Hello Fresh Subscription Box Review + Coupon – May 2017
Hello Fresh is a weekly meal delivery subscription that sends healthy recipes and the pre-measured ingredients you need to make them at home.
Hello Fresh lets you choose from a Classic Plan (choose from 8 weekly meat and fish recipes), a Veggie Plan (get 3 weekly vegetarian recipes), or a Family Plan (meat, fish, and veggie recipes perfect for two adults and two children). I like to eat a vegetarian diet, so I selected the Veggie Plan. Hello Fresh only offers 3 vegetarian dishes per week—where Classic Plan members can hop into their account and swap the recipes selected for them with other dishes on the menu, I’ve got to take what I get. I’m not a picky eater, so being subject to the luck of the draw has worked out okay for me so far. But I do wish there was just a little bit of wiggle room in the Veggie menu!
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.
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!
The Products: Healthy recipes and pre-portioned fresh ingredients.
Ships to: The contiguous U.S.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
I love food culture—my favorite pastimes are trying new restaurants in town and watching all too many chef documentaries and cooking shows. But I’m a total newbie in the kitchen. My go-to recipes are sandwiches, salad from bags, and chocolate chip cookies (when I’m feeling really sophisticated). I want to eat out less (it’s hard on the wallet and not always the healthiest, balanced option), but I’m usually such a klutz in the kitchen. Enter meal kit delivery subscription boxes, the training wheels of cooking. The pre-portioned ingredients, very clear, very visual recipes, and even the idea that lots of other folks are out there cooking the same thing the same week gives me the bit of confidence I need to willingly jump in the kitchen. And the results? Pretty darn good, even for an amateur cook like me.
In a sea of meal kit services, Hello Fresh stands out to me for probably the best reason—their food tastes really, really good. 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.
So far, Hello Fresh meals have been, to put it simply, friendly. The ingredients and recipes might be out of the ordinary, but the flavors are hearty, satisfying, and crowd pleasing. I feel like this is a subscription that could help picky eaters slowly expand their palette, whereas other subscriptions are better suited to sophisticated foodie types.
Okay, let’s get to the recipes!
Persian-Spiced Cauliflower Quinoa Bowl
Calories per Serving: 630
Total Time, According to Hello Fresh: 40 minutes
Actual Time It Took: 45 minutes
For most of my life, I didn’t like cauliflower. It seemed like broccoli’s (really, really, really) boring cousin. But a couple of years ago, I tried a bit of my friend’s fried buffalo cauliflower at a bar, and poof! My whole understanding of what cauliflower could taste like exploded. I order all kinds of uniquely seasoned, spiced, and breaded cauliflower dishes out at restaurants, but this is one of the first times I’ve tried to make some for myself.
This recipe required a good amount of prep time on my part, even though the recipe says it only takes 5 minutes to prepare everything. All the washing and chopping took me about 10 minutes, rather than 5. Prep work is something I hope I get better at as I get more experienced in the kitchen!
Once everything’s all chopped and ready to rock, though, this recipe couldn’t be more of a breeze. The main steps are throwing the veggies in the oven to roast, putting the quinoa on the stove to cook, and whipping up the avocado-based crema dressing. In other words, most of the process is just waiting for the timer to go off. These veggies smell so good as they roast. The Persian spice blend, which includes coriander, cumin, and hot pepper, gives the veggies a warm glow, both in flavor and color. And the quinoa was so simple and more forgiving than rice tends to be. (Every pot of rice I make ends up with a layer sticking to the bottom of the pot, but this hearty grain came out perfectly tender with zero sticking!)
Alas, I did find a way to goof this recipe up. You’re supposed to toss the salad with lime, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl (as kind of a side salad to the dish), but I ended up tossing everything together by accident. Oh well! I don’t think it looks half bad, actually. And to be honest, I probably would’ve mixed everything together on the plate, anyway.
Ooo wow, was this good! I think this dish is a great example of how deliciously balanced and satisfying Hello Fresh meals can be. The warm flavors and temperature of the roasted veggies, all of which end up being so deliciously tender, tastes even more incredible when enjoyed alongside the acidic citrus notes of the lime, the cool, fresh spinach leaves, and the fatty, creamy avocado sauce. It’s the same savory satisfaction you’d get from a rice bowl with lots of guac, but with way more nutrient-dense ingredients swapped in. In other words, it’s healthy, yet hearty, and left me happily stuffed without making me want to crash into a nap immediately after eating. Better yet, it keeps pretty darn well! I’m usually just cooking for myself each night, so I stash the second serving of the meal in the fridge to eat as a lunch or dinner the next day. This dish kept up pretty well (just a few minutes in the microwave and I had a warm, hearty bowl to munch on), though the crema got a little brown (from the oxidizing avocado).
Patatas Bravas and Crispy Artichokes
Calories per Serving: 610
Total Time, According to Hello Fresh: 40 minutes
Actual Time It Took: 50 minutes
I told basically everyone I know that I was going to make patatas bravas for dinner, simply because “patatas bravas” is a really fun thing to say. It just sounds fun, doesn’t it? Patatas bravas!
This recipe rests on the kinds of Mediterranean flavors that always get me drooling. I was particularly curious about this whole crispy artichokes thing—I’ve been getting more and more into artichokes, especially heading into summer.
This was another one where prep took me way longer than the recipe estimated. There’s a lot of washing, drying, chopping, and finely slicing to do before you get cooking. But again, the cooking process is pretty easy, once you get to it.
