We tried Canada's number-one meal delivery service to see if it was really worth it
One of my big new year's resolutions this year is to cook more for myself. After a pretty busy 2022 full of seeing new friends and overworking myself, I'm struggling to justify the enormous bills I've racked up ordering delivery.
It’s not that I don’t like cooking, or that I'm bad at it. I was blessed growing up with a Greek mother who owned a catering business, so the kitchen has never been a foreign place to me. Unlike some of my peers, one of whom thought mashed potatoes came from a box and only knew how to boil water in a microwave.
The problem is that the older I get, the less time and energy I have to cook for myself.
That's energy split between shopping for food; making room in my too-small fridge for the food I just bought; thinking about how to make use of the different food I purchased haphazardly; resting my weary bones after a hefty workday to regain some stamina to cook; finding out I left the food in my fridge for maybe a little too long and it’s developed a bit of a fuzz... you get the idea.
It’s why I’ve always been curious about meal delivery services, but have yet to go all in because I thought they were too expensive for what you get.
While yeah, it seems like a convenient option, but can the food really be that good? Are the portions big enough? Am I being scammed… again?
But as inflation rises, and my credit card company asks me, again, if someone was using my account to order that much food (the answer is always, sadly, yes), I figured I would finally dive in and see what all the fuss is about.
A new year brings new opportunities, and when HelloFresh reached out to see if I would be interested in trying their meals, the opportunity literally came knocking, leaving a nice little box of recipes featuring fresh ingredients outside the door.
When you register for an account, you can select the styles of meals you want from categories like Family Friendly, Veggie, and Carb Smart. For my first order, I let HelloFresh choose the recipes for me to discover new meals.
The box came packed with the ingredients I needed for each meal in separate brown paper bags, but the protein was separated at the bottom and put on ice. It was a lot more streamlined than I imagined, and the ingredients didn’t take up that much space in my still-too-small fridge.
While most of the produce — like the potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots — came whole, many of the ingredients were prepackaged with a label that told you the quantity that was contained in the package. Nearly everything you need is in the box, but you will need to stock up on some basic pantry items like salt, pepper, sugar, and oil.
The produce also looked pretty good and was a comparable freshness to what I am used to after running my scientifically proven method of finding fresh produce at the grocery store (i.e., a good ol’ squeeze). That's because HelloFresh sources from local Canadian suppliers, where possible. This is great for me as I do my best to purchase Canadian produce.
Included in the box were recipe cards, which tell you how long the meal will take the cook, what you’ll need to get started, which cooking utensils to bust out, and the pantry items you’ll need to make the dish.
The card also includes instructions to deal with any substitutions you made to your order.
HelloFresh customers can have recipes chosen for them each week based on their selected meal preferences, or can choose from over 35 weekly recipes they have available. You can also customize certain order details, like preferred proteins and more.
The three dishes I got in my box were: the Goat Cheese and Pear Beef Burgers, the BBQ-style Chicken Dinner, and the Falafel Stuffed Peppers — classified as a regular meal, quick meal, and vegetarian meal, respectively.
While actually cooking, I really appreciated that everything in the HelloFresh box came prepackaged. As someone who's spent way too long trying to measure out all my spices, sauces, and other ingredients using various spoons and bowls, it cut down on the number of dishes I needed to do.
The recipe cards are very straightforward, and even give helpful tips to help you cook more efficiently.
I definitely thought I had ruined the falafel stuffed peppers when the peppers came out a little floppy, but having visual indicators of how things should look was definitely very helpful.
I also didn’t need to buy any special equipment to make any of the meals, because I just used my oven and whatever pots and bowls I had at home.
Honestly, I really didn’t expect to enjoy the HelloFresh process as much as I did. Even though I did have a fair bit of cooking experience before getting my first box, all the recipes were easy enough to follow that even my boyfriend was able to make one. Love him dearly, but he's less of a MasterChef and more a Kitchen Nightmare.
One thing that really surprised me through the experience was how much I enjoyed having someone else make my meal decisions for me.
I often feel stuck in cooking ruts, making the same three or four recipes until even the mere sight of a beef stew is enough to spark a visceral disappointment that shakes through my soul. Hence why I just order delivery — less brain work.
The biggest benefit to HelloFresh, for me, was how little I had to think about what I was eating. You have the choice between a preselected weekly menu, or you can choose from a wide variety of recipes, ingredients, and cooking styles.
I didn’t have to research any recipes, worry if I had a certain sauce or spice in line at the grocery store, or really think too much about anything.
Everything I needed for the portions just showed up at my door and I was able to just pull out a bag when it was dinner time.
So yeah, I think it's worth the hype. After I was done with this box, I created my own HelloFresh account, and am currently waiting for my first "official" box to arrive.
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