Are ingredient-and-recipe meal kit services worth the money?

The popularity of meal kit deliv­ery services has increased sig­nificantly in the past few years. I’ve been intrigued by their allure of delicious recipes, made with fresh and nutritious ingredients, so I decided to take the plunge and order one. There’s plenty of options to choose from, but a convenient promo code made Hello Fresh my top choice.

The way these food services work is pretty simple: you sign-up for a plan — like receiving a certain amount of meals per week — and then pick what­ever recipes sound appetizing. The meals are packaged inside a box with insu­lated liners and ice packs, and sent to you on the specified date you pick.

I signed up for a week of the “classic plan,” which included three meals for two people. Each week has eight differ­ent recipe options to pick from, so I went with the sliced steak tagliata, barbecue pulled-pork sandwiches, and orange and cashew chicken stir-fry options. The food arrived on time, and I was ready to see what all the fuss was about.

Everything you need for each meal comes packaged in the exact quantities the recipe calls for. This is great, be­cause you don’t need to worry about running out of ingredients or having to throw stuff away. The recipes are extremely easy to follow, each taking somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes at most. For the meals I picked, there wasn’t anything more complicated than heating an oven or frying some ingre­dients in a pan. This means anyone — even those without any cooking experience — can prepare something quickly and with good results.

After toasting bread buns, mixing coleslaw with a bunch of spices and condiments, and heating the meat to perfection, I finished the first recipe: a pulled-pork sandwich. I was initially concerned about the portion size, as it looked a little small for my liking. How­ever, it turned out to be just the right amount, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great meal that left me craving more, and was added to the list of reci­pes I’d try to replicate in the future.

The second recipe was even better, featuring a deliciously tender and juicy steak on a bed of arugula salad and a side of crispy sweet potato fries. Every ingredient felt fresh and full of flavor, making this meal another winner. The chicken stir-fry was also pretty good, but I was spoiled by the two previous superior meals.

I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed these Hello Fresh dish­es. I was expecting smaller portions and foods that don’t taste like anything spe­cial. Instead, I got great meals, similar to what you might find at a local restau­rant. Sure, you don’t need to subscribe to any service to prepare something similar, but it helps in introducing you to different tastes you might not try otherwise. You can save a recipe you really enjoyed, and buy the ingredients yourself at a grocery store to prepare it.

So in the end, do I think is worth it? The usual total for the plan I got is $60 per week. For that price, I wouldn’t recommend it, as you can buy more groceries with that much. However, for the past few months there have been coupons on Grou­pon to cut that price in half. This makes each meal essentially $5, mak­ing at least trying the service some­thing to consider.

If you want to learn tasty new recipes, get back into cooking and abandon a diet of instant noodles and Monster drinks, trying Hello Fresh is a good first step. My experience with the service was very positive, making it an easy recommendation for those wanting to try something new.

PHOTO BY DIEGO MEZA
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