How does HelloFresh work?
Meal kit services have exploded in popularity in recent years, with HelloFresh being the biggest player in the market (followed by Blue Apron).
A meal kit contains all of the base ingredients plus instructions to cook a particular recipe.
The primary audience for HelloFresh, and meal kit companies in general, are:
- People who want to learn to cook, but don’t know where to start.
- Time starved users who love cooking, but don’t have the time.
- Someone who only cooks a handful of recipes, and wants to learn more.
Here is a list of pro’s and con’s of HelloFresh:
|HelloFresh Strong Points||HelloFresh Weak Points|
|You don’t have to go shopping for the food||Food is more expensive than in grocery stores|
|Much less expensive than food delivery or going out||Lots of plastic waste|
|Food tastes great and recipes are easy to follow||Occasionally missing ingredients|
|Precise portion sizing and complete nutritional information||Produce are occasionally past their due date|
|You don’t have to worry what to cook anymore||Some meals have small portion sizes|
|Great for learning how to cook||Not sustainable for long-term use|
|Awesome for finding & experimenting with new recipes|
|Can cancel any time; no cancellation fee; no long term plans|
|Fantastic customer support department|
8 Reasons Hello Fresh is worth it
You don’t have to go shopping for the food
By far the biggest selling point of HelloFresh and meal kits in general is that you no longer have to worry about going to grocery stores, wondering where to find unique ingredients or alternatives for ingredients you can’t find etc.
When using HelloFresh, you just choose how many meals you want per week (2 to 6), and how big each meal should be (for 2 or 4 people).
After choosing the number of weekly meals, recipes and people, you will receive 1 box per week that contains all the base ingredients required to cook your recipes.
You can choose which day of the week you want the food to be delivered.
The entire box is covered on the inside with insulating plastic to keep the food cool for a few hours.
Ingredients that have a longer shelf life such as potatoes or rice are packaged in paper or plastic bags.
Ingredients that expire sooner, such as meats, are packaged in plastic and usually placed near ice packs to stay cool a bit longer.
If nobody is home to receive the package, the box will be placed outside your door.
HelloFresh costs a lot less than food delivery (but is more expensive than groceries)
When it comes to cost, HelloFresh is a middle ground for people who don’t want the hassle of buying groceries, but also don’t want to throw a lot of money on food delivery or going out to eat.
In terms of price per serving, HelloFresh costs as much as $15 per serving (2 meals per week for 2 people) to as little as $8.5 per serving (6 meals per week for 4 people).
The table below shows how much HelloFresh costs per week:
|Recipes per week||2 people||4 People|
|2||$58 (4 servings)||$86 (8 servings)|
|3||$70 (6 servings)||$112 (12 servings)|
|4||$86 (8 servings)||$138 (16 servings)|
|5||$100 (10 servings)||$170 (20 servings)|
|6||$112 (12 servings)||$202 (24 servings)|
The table above however doesn’t answer the crucial question: will HelloFresh save you money?
The answer depends a lot on your eating habits. If you’re type that orders food a lot, then yes, it will save you quite a bit of money.
However, if most, or all, of your food come strictly from groceries then you’ll find HelloFresh to be a rather expensive service.
The food tastes great and recipes are easy to follow
HelloFresh has ~2,500 recipes, however it works on a rotation basis so only ~25 are available to choose from every week.
You can customize what kind of recipes you receive by choosing one or more recipe categories: veggies, meat and veggies, pescatarian, family friendly, fit and wholesome, quick and easy.
The food itself is surprisingly tasty. You’d think that it being a meal kit it would be “bland”, but no, the meals are truly enjoyable.
You may like some recipes more than others, but that’s a matter of taste rather than how good the food is.
Below are some images of HelloFresh meals, cooked by regular customers:
The recipes themselves are very easy to follow, and are packed with images that detail every step alongside the comprehensive text instructions.
Exact portion sizing, nutrients, calories and allergen information
A good benefit to HelloFresh, and meal kits in general, is that each and every recipe contains complete nutritional information, including of course calorie count.
Allergens and intolerances are also highlighted for each individual recipe, and HelloFresh even gives you the option to swap between different ingredients.
