This post was sponsored by HelloFresh. All opinions expressed are my own.
When people ask me for tips on healthy cooking, one of my most common pieces of advice is to cook at home more often. Cooking at home is one of the best ways to take control of your own health and well-being. When you prepare your own meals, you can control the ingredients and the cooking methods- no hidden ingredients like the ones you often find in packaged food or restaurant dishes. Plus, cooking at home also brings people together and is a wonderful way to share memories and pass down family traditions.
So when I was asked to review HelloFresh, I decided to give it a try. Although I’m a big advocate of menu planning and I love to go grocery shopping (yes, I could spend hours at my local Publix), I realize that this is not the case for everyone! In fact, I have a lot of readers who genuinely want to cook fresh, wholesome meals for their families but simply don’t have the time to shop and prep because of their busy schedules.
HelloFresh isn’t a service that delivers precooked meals- there are plenty of those companies out there. Rather, HelloFresh is a service that provides you with chef-curated recipes and pre-measured ingredients to make those recipes in your own home. Basically, they create the recipes, plan the meals, shop for you (using seasonal farm fresh ingredients) and deliver all of it to your front door in a convenient box. Their mission is to help you get nutritious and delicious meals on the table. Sounds pretty similar to my philosophy except that they’re also doing a lot of the legwork for you!
They offer several plans to choose from, which include Classic, Veggie or Family plans. The Veggie plan has all vegetarian meals and the Family plan has family-friendly recipes that kids will love. The subscription plans are flexible with options that include 3, 4 or 5 meals per week, so that you pick the subscription that best suits your lifestyle and budget. The price of the meals ranges from $8.75 per meal to $9.90 per meal depending on the plan chosen. One of the things that often concerns people when signing up for a service like this is whether you can change or cancel the plan. With HelloFresh you can easily change, pause or cancel your plan as long as you do it five days in advance. So if you’re going on vacation or just want to make your own meals one week, you can simply pause the service so that you don’t get any unwanted food delivered to you.
All of HelloFresh’s recipes are developed by their team of in-house chefs who are from The Institute of Culinary Education (my alma matter!) and other esteemed culinary schools. The recipes are also reviewed by their dietitian to make sure that you’re getting nutritious, well-balanced meals.
When my HelloFresh box arrived, I felt a little like a kid on Christmas morning. My first impression was that the produce looked colorful and fresh and everything was nicely packaged, labeled and organized. The ingredients for the three recipes I chose came in three separate, clearly labeled boxes. There was a cardboard layer separating the meat and seafood underneath, which were packaged in vacuum-sealed bags and insulated with ice packs. The meat and seafood were all high quality, labeled as antibiotic free and from sustainable sources. I even got a cute new apron!
One of the best features of HelloFresh is that they supply all of the ingredients you need in premeasured packages (except for salt, pepper, sugar, cooking oil and butter). Ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey came in cute little packages with just the amount needed for the recipes. The fresh herbs and vegetables came in sealed plastic bags. I love that they only send the amount you need- a couple of sprigs of cilantro, one red chili pepper, a teaspoon of a dried spice mix. How many times have you bought a whole bunch of cilantro just to use one or two tablespoons in a dish and then ended up wasting the rest? By sending you only the amount you need, it’s not only easy and convenient, it also cuts down on food waste.
Also included in the box was a booklet with recipes cards complete with lovely color photos. Each recipe card has step-by-step instructions with photos, which I think most people would find to be extremely helpful. In addition, the recipe cards tell you what kitchen equipment you need and also include prep time and cook time so you know how long it will take you to get dinner on the table. For anyone with food allergies, the recipe cards also indicate any allergens such as nuts, gluten or dairy. They also give you the full nutritional information for each recipe.
The first dish I made was Jaime’s Shrimp and Rice Salad, a recipe created by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who’s part of the HelloFresh family. I found it to be a light, flavorful dish that was easy to make. I like that the rice only took about 8 minutes to cook, and while I was waiting for the water to boil, I was able to assemble a lot of the dish. The dish was flavored with Asian ingredients and lots of fresh herbs. I’m usually hesitant to buy fresh herbs like mint because I never know how to use them up. But the box supplied only the amount needed for the recipe so there was no waste. I also like that the dish had fresh vegetables that I may not have thought to use at this time of year like green beans. And I love that the recipe showcased a quick and easy way to make carrots look beautiful in a salad- shave them into ribbons with a vegetable peeler! It’s a simple way to make a dish look elegant.
Next up was the Chicken Paillard with Sweet Potato Wedges and Salad. This dish was nutritious, vibrant, and colorful. It took me a little more time than the stated prep time because there was a decent amount of chopping involved in the recipe. But I liked the fact that I could prepare the whole dish while the sweet potatoes were roasting in the oven. Another thing that I liked about this recipe was that it showcased a culinary technique- butterflying a chicken breast. It’s a method of slicing open a chicken breast- it looks pretty and the chicken cooks faster. I really liked the chimichurri sauce, which was a nice light, fresh accompaniment to the chicken. I even drizzled some extra chimichurri on the smoky cumin sweet potato wedges- yum!
And the last dish I made was the Thai Pork Meatballs with Fresh Noodles and Green Beans. I was excited about this one because it looked so tasty on the recipe card, and to my delight, it turned out great! What I liked about this dish was that it came with a premeasured packet of Thai seasoning to flavor the meatballs. It’s a great way to experience Thai flavors without having to go out and buy a million different spices that you may not end up using again. I also loved the fresh noodles that came in the box- they had a nice chewy texture and they cooked up quickly in just 2-3 minutes. I was able to make the meatballs while waiting for the water to boil so that the total cook time was about 35 minutes, which is just what the recipe card stated. The final dish had lots of flavor, color and texture.
So in conclusion, would I recommend HelloFresh to my readers? Definitely! More specifically, if you’re someone who likes to cook or wants to be able to cook nutritious, delicious meals for your family but are pressed for time, then this is a great option for you. It’s basically like letting someone else do a little bit of the heavy lifting for you (the planning, prep and shopping), so that you can focus on what’s important- getting in the kitchen to cook delicious, fresh meals. It’s also a nice opportunity to get exposed to different ingredients and cuisines and even learn some new culinary techniques. You will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment when your friends and family devour your culinary creations! And finally, I think that it’s a fun activity for couples or families to do together. Opening a bottle of wine, putting on some music and getting in the kitchen together to make one of these meals would be a great way to spend an evening. Sounds fun, right?
If you’re interested in trying HelloFresh, head over to their site HERE. They’re even offering my readers a discount of $35 off your first box! Make sure you use the following discount code: FOODIEPHYSICIAN35