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Hello Fresh Subscription Box Review + Coupon – April 2017

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Hello Fresh is a weekly meal delivery subscription that sends healthy recipes and the pre-measured ingredients you need to make them at home. 

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

It’s easy to skip deliveries using the Hello Fresh website, and you can skip as many weeks as you like. They also have an app to help you check or change your orders on the go.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

My Subscription Addiction pays for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

This review is of the Hello Fresh Veggie Plan, $9.99 a meal, box.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

The Subscription Box: Hello Fresh

The Cost: The Classic Food Box (for omnivores) starts at $9.99 per person per meal. The Veggie Box (for herbivores) starts at $9.99 per person per meal. The Family Box (for families) costs $8.74 per person per meal. Hello Fresh announced they will soon offer two plans: Unlimited Meal Choice ($11.50 a meal) or Basic Plan ($9.99 per meal). Learn more here!

COUPON: Save $80 off your first five boxes! No coupon needed - just use this link.

The Products: Healthy recipes and pre-portioned fresh ingredients.

Ships to: The contiguous U.S.

Check out all our Hello Fresh reviews and the Food Subscription Box Directory for more meal boxes!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

I love food. I’m low-key obsessed with Chef’s Table on Netflix right now, and I’ve probably spent more time watching Food Network in my adult life than I’ve spent actually eating. There’s only one problem—I’m awful in the kitchen. Sure, I know all the tricks for how I’m supposed to hold my knife and the best techniques for kneading bread, but when I’m actually in a kitchen, I get overwhelmed, I make mistakes, I put wayyy too much of one thing in a dish and not enough of another… Basically, if I serve you a salad, you’ll be fine. If I serve you anything more complicated than that, well… uh…. good luck.

So the fact that Hello Fresh, like other meal kit delivery subscription boxes, sends you pre-portioned ingredients and so-easy-a-kid-could-do-it instructions sound very good in my book. They also mention on their site that all of their recipes are run past their in-house dietician, who ensures the meals are nutritionally balanced. Typical meals run between 500-800 calories per serving (the full nutrition facts are on a label on the outside of the box), and I like knowing that those calories are being spent on wholesome products like veggies and lean proteins.

On that note, I’ll mention that I opted for the Hello Fresh Veggie Plan, as I prefer a vegetarian diet (so no meats in this review). It’s the same price per meal as the Classic Plan (for omnivores), just without the meats.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Another fun thing about Hello Fresh is that they include this envelope of #HelloPerks, a.k.a. coupons to use on other healthy-vibe brands.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Here’s a coupon for Graze. (They make these things called “flapjacks” with seeds and oats… wow, are they good.)

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

And something for Sierra Trading Post, which is a shop for active/outdoor apparel. I’ll have to check it out.

But first, the food! Hello Fresh arrives at your doorstep in a big giant cardboard box, inside of which is a space-age, silver, bubble-wrap-of-the-future kind of material that keeps your ingredients cool and fresh during shipment. Rip open the silver stuff, and you’ll find the ingredients for your meals, packaged in smaller, rectangular, clearly labeled boxes. Let’s start with the “Ultimate Spring Salad.”

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

The Ultimate Spring Salad

Calories per Serving: 540

Prep Time, According to Hello Fresh: 10 minutes

Total Time, According to Hello Fresh: 35 minutes

Actual Time It Took: Just under an hour

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

If there’s one thing I was leery about in getting into meal boxes, it was packaging, 1) because you know the environment doesn’t need any more trash to worry about, and 2) because I don’t need any more trash to worry about, especially in my small apartment. Since it already seemed like I’d gone through several layers of cardboard and plastic to get to my ingredients, I was weirdly happy to see the potatoes and pepper in this meal freely rolling around in the bottom of their rectangular box. Otherwise, everything was bagged, boxed or otherwise housed in clear plastic. Hello Fresh doesn’t have an environmental/eco-friendly slant to their brand like other services do, but at least the majority of the packaging is recyclable cardboard.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

With all of these recipes, my first step was to read through the ingredients on the recipe card and make sure everything had arrived as promised. I’d hate to get halfway through a recipe and find out I was missing a radish!

