HelloFresh is one of the most well-known and long-standing meal kits on the American market. Since 2011, the company has provided home cooks and food enthusiasts with fresh recipes and meals with a focus on diverse food options created by chefs and nutritionists.
I was curious to test out HelloFresh and see how it compares to other meal kits in today’s market. I tested and tasted this service for one week, and here's what I discovered about this popular meal delivery company.
Pros and Cons
Diverse meal choices with great add-on options
Efficient and quick customer service
Delicious, gourmet meals
Easy-to-follow recipe cards
Meal prep can be time-consuming
Lots of cleanup
Not necessarily nutritious
What Is HelloFresh?
Founded in 2011, HelloFresh is a Berlin-based company that provides its subscribers with meal kits complete with ingredients, seasonings, and handy recipe cards with instructions on how to cook each meal. The company is part of the namesake HelloFresh Group, which includes other popular meal delivery services such as Green Chef, Factor, and EveryPlate.
How Does It Work?
Each week, HelloFresh subscribers can choose from more than 60 recipes, which are posted on its website under “Our Menus.” Both subscribers and non-subscribers can view the recipes. When selecting a plan, HelloFresh offers the following preferences: Meat & Veggies, Veggie, Family Friendly, Fit & Wholesome, Quick & Easy, and Pescatarian. After selecting food preferences, you then have the option to choose a plan for two to four people, with two to six recipes per week. I chose the Meat & Veggies plan for two people with five recipes.
After registering your address, a delivery date is automatically populated with a delivery time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Within less than a week, I received my first box.
Once you’re registered, HelloFresh populates meals based on your preference input. A banner at the top of the page alerts you to the amount of time you have to edit your meals for your next delivery.
On the day of your scheduled delivery, HelloFresh sends a tracking email and outlines the cooling technology that allows meals to stay fresh in the box for up to 48 hours. The service reminds you to have on hand all of the household ingredients you need, such as olive oil, salt, and pepper. I liked having this note, as it helped me prepare for the week.
My delivery included easy-to-follow recipe cards, a seasonal magazine featuring future meal highlights, and an envelope with coupons for partnering companies. But if utilizing your mobile device while you cook is more appealing, HelloFresh has an easy-to-use app, which illustrates detailed and step-by-step recipe instructions quite well.
Prices vary depending on the number of meals and servings you want per week. Servings start at $8.99 for the largest plan of six meals per week with four servings each, and they go up to $12.49 for the smallest plan of two meals with two servings each. (Basically, the more you order, the cheaper each serving will be.) No matter the size of your order, you'll pay a $10.99 flat rate shipping fee.
When selecting the meals, HelloFresh automatically populates your meals based on your preferences. Using a plus and minus tool, you can edit your meals and peruse other options available by scrolling down. As you edit, the prepopulated recipes stay static, so you have to keep scrolling to find your newly selected meals, which I found a bit confusing as I tried to edit my selections.
It’s important to note that while HelloFresh doesn’t currently offer dietary meal plans such as keto or paleo, it does have several vegetarian options each week and plenty of diverse cuisines and styles of meals. I noticed nods to American Diner, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Mexican-inspired cuisines. HelloFresh leaves it up to you to determine which meal fits your lifestyle and dietary needs. There are various tags under each recipe icon to help you choose, such as veggie, calorie smart, spicy, hall of fame, quick, carb smart, seasonal faves, and gourmet.
When you click on each recipe, a pop-up page appears and lists the following: preparation time; calories; cooking level; allergens; ingredients included in your box; ingredients that are not included; and an option to click on the full recipe link, which then expands into a larger recipe page. The recipe page includes the aforementioned information as well as an introduction to the dish; more detailed nutritional value information; a list and pictures of ingredients with an ability to populate ingredients based on two or four servings; a list of utensils needed; and step-by-step instructions with accompanying photos.
Each week, HelloFresh offers more than 60 recipes, with a few higher-priced Gourmet meals for an additional up-charge. There's also a huge selection of add-ons, which was quite impressive and reminded me of an online grocery store. Some of the add-ons included breakfasts, lunch sandwiches, and even a pantry section.
With so many meals and add-on options, it was a tad overwhelming to pare it all down. I was curious about how gourmet the Gourmet meals really were, so I selected the pecan-crusted trout and added a side of garlic bread. The recipe styles were quite diverse and worldly. I wanted to have a well-rounded sample of HelloFresh's offerings, so I opted for fish-, poultry-, vegetarian-, beef-, and shellfish-centered dishes with American, Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Mexican-influenced cuisine styles.
What We Tasted
- Pecan-crusted trout with an apple-studded salad and thyme roasted potatoes, Gourmet, x 2
- Creamy lemon butter chicken with parmesan zucchini rounds and scallion couscous
- Garden mushroom ravioli with zucchini ribbons, tomato, and creamy lemon sauce
- Sesame soy beef bowls with shredded carrots, buttery rice, and sriracha mayo
- Southwestern shrimp tacos with pico de gallo and hot sauce crema
- Garlic bread, x 1
The HelloFresh packaging includes insulated liners and cooling packs to keep your food fresh for up to 24 hours after your delivery time.
Upon opening your box, you will find a seasonal magazine, your recipe cards, and some incentives from partners. All items are insulated in an insulated liner, which can be recycled with household recycling.
Each meal is packaged together in a paper bag and is clearly labeled with stickers, making it very easy to organize and keep ingredients together. There are QR codes on each of the meal paper bags, which link to a HelloFresh landing page. A large cardboard board with a note reminds you to look under the ice packs for perishables. My box included two large ice packs, which can be emptied and recycled.
