Due to the current and unprecedented situation with Covid-19, Hello Fresh is experiencing a period of extremely high demand and is unable to accept any new orders.
A company committed to sustainable food practices, with some really interesting menu items.
The creativity of the meals on offer
Daily food delivery options (during weekdays)
No free shipping
No vegan or special diet plans
Your Hello Fresh delivery will arrive on the day you choose - it delivers every weekday, but you won't know what time. If that really bugs you, then you can track the delivery in real-time via the Hello Fresh app, but the company says it will be between 8am and 8pm.
You can leave instructions when ordering your delivery, to leave the box somewhere secure. I tracked the delivery via the app, and saw it had arrived at 11.30am. Once I got home at 6.30pm and opened the box, the contents were still chilled.
I like that the deliveries take place every weekday, and can be tracked. Their main competitor Home Chef offers some pretty limiting delivery options (at only 3 days a week), and had the option been available to me, I would have liked to track the delivery. In fact, I did manage to track the delivery with Sun Basket.Blue Apron gave me a time slot to give me some guidance, and it even delivers on Saturdays too, so I could cook over the weekend.
When signing up, you’ll be asked how many people you're feeding, and the number of meals.
In this selection, I chose 3 meals for 2 people, which gave me a total of $8.99 per serving. When I switched it to 2 meals, the price jumped to $10.99. For 4 meals, it went back down to $8.99. When I changed the number of people from 2 to 4, the price per serving went to $7.49.
So, the more meals and more people you add to your plan, the better value for money you’ll get. But wait, there’s an issue. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll end up paying the same price for your meals as a meat eater. You’d expect that the cost of meat would bump up the price of your meal plan, but not here. Win win if you’re a meat lover, but not so great if you’re a veggie.
Let’s compare it to the competition. With Home Chef, for example, you pay the price of each recipe, meaning you can balance your budget with meat, fish and vegetarian meals (if you so wish) - compared to this Hello Fresh’s plan felt a little unfair.
Moving onto shipping, at Hello Fresh it’s a flat $6.99, whether you're ordering 4 meals for 4 people or 2 meals for 2. At Home Chef, shipping is free on orders of $45 or more and with Blue Apron, you get free shipping added if you go from 2 meals to 3.
From $7.49-$8.99 per portion (+ extra for gourmet meals)
Meat, vegetarian, fish
Almost 98% of the continental US
$6.99 per week
There are around 17-20 meals a week for you to choose from, with each of your food preferences.
One strange thing worth noting: on sign up, you're given only 4 food preference plans to choose from: meat and veggies, veggies, family-friendly and low calorie. Yet, when I checked the meal preferences in my account after sign up, I had all of these other options. I could switch to any of these and it didn’t affect the price:
Despite playing around with the plans, I found I always had about 17-20 options to choose from - and all of the options I saw looked super tasty. There were some interesting exotic options, like Korean Beef Bibimbap, and Chicken Gyro Couscous Bowls, alongside classic American cuisine like Garlic Herb Pork Chops and Sweet and Smoky Pork Tenderloin. You’ll see popular meals with the “Hall of fame” tag, some of which even have a dedicated fan following on Hello Fresh’s social media pages!
Some of the menu items have additional labels: Gourmet, which you’ll pay upwards of $5.99 in addition to your normal pricing plan, and Oven Ready, which is, well, oven-ready, so there’s no prep and no real cooking involved.
Clicking through to a meal, you’ll see a quick preview of any allergens, as well as some basic nutritional details:
Clicking “see full recipe” will show you a detailed step-by-step of how to make the recipe (complete with a difficulty level - the screenshot above shows a recipe that’s level 1 difficulty), as well as nutritional information, and even a suggested wine pairing (which you can add to your order):
This is always useful information, but what I wanted to know is - why weren't there any useful filters, so I could quickly see the various menu options for something specific, such as specific fish recipes? Or how about a place to exclude any recipes with another ingredient I’m highly allergic to?
I guess this is just something that these meal delivery kits fail to do - Home Chef didn't have these allergy or filtering options either, although Sun Basket had some pretty great filters - I show you these in a lot more detail in my in-depth Sun Basket review.
Another thing: Hello Fresh clearly states it doesn’t cater to specific diets - keto or paleo, and they’ve even missed out a category for vegan meals.
But hey ho. Here’s what I selected for my first week:
Gouda Pork Burgers
Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken
Pan-Seared Wild Sockeye Salmon
Even a professed non-chef like me could easily follow these instructions… well, most of them.
