I found it rather ironic that a recent news segment focusing on the “eating more at home” bit from Canada’s new Food Guide was followed by a story about how food box subscriptions and food delivery apps are becoming more popular than ever. I don’t think that’s quite what they meant when they encouraged people to eat more at home! Nonetheless, food box subscriptions are hot ticket items these days, so I thought I should do my due diligence and see what all the fuss was about.
I chose Hello Fresh as my test subject primarily because I got a coupon in the mail for them, and a good coupon should never go to waste!
The whole process of a food box is pretty simple.
- Sign up
- Select your weekly recipes, box size, and delivery date
- Wait for delivery!
I liked that there were five recipes to choose from each week, and was also impressed that if you didn’t like any of the recipes that particular week, you could put a hold on your box until the next week. It was also nice to be able to pick a delivery day that was convenient for you.
The ingredients were delivered in an insulated cardboard box with ice packs, and were separated into paper bags according to which meal they belonged to.
Inside each bag were all the pre-portioned ingredients.
Now time to get cooking! The recipes were easy-to-follow and took 30 minutes or less to cook, which was a nice bonus!
Here are some of the meals I made from my Hello Fresh trial:
In my second box I received a letter advising me of a product substitution due to supplier issues. I was impressed with the communication about this issue, and that they kept the original recipe I had selected instead of substituting something completely different.
Now for the critique!
- Easy to follow
- Some served more than the given number of servings (i.e. leftovers!)
- Nice spin on classic recipes (e.g. dill in chicken noodle soup and phyllo pastry instead of mashed potatoes for beef pie)
- Some items were unnecessary (e.g. croutons in soup – immediately became soggy)
- Some of the cooking times weren’t long enough
- Tasty! There was only one out of six recipes that I didn’t like
- Some of the sides were strange (e.g. chickpea mash)
- Too many onions in everything for my personal preference
- Expensive! I got the two person box with three meals in it, which works out to $13.33 per meal. If you price out the cost of the same ingredients at the grocery store, Hello Fresh ends up being at least twice the price
- Less thinking required for meal planning
- Pre-portioned and pre-prepared ingredients are helpful for those who may have difficulty with food prep (e.g. seniors)
- Lots of packaging waste from packaging individual ingredients in plastic bags. There was also a new ice pack sent in every box, however, they do accept returns once you have enough
- Unsure of the food sources, even though they promote “local”
Overall, I think the biggest draw about food boxes is the convenience, and that’s certainly what you pay for. That being said, you can have equally convenient yet cheaper meals by taking an hour or two each week to do some meal planning/prep!
Have you ever tried a food box subscription?