HelloFresh is one of many new and upcoming meal subscription services. What is a meal subscription service and is it right for me?
We’re so glad you asked because we’re taking a long hard look at HelloFresh and its closest competitors to help you decide if it’s right for you. Ready for an honest, thorough Hello Fresh review? Let’s get started!
What Are Meal Subscription Services?
A decade or two ago, if you wanted prepackaged meals sitting in your refrigerator, waiting to be cooked when you got home from work, you’d either have to make do with TV dinners, prep your meals (a time-consuming, laborious process), or hire a personal chef. TV dinners have lots of drawbacks--they’re not very tasty, often quite unhealthy, and you can hardly call them fresh.
Hiring a personal chef to stock your fridge, however, has its own set of drawbacks, namely price. It’s expensive! So, for those of us who are too busy to do the shopping and meal planning ourselves, can’t hire a chef, or don’t have the cooking knowledge to get healthy, delicious meals on the table daily, we’re relegated to eating out at expensive restaurants.
Finally, an Answer to Our Problems
Less than a decade ago, however, meal subscriptions services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron burst onto the scene. Poised to help busy consumers eat at home they way they wanted to eat at home; meal subscription services have grown rapidly.
Here’s how most of them work: you sign up for a subscription you can cancel at any time, and each week you select your meals for the upcoming week. Options vary according to the kit subscription service you choose, but most have options for two people or families, and some even offer choices for individuals who are vegan, paleo, gluten-free, or have other eating restrictions.
Do I Get to Choose My Meals?
You can usually choose your meals from a handful of options, and your meals are delivered on the day of your choosing. They are wrapped in a cooler-like cardboard box and can stay on your doorstep till you get home from work; after that, you’ll need to put refrigerated items in the fridge.
You’ll get recipe cards or instructions, and your box will be filled with individually portioned ingredients in just the round amounts to make your meals for the week. A stir-fry recipe, for example, will likely include meat and vegetables to chop, as well as things like soy sauce to season the fry.
HelloFresh is One of Many--Will it Last?
Meal subscriptions have been very popular with consumers and at least count there were over 150 meal subscription services fighting it out for a chance to deliver groceries to your front door! Is HelloFresh one of the best and is it worth the price? Let’s take a closer look!
What is HelloFresh?
HelloFresh is one of the oldest meal subscription services still in existence, but surprisingly, especially when you consider how popular it is in North America, the company got its start in Germany. Dominik Richter, Thomas Griesel, and Jessica Nilsson, HelloFresh’s creators, got their start in Berlin thanks to a German tech incubator named Rocket Internet.
Rocket Internet funded the company’s start while at least two of the founders hand-delivered meals to the company’s original ten customers. By 2012, HelloFresh had expanded to markets as far away as the UK, Australia, and the United States, and by 2014 had over a million subscribers.
We’ll talk more about HelloFresh’s challenges, as well as its pros and cons, shortly, but for now, let’s cover how it works!
How Do I Order From HelloFresh?
One of the first things HelloFresh promises is that you can order when you want and easily pause or skip a week with just a few clicks or taps on your phone. HelloFresh is also almost always offering some kind of discount for first-time customers.
You have three plans to choose from:
Each plan allows you to select the number of people you wish to feed (two or four, except for the family plan which only feeds 4) as well as the the number of meals you want in your box. The classic plan is available for two, three, or four meals, while the veggie plan is only available for three meals and the family plan for two or three meals.
HelloFresh also offers options from celebrity chefs--you can subscribe to Lauren Conrad’s Capsule Menu to get recipes developed by Conrad.
What Kinds of Meals Can I Choose?
HelloFresh promises that customers won’t get bored with its meal selections. Each plan offers its selection options--usually three for the veggie plan, fifteen for the classic plan, and six for the family plan.
The recipes each indicate the included ingredients so you can avoid things you don’t like. Each also indicates how long prep time is (most are around thirty minutes). Many are also labeled with the following tags:
You are also able to keep your recipe cards each week so that if you love the recipe, you can make it again yourself!
How Much Does HelloFresh Cost?
The veggie plan costs between $5.32-5.66 per serving, depending on the number of meals you order, while the classic plan costs $4.99-6.49 per serving. The family plan will cost between $5.37 per serving and $5.82 per serving. No matter which plans you choose, the shipping is always free.
Each recipe is chef-curated, and while the most popular recipes make encore appearances, you can expect tremendous variety every week if you select the classic plan.
What is HelloFresh?
