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Written by: Joey Kendrick on Dec 8th, 2022

HelloFresh vs. Hungryroot 2023: Do Meal Kits Beat Groceries?

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting this winner. But after a careful analysis of both services, Hungryroot came out on top – but only just!

For me, what gives Hungryroot the edge is its unique grocery store model. As well as offering tons more choice and a broad selection of recipes and pantry staples, it also has lots of customization options and dietary filters that HelloFresh can’t quite match.

HelloFresh is a much more traditional meal delivery service with a narrower scope. Its self-contained meal kits are delivered fresh once a week and have just enough of each ingredient to make one meal. HelloFresh will certainly appeal to couples and small families looking for more of a classic service. 

Hungryroot is my overall winner, although it didn’t win every category. Read on for the full breakdown… 

At a Glance: Who Won Each Category?

💲 Price:

It’s a tie!

🍔 Menu Variety:

Hungryroot (100+ choices per week)

⏰ Prep Time:

Hungryroot (5 to 45 minutes)

🍴 Customization:

Hungryroot (10+ dietary options)

👍 Ordering and Delivery:

It’s a tie!

🙋 Customer Support:

HelloFresh

Menu Variety

Winner: Hungryroot

Both Hungryroot and HelloFresh have a wide variety of menu options, with recipes inspired by many international cuisines. You’ll find classic American dishes on both service’s menus, as well as typical Italian, Mexican, Indian, and other global-inspired meals.

Yet, because of the flexible nature of its grocery-driven recipes, Hungryroot is able to offer a whopping 100+ recipe suggestions each week. Its self-branded and brand-name ingredients arrive at your door fresh and ready to be eaten or spun into quick and easy meals. 

With 30+ recipes each week, plus multiple customization options, HelloFresh does have a much larger menu than many of its competitors, but the numbers don’t lie and Hungryroot gets the nod here. 

Photo of a dish with Hungryroot's Miso Salmon and Broccoli Sweet Potato Mash

Hungryroot's menu is customizable by design, so you can enjoy recipes tailored to your tastes.

One of the advantages that HelloFresh has, however, is that it sorts its meals into three levels of difficulty – beginning at Easy (Level 1) and ending at Hard (Level 3). Its recipes can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes to make. 

Hungryroot doesn’t sort its recipes by difficulty level, but it does give you filters for how much prep you’re willing to do. You can also filter for recipes that take as little as five to 10 minutes. These are mostly sandwiches and other dishes that require little-to-no cooking.

Photo of a dish with HelloFresh's Korean Beef Bibimbap

HelloFresh offers thoroughly-tested recipes with diverse flavors.

The most notable difference between the two services is that Hungryroot functions as a meal- delivery-service-meets-grocery-store hybrid. As well as offering curated recipes, its tailored grocery delivery features items that can be easily used in other recipes. It’s also a great way to discover new ingredients.

HelloFresh does have a Market section that features a number of add-ons, including quick lunches, desserts, and sides. Unlike its competitor, though, HelloFresh isn’t set up to serve as an online grocery store.

Meal Customization

Winner: HungryRoot

With such a wide variety of recipes and ingredients to hand, Hungryroot wins the Meal Customization category hands down. It also has an extensive list of filters that HelloFresh just can’t compete with. 

As well as browsing the menu via its filters – which include vegan, vegetarian, egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and more – Hungryroot will also encourage you to take a quiz when you sign up about the foods you like and don’t like, along with any dietary restrictions. 

It’ll also ask which meals you’re interested in receiving ingredients for, whether that’s dinner, lunch, breakfast, or all three.  

Screenshot of Hungryroot's introductory quiz, displaying a list of cuisines to approve

Picky eaters can omit any flavors and cuisines they don't want.

When it comes to serious allergens, however, you’ll have to check the details on each individual ingredient to find out if there is a risk of cross-contamination. 

On the other end of the scale, HelloFresh has fewer options when it comes to catering to specific diets. There are six meal plans to choose from when you sign up – two of which cater to specific diets (Veggie and Pescatarian). 

Some of the meals are further labeled with dietary tags to help you see meals that are calorie-smart and carb-smart, for example, but that’s about it. If you’re looking to omit allergens such as dairy or wheat, you’ll have to check the ingredient lists and make substitutions from your own fridge. 

Screenshot of HelloFresh's recipe preference page

While not as thorough as Hungryroot, HelloFresh lets you quickly highlight your preferred styles of dishes.

HelloFresh does allow you to exclude beef, pork, and seafood from its meals. But it is, in comparison to some other services, only a small list. 

However, HelloFresh’s HelloCustom option offers a little extra flexibility. This allows you to swap or “upgrade” the proteins and sides on some of its dishes – you could choose to add chicken to an otherwise veggie risotto, for example, or double the portion of bacon in your pasta. It serves to expand HelloFresh’s already-impressive menu.

Ordering, Delivery, Unboxing

Winner: It’s a tie!

