Hello… meal planning?

Before anyone asks, no, I wasn’t paid for this post, or any of my Instagram/Twitter posts. Or even asked to post about any of this. We received a coupon in a race package and I decided it would be interesting to (micro) blog about it.

The only organization that pays me is the one that I give 40 hours to every week.

Moving on…

We decided to try Hello Fresh (affiliate link. Because… why not?) and see if it helped with our creativity, meal planning and/or time management. To give it a fair shake, we committed to two weeks of meals.

The short of it is… you commit to three or four days’ worth of meals per week, for two or four people. There are a few different plans depending on your preferences (though some of the meals are duplicated between the plans). If you only choose the three-meal plan, you can choose which three of four you’d like that week, and you can skip weeks if you aren’t interested in any of the choices, or simply don’t want the service that week.

We went with the two-person Pronto plan. We ordered our first box for the day after we got back from our wedding, but ended up eating out a lot so we pushed each box back about a week.

I don’t eat red meat and can’t eat dairy, so it was a bit of a challenge finding boxes that worked. You can’t sub the individual ingredients. But as long as you’re willing to buy an ingredient or two to make the dish work for you, it’s doable.

*I had a discussion with a vegan on Instagram and there’s enough hidden egg in the buns, etc. plus mayo, cheese, oyster sauce, etc. that I’m not sure this would be worth trying to modify for a vegan diet.

The meals come in a cool refrigerated box, and each meal is packed into its own individual box. While tidy for shipping, to be honest we found there was a lot of waste. Everything is in its own plastic packaging, including little mayo, soy sauce, etc. packets. Which felt especially wasteful when we have a bottle of mayo in the fridge.

Food prep was about 30-60 minutes per dish – about the same we’d spend when we usually meal prep. We also used about the same amount of cookware in order to make the meals. Step by step instructions were useful, especially with the pictures.

Overall, the meals were generally tasty. I usually have more veggies with my meals, and fewer carbs, just because it’s my preference. I guess their marketing doesn’t proclaim it to be “healthy,” which is good because some of their meals come out to 1000+ calories. I am an on-and-off Weight Watchers kind of gal, and basically that meal would have taken out almost all of my “points” for the day, so that was off-putting. And it was the least tasty meal we tried. I’m also not sure if they add the copious “drizzles” of oil in to their calorie count. If you’re not concerned about the calories, macros, points, etc., then this isn’t a problem for you! I’d leave off the mayo sometimes or use cooking spray instead of oil.

Overall, here’s my take:

Pros

  • Minimal time required – no grocery shopping, no meal planning
  • Comes straight to your door
  • No wasted food – you get exact amounts of what you need
  • Gets you out of a creative rut in terms of meal planning

Cons

  • Lots of waste from individual packaging
  • Costs more than buying it yourself
  • Doesn’t save cooking time
  • Can be difficult for restrictive diets
  • Can be difficult to fit in to your lifestyle (macros, calories, etc.)

The bottom line: We decided to stop after our two-week trial. Meal planning only takes us about 15 minutes on Saturday morning and it’s a routine we have already established. We make tastier meals for fewer calories our of our own recipe box. And since we do meal planning, we only buy what we need so rarely does food go bad in our fridge. And our waste exploded while doing this trial due to the number of plastic bags, cardboard boxes, etc. Plus buying regular containers (bottle of mayo, package of 8 chicken breasts) cuts down on costs.

But if you are in a creativity rut, not following a specific diet/lifestyle plan and are struggling with meal planning or have a really busy week coming up, it’s worth a try!

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