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 7 lenders of 2019!
|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 3.45% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.81% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.49% 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 November 6, 2019, 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 11/06/2019. 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 our student 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 SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.
4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers.
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 1.9299999999999997% effective October 10, 2019.
6 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.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 11/07/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.79% to 8.65% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Disclosures
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.
2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.
4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 09/23/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
|1.81% – 6.49%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.81% – 5.98%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 7.60%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.02% – 7.09%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.79% – 8.65%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.74% – 6.24%7||Undergrad & Graduate|