HelloFresh Review 2023: Meal Kits Don’t Get Easier, but Are They Good? – CNET

Product details

  • Pricing Starting at $8/serving
  • Type Meal Kit
  • Regional Availability Continental United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan
  • Number of Meal Options per Week 30+
  • Menu Options/ Diet Types Meat and veggies, veggies, family-friendly, fit and wholesome, quick and easy, pescatarian, low carb, low calorie

In this article:

hello fresh bags on counter

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>HelloFresh offers as many as 60 recipes per week. I tried six to see how this family-friendly meal service holds up in 2023.&nbsp;</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">HelloFresh</span>

HelloFresh is one of the most popular meal kit services to hit doorsteps this past decade, with spunky branding, approachable prices and as many as 60 menu options per week. Folded HelloFresh boxes can be seen everywhere in my Brooklyn neighborhood on recycling day, but popular doesn’t always mean good. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to give this meal kit service a try for a little mealtime assist and have been wondering if HelloFresh meal kits are as tasty to eat and easy to make as they look in flashy TV and Instagram ads. Don’t worry, this firsthand review of HelloFresh has everything you need to know before you sign up.

And if you do decide to give HelloFresh a shot, this service has one of the best meal kit deals around, amounting to 16 free meals across your first four deliveries for new customers.

HelloFresh bills itself as the most convenient service, sporting a massive selection of easy-to-make and healthy recipes designed to please the whole crew, including families with young ones and picky eaters. It’s also one of the cheapest meal delivery options, with plans that start at just $8 per serving. (EveryPlate and Dinnerly are the only cheaper meal kits, with plans starting at $6 a serving.)

Of all the meal kits I’ve tested, HelloFresh meals probably have the widest selection of “crowd-pleasing” recipes, making them an excellent choice for families or picky eaters. You won’t find a lot of big heat, spice or unusual ingredients with HelloFresh meals, and with as many as 60 meals per week to choose from, it’s hard to imagine not finding three or four that appeal to you.

hellofresh box

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>HelloFresh was one of the original meal kit companies, launching in Germany a year before Blue Apron. Let&#8217;s see how the 12-year-old service holds up in 2023.&nbsp;</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

If you’re overwhelmed with all the choices of meal kits these days, that’s natural. We’ve been on a mission to test — and restest — all of them to suss out the very best cheap meal kits, best meal delivery for families, best plant-based meal kits, meals for health nuts and more. Meal kit cooking means shortcuts with ingredients sent alongside recipes ready to be spun into dinner, often in less than 30 minutes. 

If cooking at all is not in the cards, we’ve tested the best fully prepared meal delivery services too. Here’s everything you need to know about HelloFresh and what we thought of it after cooking through a few weeks’ worth of meals.

How HelloFresh works

Before we dive in, here’s how the service works. As HelloFresh is a meal-kit delivery service, you’ll be doing a good amount of the work here, but all the fresh ingredients you need to execute dinner will arrive in one box, preportioned and ready to cook. You won’t have to do any shopping or measuring when you tackle a HelloFresh meal kit, but know you will have to do some light prep, chopping, mixing and cooking. 

ingredients for hello fresh mea

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>Here&#8217;s what your meal kit will look like after you unbag it. All the ingredients for my Halal street cart-inspired turkey bowls.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

HelloFresh has a range of meal plans that vary depending on the type of food you’re looking to cook, the number of people you’re cooking for and how often you want meal kits delivered. Once you make those decisions you’ll choose one of six HelloFresh meal plans: 

A look at HelloFresh's meal categories.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>A look at HelloFresh&#8217;s meal categories.&nbsp;</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">HelloFresh/Screenshot by David Watsky/CNET</span>
  • Meat & Veggies: The most basic plan featuring a variety of recipes and meals.
  • Family Friendly: Easy-to-prepare and kid-approved recipes.
  • Quick and Easy: Meals that take 30 minutes or less.
  • Veggie: Plant-based meals that are vegetarian but not always vegan.
  • Fit & Wholesome: Meal kits that are around 650 calories or less per serving.
  • Pescatarian: Meal kits and recipes featuring seafood and no meat. 

