top of page

HelloFresh: Is it For You?


Oh my heavens! I have been so lackadaisical with blog posts lately, it is ridiculous. I’ve been meaning to post about this topic for a while, so here it finally is: Meal Subscription Boxes!! More specifically HelloFresh. If you listen to any podcast, like literally any podcast about any subject imaginable, you’ve probably heard about HelloFresh. Why?! Because 9 times out of 10, HelloFresh is a sponsor of said podcast you are listening to (my particular podcast of choice is “And That’s Why We Drink” or “Small Town Murder”). Right off the bat, I would like to mention that I am NOT sponsored by HelloFresh, just simply a consumer giving my opinion on the service & providing insight for others who may be interested in trying a meal subscription box service, but, anyway, I digress.


OVERVIEW OF HELLOFRESH


HelloFresh is a weekly meal subscription box with loads of options for various different family sizes & lifestyles. There are a few different plan options: Veggie, Family, Calorie Smart, & even some Gourmet options. You have the option of choosing how many meals you get per week (1 meal to 6 meals) & you can choose the option to select recipes that take 20 minutes or less to make. You can also select the delivery day the works best for you, changing it weekly if you desire. For example, my household opted to have 3 meals delivered weekly to serve 2 people which equated to $8.99 per serving, so for our weekly total we were spending $60.93 per box with $6.99 of that cost being attributed to shipping.


SUSTAINABILITY


What initially drew me to the idea of a meal subscription box was the concept of sustainability. I get notifications on my phone from NPR & one day I was sent a notification regarding meal subscription boxes & their carbon footprint compared to traditional meals created by shopping at a grocery store & preparing your meals at home from those purchased ingredients. I won’t bore you with all the minute details, but after reading that article, it inspired me to find out more information (you can see all the articles that I have found & read at the end of the post. Ultimately, across the board, meal subscription boxes were found to have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional grocery store shopping. It was found that food production has a HUGE carbon footprint & accounts for between 19%-29% of annual greenhouse emissions! And was is so tragic is that it has been estimated that 31% of food produced in the U.S. is wasted.

I read a few more articles, then went in search of a meal subscription box that was sustainable, relatively inexpensive, & worked for my schedule. Google provided me with a few websites that ranked different meal subscription boxes. For example, FoodForNet compiled a list of “Eco Friendly Meal Kits” & HelloFresh was among the top 5 listed. I’ve heard great things about SunBasket but I can’t afford $75 per week plus $12 shipping.

It seems, based on their website, that HelloFresh’s main target is to prevent food waste. On their website they say that they sustainably source their meats & seafoods, with their meat being domestically sourced. They say that they focus on locally sourcing the ingredients to reduce the distance the ingredients travel which in turn lowers the CO2 emissions caused by your weekly food basket. And as the article studies suggest, the meal subscription boxes, including HelloFresh, have drastically lower CO2 emissions than traditional grocery store shopping.


HELLOFRESH & THE ZERO WASTE MOVEMENT

While meal subscription boxes have been proven to reduce CO2 emissions & eliminate food waste, they don’t seem to do much when it comes to environmental waste. Their website has a plethora of instructions about their packaging & how to recycle as much as possible. For example:

  • The delivery box is made of a mix of recycled & virgin fibers that can be recycled at your local recycling plant

  • During the summer, your boxes will be lined with an insulator constructed from recycled cotton, jute, and kraft paper which is also able to be taken to your local recycling plant

  • Lastly, the separators & paper bags that each individual meal kit comes in, are also recyclable along with the freezer packs that are used to keep your food at the correct temperature

BUT… and it’s a big but… there are SO many components of the meal subscription box that are not very environmentally friendly. Such as:

  • The individual plastic bags that certain ingredients (such as scallions) are packaged in

  • The BPA-free plastic & mylar combination box liners that are used during the winter in your HelloFresh box to keep your food at the correct temperature.

  • The questionable, non-descript silica gel filling inside the freezer packs with conflicting information

    • On the Canadian website they say it is safe to dump the materials down the drain, but some say not to do this because it clogs your pipes

    • On the US website it says to dispose of the gel in the trash, which doesn’t feel right – but adding on to that the tutorial video shows it being dumped in the toilet.


While I love the fact that food waste & carbon emissions are being cut, it seems like meal subscription boxes are essentially ignoring one major problem but addressing another major problem instead of finding a happy medium. And each time I throw away an individual plastic bag or dump the weird, silica gel in the trash a little piece of me dies each time (I’m a bit dramatic at times, I KNOW).


THE COST

While it is certain that eating out each night would be much more expensive, HelloFresh is still, in my opinion not the cheapest option. According to their website, they don’t mark up the price of their ingredients because they go directly to suppliers & cut out the middle man. They say their goals are to deliver everything so you save on transportation, keep it seasonal so your boxes remain in a reasonable price range, & that they pre-portion ingredients to eliminate food waste.


While this is all well and good, I still think that $8.99 per serving is a bit more than I would pay per serving when grocery shopping on my own. Plus, when cooking your own meals there is a good possibility that there will be left overs for other meals.


THE HELLOFRESH SERVICE EXPERIENCE

Ancho Chicken with Roasted Potatoes & Lemony Salad
Ancho Chicken with Roasted Potatoes & Lemony Salad

I’m not going to lie, the actual service & the idea of the service is something that I absolutely adore. I can’t begin to explain how lovely it was to come home to pre-planned meals & ready-to-go ingredients after a 10 hour work day with a 45 minute to an hour commute one way. The recipes were things that I would’ve never thought to cook myself & every single one of them was delicious. Even my mom, who is an amazing cook, was extremely impressed when I cooked one of our HelloFresh meals for her. The ingredients come with easy to follow recipe cards that guide you every step of the way & give you ideas for elevating the recipe with your own ingredients you my have on hand.



OVERALL…

For people like me, who don’t enjoy meal planning, cooking, or grocery shopping & who also don’t have the time to do it, this service was made for you. Ultimately, I decided to discontinue the service after over a month of using it because I couldn’t, in good conscious, continue to use it because of the amount of waste it produced. I definitely support HelloFresh’s idea behind reduction of CO2 emissions & lowering your carbon footprint, but I feel as though a huge piece of the environmental puzzle was being left out when it comes to non-food waste production. Another reason why we chose to discontinue the service was the cost. If you have the budget to use the service I highly recommend it, however paying $60 per week for 3 meals without leftovers seemed to be counter intuitive to ingredients we could be buying at the grocery store for $60 & having meals that stretch over the week rather than just one evening.


Have you tried HelloFresh or alternative meal subscription boxes? If so, I’d love to hear your experience with them!



Link References:



Until next time…










Comments