As a busy writer, and fitness and health nut, finding time for meal planning is challenging. I eat a pretty specific diet, so meal delivery services that meet my needs are convenient and stress-relieving. However, convenience doesn’t always equate to healthiness, and the definition of “healthy” can be different from person to person.
I tested HelloFresh and reviewed its meal contents to determine its recipes’ healthiness. HelloFresh is one of the most popular and affordable meal kit delivery services offering a variety of cuisines. It provides pre-portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes, making it a convenient option for those who want to relieve the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping.
HelloFresh offers options for different diets, but it isn’t allergy-friendly. Dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free, and those following low-carb diets like keto might want to search elsewhere. And while you’ll find fresh veggies in your kits, they’re med-high glycemic index and might not be best for diabetic, low-carb, or low-calorie diets.
Read on to discover whether HelloFresh’s service and meals suit your version of healthy. I’ll review plans, recipe options, customization features, and whether HelloFresh caters to specific allergy concerns and diets like paleo, keto, and vegan.
Customization options to swap proteins and sides
Plenty of vegetarian and pescatarian options
Plenty of high protein recipes
Many processed foods like breads, pastas, and fried veggies
No specialized diet accommodations like keto or paleo
No allergy accommodations like gluten- or nut-free
What’s healthy might differ from person to person. I’ll address whether HelloFresh fits expert and popularly-defined definitions of a healthy plate of food. Below is an image of a healthy eating plate as defined by researchers at Harvard Medical School’s online health publication.
This healthy eating plate suggests veggies and proteins as the largest portions on a plate, followed by whole grains and fruits. Foods are suggested to be whole foods, as in foods that are as close to their original form as possible.
You’ll see in the description of each section that you’re advised to avoid processed foods like cold cuts, fried veggies, and breads since they’re several processed steps away from their original form. While cooking veggies in healthy oils can aid digestion, processing foods to these extents can disrupt digestion and nutrient absorption.
Popular definitions of “healthy” vary and are often fused with weight loss. These weight loss-oriented definitions might include low calorie, low carb, low sugar, low salt, and low trans fats. If you’re looking for this definition of healthy, you might also be tracking your nutrients in an app. For those of you doing nutrient tracking – check out the next section’s average macro counts table.
According to your definition of healthy, you might find a meal plan that works for you, or another you might want to avoid among HelloFresh’s 6 plans. Check out the next section to view average macro counts per HelloFresh meal plan recipe.
The macro counts in this table are the averages of 3 random meals from each menu plan, so you can see what your average nutrition count might be when you order from that plan. Keep in mind, these counts are all averages, so always read the nutrition labels for each recipe if you have serious medical concerns.
For those whose version of healthy means low sodium, you might want 1 of 2 meal plans: Meat and Veggies or Fit and Wholesome, but for those whose version of healthy means avoiding red meat and eating moderate calories, you might want to try the Veggie plan.
You’ll also see diet-conscious tags on each recipe. These tags include:
Calorie Smart – meals with 650 calories or less per serving
Carb Smart – 40 g or less of net carbs per serving
Spicy – Recipes with a red pepper icon include an extra kick
Veggie – Meatless meals featuring veggies
Vegan – Animal product-free meals
Mediterranean – Dishes inspired by cuisine from Greece, Italy, Turkey, and more
The Meat & Veggies plan is a selection of meals from the whole menu, minus meals with fish. You’ll generally find all the meals with the “veggie” tag on this menu as well as all meals containing meat or poultry. There’s no other dietary qualifier identifying meals that fit this menu so the macros may vary across recipes.
The Veggie plan is HelloFresh’s vegetarian plan. There’s also no other dietary qualifier for this plan, but you can find Veggie meals with other labels like Calorie Smart or Carb Smart. However, most meals are 700+ calories and 60+ g net carbs and might be best for vegetarians with a high-intensity workout routine.
Family Friendly meals are mostly standard American recipes and don’t follow a specific diet like low calorie or low carb. The plan includes familiar favorites with simple ingredients that kids are likely to enjoy, like BBQ Meatloaves with Shingled Potatoes. However, these meals are usually high calorie and high carb – better for growing kids than weight-watching adults.
HelloFresh’s Fit and Wholesome plan has recipes that are 650 calories per serving or less. It’s the only defined calorie-conscious meal plan. As with the Veggie plan, you’ll find a mix of tags including Carb Smart or Mediterranean, but all meals will be 650 calories or less each serving.
Like the Family Friendly plan, the Quick and Easy plan isn’t diet-focused – it’s practical. The estimated prep time for meals from this menu is 20 minutes or less. The Quick and Easy plan has pretty moderate macros and might fit most macro-oriented plans except low carb.
Pescatarian meals might also feature low-calorie or carb-conscious recipes. On average, these meals include the highest protein count of any meal plan. They also have a higher carb count than most meal plan averages, so these recipes are best for people who do high-intensity workouts 3+ times per week.
