HelloFresh recipe box review
Thinking of signing up to leading recipe box subscription service HelloFresh? We put it to the test, covering the quality of the ingredients, recipes and delivery experience, as well as value for money.
HelloFresh recipe box in a nutshell
Pros: variations of cultural cuisines with exciting flavours, 'rapid recipes' that are speedy to make, requires few utensils and pans
Cons: potential for food waste higher up supply chain, some repetitive sides, some complexities from different serving sizes
Overall rating: 4.5/5
What is HelloFresh?
HelloFresh began as a company that aimed to provide people with the chance to cook hassle-free at home using fresh ingredients. The mastermind behind the venture was chef Patrick Drake, formerly of the prestigious Fat Duck restaurant, who started writing recipes and sending them out from his house. The premise of the company may have stayed the same, but it now offers many variations of the boxes to suit different needs, such as 'healthy', 'family' and 'rapid' options to truly cover all bases, with vegetarian options available, too.
HelloFresh recipe choices
With a highly specific 'over 37 recipes' every week, there's a huge range of meals to choose from – we found it difficult to make our choice! There's several different ranges and lots of labels throughout the menu signalling different USPs of recipes. For example, alongside classic meals there are Premium recipes using more luxurious ingredients (such as pine nut crusted lamb steaks), a Gastropub range (with recipes such as coq au vin pie) and Street Food recipes (such as crispy chicken strip tacos). Recipes are also helpfully labeled when they are Spicy or Extra Spicy, so you can avoid these if you wish. If you're new to HelloFresh, the Customer Favourites tag might be helpful for knowing popular choices to begin with.
As well as all the dinner recipes HelloFresh is most famous for, lunch, brunch and desserts are now available to order, too. Weekly menus are available up to a month in advance. One thing we noticed when we were ordering was a lot of meals came with potato wedges as a side: delicious, but not something that we wanted with every meal, which did narrow down choices we could make. Those who have had HelloFresh on a long-term basis have also noted that the same recipes or side dish rotations do come round again after a while (e.g. one week lots of potato wedges, the next a very similar dish but now with rice).
Is HelloFresh healthy?
With a variety of recipes encouraging fresh, home-cooked meals, it's fair to call HelloFresh a healthy option – if you want it to be. Most recipes appear to be a good balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fresh vegetables.
If you're looking for healthy recipes, the menu labels which recipes are under 650 calories and some are also Weight Watchers approved. There are a minimum of seven vegetarian recipes to choose from each week. If you're struggling to cook for yourself and instead relying on a lot of ready meals or highly processed foods throughout the week, or struggle to think of healthy ideas beyond salads, these meals would definitely be a step in the right direction.
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How many recipes do you get with HelloFresh?
You can choose whether to get three, four or five recipes per week, and whether to serve two, three or four people. HelloFresh will take your first selection as your custom plan, but you can change this week to week.
What are the first impressions of the delivery?
First impressions of the box were promising. There were lots of fresh ingredients and all were clearly organised and labelled. The box was incredibly large, but our order contained three meals for two people plus a generous side dish, so if you think of this as six-eight servings then the size was reasonable.
What do you get in a HelloFresh box?
In the box, you receive numbered recipe cards and corresponding paper bags of ingredients. You also receive a well insulated pouch containing all the ingredients to store in the fridge. Ingredients were high quality, all in date and appeared to be extremely fresh. The A4 recipe cards had large photos of each dish on the front, and step-by-step photos and instructions on the back, along with lists of cooking tools needed, nutrition and ingredient quantity tables letting you know how much is needed depending how many people you are cooking for.
Are refrigerated ingredients kept sufficiently chilled in the packaging?
The chilled items (such as meat and dairy) came in one large chilled pouch made of recycled plastics. We hadn't been in when the box was delivered, but cold items were still chilled when we unboxed everything. It's worth checking the paper bags of dry ingredients as well as there may be some items in there you'd prefer to keep in the fridge, such as fresh vegetables.
Our box arrived on a Monday and there was enough time on all the ingredients before their best-before date to spread out the cooking across the week: the fish lasted until Thursday and the chicken lasted until Saturday,
What are the delivery options?
