THE BLOG

Recipe-Specific Meal-Delivery Websites Part III

08/06/2013 01:59 pm ET | Updated Oct 06, 2013

Cooking at home has never been more appealing -- everyone knows cooking at home is healthier, less expensive, and infinitely more satisfying than eating out or takeout. But have you tried selecting a recipe online lately? Or felt guilty throwing away a rotting bunch of parsley after using only a couple sprigs?

Within the past year, several companies have decided to tackle the growing segment of the population that wants to cook at home, but needs a little help selecting a recipe and delivering pre-portion-sized groceries. I sampled four and scored them on price, taste, ease, eco-friendliness, nutrition, and vegan-/gluten-free/vegetarian-friendliness.

Read on for the second-best company I tried.

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HELLO FRESH: A

Cost per plate:
A Classic box subscription starts at $69 per week for two people (or $11.50 per meal) and the Vegetarian subscription starts at $59 per week for two people (or $9.83 per meal). (Price per meal decreases as you order for additional people.)

Membership:
Required, but you can cancel at any time.

Delivery zone:
From Maine to Miami, and west over to Chicago. (AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, MA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA, DC, WV, WI)

Shelf Life:
Your groceries will most likely stay fresh for the whole week, but it is suggested to prepare the more perishable proteins first, ie. fish/seafood, followed by ground meat.

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Selection process:
Select the Classic or Vegetarian box. If you select Classic, you have the opportunity to choose the recipes you want to try.

Recipe:
Recipes change weekly and those with a Classic Box can choose three out of five recipes. Chefs at HelloFresh, who have worked at Momofuku, Eleven Madison Park, and Acquavit (among other crticially-acclaimed and award-winning NYC restaurants) brainstorm and cook up new recipes regularly.

Ingredients:
All ingredients are sourced from New York family-run suppliers. More details here: http://www.hellofresh.com/our_suppliers/.

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What You'll Need:
Pantry staples like salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil. Tools like a knife, pot, pan, strainer, bowl, baking sheet, aluminum foil, and spoon.

Process:
Meals are supposed to be able to be prepared within 30 minutes. Frying the tofu was nearly impossible; I gave up trying to sear the tofu until golden brown and added all the tofu at once.

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Meals Tried:
• Virtuous Vegetarian Curry with Toasted Cashews and Brown Rice: B-. Using curry paste and coconut milk reminded me that I should remember to cook with flavors beyond what I use on a daily basis.
• Udon with Tofu and Asian Greens: A-. My favorite of the meals.
• Pan Roasted Cod with Mango Chutney: A-. I found the onion flavor in the chutney overpowered the cod, and I also skipped using the sugar.

Health:
Nutrition per serving ranged from 370 to 445 calories; 22 to 60 grams of carbohydrates; 12 to 27 grams of fat; and 14 to 35 grams of protein. Vegetarian entrees are available and they are working on vegan, kosher, and gluten-free plans.

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Sustainability:
Large box with icepacks and recyclable bubbles. In warmer parts of the country, fully recyclable liners made from recycled mattresses are used. A full recycling scheme where customers can return their boxes and packaging will launch in the new future.

Founders:
According to Hamish Shephard, the founder of HelloFresh and a British-born former financial analyst, "The aim of HelloFresh is to match the benefits of everyday home-coking with the speed of everyday life. Hello Fresh customers pick their favorite recipes each week and we send them the exact pre-measured fresh ingredients and instructions to cook their meal in under 30 minutes."

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Overall:
I loved these recipes, but was a little tired of eating red bell pepper by the last of the recipes.

Would I recommend this to a beginning home cook short on time? Definitely. The recipes tied for first and the cost was still quite reasonable.

Saving the best for last, stay tuned to see which company I endorse hands-down! In the meantime, read my first review here and second review here