Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Hello Fresh Food Subscription Box Review

In my April Love Me Beauty box I received a £25 money off voucher for Hello Fresh, a subscription box service that sends you all the ingredients you need to cook 3 or 5 meals a week from scratch. They include absolutely everything, from fresh produce down to little extras, herbs and spices, as well as detailed recipe cards with step by step instructions on how to cook your meals. While I always thought it was a brilliant idea, particularly if you're constantly faced with the trouble of figuring out what to cook, it was always the price that put me off. At £39 a week for three meals for two people, it works out at £6.50 a meal - when I do my regular shops our meals tend to work out at half of that, if not less! Without the voucher, I don't think I would have ever taken the plunge to try this service.

My first initial experience was not a positive one. Sign-up was quick and simple and I liked that you could swap over recipes that you knew you wouldn't like, so I could cater for my boyfriend's tastes, as he is an incredibly fussy eater. I was advised my box would come on Tuesday between 9 and 5 o'clock,  which was great as I was off work for the whole day, so could get my delivery and not have to do a food shop that day. Five o'clock came and no box.... Six o'clock, still no box. Eventually I gave up waiting and phoned customer service, who then told me that my box would be with me on Wednesday, as it was a bank holiday weekend - which wouldn't have been a problem, if someone had bothered to tell me. I was told by the man on the phone that they usually send out a text, but must have the wrong contact details. He didn't, however, bother with taking my contact details to check.

I got off the phone and I was fuming. Nobody messes with my food! I had to, err, make other arrangements for dinner that night (read: order a takeaway), and my box did eventually arrive early Wednesday morning.

Vegetables, baked goods, herbs and spices were packed loosely in the box while all the meat and dairy was wrapped with ice packs in a plastic bag lined with woolcool liners. I already know these from my weekly Abel and Cole deliveries and they work really great at keeping all your produce cool, so I know that even if I wasn't in all my stuff would have been fine till the evening.

These are the recipes I got in my box along with pictures of how it ended up looking when I made the meal.

Swingball Meatballs with Smoked Tomato Linguine

I made this recipe a day after receiving my box and unfortunately by that time the carrots had already managed to go mouldy! Thank goodness that I still had some carrots in my fridge that I could use, but I wasn't overly happy with my delivered vegetables not even being able to make it past the first day.
The actual dish was fairly easy to prepare, although it did require a lot more chopping than I would have liked. I tend to grate my carrot and I don't usually put celery in any of my tomato sauces, as I hate the taste of it. For the sake of following this recipe to a T, I left the celery in there and I admit that once it had cooked into the sauce it wasn't quite so bad. Unfortunately, I found the finished sauce to be quite bland, so I had to add what felt like a ton of salt and a gallon of hot sauce to improve the dish.
To be fair though, that's not something I blame Hello Fresh for, as I always have to add tons of seasoning to any shop bought ready meals and it's not really that much of a problem to add some spice to your food. The actual pasta was absolutely amazing - some of the best I've ever tried and the meatballs were very lovely as well.

Umami Burger with Rustic Chips and Rocket Salad

My boyfriend hates anything that's remotely healthy, so I had to leave out all the salad for him, but still he didn't enjoy his meal. Like I said, he's a fussy eater! I actually thought this was absolutely lovely! Adding garlic salt onto potato wedges is something I am forever going to do from now on. This is the first time I've ever used Umami paste and while it tastes absolutely revolting on its own, it did add a very special flavour to the burger. I've since also added it to mushroom sauce and it tasted absolutely divine! I think this was my favourite meal out of the three.

A Really Special Chicken Fried Rice with Pistachio and Sesame

This is the recipe I made last and by the time I'd gotten round to it (about five days after my box got delivered), the spring onions looked like they were on the brink of death and I had to throw half of them away. To further add to my annoyance, the recipe included way more chopping than I would have liked and I also found the cooking process very unnecessarily long-winded (for example: I would not usually wait for half an hour to cook chicken thighs in the oven before adding them to a stir-fry, but rather chop them up and fry them in a pan for five minutes).
I did really enjoy this dish in the end, although I had to add a lot of salt again to make it a bit less bland. As you can see on the picture above the portions on this one in particular were huge! I really struggled to finish my meal and that's even though I hadn't eaten since breakfast.

You certainly can't fault Hello Fresh on portion sizes. They are very generous and filling and although I had to add extra seasoning to pretty much all of my meals, I found them to be rather tasty in general. My boyfriend didn't enjoy any of them, but as I said, he's an extremely fussy eater who won't touch anything that's not meat, bread or cheese. Overall, the quality of the ingredients was top-notch, apart from the vegetables. For a box that's meant to last all week to include vegetables that go mouldy after a day is really not acceptable.

I think my biggest peeve with the box is the price. £13 a day for two people is just extortionate considering you've still got to do all the cooking yourself. Even if I was shopping in Waitrose or Marks & Spencer's every day I'm pretty sure I could feed us both for less than that. Hello Fresh did include a card with my box detailing how a comparable shop would be more expensive in pretty much every supermarket, but I just find that very hard to believe. Add to that my experience of rather poor customer service and you can see why I cancelled pretty much as soon as I got my box and won't be looking to resubscribe anytime soon. While I still think it's a great idea, the value for money just isn't there with this box.

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