Customization is important if you’re eating a specific diet to remain healthy. Once you sign up and select your recipes, you can also swap some proteins and sides for options you find healthier. You can make a meat-heavy dish pescatarian by swapping chicken for shrimp, or a vegetarian dish vegan by swapping a side with cream or cheese for a side with no animal products.
Remember that these are meal kits, so you can also exclude any ingredients you receive. You can opt to replace something with a healthier option from your own pantry. This isn’t ideal in terms of convenience, but it’s the next best option to ensure you’re eating according to your definition of healthy.
For example, if eating vegan is your version of healthy, you can leave out the feta cheese in the Falafel Power Bowl and replace it with a nut cheese or with another vegan protein of choice.
Plus, meal plans operate more like menu filters than like fixed plan structures when selecting your weekly recipes. You can select the Fit and Wholesome menu to view calorie-conscious recipes but still choose recipes from the Pescatarian menu. This way you’re not locked into a specific plan and can choose optimally healthy recipes.
Unfortunately, HelloFresh doesn’t offer allergy customizations like gluten- or nut-free. You’ll need to read the recipe and ingredient labels carefully. Some HelloFresh ingredients might be name-brand, so you’ll have to read the nutrition labels carefully to ensure you’re eating safely and healthily.
Fortunately, HelloFresh carefully labels common allergens on its online recipe cards, so you can at least determine whether the recipe is manageable for your diet.
If you’re on a restrictive diet like keto, paleo, vegan, or an AIP – HelloFresh isn’t ideal. You can find a few recipes here and there throughout the menu, but you’ll have to be careful with your at-home substitutions to ensure recipes meet your desired meal macros or restricted ingredient contents.
Recipes are best for the standard American diet, and sometimes include premade foods that definitely won’t suit an AIP diet. For a meal delivery service that offers more diet-specific plans, you might want to check out Green Chef. You’ll find 7 diet plans including Keto, Vegan, Vegetarian, Protein Packed, Mediterranean, Fast & Fit, and Gluten Free. Additional meal tags on individual recipes include Calorie-Smart, and Quick & Easy.
HelloFresh insulates and cools each delivery box so that your ingredients arrive fresh and cool to the touch. You’ll find some organic ingredients, but HelloFresh isn’t a service that prioritizes sourcing wild-caught, free-range, sustainable ingredients. For a service that prioritizes animal welfare and ingredient quality, you might want to check out Blue Apron.
Whether HelloFresh is a good way to lose weight depends on how you want to do so. For those of you wanting to start a calorie-restricted diet and who have no other dietary, allergen, or medical concerns, you can check out the Fit & Wholesome plan, which only includes recipes with a total of 650 calories or less.
You’ll find a selection of 15 to 20 Fit & Wholesome recipes each week. In fact, if hitting a calorie count of 650 calories or less per meal is your version of healthy, this HelloFresh plan might be the perfect fit for you.
If you’re hoping for more low-carb recipes, you won’t find that on HelloFresh’s menu. Eating low-carb means eating a total daily carb count of less than 50 g net carbs. Carb Smart on HelloFresh’s menu typically means recipes have anywhere from 20 g to 30 g net carbs per serving, which if you’re eating 3 meals a day means these net carbs add up quickly. For more low-carb meal delivery inspiration, check out our list of the top low-carb meal delivery services of 2023.
Overall, there are no culinary feats on the HelloFresh menu. Novices and home chefs can prep HelloFresh meals. Online and printed recipe cards also include images of what a recipe should look like at each step.
HelloFresh also makes meal prep as easy as possible according to skill level. First, all recipes arrive with ingredients separated individually and according to recipe.
The hardest skill you might find is determining when a protein is done cooking, but HelloFresh provides tips for knowing when that might be. For example, recipes labeled as Hard are still pretty easy. They usually just include more steps to complete the recipe, and if there’s a skill required that includes some experience, you’ll see a tip for achieving that skill correctly.
For more details about cooking HelloFresh recipes, you can check out our complete review of HelloFresh’s service. You might need a few extra utensils and prep ingredients in addition to the basics, but HelloFresh will also list those for you on the recipe card so you can be as prepared as possible.
HelloFresh sends the required ingredients for each recipe listed on the recipe card. You can easily substitute any of these for healthier ingredients you prefer. If a recipe requires butter but you’re an Extra Virgin Olive Oil kinda chef, you can easily plan for that.
I tested some of HelloFresh's recipes that might fit your definition of healthy. First, I tested the Ginger Lime Salmon, a pescatarian-friendly dish that was super easy to prep. Cooking it took a little longer than estimated, but I loved that I learned to cook an easy salmon dish. Instructions were easy to follow and I was more than pleased with the result.
This dish is healthy for those eating low to moderate sodium, high fat, and high protein, and don’t mind a moderate to high carb count. The macros for this dish are as follows:
Protein: 30 g
Carbs: 55 g (50 g net)
Fats: 46 g
Sugar: 6 g
Sodium: 590 mg
Next, I tested the Shawarma Chicken Couscous Bowl, a high-carb and high-protein dish, making it great for those of you who workout at high intensity most days of the week. This is also a great option if you’re craving your favorite shawarma food cart meal but want to ensure you know exactly what’s going into your meal during the prep process.