The two services match up fairly evenly across this category. You can sign up for both HelloFresh and Hungryroot online or via either service’s mobile app.

Both websites are straightforward and easy to navigate. HelloFresh has a pretty streamlined signup process, while Hungryroot’s is more comprehensive thanks to the quiz it asks you to take about your eating habits. 

Both companies also allow you to pause, skip, and cancel deliveries with ease. However, Hungryroot does only allow you to edit orders that haven’t been finalized (orders are finalized on Mondays and Thursdays, so check this when you sign up). HelloFresh allows you to edit your order up to five days before delivery.

Photo of a Hungryroot box overflowing with groceries

Hungryroot's shipments contain groceries for your weekly meals and snacks.

HelloFresh’s delivery days are determined by your zip code. For example, my delivery options in New York state were Tuesday through Saturday. The service delivers to all 48 contiguous US states.

Hungryroot delivers to most (but not all) zip codes in the contiguous US. Like HelloFresh, its delivery days depend on your location, and can be on any day of the week.

Photos of HelloFresh's eco-friendly cardboard and paper packaging

HelloFresh's paper-based packaging makes it one of the most eco-friendly meal delivery services.

The recycling story is similar for both companies, too. Hungryroot’s box, paper cooler, and food protector are all recyclable. The Enviro-Ice can either be poured down the sink or fed to your plants. The leftover plastic can then be recycled.

Likewise, the cardboard box HelloFresh uses to package its goods, as well as the insulated liner and paper bags, are all recyclable. Additionally, the gel ice packs can be cut open and poured in the trash. The leftover plastic can also be recycled.

Hungryroot provides a well-organized delivery, and the shelf-stable ingredients are separated from the chilled items. This reduces the ice usage and shipping weight, making it a more environmentally friendly option. 

That said, the ingredients from HelloFresh are also well organized. They’re packaged separately in paper bags and are pre-measured to ensure there’s absolutely no waste.

Meal Prep

Winner: Hungryroot

This round goes to Hungryroot – but only just! The two companies are pretty comparable in this category, however, Hungryroot provides some speedier options alongside shelf-stable ingredients and snacks, while HelloFresh doesn’t. 

Neither Hungryroot nor HelloFresh provides prepared meals that come in microwavable containers. Currently, it’s just about the meal kits, which require some level of prep and will need to be cooked in an oven, a grill, or on a stove top. 

However, despite not offering microwavable meals, Hungryroot has some microwave-friendly ingredients – be it grains, veggies, soups, or what-have-you. 

Photo of a dish with Hungryroot's Mediterranean Chicken Hummus Bowl

This Hungryroot recipe comes together in mere minutes and is packed with fresh ingredients and vibrant flavors.

Neither Hungryroot nor HelloFresh provide frozen ingredients. Both companies provide fresh, chilled products that, when necessary, can go into the freezer for a rainy day. Meats should be used within five days once thawed, and seafood within two.

Hungryroot also has a limited selection of quick-to-prepare meals consisting primarily of soups, salad kits, and sandwiches. Aside from its 10-minute lunches, of which there are a couple per week, HelloFresh doesn’t really have anything like this. 

And because Hungryroot works much like a grocery store, there’s a good chance you’ll find prepared sauces and seasonings, too. As far as HelloFresh’s sauces and seasonings are concerned, there are a few basic ones, but most are designed to be prepared by you.  

Photo of a dish with HelloFresh's One-Pan Chicken and Couscous Pilaf

Look for One-Pan dishes like this to save time on prep and cleanup!

It’s worth noting that because of its grocery store model, Hungryroot’s ingredients aren’t necessarily pre-portioned for each recipe and almost all fresh produce will require some chopping or prep. 

But similarly, although HelloFresh offers perfectly portioned ingredients to help cut down on food waste, it doesn’t chop or prepare these items before you fix your dinner.

Customer Support

Winner: HelloFresh 

Although Hungryroot’s online chatbot proved to be more helpful than HelloFresh’s, it still can’t compete with a human, and HelloFresh allows you to contact a real person more quickly. As a result, I’m giving HelloFresh the win in this category. 

Hungryroot directs you to an email address if you want to reach out with a question and doesn’t make it particularly easy. It’s also limited compared to the competition. In their tried-and-tested HelloFresh review, my colleague raved about how they could easily call, email, or chat directly with a rep.

Screenshots of chatbot interactions with Hungryroot and HelloFresh. Only HelloFresh gives the option to speak to a real person.

Hungryroot's chatbot was helpful, but it doesn't compare to chatting with a real human.

To be fair, Hungryroot’s chatbot is still pretty helpful. It gives you clear instructions on how to cancel your account – something that’s notoriously difficult with some meal delivery services. HelloFresh makes it easy too, though, with convenient options to manage your subscription at the touch of a button.

You can also contact either service with a question, even if you don’t have a subscription.

Pricing

Winner: It’s a tie!

It’s not easy to compare the pricing between these two services, since they function differently. HelloFresh charges you per meal, while the price you pay for Hungryroot ultimately depends on how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks you want for the week. 

