At first glance, Hello Fresh (hellofresh.com) looks like a totally ridiculous idea: get a box of groceries to make a recipe (or multiple recipes) on a day of your choice? Why not just download the recipes and go to the store, if you’ve got enough time to cook anyway?!
As a single person living alone, however, I frequently find that the portions grocery stores sell are way outsize to what I want. So from that end, Hello Fresh has the potential to reduce a lot of food waste, because you’re getting only the ingredients you need (you do have to supply things like butter/oil/salt/pepper, but not broth, toppings or other spices) in the quantity needed to make that one recipe—and there are options to get deliveries for two or four people. So far I have found that the soup which said it would provide two meals did in fact provide two meals, we’ll see if the same holds true with the risotto and Tuscan bolognese.
The price point is a bit high for home-cooked food, although not at all for dining out. For the money, I would like more freedom of choice with the recipes, and to be honest if I’m going to be cooking, I can damn well get over to the grocery store. Although it was nice to, for once, not have half a thing of unused sour cream that is going to sit there and mold because I can’t give it to the compost worms. (The little assholes seem to enjoy eating newspaper more than the table scraps, anyway.)
For the busy person who wants to make the time to cook, but not to shop and figure out all the right quantities, it’s not the worst idea, although I was dismayed to find my chives were from Colombia as I’m pretty sure we can grow chives within the States. I usually get once-a-month recipe box deliveries from Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks, but that service is regionally limited since they supply local goods, so if you don’t have a local co-op which does this kind of thing, you’re slightly fucked—or if you don’t want to eat whatever produce is currently in season, aka I am so very done with leeks. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of soup, either (it’s not filling!), but it tasted good, and had a better variety of spices than I’ve generally seen from Fresh Picks.
The recipes are very easy to follow and, if you do have other ingredients at home, customize. I was gratified to note that the soup recipe doesn’t even assume you have a blender. (The first time I made butternut squash soup, I had to run out and go buy one halfway through the recipe because trying to mash everything manually sucks.)
In general, like any personalized delivery service, Hello Fresh isn’t the most environmentally friendly option out there. They use disposable packaging, and of course there’s a fair amount of it, to keep the vegetables from getting bruised et al. in transit. I can’t remember how unfriendly dry ice is, but I didn’t notice any. Granted it was shipped two days prior, but I’d still expect there to be more of a frozen texture than there was.
One note about the packaging, if a Hello Fresh representative comes across this: please separate any items that need immediate refrigeration, or at least put them on the top of the box. I thought I’d caught everything but ran into a tube of sour cream that had been out for twenty hours. I’m assuming it’s good until proven otherwise, but not everyone has an iron stomach.
Anyway, this is the one week a year during which I could try this out, so the Groupon deal was serendipitous; in general, this isn’t a good option for me because a) I don’t have the time M-Th and b) if I’m home, I would rather play videogames F-Sun, which granted is exactly what I did while I was waiting for the vegetables.
Between the lack of time and the eco-guilt, I did unsubscribe, but judging by the list of questions, it looks like they are interested in improving this service with regards to a number of points I mentioned above, so hopefully it will be a viable option in the future.