So, it’s the big showdown: HelloFresh vs. HungryRoot. Who’ll come out on top? I have to say, I wasn’t expecting this one, but after a careful review and analysis of all the services offered, HungryRoot won, but only just.
For me, what gave HungryRoot the edge was the grocery-store model it implemented to deliver its services. As a result, it has a massive selection with lots of customization options, such as filters, that HelloFresh just can’t match.
HelloFresh is more of a traditional meal delivery service with a narrower scope. So, it could appeal to someone looking for a smaller, less overwhelming selection. But HungryRoot still wins. Read on for my full analysis.
* Comparing non-discounted prices only
In this first category I called the contest in HungryRoot’s favor primarily because HungryRoot has such a large selection of items on its menu every week (approx. 100 versus HelloFresh’s 50). Otherwise, the two services were pretty comparable in this category.
For example, HungryRoot doesn’t sort recipes by difficulty level. It does, however, provide a filter for quick recipes with choices for under five minutes and choices for under 10 minutes.
Of course, there are still many more intricate recipes at HungryRoot for those who enjoy the cooking process and take delight in crafting exquisite meals. One such recipe that intrigued me was the 30 minute Hearty Vegan Chorizo, Black Bean & Butternut Plate. Doesn’t it look delicious?
One of the advantages of HelloFresh, though, is that it sorts its meals into three levels of difficulty beginning at Easy (level 1) and ending at Hard (level 3). The recipe times aren’t really on a par with the difficulty level, but I did see a few level 1 recipes that took 20 minutes, such as the Sweet Chili Beef and Green Bean Bowl, and some level 3s that took around 45 minutes.
HungryRoot makes a go at being an online grocery store. It has a whole slew of individual ingredients as well as add-ons like salads, sandwiches, tacos, and more. HelloFresh has a Market section on its site that lists a number of items including Quick Lunches, Desserts, Sides, and Complements.
HungryRoot has no filter or pre-sorted lists for international cuisines. However, the meals offered are separated into different categories. These categories include pasta, tacos, stir-fries, and burgers among other things.
HelloFresh, on the other hand, offers food from around 19 different international cuisines in its recipe directory and it cycles through them on a weekly basis. The week I looked at held about half Italian and American, one-fifth Tex-Mex, and the rest divided up between Thai, Asian, French, African and Indian.
HungryRoot wins the Meal Customization category with its extensive list of filters to sort its meals. HelloFresh just can’t compete.
HungryRoot offers all its dietary preferences through filters. There are Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, and <500 Calories plus filters based on specific ingredients. What a selection!
On the other hand, HelloFresh has six different meal plans in all, two of which cater to specific diets (Veggie and Pescatarian). Some of the meals are further labeled with diet tags for additional sorting.
HungryRoot allows you to filter according to a wider variety of exclusions. These include: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Tree Nut-Free, Peanut-Free, Egg-Free, and Shellfish-Free. HungryRoot also allows you to sort by foods which contain 10 specific ingredients.
As a result, sometimes applying filters to the menu on HungryRoot will leave you with only a couple of options. For example, I filtered the menu for fish and tacos and came up with two selections. Which, I think, is still pretty impressive. I mean, how common an item is a fish taco?
HelloFresh allows you to exclude beef, pork, and seafood from its meals. It is, really, only a small list. Allergen-sorting is probably one of HelloFresh’s weaker points. It recommends you examine each recipe and make substitutions from your own fridge, if you have allergen concerns.
This next category goes to HelloFresh, although just barely. The two services match up fairly evenly across this category except for one thing: HelloFresh offers an app, and HungryRoot only has its website.
Both websites are straightforward and fairly easy to navigate. The ordering process isn’t too difficult for either one. Ordering from HelloFresh is probably a little faster as HungryRoot starts with a quiz to craft a suggested menu from your preferences.
Both companies allow you to pause, skip, and cancel deliveries. However, HungryRoot only allows you to edit orders that haven’t been finalized (orders are finalized on Mondays and Thursdays). In contrast, HelloFresh allows you to edit orders as early as five days before delivery.
HungryRoot delivers to most (but not all) zip codes in the contiguous U.S. Again, the days delivered depend on the zip code, but deliveries can be on any day of the week.
HelloFresh delivers to all states in the contiguous U.S. The delivery days are determined by zip code. For example, mine (Northeastern NY State) was Tuesday through Saturday.
Although HungryRoot has no app, it does have a mobile website you can use to manage your account. HelloFresh has an app available for download. It allows you to manage your account, delivery, and meal selections with ease.
The recycling story is similar for the two companies. HungryRoot’s box, paper cooler, and food protector are all recyclable. The enviroice can be poured down the sink or fed to your plants. The leftover plastic can then be recycled.
Likewise, the cardboard delivery box HelloFresh uses, as well as the insulated liner and the plastic bags, are all recyclable. Additionally, the gel ice packs it uses can be cut open and poured in the trash. The leftover plastic can also be recycled.
HungryRoot provides a well-organized delivery. It sends shelf-stable items separated from cooled items. This reduces ice usage and shipping weight and is a more environmentally friendly option. The ingredients from HelloFresh are also well organized. They come separated by paper bags in the box and are pre-measured for use.
This category also goes to HungryRoot, but only barely. The two companies are pretty comparable throughout the category. However, HungryRoot provides some shelf-stable meals, while HelloFresh doesn’t.