The ingredients included for each recipe are proportioned exactly for that particular meal – meaning no excess food.
There’s also different sorts of categories for meals: low calorie or high calorie, healthy foods, quick recipes, high protein, high fiber etc.
Finally, perhaps the best thing about HelloFresh portions is how it helps you stay inside a certain daily calorie limit, or to help you eat certain nutrients more like protein or fiber.
You don’t have to worry what to cook anymore
If you’re the main chef of the house, then another big benefit of HelloFresh is not having to worry about what you’re going to cook for the next few days. This makes HelloFresh perfect for the situations when you don’t know what to eat.
You simply choose what recipes you want to receive for the week, and you’ll get them at the door. That’s it.
It also helps me with meal planning paralysis, because you just click and pick the meals that appeal to you. When my Mom was doing meal kits for a while she liked it because, “I’ve been deciding what’s for dinner for 50 years!”. To her the real advantage was eliminating the planning.– Blog reader
I didn’t realize how much mental bandwidth feeding us was taking up until my husband signed us up for a meal kit service a few years back. For me personally, being able to turn off the running litany of:
“Okay, we have XYZ, we need to grab A and B, and C is going to go bad so we better use that up… We had chicken last night so we should try and do something different tonight… Oh no, we’re out of fish sauce, now I have to figure out what to make instead…”
In favor of just opening the fridge and cooking what’s there was amazing and absolutely worth it, especially if you have a discount coupon.– Blog reader
You want to experiment with new dishes
HelloFresh is great if you just want to find new recipes and interesting stuff to cook.
The service constantly cycles through recipes so there’s always something new you can try.
Another benefit is that you won’t have to worry about unique ingredients that are hard to findor must be purchased in bulk, because HelloFresh comes with them included.
You want to learn how to cook
A meal kit service is perfect for people who don’t know how to cook, but want to learn.
The recipes are usually pretty straightforward and have lots of pictures and sufficient text that explains what you have to do.
Once you build enough confidence you can begin swapping out various ingredients, or even using recipes learned from HelloFresh as a template for your own experiments.
My sister (whom I live with) gets Hello Fresh sometimes. I personally have liked all the meals she’s made with it so no issues with the actual food. In my sister’s opinion, it’s worth it because she has a lot of trouble meal-planning and she’s not a confident cook, so having someone else do the planning for her and getting recipes with lots of pictures is really useful.
So it depends on how you feel, I guess.– Blog reader
If you can afford it and are not good at cooking/eat the same things all the time then it is 100% worth it. I have recently got it the past 2 months and most meals are amazing compared to what I would make normally. It really teaches cooking to those who didn’t take classes. I’ve never made a pan sauce before or even knew how and I had one with a steak last week.
So overall, if you aren’t an amazing cook and can afford it it is 100% worth– Blog reader
Cancel anytime, no long term plans or cancellation feels
HelloFresh is a subscription service, however you are not locked to any sort of long term contract.
This means you can use the service for 1-2 weeks or even 6-7 months and are free to cancel any time, without any sort of cancellation fee to worry about.
The only limitation you have to take into account is to cancel at least 5 days before your next meal delivery.
This is because HelloFresh begins it’s shipping process within that time interval, so cancelling by at least 5 days before the delivery date is necessary for HelloFresh to properly alert its suppliers.
Customer support is great
The final point in favor of HelloFresh is the excellent support policy.
Whenever something is wrong with your order you can simply contact support and they will immediatelly resolve issues for you.
Often times this means completely refunding an entire meal, or giving you a discount coupon for the next order.
This is actually pretty important, since HelloFresh does have some issues that do require a good support policy.
4 reasons HelloFresh is NOT worth it
The food is quite a bit more expensive than in stores
This was mentioned before, but it’s worth its own section.
HelloFresh is not priced as a grocery delivery service. The costs associated with its products can be anywhere from 50% to 100% higher than if you simply bought the ingredients directly from the grocery store.
Purely as a reference, 6 meals per week for 2 people will cost you ~$110. Over a month that’s $440. That’s $440 per month for just one meal per day. However, you will still have to buy other groceries for snacks, breakfast or lunch.