1. How Does HelloFresh Handle Allergies?
Allergies are more and more common, and HelloFresh assures its customers that, while they can’t eliminate cross-contamination, it does utilize a dietician team to identify the major eight allergens in its recipes. These allergens include dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, nuts, shellfish, and fish; each recipe is marked if these allergens are included.
2. Does HelloFresh Have Organic Options?
HelloFresh does use organic ingredients, but not all of its produce and meat is organic. The company admits to choosing to focus on including lots of fruits and vegetables for healthy, well-balanced meals rather than prioritizing organic foods.
3. What Do I Do If There’s a Problem?
HelloFresh has a robust customer service department which can be contacted if there’s any kind of problem, including a missing or damaged ingredient. You can use the contact page on HelloFresh’s website (here), download the HelloFresh app, or use the chat option on the website.
What are the Pros to Using HelloFresh?
There are a lot of reasons to use HelloFresh; we’re sure you can already see a few of them! Here are the top pros to using this particular subscription service:
1. It Can Help You Save Money
One of the biggest ways to sink your budget is to pick up takeout night after night, but HelloFresh helps you avoid that problem. It also helps you avoid waste; no more buying random things at the grocery store that you end up throwing away before you figure out how to use them.
One of the smartest things you can do for your money is to make a plan for it--and that’s exactly what HelloFresh helps you do. It doesn’t help everyone save money; large families, for example, will find HelloFresh to be quite expensive, and if you’re cooking for one and don’t like tons of leftovers, you’re out of luck. But for the two-person family, it’s usually perfect.
2. It Can Help You Learn How to Cook New Things (and Keep the Kitchen Exciting!)
HelloFresh isn’t the best option when it comes to using a meal subscription option to learn how to cook, but it is an excellent way to widen your horizons when it comes to new techniques and cooking skills. Nothing is super complicated, but if you’re willing to be adventurous, HelloFresh certainly has the meals to get you there!
Plus, many people find that cooking dinner every night with their significant other has become a fun new way to relax and connect each night.
3. It Can Help You Eat Healthier
When you’re eating out, you have little control over things like the salt and oil content of your dish, but HelloFresh puts you back in charge of your health. Plus, it uses carefully selected meals to deliver delicious, satisfying options every night that are full of yummy veggies and fresh fruits.
If you want to focus on cutting calories, HelloFresh has meal options for you, also, that don’t sacrifice taste.
4. You’ll Save Time
Not all the recipes are under thirty minutes (some take close to an hour), but you’ll save time in both food prep and planning. If you are struggling with finding the creative energy or the time to create a meal plan and get your groceries ordered, a meal subscription service is a godsend.
And, if you have more money than time, it makes sense to invest it into something that will help you enjoy dinner again!
What Are the Cons to Using HelloFresh?
Meal subscription services have been heavily criticized. Some of these critiques aren’t warranted, but a few should be red flags for you, depending on your needs and situation. Here are the cons to using HelloFresh:
1. It Uses a Ton of Packing
The convenience of HelloFresh is undeniable, but so is the massive amount of packaging your weekly meals come in. There’s the cardboard box, the plastic that many ingredients are wrapped in, and the freezer packs. While most of the packaging can be recycled, the winter liners must be discarded, and you’ll have to empty the water-soluble contents of the plastic packs before you can recycle them.
Ultimately, we’d feel much more comfortable about the impact we’re making on the environment if HelloFresh could find a better way to a more environmentally-friendly way to package ingredients.
2. It Can Be Expensive
Under ideal circumstances, HelloFresh can be downright affordable ($52 for four meals for two people? Sign us up!), but under some circumstances, it can be quite expensive. Vegans, for example, will have to consider whether the pricing is worth it, as non-meat ingredients are often quite inexpensive and pantry-staples, while families will need to consider whether or not children will eat fares outside the standard macaroni-and-cheese.
3. You Might Have to Use a Lot of Dishes
One thing we’ve noticed about meal subscription services is that they don’t skimp on the number of pots and pans you’ll be using--as many as three or four are called for in some meals. If your kitchen is well-stocked, this might not be a problem for you (though you might enjoy doing the dishes even less than we do), but if you’re still building your cookware sets, this might be a problem.
Still, the recipes don’t call for specialty or rare utensils or pots, so as long as you have the standard stuff, you’ll be fine.
4. There’s Little Variety Outside of the Classic Plan
If you’re on the veggie plan your meals are set for you each week; if you’re on the family plan, you only have a few options to choose from. There are better plans if you’re feeding families or vegetarians!
Who is HelloFresh For?
