After trialling fantastic Portishead-based company Supperlicious a few months back, I was contacted by the PR agency for similar company HelloFresh, asking if I’d like to give their service a go now that they deliver to Bristol.
What is HelloFresh? Well, says their website, “Every week we send you all the fresh ingredients you need to prepare delicious recipes. With Hello Fresh everyone can enjoy cooking!” A bit of research reveals that HelloFresh was a service launched in the UK at the start of 2012, and is backed by German company Rocket Internet – who also back online voucher service Groupon.
I trialled one of their three meal boxes for two people. Priced the same as Supperlicious, at £39 for three meals, it was going to be interesting to see how they compared.
Customers can choose from either a three meal or a five meal box, for two, four or six people. Bizarrely, the vegetarian option is only available for the three meal boxes, and the contents of a sample box can be seen on their website before you order.
HelloFresh are aiming to take the hassle out of home cooking, with their chefs creating recipes that are easy to prepare and “interesting yet simple”. Typically, most recipes take half an hour or less to cook, and the company say that they source only the highest-quality and freshest produce, and will introduce you to ingredients that you won’t find in your supermarket.
As the box was delivered during the day, I asked for it to be sent to my work address…no issues whatsoever with delivery, but the box was a little damp at the bottom after the ice packs inside started to thaw, making it a little delicate to carry home.
I was impressed by the packaging, apart from that – the ingredients were packed with a number of ice packs, and surrounded by an environmentally-friendly wrapping containing sheep’s wool, which had kept the ingredients perfectly cool.
The vegetables, fruit etc. were packed on top of the raw meat and fish, and everything looked perfectly fresh. It was disappointing, however, to see that a number of the ingredients were from non-UK sources.
The recipe cards themselves are pretty attractive – one side featuring pictures and descriptions of the ingredients and the finished dish, the other, step by step cooking instructions with accompanying photos. The one thing I’d change would be the addition of details of which “storecupboard ingredients” you need – while the ingredients that are included in the box are listed on the front, other items such as salt, pepper and oil aren’t mentioned until you read through the recipe on the back.
Our first meal was “cheeky chicken chow mein with oyster sauce and water chestnuts”. Plenty of chopping to do here, with the broccoli, garlic, chilli, carrot, spring onion, water chestnuts, chicken and ginger, but the actual cooking time was short. The marinade for the chicken thighs (garlic, soy sauce, ginger, red chilli and tomato puree) was delicious, and the chicken thighs meaty and tender…but when a recipe says “leave it to marinade for a bit”…how long is “a bit”?
This small point aside, the recipe was easy to follow and the end result filling and tasty, but could have done with a little more sauce – and possibly more than two chicken thighs, although we may just have been being greedy…
The next day saw me cooking the “pan-fried citrus salmon with summer salad” – a beautifully summery-sounding dish served with a salad of lambs lettuce, tomatoes, green beans and red onion, and a lime, orange, olive oil and sesame seed-based dressing.
This dish was a great light meal for a summer evening, and quick and simply to prepare – but maybe too simple for a service such as this? I also felt that the dressing was a little too sweet, and would have worked better with less orange juice.
The final night saw the preparation of the “rosemary and thyme pork chops with roasted fennel and baby carrots”. After a manic day at work, it was nice to come home to a meal that involved minimal effort.
I never normally cook pork – it almost always ends up too dry, as I’m a bit useless. The recipe card was great for this meal, though, and my pork chops ended up nice and juicy. I’ll definitely be leaving my pork to rest when I cook it in the future.
The roasted fennel and baby carrots – although tasty enough – were a little uninspiring, roasted with salt, pepper, olive oil and a sachet of balsamic vinegar that seemed too small for the amount of veg that was provided.
This recipe card was the most confusing of the three, as it was hard to work out whether the pork was to be cooked at the same time as the vegetables or afterwards – it wasn’t very clear at all. This is probably why my veg looks a little charred in the picture below…
My overall thoughts? Definitely good in terms of not having to think about what to cook for a few days, and very happy with the quality of the ingredients (although would have preferred more British fruit/veg) and the freshness of the meat and fish. Having ingredients weighed out means less wastage: I hate buying things for one recipe, only to have to throw the rest out as it doesn’t get used. I loved the packaging of the box too, which meant that the ingredients stayed fresh for a whole afternoon at work before I could get things into the fridge.
A few gripes, though, means that I probably wouldn’t use the service again unless changes are made.
I think the recipe cards also need a little tweaking, to ensure that it’s clear which storecupboard ingredients, if any, are needed for each recipe. It would also be good if the recipes could be put in order of when they should be cooked based on best before dates, as I found myself having to cook the salmon on a night that I’d previously had other plans, due to its use by date.
I’m not too sure who HelloFresh see as their target market, as the meals in the box that I received were very simple and yet fairly pricey, working out at £6.50 per head per meal. Yes, it’s the same price as Supperlicious, but I felt that the Supperlicious recipes were – in my eyes, at least – more inspired. Fairly basic meals mean that HelloFresh are probably not aiming for the “foodie” market, but I’d say the price point would probably be out of many people’s budget for every day eating.
A great idea, well laid out recipe cards but I’m not convinced by the meals that are included or the value for money. I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of anyone else who has tried HelloFresh!
Please note: this HelloFresh box was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the company did not see this review before it was put up on the site.