a review of hellofresh
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Picky Nikki Tries Hello Fresh

Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.

Hello! I’m Picky Nikki, Mr. Picky Pincher’s sister and reformed shopaholic. I have a long way to go on my frugal journey, but it helps having a family that is also interested in saving money to keep me on track. I’m sharing my experience cutting costs as a working mom and trying to find the best deals for my family.

In my family, we love cooking.

It doesn’t matter how elaborate the meal, food is love and we have a lot of love to give. So when I got married I made it a point that homemade meals were a regular occurrence. I’m sure other parents can relate to the shock you have when all of a sudden, frozen popcorn chicken and boxed macaroni make more appearances than your favorite home made meatloaf.

After picking up the picky toddler, we have 2 hours to make dinner, give the kiddo a bath, and have “family time” before it’s bedtime. Convenience meals were being a little too “normal”, if you know what I mean.

Add in the curveball: my husband is very picky so I was very tired of the same meals on repeat. I decided I needed some razzle dazzle in my life, and my friend suggested Hello Fresh.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve seen other bloggers promote this and I was always skeptical. Since I had my friend’s coupon code, I told myself I could try it out for a week and told my Picky Husband it was for the good of the blog.

I’m sure this will become glaringly obvious, but I am in no way affiliated with Hello Fresh and if anything, they probably hated the review I sent back to them. Read on if you enjoy laughing at my failures.

What is Hello Fresh?

It’s a subscription box service that sends you all of the ingredients for meals. They have packages made for 2 people or 4 people. You can upgrade to a box and choose meals out of a selected database, or you can pick the cheaper option and they send you pre-selected food. Obviously I chose the cheaper option.
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Meal One: Italian Meatloaf, Green Beans, and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

In the name of honesty, we started off on a rough note.
My mother was visiting and unloaded the box and put everything in the fridge for me. I was lazy and did not throw out the boxes (thank God.). The next night I checked the adorable brown bag labeled “meatloaf meal” and noticed I was missing the meat. With a sinking sensation in my stomach, I realized they must have packaged the meat separately from the other food (duh).  Luckily I’m lazy and luckily the freezer bags were ice cold and the meat was surrounded by ice blocks. Win! 

I set out my ingredients and became even more pissy.
The husband was not amused by the small package of meat. I was not amused at the tiny portion of green beans. I made the meal and it was fine, but we were both still hungry after eating it. I thought it would taste revolutionary or gourmet, it just tasted like sadness and hunger. 

Meal Two: Pork and Eggplant Stir fry

My husband saw the eggplant, laughed, and walked away to make a sandwich. “His loss”, I thought to myself. I love veggies and after last night’s disappointing dinner with 15 green beans each, I was ready to go.
It was easy to cook and it seemed like it made so much more food, since the rice was a solid base for the stir fry. As much as it pains me to admit this, my husband was right. It was the weirdest damn thing I’ve ever eaten and I eat some really weird foods.
My toddler also decided a hunger strike was better than eggplant, so I was left with a ton of food that no one would eat. I took it to work and my co-workers also agreed it was tasteless and just plain weird. 

Meal Three: Honey and Orange Chicken Jambalaya

THIS was going to be the meal, I could feel it.
It seemed similar to other meals I have cooked and it had a chorizo spice blend to add to the food. I was so stoked. Sure, the meat was a smaller portion than we were used to, but it’s probably for the best. The bell pepper had gone bad, but I told myself it was fine since my picky boys hate green bell pepper anyways. 
I plated our food and….holy smokes that was insanely spicy!
Just for reference, I regularly eat food that is so spicy others think it’s inedible. So for me to say it was spicy means it was spicy.
My husband couldn’t eat more than a few bites and I couldn’t feed it to my toddler due to the spice level. I ate mine out of spite since it was the “home run” of the three dishes, but couldn’t finish mine either.
I did drink 2 bottles of water though, so at least it helped me stay well hydrated. 