The picture sure looks good. I’d never made anything that looked that nice on camera.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

The back of the card lists the recipe, as well as particulars like how much of each ingredient you received in the box (based on the number of people you’re feeding), a helpful tip (this time it’s some helpful info about cooking snap peas up in the top left corner), and a little section called “BUST OUT.” That’s where to look to find what supplies aren’t in your box (pots, pans, and common items like butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar). My kitchen isn’t the most well-stocked one in the world, so I checked to make sure I had all of these items up on the counter before digging in. In general, the Hello Fresh brand voice is pretty chill, so “BUST OUT” gave me a little laugh. It also made me more action-movie about the way I took things out of my cabinets. (“I’m busting YOU out, pan! Olive oil, you’ve been BUSTED OUT!”)

Check out our review of Hello Fresh for April 2017!

Between washing the produce, cutting everything, bringing the water to boil, and trimming the stems off a dozen or so peas, prep took quite a little longer than the 10 minutes Hello Fresh had suggested. But all told, the recipe was super easy to prepare. The hardest part for me was resisting the urge to eat all of the super-tasty, fresh mozzarella…

While cooking this dish, I really didn’t have any idea where this recipe was going. Most of the vegetables are cooked (some are roasted and some are briefly boiled), but the radishes are added raw. The vegetables themselves also feel more akin to traditional American recipes (potatoes, carrots, peas), but the finish is more Mediterranean (with pesto, torn mozzarella, and a garnish of basil). What the heck was this going to taste like?

Another eccentricity was that the recipe said to “halve radishes through stem ends.” Easy peasy, except there were only three radishes in the box, and it seemed awfully odd to have only 6 big radish chunks between two servings of salad. So I made a game-time decision and chopped them into slightly smaller pieces, so I’d get more per bite. I also worried that some of the peas looked a little shabby (they had a lot of white splotches on the side) and the basil seemed on the wilty side. Then again, this city girl can’t really claim to know much about what vegetables are “supposed” to look like, so I let it slide.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

But hey, check THIS out! All plated and properly garnished, this dish looks downright pretty. WAY prettier than anything I’ve cooked before. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor, too. The slight warmth of the salad was really satisfying, as were the earthier assortment of veggies. I should’ve known—you put pesto on anything, and I’m bound to love it.

Plus, there was TONS of this salad to enjoy. The smallest subscription you can get from Hello Fresh is for two people, so I figured I’d just make food for two, save it, and eat it over the week. That was a good plan because this fibrous salad is so hearty that I barely got through one serving myself. And good news! The salad is just as tasty cold and straight out of the fridge the next day. I think giving the pesto and fresh basil a chance to mingle and marinate with the veggies actually makes it even better.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Eggplant and Sundried Tomato Linguine

Calories per Serving: 710

Prep Time, According to Hello Fresh: 10 minutes

Total Time, According to Hello Fresh: 35 minutes

Actual Time It Took: About an hour

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Pasta is my favorite food, but I also know that it’s not always the most nutrient-dense food. Plus, every time I eat pasta, my brain and body moves at a snail’s pace for the next 3-4 hours. Not so great to eat as a work lunch, but not terrible for a cozy night in. I was happy that this pasta was going to be cut with what seemed like plenty of eggplant and homemade tomato sauce—that way, I could enjoy a big serving of this meal with less of the okay-bye-going-to-take-a-nap-now feeling afterwards.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Again, I checked my ingredients and admired the gorgeous photo of my future meal.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Then, I BUSTED OUT my supplies, washed my produce, and got rolling. The tip on this recipe mentions how nutrient-dense the skin of the eggplant is, so I left it on (but you can peel it if you want). One thing I liked about this recipe was that I could easily make it vegan, say if I was having a vegan friend over for dinner and a movie, or if I just didn’t feel like eating cheese one day (just kidding, this would never happen). All I’d have to do is leave out the mozzarella. They note clearly on the products list when there are tricky ingredients in things (such as milk or wheat).

Check out our review of Hello Fresh for April 2017!

The hardest part of this recipe was probably just waiting for the pasta water to boil. Look at that awesome pasta. I saw on the box that it’s Colavita, which is one of the better pasta brands you can find at the grocery store. The noodles themselves had a lot of rich, slightly sweet flavor to them. Noodles can be so bland sometimes, so it was great to be able to use really flavorful ones!

Check out our review of Hello Fresh for April 2017!

I had one panicked moment where I was in the midst of making the sauce and realized that I didn’t know where my can opener was! After a few minutes of scrambling through the kitchen drawers, worried that I was going to overcook my onions and sundried tomatoes in the interim, I noticed that—eureka!—the tomato can had a pull top! Looks like the geniuses at Hello Fresh came prepared for a novice chef like myself. (Thank you, geniuses!)

