By now, you've probably heard about HelloFresh—the meal kit that promises to simplify mealtime by delivering fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes straight to your door.
When I first considered trying HelloFresh many years ago, I was in the same position as you, trying to figure out if this was the right option for my needs. I had heard about the convenience of meal delivery services, but I had concerns about the cost, value, and variety of the meals. Was it really worth the investment?
Today, as a seasoned HelloFresh customer, I've seen their meal delivery service evolve over the years. And let me tell you, there are quite a few things I wish I knew before I started using it.
Today, I'm here to share my insider tips with you. From which plans are worth it and which aren’t to tricks for how to get the biggest portion sizes—I’m here to share the top 9 things I wish I know about HelloFresh before I signed up.
Food Box HQ Note: If you're interested in learning more about my thoughts of HelloFresh's meal kit, you can read my in-depth review here.
1. Skip The Smallest Plan & Go With This One Instead (Best Value)
When I first started using HelloFresh, I was drawn to the smallest plan—2 meals for 2 people per week, which equals a total of 4 servings. Like most people starting out, I really just wanted to try out their meal kit before fully committing and spending more money.
To be honest, I got drawn in by the deep discount for first time customers. Once the discount ended and the price went up, I realized that the cost of the meals can add up quickly.
Over the years, HelloFresh's pricing has undergone some changes, with their smallest plan currently offering 2 meals per week for 2 people at a cost of $12.49 per serving. This is a pretty steep price, especially when considering the next plan up: 3 meals per week for 2 people, which costs $9.99 per serving—a $2.50 difference in price per serving.
It's important to consider that the price difference between the 3 meals per week for 2 people plan and the next plan up (4 meals per week for 2 people) is only $0.20 per serving. Because of this, I really don’t think it’s worth buying in the smallest plan (2 meals per week for 2 people) as it provides less value for your money. Instead, I’d recommend starting with at least the 3 meals per week for 2 people plan at $9.99 per serving since it offers a better value while still fitting into a smaller budget.
2. It’s Not Cheaper Than Grocery Shopping, However…
I remember when HelloFresh was just starting to become popular, and all the marketing I was seeing seemed to be making very bold claims—especially the claim that they were cheaper than grocery shopping.
I can tell you from my own experience that HelloFresh is, unfortunately, not cheaper than grocery shopping.
When it comes to meal delivery services like HelloFresh, one major factor that can add to the overall cost is the shipping fee. Unlike grocery shopping, where you may not need to pay for shipping (unless you opt for delivery), meal delivery services require an additional fee to cover the cost of shipping the ingredients straight to your door.
However, when talking about costs, it’s important to also consider the convenience factor of HelloFresh.
In our research here at Food Box HQ, we found that HelloFresh was often only between $2 and $5 more expensive than making a meal with grocery store ingredients. For me personally, that extra cost is worth the overall convenience of getting everything delivered to my door, getting to try new recipes regularly, and only having to deal with single-use ingredients. With traditional grocery shopping, I often end up buying larger quantities of ingredients and then struggle to figure out what to do with the leftovers.
For example, I once bought creme fraiche for a Panna Cotta recipe. While the meal was delicious, I ended up having to throw the rest of the creme fraiche away because I didn't know what else to use it for. With HelloFresh, I don't have to worry about buying larger quantities of ingredients and trying to figure out how to use them or possibly letting them go to waste.
Food Box HQ Note: If you are looking for a meal kit less expensive than HelloFresh, you can read my favorite cheaper meal kit options here.
3. Canceling Is Easier Than I Thought It Would Be (But Deleting Your Account Isn’t)
One of the biggest myths I often hear about HelloFresh is that it’s hard to cancel your account. That couldn’t be further from the truth. HelloFresh gives you multiple different simple ways to cancel your subscription—online, over email, and over the phone. Every time I’ve canceled my HelloFresh subscription to try out another meal kit, it's taken less than a minute and I’ve never had any issues. In fact, they often email me coupons days later to entice me to reactivate my subscription!
