By MEGAN RILEY
Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people, my family included, have been searching for convenience. Starting in March, we began to get takeout more, mostly because we all did not have the emotional and physical energy to come up with ideas for dinner and actually make them. We had a system that we stuck to concerning the days we ate homemade food and takeout, and it worked great for awhile.
Then, in July, my father had a massive surgery on his pancreas to remove a tumor. He was unable to eat for six weeks and had to be fed overnight by a PICC line. During this time, we were no longer cooking at home, as we did not want to torture him by cooking food in front of him that he could smell but not eat. We were lucky; we had kind neighbors bringing us meals twice a week for a while during this time, but otherwise, we got takeout. It got expensive and repetitive, and we soon realized that we needed another alternative going forward. We knew by August that both my brother and I would not be attending high school and college in person, so there was going to be the added stress of school, work and my father’s chemo this semester.
It was during this time I suggested to my family that we discuss the idea of a meal kit service so we could plan meals for several nights a week, change up the food we eat, try new things and limit our exposure to the grocery store, as my father is now more immunocompromised than ever. My family agreed with my reasoning, and I immediately began my research.
I researched the five major family-friendly meal kit services for price and food variety, and HelloFresh immediately came out on top. At a price of $7.49 per serving per 3 meals a week with $9.00 shipping, along with around 23 options to choose from, HelloFresh made the most sense for my family. Companies like Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Sunbelt were all more expensive and/or offered far fewer options per week. EveryPlate was the only option that was in the running, as it is $4.99 per serving plus $9.00 shipping, but they had fewer meals to choose from every week. We as a family decided that HelloFresh gave us the most bang for our buck.
So just how good is HelloFresh?
While they are nowhere near as good as home cooked meals made by your mom or grandmother, HelloFresh’s food has been surprisingly good. We were not expecting much for the convenience that we were getting, but since starting HelloFresh, we have only had two or three meals that we would not get again. We have used the service to try new things such as Turkey Flautas and Pork Schnitzel, expanding our horizons. My brother in particular has not always been the most adventurous when it comes to food, but we have seen miraculous changes in his willingness to try things because of the new recipes and different cooking methods.
The convenience of the service is fantastic as well. Like most meal services, we get deliveries weekly unless we decide to skip a week. We get all the necessary ingredients pre-portioned and prepackaged, and the recipe cards are simple and easy to follow for a weeknight dinner. They are also fun to make, especially because it allows me to spend time with my family after not getting to see much of them during the day.
This is not to say that HelloFresh does not have its issues. Occasionally, they will forget an ingredient of a recipe, which they cannot fix. Their customer service, however, is fantastic and they will always refund your messed up meal and ask what else can be done to remedy the situation. Secondly, HelloFresh is expensive. While generally considered to be the best value for your money, HelloFresh is still out of reach for the average college student or college student household. Truthfully, the service is most useful to students like me who are at home with their families, where it is more likely that the service can be afforded.
My dad asked my mom and I a month ago whether we thought that HelloFresh is worth the price. My mom responded that she believed it is, because it is cheaper than getting takeout for several days a week, which we all agreed we would be doing with our current situation. If students are planning on living at home this spring, I would highly recommend HelloFresh to them and their families. It has done a lot for us in such a trying time; maybe it can be helpful to others too.