Cooking From a Box: Hello Fresh

Cooking From a Box: Hello Fresh

Since I did my first round of meal box reviews last year, there have been a number of new services on the market. Hello Fresh, Sun Basket  (Already Reviewed), Terra’s Kitchen, Green Chef, Purple Carrot, Home Chef and more.  Each box service has their own “thing”. Purple Carrot has Vegan recipes. Terra’s Kitchen has everything chopped in tiny little boxes.

Hello Fresh is one of the older services. Started in 2011 in Europe, it comes to the US in 2 forms, a Classic box or Vegetarian Box. They too have some star power, Jamie Oliver creates recipes for the service.

Getting Started with Hello Fresh.

The rules for the reviews are at the bottom of the page. Again, I’m paying for these on my own, so I was delighted to find a great Groupon for Hello Fresh. It was $138 for 2 weeks of meals, a savings of $69.

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Unboxing

Hello Fresh Meals come in the standard cooler boxes, with one difference. Instead of just packing the ingredients into the boxes, they put the ingredients into meal themed boxes. It’s a little more waste, but I liked having the items corraled into my fridge.

The meat was kept seperate, so if there was an issue, explosion of meat juice for example, it didn’t hit the vegetables.

 

 

 

Onto the Meals

 

Blackened Tilapia with Crispy Potatoes

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This was the first dish we made. The instructions told me that the fish should be cooked f20160510_194447irst, so first up it was.   It’s the dish pictured in the box above, and if you look you can see that that the potatoes were dwarfed by the size of the red pepper and onion for the vegetable side. In fact there were even more onions then anything else in the vegetables, as my cast iron pan full of onions and peppers shows.

It showed us the portions were generous at least. The tilapia and potatoes were underwelming, but crispy potatoes really aren’t our favorite thing. Especially with the carb concerns. With the ratio vegetables to meat, we could have left the potatoes off the plate and been happy.

French Onion Soup Burger with Kale Chips

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This was the meal I was looking forward to.  Crispy kale chips, carmelized onions, brioche buns and bechemal cheese sauce.

I’m not normally a fan of Kale chips, and again I over cooked these. The crunchy crispyness was appealing. Making the cheese sauce was a little bit of a pain, and unexpected . I’ve never made a flour based sauce to put on a burger and probably wouldn’t bother again.

 

Crispy Spiced Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries

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A simple romain salad, tossed with dressing came paired with panko crusted chicken and the whitest sweet potatoes I’ve ever seen. This dish stretched the 30 minute cooking time. Having oven fries turn out just right sometimes takes a little bit more time.

I smeared sour cream on the chicken breasts and coated them with toasted panko, according to the recipe. Using sour cream as the glue is a new technique for me. I don’t think it was successfu. I should have used a lighter hand with the panko crust as well. If you look at my picture compared with theirs, my crust is my thicker.

Herbed Lemon Chicken with Ceaser Salad

Crispy chicken salad

This was the last dish I actually cooked. A basic romaine salad, home made croutons, herb crusted chicken. They even sent me little jars of mayo and mustard to make the dressing.

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20160519_182452Adorable aren’t they?

That said, there wasn’t anything special about this meal. I was left feeling like I could have bought chicken breast at Safeway for $1.99 a lb, a romain head for $2, cucumbers for .69 and tomatoes for $2.99

I could have recreated the dish for about half the price, at most. And ended up with leftovers to make it all again.

Steak Bibimbap with Crispy Mushrooms

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I didn’t make this one, but I ate it. I was busy with work and asked Mike to step in and give this a try. He thought the meal was easy to make. The instructions were easy to follow, the recipe didn’t call for any weird techniques, and it was quick enough that it made a perfect week night dinner.

We both liked the flavor in the rice, and we’ll try to recplicate this with cauliflower rice.

 

Mozzarella and Pesto Crusted Chicken

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Last but not least, I sent the Mozarella and Pesto Crusted Chicken home with my sister-in-law. She reported that the recipe was straight forward, and the kind of comfort food that she and her husband loved.

There was an excess of pesto with the recipe. She took advantage of it and spread it over the chicken liberally.

The Bottom Line

Bottom Line

  • Taste:   We had a few items that weren’t quite fresh. Wilty romaine lettuce, peppers that were soft in places.  The ratio of vegetables was off occasionally, and we often had way to much of ingrediants to really use.
  • Recipes: A mix of the too basic (looking at you herbed chicken salad) to almost too complex. (bechemal on a burger?).
  • Cost: Less then $10 per meal, a box of 3 meals is $69 per week, including shipping.
  • Customer Service: I didn’t need to engage them, so no issues here.
  • Want to Sign up : www.hellofresh.com

 

Rules of the Reviews:

  • I don’t get compensated for these reviews. I pay for the boxes myself, (I do look for promotional pricing and use groupons to keep my costs down.)
  • We cook and eat at least 3 meals from the box. When I’ve had boxes for multiple weeks I’ll often share a meal with a friend or family member to see how they like them.
  • It’s all subjective. It’s based my experience. My tastes and my cooking ability come into play.
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