HelloFresh delivers "everything but the chef"

Guest review by Tina R.

TLDR (too long, didn't read):
Pros: fresh food including herbs, lots of variety and veggies, easy recipes, delicious dinner minus the stress factor
Cons: lots of packaging, no single-meal swapping (yet), no organic option available

It’s 6 pm. I spend ten minutes asking my partner what he wants to eat, earning some undefinable grunts in reply. I open and close the fridge door five-and-a-half times before giving up and telling him to go get Indian. Dinner decision fatigue is a thing.

So when I found out that HelloFresh has just become available in Darwin, I had to give it a shot. They plan the meals for you and deliver food and recipes to your house every week. No thinking, no shopping, no food waste and you get to look like a domestic goddess - or so they say.

It works easy enough: you sign up, you choose a box (classic, veggie or family) and how many meals a week you want, leave your details and get excited. You can swap for another box every week or skip weeks if you need to. Only single meal swaps aren’t available yet, but they’re working on it.

What’s in the box?

The claim is that their food is fresh, local and in season. Local in this case means all of Australia, so if you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, this may not be for you. But then again, you could do a lot worse shopping at Woolies without checking every single label.

The herbs are fresh as well. Which is great if you don’t grow your own and don’t want to buy those expensive little boxes from the stores for only one sprig of thyme. The first lot of herbs I got have been a bit wilted even at arrival, but they still beat the dry stuff.

HelloFresh box of goodies

The meat and dairy come from well-known companies like Argyle Prestige Meats and Moo Premium Foods. That’s a plus, but I’d actually love organic produce, happy meat, grass fed dairy and the whole food-snobby lot. There have been a few items in the box that I wouldn’t buy myself. The worst was a stock cube with an ingredient list that looked like it was better suited to clean my drains. Luckily that was easy enough to replace.

Often there’s more in the box than you need for the recipes – like a bonus promotional tub of Tzatziki. We also have enough wraps, pasta and garlic to get us through the rest of the week.

The good thing about getting the right amounts of food is that you can have lots of variety, but don’t have to try and use up all those random ingredients. In our case that means a lot less food waste. Having those cute-sized condiments available also makes your dinner feel just that tad more polished. The downside is that those single-serve amounts are packaged separately. And there are bags of cooling gel and insulation material – so there’s more waste for the landfill. Now, what’s worse, throwing away food or throwing away more packaging…?


Can you cook it?

The most important thing: I do feel less stressed about cooking now. Which is a huge step to convince me to put some effort into dinner every day in the first place! (And funny enough, that enthusiasm has carried over and I’ve been cooking a lot more myself in general.)

The recipes are super easy to follow, very well written, nicely timed, ready in about half an hour and they even show pictures if you’re really lost. Need to know how exactly to cut a carrot into cubes? Never fear. I’m almost sure even my rice-and-tin-curry kinda partner could rock them up. If he wanted to. Which is another story.

They do assume basic kitchen gear and staples, though. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have white vinegar and rice wine vinegar. Balsamico it is. I’m also lacking a microwave, a lemon zester and an oven-proof pan, so I made do somehow and it worked. I could have looked up the recipes in advance to see if my kitchen is up to the task. But then that defeats the purpose of plan-free meal delivery, doesn't it?


And the verdict?

The results have tasted anywhere from good to great so far. Though sometimes they stray quite far from what they’re supposed to look like on the pictures. I’m looking at you, cheater’s chorizo pan-lasagna.
We’ve had a lot more variety and veggies in our diet than we’ve had for w̶e̶e̶k̶s̶ months for several reasons:

  • I cooked up recipes I wouldn’t usually try
  • I didn’t leave out anything, like I often do because I don’t like an ingredient or don’t want to buy it
  • I got out of my rotation of three meals to cook if I don’t know what to cook
  • They send the right amounts of food, so the recipes are a lot more varied than I’d usually plan for (trying to use up everything I buy before it goes off)
  • The recipes include sides! Usually, I can’t be bothered trying to find recipes for both and time everything

Who would have thought that I’d actually like cilantro and that I would want a second serve of steamed silverbeet-and-spinach? Or that I would stand in the kitchen patiently hasselbacking a kilo of baby potatoes without complaining (too much).

The portion sizes are perfect for us – we feel full without feeling stuffed. Sometimes we manage to leave leftovers for one which means less cooking the next day, yay! It looks like the meat and dairy are usually on the sparse side and the bulk of the dish comes from veggies. This may not be everyone’s deal but we like it like that.

All in all, HelloFresh have been doing a great job for us and I will keep the boxes coming for now! I reckon cooking a nice variety of food using fresh herbs and veggies outweigh a few no-nos with some of the ingredients (mostly the wraps: full of stabilisers, emulsifiers and vegetable oil). I doubt that the takeout we’d have if I wasn’t cooking would be any better.

If they’d make their packaging from recycled material and/or biodegradable and offer an organic box, I could put my last hippie-soul doubts aside and let them take over our whole week!