Luke Schulte is a featured contributor to local San Antonio print and television media. He is an actor, activist, and equality advocate.
As a single guy, I find it hard to cook healthy, delicious, satisfying meals for just one person. I come from a large family—I'm the youngest of eight—so when I do cook, I usually end up eating leftovers for days. Having the same batch of Bolognese night after night can get pretty boring, so when I heard about HelloFresh, I was immediately interested in trying it out.
HelloFresh is a meal delivery service. Each week, you receive a large box of pre-portioned and carefully measured proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, and spices—everything you need to make chef quality lunches or dinners for up to four people.
What You Need to Know
HelloFresh is a "soft subscription service," which means you can cancel or pause your membership at any time without paying a penalty.
There are several subscription options to choose from. The full price of each plan is listed below, but HelloFresh currently offers up to 50% off your first purchase through their website. I chose the Classic Meal Plan with five meals for my first week.
I subscribe to a YouTube channel called 'Matt and Blue,' and when an episode mentioned their promo code, I decided to send for my first box. I couldn't believe it was just $59 for a whole week's worth of lunches and dinners (since the plan feeds two and I live alone). The only thing I needed to get started were the items I already had in my kitchen (pots, pans, mixing bowls, knives, a whisk, measuring spoons and water). If I had read the recipes I chose more carefully, I would have known that I also needed a box grater, a zester, oil, and sugar, but I made do.
Classic Meal Plan
|Plan Size||Number of Servings||Cost|
3 meals per week
4 meals per week
5 meals per week
3 meals per week
Veggie Meal Plan
3 meals per week
3 meals per week
Family Meal Plan
2 meals per week
3 meals per week
Each week, HelloFresh gives you several options of meals to choose from. You should know that meals do not repeat from week to week, so if something sounds delicious, don't think you can wait and try it next time.
After carefully browsing the website and the available recipes for the week, I decided on:
- Spiced salmon with orange arugula salad, couscous, and lemon shallot dressing
- Vietnamese-marinated steak with herb salad, quick pickled veggies, and jasmine rice
- Italian ciabatta burgers with mozzarella cheese and sweet-and-tangy salad
- One-pan ravioli gratin with mushrooms and Parmesan breadcrumbs
- Herby pan-seared chicken with farro, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella
When my first box arrived, I was surprised at how organized it was. Inside the larger box, each meal had been separated into a smaller box, labelled and color coded. The proteins were in a "cool safe" bag on top of frozen gel underneath the individual boxes of ingredients. Even though the recipes and cooking instructions were available through the website, a folder of recipe cards was also included.
Day 1: I'm Hooked!
I love seafood, so the first meal I decided to try was the spiced salmon with orange arugula salad, couscous, and lemon shallot dressing.
The salmon was delicious! Arugula is an acquired taste. I happen to love it, but if you're not a fan of bitter greens, be prepared. HelloFresh uses arugula quite a bit. I don't think I had ever tried couscous before. It could not have been easier to make. (It's so much easier than rice or quinoa!) The only thing I didn't care for in this recipe was the raw shallot in the dressing for the salad, which also got added to the couscous. Shallot tastes like a combination of garlic and onion and can be a little overwhelming. I wanted to try the recipe exactly as it was written, so I used the entire shallot. Perhaps if I had added less or even just sauteed it a bit, this meal would have been incredible. Still, it was very, very good!
Day 2: Sweet! (and Sour)
My second choice was another winner! The Vietnamese-marinated steak with herb salad, quick pickled veggies, and jasmine rice blew me away.
For this particular recipe, the only two items that were not included in the delivery were oil (which you need to sear the steak and dress the salad) and sugar (also used in the steak marinade). Luckily, both are items I keep in my pantry. (It's worth noting that you can preview the recipes online before they ship to avoid surprises.)
The instructions have you marinade the steak for only as long as it takes you to cook the rice and prep the salad. While it was delicious, I think it could have marinaded for 30 minutes to an hour and developed even deeper flavor.