When I looked for a bit of advice on the website (the “large drizzle” might seem straightforward to you if you cook, but for me, I really had no idea), I couldn’t find any videos anywhere - just a series of recipe cards.
Even though the step-by-step instructions and photos were useful, telling me to cook my burger “to my desired doneness” left me completely clueless. I needed a time estimation, or something. As a result, I ended up first undercooking, then burning my Pork Burger.
However, the salmon was very tasty (although I think it helped that I’ve cooked salmon before and knew what to expect), and the Oven Baked Parmesan Chicken also turned out well, despite some minimal confusing instructions - again related to the timing of cooking. I found it much easier to follow Sun Basket’s instructions and videos, so I would check out my Sun Basket review before you make any decisions.
One thing: each of the recipe cards have instructions for 2 and 4 portions - make sure you read the entire card beforehand, to be completely certain of how much to put in your recipe.
As you would hope from a company bold enough to put the word in its name, all of the ingredients were fresh, and are sourced in northern California. Hello Fresh follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines for fish and seafood sourcing, with beef products also sporting a “pasture-raised” label. I couldn't find out the pork and egg policy, although Hello Fresh do state that its chickens are 100% antibiotic-free, which is always good to know.
Signing up takes less than a minute, and is very straightforward.
While I liked that it was super easy to choose my options, I felt a little underrepresented as a single person (but then again, rival company Home Chef also fails to provide for single people, so I guess there’s that).
You then go on to choose your password and delivery address. I was very impressed that, unlike Home Chef or other providers, Hello Fresh delivers every weekday:
You are then taken to a payment screen, which gives you a choice of credit card or PayPal. Once you fill in your details, you’ll see your pre-selected meals:
Personally, I didn’t much like the look of the chicken, so I just clicked into the card, clicked “Remove” and scrolled down to choose other meals I liked the look of.
Once you've chosen your meals, you’ll be invited to add other meals you like the look of...
I pressed “Skip Extras” - as there was no need to blow my budget! - and that was it. I could sit back, relax and wait for my delivery on my appointed day.
Hello Fresh’s packaging is mostly recyclable: I’m plastic-free, and I really loved that Hello Fresh had tried to keep plastic and waste materials to a minimum. From the outer cardboard box, to the individually wrapped ingredients in paper, most things were completely recyclable, which I massively appreciated.
But - and it's a big “but” - there was a little bit of overuse of plastic when it came to individual ingredients, such as garlic cloves and portions of scallions, which were each wrapped separately per meal portion. I understand why Hello Fresh would portion out their scallions etc, but it made me think of how much wasted plastic the company must be generating with every meal. Still, it was nowhere near as much plastic as Blue Apron provided, so there’s that.
Otherwise, you’ll find the following in each Hello Fresh delivery box:
Labeled paper bags with each ingredient
Vacuum packed meat, chicken and fish products
The only items you’ll be expected to provide for yourself are cooking oil, salt, pepper, sugar and butter, if applicable.
Hello Fresh has two support channels available: live chat and US phone line.
But, both of these had a bit of a long waiting time to get through:
I did eventually call, and was waiting for about 35 minutes to speak to someone. Luckily, once I got through, Josh was professional, friendly and sorted out my issue in under 2 minutes.
There is a small FAQ section on the site, with answers to most questions, and I even found an answer to my allergy question!
Unfortunately, it wasn't the answer I was hoping for:
Cancelling your plan is super easy. Just go to your account and scroll down until you see this:
You’ll see a range of options you might consider good enough to keep you with Hello Fresh:
...and then another attempt to keep you:
You’ll then see this screen, confirming that you’ve canceled, as well as any outstanding orders you have that can't be canceled.
It would have been nice to have known the cancellation policy (which states that cancellations have to be made by 11.59pm Pacific Time 5 days before delivery) somewhere on the screen, and to have been alerted to the fact that I couldn't cancel one of my orders. Still, it was the easiest cancelation process of any of the meal delivery kits I’ve reviewed.
Hello Fresh has a really good range of exciting, delicious-looking menus, which were easy enough to cook.
I did struggle a little bit with some vague instructions (drizzle this, cook until it's your desired amount that), and I didn't like how much plastic was used in some of the packaging, or the delivery charges.
However, I would recommend trying out Hello Fresh - I was impressed with the quality of the food, and the company’s clear commitment to sustainable food practices.