Thursday 22 September 2016

HelloFresh - Family Box review #BackToSchool

With the kids well and truly back to school and some kind of daily routine getting back into place, it's easy to find little time for the things we love to do or to enjoy simple everyday things like having a meal together. Ethan's at preschool two so not quite at school yet, but with both of us starting new jobs recently and a few busy weekends, we're really feeling stretched on time and the week seems to fly by leaving me feeling like that we haven't had all that much time to enjoy together, for one reason or another.

That's why, when HelloFresh got in touch, I jumped at the chance to review their Family Recipe Box - because it would give me a much needed push and a good reason to get into the kitchen (which I do really enjoy,when I'm not rushed, tired or uninspired), make some delicious meals and then sit down to enjoy them together - AS A FAMILY!

We've tried the HelloFresh weekly recipe box subscription service in the past, opting for the Classic Box for five meals for two people, at a cost of £49 (you can also choose it for three or four people and for four meals, too, but our option works out the best value). As an existing customer, albeit one that hasn't ordered for a month or two, I was keen to try the Family Box as an alternative option (there is a veggie box to choose, too), and couldn't wait to share how a working week in our life looks meal wise - as the results, in my experience, have always been tasty and we've never been disappointed.

I have quite a lot to share and say about our experience with HelloFresh, so I've initially shared the four meals we had in the Family Box (which, based on this combination, is priced at £64), how they turned out and our rating of them in terms of taste and ease of cooking, then I have gone into more detail about all the things we have enjoyed about the boxes and service...

Pictured above is everything we received in our Family Box, for four people and containing four recipes, including one Jamie Oliver recipe (as he works with HelloFresh). A lot, right? You also have A4 cards with the recipes on - ingredients on one side then the instructions on the back.

Here is everything we enjoyed last week...
Mushroom, broccoli and pancetta gnocchi:
Ease to make: 4/5 - not complicated to follow, just had a few steps.
Taste: 5/5 - this was de-lish! We both had it for lunch the next days and the flavour of the sauce was moreish.

BBQ sausage skewers with cheesy wedges
Ease to make: 3/5 - this was a simple meal with three elements to it and although it said 45mins to prepare, this was mainly due to chopping everything up.
Taste: 5/5 - I didn't put the sausage mix together on the skewers in the end, just for speed, and the quality of the sausages was great. The dressing for the salad was really lovely too - definitely making this one again.

Chorizo crusted tilapia with miniature roasties
Ease to make: 5/5 - just six ingredients, so this dish was really quick to prepare
Taste: 3/5 - the chorizo is a strong flavour so everything else is kept simple. We felt that a sauce of some kind would help improve this, just as everything is a tad dry but the flavour was great and it was much more filling per portion than I expected.

Jamie's South Asian chicked curry with fluffy rice
Ease to make: 3/5 - this had the most ingredients and steps to it, but it was still easy to follow and didn't take too long to put together.
Taste: 5/5 - I've never made a curry before and really enjoyed making this and the taste was fantastic - even if I say so myself! I ate far too much!

So, we really enjoyed our Family Box and are still huge fans of HelloFresh. Personally, as the portions are generous and it's during the week I need most support with inspiration and easy to cook meals (and the motivation to do more than just put something on a baking tray), we will order the Classic Box for two people for five days (our original order), but there's a box and plan to suit you.

Here are my top 10 reasons as to why HelloFresh is a great service and one worth trying:

1. Quality - hands down, the best thing about HelloFresh is the freshness of the food (clue is in the name!) and the quality. Every box we've had has been full of quality ingredients, fresh vegetables and the meat is extremely good; no fatty bits, great to cook with and tasty too.

2. Variety - with HelloFresh, you get to try a broad variety of cuisines and foods - more so than if you just did your own shop each week, I'm sure - and there's nothing too unusual, just different takes on familiar dishes or some more inventive meal ideas. Something to suit everyone! Aside from the dishes with coriander in, which we simply leave out, we have never not eaten a meal included in one of the boxes.

3. Convenience - oh, the relief of coming home on a Monday after work and seeing a box full of fresh food and complete instructions on how to make dinner is just fantastic. I just don't have to face a big food shop or even consider what we fancy to eat - it's all there, already thought of for me. And the box is conveniently packed too, with ice bags inside for the meat and fish so everything stays cool even if you ask for your box to be placed in a safe place if you are out when it's delivered, so you can be up and cooking in no time.

4. Simplicity - some meals may only have six ingredients, others may have double that, but all are easy to follow and the instructions are really clear. No need for fancy cooking equipment and no confusing steps - the recipe cards are clearly laid out and easy to refer to while you are cooking.Just select your ingredients and follow along.