Some families and single people will find ways to make HelloFresh work for them, but most families will need simpler, get-ready-faster meals and most single people will simply find that HelloFresh is a lot of food and not very cost effective. The best candidates, however, are the following:
If you find yourself described above, you’re a perfect candidate for a meal subscription service. But is HelloFresh the right subscription? Let’s take a closer look at some of the other options available.
How Does HelloFresh Compare to the Blue Apron, Plated, and Others?
Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh
Blue Apron, like HelloFresh, is one of the oldest meal subscription services. It’s similar in other ways, with about six or eight available meals to choose from each week, depending on your plan. Like HelloFresh, dishes are labeled according to their features--how long they take to cook, whether or not they’re vegetarian, and so forth.
Here are the plan options and pricing for Blue Apron:
Many of HelloFresh’s pros and cons apply to BlueApron, as well; too much packaging, for example.
As you can see, Blue Apron is quite a bit more expensive than HelloFresh. While some people prefer Blue Apron’s recipes, HelloFresh seems to provide more options, though Blue Apron is much better suited to large families. Plus, it’s got the Weight Watchers option, so if that’s part of your new year’s resolution, you’ll appreciate the options.
Plated vs. HelloFresh
Plated, again, is similar to HelloFresh regarding its “globally inspired, chef-designed” recipes. However, it offers more weekly options (twenty) as well as dessert recipes.
Here are the options:
Having the option of four servings per meal is extremely helpful, as is the option of four nights per week even for two or four servings, something the other plans don’t offer. In short, Plated provides the ultimate in customizability for roughly the same price as Blue Apron but more than HelloFresh.
There are no specific vegetarian options, however, which can be a huge downside for some. However, you can choose vegetarian-friendly recipes.
You might also enjoy the company’s focus on seasonal, fresh ingredients and the fact that if offers more than just calorie information--you’ll get full details including carbs, fat, and protein for each meal. Plus, you can follow your favorite chefs on Plated because each recipe lets you know which chef developed it.
Martha & Marley Spoon vs. HelloFresh
Plated and Blue Apron have been around for a long time; how does HelloFresh stack up against one of the newest contenders in the meal subscription service space? Martha & Marley Spoon is a new collaboration that involves Martha Stewart, queen of all things domestic.
Meals include a variety of options, drawing on the extensive archive of Martha Stewart recipes. This week’s ingredients, for example, include recipes like Meatball and Orzo Stew, Sticky-Saucy Sesame Chicken, and Rosemary-Garlic Steak. Here are the details:
You can select vegetarian-only boxes, and the price per serving is as reasonable (if not better priced) than HelloFresh.
If you’re already familiar with Martha’s cookbooks and recipes, this is a great plan to try because you’re guaranteed to get recipes you know you’ll love. Plus, it’s extremely reasonable, so there’s little reason not to give it a go!
What Are Other People Saying About HelloFresh?
HelloFresh uses Trustpilot, a third-party verification system, to allow customers to rate the service. According to Trustpilot, HelloFresh gets 9/10 stars out of more than 13,000 reviews.
Across the internet, reviewers love the variety of dishes available for selection each week and generally feel that all the recipes they try are delicious--no duds. However, lots of people, like us, are concerned with the amount of packaging.
In almost every Hello Fresh review, however, customers were generally happy and satisfied with their service.
Is HelloFresh Right For Me?
Meal kits are extremely popular right now, and there are a lot of people trying them. That’s become something of a problem for meal subscription services because they’re spending huge amounts of money on advertising to grab new customers (and using expensive discounts to do it), but customers often switch after a few weeks.
The reason, ultimately, is that most of these subscription services are so similar that there’s barely any difference between them all. By bouncing around between many of them, you can save quite a bit of money thanks to all the introductory offers!
Introductory Offers for the Win
Money saving schemes aside, we feel the important thing is to decide whether or not subscription services are right for you and then to try a few different ones until you find one that you especially like. And HelloFresh, especially with its great introductory offers, is a terrific place to start.
Again, if you’re vegetarian or feeding tons of people, you’ll do better with other subscription kits, but if you’re a two-person team wanting meals a couple of times a week, HelloFresh is one of our favorite places to start.
Our Final Thoughts on HelloFresh
We promised answers in this Hello Fresh review, and that’s exactly what we want to give you here!
The bottom line is that if you don’t want to run to Chipotle every night but can’t afford the time or money to hire a personal chef, HelloFresh is one of the smartest ways to help you eat healthier, save money, and learn to cook. It’s one of the most affordable options, too, without skimping on delicious, exciting recipes that taste good and make you look like a star chef.
HelloFresh is, quite simply, a fun way to keep you and another person fed and happy each night, and for that, we can’t recommend it enough.