If you are unaware of Hello Fresh and it's competitors like Blue Apron and Green Chef, these services provide detailed recipes and ingredients for three complete meals in a cooler box delivered once per week.
In the past year, we've found there is a huge variety of fresh fish and meats and I can't recall seeing the same recipe twice. Typically is also a one vegetarian dish per week. The recipes are written so that you need not be a sous chef to follow along nor do they require specialty tools or equipment.The best part is that if a recipe requires a teaspoon of Thai seasoning, Chipolte, or even eye-of-newt, it's included in perfect little portions but they do expect that you'll have basics like Salt, Pepper and butter.
I'm not sure we are saving any money doing this unless of course you compare it to going out to eat. Honestly I've had some meals from Hello Fresh where we've both said it was better than going out.
Some other lessons for trying Hello Fresh:
- The weakness in the whole plan is delivery. When we first started last year, Hello Fresh must have been using the same package delivery services they had for New York City even though we are some 90 miles from NYC. This was not a service you would know by name since a man in a private car would show up with your box. A fat man whose t-shirt was too small. Sometimes he would be late and sometimes he wouldn't show at all. It was frustrating dealing with Hello Fresh since all they knew was that he had "until 8 PM" to deliver. I can't tell you how many of the 52 weeks we were credited for non-delivery. This all got a lot better after we said "Goodbye Fresh" and threatened to leave and they switched to UPS.
- Don't pick Monday delivery. It seems like a good idea at first but then you find yourself scrambling to rearrange for all the Monday holidays when they don't deliver.
- Buy a zester. Yes, you'll find out all about zesting. By April last year I was CZ - Chief Zester since the Chancellor was a terrible zester. This all went a lot better when I spent $4.95 on a zester. (The other day I was in Kitchen Kapers and was enthralled with the $6.99 model they had. "Look at that thick spongy handle" I said to myself. I was lusting after a zester - unbelievable)
- Learn how to mince garlic. Because you will mince garlic - lots and lots of garlic. Everything has garlic. My guess is that if Hello Fresh had cereal for breakfast - it would have garlic. (New Garlic Cheerios!)
- Follow the directions and prepare everything ahead of cooking. I don't know about you, but I used to prepare something and cook it. Onions? Chop and throw in the pan. Peppers? Chop while the onions are cooking. No. No. No. Chop everything ahead of time and put it in small bowls, ready to go like they say. Otherwise you'll screw up the timing on everything. Besides, it makes it look more like a cooking show if you have lots of little bowls with ingredients ready to go.
- Don't be afraid of strange new things. I can't tell you how many strange grains we've cooked and enjoyed and God-forbid kale can be good with enough spices on it. Quinoa? before this I'd have trouble picking it out of Police line up. Crazy salads? Dig in. Pistachios on chicken? Gobble it up. Cod on Couscous? Mmmmmmmmm. Ground pork hamburgers - It's all good.
- Buy some parchment paper. It really does crisp veggies a bit better.
Other things you can expect:
- The portions are right-sized. I don't know about you, but when I cooked I always made too much. Then I ate too much. While these may seem like small portions - they are actually right.
- We've learned to stay away from the Jamie Oliver recipes. Those recipes are less thorough than the regular Hello Fresh ones. If they are simple it's OK and they generally are but He tends to skip steps or make assumptions in my opinion.
- Just throw those Fake ice things that come in the box away. I kept some for a while but they leak and when they leak it is a mess.
- We are also up to our elbows in Hello Fresh boxes. There just always seems to be a stack of them.
- Pay attention when making your order. There were a couple of times when we left the default selections and it wasn't good. This led to the great windy Brussels sprouts disaster of 2016 when we accidentally ordered two meals with the cruciferous vegetables in one week.
- Don't be afraid to substitute the grill. If it's steak or hamburgers, I'll make it outside. Sometimes you might miss on some of the flavorings they want to leave behind in pan but to me the grill more than makes up for it. Also my grill has a side burner and all fried fish and splashy oily things gets cooked out there too.
- We've had some trouble with avocado recently. They haven't been ripe enough to use and so we make a trip to the supermarket and get another. Now we know to check.
Some of our favorites:
- Lobster Ravioli and Shrimp with Heirloom tomatoes and tarragon cream sauce.
- Butter Basted Sirloin.
- Juicy-Lucy Burger.
- Fish Tacos
- Sole Tacos
- Pan seared chicken with herbs de provence - Only because I like going around the house saying "de provence" in a cheesy french accent for days. The Chancellor was not amused.