If you have a busy schedule, you can select a specific day for the box to be delivered. We weren't in when our box was delivered and it was left in a safe, hidden place. Delivery is from 8am-8pm (you can't narrow this down) and you can leave special instructions for delivery if you'll be out.
How much packaging was there?
A common criticism of recipe subscription boxes is the excessive packaging required to send such small quantities of ingredients such as herbs, spices and yogurt. HelloFresh look to have attempted to combat this, with reduced plastic and lots of ingredients coming in pleasing paper sachets rather than plastic tubs. While the nature of the box still requires lots of packaging, we didn't feel like we were throwing away large amounts of plastic.
Does it offer good value for money?
The cost per serving varies depending how many meals you add to your box and how many people you are serving. For example, three meals to serve two people works out at £4.50 per serving, whereas five recipes to serve four is £3.25 per serving. Considering you get all the ingredients and recipes delivered to your doorstep, without needing to already have any other ingredients this does feel like good value for money. It could get expensive to do permanently, but good for busy households.
How easy are the recipes to make?
We chose confit duck brioche buns from the Gastropub range, enjoying the opportunity to be guided through cooking duck which isn't something we would normally buy in the supermarket. The duck was already confit, so simply had to be shredded and heated through, making it really easy to try something new. All instructions were clear and well thought out, so even a novice cook would be able to follow these easily. As recipes are available for two, three or four people, there are some ingredients that require looking at the chart on the side of the recipe card to see how much is relevant for your quantities.
We also cooked turmeric-marinated sea bass, one of the Weight Watchers recommended healthy dishes. It felt like exactly what we'd use HelloFresh for: interesting, healthy eating inspiration, new techniques, clever use of ingredients across different elements of the meal, plus the ability to make a spiced dish packed with flavour without having to have a fully stocked spice cupboard of our own. The fish was fresh and good quality, while the side of spiced rice had flavour from caramelised onions, Sri Lankan spices and fried courgette – much more interesting than plain white rice! Both dishes took roughly the time stated, maximum five-10 minutes more.
Is there any food waste?
Aside from some leftover coriander and garlic cloves – both easy to use up in future cooking – there was no food waste which was great.
However, we were conscious that there may be more food waste further down the production line, due to the individual portions of all the ingredients.
What are the finished recipes like?
We were pleased with the finished results of all recipes. The portions were generous: despite ordering for two, some felt like they could have stretched to serve three. The side order of loaded cheesy wedges worked as a meal in their own right.
The rice cooking method in our fish recipe was clever and taught us some new tips and tricks we'd definitely use again. We sometimes struggle with cooking rice and this pilaf method produced perfectly cooked, fluffy strands. As a minor note, we would quibble that, for a healthy dinner recipe, we’d like more than one portion of veg – some frozen peas wouldn’t have gone amiss.
How many people does a HelloFresh box serve?
You can choose a box to serve two, three or four people.
What utensils did you need to use to make the recipes?
Our recipes didn't require any complex equipment. For example, our fish dish used a frying pan, saucepan, marinating bowl, chopping board and garlic crusher (you could just chop or grate the garlic if you didn't have a crusher).
Who would the product be most useful for?
It would be best for people who want to eat fresh food but don’t have the time to plan and find recipes or go food shopping to buy the individual ingredients. Due to the variation of different meals for specific people, such as families and those on the go, it's useful for a wide range of households.
What's your favourite thing about HelloFresh?
Overall, the best thing about HelloFresh is the ease of creating a recipe from scratch with all the items you need, plus the fact that they change repeatedly so you are eating seasonal ingredients. It is easy to get stuck in a rut and cook the same recipes every week, so HelloFresh gave us plenty of new inspiration, ideas we would never cook before and a change to learn some new skills.
What are the subscription terms?
HelloFresh is easy to cancel. You can do so online with no hassle – it also gives you the option to skip a week.
Ease of cooking 4/5
Quality of the finished recipes 4.5/5
Quality of ingredients 4/5
Value for money 4/5
Discover how to sign up to the HelloFresh recipe subscription box
This review was last updated in March 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.