I’m not a big fan of cooking. Or meal planning. Back when I was married, I had a husband who liked doing both those things. Now that I’m in charge of all my meal planning, it doesn’t always go so well. Sometimes, I get to dinner time and realize that I have no idea what I’m going to feed myself — or that other human I’m responsible for, namely my son.
This is where a meal-planning service like HelloFresh comes in. I love meal planning kits because they take most of the work out figuring out what you’ll eat for dinner. You get almost everything you need for the meal, along with step-by-step instructions on how to cook and assemble it.
If you’re looking for an easy way to eat healthy and cook meals at home, check out this HelloFresh review.
HelloFresh is a company that offers meal planning kits. When you sign up, you choose a plan, and HelloFresh organizes your meals. Each week, a box containing the ingredients and recipes for your meals is delivered. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the card, and you end up with a healthy meal.
How to sign up for HelloFresh
Signing up for HelloFresh is fairly straightforward. Just fill in your information and create an account.
Later, you’ll be asked to provide your address (for meal kit delivery) and payment information. HelloFresh accepts credit card and PayPal.
Once you’re signed up, you choose a plan, select your meals, and start receiving your ingredients and recipes. HelloFresh offers a vegetarian plan, as well as a family plan and a classic plan.
I started receiving my meals the week after I signed up. HelloFresh will tell you which day you can expect your delivery, as well as the last day you can make changes to each week.
Some consumers worry about the packaging of HelloFresh kits. This is a valid concern. Most of the packaging is recyclable, and some of it is made from post-consumer materials. I re-use some of the ice packs in my coolers for camping and hiking. Additionally, the local senior center makes use of donated ice packs in their meal deliveries.
How much does HelloFresh cost?
HelloFresh offers three plans.
You figure out your plan price by multiplying the number of people on the plan by the recipes per week, then multiply that by the cost per serving. In my case, I have a two-person plan and we get three recipes per week. I’m not getting the special pricing as shown in the image above (which is only good for your first week), so I multiply the six servings per week by $9.99 to get $59.94.
It seems like a lot for three meals. After all, $9.99 (or $9.74 on the family plan) per serving is comparable to eating out at your local Applebee’s or Olive Garden. But on the plus side, the food tastes better and is healthier than what you’d likely get at a casual dining restaurant. Many of the ingredients are high quality, and some of the meals taste as good as what you might get at a slightly nicer restaurant that charges $20 to $30 a plate. However, not all the meals are quite as good — for example, I thought the Sizzling Southwestern Chicken was kind of meh — so don’t expect fine dining every night.
Interestingly, though, using a meal planning service like HelloFresh does save me money in the long run.
I combine the meal planning with my weekly delivery from the dairy, and my weekly trip to the grocery for produce. And about twice a year I stock up on staples such as flour and olive oil. Additionally, the savings are there when I compare my current spending to what often passed for a weekly shopping trip headed up by my ex.
Those days, it was common to spend between $250 and $300 a week on groceries. I followed him as we visited multiple stores, and impulse purchases were part of the picture. Additionally, sometimes he’d think about meal possibilities on the fly, costing us money and, in many cases, leading to unused food.
My current weekly grocery costs are as follows:
- HelloFresh: $59.94
- Delivery from the local dairy: $22.16
- Grocery trip (one stop, with a list): Between $45 and $60
On the most expensive weeks, I spend $142.10. I’m ahead by about $100 to $150 per week — just because using this service forces me to plan around the meals I know I’m getting.
Plus, I save time. I used to spend 60 to 80 minutes in the grocery store. Now I’m in and out in less than half an hour. I can use that extra time to get a little more work done.
The reality, though, is that HelloFresh isn’t the only way to avoid spending big at the supermarket. Conscientious families can create their own meal plans and grocery lists, and keep their costs to $5 per serving or less.
With many meal planning services, the value is in the convenience and the time-saving, not any sort of frugality.
So, does HelloFresh really help you make healthy meals?
For the most part, HelloFresh does allow you to create well-balanced meals at home with fresh ingredients. I like that it’s possible to choose from a menu of meals.
As you can see, some meals cater to different needs. You can find meals without meat — even if you don’t choose the Veggie Plan. It’s also possible to find 20-minute meals, and meals designed for you to enjoy lunchtime leftovers. The family plan takes it to the next level, providing enough for more people, and the option to have more meals delivered each week.
I started with the Veggie Plan, but quickly gave that up. When you’re on that plan, you don’t get the same menu choices — it’s much more limited. My son and I couldn’t find enough that we liked each week, even though we ate what we received.
It’s also possible to skip weeks when you know you won’t need the meals. It’s easy to do so: Just sign into your account and identify which weeks to skip. I like using the calendar view to look ahead. If I know I’ll be traveling, I can cancel whichever meals I need to.
The meals are usually healthy and involve a vegetable, along with a grain or starch, and sometimes protein. Some dishes also include fruit. There have been times when I’ve supplemented a meal with additional fruits or vegetables.
Finally, I don’t always use all the ingredients. For the most part, the ingredients are fresh and the produce is in good shape. However, my son is allergic to garlic, so we usually just toss that out if a clove comes with the recipe. I also don’t mind modifying a recipe if there’s an ingredient I don’t like.
Following a HelloFresh recipe
It’s fairly easy to follow the recipes. My 15-year-old son occasionally makes dinner using a HelloFresh kit if I’m running late or working on something.
For this HelloFresh review, I’ve included some pictures from the process of making the Carolina Barbecue Chicken meal.
The recipe card shows all the steps and lets you know what tools you might need to complete the dish. While HelloFresh includes most ingredients in the package, you will need to provide some items yourself, such as olive oil and butter. Unfortunately, you have to wait until the box arrives to see what you’ll need. Shopping suggestions for items, such as tongs, are also made on the card. I like to read all the recipes for the week at least one day before I make the first meal, just in case I need to run to the store for something.
As you can see, the cream cheese for the macaroni and cheese is included, along with containers of barbecue sauce and white wine vinegar. The kit also included green beans, cheddar cheese, pasta, and chicken breasts. Chives and a chili were in there as well, but I chose not to use them in this recipe. Instead, I used them for tacos I made on a different night.
I had never pounded chicken before, so the instructions on the recipe card were very helpful. In the end, there wasn’t much to it, but having it laid out for me made it seem much more doable.
The recipe card takes you step-by-step through the process, showing you how you can prepare different parts of the meal while other parts are cooking. It’s a great way to learn how to prepare a meal efficiently.
I was pleased with the finished product. In fact, there haven’t been many HelloFresh meals I’m not satisfied with — after switching from the Veggie Plan.
If you are interested in creating healthy meals at home, and you don’t mind paying a small premium for the convenience of someone else doing some of the meal planning and shopping for you, HelloFresh can be a good choice.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.30%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.21%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|