasoning (I added some of my own). But that’s my lone critique of this recipe. The roasted salmon was my favourite meal of the week.
Beef-thyme meatballs and onion gravy
Nutritional values: per serving (506g)
- Calories: 750kcal
- Fat: 43g
- Saturated fat: 22g
- Carbs: 58g
- Sugar: 10g
- Dietary fibre: 8g
- Protein: 35g
- Cholesterol: 139mg
- Sodium: 1290mg
Listed cook time: 30 minutes. Skill level: easy
The beef-thyme meatballs was another simple recipe to cook. The only tricky part was chopping the thyme leaves. I wasn’t sure on the proper technique. I ended up with larger leaves than what was shown in the picture. Having a photo demonstrating the proper chopping technique would have helped. Even a quick blurb on the side would have been nice (e.g., “How to finely chop thyme leaves”).
Even though I had large thyme leaves, they didn’t harm the recipe’s taste. In fact, the leaves tasted great. They gave the meal a refreshing minty flavour. The meatballs were juicy with a crisp outer layer. They also had a delicious garlicy taste. The green beans were tender and crisp. The smashed potatoes were good, but I personally would have fried them to get that crispy texture. The gravy was not as salty as the ones I usually have. From a health standpoint that’s good. But from a flavour standpoint, I thought the gravy was a little bland. The onions did improve the flavour of the gravy though.
The stars of this recipe were the thyme leaves and the meatballs. Those two items certainly elevated the flavour of this recipe. The beef-thyme meatballs was a close runner-up for my favourite recipe of the week.
Overall, I enjoyed my HelloFresh experience. The recipes were delicious and had interesting flavours. I enjoyed each meal in my order, and I plan on making all of them again. The recipes were easy to make, and I learned a new cooking technique along the way. I liked how many menu options I had for the week. It certainly made it hard to pick the recipes for the week. Even though I didn’t order from it, I thought the expanded menu was a great addition. It gives users even more options. The menu was diverse, with carb smart, calorie smart, custom recipes, and various special meals available to order. Lastly, the HelloFresh website was user friendly. I had no issues updating my order or account info.
The biggest drawback I have for HelloFresh is the price. The box price alone is quite expensive. The $9.99 shipping fee tips the scale. HelloFresh is tied with Goodfood as the most expensive meal kit I’ve used. I would say that the recipe quality justifies the price. However, Chefs Plate has comparable recipes for a much cheaper price. The reason behind HelloFresh’s cost must be their special/customizable recipes and their expanded menu. You’re paying more for these features. The new user discounts help lower the cost, but they don’t last forever. Another drawback is the lack of gluten-free and vegan recipes. HelloFresh does have Beyond Meat® dishes, but their availability is limited.
I would recommend HelloFresh for people who want lots of menu options. I would also recommend HelloFresh for people who can afford it. If their plans are out of your price range, I suggest finding a cheaper alternative. Currently, HelloFresh is too expensive for me. However, I might reactivate my account when their prices become more affordable to me.
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