HelloFresh Review: My Experience With America's Most Popular Meal Kit
HelloFresh offers over 30 different meals to choose from that can accommodate a variety of different diets and preferences. The recipes are easy to prepare with simple step-by-step instructions that anyone can follow, and the ingredients are always fresh.
- Beginner chefs
- Meal variety
It’s the meal kit delivery service that’s smattered all over social media and heavily promoted on the internet, and you’ve probably had at least one friend or family member tell you about it. Today, I’m sharing my experience with HelloFresh.
I was able to try a box of HelloFresh meal kits for myself and now I’m here to help you decide if this is the right meal kit company for you. In this review, I’ll share my thoughts on the meals I ate, how HelloFresh compares to other meal kit companies, and whether or not this service is worth it.
HelloFresh humbly refers to itself as both “America’s #1 Meal Kits” and “America’s Most Popular Meal Kit.” At least one of these claims is objectively true. According to Statista, HelloFresh has 3.5 million active subscribers in the U.S. as of 2021 compared to the second-largest meal kit company, Blue Apron, which had only 336,000. You don’t even have to do math to see that it’s not even close.
HelloFresh is headquartered in New York but delivers to every U.S. state except for Hawaii and Alaska. This meal delivery service works with over 1,500 suppliers to source their ingredients and uses a short supply chain to keep food fresh and create as little waste as possible. And when they do over-purchase, they donate the extra food to charities and food banks.
Wondering about HelloFresh’s climate impact? Back in 2020, the meal kit service committed to offsetting its carbon footprint by 100%. They use renewable energy to prepare their meal kits and successfully reduced their carbon emissions in 2021 by the equivalent of what about 7,000 cars would produce.
How HelloFresh Works
HelloFresh is a subscription-based meal kit service that requires you to sign up for an account to order. After setting up your account, you’ll choose your meal plan type, pick your meals, and get your box.
Here’s what that process looks like step-by-step.
Create Your Account
To create a HelloFresh account, the first step is to personalize your plan. If you’re signing up for HelloFresh for the first time, you’ll select one or multiple meal plans that will be used to recommend meal kits to you going forward. The meal plans are:
- Meat & Veggies – exactly what it sounds like, meals featuring meat and veggie-based sides
- Veggie – meat-free meals that center around fresh produce for the vegetarians out there
- Family Friendly – picky-eater-approved meals that require less prep and clean up
- Fit & Wholesome – “calorie smart” meals that are around 600 calories each
- Quick & Easy – dishes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare
- Pescatarian – seafood and veggie dinners
Next, you customize your plan size. You can choose either two- or four-serving meals and between two and six recipes per week.
Note that I used our code to get a serious discount. Sign up to save up to $230 on your first four orders.
You can change your meal plan, delivery frequency, or the number of meals per box at any time.
While technically there’s “no commitment,” you do lock into a subscription when signing up. This means you’ll have to remember to cancel or change your plan after your first box is delivered if you don’t want it to auto-renew for the next week. Alternatively, you can skip a week or pause your subscription. More on these later.
After you’ve personalized your plan, you’ll provide an email address to create your account, then pick a weekday to receive your first box and every box after. Then you get to…
Choose Your Meals
HelloFresh will recommend meals for you every week based on your meal preferences, but you can swap out any meal kit for another one from the menu using the plus and minus buttons.
There are over 30 weekly meal kits to choose from. This number includes variations when you swap an item for another item as well as a few lunch items. On average, each menu includes about seven or eight vegetarian options.
Whether you’re using the website or app, you can see the following details for each meal kit:
- Time to prep
- Calorie count
- Difficulty rating
Each recipe is tagged with a difficulty rating of Easy, Medium, or Hard. Most recipes are easy or medium — it’s rare that one be hard. You can see the full recipe and nutrition facts for every meal kit as well.
You can make changes to any order up to four days in advance of when it is scheduled to be delivered. Finalize your selections by this date to make sure you get what you want in your box.
