If it wasn’t for this column, I would probably never try a meal delivery service. Half the enjoyment of cooking is wandering the grocery store, trying products and doing things I wouldn’t normally do.
The closest grocery store to my house has weekly samples, super helpful and knowledgeable staff and a pretty awesome deli section. You just don’t get that with a delivery service.
I will be grading each home-delivery service on a handful of factors: freshness, packaging, meal options, complexity and overall presentation.
Hellofresh was quick to act when I ordered, sending out the package within a day or so, and it arrived two days after that. It came in a box gleaming with branding, neatly taped and in overall good shape. Since this was my first delivered meal, I didn’t know what to expect when I opened it, and what I found would make the giant plastic island in the Pacific weep a little bit. Lots of hard styrofoam, everything individually wrapped and waste galore.
Everything was cold, however, with two giant ice packs doing their job holding up to the heat.
Everything was overall pretty fresh. Only one zucchini was questionable in a spot; other than that, everything was as if I picked it myself from the store, so kudos there.
To keep things fair, I didn’t choose any meals when signing up. The Hellofresh website is fairly straightforward and allows you to tailor what meals you get and when. I just went with the two-meals-a-week option since I was just testing things out, but you can go up to five. With the sign-up deal, it ended up costing $19.99 for two meals. Without the sign-up deal, expect to pay $39.96 for everything. You are mostly paying to cut out the hassle of going to the grocery store yourself and to find recipes. That’s it. Pretty high premium if you ask me, but some people don’t like grocery shopping like I do, so you do you. You are just making food yourself at the very end of everything.
However, you can go onto Hellofresh’s website and cook their recommended recipes. To find the ones we made and more, head over to www.hellofresh.com/recipes and give them a whirl. The two we tried where very simple, and pretty good. Both recipes took under 30 minutes to make and were geared more toward beginner cooks.
The first recipe we tried was chicken quesadillas with green pepper, onion, chicken and mozzarella with a pico de gallo salsa. Simple to cook and overall something I would make again. It was not however, something I wouldn’t think of making on my own. And when i rank complexity i look for ease of making plus originality. Hellofresh unfortunately has fallen short in this category.
The second recipe was a chicken sausage and zucchini flatbread pizza. This also was simple and easy to make. The only thing I would change about it would be to make my own pizza crust — because I’m snooty about that now with my stand mixer and bazillion attempts at good crust.
All said and done, Hellofresh was a pleasant surprise and a nice way to kick off three weeks of meal delivery services. Easy to make recipes the whole family can enjoy really does have a nice appeal over takeout or running to the store after work. I hope my luck continues next week when I give Blue Apron a whirl.