While canceling your subscription is a breeze, deleting your account is a different story. Canceling your subscription is similar to pausing it indefinitely and doesn't necessarily remove your information from HelloFresh's servers. If you want to completely delete your account, you'll need to contact HelloFresh customer support directly via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or chat. From there, you can request to have your account, personal information, and payment details deleted entirely.
Personally, I've never had to delete my HelloFresh account because I genuinely enjoy their meal kit service and often return to using it after trying out other options. However, it's important to know the difference between canceling and deleting your account and to understand the steps involved in each process.
4. HelloFresh Isn’t Good For Most Diets, Except For A Few
As someone who tries to eat healthy but doesn't strictly adhere to any particular diet, I was initially drawn to HelloFresh for their promise of easy, healthy meal options. However, as I dug deeper into their meal selection, I realized that HelloFresh may not be the best option for those who follow more specialized diets.
While HelloFresh does offer a range of meals each week, including options for vegetarians and those looking for low calorie meals, their meal selection may not be suitable for individuals who follow more restrictive diets such as keto, paleo, or specialized weight loss programs like Weight Watchers.
One of the trickier diets that HelloFresh tries to accommodate is gluten-free. While they do offer gluten-free meals, it's important to note that these meals are not certified gluten-free, and there is a risk of cross-contact that those with Celiac disease should be aware of. For those with Celiac disease, it may be best to err on the side of caution and avoid HelloFresh's gluten-free meal options.
However, for those who are simply avoiding gluten for personal reasons, HelloFresh's gluten-free meal options may be a great way to try out new recipes and enjoy delicious meals without sacrificing taste. Just be sure to thoroughly read the ingredients and cooking instructions to ensure that there is no cross-contamination.
5. Their Recipes Definitely Surprised Me
When I first signed up for HelloFresh, I was primarily looking for a way to make mealtime easier and more convenient. My wife (then girlfriend) and I were working pretty demanding jobs and didn’t have much time at the end of the day to cook. I didn't have particularly high expectations for the taste of the meals themselves—I figured that they would be good, but nothing extraordinary.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of HelloFresh's recipes are actually quite delicious (at least the ones that I've tried over the past 6+ years). They offer a wide variety of cuisines, from interesting Asian-inspired dishes to hearty comfort foods. I've found that they do an excellent job of taking classic dishes and putting their own unique spin on them.
For example, one of my favorite meals is their Juicy Lucy Burgers with Tomato Onion Jam and Potato Wedges. It seems like a classic burger, but inside is a cheesy core, followed up with a tangy onion jam that take the flavors to a whole new level.
But what really surprised me was how easy the recipes are to follow, even for someone like me who isn't exactly a gourmet chef. And with the pre-portioned ingredients, there’s very little waste or guesswork involved.
6. Meal Sizes Vary But I Figured Out How To Get The Biggest Portions
When it comes to meal kits, portion size is often a concern for me. I want to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth and not ending up hungry after dinner. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by HelloFresh’s generous portion sizes in most, but not all, of their meals. I’ve had leftovers from their meals for two more times than I can count (here’s an example meal with leftovers). However, there's a trick to getting meals with bigger portion sizes.
After a bit of experimentation, I’ve found that sticking with pasta, taco, and salad dishes tends to result in the largest portions. Not only are these meals usually satisfying and filling, but they also make for great leftovers.
On the other hand, beef dishes tend to have smaller portions. My theory is that this is because beef is often more expensive than chicken or turkey, which are more commonly used in larger portioned meals.
If you really want to make sure that a meal is going to be filling and have a big portion, you can customize it to add extra ingredients or even upgrade ingredients with HelloFresh’s “HelloCustom” feature.
7. The Meals Aren’t Always The Most Nutritionally Balanced
HelloFresh has some of the tastiest meals I’ve had out of all the meal kits I've tried. However, I've noticed that they aren't always the most nutritionally balanced. For example, more often than not, the HelloFresh menu will feature a lot of carb-heavy meals like pasta dishes. While this isn't necessarily a big deal for me, it's something that individuals who are trying to maintain a specific diet or lifestyle may want to take into consideration.
