- Massive selection of meal kit recipes
- Meals are easy to prepare
- Ingredients arrived fresh
- Budget-friendly if you’re cooking for four
- Recipes aren’t as interesting or unique as some other meal-kit companies
- Not as many healthy recipes as others
- $10 charge for shipping
HelloFresh is now the most popular meal kit service, outpacing competitors like Blue Apron and Sunbasket with spunky ads, approachable prices, huge new-customer discounts and a sprawling menu with as many as 60 recipes per week. Perhaps you’ve seen a folded-up box on the corner or heard an ad on your favorite podcast and have been wanting to give this meal kit service a try. If so, you’re probably wondering if HelloFresh meal kits are really as tasty to eat and easy to make as they look on TV. Worry not, this firsthand review of HelloFresh has everything you want and need to know before you sign up.
HelloFresh bills itself as the most convenient service, sporting a massive selection of easy-to-make and healthy recipes designed to please the whole crew, including families with young ones and picky eaters. It’s also one of the cheapest meal delivery options, with plans that start at just $8 per serving. (EveryPlate and Dinnerly are the only cheaper meal kits, with plans starting at $6 a serving.)
Of all the meal kits I’ve tested, HelloFresh meals probably have the widest selection of “crowd-pleasing” recipes, making them an excellent choice for families or picky eaters. You won’t find a lot of big heat, spice or unusual ingredients with HelloFresh meals, and with as many as 60 meals per week to choose from, it’s hard to imagine not finding three or four that appeal to you.
If you’re overwhelmed with all the choices of meal kits these days, that’s natural. We’ve been on a mission to test — and restest — all of them to suss out the very best cheap meal kits, best meal delivery for families, best plant-based meal kits, meals for health nuts and more. Meal kit cooking means shortcuts with ingredients sent alongside recipes ready to be spun into dinner, often in less than 30 minutes.
If cooking at all is not in the cards, we’ve tested the best fully prepared meal delivery services too. Here’s everything you need to know about HelloFresh and what we thought of it after cooking through a few weeks’ worth of meals.
How HelloFresh works
Before we dive in, here’s how the service works. As HelloFresh is a meal-kit delivery service, you’ll be doing a good amount of the work here, but all the fresh ingredients you need to execute dinner will arrive in one box, preportioned and ready to cook. You won’t have to do any shopping or measuring when you tackle a HelloFresh meal kit, but know you will have to do some light prep, chopping, mixing and cooking.
HelloFresh has a range of meal plans that vary depending on the type of food you’re looking to cook, the number of people you’re cooking for and how often you want meal kits delivered. Once you make those decisions you’ll choose one of six HelloFresh meal plans:
- Meat & Veggies: The most basic plan featuring a variety of recipes and meals.
- Family Friendly: Easy-to-prepare and kid-approved recipes.
- Quick and Easy: Meals that take 30 minutes or less.
- Veggie: Plant-based meals that are vegetarian but not always vegan.
- Fit & Wholesome: Meal kits that are around 650 calories or less per serving.
- Pescatarian: Meal kits and recipes featuring seafood and no meat.
There is some crossover in meal kits each week from the various meal plans, but choosing one of these umbrella categories helps HelloFresh filter out the best recipes for you and your dinner goals. The more narrow the meal plan — such as pescatarian or veggie — the fewer options you’ll have each week. The plans are also priced the same no matter which meals you select, save for a few gourmet options that incur an upcharge.
After you select your meal plan, choose the number of servings (two or four) that you’d like for each meal, and how many weekly meal kits you want to receive (two, three, four, five or six). These options are also easily modified, so don’t feel too much pressure and know you can adjust as you go.
As with many similar services, you can pick your own meals or let the meal-kit gods surprise you when you open your box. HelloFresh meals arrive once a week on a day of your choosing (besides Sunday). When mine showed up, the food was packaged neatly in cooler boxes, with meats and fish separated from other ingredients so as not to cross-contaminate. The meat was thawed but still cold and there was no sign of spoilage among any of the ingredients.
Changing or canceling a HelloFresh order
You can add, change or cancel meals easily through the app or through the website, although using the latter feels more limited. Changes or cancellations to any order must be made before midnight PT at least five days before your scheduled delivery day. That date is made apparent when you open your dashboard.
HelloFresh plans and pricing
With HelloFresh, you pay by the serving, which is customizable from week to week, but it generally breaks down to about $9 per serving for two people or $9 if you’re ordering for four, plus $10 for shipping per box. For a family of four to receive three nights’ worth of meals would be $124.87 per week.
With most plans clocking in at $9 per serving, HelloFresh lands in the middle of the pack along with Home Chef and Blue Apron, but skews toward the budget-friendly end of things. Only EveryPlate and Dinnerly are significantly less expensive, but you can certainly find pricier ones such as Green Chef and Sunbasket with gourmet offerings and organic ingredients for a higher cost per week.
|Recipes per week||Cost per serving (2-person plan)||Cost per serving (4-person plan)|
What are HelloFresh meals like?
Of all the meal kits companies competing for your attention, HelloFresh bills itself as one of the easiest and most approachable. While there are some “gourmet” options in each week’s menu, most of HelloFresh recipes are simple to execute, with most taking 30 minutes or less from start to finish.
