Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Hello Fresh

A while ago, I received a coupon for Hello Fresh.  I also saw that there was a groupon available for them.  I thought this was a sign that I should give them a try and since the groupon was a slightly better deal, I went with that.  What is Hello Fresh?  It is a weekly subscription box service that delivers ingredients to you for three meals.  You can choose if each meal serves 2 or serves 4.  You can also their traditional box or the vegetarian box.  I chose the vegetarian box for 2 servings.  This is regularly $59 per box ($29 with the groupon) and that price includes shipping.

I like that the recipes are posted in advance so you can know what you will be getting in the upcoming week.  If you don't like the recipes for that week, you can even pause your delivery and skip a week.  If you choose the "classic" box, each week you will have 5 recipe options and you can choose the three out of the five that appeal to you the most.  Unfortunately, the veggie box doesn't have any options.

So I received my box last week and I was very impressed with the delivery process.  I received an email notification when it was shipped and when it was delivered.  You can choose the day of your delivery but not the time.  It was delivered in the morning and I was a little worried about it sitting out all day but when I got home and unpacked the box, everything was still cold from the ice packs and insulation in the box.

You can see that everything was packed pretty tightly in the box.  When I unpacked it, there were 2 bags for each recipe, produce being separated from the non-produce items.  There was also a random protein bar thrown in as a sample.  It was very clear what items went with which recipe from the labeling and it was very convenient to just put the produce bags in the refrigerator and the other bags in the pantry.  The unpacking process was quick and easy. The ingredients included everything you needed except for oil, salt and pepper.

In addition to the food, there was a recipe booklet.  The recipes were cards that tore out of the booklet and were very easy to use.  The front of each card had a description of the dish, a photo of the ingredients, a list of the ingredients and the nutritional information.  The back of the card had the cooking steps.  I thought the recipes were packaged attractively and easy to read.  The steps were also easy to follow for the most part.  I also liked that they were written in a way that avoided excessive use of extra pots and pans.  I have cooking something and then having a ton of dishes to wash afterward.

Recipe number 1 was a kale and mushroom quesadilla with an apple salsa.  We ended up loving this dish and felt it was kind of unique.  I wouldn't have necessarily thought of this on my own.  But there was a lot of chopping, especially considering the salsa ingredients all had to be chopped finely. I think this one took around 45 minutes.

So step one was tons of chopping.  I chopped the apple, onion and pepper and tossed them into a bowl with lime juice, salt and pepper. Then I cooked the kale, mushrooms, onion and garlic.

Once that was done, the tortillas were layered with the cooked veggies and mozzarella cheese and put into the oven to bake.

And here is the finished product!  Delicious and pretty.  Not bad for 45 minutes at all, even if most of it was active prep time.

Dish #2 was a fall vegetable soup.  I was a little disappointed in the taste of this one.  It just wasn't that flavorful or unique.  I could have come up with this easily myself. It was nice that the garnishes of parmesan cheese and fresh parsley were included.  Also, this dish took about 45 minutes but a lot of that was passive time since it was just cooking on the stove for about 20 minutes. Though this made much more than 2 servings for us.  It ended up being 4 servings so that was nice to have leftovers for later in the week.

Dish #3 was a vegetarian chili.  It was flavorful but again, not creative and absolutely something we've done on our own often.  It was nice that it had the garnishes of cheddar and sour cream for the top, and it had nice little single serving packages for the spices.  Though the recipe called for a package of stock concentrate and it was missing from the items we had.  I put in some extra spices to compensate for that.  It took about 30 minutes, so the quickest of the three recipes.  That was probably because this one didn't have that much chopping, just an onion, pepper, and taking corn off the cob.

So what did I think?  I don't think I'll necessarily get the box again.  The meals still took a lot of time and all the vegetables still had to be chopped so I don't feel like it was a time saver for me.  We still have to go grocery shopping to get things like lunches, snacks, breakfasts, etc. And I enjoy cooking and fiddling with recipes to adjust them for my taste. Plus, the price comes out to a little more than $9 per serving (less for the soup since we got 4 servings out of it) and I think I can generally cook our meals for less than that amount. A big downside for me was that there was no option to choose your meals for the vegetarian box.

But I think for someone who is new to cooking and can feel overwhelmed by having to find recipes and shop for them, this could be a good option.  It's also great if you don't have a full pantry of spices, canned items, cheeses, etc. since this allows you to get just the amounts you need for the recipe.  It is definitely more cost effective than eating out and a good way to learn and become a better cook. It was great that everything was pre-measured and that all the ingredients were packaged together.  It was also great that the nutritional information was easily available.  The ingredients we got were all really fresh and great quality.  Mike felt that if he was still single, this would be an option he might be interested in since he wasn't that familiar with cooking before we met.

Have you tried anything like this before or is this something that you think would work for you?

I'm linking up with Lean Lena for Tasty Tuesday and I'll be linking up with Deborah and Tina for Meatless Mondays.

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