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Again, holy cow, look how well this turned out! Even more impressive than how this pasta looks is just how much pasta there is in this dish. I thought to add an entire eggplant to the meal would balance things out a bit, but the noodles really do take up most of the real estate on the plate. Because of the liquidity of the sauce, the noodles are on the slippery side, too—it’s hard to get a good scoop of both vegetables and pasta because everything slips off and away from the noodles. You kind of have to get your pasta, then scoop the veggies onto the plate, mix them in, and repeat.

The flavors are fantastic, though. I really liked the addition of the sundried tomatoes in the sauce—they added a unique depth and sweetness to the dish and also a really nice, meaty texture now and again. The real star of the show, though, was the pinch of chili flakes. Having that low, flavorful heat in the dish upgraded this meal from just another pot of pasta.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Chickpea Powered Mediterranean Couscous

Calories per Serving: 610

Prep Time, According to Hello Fresh: 10 minutes

Total Time, According to Hello Fresh: 30 minutes

Actual Time It Took: About an hour

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Say hello to my favorite recipe in the box. This couscous was so good, different, and easy that I feel like it’s going to become my go-to potluck and party recipe. For real—it’s that tasty.

That’s not to say I wasn’t suspicious at first. The zucchini I got was a little on the bendy side and the heirloom tomatoes were softer than I’d assume was okay. Take all of that with a grain of salt though, as I’m someone who grew up thinking that tomatoes should always look like the plastic ones in kindergarten kitchen playsets. But, as the snap peas taught me, vegetables don’t always have to be gorgeous, magazine cover models to taste good or at the very least, be useful in a recipe. It’s kind of like how people make banana bread with less-than-ripe bananas. In this case, I learned that even if a tomato isn’t perfectly perky enough for a crisp salad, it’ll do just fine in the roasting pan. I want to try and remember these little lessons as unspoken techniques that I can put to use with non-meal-box produce and cooking I do in the future.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

Okay, so back to the couscous. I went through and checked off all of the ingredients…

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

…and made sure that there was butter in my fridge before I began. I’ve been a one-cookie-sheet kind of gal for my whole adult life, so I was surprised that suddenly I’d be using TWO baking pans in one recipe. But when Hello Fresh says bust out two baking sheets, you BUST OUT two baking sheets.

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

I may still be an amateur cook, but after trying the recipes in this box, I can say that I am a bonafide vegetable-roasting machine. I knew I liked roasted vegetables, and I knew that it’s pretty easy to roast vegetables, but now I have that very critical how component part down, too. Every one of these recipes was like, “See that vegetable? Cube it. Toss it in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put it in the oven at 425. Kick back for 25 minutes. And BAM.” The only hard part is having to reach inside the hottest oven ever to take the pan out. I don’t think my oven has ever been this hot before. Better get used to it, though, because I am digging this technique!

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

I also roasted chickpeas as part of this recipe. This also gets us to the only awkward thing I noticed about this meal. The box came with twice the chickpeas needed for the dish. Not too odd, except that I totally could’ve made the rest of the chickpeas without the meal feeling overwhelmed by them. I actually wanted more chickpeas on my plate when I tried the final product. They’re super simple to make, too. The process is just tossing the chickpeas in olive oil, salt, pepper, and the included smoked paprika, and—you guessed it—roast ’em in a 425-degree oven. They get kind of crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, which gives them a great texture to bite into. The hardest part is making sure all the chickpeas get a nice even coat on them. (I ended up setting my spatula aside and using my fingers.)

See what's cooking in this month's review of Hello Fresh!

This is another recipe that’s easy to vegan-ize just by ditching the cheese. Like in the eggplant pasta, there was a good bit more couscous than there were veggies, but it blended together well enough that I could get all the ingredients into one bite. The flavors here are warm and comforting, while still being lighter and perfect for spring. I also loved the mixture of crisp and tender textures, from the softer roasted tomatoes and cheese to the more meaty chickpeas and zucchini. So, so, so good!

Verdict: This is my first meal subscription box ever, so maybe I’m easily impressed, but I really enjoyed this Hello Fresh shipment. Let’s start with the most important thing: the food tasted great. The recipes weren’t “obvious” (even the pasta with veggies was beefed up with unique flavors like chili flakes and sundried tomatoes), but they tasted great and were pretty easy. I took a little while longer than the estimated times, but I’ll assume that’s because I’m newer at cooking and slower around the kitchen. I loved that there was plenty of food for me to eat over the course of the week and that the leftover versions of each of these foods tasted just as good if not better than they did straight out of the oven. Since I’m just one person, that’s pretty key for me—I need these meals that I like enough to eat again and that will still taste good when I do!

