There are a whole host of services that aim to make getting a healthy home-cooked dinner on the table a whole lot easier. I recently tried Hello Fresh which takes meal planning and grocery shopping off your to-do list with a simple subscription and delivery service.
Ingredients for 3 meals arrived on my doorstep carefully preserved in a sturdy and insulated box, along with a beautiful brochure-like mini-cookbook of the 3 recipes all laid out with photos and easy-to-follow directions.
My Hello Fresh box came packed with absolutely every ingredient needed to make 3 dinners: Spicy Poblano Chili, Hearty Winter Soup with Cannellini Beans, and Mustard Crusted Chicken with Roasted Veggies. They even sent mini-packs of shredded cheddar and sour cream for the chili!
I served the chicken with Trader Joe’s harvest grains warm side salad, served the chili with cornbread, and the soup with store-bought french bread. The chicken was by far our favorite – really really nice. One of those meals that is just so simple yet so satisfying. And it was an all-in-one-pan dish, which was great for clean up. The chili was good also (I’m crazy about chili!). The soup was pretty plain – good enough, very nutritious and healthy, but no ‘wow’ factor.
Hello Fresh selects the menu, portions and packages all the raw ingredients (for either 2 or 4 servings), and provides clear instructions on how to complete the recipe at home. They plan, shop, portion, collate, instruct, and ship – you prep, cook, and handle waste and clean-up. Hello Fresh subscribers can choose between meals for a vegetarian or omnivorous lifestyle. Their website features an excellent selection of recipes that give a broader idea of their meals, the variety, and style.
This particular service is ideal for those who don’t feel confident or capable of meal-planning, it makes cooking very easy – the ingredients are all there with clear instructions on how to prepare and cook them. This would make a great gift for a someone who hadn’t mastered cooking for themselves, just starting out living on their own, or the (stereotypical) newlyweds. Hello Fresh would give a great education and easy foundation from which they could do dinner on their own once they felt more confident or capable.
For me, it was hard to get over the amount of waste a service like this generates. Each 2-serving ingredient was individually wrapped, so there was a lot of plastic and packaging going to waste. Hello Fresh has a few recycling options via their Go Green initiative. That takes care of the big items, but this particular service model is not for the zero-impact, zero-landfill, zero-waste, No Impact (Wo)Men among us.
Another way this service wasn’t for me was the wasted opportunities I felt during prep. 2/3 of the recipes I sampled were the kind of thing I would normally make in bulk and freeze to save time/money. That’s where I’m just not the ideal customer for this service – I know too much and am a bit too clever in the kitchen. 😉 I kept thinking about ways to make it all more efficiently, but had to remind myself to just follow the instructions. Hello Fresh really provides an easy to follow plan for getting great food on the table, but in a very one-night-at-a-time and step-by-step way that is ideal for kitchen/dinner novices.
Alternately, it occurred to me that we all have seasons where we just aren’t feeling inspired about dinner at all. And/or seasons where getting to the store is just one thing too many on the old to-do list – like tax season for a CPA, or soccer season for a soccer family. 3 nights of Hello Fresh could be a way to achieve the ultimate goal of a fresh home-cooked dinner without resorting to Chipotle or pizza every night. You’ve got those other 4 nights of the week for Chipotle! 😉 A service like Hello Fresh does seem expensive, but thinking about it in comparison to eating out at Chipotle gives some perspective. With the subscription service you can easily opt-in and opt-out each week as needed.
As it turned out, Hello Fresh wasn’t right for me and my style, but it would definitely be right for someone! Well packaged, well organized, thoughtful meals ready to prepare, cook, and enjoy.
Does Hello Fresh sound like something that would help you out? They’ve offered us a discount code for 25% off! Enter code LEMONPIE – give it a try and let us know what YOU think!