Hungryroot’s minimum order of $65 is enough to get you three meals serving two people per week. In comparison, three meals for two people from HelloFresh will cost $59.94. With both services, larger orders will bring down the cost-per-serving and you can order for up to four people. 

But since it offers a grocery store-type model, you can, of course, also order items from Hungryroot a la carte. 

HelloFresh charges a flat rate of $9.99 for shipping, which is slightly more than Hungryroot’s $6.99 fee. Plus, Hungryroot offers free shipping if you spend more than $70 per week. 

A screenshot of Hungryroot's order page displaying a selection of vegetables and salads

You can add produce and other groceries to any Hungryroot order in addition to your meals.

For me, there’s not really a clear winner between the two in terms of pricing because it very much depends on what you want from your meal delivery service. If you’re looking to stock up on ingredients that you can cook every meal with, Hungryroot will certainly save you multiple trips to the grocery store and prices start at Price: Missing Product hungryroot per serving.

Whether or not those ingredients are cheaper to buy from Hungryroot than the supermarket kind of depends on where you live. For me, in New York, the cost of living is high and so the prices of individual items are similar. Plus, of course, there’s the convenience of having them delivered to your door. 

In comparison to other more traditional meal delivery services that just focus on dinner, HelloFresh is certainly one of the most budget-friendly on the market, with discounted prices from $3.32 per serving. 

A screenshot of HelloFresh's menu selection page

HelloFresh's pricing and ordering is simpler than Hungryroot's.

Hungryroot has tons of add-ons, but determining how much they cost is difficult as the service uses a rather complicated credit system that correlates to the number of servings you’ve chosen. Some ingredients, such as certain meats, use up more credits than others. 

HelloFresh’s Market items are also individually priced and can be added to your shipment, making the overall total higher.

Both services can be made cheaper with a new customer discount code. I like to keep an eye on the latest live deals, as they change all the time. HelloFresh’s current deal is Get 25 free meals + free shipping + 3 surprise gifts, while Hungryroot is offering 30% off + free gift in every delivery

Features Comparison: HelloFresh vs. Hungryroot


HelloFresh

Hungryroot

Best for

Family-friendly meal kits

Grocery-driven meal plans

Starting price

$3.32

Price: Missing Product hungryroot

Shipping cost

$9.99

$6.99 or free on orders $70+

Minimum order

2 meals for 2 people per week

3 meals for 2 people per week

Menu variety

30+ choices per week

100+ choices per week

Prep time

10 to 45 minutes

5 to 45 minutes

Low-prep options

Easy Prep, One-Pan, Easy Cleanup

5 Minutes or Less, 10 Minutes or Less

Allergies catered to

None

Check individual packages

Special diets

Vegetarian, Pescatarian, 

Fit & Wholesome

Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, Shellfish-Free

Customer support

Automated chatbot, live chat, email, phone

Automated chatbot, email

Promotions

Get 25 free meals + free shipping + 3 surprise gifts

30% off + free gift in every delivery

And The Winner Is: Hungryroot

Going in, I expected HelloFresh to come out on top – not only is it one of the world’s most popular meal kit services but it also made our list of the Top 10 Best Meal Delivery Services for 2023. 

Although it was a close call, Hungryroot’s grocery-store model really paid off. It excelled in a number of places I wasn’t expecting, including customization and prep time. The convenient filtering system also makes it easy to sort through the menu of more than 100 recipes.

That’s not to say HelloFresh isn’t a worthy competitor, particularly if you’re looking for easy, crowd-pleasing dinners and still plan on doing a normal grocery shop each week for everything else. Many will prefer HelloFresh’s more tailored menu of family-friendly recipes – and its impressive variety makes it one of the best meal kits out there.

FAQ

Does Hungryroot or HelloFresh Offer Student Discounts?

HelloFresh offers college students across the US (excluding HI and AK) special discounts via UNiDAYS. You could get free shipping on your first box, plus 15% off all subsequent orders for your 52 deliveries. Hungryroot doesn’t offer student discounts.

How Do HelloFresh’s Vegetarian Recipes Compare to Hungryroot’s?

Hungryroot’s menu includes far more vegetarian and vegan recipes than HelloFresh thanks to its customizable grocery-store model. HelloFresh offers around 15 vegetarian dishes each week, which is still pretty good for a mainstream meal delivery service. 

How is Hungryroot Different from HelloFresh?

Hungryroot is a meal delivery/food delivery hybrid, delivering weekly groceries and recipe suggestions based on your taste and dietary preferences. HelloFresh delivers meal kits that include only what you need to make the specific recipes you’ve selected. 

While HelloFresh does offer some add-ons, it isn’t as all-encompassing as Hungryroot.

About The Author

Joey Kendrick
Contributing Writer, Delivery Rank
Joey is a writer based in New York City. He has covered many subjects, but food is his true passion. With his two cats as research assistants, he creates content for clients all over the world.
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