By Mike Thayer
This is the first post in a series of HelloFresh meal kit reviews
I'm reviewing the ready meals from HelloFresh in another Bachelor on the Cheap series, receiving my first shipment today, it's a Friday, April 29, 2022.
Receiving four meals that serves two people per meal in my first shipment, the delivery included all the base ingredients and instructions for the following meals:
- Meatloaf A' La Mom
- Italian Chicken Over Lemony Spaghetti
- Taqueria Pork Bowls
- Citrus Pork Tacos
I've done the meal kit thing before, subscribing with EveryPlate last year and that was overall a good experience. EveryPlate, a sister company to HelloFresh, was actually cheaper than the grocery store. I did end up cancelling my subscription after a bit however and for two reasons. The EveryPlate menu options at the time were pretty limited and I started to travel a lot with a new job.
I was impressed with the HelloFresh shipment, the tracking was spot on and the packaging was top notch. The quality of ingredients was also top notch from the meats, fresh produce, dry ingredients, to the packaged sauces. The recipe cards are an easy read, the instructions clear, so even if you're not an experienced cook, no worries! The most impressive of all that though, the meals are individually wrapped.
Contrast that to my experience with EveryPlate, which was boxed up nicely and remained cold through delivery, but shipments were always very simply packed. All meats were lumped together, all other meal ingredients were lumped together into one large box, so you had to sort through everything, the produce, the sauces, the dry ingredients, using the menu cards to pick out what was needed for each meal. HelloFresh eliminates that task (part of their elevated price). While the meats are packed separately, all the other ingredients for each meal is wrapped in it's own, labelled and secure brown bag. No sorting, no digging, no having to read menu cards to select the necessary ingredients, it's all ready to go for you with HelloFresh.
For my first HelloFresh meal I selected "Meatloaf A' La Mom with Potato Wedges, Green Beans & Gravy." My Mom made a pretty mean meatloaf so we'll see how this compares to my fond memory of what Mom served.
Pulling the package of ground beef and "Meatloaf A' La Mom" meal bag from the fridge, I posted the recipe card and went to work. TIP: Don't get your recipe card or cook book messy with a food accident/spill by having it on the counter! Not everybody uses a tablet/device to read recipes. So for printed recipes - what meal kits provide - post the recipe at eye level in your kitchen using a binder clip. Heck, even a chip clip will do. This will also free up counter space for staging and chopping.
The prep time for this meal is 15 minutes with a cook time of 45 minutes. As previously mentioned, the recipe instructions are clear, to include what kitchen tools you'll need, what pantry and/or fridge items you need to have on hand (salt, butter, olive oil, etc.) and even how to adjust the oven racks.
The prep time is generous, as an experienced cook it didn't me take the full 15 minutes to wash the produce and slice/dice/mince the produce as instructed. The meal was quickly put together and put in the oven as directed. Everything was done in the oven, with exception to the gravy, prepared in yes, you guessed it, a medium pan and took about eight minutes to whip together.
In sitting down to eat, this meal was quite tasty. The Yukon Gold potatoes had a nice roast on them and were delicious simply dressed with salt, pepper and olive oil. The green beans were dressed the same way and I love fresh green beans that are done this way. The green beans soften up in the roasting process, yet still maintain that slight crunch and punch of green been flavor in the bite. Kissed with a bit of Parmesan cheese, they were wonderful.
"But Mike," you ask... "How was the meatloaf, was it as good as your Mom's?" The meatloaf was good and worthy of a repeat eat, but it wasn't as good as Mom's. Sorry, not revealing any recipe secrets... But the HelloFresh recipe did hit all the notes of a classic meatloaf, what puts this over the top is the combination of the ketchup glaze and beef gravy. You get the sweetness of that slow roasted ketchup, coupled with the savory, buttery notes of the gravy that make for a satisfying bite to compliment the juicy meatloaf.
Overall this first meal from HelloFresh was a good and flavorful experience. In a HelloFresh vs. EveryPlate comparison, they both have their advantages. Keeping in mind they are sister companies, HelloFresh has better packaging, I like the individually wrapped meals, but that convenience does come with a higher price. That's the advantage to EveryPlate, which has a lower cost per meal because they don't take the time to separate the ingredients for each meal. You get to do that.
I'll be sampling the remainder of the HelloFresh meals before I rate this service and tell you which one I prefer, breaking things down such as meal prep, variety, recipe instructions, the quality of the ingredients and most importantly the flavors at meal time. Stay tuned.
$pend Wisely My Friends...
Side Note: A friend of mine did alert me to the potential for a higher sodium content in some of these meal kits. When meal kits first came out, foods included in those kits had a higher sodium content to help preserve various ingredients as they sat in the warehouse waiting to be ordered and shipped, to extend shelf life and yes, to improve flavor. The portion sized meat packages, the seasonings, the packaged sauces, etc., had a higher sodium content than what you typically found for that same item in a traditional grocery store. A study was conducted in 2019 by the University of Sydney that evaluated the popular meal subscription services and how healthy there were. HelloFresh was put in the high in sodium category by this study. HelloFresh has since improved it's processing, packaging and along with the ever-increasing popularity of meal kits lessening the need for so much warehousing, HelloFresh is now listed as one of the top lower in sodium meal kits available. In reviewing the nutrition labels of what I got shipped, nothing is alarming, nothing would take me above the recommended daily allowance for sodium intake when eating balanced meals throughout the day. Just keep in mind, if you need to watch your sodium intake, like anything else, read the labels before purchasing.
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