We know it can be hard to break free from the dinnertime rut. After all, once the workday is done, the last thing you want to do is wander through the grocery store aisles trying to figure out what to make for dinner with little time and even less energy.
Enter meal-delivery services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Plated that deliver fresh ingredients and recipe cards right to your doorstep. Since Hello Fresh is the largest meal-kit provider in the United States with operations around the world, we wanted to find out how much time, money, and effort is really involved in Hello Fresh recipes. Read on to learn more.
Before delving into some Hello Fresh recipes, it's important to get a basic overview of how Hello Fresh works. And the first thing you do is pick your meal plan.
There are three basic subscriptions:
Keep in mind these prices may fluctuate, and there’s typically a $6.99 shipping fee, but sometimes there are discounts for first-time subscribers.
As for singles who only need one-serving meals? You're out of luck. Hello Fresh has a two-serving minimum, so the best you can do is choose a two-person meal plan and save the extra food for leftovers. Once you’ve selected your plan, you can choose up to three recipes from the weekly menus to get in your box of pre-measured ingredients and recipe cards that get delivered to your door each week. (FYI, if you choose the Veggie Plan, you don’t have a choice—Hello Fresh selects the recipes for you.)
While the aim of Hello Fresh is to make meal planning and cooking fun and easy, it might not always be so simple. Each recipe has a difficulty rating that ranges from Level 1 (easiest) to Level 3 (most advanced).
The service assures would-be home chefs that all levels are "totally doable," but each level requires that you break out your pots and pans, experiment with different ingredients and cooking techniques, and engage in a good amount of multitasking and monitoring.
Tackling these recipes can certainly make for a fun culinary adventure in your own kitchen, but when you're tired, hungry, and want to eat now, it may be a little more than you bargained for.
Hello Fresh boasts more than 2,500 recipes that span a variety of cuisines and flavors from Asian to Mediterranean to Mexican and beyond. That said, you'll be hard-pressed to find any Hello Fresh recipes that clock in at 20 minutes or less. In fact, most take 30 to 45 minutes and require at least six different steps from start to finish.
Below are a few Hello Fresh recipes—along with their cooking times and difficulty levels—so you can get a better idea of what the process involves. Of course, don't forget to factor in the time it will take for cleanup since you'll be dirtying your own utensils and cookware to get dinner on the table.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Difficulty: Level 1
This popular pork recipe requires six steps as well as several ingredients not included in the delivery. (Granted, you probably already have vegetable oil, butter, salt, and pepper, so it's not a big deal.) In addition to washing, drying, peeling, and cutting the pre-packaged produce, you'll need two baking sheets, and a medium pan to cook and monitor the ingredients separately.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Difficulty: Level 2
This spicy, gluten-free meal comes with 10 ingredients and requires just a few extra seasonings and some olive oil. You'll also need a zester for the lime. (A zester? Yes, a zester.) Aside from boiling the rice in a pot, you'll need to cut and pickle the produce, slice and marinate the steak, and put together a side salad. Just be sure to wash your hands immediately after mincing the jalapeño to avoid any burning sensation.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Difficulty: Level 3
With a Level 3 cooking difficulty, this Italian-inspired risotto dish is a bit more complicated with eight steps and a good deal of multitasking to cook different ingredients at various intervals. (You'll need that zester again, along with a slotted spoon, and a few pots and pans.) While you wait for the rice to cook—approximately 25-30 minutes—you'll need to keep stirring it as you prepare the shrimp, asparagus, and other items separately. Sure, it's doable, but do you want to do it?
While there are some delicious recipes offered by Hello Fresh, the bottom line is that meal delivery services are not always as simple and satisfying as they may seem. No wonder 71% of Tovala customers tried a meal kit service before switching over.
Unlike meal kit delivery services that require you to prep, cook, and rack up dirty dishes, Tovala Meals are assembled, seasoned, and set to cook in a 100% recyclable, oven-safe container as soon as they arrive at your doorstep. In fact, Tovala Meals require just one minute of prep time, and are ready in 20 minutes or less. Don't believe it? Try it for yourself, and you'll soon discover it's true.
What's more, Tovala Meals are crafted by chefs using only real, fresh ingredients that work for a variety of dietary needs, including vegetarian, gluten-free, high-protein, and low-carb. Each meal is $12 so there’s never any guesswork about price, and you can cancel anytime. Oh, and if you're single? No worries. Competitors portion meals for two people or more, but Tovala offers one-person plans so you have the right portion every time.
Along with offering complete healthy meals delivered right to your door, Tovala has another major advantage that meal kit delivery services simply can't provide: the Tovala Oven. This steam-convection countertop will be your new cooking BFF. Not only does it cook your Tovala Meals with the scan of a barcode, it can also cook any food that you've picked up while grocery shopping.
Sure, you'll need to do the prep work if you go the DIY route, but with Tovala, you're never really alone. You can access an ever-expanding library of recipes that will help you figure out what to make for dinner, and you don't have to constantly monitor your food the way you do with other recipes. That's because the Tovala IQ™ smart technology lets you bake, broil, steam, and reheat with the touch of a button or a tap of the Tovala App on your phone. Your Tovala will even let you know when your food is done.
Whether you want delicious and healthy chef-crafted meals ready in 20 minutes or less, or you want to create your own home-cooked meals, there really is no mystery—Tovala is here for you, plain and simple.