For the past few weeks, I have been getting a Hello Fresh box delivery. I received a free week from a friend, and then I canceled it. After cancelation, they sent me a coupon, so I decided to give a couple of more weeks a shot.
To be honest, this wasn’t the first time that I had subscribed to this service. Back in college, my ex and I did it together when it was given to us as a gift, so I was excited to pick it back up. I am trying to eat healthier and getting fresh meals delivered is a step in the right directions. I should be putting more fruits and veggies into my body and not just mac and cheese. However, as this coupon was coming to an end, I wanted to evaluate my experience and the value. Additionally, I got a free Blue Apron box from a friend, so I figured I could evaluate and compare!
When evaluating these services, I want to compare them, see how they fit into life/how practical they are, and really think about their value. Moving forward, I won’t always have so much time and money, and I want to know how this works moving forward. I like the fact that these meals all have two servings, so that I have leftovers. It definitely gives me some extra bang for my buck.
First of all, I picked my menu. Compared to Hello Fresh, there were many fewer choices, and honestly, I wasn’t as excited about them. I had a difficult time picking out 3 meals where with Hello Fresh I am usually sad to leave some recipes behind. On the other hand, the recipes appeared to overall be a little lower calorie, which might be preferable to some people. They also work with Weight Watchers which might be a bonus for some people.
The Blue Apron box came in pretty similar outside packaging to the Hello Fresh boxes I have received. However, once inside the packaging was a little different. Both companies use insulation and similar freezer packs that can be dumped and recycled, but Blue Apron individually packages a lot of its ingredients while Hello Fresh bundles each recipes ingredients together in a brown bag. This is SO wasteful, and I am not a fan.
Once I unwrapped the food, I put everything in the fridge except the meal I planned to cook then. I also freeze the other meat, because I can take up to a week and a half to cook them sometimes. I decided to cook the Piccata-Style Tilapia since fish is better the fresher it is. As I gathered the individually packed ingredients and the spice pack, I noticed that inside the main pack, there is a sheet with the nutrition information. I thought that was super helpful. I also made sure to pull out the correct recipe instructions.
The meal was overall easy to cook, and I barely went over the time suggestion. With most Hello Fresh meals, I am taking up to twice the suggested amount of time. I appreciated how fast this was and that it was respectful of my time.
One issue I had was with cook temps. It said to cook the sauce for a couple of minutes on medium-high heat, but that was definitely too hot. The sauce almost burned and evaporated off before I could pull the pan off the stove.
The meal was actually delicious. I found it had slightly less flavor than most of my Hello Fresh meals. However, I think that comes with a lower calorie count. Sorry I forgot to take a pretty final pic of this one :)
Seared Steaks & Hot Honey Biscuits
The next meal was a steak and biscuit meal was actually delicious. It took 10-20 minutes longer to prep than I thought. However, this meal was INCREDIBLE. The steaks were not too fatty. This time, the instructions were perfect. Additionally, making biscuits was so much fun, and they turned out much better than I had expected. Plus, the honey sauce was so sweet
Seared Chicken & Goat Cheese Sauce
The final meal of my Blue Apron box was not as great as I expected. First of all, it took MUCH longer than the instructions said, which is always a bummer. Secondly, it wasn’t as good as I hoped. The instructions do not specify how much seasoning to put on the chicken, and I definitely used too much. It burned on the chicken and was too much. Third, I love goat cheese, but it didn’t’t fit well when there was SO MUCH seasoning. And mixing it with hot water didn’t quire make the promised sauce.
Blue Apron Overall Thoughts
Blue Apron was okay. I wasn’t as impressed with the food as I was with Hello Fresh, but being lower calorie and lower cost is a bonus. Additionally, it was a much more wasteful service, which I didn’t love. I feel like we all need to be doing our part to reduce waste.
Pros: Low calorie and still flavorful; Easy to make; Usually close to the expected time to make; Very, VERY wasteful packaging
Cons: Fewer choices than Hello Fresh; Expensive $60 per week for 3 meals for 2 people
😸😸😸😸😸😸😸/10 cats! Pretty good!
Like I said previously, I love Hello Fresh’s packaging. It is 100% recyclable. With a program that could lead to so much waste, this is so very important. I am more excited about these menus than I was about the Blue Apron meals, but that doesn’t mean that I will like them better.
Chipotle Chicken & Rice Bowls
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about meal one. It was honestly my least favorite option of the ones I picked. However, it was out of my comfort zone and so good! This meal embodies what I love about these delivery services. I tried a recipe that I never would have otherwise without the commitment of so many ingredients and the hassle. I also mixed this one up a little. I had caramelized onions and some non-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge that I also added for a little more flavor. It really stepped up the recipe making it a little more creamy and tangy. As usual, with Hello Fresh, it definitely took longer than the suggested prep time, but it was WORTH it. Plus, I was able to make three meals out of it. I split one of the servings up into two lunch portions! P.S. Sorry I forgot to take a pretty picture.
The second pack I opened was the meatloaf pack. I am not a huge meatloaf person, but this one seemed different than a lot of recipes I had before, so I was excited. Once again, it took longer than expected to make, but it was SO delicious. It was also higher calorie than I would usually go for in these delivery packages; however, it was filling so it was a solid compromise.
However, I do hate that Hello Fresh doesn’t provide quite as much. For example, I always have to have butter on hand for these recipes as they do not provide it. This can be a hassle since I do not have real butter otherwise. It is not on my regular shopping list.
Crispy Parmesan Chicken
I have had this recipe before, and I chose it again, because I absolutely love it. It is tasty, flavorful, filling, and less than 700 calories. It is easy to make, AND I made it in the time suggestion. The second portion also reheats very well.
Hello Fresh Overall Thoughts
First of all, I love the way Hello Fresh makes so much less waste than Blue Apron, and that when there is waste, it is recyclable. The recipes have so much flavor and the choices of meals feels endless. I really do love this service even though it is time-consuming. (I think they assume you are cooking with another person.)
Pros: more flavorful recipes, more “normal” recipes, more variety in and number of weekly recipe choices, less waste
Cons: provides you with less of the basics (like butter), $60 a week without coupons for 3 meals per week for 2 people, more time consuming than Blue Apron
😸😸😸😸😸😸😸😸😸/10 cats! I love it!
I am 10/10 sticking with Hello Fresh (more explanation later on how I can afford it) and get every other box. I find that the companies values (aka less waste) align with mine, the recipes are more exciting, and I have more choices. Getting every other box allows me to make it more affordable, and if you freeze the meat, the produce lasts at least 2 weeks so I can make the meals when it fits into my schedule.
My most precious commodity is time, so I am nervous about the sustainability of this for me in third year. I do not want to be wasting these meals because I am too tired to follow through. This is something that I will have to reevaluate then. Additionally, I do think it is a little too expensive even with only getting every other box, but I have found another discount to help.
Originally, I had a stellar coupon and a free box from a friend (which I recommend anyone starting this finding a coupon- do not start without a coupon of at least $80 off). Also, if you scroll to the bottom of their page, you can click the “students” link. Long story short: you can get 15% off every box and free shipping making each box about $45. This makes it INCREDIBLY affordable and why I am excited to be able to continue this service. To my knowledge, Blue Apron does not have a student discount. (I tried to find out.)
If you are interested in starting, here is my referral code. You will get $40 off! https://www.hellofresh.com?c=HS-44ZJEE1R7&utm_source=raf-share&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=clipboard