Hannah-LYZE This: Should College Kids Say “Hello, YES” to HelloFresh?

Although I am currently a college kid, I also grew up consuming (ha) media about college stereotypes. Because of this, I assumed there were three main food groups: ramen, energy drinks and ice cream.

 

When I got to college, at least for a while, that stereotype held a certain amount of water, and thus, the idea of the “Freshman 15” was born. Now, as a third-year college student, I’m in university housing with a shared kitchen among three other girls.

 

As part of my ongoing series to “Hannah-lyze” aspects of popular life, I decided to put HelloFresh to the test for a month. I thought this would be good for someone like myself because I enjoy different cuisines and could stand to bolster my cooking repertoire past mac n’ cheese, pizza and the elevated tastes of cereal.

 

Below, you’ll read how I ranked the process, the meals themselves and the overall experience!

 

The Process

 

Because I had a coupon, I was able to enter the code and immediately begin the process. I also signed up with Facebook, because although they may be selling our data, it’s just too much of a hassle to sign up with email (cue slight sarcasm).

 

Once I had my account, HelloFresh gave me an option of types of meals. They have four main ones:

 

  • Meat and Veggies
  • Veggies
  • Family-Friendly
  • Calorie Smart

 

Depending on what you choose, they will curate the menus to fit your needs. I chose meat and veggies. After that, you get a choice of how many people you want to be fed by each meal. I chose two people because there isn’t a one-person option, and that way, I could get two meals out of each recipe.

 

Once the type of menu and portion is chosen, you can select how many recipes you want to be in each box with choices ranging from two, three and four. I’d like to point out, all of these selections can be adapted as you go through the process or if you change your mind weekly…

 

As long as you do it five days before your box is shipped! But I’ll get to that in a second.

 

After all your selections are made, you put in shipping and payment. Then, you’re prompted to the menu selection page. 

 

Once you’ve picked all the recipes, you choose a day that you want the box to be delivered. I chose Tuesday, so I have until the Thursday of the week before to alter my menu or cancel a box. I am then charged the day after my final decision day, so Friday. If and when I decide to cancel my subscription, I will then have to do so before the Friday of the week I do not want any more boxes. If I didn’t explain that process, it’s all in their FAQs section, which is very well-articulated, in my opinion, as a new user. 

 

I would say the interface to use HelloFresh is inviting, and the process is broken down very well. Overall, I’d give that aspect an 8/10.

 

Now, we move into the fun part: the food!

 

The Recipes

 

My first box arrived on Oct. 22 with three recipes to serve two people each, meaning that I got six meals out of the box. For this portion, I’ll be listing each recipe in the order that I made them and breaking down each one.

 

Week 1:

 

  • Gouda Pork Burgers with Caramelized Sriracha Onion and Potato Wedges—This was the very first meal that I made from HelloFresh, and it far surpassed my expectations! The cards truly are fool proof with step-by-step instructions that have coordinating pictures. Because I was so excited to eat, I did not take a picture of the actual meal, but I put both sides of the card as an example. I also did end up eating both portions of this because at the time of cooking, it was seven hours from when I’d be back home and did not want to wait that long to chow down, so I was sufficiently stuffed. 

(Side note: I had so many potato wedges left that I was able to make an egg and potato scramble for breakfast the next morning. In essence, this recipe, if I had eaten each serving separately, yielded three meals. I’d say with my current experience, that’s been a pretty consistent trend as a single person using the two-person set-up.)

 

  • Chicken Sausage and Spinach Ravioli with Tomato and Lemon—This recipe was equally scrumptious. The chicken blend was so yummy and I could’ve seen myself incorporating the extra mix into other forms, but I split it up with the ravioli like it said. Very quick and easy.

 

  • Sesame Beef Tacos with Quick-Pickled Veggies and Chili Sour Cream—I also was able to get three meals out of this one because the taco meat blend was so plentiful! I love the pickled veggies in this one, and it inspired me to look for recipes that were similar in future weeks.

 

Week 2:

 

  • Italian Pork Sausage & Pepper Subs with Melted Mozzarella and Spiced Potato Wedges—After an eventful weekend celebrating Halloween, this meal was equal parts tasty and time-efficient for my rapidly-approaching ravenous appetite. Yet again, I enjoyed it both times without taking photos… there goes my career aspirations of being a foodie on Instagram!

 

  • Chicken Bulgogi Bowls with Carrots, Pickled Cucumbers and Sriracha Crema—I love, love, love Asian cuisine like this. The rice component, while it was only ¾ of a cup, was so filling and made a great base for the bowl. The timing on this recipe was perfect because I was able to complete all my other steps while the main component cooked, so it makes you feel super productive in the kitchen. I’d say that another main perk of HelloFresh is the efficiency and intentional nature that every instruction is given.

