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A few weeks ago, we gave Gousto recipe boxes a whirl thanks to a discount code from a friend. So, when another friend posted a HelloFresh referral code on Facebook recently, I decided to give the service a go to see how it compared.
HelloFresh is similar to Gousto in the way it works: you visit the website, choose how many recipes you want and how many people you want them to serve, place your order, and wait for the ingredients and recipes to be delivered to your door. Now, those of you who read my Gousto review will know that recipe boxes aren’t really my thing: while I can definitely see how they would appeal to those who are short of time or inspiration, I prefer to meal plan carefully, batch cook for the freezer and stick to a tight budget.
At HelloFresh, three meals for four people come with a starting price of £42.99, plus £4.99 delivery. Of course, there are always discounts available, but to me it’s a pricey way of feeding my family.
What you *do* get, though, is your choice of recipes, the recipe cards plus all of the ingredients you need (bar store cupboard stuff like oil, salt and pepper), weighed out to exactly the right quantities. What’s more, all of the ambient ingredients for each meal are divided into brown paper bags with a number that corresponds to the right recipe card, so you know exactly which ingredients go with which recipe – better than Gousto in this respect. What was also better was the fact that – despite *some* plastic being included – there was far less plastic packaging than Gousto uses.
Bear in mind, though, that these sealed paper bags also include veg (like broccoli and green beans, in my case), which you may want to take out and refrigerate. The chilled ingredients, meanwhile – fish, meat and dairy, in my box – were packaged separately in ice blocks to keep them cool.
The recipe cards themselves are nicely designed: A4 cards with a large picture of the finished dish plus small photos of the ingredients on the front, then the step-by-step instructions, complete with pictures, on the back. The back of the card also includes details of the equipment you’ll need, the amount of each ingredient for two, three and four servings, the nutritional values and the allergens. With reminders about hand washing when handling raw meat, washing fruit and veg plus tips on things like how to stop cooked noodles from sticking together, the HelloFresh recipe cards seem comprehensive no matter your level of experience in the kitchen.
At the request of the small child, the recipe I made on the day the box arrived was the fragrant chicken laksa with egg noodles: a recipe which promised a medium level of spice. The recipe was simple enough to follow and the timings, for the most part, worked well. I did have to simmer the laksa sauce for a bit longer than stated, though, for it to thicken properly.
With the warming heat of the “red Thai style paste”, the flavours of the peanut butter and coconut milk, the addition of lime zest and the fact that the recipe used chicken thighs instead of the less flavourful breast meat it was a deliciously warming dinner. The quantities were generous, and by adding the chopped red chilli to the top, we were able to add a bit more of a kick.
Day 2 was a bit of a risk. I hadn’t checked the use-by dates on any of the meat, as I’d (perhaps foolishly) assumed that HelloFresh would send stuff with a few days on it.
Turns out I was wrong, and that the lamb mince should have been used on the evening the delivery arrived. This did annoy me a bit, in all honesty – surely I can’t be the only one who’d think that the dates on the main components of three days of meals should all be at least three days away? On closer inspection of their Facebook page, it seems that this is a complaint that others have had too…
Nevertheless, I opened it up, left it to air for a bit and decided it looked and smelled ok to use for the chermoula lamb stew and herby bulgur with dill yoghurt and roasted carrots. It’s a recipe I selected for many reasons: despite lamb being one of our favourite meats, I rarely buy it. At under 650 calories, it was good to have a healthier option. And, at just 30-35 minutes of cooking time, it was something that would be easy to manage around a small child, tired after a day at school.
It seemed like there was a LOT of the chermoula spice mix involved, but the quantity turned out to be bang on. It was the opposite story for the prunes: it felt like there should have been more, but the flavour spread beautifully throughout the whole dish.
Dill yoghurt didn’t seem like an obvious pairing to me, but it worked – especially with the sweetness of the roasted, skin-on carrots. Absolutely delicious, and a recipe I’ll definitely be making again.
Day 3 was an even speedier recipe: a teriyaki sesame chicken with Tenderstem and organic white basmati rice, which promised to be on the table within 20 minutes. With just eight ingredients in total, it was the simplest recipe of the bunch…but oh boy was it good.
All it needed was for me to fry off the chicken (thigh again, so plenty of flavour), plus the red onion, broccoli and garlic, before adding the teriyaki sauce and simmering until sticky. I stirred through the sesame seeds at the end, and served with the basmati rice that was also provided.
The sweetness of the sauce, the slight crunch of the veg and the flavour of the chicken were bang on – and once again, we added more of that sliced chilli to the top to give the dish a bit more oomph.
Each of the three recipes was delicious, and made more than enough for four people. No complaints there at all. The recipe cards were all easy to follow, and include the exact quantities of each ingredient should you wish to recreate the recipe yourself in the future (which I’ll most likely be doing!)
Would I use HelloFresh again? Probably not. The price point, as I mentioned earlier, is just too high compared with my normal spend, sadly – and the short-dated lamb did put me off. Nevertheless, after ordering this box, I can understand why the service is so popular.