By Mike Thayer
I recently received and reviewed a meal subscription service, HelloFresh. In a Bachelor on the Cheap series, I sampled four meals and the reviews included an assessment of cost, shipping, tracking, ingredient quality, ease of prep, instructions and most importantly, taste.
I received the following four meals that serves two people per meal and the delivery included all the base ingredients and instructions for the following selections (links to reviews of those meals are below):
- 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. *During the time I was an EveryPlate subscriber, they were running an introductory price of $1.99 per meal for you first couple shipments. After that, the price goes up and then the cost savings vs. a grocery store becomes negligible.
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.
The packaging affects meal prep time. Both services list prep times and a cook time on their recipe cards. Because HelloFresh packages their meals in it's own unique bag, their prep time is accurate. EveryPlate's prep time.... Not so much. I realize they are gauging prep time from the point you have all ingredients out, organized and ready for washing, slicing and dicing... But if you ask me, having to sort through a big box of potatoes, carrots, zucchinis, onions, garlic, sauce and seasoning packets to pick out the right ones for a particular meal - that's prep time too!
Instructions are essentially the same for both services, you can see the sister company similarities here, the only major difference being HelloFresh prints their meal cards using the Landscape format, EveryPlate uses Portrait. Everything was easy to read and follow and both services provide Chef Tips and making preparation easier. And in terms of ingredient quality, it's high quality, both companies, sister companies after all.
Meal vs. Meal. I enjoyed all the meals from both services, but I would have to give the nod to HelloFresh which has a larger menu and greater variety, we're talking 28 menu options vs. 13. Both services offer the ability to upgrade for an additional charge. HelloFresh also offers more add-on choices than EveryPlate.
Both services have a website and app that makes managing your account easy and you can skip meals, pause delivery or cancel your subscription at any time without paying any additional fees.
Both services are convenient, all the meals are tasty and fun to cook, so what this comparison boils down to is price. HelloFresh is more of an upscale meal subscription service offering greater meal variety, more ingredients and smart, prep convenient packaging. EveryPlate seems to be focused on affordability without sacrificing product quality, but simpler meals on their menu with fewer ingredients to work with and prep at meal time.
Overall, I have to go with HelloFresh if I had to pick one service over the other. EveryPlate is cheaper, but HelloFresh is more convenient with the smarter packaging and the meals are little more exciting. And while EveryPlate has a lower cost per meal rate, I'd rather pay a little extra for a nicer meal. With either service, if you don't feel like spending a lot of time at the grocery store, here ya go.