Is HelloFresh worth it? A student’s perspective

Lindseys latest HelloFresh conception: beef tenderloin and shallot pan sauce with garlic creamed kale and mashed potatoes.

Lindsey Burns

Lindsey’s latest HelloFresh conception: beef tenderloin and shallot pan sauce with garlic creamed kale and mashed potatoes.

Lindsey Burns, Guest Writer

Hellofresh has been taunting me via targeted advertising for too long. For years now, TikTok, Youtube and Instagram have been swarming my feeds with influencer endorsements, cooking videos, and promo codes. A couple months ago, I decided that I’ve had enough. I bit the bullet and signed up.

My favorite HelloFresh meal so far was titled “crispy parmesan chicken.” The chicken is coated in sour cream and parmesan with breadcrumbs, paprika, and a mix of whatever italian-ish herbs that I had in my kitchen cabinet. Then, the bird (or at least the pre-packaged and provided portions of it), goes straight in the oven for 20 minutes or so. No fuss. No real brain power needed.

But the real star of the meal are the sides: carrots roasted with red pepperflakes, garlic salt, and topped with lemon juice, and couscous mixed with butter and the zest from the lemon. The whole meal takes about 35 minutes to make, but with allowances for chit-chat and for forgetting how long it takes for your oven to heat up, it takes just under an hour.

The couscous is an excellent alternative to rice, or potatoes, or pasta, not just because it takes less time, but because butter is a requirement. I can’t even describe how much I love couscous. I order it in every box I get. The richness of the butter and the added fresh springtime lemon flavor just make me happy. 

I also had bavette steak with sherry shallot sauce, green beans and potato clusters, a mushu pork bowl, Santa Fe pork tacos, and spaghetti bolognese, just to name a few. 

HelloFresh isn’t anything fancy, or especially unusual, or hard to make. Almost every meal is something I could recreate on my own after a trip to Albertsons. There’s also just the little thrill of getting a bright-green package in the mail. I feel a bit silly saying that it feels more fun to “unbox” my groceries, then to just buy them from the store.

I think that anyone who is capable of making rice or chopping vegetables and putting them in the oven could make any of these recipes. You do need a few extra things from your kitchen from time to time, mostly butter, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. You also need a stove with at least 2 burners, an oven, a baking sheet, and a couple of pots and pans. 

I’m not going to lie though, it’s a bit expensive. I searched TikTok and Youtube for discount codes before I signed up, and those have been my saving grace. My first box was $37, thanks to an ad I saw on TikTok. Split between my friend and I, we paid just over $4.50 per meal.

But, the way the discount codes work is that they decrease with each order and can’t be cancelled by a non-HelloFresh employee. Our next box was $71, or almost $9 per meal. Our third box was supposed to have the same price.

My original plan was to abandon HelloFresh completely after that third delivery. But thankfully, it never arrived. After I called customer service, I was given an even more significant discount. The replacement box was only $20. My next will be around $30. 

More than the food itself, I’ve really enjoyed the excuse to cook with someone, and to sit down and eat together. Because I split the cost of the meal boxes with a friend (I would very much recommend doing this), we suddenly started spending a lot of time together. Time doing something, not just sitting on our phones, or studying, or watching a movie.

I think I had forgotten how much I liked sitting down with my friends for dinner in the dining hall as a freshman, before the pandemic. The food was sub-par, yes, but it was a good time to catch up and be present. 

Although I do really enjoy the meal service, I think that soon enough, I’m going to cancel my subscription. After a couple more boxes, I think I’ll have hoarded enough new recipes to drop the added expense of shipping my groceries from Arizona. I don’t know if Albertsons has couscous, but that’s the first item on my grocery list once my rations cease to arrive. I’m hoping that post-HelloFresh, I’ll be able to continue my communal cooking routine. I don’t want to miss the dining hall again.