After you’re done picking your entrees, you’ll go to the HelloFresh Market where you can pick extras to add to your box. The categories are:
- New Arrivals Sale – discounted new menu items
- Deals of the Week – add-ons on sale
- Kits – extra kits you can add to your box, usually lunches or quick dinners
- Burrito Bar – burrito kits you make yourself
- Lunch Specials – prepared lunches like soups and mac and cheese
- Sandwiches & More – sandwich meal kits
- Easy Entertaining – bundles like charcuterie boards that are great for parties
- Focaccia Flatbreads – ready-to-bake flatbreads
- Soups – prepared soups and stews
- Sides & Complements – extras like veggies, bread, and salads
- Breakfast – prepared breakfasts
- Bakery – muffins and more
- Desserts & Treats – cheesecake and lava cakes
- Snacks – granola bars and the like
- Proteins – extra servings of meat
- Beyond the Box – an option to donate $10 to giving meals to those in need
If you click on any recipe from the HelloFresh site and select “See full recipe,” there will be a tag below the description of the dish that gives a “Climate Score.” This is part of HelloFresh’s eco-friendly initiatives. A good climate score signifies that a meal’s ingredients have a low environmental impact.
Get Your Box
Your box will arrive between 8 am and 8 pm on your selected delivery date. Boxes are lined with paper insulation and filled with ice packs to ensure they stay fresh for that (wide) delivery window. Both the lining and ice packs are recyclable. Even though my box didn’t arrive until 7 pm, everything still felt chilled and looked great.
Something unique about HelloFresh is how the meals are actually packaged. Rather than putting all of your ingredients in your box for you to sort through, the ingredients come already separated by meal with only the meat excluded.
What Does Each Box Include?
HelloFresh meals come with the main ingredients you need including meat, produce, and sauces. The only things that aren’t included are pantry staples you probably already have, like oil, butter, salt, pepper, and sugar.
With so many recipes to choose from, there are a few different ways you can make the decision easier on yourself. For example, you can filter for a particular meal plan to only see options within that plan and pay attention to the tags on each recipe. These are:
- Calorie Smart – around 600 calories each
- Carb Smart – meals that are higher in proteins and fats
- Veggie – meat-free
- Easy Prep – low difficulty level and faster prep time
- Easy Cleanup – require fewer dishes
- Quick – on the table in about 20 minutes or less
- Spicy – meals with a little heat
- Mediterranean – kits that fit into a balanced Mediterranean diet
If you’re dieting, especially if you’re restricting calories or carbs, HelloFresh makes it possible to find meals to work for you.
HelloFresh includes several vegetarian-friendly dishes on every menu, but there are usually no 100% plant-based meals to choose from. There are also no gluten-free meal plans or keto meal plans, though you may be able to find some recipes to fit these diets.
Take a look at a screenshot I grabbed from the menu.
Customizing Your Meals
About 12 meals each week come with the option to swap your protein or side for free. For example, you can exchange ground beef for ground pork, opt for cauliflower rice instead of jasmine rice, or go with roasted broccoli instead of roasted carrots.
A handful of meals can also be customized or upgraded for an additional cost. For instance, you might pay $3.99 extra per serving to add salmon to an otherwise vegetarian meal or add a side salad for $2.99 a serving or cheesecake for $4.49 per serving.
HelloFresh can’t accommodate food allergies or strict dietary restrictions. Although they do everything they can to prevent cross-contamination of common allergens, there is no way to ensure that your food definitely won’t contain things you’re allergic to.
There is no gluten-free meal plan for those with celiac disease.
Recipe Cards + Cooking Help
Easy-to-follow recipes feature large pictures of each main step along with bullet point instructions. You’d be surprised just how much of a difference it makes to have bullet points instead of paragraphs for the step-by-step instructions.
You can also search any recipe in the HelloFresh app or website, where they are organized exactly the same except the steps are arranged vertically.
Here’s a look at the front and back of a card.
The price per HelloFresh meal kit depends on how many meals you get in each box and how many servings each meal makes. Here’s a breakdown:
- 2 servings | 2 meals: $11.99 / serving
- 2 servings | 3 meals: $9.99 / serving
- 2 servings | 4 meals: $9.49 / serving
- 2 servings | 5 meals: $8.99 / serving
- 2 servings | 6 meals: $8.49 / serving
- 4 servings | 2 meals: $9.49 / serving
- 4 servings | 3 meals: $8.49 / serving
- 4 servings | 4 meals: $7.99 / serving
- 4 servings | 5 meals: $7.99 / serving
- 4 servings | 6 meals: $7.99 / serving
Compared to other companies, HelloFresh’s prices are about average. But if you place larger orders and use discount codes, it’s one of the more affordable options out there.
Just keep in mind these are the prices for the standard meals. Premium meals (labeled “Premium Picks”) will cost you about $8.99 to $9.99 extra per serving. These have more expensive ingredients like steak and fish.
