HelloFresh review: Did the recipe kit subscription help us say goodbye to boring meals?

Feeding a family can sometimes feel like riding a merry-go-round: your diet revolves around the same dishes, and a lack of inspiration means you can’t get off. The shopping list rarely deviates from the same staple ingredients, and everyone gets rather bored.

Eating that way is simple and sometimes the only option for those who are time-starved, but simpler still is ordering in recipe boxes that do the imagining – and food shopping – for you. They can also add an injection of much-needed variety, with recipes changing regularly and near restaurant-quality dishes, making you feel like a pro in the kitchen.

We’ve tested out the best healthy food subscription kits in the past and found them to be convenient, time-saving wonders – if budget allows because some can be pricey. But in a recent roundup, we named HelloFresh our best recipe box for families and discovered it was actually very good value for money.

The company is on a mission to “change the way people eat forever”, says Andre Dupin, HelloFresh UK’s head chef. “We’re committed to providing our customers with easy-to-follow, delicious recipes that offer unparalleled freshness and taste without the hefty price tag,” he says. “Using high-quality and sustainably sourced ingredients, we aim to provide every household with wholesome, homemade meals everyone will enjoy and allow them to reconnect, without the hassle of meal planning or weekly food shops.”

It all sounds fabulous, so we set out to see if HelloFresh could change things up for the better in our tester’s household.

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How we tested

We’ve approached this review as if we were HelloFresh customers, visiting the website to check out the recipes on offer and ease of use, assessing the contents of our recipe box and making and eating the dishes. We’ve looked at the quality and shelf-life of the ingredients, prep instructions, how simple each meal is to create and how they tasted.

The packaging has also been considered, with a focus on how kind it is to the planet, as well as the price; on how kind it is to the purse.

Rating: 9/10

  • Feeds: Two, three or four people
  • Delivery: Two people can have three to five recipe kits delivered each week, while three or four people can choose between two and five dishes a week
  • Cost: From £3.25 per serving

Ordering and delivery

Visiting the vibrant and clear website whet our appetites and gave us a vision of what was to come. There’s also an app that mirrors the website, meaning you can order on the go.

We started by selecting the number of people we wanted our recipe box to feed, how many meals we needed and what kind of meals we wanted from the selection of mostly meat, veggie, family, quick cook, calorie smart or pescatarian (you can select up to three). We were then taken to the sign-up page before choosing the specific recipes we wanted. Although we’d rather look at the meals before signing up, we didn’t feel too concerned because we knew we could skip a week or cancel our subscription at any time.

Read more: 15 best gluten-free snacks to have on the go

Based on your preferences, HelloFresh will pick your meals for you, but you can edit these and choose your own dishes from an enormous pool of more than 37 recipes inspired by cuisines from around the world. We like that each recipe on the website displays a photo, prep time, nutritional value, difficulty rating, the utensils needed, ingredients and allergens, so you’re armed with plenty of information to make a sound decision about what to order. Each recipe is also tagged in categories such as rapid, customer favourites, premium, brunch and Weight Watchers (WW) approved.

Dupin’s team are constantly working to develop new recipes, with inspiration coming from customer feedback and world food trends. “We are always evolving and testing recipes, so if we don’t already provide what our customers want, we’re committed to trying to make sure we add it to the menu,” he says. “For example, in September, we announced a six-month partnership with WW where six calorie smart recipes are released each week to help customers stay on track with their weight loss and wellness journeys.”

The HellpFresh app lets you order on the go and provides easy online access to recipes

Beyond the main meals, there are plenty of other goodies to choose from, including sides, puddings, heat-and-eat ready meals and even cheeses. The sheer volume and variety of products would mean only short trips to the supermarket to pick up essentials are needed – saving bags of time and stress if you’re trying to get around the store with little ones.

Prices start from £3.25 per serving, which is among the best value for money of all the recipe boxes out there. That cost applies to orders of five meals for four people a week, which works out at 20 servings at £3.25 each, which is about the same amount or cheaper than our tester would typically spend on feeding their family. Our example recipe box, which was three meals for three people, meant there were nine servings at £4.33 each or £38.99 in total – which is still an excellent price.

Read more: 15 best healthy cookbooks to take with you into 2022

One thing to note is that delivery costs £4, but there are often discount codes available for free delivery and others for people signing up for the first time. At the moment, new subscribers can get 50 per cent off their first box, and 35 per cent off the next three – those are brilliant savings.

What’s inside the box?

