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I Tried a Meal Subscription Box So You Don’t Have To

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Boston chapter.

I recently had a conversation with some close family members about my life. We talked about things like how I am a full-time student Monday through Friday, work for UMass-Boston as a tutor, being involved in extracurricular activities, and above all else am still required to “adult” as I like to put it. The noun I use as a verb to describe all the things I need to do to make sure I survive on this Earth. One of the tasks of adulting is making meals for myself and my boyfriend who lives under the same roof as me. I complained about how I wished I had more time and didn’t have to always think about what I was going to make.

One member offered a solution of sending me a meal planning box, one from EveryPlate, which is the “affordable” version of HelloFresh. I decided to try it because my family member said it would be free and we would both benefit from me trying it. I have chosen to write about my experience using it to benefit all so that way you don’t have to pay for it to figure out the pros, cons, and most importantly, the experience. I would also like to note that this is my personal opinion and experience, and everyone may have a different experience, but this is solely mine and mine alone. I am not gaining or sponsored by EveryPlate in any way by writing this article. 

Ordering, Choosing the Meals, and Shipping

To redeem the free box, I had to give my family member my email. With my email inserted into their account, I got a link from EveryPlate explaining that my family member was sending me a free box and I would have to make an account through that link to redeem. Making an account was easy with the company, I simply inserted my shipping address, phone number, name, and birthday for the account. It then brought me to three different size options I was elligible for with the free box sent by my family member. I could either choose from

  • Four meals, two serving sizes
  • Three meals, four serving sizes
  • Two meals, six servicing sizes

I ended up choosing the three meals, four serving sizes box, as that would leave enough leftovers for another meal if I desired to have.

After choosing the size of the box I was given the option to note if I had any dietary restrictions or preferences when it came to selecting the meals. Some of the selections were to avoid gluten and meat for example. The whole process was easy and simple. The site had wonderful images of what the food would look like along with the nutritional facts associated with each meal option. However, there were upcharges for certain meals. I chose to stick with the base options since the box would be free. I was forced to sign up for a weekly subscription when opting in to try this box. The first thing I did after putting in my credit card information was go in and opt out of the next three weeks of boxes so that I knew I was not going to be at risk of charging my card the full amount for a subscription I may not want.

The food came within the week of me placing the order and everything kept good in the shipping process. Each product was wrapped in plastic, so it’s not that eco-friendly with the amount of plastic waste. The box also came with printed out recipes with pictures and instructions to make each dish.

Meal 1: Bacon and Caramelized Onion Risotto

Now this may be user error, but when signing up for a meal plan box, I though the idea of making each meal was supposed to be quick and easy. This assumption was far from the truth with this meal. This meal took me about 90 minutes to make. Risotto, I learned, is a lengthy process, and not for the newest of chefs.

This was a time consuming, active-cooking dish where there was no time to stop and smell the roses if you know what I mean. I was constantly standing. Over my meal and stirring the rice while it cooked to make sure the risotto came together as it should. Never mind the multitasking of caramelizing onions and making bacon too.  

The portion sizes were decent. I made only half of the recipe for two portions, which I ended up regretting halfway through when I realized this was going to take over an hour of my life. Bacon wasn’t the best quality in my opinion, and not a lot given either, would personally double the amount of bacon that is called for.

The taste of the meal was very earthy, creamy, and rich, which can be expected with a risotto. The taste of bacon was notably absent along with the caramelized onions unless they were in the bite you had. I would not make this as a weeknight dish, but I would for a weekend when I want to devote the time to making this dish.

Meal 2: Saucy Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This was the worst experience by far making the dish. Having learned my lesson in only wanting to make half of the recipe, I decided to make the whole four portions. I ended up having to dispose of half of the produce and ingredient because they went bad prior to their best by date. The chicken reeked, the cucumbers were squishy and moldy, and the red cabbage had turned brown. I ended up throwing away all the chicken, the bad cucumber, leaving me with one, and one of the packages of red cabbage. I substituted in frozen chicken nuggets for the chicken to continue making this dish.