How To Get a Discount
HelloFresh offers discounts on discounts. First, there’s HelloFriends. This is a referral program where you can share a coupon with a friend and get a $10 credit to your account when they sign up. You can even send free boxes to friends and family members.
HelloFresh also rewards loyalty with free boxes and extras through the Fresh Achievements program. This is where you earn rewards for repeat orders and can collect freebies and coupons. Go to your account page to see your credit balance and how close you are to your next reward.
You may also qualify for a discount through ID.me if you’re a:
- Medical provider
- Hospital employee
- Military member
But one of the best ways to save is to use our discount code. Click the link below.
Pros and Cons
- Easy meal prep — Simple instructions and recipes categorized by difficulty
- Diet-friendly — Choose meals to fit your health needs
- Packaging — Eco-friendly and convenient packaging
- Price — More expensive than other services at between $7.99 and $11.99 per serving
- Not allergen-friendly — No option to set dietary restrictions for allergies
- Delivery window — 12-hour delivery window can be inconvenient
Who Is HelloFresh Good For?
There aren’t a lot of people I wouldn’t recommend HelloFresh to. This service can support you with meal planning, save you time grocery shopping, and help you stress less when dinner time comes around.
HelloFresh is great for beginners who want to learn to cook with easy recipes, people who are dieting, and people who value sustainability. Studies have shown that HelloFresh meal kits can create 25% less food waste by preventing overbuying and improving farm-to-table distribution.
Who Is HelloFresh Not Good For?
I probably wouldn’t recommend HelloFresh to vegans, home chefs who appreciate the finer things, or people trying to slash their grocery bills.
You’ll have to look to other meal kit services if you want lots of healthy meals to choose from. Green Chef, for example, is a healthier choice offering many diet-friendly plans, gluten-free and plant-based meals, and all organic produce. For a meal kit service with more interesting, gourmet options, try Blue Apron.
If your goal is to save money, HelloFresh meal kits are probably not for you unless you spend more than $8 a serving at home.
What I Tried
In my first HelloFresh box, I tried these three meals:
- Turkish-Spiced Chicken in Apricot Pan Sauce With Lemon Almond Rice & Harissa-Roasted Carrots – absolutely delicious
- Ginger-Ponzu Turkey Patties With Broccoli Cabbage Salad & Sweet Chili Mayo – fantastic and more interesting than what I usually make myself at home
- One-Pan Smashed Black Bean Tacos With Creamy Slaw, Pickled Onion & Red Pepper Crema – easy and shockingly good
The Turkish-Spiced Chicken in Apricot Pan Sauce is one of my favorite meals not just from this kit but from the entire month. These meals were easy and genuinely fun to make thanks to the visual recipe cards.
Each recipe took me about five minutes longer to put on the table than estimated, but I couldn’t be bothered to care once I started eating.
What I Liked
If it’s not already obvious, I was a big fan of HelloFresh. It makes total sense to me why millions of people choose this service. Here are a few things I loved.
Everything about HelloFresh recipes is easy, and this has a lot to do with the recipes themselves.
First, HelloFresh recipe cards are simple and actually teach you how to cook. Each step is well-explained and pictured with what your food should look like after completing that stage, which is really helpful whether you’re a novice cook or not. There are no confusing steps to riddle through or vague instructions to decipher. HelloFresh tells you that a drizzle of oil is equal to 1 teaspoon. There are even tips after a lot of the steps to reduce cleanup or improve textures and flavors along the way.
Plus, the cards feature a section of advice to execute the trickier parts and a “Bust Out” section that tells you all of the tools and ingredients you’ll need that aren’t included in your box. And not only do the cards tell you what pantry items to grab, but they tell you how much you need of each so you can still cook with pre-measured ingredients if you really want to.
Range of Options
HelloFresh doesn’t mess around when it comes to variety. You’ll see recipes inspired by different parts of the world on every menu and several different types of meal plans to match your preferences. Whether you’re looking for bold global flavors or tried-and-true classics, you shouldn’t be disappointed (I know I wasn’t).
Packaging and Convenience
Unlike other meal kit delivery services that throw all of your ingredients for the week into one box for you to sift through yourself, HelloFresh packages its meal kits in convenient paper bags. Each bag is labeled with the name of the dish (plus a QR code you can scan for the recipe) and contains all of the ingredients needed to cook that recipe. There were no loose potatoes to track down, sauce packets to sort through, or other miscellaneous ingredients to match with their recipes.