Neither HungryRoot nor HelloFresh provide meals in microwavable containers. Currently, each company supplies meal kits that should be cooked, primarily, using an oven or grill. As a general rule, you receive ingredients which you must prep then cook in your own cookware.
Although it doesn’t offer microwavable meal kits, HungryRoot occasionally has a microwave-friendly ingredient, be it some kind of potato or what-have-you.
HungryRoot doesn’t flash freeze its meals and, as a general rule, neither does HelloFresh. Both companies also provide fresh ingredients that, when necessary, can go right into the fridge or freezer for a rainy day. Meats should be used within five days once thawed and seafood within two.
HungryRoot has a small and limited selection of shelf-stable meals consisting primarily of the odd salad or sandwich, etc. HelloFresh doesn’t really have any.
Because HungryRoot works much like a grocery store, you have a good chance of getting a sauce premade and packaged with a meal kit. As far as premade sauces are concerned, HelloFresh provides a few when they’re relatively simple, but leaves the complicated ones for you to prepare.
Following the grocery store model, HungryRoot provides packaged ingredients. These ingredients generally require preparation for use and, unfortunately, aren’t necessarily pre-portioned. You might get something like a package of broccoli florets with your meal, but you’d have to do the trimming and cutting, if required. And you might have a few left over.
Although HelloFresh offers pre-portioned ingredients so you don’t waste food, it doesn’t really cut or prepare the food before you fix your dinner.
Although HungryRoot’s chatbot was either smarter than, or just better designed than HelloFresh’s, it can’t compete with a human … yet. HelloFresh allows you to contact a human being more quickly. As a result, I gave HelloFresh the nod in this category.
HungryRoot’s chat bot can provide a text number and email when you ask to speak with a human being (a live conversation with a human is not possible at the time of this writing). Texting time was estimated at 48 hours. I tested the feature and got a reply within two hours.
HelloFresh provides chat services and a phone number on its website. Additionally, you have a login option to report problems with an order or ingredient. You might have to deal with a menu (of selections, not food options), of course, but you can, eventually, contact a person.
The methods noted above (with the obvious exception of the login method for HelloFresh) work just as well for customers and prospective customers alike. So, it’s usually fairly easy to address any potential concerns before placing your first order, although you may have to wait as long as two days with HungryRoot.
HungryRoot provides cancellation instructions via its chat bot. They are clear and concise.
Canceling HelloFresh is also fairly straightforward and easy. Obtaining the instructions for doing so requires you to log in for the chat bot to assist you. But once that’s done, it’s smooth sailing.
HungryRoot wins this category when comparing prices between the two companies. There may be instances where HelloFresh runs a special that temporarily lowers its prices, but that’s not a guarantee.
In terms of cost, HungryRoot charges Price: Missing Product hungryroot while HelloFresh normally charges $3.79.
HungryRoot has tons of add-ons, but determining how much they cost is difficult as it uses a complicated credit system. You purchase credits, which in turn are used to purchase items.
In addition to its normal menu, HelloFresh offers a market menu that consists of a number of add-ons. These include things like Quick Lunches, Sides, Complements, and more.
HungryRoot charges $6.99 for shipping on plans less than $70, and nothing on plans greater than $70. HelloFresh charges $9.99 for shipping.
Family-friendly meal kits
Filtering out allergens
Price: Missing Product hungryroot
$6.99 for plans <$70 and free for plans >$70
2 meals for 2 people
3 meals for 2 people
25+ choices per week (plus 25+ extra options in the Market)
100+ choices per week
~40 minutes or less
10-12 minutes (Customer Service estimate)
5-10 minutes (Customer Service estimate)
Quick and Easy Meals
<10 minute and <5 minute filters available
None (only by visual scan of recipes)
Dairy, gluten, soy, tree nut, peanut, egg, shellfish,
Special Dietary Options
Veggie and Pescatarian
Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, plus many filters to customize order
Chat, phone, as well as a login option to report errors and mistakes
Chat bot and email for whatever the chat bot can’t handle
And The Winner Is: HungryRoot
This contest truly surprised me. Going in, I expected HelloFresh to come out on top as it made it into our list of the top 10 best meal delivery services. 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.
It won four of the six categories (meal prep, meal customization, menu variety, and pricing). Its massive number of options are tough to beat. Throw in its well-thought-out, easy-to-use filter system and you have the makings of a Goliath.
Of course, its size may be a weakness from a different perspective. It’s easy to get lost in the tsunami of options. If you want a smaller, less overwhelming selection, HelloFresh might be a better choice. It still remains one of the best meal delivery services out there.
At the time of writing, HungryRoot doesn’t offer student discounts. HelloFresh, however, does. According to the site, HelloFresh offers free shipping on the first box and 15% off every subsequent box for an entire year as a special discount for students.
A search on a particular week produced a nearly limitless selection of vegetarian recipes on HungryRoot but only eight on HelloFresh. There are over 5000 total recipes on the HungryRoot site. If given a list of 100 grocery items, you can surely combine them to generate a huge variety.
Although there were only eight, all the HelloFresh recipes appeared to be high quality, ranging in prep time between 15 and 45 minutes. There were two spicy, two calorie-smart, and two easy-cleanup recipes. Again, HelloFresh is good at mixing up its selection.