Between work and life, it can seem nearly impossible to eat well without overspending on groceries. Meal kit subscriptions can help you nav the whole process by removing the hardest parts—meal planning and grocery shopping—at an unbeatable price.
- Easy to get
- No charger
- Left handed use only
- Supports only Apple products
- Low storage
Confession: I’ve never eaten instant ramen. Rather than subsisting on the typical student diet of microwavable noodles, I cooked dishes like shrimp étoufée arroz con pollo, and herb-crusted salmon in college. Even as a broke entry-level copywriter in Brooklyn, I refused to compromise on the quality of my meals—even if it meant I had to eat fewer of them.
I come from a Southern family, so it’s no surprise that food is of utmost importance to me. I’m by no means a chef, but I have personal standards when it comes to cooking, especially when I’m preparing a meal for someone else. These standards are not only time-consuming, but they’re also expensive. So after repeatedly blowing through our grocery budget the first few months of living with my now-fiancé, I realized that something had to give. I was tired of meal planning, tired of having to convince my leftover-adverse partner to eat something two nights in a row, tired of wasting ingredients, and tired of spending $45 every single night on one meal. Our bank account wasn’t going to be flexible, so my predilections had to do the bending.
At first, meal kit subscriptions seemed like such a cheat to me. But when I came across a HelloFresh offer, I decided to swallow my pride and let them take the wheel for a week. Two years later, I still rely on HelloFresh—and I’m not sure how I’d manage without it.
MONEY SCORE: GOOD
There are plan options as low as $59 (three vegetarian meals for two people) and up to $129 (three regular meals for four people) per week. The one I use most often, the Classic, includes three meals for two people for $69. That’s literally half of what I previously spent over the same time span—and I never have to compromise on the ingredients, either. HelloFresh sources its beef, pork, and chicken from local distributors whenever possible, and has strict sustainability guidelines for its seafood. Some of the produce is organic, but all of it is hand-selected to ensure quality, taste, and seasonality.
It winds up being less than $12 per person per meal, which some may still object to despite the premium ingredients. But you also save on time. Not having to grocery shop or meal plan for three days is a huge relief when you have a chaotic schedule. Plus, the meals take 40 minutes and six steps (or less) to prepare.
TASTE SCORE: GOOD
Let’s get real: will a HelloFresh meal be the best thing you ever had? Hopefully not. But each dish is created to be healthy, balanced, tasty, and simple to make; it’s unrealistic to expect James Beard–worthy flavors. That being said, I’ve never had a recipe that was less than appetizing—and I’ve cooked quite a few on my own. (The crispy sunchoke and quinoa salad is a personal favorite—especially since I had no idea what a sunchoke was beforehand!)
The exact number changes from time to time, but you almost always have seven or eight different recipes to choose from every week, which means you never have to worry about repeating dishes. There’s typically a few pork, beef, chicken, and seafood options, with every ingredient and allergen clearly noted. If you ever forget to pick your meals in advance, your box will be tailored to your preset preferences (such as “seafood-free”), so that you can expect to receive something that’s delicious while meeting your dietary needs.
CONSCIOUSNESS SCORE: OKAY
Sustainability is an inherent issue with all meal kit subscription services; to ensure quality and freshness, they require excessive packaging, which results in excess waste. It’s a little troublesome throwing out several plastic containers of herbs and empty spice packets every night, but each component of the kit is recyclable (still, “recycle” comes last in the three “R”s for a reason). Plus, HelloFresh frequently tests different packaging options to see which ones are the most consumer- and eco-friendly.
By supporting suppliers who practice social responsibility, HelloFresh makes it easier for the “good guys” to stay in business. Beyond sourcing ingredients from trustworthy suppliers, they also work with dietitians and chefs to ensure that each recipe strikes a balance of nutritious, flavorful, and seasonal.