First, let’s get something straight: I am not a seasoned chef proposing to impart wisdom to you on that topic. Quite the opposite! But I’m also not being self-deprecating by calling myself a “dummy”. I am merely tipping my hat to the “For Dummies” franchise of how-to books and videos. Because Hello Fresh really does seem like a “Cooking for Dummies” class to me!
I’ve never written about grocery lists, meal planning, or shopping tips, much less cooking. The closest I’ve come are these kitchen-related blog posts and such:
The Kitchen Clutter Flow Chart
3 Tricks to Organizing a New Kitchen
Is Your Kitchen Counter Worse Than Mine?
How to Organize Your Kitchen for Health and Weight Loss Success
Get Organized! Kitchen Pantry Tips for You (new free download from Professional Organizers of New Mexico, featuring photos of our own pantries!)
That’s because I don’t cook.
Now, because I have encountered individuals who know even less about cooking than I do, when I say, “I don’t cook,” what I mean is this: I don’t cook meals with more than 3 ingredients that take more than a few minutes to prepare. When I do cook it’s usually a one-bowl meal consisting of rice, pasta, or beans, with protein like beef, chicken or shrimp (usually microwaved from frozen, or cooked by adding to the pasta water at the last minute), and vegetables (usually frozen broccoli, and again either microwaved or cooked by adding to the pasta water at the last minute). Add butter, shredded Parmesan, salt and pepper. (OK, if I counted those, I guess I’d be up to 7 ingredients.) Good, healthy, and quick, but not mouth-wateringly delicious or adventurous.
Enter Hello Fresh!
Hello Fresh is a subscription service. They send you a box per week, with 3 smaller boxes inside, each containing ingredients for a meal large enough to feed 2 or 4 people. So, a single person can have leftovers, or have a friend over. From their website:
We’re on a mission to make it easy for you to eat tasty, nutritious meals from scratch at home. Whether you’re a seasoned cook short on time or a beginner looking to learn, we’ll send you new recipes every week, with the exact ingredients you need to cook them.
And when we say exact we mean exact. Whether it’s meat, veggies, dairy, nuts or a measured-out teaspoon of spices, the only thing you need is some olive oil, salt and pepper.
Reasons to Try
I signed up several weeks ago. Here is my original list of reasons for trying it, and how each one has worked out thus far:
- More regular, healthier meals. – Check!
- Portion-controlled meals. If they say it’s supposed to feed two, then I will make a point of only eating half at one meal. – Check! (The portions are plentiful, and sometimes there’s enough for seconds, which means it could really feed 3 or 4 depending on everyone’s appetite and whether or not you add a salad or bread.)
- Cooking instructions, which I realize are called recipes, but made easy so maybe I’ll really do it. – Check! If a meal includes three items, the recipes are all combined into one set of clear instructions, start to finish.
- Meals planned by someone else. – Check! All I have to do is choose three out of the five meals that are presented to me each week, or just let them send me their three choices.
- Not having to grocery shop as often, thereby exposing myself to junk food temptation less often. – Check! That’s worth something right there!
- New food and recipe ideas to stimulate my own creativity. – Check! I have found myself thinking, “Who knew I liked parsnips?” and, “I think I could make this again on my own.” I am even eating things I normally wouldn’t, such as onions and mushrooms. I might use half what they send, and chop them very finely, but I am eating them.
- Maybe eventually getting into the habit of cooking more on my own. – The jury is still out… but it could happen!
- The food is delicious! I mean sit-down-at-the-table and have-a-glass-of-wine delicious. I haven’t tried a single recipe in weeks that I did not enjoy.
- I hadn’t anticipated how organized this operation, and the meal boxes themselves, would be. All the cute, tiny portions of spices and foods packaged just for that one meal are very appealing to a professional organizer!
- I realized pretty early on that I had crappy knives. So I bought some new ones. OMG! Cooking is so much more fun with sharp knives! These knives weren’t expensive, either, just better than what I had. I also asked for, and received for Christmas, my very first garlic press! Who knew I’d ever want a garlic press?
- I won’t lie. Real cooking involves lots of chopping, frying, stirring, pot and pan dirtying, and general mess-making. There is way more clean-up required than you get with no cooking. I’m just sayin’!
- Packaging. Lots of it. At least cardboard is recyclable, and the cold packs are filled with water-soluble, bio-degradable gel.
- It’s possible (such as during holidays) to get backed up and not cook everything before the next box comes. Never fear! You can “pause” your subscription for a week (or longer) and the boxes usually last longer than a week in your fridge. And the meat can be frozen. (There are veggie subscriptions as well.) Just something to be aware of.
As for whether or not it’s worth the cost, I suppose it depends on how often you’ve been eating out, and how healthy your meals have been. Here’s a great little article on that topic: Are Subscription Meal Kits Worth It? (from time.com/money)
I am thinking this is a great idea for anyone who is willing and able to do their own cooking, but who is temporarily (or permanently) too busy or uninterested in planning meals and going shopping. Such as busy business people. Or those just learning to cook. Or seniors who can cook but can no longer drive themselves to the grocery store. They also offer gift certificates. A gift for new parents comes to mind.
