I don’t normally make non-bookish posts, but this was something I really wanted to make a post about! Meal delivery service has been a GAME CHANGER for me. I enjoy cooking again, I love trying new recipes, I’ve experienced new foods, and I eat things I wouldn’t touch before. I discovered that I love zucchini, and I’m eating onions and pork chops (which is HUGE for me, because I’ve always hated any pork that wasn’t bacon or sausage!). I tried things I’ve never had before; like couscous (love it!), farro, capers, and tofu.
The main thing I love about meal delivery service is the convenience. I don’t have to spend hours looking for new recipe ideas, and don’t have to do as much grocery shopping. You have exactly the portions you need, so no food gets wasted. And I really don’t spend much more than I already was on groceries. It may be a few bucks’ difference, but it’s worth it for the convenience!
Here’s my honest review of each service that I’ve tried so far!
Across the board pros: You can skip a week at any time; all offer add ons to your box like bread, snacks, desserts, etc.
Across the board cons: Meat packages are a bitch to get open. Actually, most of the individually packaged items are a bitch to get open. (They almost never have pull/rip tabs or a tear here mark, which I get is probably so they don’t break open or leak during transit, but STILL.)
Customer service: ⭐⭐⭐
- ✓ Individually packaged
- ✗ Expensive (almost $12/serving), don’t honor quoted discounts
- ✗ Meals aren’t as good, I wasn’t super impressed with the ones I tried (both times)
- ✗ Heavy on veggies instead of protein
- I can’t comment on available delivery days, or variety of meals, as I didn’t have the subscription for long enough
HelloFresh boasts themselves as being “the best meal delivery service,” but for me they’ve been my least favorite. I’ve tried it twice (one box the first time and two boxes the second) and was straight up not impressed. Out of the 9 recipes I tried, only 3-4 wowed me. The rest were meh. Not to mention, when you sign up with a coupon (i.e. get your first x boxes for x dollars), it only works on your first box, despite it saying otherwise when you sign up. I remember having billing issues when I tried it a year or two ago, but I wanted to give it another try. This time, when I signed up, my first 3 boxes were supposed to be a certain price. But, on the second renewal, they charged me double what it was supposed to be, which I was not prepared for and it overdrew my bank account. When I emailed customer service they said that the offer I was talking about was only for NEW customers, and because I’d used them in the past *my* offer was a declining percentage off across so many boxes. But that was not the price I was quoted when I signed up. Canceled immediately and will never go back. *shrugs*
Customer service: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- ✓ Individually packaged
- ✓ Meals are out of the box and unique
- ✓ Meals are extremely varied
- ✓ Offers steak, fish, & shrimp without a ‘premium’ fee
- ✓ Fantastic and immediate customer service
- ✓ Frequently offer throw-together easy bake meals
- ✗ Meals are sometimes a little TOO fancy and require excessive work
- ✗ Meals are time consuming to make and use up a lot of pans/dishes
- ✗ Expensive (almost $11/serving)
- ✗ Some fresh produce items went back in within the week
- ✗ Delivery days are limited – no Sun/Mon deliveries
To comment on their customer service: When I first signed up I had terrible timing apparently, because I chose Fridays as a delivery date and renewal days for Friday delivery are the previous Saturday. Which just so happened to be the day I signed up. So, when I went to pick meals I was locked out and couldn’t change them. NONE of the ones picked were any that interested me, so I called customer service about it. They were extremely pleasant and helpful! I was able to tell them what recipes I wanted and they manually changed them on their end. I was only on the phone for 3-4 minutes before the issue was resolved. Impressive!
The meals that I’ve had so far have been a LOT of work. There’s so many steps, and not many of their recipes are very quick or easy. (Although, they DO offer some recipes that you just toss everything into a pan and bake it, like I mentioned above.) My first box was kind of a bummer – out of the 3 recipes, I straight up did not like the first; the other two were decent, but not ones I would make again. The second box’s recipes were better, but I still had the same problem – none of them were ones I’d make again. The third box finally had some winners in it, thank goodness! I also had my first quick & easy recipe in that box, which was fantastic because I basically just put everything in the baking tin they provided and tossed it in the oven. (If you ever try this, the ‘cheesy chicken thighs’ easy bake meal is FANTASTIC!)
Also, as you can see on my con list, some of my produce went bad within the week. Now, as a weekly delivery service, the things delivered should 10/10 last the whole 7 days until the next delivery. We had a couple of veggies go bad, and – shockingly enough – potatoes. How?! When we buy potatoes they sit in our pantry for several weeks or a month at a time and we are still able to eat them. I’m absolutely baffled that potatoes went bad in the span of 5 days. I do usually plan to make certain recipes earlier in the week if it contains things that are more likely to go bad, but there’s no reason veggies should go bad within 4-5 days.
