This week I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about melted brie. Specifically sliced on flatbread with red pepper jelly, caramelized onion, toasted walnuts and peppery arugula. No, I didn’t go to a new restaurant, this was a casual Monday dinner. Which is to say, HelloFresh took over meal planning and prepping, flipping everything I knew about the charcuterie board staple and presenting it in a convenient, delicious, 30-minute meal.
Planning and making dinner is not something I’m great at. I’m self-employed and can’t hardstop at 5 p.m. to focus on things like, oh, not eating cereal again. Which is why HelloFresh feels like a personal assistant here to help with meal planning, shopping, prep and delivery of healthy, high-quality options.
To start, I headed to hellofresh.ca and picked my plan. I’m a long-haul vegetarian and was excited to see a lot of veg options. They had meat-and-veggie, plus family-friendly picks, 20-minute meals and special seasonal selects, too. Next, I customized my portion sizes. Two servings, four recipes, please. The price per serving was laid out along with the 22 seasonal rotating meals you can curate weekly.
Commitment can be scary, but HelloFresh offers great subscription flexibility. I really appreciated that I had control over when my deliveries were scheduled and that I could skip a week. Adding extra meals and making menu adjustments was easy, too. I saw they offered garlic bread as a side so you know I needed that.
To give a proper review, I enlisted the help of my friend Emily. For our selections we went with the Veggie Taco Bowl with Beyond Meat® and Mexican-Style Red Rice, Crispy Chicken Parmigiana with Baby Spinach and Bell Pepper Italian Salad, Cheesy Squash-Stuffed Ravioli Bake with Caramelized Pear Salad and the Sweet and Savoury Brie Flatbread with Red Pepper Jelly and Arugula that, frankly I’m still not over.
Delivery was painless. I got a text saying my meal kit was en route and it was brought directly to my door. The insulated box housed pre-portioned ingredients in bags that coordinated with a recipe (printed on quality cardstock with step-by-step image prompts). The overflow, like the chicken breast and ravioli were sitting on ice packs at the bottom.
Everything needed for each meal was clearly labelled and mostly pre-portioned so there’s no guesswork and hardly any measuring. I don’t always consider small touches like a quick broil to toast cheese, but HelloFresh reminded me that these hacks deserve my attention.
The recipes offered a sliding scale of difficulty and effort. Nothing is hard, but, for example, the baked ravioli involved roasting, boiling and sauteing. This would be something I would have loved to cook with my mom when I was a kid. I also learned that HelloFresh’s culinary team creates their recipes based on customer feedback, reading every single comment to finetune the products they trot out. It shows. Everything Emily and I made was well executed.
That’s another thing, the side salads in my order were really fresh with quick homemade dressings (some pantry staples are needed, like olive oil and sugar). Caramelized fruit and mixed nuts elevated them beyond my usual clamshell of spring mix. Emily agreed that her meals were easy, tasted good and were a saviour on busy nights. We both were chuffed that the end product really looked like the photo.
But what about all the packaging? I too was leery of the extra waste, but HelloFresh uses packaging that is almost entirely made from recyclable material and their carbon footprint is 33 percent lower than the average grocery store meal.
Accepting help can sometimes be tough, but if the liferaft comes in the form of a brown and green box delivered directly to my door and packed with fresh, healthy ingredients and creative recipes, well, I’m really happy to climb aboard.
If you’re considering trying HelloFresh, use a code. We love to share a deal. Entering in the promo code CHATELAINE at checkout will get you 6 free meals. Go get it.