Inside: Is HelloFresh worth it? Here’s an honest HelloFresh review from our family of four: what we like about it and what we don’t.
This post is NOT sponsored. If you’ve thought about trying a meal delivery service–or have tried them in the past without success–I hope this honest review will help you.
The task of cooking dinner every. single. night for a family can feel utterly endless.
Something that can lighten the workload and break the monotony? Sign me up.
Meal kit deliveries have always sounded good on paper, so I decided to try a few different services. But I struggled to find dinners I knew our whole family would like (too many unfamiliar ingredients)–or that felt like meals I wasn’t already making (like burgers or baked chicken breasts).
But when we tried HelloFresh, something just clicked for us. And two years later, we’re still using the service.
So I wanted to share an honest HelloFresh review to answer the question “Is HelloFresh worth it?” Here’s how it works, what we like about it, what we don’t like about it, and my advice for you.
How HelloFresh works
- On the HelloFresh website (or via the HelloFresh app), you choose the category of meals you’re interested in, from plans like Quick & Easy (fast to prep and cook), Pescatarian (plant-based plus fish), Veggie (all plant-based), and Family Friendly (that’s the plan we have).
- Select the number of people you’re cooking for (the options are 2 or 4) and how many HelloFresh meals you want to get per week (anywhere from 2-6).
- Pick your meals from 30+ choices. For each, you can view the ingredients and nutritional info. For some of the meals, you can swap sides or proteins.
- Choose sides, desserts, and lunches from the HelloFresh Market for an additional cost. (We don’t do this because I don’t want to spend extra money!)
- Your box is delivered at the beginning of the week, usually Sunday or Monday for us. It’s packaged with a large cold pack to keep perishable foods safe.
- If you have a change of schedule or just want to skip weeks here and there, you can easily do that. There’s no contract or commitment.
What’s included in HelloFresh Meal Kits
Other than a few of your own basic pantry staples, like olive oil and salt, everything you need for the meal is in the box. In your HelloFresh box, you get:
- An instruction card for each recipe that shows the finished dish and step-by-step instructions with pictures.
- A brown paper bag for each dinner, full of the meal’s ingredients, such as fresh produce, starches like rice and potatoes, and pre-measured ingredients like seasoning and sauce packets.
- Proteins, such as chicken or ground beef, at the bottom under ice packs.
Questions about HelloFresh
What’s the cost?
If you’re brand new to HelloFresh, you can usually snag a good deal to try it for the first time.
If you don’t spot an offer on their website, you can use my link to get your first box free. They also have a Heroes Discount Program where medical providers, nurses, hospital employees, and military & veterans can get 55% off their first box + free shipping, and 15% OFF all their other boxes over the next year.
Now that we’re regular customers, two dinners (which each feed four people) cost us about $85, roughly $42 per meal.
We get four meals per month–two meals about every other week–sometimes less often if I’m feeling more frugal.
Are the ingredients fresh?
Yes. I can count on one hand the times when the herbs have been wilted or a potato is past its prime. The produce always seem fresh, and we haven’t had any issues with the meat.
Do they have vegetarian options?
Yes. Each week there’s a variety of meal options in the Family-Friendly category that are vegetarian, like Falafel Power Bowls and Thai Coconut Curry Tofu. If you’re looking for only vegetarian or vegan meals, you can select that category when you sign up.
Is HelloFresh eco-friendly at all?
HelloFresh say they are the world’s first carbon-neutral meal kit company, balancing their emissions by sourcing 100% of their electricity from renewable sources like wind. They also conducted a study that found their customers threw out less food on days they cooked with HelloFresh (food waste is a major producer of greenhouse gases). Some of the packaging in the HelloFresh dinner kits is recyclable and compostable.
How does it compare to other meal kit services?
I’ve tried services like Blue Apron, Sunbasket, and Home Chef in the past. HelloFresh just seems to have more dinners that appeal to my gang.
From my research, Dinnerly and EveryPlate seem to be less expensive than other meal kits. There are also meal kit delivery services designed for special diets, like Modify Health, which is made for people who live with digestive conditions like IBS or who want heart-healthy meals.
What we like about HelloFresh
- It broadens our horizons. Like most families, we can fall into ruts where we’re eating the same basic meals and flavors on repeat. HelloFresh has shaken things up for us, introducing us to flavor profiles and ingredients–like Bahn Mi and Bulgogi–that we weren’t eating before. So it’s a good option if you want to expand your culinary horizons but need a little help.
- It encourages our kids to be more adventurous. Neither of my boys is a particularly picky eater, but they’re typical kids who can be wary of unfamiliar sauces or mixed dishes with a lot going on. But something about the HelloFresh recipe cards, displaying the finished product, nudges them toward making their plate look the same–including garnishes and sauces they might’ve skipped in the past.