If you’re in a low cost of living area, $440 can be enough to cover an entire month’s worth of grocery expenses for 2 people (if you don’t spend money on more fancy stuff).
Quality control issues: missing ingredients & old food
The biggest problem you’ll experience when using HelloFresh are meal kits that miss one or two ingredients, or ingredients that are close or past their due date.
This will happen to you at some point. How often is a different conversation altogether, and really depends on how well run your local HelloFresh distribution center is.
Some distribution centers are on the ball and keep these quality control issues to a minimum, while others aren’t as strict and produce these errors more frequently.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know which kind of distribution center will serve you until you actually subscribe to the service.
Another issue you might encounter are shipping companies that aren’t delicate with the meal boxes. Many shipping companies will toss and turn the boxes around which can lead to broken packages or leaky containers.
HelloFresh isn’t directly responsible here, but you, as a customer, are nevertheless affected and the service quality won’t be as good as the one advertised.
On a positive note, HelloFresh does have an excellent customer support system that will refund you either the whole meal or a serving whenever these sort of situations arise.
If they don’t refund you, they’ll give you a discount coupon instead.
Every other week I’m on the chat with their customer service for one reason or another. I basically start the chat like, “alright this time the [food] was missing/bad.” It’s the only way they keep me. I tend to keep some of the common ingredients fresh on hand so I can get a $5-10 refund for a $.50 cucumber. Annoying, yes. But it’s only a few minutes a week.– Blog reader
I finally cancelled after numerous boxes of missing ingredients and bad produce. The credit back to my account only does so much when I still have to go out to the store to get what’s missing.– Blog reader
Some meals and recipes are not filling enough
Some HelloFresh meals and recipes are simply not filling enough, no matter what your eating habits are.
This doesn’t apply to all recipes of course. But once you get to use the service for a few weeks you’ll actively start to filter out recipes simply because they seem to offer too little food.
To be clear, most recipes and meal kits are satisfying in size, but you’ll just have to keep an eye out for the ones that aren’t.
My boyfriend thinks the servings can be small (I think they are mostly appropriate— don’t get me started on the amount of carrots they sometimes send!!). To compensate for what he thinks they’re small serving sizes, he adds “special guest stars.” Another side dish of his own, extra vegetables that match up with what the recipe calls for. Sometimes extra rice or spaghetti.– Blog reader
A lot of plastic waste
HelloFresh has a problem with excessive plastic packaging. Sometimes it’s understandable: meats have to be wrapped in plastic otherwise it spoils a lot faster.
However others are harder to justify, such as little plastic bags that contain sauces like mayo, honey or soy. A lot of the times you don’t have the option to remove these.
Next, some vegetables also come wrapped up in plastic like rice or pasta.
Finally there’s also the thermal insulation that keeps the box cool, which is usually made of recycled plastic.
All of this adds up.
I found it so pointless to include ingredients that most kitchens just have. Ketchup, mayo, honey, soy sauce. Who doesn’t just have these?? Much more environmentally friendly to have these in their regular packaging than to have a thousand little plastic sachets that you can’t even recycle.– Blog reader
HelloFresh isn’t something you can integrate long term in your life
Finally, the biggest downside to HelloFresh (and frankly meal kits in general), is they’re hard to integrate into your life as a long-term solution to a problem.
You might go on a vacation for a week or two, then come back home and completely forget to renew the meal kit subscription since you don’t feel it makes that much of a difference.
If not that, then the price can sting just a little bit too much. To save money, you use it every other week, instead of every week. But since you can’t build a habit out of it, you slowly start using the meal kit service less and less.
First every other week. Then 1 out of 3 weeks. Then 1 out of 4 weeks etc. until you stop using it altogether.
If the price isn’t a big deal, then you’ll get annoyed with the occasional missing or past its date ingredient.
Yes, you do get your money back each time but the small hassle of not being able to cook the food you want right then and there plus the few minutes of dealing with support just gets to you one day so you cancel the subscription.
It doesn’t matter why you’ll cancel, but it’s almost a certainly that you will cancel at some point.
When you put this all together, you realize HelloFresh is more of a novelty service or something you use every now and then for a special occasion.
That’s totally fine of course. The point is that HelloFresh may not be a sustainable solution for you long term.