The Results

Obviously, this was a colossal failure for my family.
I don’t know if it was a fluke, but all three meals were total failures. The other people that recommended Hello Fresh to me said they chose the more expensive option so they can pick and choose their meals. While I understand the more expensive option gives you some freedom to pick what you like, I do think it says something that all three of our meals were busts.
At a normal price of $69 for 3 meals for 2 people, I can’t justify that all three meals didn’t work out. Also, for reference, we spend about $150 a week for all of our meals. This is way out of our price point.
Many people also have problems with the packaging. They have a ton of waste, most of which I was able to recycle. I’m not sure what happens with the giant ice bags, but that seems like a huge waste issue if people regularly order food and have to throw away the ice bags. At least the boxes and paper bags can be recycled.
In an odd way, the experiment of Hello Fresh was the kick in the butt I needed. Our family is more committed than ever to cook homemade meals and peruse cookbooks so we can alter dishes to our liking. 

We want to know: Have you tried a box meal service? Any successes? Any failures?


25 comments on “Picky Nikki Tries Hello Fresh

  1. I’m glad you took the plunge so I don’t have to. Lol. All those ads were getting to me too. Hello fresh, blue apron, the chef something one. I was starting to think of trying it. Despite it being WAY more than we spend on groceries. And I’m glad you brought up the packaging issue. That’s something that also gave me pause. Our family is trying to minimize our carbon footprint. That point alone guarantees I won’t be trying any of the meal by mail services.

    1. I’m always tempted to buy these for some reason but I know they don’t make good financial sense. Ugh!

  2. Hi Picky Nikki!

    I haven’t really tried a subscription box before, but I’ve been thinking about it for some time now… I’m considering trying one of those soylent subscriptions.

    For the Hello Fresh Box, $69 for 3 meals seems pretty expensive for 2 people, I believe you could probably do better by going to the store and purchasing some fresh groceries. Although this would limit you to what ingredients you purchase, whereas the Hello Fresh Box would send you the recipe and ingredients, so I can see the point in that.

    I’ll have to give it a try someday, but for now, it’ll stay on my pending section of my bucket list.

    Thank you for your insights!

    1. Report back if you give it a try! For me it doesn’t make financial sense but I could see boxes working out in some cases.

    2. Hi Smart Provisions! If you’re curious about trying it, I suggest signing up for their emails and waiting for a sale. Sometimes it’s nice to just try something new and give you some fresh ideas. I’m thinking about doing a follow up post about the 2 free boxes I got during their Cyber Monday Sale. I’ll see if Mrs. Picky Pincher will let me ramble on a future post. 🙂

  3. It must be the sadist coming out in me but I do love hearing people’s epic kitchen fails. Not because I’m laughing at them, but with them when I read their story of how it all went so wrong. Great post Picky Nikki.

    Can I just put on my Captain Sensible hat for a moment? I do question why people fall for these ‘meal in a box’ services when there are so many great dishes to make and try on the internet and most require little know-how to produce really great meals. One site I use regularly for inspiration is taste.com.au. So many great recipe ideas and they generally don’t require any fancy ingredients.

    Maybe I’m a bit, you know, retentive, but I put together a menu for the week ahead, then grocery shop for that menu at the weekend. That way, no thinking about what to have each night and no surprises of the bad sort either.

    I challenge you and Mrs Picky to try doing this for a month and then report back. I reckon you’ll be thanking me for it and when you do, just tell me where to send the invoice, hehe.

    1. I don’t think meal services make financial sense at all; I actually have a post coming up that breaks down the numbers. Picky Nikki and I both keep weekly menu planners, but I think she just wanted to try out HelloFresh since she had a coupon and liked the idea of convenience. (you can read our menu in the “What’s For Dinner?” posts too!) I guess it shows that all that glitters isn’t gold!

    2. Hello Martin! I have to say first of all, I found your blog through Mrs. Picky Pincher, so I know I can trust your financial advise. ha!

      I totally agree, the prices of these boxes are insane! You are really paying for the convenience of someone else meal planning and shopping for you. Which I’m sure is fine for some people, but I do like meal planning and meal prepping. I’ll check out the website you suggested, it’s always nice finding some new and exciting recipes when you are in a rut.