5. Time - most meals take 30-35 minutes to make from start to finish, although I'd give or take a few minutes depending on how quick you are and whether you make your own tweaks here and there. My tip is to read it all through before you start in case you spot something you'd prefer to miss or do in a different order. Also, the BRILLIANT thing about the box isn't just that the shoppin and meal planning has been taken care of, it's the fact that everything is already portioned out for you. The spices and oils and sauces are exactly what you need pretty much and the veg just needs preparing as per the instructions - so you really save on time when preparing each meal.

6. Independent - the produce in the boxes is source locally from farms and independent shops by-and-large, so it's great to see this kind of support and again, it opens you up to new foods and suppliers.

7. Delicious - each meal we have had (probably around 25-30 by now) has been full of flavour and contains lots of good things - I'd say probably two of your five a day on average.

8. Portions - again, every meal we have had has been generous, even with a husband with a bigger appetite. With the Classic Box for two that we normally have, we would often have enough for a portion of lunch the next day and with the Family Box for four, even if Ethan had some, we both had leftovers for lunch so have found it to be generous - even if it doesn't look it, trust HelloFresh's quantities as it's always enough for us.

9. No wastage - because everything is measured or portioned for you in the boxes, and because the portions are just right or give you enough for a decent leftover meal, there is minimal wastage. EVERYTHING is used up. And, as an aside, there's not a lot of washing up to do either. Bonus!

10. Flexibility - this is true for both the way you cook your meals - if you don't like an ingredient, just leave it out - and for the service, which you can pause at any time. If you don't want a box every week, you can pause up to six weeks in advance I believe and as long as you have done so before the cut-off point for the following box, you won't be charged and sent one. There's no contract or minimum number of orders and you can pause and unpause whenever you want, determining how you want Hello Fresh to work for you. Just remember to check this regularly, as new weeks get added you are automatically 'unpaused' so you need to logon to change this if you don't need or want a box in a given week.

At the start of each month, as pay day rolls round, a HelloFresh delivery is a godsend for me as I know I have some great food to look forward to and it's pretty much taken care of for me. Coming home from work and nursery tired and hungry can lead me to make quick, poor cooking choices but Hello Fresh gives me inspiration and actually makes cooking really enjoyable - and the happy faces around the dinner table are a testament to how good the food actually is.

Trust me - any one can cook with this and there will be meals to suit everyone, or for you to try for the first time and turn into loved recipes to come back to. Which makes me think of more benefits (I can't believe I limited myself to just 10!)...

11. Collection - the recipe cards included are yours to keep, so you can go shopping and recreate your favourite meals again for yourselves. You also get a binder to put them all in (around your third box order, if I remember correctly).

12. Skills - HelloFresh commends you on your cooking skills, sending you a certificate when you've 'graduated' to another level after a few boxes. There's 'top tips' on every recipe card, to help you try new preparation techniques or save time, which comes in really handy for novice cooks. My Sister-in-Law is the first to admit she's no cook but she's just tried the Classic Box and was so proud to have made two meals herself and they both enjoyed all five dinners a great deal, agreeing that the boxes are easy to follow and the ingredients are of high quality.

13. Discounts and referrals - there's always an offer on when you sign up to trial your first box (and remember, no commitment!) and you get discount or free codes for friends to try HelloFresh too.This is how we first came to try out the service and three of our friends have tried it now too.

14. Value - taking into account everything I have said, I really feel that HelloFresh is great value for money. The higher the number of meals in your chosen box, the higher the value / lower the cost per meal. Whilst I could go to the supermarket and buy the same ingredients for less per head, I would also have a surplus of some ingredients, based on the way things are sold versus how everything is prepared for you, and the quality of the food is such a good standard, you may not actually be buying like for like. For us, one box when we get paid sets us up well for the new month and anything more than that is a real treat, but this could be a service which really works for some busy families with mouths to feed and inspire and who really want the convenience of it all.

15. Service - just to end on, the customer service team is super friendly and helpful and if you ever need them, they are quick, supportive and easy to deal with - the service matches the quality of what they produce.

I honestly can't recommend HelloFresh more highly. I may have received one Family Box for free but I would have used them again and would have shared them again on here regardless because we have found it to be a great service and as a family, we love the freshness, the variety and how they've made our lives easier - letting us enjoy good food and each other's company more, no matter how busy we are with school or work.

Find out more about the different recipe box types here and how it all works here.

* Thank you to HelloFresh for my complimentary recipe box, but trust me - all opinions and content in this post are my own, genuine experiences


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