You guys know I hate grocery shopping AND cooking meals (I'm a delight), so when HelloFresh Canada asked if I wanted to try a week of their Family Plan, I was like YES, PLEASE!
For those of you who haven't heard, HelloFresh is a healthy meal delivery service. Instead of shipping ready-made meals, they send you all of the fresh ingredients you need to make meals from scratch. They have two-person plans and four-person plans, and even a veggie plan. Each box contains meals for three nights' worth of dinners.
We got to test out the Family Plan a couple of weeks ago and I'm so excited to share what we thought -- as well as a coupon code to save $50 off your first box.
Here are my five reasons why I think you'll LOVE HelloFresh ...
1. It includes everything you need.
Have you ever seen two more excited children holding YOGURT and a red pepper?! (Two things we buy weekly, by the way.) D and C were thrilled when our big HelloFresh box arrived on a Tuesday and couldn't wait to tear into it.
(It must be all those "unboxing" videos they watch on YouTube?)
When we opened the box, there were three smaller boxes neatly tucked inside ...
One box for each meal, and you know the colour-coding spoke to my heart.
Once you took out the meal boxes, there was another section underneath: the freezer section!
The meat, chicken and fish were tucked in this colder area with plenty of ice packs.
Since the boxes are delivered with Purolator (pssst, they ship ANYWHERE in Canada that Purolator delivers, other than Quebec), they're fine to sit on your porch for a bit while you're at work. Everything stays super cold.
Two packages of beef, two packages of chicken, two packages of fish!
We lined up the boxes on the counter and were deciding which one to have for our first night, but then we noticed this ...
The Gremolta-Crusted Cod shouted "Make me first!" so we obeyed. You always obey a box, especially if it's nicely colour-coded.
We tucked the other two boxes into the fridge and I was surprised how smoothly they fit on the bottom shelf.
We'd actually just gotten a full load of groceries that morning since we weren't sure when our trial box was arriving, and they still fit!
We stacked the corresponding meat on top of each box, and they were good to wait until the following nights.
2. There's no wasted food.
It was fun to spread out all of the ingredients and see exactly what was going in each recipe. When the counter was empty, it meant everything was used up and I hadn't forgotten to add anything!
It was also nice to know that everything was being used up -- unlike buying a whole head of cabbage and only using 1/3 of it for a recipe, leaving the rest to rot in your crisper. HelloFresh includes exactly the right amount of everything.
3. Everyone tries something new.
We tried LOTS of new foods during our three days cooking with HelloFresh, but that's possibly because we are a family of very boring eaters.
Our household had NEVER cooked fish that wasn't a Captain Highliner fish stick (I know, we're an embarassment to Maritimers) and we cooked COD our very first night. Actual cod!
Other foods we tried for the first time: baby bok choy. coconut basmati rice and cilantro.
(Side note: See that little clump in the bottom-right corner? I honestly thought it was a piece of potato that got accidentally thrown into our box. Turns out it was GINGER! Who knew?)
We also learned new SKILLS, which surprised me. We had to zest lemons and limes (using our cheese grater because we're not fancy and do not own a zester) as well as the ginger, and it was fun! The kids even tried and didn't grate their fingers, so it was a win all-around.
4. They meals are fast to put together.
Like, really fast. All three of our meals listed either 30 minutes or 35 minutes for "prep" and I thought that didn't include cooking time, but it did.
The instructions were organized in a way that you started cooking one item and then were prepping the second while the first was cooking, and it was certainly well-planned.
Some of the ingredients were even pre-chopped -- like the red onion -- to make things even faster. Not having to chop onions and get all teary = excellent.
|Potatoes and red peppers, ready to roast!|
|Zucchini with cod fillets topped with gremolta (panko, garlic, lemon zest and parsley)|
Everything came together smoothly in almost exactly the 30 or 35 minutes -- from taking the box out of the fridge to putting dinner on the table -- and that's with the "help" of two kids.
