Why My Friends Can’t Stop Talking About Their HelloFresh Subscriptions
So here’s the thing: I know that I’m not your average subscription box consumer. I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid for years now, and my glass was always fully extended and ready to be filled. I remember back when I took my first sip. It was 2014, and I was out for cocktails with three of my best gal pals. One of them mentioned this “cool new beauty box that sends you samples every month on repeat.” At the time, I’d never heard the term “subscription box” before, and I was immediately into it. For the next 10 minutes, I monopolized the conversation like a word vampire, sucking up every piece of info I could squeeze out of my poor amiga. That night when I went home, I was signed up for Birchbox before my head hit the pillow, and as cheesy as it is to say, the rest is history. I’ve been a full-blown subscription box addict ever since.
Beauty subscriptions are an easy sell for most people because the financial value is glaring. You’ll often hear beauty box fans bragging about how much they save off the retail value of the products in their shipments. (Like Megan who received $131 worth of products in her $25 Boxycharm or $151 worth of products in her $25 Ipsy Glam Bag Plus!) Like most people, I love a great deal, but over the years I’ve fallen hard into a different corner of the subscription box market.
As a professional baker, foodie, and general lover of eating, I pretty quickly gravitated towards the noms offered up in meal kits, snack boxes, and booze-centric subscriptions. Sure, it’s great to get mascara, skincare, and hair masks sent right to your door, but chocolate? Meal kits? Wine!? Um, yes, please.
The thing is, these boxes don’t always deliver the big-ticket savings a lot of other subscriptions offer, and at first glance, they might seem less dazzling. If you were to shop for groceries and make dinner for yourself, you could probably do it for the same price (or maybe even less) than you’d spend on a meal kit subscription. Sure, some meal delivery services will save you money, but probably not all that much. In order to spot the true value, you have to look more closely. The benefits are definitely there, but they can sometimes be more difficult to quantify.
You know that good old saying that you sometimes have to “learn by doing?” I really think that’s the way it goes sometimes with food subscriptions, especially meal kits. Way back in those early days, a lot of my buddies didn’t quite understand my obsession. “Why buy a meal kit when I can just go out to dinner?” they’d ask. And I get it! For so long, we’ve been told there are two categories of dining: cooking at home and dining out. Inviting a meal kit into the kitchen is kind of a hybridization of both, and if you’ve never tried one before, it can be hard to see how they can benefit the average mealtime routine.
The pandemic changed the way a lot of people ‘do dinner’. For many, dining out was simply off the menu. During this challenging time, a lot of my formerly skeptical friends called me up to pick my brain about meal kits. They were sick of prepping meals every night, bored with the same old recipes, and desperate for anything that would pump a little pizzaz into their evening meal routines. A lot of them weren’t convinced meal kits were the answer they were looking for, but they were eager to try anything that would shake up the seemingly endless cycle of meal planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and eating.
As I bona fide meal kit fiend, I was happy to help. After so many years so of waiting for those close to me to finally see the light, this was my moment! I felt like some kind of Vegas card-dealer extraordinaire, dealing out customized suggestions for family members, friends, and even friends of friends. I sent my vegan friends to Purple Carrot, my keto peeps to Green Chef, and pretty much the rest to HelloFresh. As one of the biggest and most popular meal kits out there, HelloFresh is a great one-size-fits-most meal subscription service. The menu is huge, there are plenty of recipes to fit different tastes and dietary restrictions, the price is affordable (meals average $8.99 per serving), and it’s even kid-friendly. If you’ve never tried a meal kit before, it’s a great place to start.
The conversations that followed were so awesome. First and foremost, I got direct confirmation from my nearest and dearest that I was not, in fact, taking crazy pills. For the first time, they all seemed to get it. Meal kits can help you streamline dinner prep, but cooking with a meal kit isn’t really the same as cooking on your own. And it’s not like dining out, either. Cooking with a meal kit is like inviting an invisible private chef into your kitchen. You get to try new recipes, learn new techniques, and experiment with new flavors, but you’re never really on your own with it. You’ve got a meal kit genie to hold your hand every step of the way. (And recipe cards and a customer service number to call if you get seriously stumped.) Best of all, meal kits are fun! My mom friends were getting their kids involved in the cooking process, my couple friends were turning meal kits into date night, and my single friends were excited to have tasty leftovers for lunch the next day.
Tanya, a great friend of mine from college, found HelloFresh after her office shut down and she started working from home. Her evenings had previously been spent sampling happy hours around the city and meeting up with friends and clients for dinners all around town. As someone living alone, she found her newfound free-time in the evenings a little boring, and she called me up to pick my brain about ideas for how she could fill the time. I recommended HelloFresh, and she promised she’d give it a try. But she wasn’t sure it would be right for her. As someone with limited cooking skills, she was worried about running into cooking techniques she wasn’t familiar with and instructions she wouldn’t understand. I recommended she start out with the “easy” recipes first, and a few weeks later over cocktails and Zoom, she was telling me all about the new skills she’d picked up from her shipments as a subscriber. She was baking, sautéing, and broiling with the best of ’em! Tanya gets really excited about trying new restaurants and exploring new cuisines, and she found the routine of browsing each week’s menu and picking out her favorite dishes really enjoyable. The large menu offered her plenty of things to choose from, and she gravitated towards the more adventurous dishes and international fare. (Though I happen to know she’s also a huge fan HelloFresh’s burgers!)
Katie and Tom also found themselves looking for a way to jazz up their evening routine. Like a lot of families, during the pandemic they found themselves at home all day long with a full house. They both started working from home, and their 10 year old son, Charlie, was learning at home, too. Come evening, Katie confided that she’d often find herself still in sweatpants, boiling the same pasta or cooking the same chicken breast she’d made for dinner the night before. She was drawn to HelloFresh’s kid-friendly recipes, and she subscribed in the hope that she’d be able to energize family meal times. Three times per week, she set up “family date night,” where she, her husband, and their son would all meet in the kitchen and cook dinner together. Charlie got really into it, and he’s learned enough that he now makes dinner himself for the family once or twice per week. (I think Katie’s arrangement with him might have something to do with that. If he cooks the meals, she lets him pick out the recipes!) Last I saw him, he had the absolute audacity to correct my vegetable peeling technique. I couldn’t have been more proud.
Even now that restaurants are opening back up and people are starting to dine out again, quite a few of my friends and fam are still loyal HelloFresh subscribers, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Whereas I used to get nothing but crickets and blank stares when I’d excitedly ramble on about some delicious recipe I got in a meal kit, now they’re on board the bandwagon. I sometimes get texts giving me a head’s up about recipes that look extra delicious, and I just got a call last week from a friend who couldn’t wait to tell me about a burger recipe she got from HelloFresh that was so good she wanted to pick my brain about how best to recreate it!
I can’t claim to be a trendsetter about a lot of things, but in my friend circle, I was definitely early to the meal kit movement. And you know what? Being the first one to join a craze is pretty lonely! I’m super pleased I now get to share it with all my favorite people.
Have you tried HelloFresh? Head to the comments section and let us know!