You come in the door after a long day, kick off your work shoes and are then faced with the inevitable question: what’s for dinner? Maybe it’s your children asking, maybe it’s just your own grumbly tummy, but by this time of day your decision-making abilities are at a low ebb and you’re thinking maybe you can get away with beans on toast. Again. It’s exactly this situation that Hello Fresh has got covered.
Hello Fresh is a food-delivery service different to the rest. No frozen or pre-prepared stuff here – instead, what you get is fresh ingredients and recipes to turn them into fresh and tasty meals. Let me be clear, it’s not diet food, just healthy wholesome unprocessed food that you could find for yourself in any green grocer or supermarket.
Of course, the whole point is that you don’t have to go to the shops with a Hello Fresh delivery – that’s a major bonus. Everything is delivered to you, portioned up and even labelled, accompanied by easy to follow recipes.
Now, I like to bake and can make you any number of delicious sweet treats to delight your senses and send you on a blood sugar high but cooking real food does not come so easily to me. I once cooked for a new boyfriend, who, after eating the meal gamely commented that it was okay, he liked his potatoes ‘a bit rare’. So I was excited but nervous to see what I was going to get for the week.
I chose the Classic Box, containing three meals for two people. You can also get Veggie Boxes if you prefer. Here’s the food that came out of the box.
My heart sank a bit when I read the recipes. First up – because they helpfully tell you the best order to cook your recipes in order to maximise the freshness of the ingredients – was sumac barramundi with tabouleh. I don’t mind fish but am nervous about cooking it. Strike that, I used to be nervous about cooking it but not anymore because this was so easy I could do it myself in any number of variations now. I was really pleased how good this looked and tasted (although I did put too much red onion in the tabouleh for my own taste).
Next up was Cottage Pie. Like the fish, it is not something I would normally cook or eat but again I was pleasantly surprised. It was really tasty, though my effort was not as pretty as the picture on the recipe. Maybe because I was too lazy to peel the chat potatoes provided (too small to bother, right?) so I did them with the peel on and as a result got a slightly more rustic (though not rare) mash. There was also a green salad to go with it. The recipes give you an approximation of how long they’ll take to prepare, and both the fish and the pie were bang on.
The third and final dish was an Asian mushroom stir-fry with jasmine rice. I gifted this to my vegetarian neighbour since I don’t love mushrooms much. And there’s the rub – you cannot choose your recipes or preferences with Hello Fresh, you just get what you are given. I will say this though, I found the portions are generous enough to satisfy, and I’m pretty well known for being ‘good on the tooth’.
Aside from the lack of selecting recipes according to your preferences, my only other vague criticism is the price. The Classic Box costs $64, delivered. Looking at it baldly, that’s not $64 dollars worth of food spread out on my kitchen bench. Thing is, you’re paying for more than just the food. If you had the time and the skills to turn random fresh ingredients into proper meals then you can do it more cheaply. That’s not the target market here. The convenience factor is what you’re paying for and it’s the time-poor among us who will find the service appealing. If you hate the shops, think menu-planning is for chumps but enjoy fresh food, then you’re the kind of customer Hello Fresh is designed for.
Speaking of service, the customer service is impressive. You get texts and emails telling you what the recipes will be (which I didn’t realise until after my box had arrived) and what pantry items (things like oil, flour etc) that you’ll need that week. I also got a message telling me what time to expect my delivery and then a second one telling me that the courier was literally bogged on a rainy day and would be a bit late.
Hello Fresh is a subscription service, meaning you sign up and you’ll keep getting deliveries unless you pause or cancel them. My intention had been to sign on for one week for the purpose of this review and cancel straight away. Then I forgot to cancel by the deadline and will be receiving a second Classic Box next week. When I realised this I was a bit cranky at my own incompetence, but was I disappointed that I’d be getting another crack at some more new recipes and could avoid the shops for another week? Not really! I just hope there are no more mushrooms in there…