One question I did have was whether each of the sorted paper meal bags needed to be refrigerated. It would have been nice if those instructions were provided on each bag.
I also noticed there was a lot of plastic in addition to the paper meal bags. Nearly everything, minus lemons and tomatoes, was wrapped in plastic. Unlike some of the other meal kits, most of the packaging includes the HelloFresh logo and branding. One scallion bag even noted that you can reuse the scallion roots to regrow scallions in a small glass of water, which I thought was a great tip.
The Cooking Process
Each recipe is broken down into six steps with clear photographic instructions. I found the instructions pretty clear, but I did have a few questions as the recipe cards include some ingredient proportions for both two and four servings. Sometimes I wasn't sure if I was supposed to use half or all of a certain ingredient, like the multiple sour cream packets that were included in my meal bag. The HelloFresh app also offers step-by-step instructions, which are clear and easy to follow.
One of my biggest takeaways was that there were a lot of steps within those six instructions. Many of the recipes include washing, chopping, mincing, sautéing, roasting, and boiling water. There were moments when I was a little overwhelmed and at times I felt a bit frenetic, even if I had multiple cooks in the kitchen. I used a lot of utensils and often had more than four cooking vessels to clean up. And a few of the recipes took longer than the approximated prep and cook times. HelloFresh does not seem geared toward novice cooks.
For example, when preparing the creamy lemon butter chicken, I found there were lots of steps; chopping, dicing, bringing water to a boil, roasting, sautéing, and searching for extra “bust out” items, like pots and pans, and a zester. The zucchini in the dish had to be prepped, roasted, and then broiled, and I found myself constantly using a timer to keep track. I also had to prepare the Israeli couscous in a few steps, all while watching the chicken sauté and making a finishing sauce. You definitely have to pay attention and enjoy the art of dovetailing.
The recipe took 40 minutes to prepare and execute, as suggested. But with so many steps, I felt a little rushed. And the chicken seemed to take on the longer side to cook all the way through, definitely needing at least five minutes per side instead of the suggested three to five minutes per side.
Despite all of the steps and time, I did find most of my meals to be delicious—particularly the creamy lemon butter chicken. I found this dish to be flavorful and juicy, and I loved the touch of lemon as it brightened the dish. I also enjoyed the crunch of the zucchini, despite the several steps needed to prepare it. The finishing sauce tied the whole dish together, making it creamy but not too decadent for a weeknight dinner.
Another standout meal was the sesame soy beef bowls. I enjoyed the sticky rice, sweet beef, and carrots, and the sriracha mayo topping added just enough spice. I didn’t feel too virtuous after eating a whopping 48 grams of fat per serving, but I loved the flavors, and my children enjoyed the dinner as well (without the spicy topping).
I did, however, encounter a few meals that needed a bit more flavor. I felt the garlic bread was lackluster and dry and could have benefited from more oil and garlic. The pecan-crusted trout (which was steelhead trout) was well-flavored and tasted fine, but it had a slightly fishy odor. Lastly, because I ended up keeping my paper meal bags in the fridge, the tomatoes became a bit mealy, which was disappointing.
Who Should Use HelloFresh?
HelloFresh is ideal for people and families who love to cook and who are craving diverse, satiating, and delicious meals. However, HelloFresh may not be the best choice for those who don’t have, or wish to devote, a lot of time to preparing meals and cleaning up, and may prefer lighter, more healthful food.
HelloFresh is a great option for people who truly love being in the kitchen and preparing and executing gourmet-inspired meals. I found all of my meals to be flavorful and satisfying, and I would certainly order from HelloFresh again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is HelloFresh Good for Beginners?
HelloFresh is a great option for beginners interested in learning about cooking, but it may be too difficult for some users who want fast, easy-to-prepare meals. The website offers information about each meal's cooking level and expected preparation time to help users determine which meals are best for their needs.
Is it Hard to Quit HelloFresh?
HelloFresh makes it easy for users to cancel or change their subscriptions. Visit the "Plan Settings" section of the website to make changes to upcoming orders.
Is HelloFresh Processed Food?
Some of HelloFresh's meals include processed foods such as chips or buns. However, this meal kit delivery service always includes fresh ingredients, which subscribers use to prepare each meal at home.
Does HelloFresh Actually Reduce Food Waste?
HelloFresh claims that its service helps users reduce their food waste by at least 23 percent. However, this varies based on each subscriber's food preparation and grocery shopping habits.
Are HelloFresh Boxes Healthy?
Subscribers can choose which specific meals they want to prepare when picking their weekly HelloFresh menu. The nutritional value of each serving varies from meal to meal. To ensure that your weekly menu suits your dietary preferences or restrictions, you can read more about each meal and its nutrition information before selecting it.
Our testers ordered from HelloFresh and reviewed the service based on its food and preparation process. We considered factors like meal options, different cuisines or meals for dietary restrictions, cooking time, and the skill level required to prepare each serving. Every selection was rated in terms of its flavor, freshness, quality, and nutritional value.
Additionally, we considered the number of servings available per week and price points for various options. Support materials like recipe cards were rated along with the company's packaging and sustainability. The ordering process and customer support was also an important factor, including the ease of making changes or canceling a subscription.
Our Spruce Eats tester panel includes dietitians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.
Learn More: Read Our Full Methodology
- Product Name HelloFresh
- Lowest Price per Serving $7.49
- Number of Diets Served 2
- Number of Recipes 25
- Delivery Area 48 states
- Serving Sizes Available 2, 4