One thing I've found with my empty nest is that my interest in cooking has dwindled. The chef type foodie in me is still there tucked among the tastebuds but it seems that letting my creative food genius out has become much more of an effort.
For me this has been a side effect of happily ever after. Steve and I just do not have the same flavor profile. We are actually exact opposites on the foodie scale, so trying to find a new and exciting recipe we would both enjoy has become a bit of a nuisance. Like many empty nesters we turned to eating out instead.
It doesn't take long for eating out to become equally as humdrum though, and it has two major downsides; the expense, and we are both getting much thicker around the middle. I decided it was time to put my apron back on while it still fits and try to cook healthier meals.
I had heard from a friend how much she enjoyed mail order meals. These mail order genuisus deliver everything you need for fresh homemade meals right to your door. I was skeptic; receiving my meals in the mail didn't sound exactly appealing, but based on my friends suggestion and reviews I had read online, I decided to give them a whirl. I was excited to discover that both Home Chef and Hello Fresh had some very appealing trail offers that made trying them nearly 50% off.
I feel it fair to add that my intention wasn't to purposefully pit them up against one another, the timing of a late delivery with Hello Fresh and a prompt delivery with Home Chef made it so that I had more food in my fridge in one day than it had seen in several years. I was afraid it might break down from the heavy load. All kidding aside, here's a peek at the process and the meals I received.
Ordering is easy and relatively the same on with both companies. Each box comes with 3 different meals and they allow you to choose between several different options. You can have choose to either have 2 servings of each or 4 servings of each. Both are subscription services, but putting a box on hold or canceling your subscription entirely is very easy.
I must mention that my order with Hello Fresh was very late. Their automated address system change my address to a non-exsistant one and as a result my first two boxes didn't make it to my home with any amount of freshness. The customer service handled this problem well though and it was a minor annoyance with an easy fix that just took a phone call.
After the introductory offers, each serving is roughly $10 with both Home Chef and HelloFresh. Shipping is always free. I found this to be on the pricy side than if I had I just gone to the store and purchased the ingredients myself. However, I when you consider the convenience of the deliveries it's a little cheaper than eating out, especially when you consider the tip with the meal.
Quality and Packaging
Both of the boxes came with fresh ingredients. The boxes themselves are insulated and included several packs of ice which were still frozen. The meat is tucked around the ice packs and produce is on top. It's cold inside the boxes and I wasn't disappointed with either of the products and feel like size wise the portions are the same. The recipes for your items are included in your box and Hello Fresh even includes addition recipes.
How easy they are to prepare really depends on your style of cooking. These are not prepared meals that you stick in the oven or microwave. The fresh herbs and vegetables require chopping. If you are looking for a fast and easy alternative, this probably isn't your golden egg answer. The recipes are however easy for any home chef to follow and the directions are clear. I also liked that they give you full color recipes that you can use later.
The sauces are made from scratch. I found it nice that I didn't have to purchase full bottles of certain ingredients that we don't usually eat like Fish Sauce, Chili Sauce and Balsamic vinegar. You will need to have Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper on hand though. In conclusion on preparation, consider that you are going to be preparing company worthy meals that take about 25 to 40 minutes from start to finish. Not TV style frozen dinners.
In the end, I wasn't disappointed with either service. I found the recipes to be wonderful in flavor and things I would have ordered at any restaurant, but probably would never have made the effort to cook myself. They were also much healthier than your standard restaurant menu and all came out looking like the picture in the recipe. It was fun getting the boxes and trying something new too. I plan to continue my membership, but won't be getting them weekly. If you've been thinking about trying this out I'd feel confident taking advantage of one or both of the trial offers.