5. The recipes turn out just like the pictures.
I delighted in taking the "after" pictures of each meal because they were all so darn pretty. Everything looked way more Instagram-worthy than our usual meals!
|Night #1: Gremolata-Crusted Cod with Roasted Mediterranean Veggies|
|Night #2: Smoky Sloppy Joes with Shredded Carrot Salad and Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette|
|Night #3: Glazed Teriyaki Chicken with Baby Bok Choy and Coconut Rice|
And now for the FAQ portion, I'll run through the various questions people have asked (on social media and in person) when they heard we were giving this a whirl ...
"But did your kids eat it?"
The kids were excited to try each meal because they'd helped prepare it. In terms of how much everyone loved the taste of the new foods ... well, they're still a picky four-year-old and six-year-old. I think they're a little young (and not-adventurous) to fully appreciate these fancier-than-normal meals.
D actually liked the cod (which surprised me) but not the gremolata topping, and he adored the Sloppy Joes (no surprise there). The salad on Night #2 wasn't a hit with either of them, but they did pick at the veggies on Night #1.
The kids were actually at my mom's for Night #3, which was too bad because I know they would have loved the Glazed Teriyaki Chicken. It was my FAVOURITE meal of the week, hands down, and I'm totally making it again using the recipe card.
"Isn't it wasteful to have all of those boxes/containers/ice packs?"
I've heard this a lot online from people who think services like this are bad for the environment, BUT I really didn't find there was a lot of garbage at the end of each night. A couple of pieces of plastic from the meat/fish/chicken packaging and a few empty honey packets, etc. all easily could be wadded up into a single handful.
HelloFresh also runs an ice pack return program. They ask you to save up 3-4 weeks worth of ice packs in one of your boxes and then drop them an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they'll arrange to have them picked up and shipped back (for free).
"Were the portions large enough?"
Definitely. The salad on Night #2 was massive and I had to send a huge bowl to the neighbours so it wasn't wasted (since I'd already put the homemade dressing on it.)
The Sloppy Joes were curious because there was a TON of ground beef and just four brioche buns -- one per person. I ended up having a second helping of the beef by itself on my salad, and had plenty left for another couple of meals. My only suggestion would be including extra buns in the box or scaling back on the meat for this one.
The chicken and rice on Night #3 was actually enough for five adult-sized portions. Since the kids were away, I sent one plate next door to our neighbour and spent the next two days eating the leftovers for lunch. Mmmmm.
"Is it expensive?"
It depends on how much you spend on groceries and how much you value your time. The Family Plan is $129.99 for a week, which includes three dinners for four people.
Yes, you could probably buy the same ingredients yourself for less money. But you wouldn't necessarily be able to buy exactly what you need for a specific recipe with zero waste, and you have to actually go out and source everything.
It was SO CONVENIENT to have this lovely big box just SHOW UP at our door with everything we needed for three dinners (and leftovers for lunch the next day). The luxury of not having to go out and do the shopping (or the planning) is worth a few extra bucks.
"What's the quality like?"
Like BETTER than the stuff I'd normally buy in the grocery store!
The chicken and the beef were especially impressive with packaging that boasted "raised without hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products," since we normally buy regular ol' grocery store value-packs.
The produce was all excellent and very fresh. Even the canned and packaged items -- like the tomatoes for Night #2 -- were fancy-looking. Certainly no generic items in here!
We certainly plan on ordering from HelloFresh again. It was the kick in the pants we all needed to get out of our dinner slump and try some new foods, and it was so convenient to put together all three of the meals.
You can save $50 off your first order by using the code "HEACLA." Let me know what you think if you try it!
Have questions I didn't answer? Drop them in the comments on reach out on Facebook or Twitter and I'll be sure to get back to you.
Thanks to HelloFresh Canada for providing us with a Family Plan for one week so we could try it out. As always, all opinions and leftover teriyaki chicken are my own.