 

  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Potatoes and Zucchini—To be honest, I thought the veggie blend of roasted onion and zucchini was a bit odd as a side dish. For some reason, I always think I like zucchini more than I actually do, so that reflects more on me than HelloFresh. Everything else was really good. This one was a bit more labor-intensive because you have to sear and then oven roast all the elements of the meal, but it was still as delicious as the others.

 

Week 3:

 

  • Maple-and-Mustard-Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes and a Green Salad—This dish was by far the favorite I made! In my mind, the ideal meal has a protein, starch and a yummy salad, so this fits the bill in every area. The maple/mustard glaze is the perfect combo of salty and sweet. Cranberries and sunflower seeds complete the green salad with the brightness that comes from a squeeze of lemon. Perfectly sized pork chops make it the most well-rounded dish and something I could eat round and round and round for the foreseeable future. YUM. 

 

  • Better Than Takeout Hoisin Chicken—This is probably the first meal where I wasn’t overly impressed. Although I can’t blame HelloFresh for this, I burned the side of jasmine rice. However, the cooking instructions for the green beans (which I usually love) left something to be desired as they came out overly wrinkled and mushy… not a fan! Plus, this is also the first meal where I do not agree that the protein was enough for two people. I ended up eating both and was full, but it felt like I only ate about ⅔ of a chicken breast. The flavor was still good, but the execution of the portions could’ve been improved. 

 

  • Cheese Tortellini with Mushroom Sauce, Parmesan and Chili Flakes—Again, this dish was so yummy and it was made better because I got to cook and enjoy it with Hailey. The garlic and mushrooms were so aromatic, and the tortellini was very filling. 

At the time of writing this, I have just received the box with recipes from Week 3. However, I am doing this experiment, as allotted in my coupon, for four weeks. These are the recipes I picked for Week 4:

 

  • Balsamic Fig Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Lemony Broccoli
  • BBQ Chicken Tacos with Creamy Apple Slaw
  • Kickin Chipotle Steak Bowls with Roasted Veggies and Pickled Onions

 

But I will not have a chance to review those in time! Overall, I’d truly rate the recipes a 10/10.

 

The Price

 

While this might not pertain to everyone who chooses to do HelloFresh, there are almost always coupons for new members.

 

My coupon happened to be $80 off, which equated to them taking $20 off each box. My first box came with free shipping, so the total was $33.94!

 

Box 1 = $33.94

Boxes 2, 3 and 4 = $40.93 x 3 = $122.79

(shipping for these boxes was $6.99

Grand total = $122.79 + $33.94 = $156.73!

 

This made each meal I received during this process an average of $5.66 per serving, so each recipe cost, on average, $11.32, especially because I ate each recipe twice.

 

While $156.73 seems like a lot just by looking at the number, an average trip to the grocery store could cost that much to sustain you for the length (four weeks) that HelloFresh did. And that requires you to physically go there; HelloFresh fills the boxes in an insulated cooler, labels each recipe’s bag and effectively ices all the perishable meat items for you

 

I would rate the price an 8/10 with the coupon, which I can almost guarantee will be applied to first-time users to sway them to stay for a long time… which I could easily see myself doing. 

 

However, outside the coupon, it does get a little pricier because each box gets the $20 added. Each subsequent box after my four discounted ones would be $60.93. Just keep that in mind.

 

Overall Review

 

Subconsciously, I knew I wanted to get better at cooking because this was the first time I’d lived somewhere with a kitchen that’s primarily my own… no common areas for me! HelloFresh definitely increased my confidence in the kitchen, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to every college student.

 

If you don’t have appliances that aren’t shared between a whole other dorm, this might not be the most convenient way to cook and eat. You would also need a whole part of your dorm dedicated to the necessary cooking ware because you wouldn’t want to run the risk of having that stuff stolen. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to always depend on the front desk having tools to check out because aforementioned other residents may want to use them! But don’t let that deter you if you really want to! 

 

The price was fairly reasonable, the convenience factor is through the roof and I thoroughly enjoyed all my meals! 

 

HelloFresh may be the best for students who…

 

  • Want to get better at cooking
  • Dislike going to grocery stores and prefer food delivery
  • Have, or want to develop, a diverse palate

 

HelloFresh may not be the best for students who…

 

  • Live in big dorms (limited kitchen use)
  • Are too busy to use the fresh produce effectively
  • Don’t like cooking (duh)

 

I really enjoyed my four weeks using this service. The ingredients are top-notch, there’s a super diverse range of recipes, and it’s really convenient for college kids who want meals heightened above ramen.

 

Will I stop eating ramen because of this? Probably not. 

 

But do I have an appreciation for the ability to provide taste and cost-effective meals straight to my door as a struggling college student? Heck yes!

 

I posed the question, “Should college kids say ‘Hello YES’ to HelloFresh?” at the beginning of the article. I don’t know if I can definitively answer that for all students, but I hope reading how I Hannah-lyzed this service gets you a little closer to a decision that’s fresh as heck! 

 

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