The recipe was easy to follow but the fact that most of my ingredients were already bad two days into having the box was disheartening. The sauces and flavor of the wraps was great, but I didn’t have enough of the cucumber/cabbage slaw for wraps I wanted to make. This led to some wraps being disproportionate and the flavors being off. I think that this recipe would have been great if it wasn’t for the experience of things already going bad.

Meal 3: Roasted Zucchini and Bell Pepper Penne Pasta

This final meal, I did not make. I had my boyfriend, who ate bagged salads and frozen pizzas before I started cooking every night, cook this meal to see how user friendly the box and recipes were. Sadly, the tomatoes and most of the bell peppers were bad, so there were less ingredients for the amount called for.

He said that overall, it was a good experience and it taught him basic cooking skills. He felt confident enough making the dish but did not like the amount of multitasking involved. This dish took him approximately 30 to 45 minutes to make, which included roasting vegetables, making pasta, and combining the two parts in a cheesy parmesan cheese sauce.

I personally found the dish heavily over seasoned for what was given. I would not use the amount of seasoning called for, maybe I would use half. The entire dish was simply drowning in it. The instructions given for roasting the vegetables left them squishing and had lost most of their flavor. This might be user error or even linked that every oven is different, the instructions left the vegetables squishy. The pasta was of good quality along with the parmesan cheese provided. I would personally add more cheese but that is a completely personal decision and at no fault of the recipe.

We ended up having leftovers of this dish and it reheated very well for a couple days later. There was no weird after tastes with having this as a leftover and no flavors notably missing from when it was originally made.

Breaking down the Pricing

When ordering this box, I was given a code in my inbox for a free box; however, I was still stuck paying the price of $10.99 for shipping and state tax here in Massachusetts, where I’m located. This was a great price to try this option for feeding myself, but it was only valid for one time. If I were to pay full price with no discounts, the total for the box I received was $82.87, including the $10.99 shipping and tax.

The remainder of the $82.87 after the deduction of the $10.99 cost I paid is $71.88. This amount of the deduction covered the cost of the three meals, four portions each that I received. Breaking down the $71.88 cost for the food came to roughly $23.96 per meal, $5.99 per portion. This as the value does not take into consideration that some meals may cost more than the others because the site did not disclose how much each meal choice was unless there was an add on that I would have to cover.

Would I Do It Again?

After trying this for three meals, I have come to the conclusion that I would not order a box again. Not just from this company, but in general.

When ordering this kind of meal subscription box, you’re not paying the money to save when it comes to grocery shopping, but you are paying for not having to meal plan, create a grocery list, and go to the grocery store. You are paying for the possible time you are saving from having to figure out what you’re going to eat throughout the week.

This box would be great for a busy family, someone who doesn’t have time to go grocery shopping, someone who gets overwhelmed with the idea of planning, and even someone who wants to learn how to cook with some of the easier dishes. As someone who enjoys going to the grocery store, I missed being able to pick out my own produce, but I also understand not everyone likes that.

If you are someone who doesn’t like researching food recipes or don’t have the time to grocery shop, I encourage you to try this. Keep in mind, not all the meals provided are going to be easy and under 30 minutes. Some meals will take a while to make like the risotto I received. If you’re going to do this, take the time and read the options available to see if you’ll like the food. Make sure this box plan is in your budget too. Even though I paid $10.99 to try this experience, I would be stuck paying around $82.87 every week for three meals until I canceled the subscription. For a month, which is roughly four weeks, the cost would roughly be $331.48 for three meals, four portions if there were no changes to pricing.

Overall, this was a great trial period, and even though I am choosing not to continue my subscription with meal plan boxes, I hope that my experience will help you make a decision if this is right for you.

Millie Snow

U Mass Boston '25

UMass - Boston junior, studying Criminology and English. As the current Senior Editor, I'm sharpening my skills in writing/editing aiming to pursue law as I'm gearing up for future challenges and striving for top-notch communication and advocacy skills.