The macro count is as follows:
Protein: 51 g
Carbs: 116 g (50 g net)
Fats: 34 g
Sugar: 27 g
Sodium: 1010 mg
HelloFresh’s recipes tagged Carb Smart typically include 25+ g carbs per serving. If you’re looking for very low carb, you might be better with Green Chef’s keto meals. If you’re eating vegetarian or vegan and want low-carb recipes, you could try Fresh N Lean’s Low Carb Vegan plan, which you can check out in our full Fresh N Lean review.
A typical Calorie Smart meal looks like this Fiery Mexican-Style Chicken at 450 calories per serving. This recipe is labeled medium difficulty, but the only challenge I see in the recipe is that you’ll be multi-tasking for a few steps. Otherwise, there are no culinary feats in this recipe.
This recipe is healthy for low-calorie, low-sodium, moderate-carb eaters with the macros:
Protein: 36 g
Carbs: 35 g (50 g net)
Fats: 18 g
Sugar: 19 g
Sodium: 125 mg
HelloFresh also includes plenty of standard American, non-diet-specific recipes like this Zingy Gouda Burger recipe. You’ll find this on the Family Friendly menu. These recipes are best for those of you who have no dietary restrictions and want a familiar American favorite. Macros for this dish are:
Protein: 38 g
Carbs: 79 g (75 g net)
Fats: 56 g
Sugar: 7 g
Sodium: 1060 mg
According to Harvard Medical School healthy plate test, HelloFresh’s standard meals don’t pass. These recipes typically include highly processed and or fried foods like the fried potato wedges, white bread bun, and cheese.
Meat and Veggies, Pescatarian, or Veggies plans include more vegetables and fewer processed ingredients on each plate. You can still find healthy meals if you stick to the specific plans, but your options might be limited.
Fast and Fresh recipes can be ready in 15 minutes or less. There are some that are made with mostly fresh or non-fried veggies and unprocessed proteins. This Down Home Steak and Potatoes recipe is an example of a HelloFresh meal that, though not 100% there, is closer to the expert definition of a healthy plate.
Check out my review of ordering from and cooking with HelloFresh’s service for more details about HelloFresh meal plans and pricing structure. You’ll find a complete list of meal plan prices and more about HelloFresh’s user-friendly app and easy-to-access customer service.
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HelloFresh is healthy for people who have no allergies and can eat meat and carbs. While most meals include a serving of vegetables, you’ll find more starch or processed foods like white rice and pasta instead of an added helping of veggies, healthy fat, or protein.
If you’re vegetarian or pescatarian and can eat high carbs – you’ll also find great options. There are dedicated Veggie and Pescatarian plans with plenty of weekly, rotating recipes to fill your menu. Vegans will have only a handful of recipes each week, so this isn’t an ideal menu for a complete plant-based vegan diet.
Most recipes include some amount of sugar and moderate to high carbs, both of which aren’t great for people managing diabetes or heart disease. There are some recipes with relatively low sodium, but it’s not a large selection. For diets that address medical concerns like diabetes or heart disease – I recommend looking elsewhere.
Remember – read recipe labels carefully! HelloFresh has a big menu and cuisine variety, and your customization choices will change healthiness factors. Each plan and recipe are different from the next, and the menu rotates regularly. Recipes are automatically chosen for you based on the meal plan you choose, so double-check your order before finalizing.
HelloFresh meals are typically moderate to high carbs and protein, with 1 veggie serving. However, it's important to remember that specific nutritional content can vary depending on the meal and any customizations you make. You’ll find nutritional content listed on each recipe card on the website and in the app.
Yes, HelloFresh does offer some dietary accommodations. You’ll find plenty of vegetarian, pescatarian, calorie-smart, and carb-smart options, among others, though availability may depend on your location. However, you won’t find allergy accommodations like gluten-free or dairy-free.
The sodium content can vary significantly across different HelloFresh meals, but some dishes can be high in sodium. Always check the nutritional information provided for each recipe, especially if you're monitoring your sodium intake for health reasons. You can always leave out or substitute ingredients that are typically high sodium like certain sauces or prep ingredients like butter.
Portion sizes in HelloFresh meals are generally balanced and satisfying, aimed to provide a fulfilling meal for the designated number of servings the meal is estimated to feed. However, your personal appetite and dietary needs could influence your perception of portion adequacy. You can always try customizing your meal to include a higher protein ingredient if that’s an option for 1 of your selected recipes.
HelloFresh does use some organic ingredients, but not all ingredients are organic. It prioritizes quality and sustainability, sourcing ingredients from suppliers that follow responsible practices.
HelloFresh’s Fit and Wholesome plan is good for those wanting calorie-conscious meals as part of their weight loss plan. Meals on the Fit and Wholesome plan are 650 calories or less. You’ll even find some under 500 calories that are also Carb Smart.
No, HelloFresh doesn’t currently provide meals designed to accommodate keto or paleo dieters. You’ll want to check out a different service like Green Chef or Factor, which both have dedicated keto plans.