The bags made for a really convenient and clean experience. I could dispose of recyclable ingredients as I was cooking right in the bag and I didn’t have to look back and forth from my box to the recipe card to make sure I wasn’t forgetting something. And of course, paper is a whole lot better for the planet than plastic. In general, HelloFresh used very little plastic and most of what they did use was recyclable.
What I Didn’t Like
Although I have a lot of great things to say about my experience with HelloFresh, no meal kit is perfect. Let’s talk about the ugly (and I’m not just talking about that weird carrot I got and forgot to take a picture of).
One of the main disadvantages of HelloFresh is that a lot of the recipes could be considered “unhealthy.”
Many HelloFresh meals feature lots of dairy and carbs, and some don’t even have a true vegetable. You’ll see a lot of things that are creamy, smothered, and otherwise indulgent on the menu.
Obviously, the ball’s in your court. You can pick healthy dishes and substitute ingredients to make them more nutritious, but this meal delivery service isn’t for those who hate calories and fat.
Related: Best Healthy Meal Delivery Kits
At between $7.99 and $11.99 a serving, HelloFresh’s prices are about average for meal kit companies. But the average for meal kit companies is still pretty high compared to what a lot of Americans spend on home-cooked dinner.
If you’re buying as an individual or couple, you’ll probably end up spending more on HelloFresh than you do at the grocery store.
This is a relatively small complaint, but one I have to get off my chest anyway. I waited all day for my HelloFresh box. I knew it would be arriving on Wednesday, but the delivery window was 8 am to 8 pm and I didn’t have any way of actually knowing which end of that window I should expect. My box didn’t arrive until around 7:30 pm. It’s tough to plan for a 12-hour delivery window.
This is a pretty common complaint on review forums too.
How Do You Cancel?
HelloFresh’s cancellation process is pretty straightforward. You just go to your Account Settings and scroll down to the bottom box that says “Cancel my plan.”
When you select this, you’ll see a page that shows your benefits if you have any and the alternatives to canceling. These are changing your delivery date, chatting with customer support, or skipping a week. Select “Cancel anyway” if you’re sure. It’s awkward but you can do it.
Were There Leftovers?
I had no problems with HelloFresh’s portion sizes. I ate exactly half of each two-serving meal and felt full, then reheated and enjoyed the meals as leftovers too.
But whether or not the portions will be good for you depends completely on the meals you choose and your appetite. For example, if you choose vegetarian meals, note that you might not actually get more food to make up for the lack of meat.
HelloFresh Customer Service
I went ahead and called customer service because I wanted to see both how long it takes to reach support and how good the support is. I was connected with a friendly and helpful agent named Mira within 30 seconds of calling who answered my questions right away (I asked if there was a way to reduce your delivery window — there’s not).
To contact customer support, call Customer Care at 1 (646) 846-3663 for help with everything from canceling your account to getting a status update on your order. You can also chat with someone through the site.
If you don’t want to talk to anyone, check out the Help Center for FAQs and account management help.
Is HelloFresh Worth It?
HelloFresh is popular for a reason. The meals are easy to prepare and delicious, and the prices are average (for meal kits).
Consider how much you would pay someone to meal prep and grocery shop for you to decide if HelloFresh is worth it. When you pay for HelloFresh, you don’t have to worry about meal planning for a few days out of every week.
HelloFresh reviews are largely positive, but there are plenty of angry customers too. I read the complaints so you don’t have to. Basically, make sure you understand how your subscription works — specifically how much you’ll be charged and how often — and how to cancel or pause if you need to.
Are Meal Kits Right for You?
How much do you value home-cooked meals? How much do you stress about what to make for dinner each night? How much do you love or hate grocery shopping?
Meal kits are easy to prepare and convenient, but they can be more expensive depending on how much you spend per serving when you plan and make your own meals. If the price is your number one concern, try comparing your average grocery bill to the price of a subscription.
I can honestly say that my first HelloFresh delivery won’t be my last and that I will be ordering again. HelloFresh is a flexible meal kit service that’s family-friendly and great for couples and individuals. If you like variety and want to save yourself precious time and energy, HelloFresh is an excellent choice (even if you’re still learning to cook).
HelloFresh is probably not for you if you’re looking for more premium meal kits, are on a really tight dinner budget, or are looking for healthy and/or plant-based options.