I’m also rather put out that they don’t offer deliveries on Sundays and Mondays, which is quite unfortunate because those happen to be the only days I have off. When I work all day, that leaves the possibility of a delivery sitting outside for hours. It’s been fine so far, because it’s still winter and cold, but in the summertime this box just would not work for me.
Customer service: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- ✓ Cheapest per serving ($7-8/serving)
- ✓ AMAZING recipes, I’m almost never disappointed
- ✓ Offers ANY day delivery
- ✓ You can give free boxes to friends and they pay nothing for their first box
- ✓ You collect rewards for boxes ordered (like free premium upgrades)
- ✓ Great customer service
- ✗ Comes all jumbled in box, you have to sort it out
- ✗ Doesn’t include a few basic ingredients
- ✗ Sides tend lack variation and are mostly potatoes
- ✗ Some meals are time consuming to cook and can require a lot of dishes
- ✗ NO fish meals without an extra ‘premium’ charge (steak is usually premium, too)
I am just over-the-top impressed with this company. I’ve had it since December and have had 9 boxes delivered. I have yet to have one single meal that I did not like. There were a small handful that I wasn’t super impressed with – they still tasted good, but I wouldn’t make them again. This is out of almost 30 recipes. Almost every single recipe I’ve made has been mind blowing! I keep thinking they can’t get better, but somehow they always outdo themselves!
As you can see, there are some cons, but to me they’re negligible in comparison to the low price and deliciousness of the recipes. When I say they don’t include some basic ingredients – it’s typically popular condiments/ingredients like mayo, ketchup, salt/pepper, flour/sugar, etc. Which is all stuff I always have on hand, so this hasn’t been an issue for me. (They do provide things you’re less likely to have, like soy sauce, sour cream, and cream cheese.)
The only con that is an actual problem for me is that they never offer fish without charging extra. I love fish and really wish they would have more of it in regular recipes. The lack of side variation isn’t much of an issue for me…I fucking love potatoes, guys. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of potatoes. The veggies are pretty much always zucchini, carrots, or green beans. Asparagus is an extra charge, which is fine and I splurge sometimes. (It’s stupid expensive at the grocery store, too, anyway) Sometimes they have Brussels sprouts or broccoli, or sweet potatoes instead of regular ones. Sometimes they have couscous as a side. Either way, the meat main dish is usually most important to me, so I don’t mind repeated veggies. Once I have the recipe cards, I can choose different sides to the main dish if I want.
Also, I love that I can have my box delivered on a Sunday. I’m always off Sundays, and I never have any appointments (like I do on almost every Monday it seems), so it’s a great day for the box delivery because I can take the time to sort everything, bag & label it, and meal plan for the week. If I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll chop all the week’s veggies so it’s ready to go for the rest of the week; but usually Adam does the prep before he goes to work at 3, and then it’s ready for me to make when I get home around 5. This is a great system, actually! He works nights so it’s usually me that cooks, and like I said above, some of the recipes can be complicated. I typically pick the easiest ones for my longer work days, and save the more complicated ones for days I’m off or have a short day.
What’s strange is, the reviews for this company are TERRIBLE. So many people on Facebook complained about rotten produce, spills inside boxes, packaging broken open, etc. I am really wondering if the spoiled produce issue is a regional thing. Almost everything I’ve had so far has been fresh and high quality. I’ve had two tiny issues (and one recent bigger issue, but I’ll get to that in a minute) out of all my boxes – 1) a busted open soy sauce packet that spilled inside the box, but that wasn’t a big deal. It stained the corners of the recipe cards but didn’t do any real damage, and luckily I already had soy sauce. And 2) the sweet potatoes they gave us for a loaded sweet potato recipe were TINY. Like, I actually laughed out loud when I saw them, because they were so ridiculously tiny. This also wasn’t a big deal, because we had extra sweet potatoes on hand. I got a good laugh out of it, though!
It was also mentioned by a lot of people that their customer service is terrible (mostly complaints that their account didn’t get canceled, so they got charged for another box and couldn’t get a refund), but I thought they were great! And that brings us to the only real issue I’ve had so far: I had spoiled tilapia in a package in box this past week, within 24 hours of delivery. (It was wrapped in brown paper so I didn’t notice on delivery day. Unfortunately I didn’t notice until I went to cook it.) I started a chat with customer service and in under 5 minutes I had someone resolve the issue for me. I got a $20 credit for my next box, which is more than enough to compensate for $5 of fish and a 15 minute trip to the store! So, I’m still a very happy customer. The lady was very polite and friendly, too.
(I was easily spending $200 twice a month during grocery trips, and it’s only $60 per week for 4 meals for two people. Now I’m spending $50-80 or so a grocery trip instead of $200.)
If you’re interested in trying it, I have a ‘give $105, get $20’ offer if you sign up HERE. I have no idea if that $105 is off your first box, or a declining discount like I had. But if you decide to try, you won’t be disappointed!