- It makes it easier for everyone to cook. I’ve struggled for years to get my kids on board with cooking. Though they’re still not proficient (or enthusiastic) by any stretch, the kits do make it easier. Maybe it’s the pre-portioned ingredients or the photos of each step, but it’s a great way to feel more confident making a recipe. It’s nice for novice cooks like my husband (though he is an expert at cleaning up after dinner!). As my husband says, “It’s given the boys (and me!) more experience cooking multi-course meals.”
- It reduces decision fatigue. For the weeks we do HelloFresh, slotting in two meals automatically makes it a lot easier to meal plan.
- There’s less food waste. Aside from a stockpile of extra packets of hot sauce and sour cream, we rarely have any leftover ingredients. And we all like the meals and happily eat the leftovers, so nothing goes to waste.
- We genuinely like the meals. We’ve either liked or loved almost every meal we’ve gotten (only one, Cauliflower Fritters, crashed and burned with all of us). I also like that we’re eating a lot of fresh ingredients with each meal, including lots of veggies.
Some of our favorite HelloFresh recipes
- Meatballs With Bulgogi Sauce
- Firecracker Meatballs
- Citrus Pork Tacos
- Bahn Mi Style Turkey Meatballs (see a meatball theme here?)
- Beef Flautas Supreme
- Curried Turkey Bowls
- Creamy Tortelloni Limone
What we don’t like about HelloFresh
- There’s packaging waste. Though we recycle the box and brown paper bags, we throw away the cold pack (the cold pack is technically recyclable, but in all honesty, it’s a mess squeezing out the solution inside and rinsing it out so we usually skip that). We also toss the plastic waste from the various ingredient packages, though some things don’t come in individual packages, such as lemons and potatoes, And to be fair, if I bought green beans or broccoli at ALDI, it would also be packed in plastic that I’d throw away.
- The portions are sometimes too small. Now that my boys are teenagers, some of the meals aren’t quite enough food for all of us. Generally, meals that center around whole pieces of meat like chicken breasts or pork chops fall short–since both my husband and older son eat two each (the Hello Fresh meals come with just four, and they’re pretty small). The meals that tend to stretch the farthest are the tacos and bowls, so I order those most often.
- The prep times are hilariously inaccurate. Most of the meals we get claim to take only 5-10 minutes to prep, which has become a running joke in our family (ie: “You’re hungry? Good news: Our HelloFresh meal only takes five minutes to make!”). In reality, most prep times are closer to 20-30 minutes for me, longer if it’s my husband or teen making it.
- The instructions can be tricky. I appreciate that the HelloFresh recipe cards give step-by-step instructions and lots of photos. But for less experienced cooks (like my kid and my husband), it can be confusing because some steps contain multiple steps. As with all recipes, it’s best to read the whole thing through before starting.
- The cost can feel high. Getting four meals per month works for our budget right now, but that might not always be the case. It does mean I’m spending a bit less at the grocery store each week, but I understand that the cost can still feel prohibitive compared with cooking from scratch. Fact is, I can pretty easily make a dinner for all of us for $20 or less (see a bunch of those meals here: 20 Last-Minute ALDI Dinner Ideas and 26 Affordable ALDI Meal Ideas for Spring and Summer).
So is HelloFresh worth it?
For our family, at the moment, yes. Because we really enjoy the meals and it makes it easier for my son and husband to cook, I make room in our budget by eating out less and planning the rest of our meals (using my No-Stress Dinner Planner system, natch), only buying the groceries we need.
My advice if you try Hello Fresh
Try a free box. There’s no commitment to sign up or get more. And you might land on something new that your family really likes. You can use my link to get your first box free.
Choose your meals in advance. Otherwise, they’ll send you pre-selected meals–which for us are usually burgers and simple chicken dishes, simple meals I feel like we can easily make from scratch ourselves.
Give feedback. If your cold pack is totally melted or you’re missing an ingredient, contact customer service. Luckily, I haven’t had too many issues. But when I have, they’ve been fast, responsive, and accommodating. They’ve issued me a full refund when something’s really wrong or a partial credit on our next box when something’s missing or there’s a mix-up (I once got a neighbor’s box and he got mine!).
Watch for meals with additional charges. Some meals have an extra cost for more expensive proteins (such as seafood and steak). I stick to the regularly-priced meals.
Skip a week if you’re not feeling it. There are some weeks when I’m just not loving the variety of recipes or simply feeling the pinch of inflation, so I’ll skip the week.
Take some chances. You may not think your kids will put pickled onions on their taco or be cool with a mixed dish, but you might be surprised!