New Experience #17: HelloFresh Comes for Dinner

There has been a lot of buzz lately about meal-kit delivery services. We shared a Blue Apron meal with my cousin and his wife a while back, and we had tried some frozen prepared meals from The Organic Dish, a Boulder-based company, but we had never used a fresh meal-kit service ourselves. So when a friend of Maureen’s offered to send us a code for a free week of HelloFresh meal kits, we decided to give it a try.

Menu selection with HelloFresh was a little challenging given our food “biases.” The Classic Box menu for the week offered only one choice that would sort of work for both of us and one that could have been modified for our needs. Instead, we opted for the Veggie Box, which offered three acceptable recipes (no options).

The box arrived as scheduled on Wednesday. We were pretty happy to have it, as we are spending most of our non-working time unpacking, so meal decisions and grocery shopping are lower priority than usual. The box itself is pretty large, mostly to accommodate the ice packs in the bottom.

Inside the box are the three meal kits. Everything you need is included, except for olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. It wasn’t clear how the boxes should be stored, as both the shelf-stable and perishable items were packed in the meal kit boxes. I separated out the items that didn’t need refrigeration, then stored the half-empty boxes in the fridge.

We opted to first try Waad’s Tunisian Freekeh Stew with Crispy Chickpeas and Yogurt. The instructions estimated preparation time at 45 minutes. I think that was actually fairly accurate. The first part of that preparation is vegetable dicing. This is followed by cooking of the stew. Once the stew is simmering, the chickpeas get baked. I don’t know whether it was altitude or some other factor, but our chickpeas started exploding before they ever got crispy.

 The final stew was pretty tasty. The freekeh, also spelled farik, is a grain product similar to bulgur that gives the meal heartiness, while the yogurt balances the tanginess of the Tunisian spice blend (the contents of which were not revealed). We each had two bowls of stew and there was enough left over for a lunch-sized helping. Thus the entire meal generously serves two adults, as advertised.

Over the course of the week, we prepared the other two meals that came in our box. The Jamie Oliver Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma with Eggplant, Baby Capers, & Basil was tasty. I’ve had two servings from it so far, since Maureen does not care for eggplant (she ate steak instead, poor dear). For Valentine’s Day, we made the Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Shepherd’s Pie.

It was good, but required quite a lot of preparation and cooking. I especially enjoyed the roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots as a side dish!

In conclusion, I enjoyed the HelloFresh meals and even somewhat enjoyed the meal prep. For the cost ($10/person/meal) however, it did not seem to be as convenient as I would like. There were many steps to each dish (mostly clearly explained in the recipes) and most of the ingredients required additional preparation. We still had to shop for groceries for breakfasts and lunches, so that part of the service was only a little helpful to us. I can see the appeal of skipping the decision-making process, but I’m not sure meal kits will be a regular part of my routine.

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