Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

I don’t know why you say Hello (Fresh), I say Goodbye

8 Comments

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One of the items in the swag bags at the conference I attended a few weeks ago was a coupon for Hello Fresh. You know, one of the meal box delivery services that’s a hybrid between home cooking and a ready meal. I figured I may as well give it a try. Considering on my boyfriend’s nights to cook he often says some variation of “what should I make for supper?” I thought it might give him a bit of a break.

Of course, the coupon was tricky and ended up being not quite as good a deal as it first appeared. It was a $50 off coupon but it turned out to work as $25 off two separate weeks. Which, honestly wasn’t all that great a deal. I chose the least expensive option: the pronto box (meals that take about 30 minutes to prepare – more on that later) for two (more on that as well) which still ended up costing me over $50 out of pocket for one week. If you order the box at full price, it’s $11.67 per serving. Less than you would likely spend eating out, but more than you would normally spend for a home cooked meal (and we rarely eat out).

After one week and three meals, I noted many of the things that others have already voiced. Things like: excessive packaging, nutrition, and longer than advertised cooking times. However, I’d like to expand on a couple of them.

The first meal we made was Herby Steak Skewers with Crispy Potato Smash and Feta. This recipe allegedly should have taken 30 minutes to prepare. Perhaps if it had come with the water boiling, skewers soaked, and if I had the recipe memorized it would have. Instead, it took the two of us 50 minutes to prepare. Considering that I’m a pretty confident cook, I can’t help but wonder how long it would take someone who subscribed to this service because they aren’t confident in the kitchen.

The next two meals were a little faster. Partially because I didn’t follow the directions in sequence. Rather, I did them in the way that I knew would be fastest. The Leek and Pea Risotto with Roasted Fennel and Ricotta took me approximately the allotted 35 minutes while the Pan-Seared Chicken Elicoidali (pasta) with Asparagus and Parmesan took about 30 minutes, as promised.

My other major issue as a dietitian, was the nutrition. The portion sizes were all out of wack. We got about four servings out of each meal, and we have appetites. On one hand, this was great, it made the boxes a bit better of a deal and I liked having lunch taken care of the following day. On the other hand, I worry that people believe that these meals are portioned appropriately and thus, may end up eating more food than they need. The other nutrition concern was the vegetable deficiency. The meal with the skewers did not have enough veg. A tiny orange pepper and some bits of red onion are not enough vegetables for a meal. I ended up augmenting the meal with some asparagus from the fridge. The chicken pasta only had a bit of onion and a small quantity of asparagus. Even the vegetarian risotto was a little light on veg (although definitely the best of the three) with a few green peas, pre-sliced leek, and fennel.

Considering that nutrition is one of the major benefits of home cooking, I feel like Hello Fresh may be doing more harm than good but providing meals that don’t have enough vegetables and have excessively large portions.

I also have the impression that many people order these meal kits because they’re short on time and want quick and easy meals. Sure, they save the hassle of going to the store and planning what to make a few nights a week but I don’t think they really save much in the way of cooking time. If I wasn’t already comfortable in the kitchen Hello Fresh would likely have left me with the impression that cooking “healthy” meals is complicated and time-consuming. I mean, if it takes 50 minutes to make a meal that’s already portioned and partially prepared, how long will it take to make a meal with unprepared ingredients? This is not the case. There are many delicious and nutritious meals that can be on the table in under 30 minutes. Rather than encouraging people to cook more at home, I worry that these meal kits may actually discourage people from cooking.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

8 thoughts on “I don’t know why you say Hello (Fresh), I say Goodbye

  1. I have been using meal kits for about 5 months and one of the reasons that I chose Good Food over Hello Fresh was a video comparison that I watched that found the quantity of veg was much better in Good Food. My experience backs that totally. I agree that the portion sizes are large and, as I am the only one eating, the 3 meal 2 servings each) package, always lasts for 7 days and I always have some leftover carbs (pasta, rice, potato) at the end of the week. For someone like me who struggles with healthy eating for one, I am now eating better than I ever have and I have far less food waste. I have also learned a lot about how easy it is to take a few simple ingredients and make something really tasty in a short period of time. It’s certainly not for everyone but for me it has been brilliant

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I have a side-note to mention: when I finished reading your post, there was an add at the bottom for a “Keto cookbook”. Reading through your previous blog posts on keto diets, this add seems to be contradictory to your beliefs. Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jo. Unfortunately, I have no control over the ads wordpress chooses to insert. I used to pay them to keep my blog ad-free but as it’s something that I do in my spare time and don’t make money from (and already costs me for the hosting, template, and domain) I decided to stop paying for the ad-free service. It’s very frustrating that they post ads like that. Rest assured, I do not endorse the keto cookbook. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe a permanent disclaimer re the ads? I imagine there’s a logarithm which determines your blog is about food so ads relating to food appear on it. Until I got adblock a health forum I follow showed ads from companies and book titles which we are actually not allowed to mention in our posts and replies, they get deleted by the moderator!
    Btw i don’t see the ads on WordPress because of adblock. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh, interesting. Didn’t realise you had no choice for marketing those ads. I assumed right away you must endorse keto diets when I saw the ad. A disclaimer is a good idea.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent review Diana, I predicted that this wouldn’t be my choice either and your information confirmed it. Thanks. Everyone seems to be seeking instant gratification. Ha, since I still have more time than money so I actually enjoy creating meals from scratch too. :)

    Liked by 2 people

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