www.hellofresh.nl, www.hellofresh.co.uk, www.hellofresh.com and www.hellofresh.com.au
Recently we tried Hello Fresh here in the Netherlands. A €20 gift card arrived with my Madára order from the Vitamin Store. Nice, right?
I will start with suggesting you read this review, written by an accredited Australian Nutritionist. It's detailed and based on her Australian Hello Fresh experience.
My first observation, other than the fact that the page is completely in Dutch with no option to change to English, is that you have no choice over what recipes you get produce for. Each week the menu is set by Hello Fresh. I knew there was no point getting a box that week, Simon wouldn't have eaten half the recipes in either the Original Box or the Veggie Box (there is also a Sports Box and a Fruit Box). I looked to see what the following weeks recipes would be, wanting to give them a try and utilise the gift card. The following weeks Original Box has the same underlying issue - Simon wouldn't eat half of it. We got the veggie box, despite it being carbohydrate heavy (in my opinion).
You have to order your box before 4pm on the Wednesday prior to delivery, which itself is only at set times on Sunday or Monday between weird hours like 4pm and 7pm. For me, that's not such a problem as I'm not working at the moment. You receive an SMS about an hour beforehand to let you know when they expect to arrive. The box isn't insulated but I think they must have a cold truck because the box was cold to touch and everything inside was also cold.
The second issue (but I'm learning so it's OK for me) is that all the recipes are in Dutch. So it's hard for me to recommend it to English speaking friends here, like Emma, who would spend the whole time they saved shopping in translating the recipe(s).
On first inspection all the ingredients appeared fresh and fit for purpose: if you only need 1 garlic clove, that's all you receive, and spice bags are small, and so on. So from the point of view of food wastage, cost saving on superfluous herbs for example, this is a great, positive attribute.
The recipes are suggested in an order which uses the freshest produce first-up, however I disagreed with this, and decided bagged lettuce and bread rolls wouldn't be so great after 3 days.
The first recipe was Vegetarian Burgers. These were really nice. Simon helped as this was the week I pulled my neck. I translated whilst he cooked. One thing I did note during this recipe is that there is an expectation that you will have some items in your pantry, and if like me you don't realise this until you're cooking, it can mean you're short a few items. Luckily we had some milk in the fridge for this one. We have since made other burgers inspired by this recipe.
The other two recipes were less than thrilling. I found both of these recipes to be boring, and some of the instructions a bit off. Who cooks snow peas for 7 minutes?! They would have been soggy, horrible looking things if I had followed that to the letter. Granted we made things that we wouldn't normally so from that perspective I liked that the recipes are chosen for you. We made Kichree (rice with kidney beans and tomato sauce) and Bami (noodles with herbs, peanuts and ketjapsaus). Both times I forgot to look at what the expected pantry items were and didn't have any ketjap manis for the Bami. 1 out of 3 required items wasn't too bad though, right? Another bonus was that these recipes both made enough for leftovers so I had lunch for the following day in each case – another cost saving benefit.
My feeling was 1 out of 3 successes (liking the recipe) isn't enough for me to order this again, so I didn't. I also thought that €39 for a vegetarian box seemed a bit steep but they claim to be at least €11 cheaper than the supermarkets. Either way I didn't think about it again until the following week when I received an SMS from Hello Fresh letting me know my delivery would be there in an hour! Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Uh oh, what did I miss in translation here?
I logged onto the website and realised, hunting around and translating pages that once you sign up, you're signed up! You get orders every week, if you go away on holiday you need to cancel them by the Wednesday prior to delivery by 4pm. Shocked and confused I went about trying to figure out how to cancel all future orders. I had to email in the end, as I could not find anywhere on the website that gave me any option to stop altogether. They replied the next day to let me know that this would be my final delivery.
Week 2's box, although also carbohydrate heavy (in my opinion), was better than the previous week. (Oh, you're also not allowed to cancel Hello Fresh unless you've tried 2 boxes. I now understand why). The only qualm with this box is that one of the meals was potato salad with haloumi, I can use the haloumi somewhere else but Simon hates potato, what am I going to do with the 5 potatoes? I ended up making soup and having that for my lunches.
The recipes that we liked from the second box were Gnocchi with roasted eggplant and a Cous Cous salad with Feta and Apple. We also discovered a new lovely lettuce that we've seen around but hadn't yet tried. They call it Verdsla (Mache is another name for it). I remembered to check the pantry requirements this time and it also make leftovers for me to have for lunches each following day.
After we'd finished our mistake box (second week of recipes) Simon wondered whether it was perhaps worth €39 if you get local produce and leftovers. I declared no, I really didn't think so, we have no control over the recipes, we're trying to eat fewer carbohydrates to risk receiving 3 – 5 meals worth of mostly carbohydrate recipes. This time, for example, I already had cous cous, apples, feta, eggplant and a few other things at home.
I had a quick look at the Australian box to compare prices and content. I nearly fell off my chair! Any of my friends have heard me tell them that living here is really expensive - way more expensive than we thought it would be, given that on the world cost of living chart Amsterdam ranks 77th where Melbourne is 4th! Explain to me then why the Australian box is only $7.97 (€5.40) per meal but here it's a whopping €13 ($19.20) per meal. It's ridiculous! A perfect example of why we're struggling to stick to a food budget here, albeit choosing organic where possible.
My final conclusion on these boxes:
If you live here in the Netherlands, and you're a foodie like me, don't get them. It's too expensive and, in my opinion, for only 50/50 success with recipes you can do better yourself.
If you live here in the Netherlands, you work full time, you don't want to have to think about what to cook, you're not too worried about carbohydrate intake, and you could use the leftovers to take to work then I say go for it!
If you live in Australia, I would say give it a try whether you're a foodie or not. But I urge you to check the recipes first as you may find that they won't be what you need/want either. You can foodie it up for the rest of the week either way.
But for the bulk of the population who work full time, want to come home to cook a mostly healthy meal and not have to go shopping first, or find a recipe, then definitely this is the way to go!