I think potatoes get a bad rap—people associate them with French fries or hash browns or other dishes that rely on heavily fried potatoes that are totally devoid of their nutritional goodness. But potatoes, like other veggies, are packed with all kinds of nutrients and micronutrients. You don’t want to fry the life out of them, but a quick olive oil fry in the pan is just enough to bring out some flavors, soften their texture, and still let their natural, healthy, potato-iness shine.
This dish is basically a one pan dish, though you will need a few paper-towel-lined plates (to let the fried potatoes and crispy artichokes rest and dry) and a small bowl to make the aioli. This is great because 1) as a new cook, I just don’t have a ton of pots and pans to spare (plus my kitchen is small), and 2) as much as I love food, I really hate doing dishes!
Holy cow, was this dish good. Again, the warm tenderness of the potatoes and artichokes (which weren’t as crispy as I thought they’d be but were still super flavorful) were the perfect complement to the crunchy tomatoes, almond slices, and arugula in the dish. My aioli came out super spicy (be wary of that chipotle powder!), so it really helped the dish come alive in an exciting, deliciously addicting way. I scarfed this salad down and felt super satisfied after finishing it. And it held up beautifully as a leftover! If anything, the brine from the artichokes melded together even more with the creamy textures of the aioli, cheese, and even the potatoes, making for one of the tastiest leftover lunches I’ve had in awhile. I’m heading to a picnic or two this weekend, and I’m seriously considering making this perfect summertime salad to share!
One-Pan Mushroom Ravioli Gratin
Calories per Serving: 500
Total Time, According to Hello Fresh: 35 minutes
Actual Time It Took: 35 minutes
Thus, we arrive at my favorite recipe from this week’s box. The star of this dish is the ravioli, which wouldn’t fit in the ingredients box, and therefore, was left hiding under the ice pack at the bottom of the shipping box. I’ve mentioned before how much I love Hello Fresh‘s friendly, fun brand voice (which asks you to “bust out” certain kitchen tools and refers to “glugs” of olive oil). This card appeared towards the top of the box, letting me know to go looking for that key ingredient. I appreciate the user-friendliness of this little message, but I especially loved the cute way they phrased it (it’s not that the ravioli are located elsewhere in the box… it’s that they’re hiding.)
Just looking at the ingredients, I noticed that this meal is a good deal less green than the others in the box. But what it lacks in green, it makes up for in mushrooms. Mushrooms were another food that I’ve historically been a little so-so about, but in the past few years, I’ve had numerous mushroom dishes that made me change my tune. Sure, you can make a mushroom that’s just sad, wet, and downright icky. But I’ve learned that there are some preparations (none of which I’ve tried on my own, until now) that showcase the best of this complex, utterly unique little plant.
If I was on the fence about whether or not I’d like this mushroom-driven dish, all I had to do was look at the photo on the recipe card. Cheese? Breadcrumbs? Creamy sauce? Pasta? Oh yeah. It’s going to be pretty tough for me to not like this dish.
As the name suggests, this recipe is truly one-pot cooking. I thought maybe I’d be boiling some water on the side to get the pasta going, but no sir. After sauteeing the mushrooms in veggie stock, the fresh ravioli (I’ve seen this brand at Whole Foods) are dropped in and cooked in the delicious umami-infused broth already simmering in the pan. Some sour cream is added to thicken up the sauce, then the whole thing is topped with breadcrumbs and cheese and popped into the oven for a (very) hot second to create a crust.
I mean, how scrumptious does that look?
I actually made this dish in advance, expecting to keep it and reheat it for later. I took a bite, just to try how it turned out, then set the plate down to clean up. Two seconds later, I took another bite. Then another. Then two more. Then within a few minutes, I’d downed about 3 or 4 ravioli and way more mushrooms than I thought I would enjoy in one sitting. This dish is sooooooooo good. The flavor of the mushrooms, which have been cooked with onion and thyme, reminded me of the heartwarming, buttery, herbal flavors of a Thanksgiving dinner. Thinly sliced and doused in sauce and breadcrumbs, the mushrooms have the consistency of thick pasta noodles and are every bit as satisfying. The ravioli are delicious and tender, and the stroganoff-like sauce is just creamy enough to feel decadent, but not overwhelming or gluttonous. If I could eat this dish every day, I totally would. I do think it could’ve benefitted from a green veggie (maybe some asparagus or spinach?), but on its own, it was plenty filling.
Verdict: How do I love Hello Fresh? Let me count the ways. This meal subscription box feels like the most user-friendly product of the kits I’ve tried. Every step in the recipe is depicted visually, everything you need is listed out in multiple places on the recipe card for clarity (including all of the kitchen tools you’ll need, which is something not all boxes are so explicit about), and most importantly, the food is approachable, comfortable, and absolutely delicious.
Hello Fresh isn’t perfect, of course. The company seems less concerned with things like sourcing (they don’t message much about their vendors, neither in the box nor online) nor environmental impact (be that through responsible, local sourcing practices or providing information/services around recycling their packaging). Not everyone might see those qualities as deal breakers, but especially since so many other boxes do put care and effort into those kinds of initiatives, it’s worth noting that it’s lacking here.
But Hello Fresh meals sure are delicious, and only cost $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). I love that there’s no food left to go to waste after I’m done cooking, and the convenience is really a huge selling point. I do with there was more wiggle room in the Veggie menu each week, but thus far, the meals I’ve been sent have been such big wins for me that I can’t complain too much!
Do you subscribe to Hello Fresh? What’s been your favorite meal so far?