If you’re trying to choose between different meal box services, I can say that this box does feel less concerned with things like sourcing (they don’t message much about their vendors, neither in the box nor online) and environmental impact (be that through responsible, local sourcing practices or providing information/services around recycling their packaging). They did mention that the pasta was from Colavita, but that’s more of a typical grocery store brand (albeit a nicer one), and they do list the origin of the ingredients, but not super specifically. (Think less “X Farm in X Town, New York” and more just “New York.”) They don’t offer a ton of dietary options either, but I was really impressed with their vegetarian offerings this week!

That said, they are competitively priced. Meals start at $9.99 per serving (an amount I could see myself paying at a restaurant for similar styles and servings of food). That pricing is on par with Blue Apron ($9.99 per serving) and Home Chef ($9.95 per serving) and less than Plated ($12 per serving).

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Written by Anna Reilly

Anna Reilly

Anna loves collecting little treasures, be they pop-culture finds, handmade mementos, or new potions to put in her makeup bag. Beauty boxes got her interested in the subscription world, but now she’s swooning for all things kawaii!

Posted in Food & Drink Subscription Boxes, HelloFresh Reviews, Meal Kit Subscriptions, meal subscriptions, Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: HelloFresh | 20 comments

Comments (20)

  1. LOVE your review! I am not skilled in the kitchen AT ALL and will be moving into a new apartment for the summer, so I’m looking into Hello Fresh to maybe ease me into this whole “cooking real food” thing 😉

    You’re so entertaining and authentic, I love your writing! Keep them coming 🙂

  2. vegetables.. OMG autocorrect really??

    • No I think we should call them verge tables!

      • “Verge Tables” would make a great vegetarian band name… just sayin’…. 🙂

  3. Great review!!! I cut up everything from tomatoes to mushrooms and put in a bag with oil and season salt. Roasting is my favorite way to eat verge tables!! It just makes the flavor seem to burst and taste so bright.

  4. Great review! I’d definitely consider myself an intermediate cook, and it was really fun to read your new-to-cooking perspective! (I’ll also add that most recipes seem to underestimate cooking time unless you’re a professional or super efficient. I’m not sure they actually count the mise-en-place – all the washing and chopping – as part of prep time.)

    • This makes me feel lots better, Jessica, haha! I assume things will speed up with practice, but yes, the washing and chopping takes way longer than I’d have expected. Thanks so much for reading and for the encouragement!

  5. Fantastic revew! I’ve been wanting to try Hello Fresh for the longest time and this pushed me over the edge. I’m a vegetarian and your dishes look delicious! Thanks 🙂

  6. Now that you have two cookie sheets, may I suggest parchment paper? Parchment paper will make clean up easier. Great review–my daughter is vegetarian and I just ordered this for her. 😋

    • THANK YOU for this suggestion, Ashby! I’ve procured some parchment, and WOW does it ever make clean up a breeze. As a true amateur, I really appreciate the tip. I hope your daughter is loving the benefits, too!

      Thank you for reading!

  7. Great review! I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

  8. Great review!

  9. Great review! Very detailed and fun to read. I also very much appreciate that it’s on the vegetarian boxes as I’m vegetarian. I hope you review other vegetarian boxes as well.

    • Definitely, Leana! I’m really curious about how creative different boxes get with their vegetarian meals. So far, I’m impressed by what I’ve seen from this subscription – I was worried it’d be all simple salads and pasta with veggies thrown on top. These meals were actually pretty surprising and had some really unique flavors. Keep an eye out for more veggie meals soon 🙂

  10. Really enjoyed reading this review. Love the detail, it was like I was right there eating with you! Hope you do a lot more of these meal box reviews!

  11. Incredibly entertaining review! I’m a novice cook myself, so reading this was a real treat. Looking forward to you trying out more recipes!

  12. Five gold ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 👩‍🍳. Fantastic job and review. I think your finished plates look much better than the photos on the cards. I am a professionally trained chef (not my day job) and I am very impressed. Well done!

    • Wow! Thanks Kathy!!! I’m so jealous of your chef training – that must’ve been so much fun. I suppose meal kit boxes will be my version of culinary school for now. Glad to hear I’m off to a good start, haha! Thank you so much for reading and for your kind compliment 🙂

    • Thanks so much Siobhan!!! I really appreciate you and all the other readers following along through all of my kitchen foibles, haha!

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