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When a good idea gains a wide enough audience, it starts getting copied and, often, improved upon. And a meal delivery service is definitely a good idea. Maybe you love spending hours a week creating a meal plan, organizing a grocery list and shopping. If so, good for you. But if you lead a busy life and want a way to eat fresh and healthy meals without breaking your back (or the bank), meal delivery services like HelloFresh are there to lend a hand.

There are quite a few meal delivery services out there. Like we said, no good idea goes uncopied for long. But which is the best? We’ve taken some of the most popular (including Home Chef and Blue Apron) for a spin. How did HelloFresh stack up? Let’s take a look.

Is HelloFresh, in fact, fresh and delicious? Image courtesy of HelloFresh.

How HelloFresh works

HelloFresh is a meal delivery service that sends you everything you need (recipes and ingredients) for a set number of meals each week. They have a few plan options:

Classic Plan

If you want to serve two people, HelloFresh’s classic plan — which includes meat, seafood and veggie-based meals — is $8.99 a serving. You can choose to have two, three or four recipes delivered each week.

If you want to serve four, the servings cost $7.50 each and you get three meals per week.

Family Plan

Have a lot of mouths to feed? This plan is designed to please the whole family and make dinner come together in a snap. Family plan meals serve four, are $7.87 per serving and you can choose two or three recipes each week.

Veggie Plan

Also $8.99 a serving for two people, the veggie plan features plant-based proteins, seasonal produce and grains. You get three meals per week with this plan. And if you want it to serve four people per meal, the serving price drops to $6.99 each.

I’m a vegetarian, so this is the plan I chose to test drive (more on that below).

Shipping

Shipping for all HelloFresh boxes is $6.99, except for the 2-meal-per-week, 2-person Classic Plan. In that case, shipping is $7.99.

Flexibility

HelloFresh is pretty flexible. You can skip your weekly delivery or cancel at any time, provided you let them know by a certain cut-off date and time (specifically, by 11:59 pm PST five days before your scheduled delivery date).

I was impressed with the freshness of my HelloFresh ingredients. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Ingredients

HelloFresh gets their ingredients from environmentally sustainable suppliers. Their seafood is rated Best Choice or Good Alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and their chicken is antibiotic-free. They’re also mindful of animal welfare standards, although getting the specifics in that category isn’t super easy on their site.

Packaging

HelloFresh’s boxes are recyclable and some (but not all) of their insulating liners are recyclable, too. They also package the ingredients for each meal in their own meal-specific bag (a feature I love) that’s compostable. When you’re ready to whip up a meal, you simply pull out the recipe and its corresponding bag and you’re ready to go.

My HelloFresh meals

Sounds good, at least in theory. So I set out to put HelloFresh to the test in my own kitchen. I took the following three meals for a spin.

Meal #1: Garlic Herb Tortellini

Full disclosure here. I had an absolutely awful cold when my HelloFresh box arrived. Its timing was excellent in that it saved me from a trip to the grocery store, where I would have inevitably spread my germs. It was not-so-excellent in that I definitely didn’t feel up to cooking. So my sweet husband prepared the Garlic Herb Tortellini solo. And he hates to cook. Like, really hates it. But HelloFresh organizes their recipes so you can comfortably follow them and he sailed through.

While I wasn’t involved in the preparation of this meal, I was very involved in scarfing it down. And, boy, was it tasty. I mean, what’s not to love about tortellini? The bread crumbs added some additional texture I really loved, too.

These were the contents of my Chickpea-powered Mediterranean Couscous bag. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Meal #2: Chickpea-powered Mediterranean Couscous

I was already pretty impressed with the first HelloFresh meal, but pasta is pretty simple. Couscous, on the other hand, is a carb with which I very rarely work. But I love Mediterranean flavors and, as a vegetarian, lean pretty heavily on chickpeas, so I was excited to try the Chickpea-powered Mediterranean Couscous out.

Newly recovered from my cold, I was totally dreading cooking. But this came together in a snap. Seriously, it was pretty much stupid easy. And it tasted phenomenal. My husband was gone the night I made it and he reported that as leftovers the next day, it blew him away. (This was his favorite of the box.)

One thing that caught me by surprise was that I needed to have my own butter. I did, so I was fine, but most other meal services I’ve tried only expect you to have olive oil, salt and pepper.

Meal #3: Cheesy Corn Tostadas

Before I jump into this recipe, let me say I’m a huge corner cutter in the kitchen. The chickpea recipe above called for you to roast the chickpeas and veggies on two different baking sheets. I, a hater of dishes, said no and did it on one (and it all turned out fine, thank you very much). So when I saw that I was going to be making my own tostadas, something I could perfectly easily purchase at the store, I was annoyed.

After making these Cheesy Corn Tostadas, I’ll never purchase store-bought tostadas again. Like, seriously, these things were good! This dinner was, again, super easy to prepare and, again, super flavorful.  It was a bright and nourishing meal that taught me that sometimes doing things the hard way is totally worth it.

Again, I needed an ingredient beyond oil, salt and pepper. This time, it was sugar. Most people will have these kitchen staples ready to go, but be advised that HelloFresh does rely on you to be ready with more ingredients than other meal delivery services.

The Cheesy Corn Tostadas were beautiful and delicious. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

HelloFresh pros and cons

All in all, I was pretty impressed with HelloFresh. Here are my key takeaways.

Pros

  • More affordable than most other meal delivery services
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Flavorful meals
  • Easy to prepare
  • Conveniently packaged in a compostable bag

Cons

  • You pay for shipping, while most other meal services ship your meals for free
  • You need to have more ingredients on hand than other meal services

Try HelloFresh for yourself

Want to check it out? I’d recommend trying HelloFresh in your own kitchen, especially because they’re running a great promo through April 29. Use the code HELLO2019 to get $80 off ($20 off your first four orders). Make mealtime a snap, just like that.