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Despite innovations like DoorDash and air fryers, feeding oneself is tedious. Buying groceries and preparing food takes effort, and avoiding food waste requires either a palate impervious to boredom or a family of 10. Hello Fresh’s weekly meal kit delivery service markets itself as a way to make dinnertime more seamless and avoid dumping needless leftovers — and dollars — into the trash. As someone who identifies as an amateur chef with a day job, who revels in the therapeutic nature of cooking and grocery store browsing, I decided to give the service a shot.
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My three Hello Fresh arrived in small paper bags flanked by ice packs and bright, colorful recipe cards. The cards spell out the steps for preparation in a simple fashion not unlike a children’s book, and they’d serve as a massive comfort to anyone who’s ever questioned their intelligence when deciphering a cookbook’s language.
I made three Hello Fresh meals during my test week — BBQ Chicken Pineapple Flatbreads, Chicken Chili Bowls, and Garlic Shrimp With Broccoli and Couscous. They were all delicious and very simple to make without tasting bland or simple like “beginner-friendly” recipes tend to. The most glaring aspect of my experience? Zero food waste. I used every ingredient, and my partner and I finished every bite of each meal. In a household where we cook all of our meals at home, close to five days a week, that’s a huge improvement.
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That said, I have a few gripes. Hello Fresh’s packaging chips its environmental badge. While they’ve clearly tried to make it as minimal as possible — no plastic around produce, no padding inside the bags — it’s still more than you’d use toting your brussel sprouts to and from the store in reusable bags.
Also, for a service that’s named itself after the very concept, the ingredients could have been fresher. The broccoli for the shrimp dish arrived just on the cusp of spoiling. It smelled and tasted off. After a few days of eating just Hello Fresh meals for dinner, both my partner and I felt it, digestively speaking, and while it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what had upset our stomachs, the aforementioned past-due ingredient is not a massive vote of confidence.
As someone who enjoys cooking recipes as much as improvising last-minute meals with what I have left, I won’t be subscribing to Hello Fresh, or any meal kit, anytime soon. However, for anyone who truly loathes the grocery store but enjoys cooking it’s a great option.
Also, anyone with an addiction to takeout but a firm distaste for cooking should test one of these meal kits on for size. The recipes they’ve developed are tasty, and they don’t take that much effort aside from some chopping. Since all of the ingredients are pre-measured, there’s no need for measuring cups or spoons, and their recipe cards are essentially idiot-proof.
Procuring nourishment daily is necessary, albeit laborious on occasion. For those who find even the modernized improvements to the process — grocery delivery and air fryers — arduous and unrewarding, a meal kit attempts to thread a needle. It doesn’t remove the act of cooking but rather attempts to decrease the friction. Much like the human body’s functioning, it’s not without its flaws, but in the pursuit of minimizing one’s wasteful impact, it takes a step forward that’s worth considering.
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