This recipe was a little misleading. The only herb in the salad is mint. The other ingredients are sliced jalapeno, lime zest, salt, pepper and oil. I like herb salads, and I like mint. This just didn't do it for me.
Day 3: Burgers!
It's pretty hard to find fault in a good burger, and these ciabatta burgers with mixed greens were delicious! The salad with tomato vinaigrette was zesty, though there may have been a little too much dressing or maybe I added too much oil and thinned it out. The burgers weren't messy at all. The dressing just has a very strong flavor.
At first glance, the portions seemed a little small and the side dish recommendation was extra salad (more of the greens that top the burger). It was an adequate meal. I just wish there had been fries!
Day 4: Meat & Potatoes
I'm not sure if I did something wrong or if there was some sort of mix-up with the shipping, but my Day Four meal was not what I had planned. I thought I had ordered the one-pan ravioli gratin with mushrooms and Parmesan breadcrumbs, but what I received was Jamie's Italian-style pork chops with lemony potatoes and mint zucchini salad. No matter. I'm a huge fan of Jamie Oliver's, I said to myself. I can deal.
The pork chops were ample, juicy and tender. The marinade called for lemon zest, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Again, they could have marinaded for longer than the recipe called for, in my opinion, but they were still fantastic!
As for the sides, I'm not sure I'm a fan of lemon on my boiled potatoes. At the time, I didn't have a box grater (which is what the recipe calls for with the zucchini), so I sliced it as thin as I could. I'm not sure having a grater would have made a difference, because raw zucchini and mint was just an odd pairing for me.
Day 5: Farro From Success
Well, I guess it's true. Into every life a little rain must fall. My final HelloFresh meal was a total bust. The recipe for the herby pan-seared chicken with farro, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella was easy enough to follow, so I don't think I did anything wrong. The produce and proteins had been in my refrigerator for a few days, but were still well within the "best if used by" date range. Still, something about the combination of the herbs on the chicken, the farro and mozzarella was just not for me.
If you're not familiar with herbes de Provence, be forewarned. The French version (where Provence is located) is a tasty combination of rosemary, savory, thyme, oregano, marjoram and other herbs. The American version of herbes de Provence usually contains lavender, which is delicious when used in cooking, but can be incredibly overpowering and cause food to taste perfume-like or soapy. That was the case with this recipe. I followed the instructions to the letter, but there was an awful lot of herbes de Provence for two medium chicken breasts. I ended up scraping most of the herbs off as I ate, but the damage to my taste buds had already been done.
Farro is a hulled wheat grain and has an interesting texture. I'm not sure if it was the bite of the farro or the raw shallot in the vinaigrette, but I didn't enjoy this meal. (This was the only meal of the five that I didn't finish.)
Despite my hangups with raw shallot, mint and the Day 5 farro debaucle, my overall experience with HelloFresh was amazing! The recipes were simple and easy to follow. All five meals were made in less than hour. The dishes were tasty, filling and the ingredients were restaurant quality. I would definitely recommend trying HelloFresh, and I'm looking forward to Week Two!
Note to the Reader
In the interest of full disclosure, while I'm just now getting around to publishing this review, I actually tried HelloFresh the first week of October 2016.
— Luke Anthony Schulte
simplehappylife on April 07, 2017:
You're Welcome :)
Oh, I'll be interested in reading that one as well. I'm not sure if it's worth it for me to get into. We have a family of 4 and my husband and son are both 6' 4"+. They EAT. I've wondered often (whenever I see the commercials). So, I'll still need to marinate in the practicality of it. I can see how a single person or couple could definitely benefit from using it. So convenient.
Jury is still out ;) Thanks Again for writing this. I'll be looking out for the Blue Apron piece. :)
Luke Anthony Schulte (author) from San Antonio, Texas, USA on April 06, 2017:
Thanks for reading! I'll be writing a review of Blue Apron next, but there was a problem with my first order (more on that later.) Keep in touch. I'd love to hear about your experience if you decide to order. Thanks again!
simplehappylife on April 06, 2017:
GREAT Article Luke! I've always wondered about Hello Fresh. This was very helpful for me. Thank You So Much for writing it :)