We tested a HelloFresh recipe box of three meals for three adults. Our recipes were peppered venison steak with dauphinoise potatoes, chicken saltimbocca with creamy tagliatelle and rigatoni caprese. We liked that each dish came with vegetable sides; for example, the venison came with green beans and an apple, pea shoot and walnut salad, while the tagliatelle dish came with crispy sage and tenderstem.

Steak and truffled pasta with a side of rucola salad

The components for each meal arrived in perfect condition and were packaged separately in labelled brown paper bags, so we knew what bag we needed for what dish, although some elements were separate in the main outer cardboard box. An insulating cool pouch and ice packs also helped to maintain freshness.

We also got individual full-colour recipe cards for the meals we had chosen. We love that the cards give the clearest possible instructions for each stage of the prep alongside illustrative photos so we can see if we are on the right track. A large picture on the reverse of the recipe card is brilliant for allowing us to see how we should plate up the meal, and other info about serving sizes, cooking time, tips and allergens are also handy.

Read more: 9 best vegan subscription boxes for plant-based goodness delivered straight to your door

As for the ingredients, the quality is outstanding. HelloFresh orders them all directly from suppliers, including as many local British businesses as possible, so they never spend time in warehouses or retail premises. This means most ingredients arrive with plenty of time for use ahead of the best before dates.

The making and the eating

Our three recipes for three people came with all the ingredients needed, measured out and ready to start cooking. We were pleasantly surprised to find that even seasonings, such as pepper, were included.

Some elements do need further prepping – vegetables need to be chopped, for instance – but the instructions guide you, and the photographs couldn’t be simpler to follow. Plus, the timings were accurate, and we could easily have dinner on the table in the suggested time. Best of all, there was zero food waste because all the components included in the box had a place in the dish.

Read more: We reviewed the Mindful Chef subscription box to see if it could help us eat healthier at home

One of the other things we liked most about the HelloFresh experience is that the whole family can get involved in making the meal. Our tester’s 14-year-old daughter enjoyed cooking the rigatoni caprese, despite usually avoiding cooking at all costs, and found the instructions super easy. We also loved that we were trying out new meal ideas, and it gave us plenty of inspiration for other dishes to create in future.

We were also pleased with our ability to recreate the plating up of the meals following the photo on the recipe card. It helped our tester to create restaurant-style meals at home. And they tasted as good as they looked. The freshness of the ingredients elevated the experience, and because the recipes are chef developed, the flavour pairings were delightful. Our tester’s household especially loved the venison because it wasn’t something they’d usually buy to cook at home, and it felt decadent and luxurious.

Environmental and social responsibility

Sustainability is a big part of what HelloFresh does, and it became a certified B Corp company in August 2021 in recognition of its efforts to focus on social and environmental responsibility. The business is carbon neutral, with 100 per cent of its direct carbon emissions offset through investments in green initiatives.

HelloFresh’s crispy cauliflower nuggets

HelloFresh also works to protect people, animals and the planet in other ways, such as by using only Red Tractor-certified meat and planning super-efficient delivery routes to get the boxes to customers’ doorsteps. Dupin says its sourcing, packing and shipping operations generate less food waste than traditional food retailers. It’s also exploring seasonal produce options to further reduce the business’s impact on the environment.

Focusing on the packaging that came with our recipe box, we did find some of the ingredients, such as cheeses and herbs, were wrapped in plastic. But everything else was recyclable, including the cardboard box, paper bags and recipe cards – the website even gives fun suggestions on how to upcycle the box.

Read more: 10 best sustainable cookbooks to help you reduce your food waste

HelloFresh is also working to tackle plastic waste through a partnership with the Plastic Bank and has created three collection branches in Indonesia. These hubs are designed to stop more than 750,000kg of plastic – the equivalent of 37.5 million plastic bottles – from entering oceans over three years.

We’re impressed with the brand’s commitment to fighting food poverty too. It has partnered with the Felix Project, a London charity fighting food waste and hunger, and has so far donated more than 1.5 million meals to those in need.

HelloFresh

The verdict: HelloFresh

HelloFresh shows that the luxury of a delivered recipe box subscription can be a possibility for people on any budget. The excellent value for money belies the exceptional quality of the ingredients, recipes and service, and we believe it could actually save you money – as well as time – because it removes needless buying when you’re in the supermarket.

One thing is certain, this will help you cut down on food waste, which is something we can all be happy about. We also love how all the family can get involved in cooking delicious, wholesome meals together and learning new food and flavour pairings that you can call on again in the future.

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For more inspiration in the kitchen, try the best healthy cookbooks filled with nutritious recipes

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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