Wanna Try It? (Referral Code)
If you would like to try Hello Fresh, and if you use my referral code — BY7K7D — you will get $40 off your first box and I will get $20 off my next box. Just click Hello Fresh to check it out!
What do you think? Have you tried Hello Fresh, or a similar service? Would you? Please share in the comments below!
Copyright 2016 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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A friend of mine subscribed to ‘Hello Fresh’ and could not use them (she did not anticipate the different types of pans she would need), so she gave them to me. The food is absolutely delicious and plentiful enough to serve at least 3 people (just pick up an extra portion of meat from the grocery store). The downside to me was the amount of prep work and the mess! I had to slice through 3 acorn squash, which is damn hard to do with a good knife. I had to coat some of the sliced squash in rice flour (messy) and fry it in several inches of oil (super messy!). It does take a basic cook out of their comfort zone, so it someone wants to expand their palate, I would recommend trying one of these services a few times.
It’s true that the recipes are marked with one of three levels of difficulty. It seems the one pot meals, like chili, are Level 1. I have not yet encountered any directions I could not follow. No acorn squash, either, though. And I suppose one could choose one’s meals based on the level of difficulty, but I choose mine based on whether I think I will like eating them. Fortunately I already had basic cookware. Can’t help but wonder what your friend didn’t have that was called for? Thanks for chiming in, Chris!
I like to use different gadgets for chopping there are lots out there that speed up the chopping process. like a multi-vegetable chopper. You just press down the lid and it cuts into cubes. It’s one of my favorites especially when my wrists are hurting. Thanks for sharing.
Name of your favorite chopper, or link, Sabrina?
I love to plan and prepare meals, so I’ve never tried this type of service, though I’ve thought about signing up for the Good Food Box, which supplies 7 good quality fresh produce items every week for $10.
They had those knives at the cottage we rented last summer, and loved them. Where did you buy them?
I think that sounds like a great idea for someone who knows what they want to do with the fresh produce. I got the knives at amazon. They were so cheap I thought they probably wouldn’t be very good, but a step in the right direction. I love them too! Farberware Classic Color Series 6-Piece Non-Stick Resin Knife Set (also available in larger sets). I’m realizing, now that I’ve looked it up again for you, that my red knife is not at all serrated, which I wanted it to be, and which the picture shows. On the plus side, while they’re still pretty cheap, I must have got mine on sale.
I am not confident in the kitchen. I will attempt recipes that require more than 3 ingredients, but it takes me twice as long to prep the meal than the recipe says. That said, I am currently in the middle of a Whole30 fresh eating plan and I have realized that if you have the right tools it saves you a ton of time in the kitchen. I’m going to have to look into Hello Fresh. It sounds like it would save me hours in my week. Thanks for sharing.
If you try it, report back and let me know how you liked it, OK?
Great article for those who don’t enjoy cooking Hazel,
Cooking is so much more fun with sharp knives – yes! I can’t cook without good knives. I actually love cooking and planning, but I know so many people who don’t have time. This is a great alternative to drive-through!
Yes, better than fast food! Although I do know someone who doesn’t even want to try it for free, she dislikes cooking so much.
Love it! Almost as good as having a personal chef! I went to culinary school and love to cook but when I’m in the middle of launching a new program I can see the value in this service. Thanks for the $40 off!
Perfect use of Hello Fresh! I mean, it’s real cooking. Just without the planning and shopping. And you’re welcome!
What a detailed, thorough review! I love your honesty about your culinary skills. I was pretty clueless when I got married, but I’ve gotten better. Though I do prepare a lot of slow cooker meals. And I own a garlic press too! Having the right tools really can make all the difference in meal prep and does make it more fun!
It really does (having the right tools making things more fun). I also just bought some teeny tiny pans for my microwave oven, which suits (thus far) for all 2-person Hello Fresh meals. Kind of like playing with an Easy Bake Oven!
For Mother’s Day last year my husband gave me a subscription to Blue Apron because he knows I hate meal planning. 2 meals a week planned and shopped for right at my door! At first I was really concerned about the price but when I looked at how much it costs to take our family of 4 (with 2 hungry teenagers) to just a fast food restaurant, it was a no brainier. Often BA was the same or less money than eating fast food AND it is all whole foods. We are in love. Sounds like you’ve had a similar experience with Hello Fresh.
Yes, I am gathering that they are quite similar. HF is a tad more expensive than BA, but also provides more food. Leftovers, anyone?
Good article and good links – as always it took me forever to read because I was busy finding out Ten Ways to Save Hundreds at the grocery store!
Thanks! It always takes me forever to read something too if I am trying to read something else simultaneously…!?