  4. All I know about those boxed meal things is that they are probably a waste of money. X ____x;;; To the people who like them: Why not buy meat in bulk at Costco and fix it each night so you will always have your favorite meats on hand? At least, that is what I do. 😀

    Also, about the spicy dish… If you want to cure spiciness from affecting your throat, drink milk instead of water. 🙂 Water only intensifies the spiciness of something in your throat. 🙁

    So sorry about the wasted money you experienced. :C Hope it never happens again to you. . ____. Here’s to always cooking meals at home! 😀

  5. I tried Blue Apron and the experience was somewhat different, although I agreed it is too expensive for weekly use.

    1. I really liked the food. Blue Apron lets you pick from a weekly set of menus–3 with meat, 3 vegetarian. I went for the meat entrees because I thought they were the best value. Overall, though, I liked most of what I saw on the website. Of course, the reason for this is that their recipes have more fat/carbs/calories than I usually include in a meal. Tasty, though!

    2. I had very few quality issues–the box was missing one seasoning item (which I had on hand) and one potato had a bad spot which was easily cut out.

    3. Agreed that it was a LOT of packaging. Also, the servings were on the small side. Since I am a small woman, I was satisfied, but I did wonder if someone with a bigger appetite would feel hungry afterward. I also realized that I now had to plan lunches (since leftovers are my usual lunch plan.)

    4. I thought it was fun, for an experiment! Even though I don’t mind cooking and shopping, it was nice to have someone else figure out what I was having, and do all the measuring. Cooking and cleanup definitely went faster than usual. Normally, I am a “cook on the weekend, eat leftovers during the week” kind of person, and it was surprisingly enjoyable to cook with a glass of wine and sit down to a fresh meal at the end of the workday. And I got a couple new ideas out of it. I did have to do a little finagling of the recipes because I was eating the two servings different nights instead of two people eating the whole recipe one night.

    The final conclusion, though, is that for a person who already knows how to shop and cook and eats at home, this makes zero financial sense. I got a super coupon so I was getting a $60 box for $20, and it was a reasonable buy…but at the regular price, no. If the current mode of feeding oneself is multiple sit-down restaurant meals per week, or throwing out a lot of expensive groceries due to lack of planning, this could be a decent “baby step.” But for me, it was a fun one-off . (Tip–if you think you might want to try one of these for fun, sign up for their email list. That was where I got the good coupon.)

    1. I couldn’t agree more! They try to get you hooked with those good deals initially but I’m curious to see how many people actually follow through regularly with such an expensive program.

    2. I was recently gifts a free box of Blue Apron, and I have to say…the food was aaaamazing! It ran circles around Hello Fresh. Because I’m cheap, it’s still too expensive for me to use frequently, but if I get a free box or a discounted box, I wouldn’t turn it down.

  6. Thanks for sharing your results! I haven’t tried those services but I always wondered about them. They seemed awful expensive for a small amount of food.

    1. I’m glad Picky Nikki tried this so I don’t have to. 🙂 But yeah, the cost per meal is about $9 which is outrageous. Ours is $3 and we get plenty of homemade food.

  7. Of course, the more convenient, already bought and packaged option is waaaay more expensive than grocery shopping yourself! I always find it funny that people see it as a plus to only get the quantity of ingredients they need for one recipe..since spices and other basics you can buy in larger amounts and just use in future meals. I don’t really get the attraction of these services; maybe only if you used it as a sub for going out to a restaurant. Then it would at least be (maybe) a bit cheaper. Still, you pay so much for the convenience of prepackaged groceries, then have to do the prep and cooking anyway! Why not look online for free recipes and meal plans? And take 20 minutes to grocery shop? It seems so silly to me! Thanks for the review!

    1. I hope we can all look back on meal services and chuckle at how pricey they are. It’s a novel thing but that’s pretty much all it is to me; I put it in the same category of spending as “pet rock.”

  8. I’ve been lucky enough to score 3 free boxes, and they are constantly sending me vouchers ($35 off, $40 off, they arrive once a month!) but to be honest, I would never pay for the food.

    It was super convenient, and I’ve gotten some of my favourite meal recipes out of it (Dukkah crusted lamb, oh dear delicious!) so I’m really surprised by your story. There were a couple of ‘boring’ meals in my selection, but never terrible ones. Actually I like Hello Fresh for getting me to try new meals. Giant ripoff at over $10 a meal, but when the box is free I wasn’t complaining.

    1. Ooh I do love me some crusted lamb! I mean, if it’s free it’s not a big deal, but I wouldn’t pay for something like that.

      1. Yeah, even with all the discount vouchers they keep sending me I still haven’t actually bought a box. Thought about it when I was feeling lazy over Christmas but even at half price I’m not happy with the cost.

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