I like to think I’m generally pretty immune to advertising, but with every Hello Fresh ad, I could feel my resolve crumbling.
I couldn’t escape it; if it wasn’t a thirty-second unskippable ad before a YouTube video I was watching, it was the YouTuber in said video doing a Hello Fresh sponsorship at the end of it. I knew all their buzzwords – pre-portioned ingredients, reduced food waste, and fool-proof recipes – and honestly, to a student who eats more frozen pizza than she should, the idea of delicious, home-cooked meals wasn’t entirely unappealing. What really sealed the deal was the providential promo-code I found sitting in my email inbox, that promised 50% off my first box. I thought it would be an interesting experience at the very least, and so, I decided to go for it.
The app was easy to navigate, and I could choose the number of meals/servings I wanted delivered in each week’s box. There was a wide range of fancy recipes to pick from, and I was pleased to note that there were a fair few vegetarian options. Each recipe detailed the required ingredients and utensils, as well as the preparation time and difficulty level. I chose the following three dishes:
- Rigatoni Caprese – with Pine Nuts, Mozzarella and Balsamic Tomato Salsa
- Cheesy Bean Quesadillas – with Sweet Potato Wedges and Balsamic Rocket Salad
- Speedy Veggie Bean Stew – with Rice, Cheese and Zesty Soured Cream
My box arrived a few days later, with the phrase “Dinner is Solved” emblazoned across the front. The information on the sides of the box reassured me that the packaging was 100% recyclable, the short supply chain reduced their carbon footprint, and that the ingredients were locally sourced and as fresh as possible. Inside, there were three recipe cards, one for each of the dishes, along with the ingredients, some of which I was instructed to immediately store in the fridge. I made my first meal (the pasta) that very night, and it was actually really fun! I don’t remember the last time I referred to a physical recipe while cooking, it made the whole experience more exciting somehow.
My biggest concern when cooking is having to buy specific ingredients and not being able to finish them in time, which is both expensive and wasteful. This system solves that problem completely. They provided all kinds of ingredients I would never have ordinarily bought or used, because I could always make do without them, like olives and chives. It also made me want to focus on presentation, and make the dish look as sophisticated and professional as I could. I was reminded of just how fun and stress-free cooking can be – just me and my music, occasionally chatting with my flatmates, and generally having a good time. It felt like I was treating myself. The final product was quite impressive, if I do say so myself.
Cooking the next two dishes went similarly well (the sweet potato wedges were slightly burnt, although that’s on me). The quantity of food was extremely substantial, since each dish served a minimum of two, which means I had more than enough for that meal as well as the next. Each dish came with a lot of frills, such as the sides and salads. I do wish we had the opportunity to customize this, since I didn’t always want those. On that note, there were several dishes that appealed to me, only for me to discover that they weren’t vegetarian. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but I would’ve appreciated the ability to pick any dish I liked, and having all the ingredients but the meat sent to me, so I could make a vegetarian version of it.
Whilst there are several diverse dishes and cuisines to choose from on their fixed menu each week, you may not be too keen on the available options. In that case, or if you decide you don’t need a box that week, they allow you to skip one or more weeks. True to their marketing, the whole thing was cheaper than if I’d bought ingredients for each dish separately, or if I’d got even one of those dishes at a restaurant. That being said, now that I no longer have a discount, I’ve temporarily deactivated my subscription, because it is quite expensive at the end of day. However, I definitely see myself coming back to Hello Fresh at some point in the future. I think it’s a great, sustainable option for busy students, and anyone who’s struggling to eat healthy. And if it’s out of your budget, don’t hesitate to take advantage of all the holiday promo codes and discounts they’ve been offering!