There is some crossover in meal kits each week from the various meal plans, but choosing one of these umbrella categories helps HelloFresh filter out the best recipes for you and your dinner goals. The more narrow the meal plan — such as pescatarian or veggie — the fewer options you’ll have each week. The plans are also priced the same no matter which meals you select, save for a few gourmet options that incur an upcharge. 

hellofresh meal options

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>HelloFresh has some of the most recipes of any meal kit service. Up to 60 per week making it one of the best services for homes with picky eaters.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">HelloFresh/Screenshot by David Watsky/CNET</span>

After you select your meal plan, choose the number of servings (two or four) that you’d like for each meal, and how many weekly meal kits you want to receive (two, three, four, five or six). These options are also easily modified, so don’t feel too much pressure and know you can adjust as you go.

As with many similar services, you can pick your own meals or let the meal-kit gods surprise you when you open your box. HelloFresh meals arrive once a week on a day of your choosing (besides Sunday). When mine showed up, the food was packaged neatly in cooler boxes, with meats and fish separated from other ingredients so as not to cross-contaminate. The meat was thawed but still cold and there was no sign of spoilage among any of the ingredients.

Changing or canceling a HelloFresh order

You can add, change or cancel meals easily through the app or through the website, although using the latter feels more limited. Changes or cancellations to any order must be made before midnight PT at least five days before your scheduled delivery day. That date is made apparent when you open your dashboard.

HelloFresh plans and pricing

HelloFresh pricing at a glance.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>HelloFresh pricing at a glance.&nbsp;</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">HelloFresh/Screenshot by David Watsky/CNET</span>

With HelloFresh, you pay by the serving, which is customizable from week to week, but it generally breaks down to about $9 per serving for two people or $9 if you’re ordering for four, plus $10 for shipping per box. For a family of four to receive three nights’ worth of meals would be $124.87 per week.

With most plans clocking in at $9 per serving, HelloFresh lands in the middle of the pack along with Home Chef and Blue Apron, but skews toward the budget-friendly end of things. Only EveryPlate and Dinnerly are significantly less expensive, but you can certainly find pricier ones such as Green Chef and Sunbasket with gourmet offerings and organic ingredients for a higher cost per week.

HelloFresh pricing

Recipes per week Cost per serving (2-person plan) Cost per serving (4-person plan)
2 $12.49 $9.79
3 $9.99 $9.49
4 $9.79 $9.29
5 $9.70 $9.29
6 $9.79 $9

What are HelloFresh meals like?

Of all the meal kits companies competing for your attention, HelloFresh bills itself as one of the easiest and most approachable. While there are some “gourmet” options in each week’s menu, most of HelloFresh recipes are simple to execute, with most taking 30 minutes or less from start to finish. 

Some HelloFresh meals you’ll find are fun twists on a classic, such as meatballs with a spicy, creamy “firecracker” sauce or turkey street cart-style bowls. But most are familiar dishes like spaghetti bolognese, creamy mushroom cavatappi, chicken tacos and meatloaf. HelloFresh has the most meal choices of any service — as many as 60 to choose from each week — and that includes plant-based options like vegan bulgogi bowls as well as premium seafood selections such as chimichurri barramundi and roasted trout.

pork chop recipe ingredients

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>All the fixings for a pork chop dinner.&nbsp;</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

There isn’t as much modification to recipes in the way that others like Home Chef permit. That said, some meals without protein allow you to add chicken, beef or shrimp. You can also upgrade most meats such as ground beef and chicken to an organic version for an added cost. 

organic beef package

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>You can add meat to certain meals or upgrade to organic beef or chicken for an added cost.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

How easy are these meal kits to prepare?

HelloFresh meal kits are mostly simple to make and that’s by design. With lots of tossed pasta dishes, tacos and pan-seared meats with easy-to-prepare sides, the most technical skill you’ll need on a regular basis is some basic chopping, working a frying pan over the stovetop or boiling water. The most involved meal I made was meatloaf, which required a bit of chopping and mixing prep, but was effortless overall.

Read more: Best Seafood Delivery Services for 2023

HelloFresh recipe cards and support materials 

While the printed directions that accompanied each recipe were neat, organized and clear, there were times when the directions could have gone an extra step to explain certain things in better detail. Specifying which sort of frying pan to use would be helpful, for instance, or how to tell if the pan is actually hot enough to drop the fish or pork loin in. Novice cooks would likely benefit from a bit more explanation, and I’d suggest reading through the instructions once before turning on the stove.

recipe card hello fresh

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>HelloFresh recipe cards are well-organized and easy to follow.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">HelloFresh</span>

The HelloFresh app is useful, clear and intuitive. You can use it to place or change your weekly orders, look up nutritional information and locate any recipe. This is especially helpful if you tend to misplace important documents as I do.

