A couple of weeks ago Shel Zolkewich, organizer of the Manitoba Food Bloggers group on Facebook, posted that she had a couple of codes for people who were willing to try out Hello Fresh, the meal planning service. Immediately on seeing this I messaged her saying I’d like to give one a try. When it comes to such an offer quick responses are important. Generally speaking whoever hesitates is lost. So, thank you Shel.
Hello Fresh started in 2011 in Germany. They have since grown to have a presence in several countries around the world. The idea of the service is to ship high quality, easy to prepare ingredients to people so that they can make tasty and healthy meals at home. The package I received the code for is the family package. This offers three meals with servings for four. You are given five different meals each week from which you can choose the three you want.
I didn’t make any specific choices. I simply settled for the first three menu items listed for the week. The cost for a family deal is $129.95 for the three meals. That works out to just under $10.85 per person per meal. You could undoubtedly pick up the same ingredients for less shopping for yourself, but this service takes away the time spent in the grocery store.
I got the code and went to sign and place an order. The whole process was pretty straightforward, or so it seemed. Now, one thing about online ordering is that things often don’t turn out the way you expect them to. I placed my order on the Thursday, and it was scheduled for the next Tuesday. The biggest drawback to the service is in the delivery area, in that you are expected to be available from 8 am to 8 pm, or you need to make plans for someone else to be available to receive the order.
Given that 8 – 8 framework, I decided to have the order delivered to St. Philip’s. As my Tuesday turned out, I ended having to be away from the church a lot longer than I expected, and when I returned in the late afternoon there was no order. My first thought was that the order had been left outside the front door and someone had seen it and walked off with it.
I immediately sent an email off to Hello Fresh explaining what had happened, and cancelling my account. There is a limited time frame after each delivery to either skip the upcoming week or to cancel your account. The initial response I got was simply, “sorry you are cancelling your account, here’s the instructions to reactivate it.” I think now the reason I got that response was I sent a message to a department that only deals with account cancellations.
Really, all I was looking for was an acknowledgment that it sucked to have your order go missing. When I got a hold of someone and explained that, not only did they acknowledge, but they said on this occasion they would replace the order. As I dug further, it appears that although I entered the church address, the entry form picked up an old home address, and that’s where the parcel ended up being delivered.
The good test of any organization that you deal with is not, are there no problems. Everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes things just go wrong and it’s nobody’s fault. What matters is how the company responds, and Hello Fresh was more than fair in their dealings with me.
Hello Fresh Arrives
I placed another order, again to arrive on a Tuesday. Again, I didn’t chose any particular menu options, instead taking the first three available for the week. This turned out to be: Quick Irish Stew, Pan-Seared Pork Chops, and Glazed Chicken Teriyaki.
As I mention in the above video the first thing that I noticed was that the shipment was well packed. It was protected against accidental knife cuts when you open it. Each of the three dishes came in it’s own separate bag. Finally, the meats were all packed separately in the bottom of the box. They were also sitting on an ice pack meaning that they were kept cool and fresh though the whole delivery process.
When I first took out the ingredients, it looked that they would make four rather small portions. One thing I did like was that many of the ingredients were packed in small packages. While this may seem like a bit of a waste. It means that you don’t have to use all of a specific ingredient when you make a recipe.
the picture above shows one of the recipe cards. Unfortunately I didn’t get in the left hand column. The left hand column is really good, because it tells you what equipment you will need, and also any potential allergens among the ingredients. I don’t know if you can order and have some ingredients not included, but you get ample warning before you start to cook.
First Hello Fresh Meal
When I opened the box, the Quick Irish Stew caught my eye. However, I was using the kitchenette at the church to prepare my meal and I realized I didn’t have some of the equipment and extra ingredients handy(Hello Fresh assumes that you have oil, salt, and pepper handy). So after checking the other two recipes I settled on the Glazed Teriyaki Chicken.
One of the first things you notice when you look at the recipe cards is that they contain step by step instructions on how to prepare the meal. These instructions are front and center on the cards. More importantly though, on the left hand side of each card, there is a list of all the w equipment you need to prepare the recipe. This is helpful, as it really helps you get organized before you start cooking.
The Glazed Chicken Teriyaki is a very simple recipe. It only require a saucepan for cooking the rice, and a large non-stick pan for cooking the chicken, and other ingredients. Now, I found myself without a saucepan with lid, but I found a bowl in the cupboard that did a real good job of keeping the moisture in as I cooked the rice.
Here are the Ingredients:
680 g Chicken Tenders
two packages of Basmati rice
one can of Coconut milk
1lb of Baby Bok Choi (this equaled five little plants)
3 cloves Garlic
1 piece of Ginger
3 small packs of Honey
1 pack of Soy Sauce
1 pack of Corn Starch
The final five ingredients are for the sauce. I used a grater on the garlic and the ginger and ended up with a good sauce with bits of both ginger and garlic in it. I mentioned in the video that I only used two of the honey packets land I was pleased with the fact that the sauce was sweet but not too sweet. On the other hand the garlic and ginger were quite strong. I really like hat, but you might want to only use half the garlic, and cut the ginger in half. Being they are both fresh, this is easier to do that trying to add a little bit of the powdered variety.
The instructions for making the recipe are very clear, however there was one that was missing. Every bag of Basmati Rice that I’ve ever used says to rinse the Basmati before cooking it. I did this, and ended up with nice fluffy rice. The coconut milk helps to keep the rice nice and moist as well. It also adds a little enhancement to the flavour,
I followed the instructions to cook the chicken in two loads. I think this ended up giving me evenly cooked and moist chicken. I wasn’t sure about how much the meal would deliver in terms of portion size, but the portions are relatively decent. I was really pleased with the flavour of the dish, and I liked the fact that sauce was thick but there wasn’t so much of if that it made the rice mushy. I give my first Hello Fresh Meal a big thumbs up. I’ll cook the other two over the next few days and then write them up as well.
When I do the follow up post, I’ll also have a bit more to day about cost and value. So far, though, I’m very please.