We prefer cooking at home as often as possible. For the most part, it’s healthier and more economical than eating out. It’s also a lot easier dining in when a member of your family is an unpredictable (or is it very predictable?) 18 month old.
The problem is finding ways to keep the ideas fresh and the meals exciting. It’s so simple to fall into a rut where you’re making the same things week in and week out. Also, let’s face it, it’s just so much easier to get take out or delivery.
With meal kit delivery services really taking off, we decided to check a few out. Basically, what they do is remove all the planning and shopping from the equation and leave you with the task of preparing the meals. If you despise everything about cooking, then this is not the service you are after. If you love to cook and try new things, but don’t have the patience to explore and locate new recipes, then this service is quite possibly a dream come true.
A dream that costs around $70 per week.
My goals when trying these services was threefold. First, not having to plan meals for three days would be extremely helpful. Second, the opportunity to learn new skills and try different ingredients is exciting. Finally, it can be fun for the whole family since the little dude loves to help prepare dinner.
There are a lot of companies to choose from for meal kit delivery. The ones that advertise the most seem to be Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, but a quick Google search turns up dozens. Many of them are utilizing some type of referral program in order to get people to try them. Mama was able to get a code that got us $40 off our first box from Hello Fresh.
So, Hello Fresh it was.
I signed up on their website, entered my code and was offered five meals (with photos and descriptions) to choose from. We selected three that we both were interested in and I picked Thursday for the delivery day. When the big day arrived, the heavy-assed box from Hello Fresh materialized on our front porch.
Each meal’s non-meat ingredients were packed in their own box and below that, the meats were surrounded by fancy-pants, space-age cooling technology. The box also came with a customized booklet with some tips and the recipe cards for the three meals. Overall, a pretty slick introduction to Hello Fresh. Onward to the meals!
Chicken and Nectarine PanzanellaThe initial meal kit that we tried was this flavor-packed, bread-stacked salad with chicken. The first thing that I noticed was that the arugula was not going to be up for much of anything, it was soggy and there was very little of it. I wasn’t too upset about it and ran out to the store to get some once everything else was prepped. In the photo above, you can see that my finished product has a lot more green going on.
Learn Anything? Yes! The shaved zucchini ribbons marinated in white wine vinegar was very cool.
Overall: This meal kit was a great introduction to Hello Fresh. The flavors and textures really popped and everything worked together well.
Link to recipe: Chicken and Nectarine Panzanella meal kit from Hello Fresh
Seared Steak and Creamy Chipotle Pan SauceUpon seeing the ingredients for this one, mama thought for sure that the portions were going to be too small. We both ended up with a lot of food though and a decent amount of tender steak. The only negative in this recipe was that they didn’t really explain just how hot the chipotle pepper would be.
Learn Anything? Yes! Chipotles in Adobo are hot.
Overall: This meal kit continued the theme of combining lots of flavors and textures to create an exciting meal. This is the real difference between just whipping up supper at home versus having a team of chefs craft a dining experience. The way the ingredients join together to build something greater than their individual parts is impressive.
Link to recipe: Seared Steak and Creamy Chipotle Pan Sauce meal kit from Hello Fresh
Crispy Skillet ChickenI was most concerned with this meal kit as I am not a huge fan of cooked carrots and I also wasn’t too sure about the inclusion of dried apricots. I changed my opinion after the first few bites though, and actually found myself seeking out little pieces of apricot to include in each bite.
Learn Anything? Bulgur wheat isn’t awful! Dried apricots are your friend!
Overall: While this ranks third out of the three meal kits, it was still a vibrant and enjoyable dish.
Link to recipe: Crispy Skillet Chicken meal kit from Hello Fresh
Hello Fresh Overview
Both mama and I were very impressed by the meal kits from Hello Fresh. Though we wouldn’t do it every week, we look forward to picking a week each month (or so) where the recipes really excite us. The portions are great and we’ve had no problem assembling a third plate for the little dude. The regular price of $69 is a little high, but we look at it (almost) like three at home date nights. No baby sitter needed.
Save $40 Off Your First Hello Fresh Meal Kit!
Are you interested in trying Hello Fresh? Then let me help you help me help you. Visit the Hello Fresh website and sign up. When it asks if you have a promo code, enter MK7X9M and you will save $40 off your first order. This makes the first box cost $29 which comes out to less than $5 per person, per meal. That’s less than McDonalds! Hello Fresh makes it extremely easy to skip a week and you can cancel whenever you want.