Some HelloFresh meals you’ll find are fun twists on a classic, such as meatballs with a spicy, creamy “firecracker” sauce or turkey street cart-style bowls. But most are familiar dishes like spaghetti bolognese, creamy mushroom cavatappi, chicken tacos and meatloaf. HelloFresh has the most meal choices of any service — as many as 60 to choose from each week — and that includes plant-based options like vegan bulgogi bowls as well as premium seafood selections such as chimichurri barramundi and roasted trout.
There isn’t as much modification to recipes in the way that others like Home Chef permit. That said, some meals without protein allow you to add chicken, beef or shrimp. You can also upgrade most meats such as ground beef and chicken to an organic version for an added cost.
How easy are these meal kits to prepare?
HelloFresh meal kits are mostly simple to make and that’s by design. With lots of tossed pasta dishes, tacos and pan-seared meats with easy-to-prepare sides, the most technical skill you’ll need on a regular basis is some basic chopping, working a frying pan over the stovetop or boiling water. The most involved meal I made was meatloaf, which required a bit of chopping and mixing prep, but was effortless overall.
Read more: Best Seafood Delivery Services for 2023
HelloFresh recipe cards and support materials
While the printed directions that accompanied each recipe were neat, organized and clear, there were times when the directions could have gone an extra step to explain certain things in better detail. Specifying which sort of frying pan to use would be helpful, for instance, or how to tell if the pan is actually hot enough to drop the fish or pork loin in. Novice cooks would likely benefit from a bit more explanation, and I’d suggest reading through the instructions once before turning on the stove.
The HelloFresh app is useful, clear and intuitive. You can use it to place or change your weekly orders, look up nutritional information and locate any recipe. This is especially helpful if you tend to misplace important documents as I do.
How I liked my HelloFresh meal kits
Spicy bean and beef soup: This simple version of a classic chili couldn’t have been easier to put together and had a nice smoky flavor. I added organic ground beef and the stew provided me with a filling lunch for three or four days.
Mushroom, parmesan and tomato risotto: This is one of the more time-consuming meal kits I made (about 45 minutes) but it came out great. If I were to do it again, I might add a protein into the mix since the recipe, as it stands, has almost none.
Street cart-style turkey bowls: If you live in New York, you know about halal cart meals with white sauce so addictive it should be illegal. This version of the street food staple was easy to make and just as satisfying as the real thing.
Meatloaf a la Mom: I liked this meal kit, but in all honesty, I prefer my own meatloaf recipe. It was a solid result that could have used a dash of Worcestershire sauce or some dried spice to amp up the flavor. The roasted potatoes and carrots were also fairly basic but proved themselves a worthy companion to the meatloaf.
Barramundi with poblano corn and potatoes: A delicious meal that I really loved. The barramundi fish was fresh and the meal was healthy, full of flavor and easy to prepare. I think I caught myself shamelessly spooning the homemade salsa fresca straight into my mouth at one point.
Pork chops with honey butter, sweet potatoes and lemony green beans: As someone who doesn’t cook a ton of pork, I was excited to try this one, and it came out great. It was super simple to execute and the honey butter drizzled over the pork was addictive. As I’ve mentioned earlier, some small tips would have been useful. Though not specified, the step-by-step image shows a nonstick pan, but for something like pork chops, I think stainless steel or cast iron works better to get a good sear.
Who HelloFresh meal kits are good for
HelloFresh is one of the best meal-kit options for families with one of the largest selections of recipes, which could impress even the hardest-to-please eaters. HelloFresh is a solid option for someone looking to cut time and hassle from their weekly meal planning routine since most of HelloFresh’s meals take around 30 minutes or less.
While there are some meal-kit companies that are focused on plant-based and vegetarian meal kits, HelloFresh has around five vegetarian options per week, so it’s a pretty good meal-kit service if you’re looking to learn to cook plant-based meals or add some more vegetarian and vegan recipes into your routine.
Read more: Best Meat Delivery Deals
Who HelloFresh meal kits are not so good for
Because there are limits on modifications, I would say HelloFresh is not ideal for anyone with strict dietary or allergy requirements. There are also meal-kit companies with more gourmet and technical recipes, so if your goal is to really stretch yourself as a chef, this may not be the service to do it.
Hello Fresh packaging and environmental friendliness
HelloFresh does a solid job with the packaging compared with some other companies I tested. The meals arrive packed in paper bags and all the ingredients were also thoughtfully packaged without excessive waste. Though there’s always some single-serve plastic involved with meal kits, I found it to be one of the more environmentally friendly companies, complete with recyclable ice packs and cooler bags. Here’s a little more about recycling your HelloFresh packaging.
As someone who has a hard time making decisions but loves having options, HelloFresh was a double-edged sword. Even if the recipes were sometimes low on imagination, there were so many to choose from and everything I cooked was solid — no duds in the bunch.
The meal kits are extremely family-friendly, too, so looking at this through the eyes of someone with small children or picky eaters, I can see why HelloFresh’s massive selection of affordable dinner ideas would be attractive. If you’re looking to lighten your load and cook for a crew that doesn’t dig huge, bold flavors, this just might be the best meal kit option out there. Recipes won’t require a ton of time or technical skill, either. For as little as $8 per serving, you can take the guesswork out of a few meals per week without going broke. What’s not to love about that?