All the HelloFresh meals I made and how I liked them

Spicy bean and beef soup: This simple version of a classic chili couldn’t have been easier to put together and had a nice smoky flavor. I added organic ground beef and the stew provided me with a filling lunch for three or four days. 

beef soup

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>The spicy beef soup (aka chili) was super fast, simple and satisfying.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

Mushroom, parmesan and tomato risotto: This is one of the more time-consuming meal kits I made (about 45 minutes) but it came out great. If I were to do it again, I might add a protein into the mix since the recipe, as it stands, has almost none. 

Street cart-style turkey bowls: If you live in New York, you know about halal cart meals with white sauce so addictive it should be illegal. This version of the street food staple was easy to make and just as satisfying as the real thing.

turkey bowl meal

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>If you&#8217;ve ever eaten from one of New York&#8217;s famous halal street carts, this tasty meal will look and taste familiar.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

Meatloaf a la Mom: I liked this meal kit, but in all honesty, I prefer my own meatloaf recipe. It was a solid result that could have used a dash of Worcestershire sauce or some dried spice to amp up the flavor. The roasted potatoes and carrots were also fairly basic but proved themselves a worthy companion to the meatloaf. 

Barramundi with poblano corn and potatoes: A delicious meal that I really loved. The barramundi fish was fresh and the meal was healthy, full of flavor and easy to prepare. I think I caught myself shamelessly spooning the homemade salsa fresca straight into my mouth at one point.

pork chop with sweet potato mash and green beans

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>The spiced pork chop was very tender and juicy, y&#8217;all.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

Pork chops with honey butter, sweet potatoes and lemony green beans: As someone who doesn’t cook a ton of pork, I was excited to try this one, and it came out great. It was super simple to execute and the honey butter drizzled over the pork was addictive. As I’ve mentioned earlier, some small tips would have been useful. Though not specified, the step-by-step image shows a nonstick pan, but for something like pork chops, I think stainless steel or cast iron works better to get a good sear. 

Who HelloFresh meal kits are good for

HelloFresh is one of the best meal-kit options for families with one of the largest selections of recipes, which could impress even the hardest-to-please eaters. HelloFresh is a solid option for someone looking to cut time and hassle from their weekly meal planning routine since most of HelloFresh’s meals take around 30 minutes or less.

While there are some meal-kit companies that are focused on plant-based and vegetarian meal kits, HelloFresh has around five vegetarian options per week, so it’s a pretty good meal-kit service if you’re looking to learn to cook plant-based meals or add some more vegetarian and vegan recipes into your routine.

Read more: Best Meat Delivery Deals

Who HelloFresh meal kits are not so good for

Because there are limits on modifications, I would say HelloFresh is not ideal for anyone with strict dietary or allergy requirements. There are also meal-kit companies with more gourmet and technical recipes, so if your goal is to really stretch yourself as a chef, this may not be the service to do it. 

img-2688

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>Another winning recipe that took under 30 minutes to prepare.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">David Watsky/CNET</span>

Hello Fresh packaging and environmental friendliness

HelloFresh does a solid job with the packaging compared with some other companies I tested. The meals arrive packed in paper bags and all the ingredients were also thoughtfully packaged without excessive waste. Though there’s always some single-serve plastic involved with meal kits, I found it to be one of the more environmentally friendly companies, complete with recyclable ice packs and cooler bags. Here’s a little more about recycling your HelloFresh packaging.

hellofresh

<!----> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">HelloFresh</span>

The final verdict on HelloFresh

As someone who has a hard time making decisions but loves having options, HelloFresh was a double-edged sword. Even if the recipes were sometimes low on imagination, there were so many to choose from and everything I cooked was solid — no duds in the bunch. 

The meal kits are extremely family-friendly, too, so looking at this through the eyes of someone with small children or picky eaters, I can see why HelloFresh’s massive selection of affordable dinner ideas would be attractive. If you’re looking to lighten your load and cook for a crew that doesn’t dig huge, bold flavors, this just might be the best meal kit option out there. Recipes won’t require a ton of time or technical skill, either. For as little as $8 per serving, you can take the guesswork out of a few meals per week without going broke. What’s not to love about that?

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