What concerns me more, however, is the high sodium content in some of their meals. For instance, the Fully Loaded Beef Taquitos with Pico de Gallo, Creamy Guacamole & Hot Sauce has close to 2000mg of sodium per serving. That's very close to the recommended maximum daily sodium intake of 2300mg according to the FDA. While this may not be an issue for some people, individuals who are watching their sodium intake or have medical conditions that require them to limit sodium may want to steer clear of certain HelloFresh meals or be very careful with the meals they choose.
However, I think it's important to note that the high sodium levels are not present in all of HelloFresh's meals. They do offer lower sodium options (for example, this Steakhouse-Style Organic Chicken with a Creamy Pan Sauce, Roasted Potatoes & Lemony Broccoli dish is 520mg of sodium per serving). Plus, their nutrition information is readily available on their website for anyone to check before selecting a meal.
8. You May Not Be Able To Cover Every Meal With HelloFresh
As someone who constantly juggles a busy schedule, I initially turned to HelloFresh as a solution to streamline dinnertime. But as time went on, I found myself struggling to keep up with meal planning and prep for other meals, such as breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately, when I first subscribed to HelloFresh, they only offered dinner meals.
Thankfully, HelloFresh has since expanded their menu to include breakfast and lunch options. However, there's a catch—their biggest plan only covers 6 meals per week. This means that HelloFresh can't cover all 7 days of the week.
To fill this gap, HelloFresh offers a market where you can add other meals to your order, including pre-made meals as well as extra breakfasts and lunches. While convenient, it still doesn't completely solve the problem of meal planning and prep for all 7 days of the week.
9. They’re More Environmentally Friendly Than I Thought (But Not Perfect)
Another myth I see get thrown around a lot is that HelloFresh is not environmentally friendly. I too believed this myth before trying HelloFresh, but after giving it a chance, I discovered that it's not entirely true. The truth is that they are making significant efforts to promote sustainability in a variety of ways.
Their big sustainability efforts are in eliminating food waste, fighting climate change, and innovating sustainable packaging.
HelloFresh actually sponsored a study to understand how their services could affect household food waste in Europe and North America. Interestingly, the study confirmed that using HelloFresh services resulted in households producing less food waste than with a conventional dinner.
Meal study participants wasted 21% less food by weight compared to a conventional dinner, and the average amount of per capita food leftovers from HelloFresh meals was found to be 30% lower than non-HelloFresh meals. In terms of carbon footprint, the carbon equivalents from the total leftovers from HelloFresh meals was 29% lower compared to non-HelloFresh meals. Those are not small numbers!
HelloFresh's commitment to sustainability extends to their packaging as well. One of their recent innovations includes reducing insulation liners from their boxes. This winter, they shipped over 2 million liner-less boxes in just the first two weeks of January 2022, resulting in a weight reduction of 48,750 pounds per week.
HelloFresh also employs a system called Box Fit that determines the most efficient ice levels and box sizes for each order, further reducing the amount of packaging they use. During winter, the percentage of small boxes shipped increased from around 12% to 50%, allowing delivery vehicles to carry more boxes and therefore, emit fewer carbon emissions.
It's great to see HelloFresh take steps towards sustainability in many aspects of their business, including packaging. While they aren’t perfect (there is still a large amount of single-use plastics used in each box) they are taking steps in the right direction.
While there are some big things I wish I had known before ordering, such as which plan is the best value and high sodium content of some meals, I believe that the pros of HelloFresh far outweigh the cons. In fact, HelloFresh is one of the few meal kits that I find I keep coming back to out of all the others.
Are they perfect? No. But, honestly, none of the meal kits I've tried are (and I've tried many).
From their commitment to sustainability and reducing food waste to their innovative packaging and easy-to-follow recipes, HelloFresh is a meal kit that truly delivers on its promise of convenience and quality. Plus, since their menu options are constantly evolving, I'm always able to try new delicious foods.
If you're considering trying HelloFresh for the first time, I hope you're able to learn from my experience about what to be aware of beforehand. Should you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them in the comments below!