Hello Fresh is a relatively new company which has come up with a brilliant concept: they provide you with recipe-ready groceries… and deliver it right to your doorstep. You might be thinking “online groceries? Old news.” – but hold that thought, because Hello Fresh is so much more than that.
You’ll notice that I used the term “recipe-ready” groceries – this is because all the ingredients supplied come with accompanying recipes, and all ingredients are portioned accordingly. Basically, if you are planning to cook spaghetti bolognese – you get the exact amounts of ingredients for this (based on the accompanying recipes). I think this is quite a brilliant idea, as it definitely helps minimise waste (and let’s admit it, we have all thrown something out before).
All the supplied recipes are created by chefs who ensure that the meals are delicious and balanced. More importantly, they are all easy to prepare, and can be completed in 30 minutes.
So, that all sounds great – but how much does it cost? A bag of ’3 meals’ costs £39 for 2 people, and £59 for 4 people. (Delivery costs are included.) I know some people might think that this is a little expensive, but I think it’s a fair price as Hello Fresh provide a good range of meals, and they source good quality products. For example, my chicken/sausages were from a butcher, and not bought from a high street grocery store (because really, I could just buy those myself). There were still items that were from stores like Sainsburys though.
Oh, and Hello Fresh is subscription based and has no minimum term, with a 6 day notice period. Which means you can opt out at any time, should you wish to do so.
But enough about all that, because the most important thing is what the service/meals are actually like. I tried out the 5-meal plan. However, I only took photos of 4 of the 5 dishes though, as I forgot to take photos of the last one. I know – forgot? Totally unacceptable in food blogger world, but oh well. I’m not going to elaborate much on each recipe as I’m never very good with words, so hopefully the photos will do the elaborating.
The meals I had were:
1) Tuscan meatballs with spaghetti, fresh basil and tomato sauce
Meatballs – who doesn’t love them? This was a perfect meal to have in my bag, and my love for meatballs meant I cooked this first. I actually learnt a few new things from the recipe.. like how adding grated Pecorino & chopped Porcini mushrooms helps to enhance the flavour of the meatballs. And how rolling the meatballs in cous cous before pan frying them gives a great, crunchy finish! Never too late to learn. ;)
This was my favourite meal of the lot, and the people at Hello Fresh have kindly agreed to let me reproduce the recipe here. I have rewritten the methods of the recipe though (I never feel comfortable just copy-pasting someone else’s recipe!), as I tend to have a preferred way of writing. [Recipe at the end of the post.]
2) Sesame crusted salmon, with cous cous & cherry tomato salsa
It was great to see that Hello Fresh gives a good balance of meals in the bag – as a medic, I’m highly paranoid about eating a balanced diet (we try to eat fish twice a week, with one vegetarian meal thrown in somewhere)… so I was glad to see salmon in one of the recipes!
I often eat cous cous, but I’ve never added fried onions for flavour/texture (those are the flecks you see in the cous cous). Another trick learnt!
3) Artisan sausages with roasted garlic mash & red onion gravy
Bangers and mash. British comfort food at its best, wouldn’t you say? What I loved most about this was how the sausages were sourced from a specialist butcher, which probably explains why they are one of the best sausages I’ve tasted in a long time.
4) Thai red curry with chicken & toasted cashews
So this was the fourth day, and I totally blanked and forgot to take a photo of the ingredients as I was in a rush to cook (read: I was too hungry/greedy/insert appropriate adjective here).
This came with a pack of pre-made red curry paste (a Thai brand which I remember buying when I was in Bangkok some years ago). I hope that you all don’t scorn pre-made curry paste, because truth be told, sometimes they taste MUCH better than homemade curry pastes.
The rice that I served on the side was supplied in the pack.
5) Pea, mint & goats cheese risotto
Err yes. So this is the dish I have absolutely no photos of whatsoever. Apologies!
So… what did I think of Hello Fresh and the service they’re providing?
What I liked:
- Portioned ingredients, which helps minimise waste.
- Not having to think of what to cook for dinner (I’m very fickle and have too many ideas, so this is a good thing for me).
- Good balance of meals: I had fish, chicken, beef, vegetarian & pork.
- Good variety of cusines: I had Italian, Thai, British, (and I’m not sure what category the salmon/cous cous & risotto dishes fall under).
- Excellent, friendly customer service.
What I thought could be improved:
- Giving customers the opportunity to choose the recipes/meals that come in the pack. Or at least, the chance to state particular ‘main’ ingredients that you dislike e.g. aubergines (which could potentially be the main ingredient of a vegetable curry). It would be a shame if someone got a pack with something they didn’t like, which would mean a high chance of throwing it out = wastage.
- The green on black text on the recipe cards weren’t great contrast wise, I can imagine it would be a little hard to read in poor lighting etc. White text on black might work better? I also thought the recipes were a little wordy, but I suspect this is a personal preference.
- Expanding the service outside of London (they currently only deliver to London addresses).
Basically, Hello Fresh is a service that aims to give you a convenient way of eating home cooked dinners. It’s great if you can’t be bothered to figure out what to cook, and don’t have the time to hit the shops in time to get groceries for dinner.
Would I pay for this service? Yes. But only once every so often (because I do enjoy experimenting and not sticking to recipes – ha!), and I’d go for the 3 meal plan vs the 5 meal plan.
* I received a bag of 5 meals courtesy of Hello Fresh, but all the opinions expressed above are my own.
Tuscan meatballs with spaghetti, fresh basil & tomato sauce
Recipe courtesy of the Hello Fresh chefs (with some modifications)
- 500g beef mince
- 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 3 tsp dried oregano
- 3 tsp porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, then finely diced
- 40g pecorino cheese (or Parmesan)
- 4 Jacobs crackers, crushed to resemble breadcrumbs
- 6 tbsp couscous
- 2 Eschalion shallots
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- bunch basil leaves (approx 30g), roughly chopped
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 500g spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions until al dente (you can do this in a pot whilst you’re making the meatballs)
1. In a large bowl, mix the beef mince, garlic, porcini mushrooms, crushed Jacob crackers, grated Pecorino, and salt/pepper to taste. (I used 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp pepper). Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until they are well incorporated.
2. Form the meatball mixture into 2-3cm balls. Roll each individual meatball in cous cous. Set the meatballs aside.
3. Place a non-stick pan on medium heat, and gently fry the diced shallots in olive oil until they turn fragrant.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, and simmer on medium heat. If the sauce starts becoming too dry, you can add some water to the pan to thin it down.
5. Whilst the tomato sauce is simmering, heat a non-stick pan over high heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides until they are cooked through (this should take around 6 minutes). If you’re unsure if they are cooked through, cut one open – this is the best way to tell!*
6. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce (which should have reduced down nicely by now). Add the chopped basil leaves to the sauce, and season with salt and pepper (to taste).
7. Serve the meatballs/tomato sauce mixture over spaghetti. Top with grated Parmesan, and eat!
* To cut down on washing up/having too many pans on the go at one time: cook your meatballs in the oven. If you choose to do this, I’d advise not rolling the uncooked meatballs in cous cous (as you won’t get the same ‘crisp’ from the couscous without pan frying – i.e. there’s not much point). Bake the meatballs in a 180′C oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. You can then add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, as in step 6.