I have always been one to enjoy finding recipes on Pinterest or from my favorite food bloggers, picking out the ingredients at the grocery store, and spending time in the kitchen preparing the meals. But there are definitely those weekends that I can’t even think, let alone meal plan and/or find the time to make it to the store. For these weeks I have taken advantage of referrals from friends and ordered meal services to save the weekly menu. I can’t believe that meal services have only been around for a few years and within the last few months I feel like there are a ton of new services and/or plans available all over the world. Each service has their own unique benefits, so before considering ordering I would spend some time researching which might be right for you. I have only tried Blue Apron and Hello Fresh and thought I would share my experience with you.
All you need is an email address to sign up for either meal service. When first signing up for each service you choose a meal plan and preferences. The meal plans are either for two or four people. Hello Fresh did have more options, you could order the two or four person plan with four meals a week as opposed to three if you wanted. The costs are very similar around $9 a meal, but it does vary depending on the meal plan. Then you choose what type of meats you enjoy or if you prefer all vegetarian meals. Hello Fresh also has ‘Quick’ and ‘Fit’ preference options. Then you select the delivery date and write any specific instructions for the carrier.
Once you have saved all of your settings they will generate meals for you, but you can customize and choose from a few options they are serving that week. Choosing the meals is always the hardest part for me because they usually all sound delicious. From Blue Apron I had the Beef and Shishito Open-Faced Sandwiches, Five-Spiced Chicken, and Thai Red Curry & Rice delivered. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t make the exact combo I wanted to because it said some of the meals weren’t available together…. not sure why that is. From Hello Fresh I had the Chicken Pineapple Quesadillas, Pork and Apple Burgers, and Italian Sausage with Mushrooms delivered and I had no problem selecting these three specific meals.
Both packages came on the delivery date and all the items were cold when I opened the box to put everything in the fridge as they use giant ice packs. I really liked how Hello Fresh had all the ingredients for each meal in a separate box, the meats were separate from all the produce. The Blue Apron Box just comes with all the ingredients for every meal inside. Which means after I put everything in the fridge, when going to make a meal I had to search for all the ingredients individually. Which is not that difficult, but I enjoyed the convenience of the Hello Fresh packaging. All items were also individual labeled with some dietary guidelines such as ‘contains wheat’ or ‘contains dairy’ which is helpful if you have restrictions.
Both recipe cards were very easy to follow. I like that they bold all the ingredients so you can easily scan the recipe and see what ingredients each step requires. I had all my ingredients chopped and prepped within about 10 minutes for each meal and overall they each took around 30 minutes to prepare entirely. I think both meal services were pretty equal in the cooking aspect as they were simple recipes, with few ingredients, and minimal clean up.
Dinner is Served
I was surprised by the portions of both meal services. I was expecting to barely have my plate covered with food, but with every meal it was full and a few nights we even had some leftovers. I failed in the photo department as we eat dinner pretty late and I didn’t want to take my photos under fluorescent lighting. The finished meals didn’t look quite as fabulous as the recipe cards, but pretty close 😉 I throughly enjoyed every meal except the Thai Red Curry and Rice since I’m being honest. It was a vegetarian dish so it used eggplant instead of meat, and I’m really just not an eggplant fan. My favorite dish from Blue Apron was the Five Spice Chicken and my husbands was the Beef Sandwiches. And from Hello Fresh we both chose the Apple Pork Burgers with rosemary potatoes, it was just a perfect Fall like meal. I used all of our meals during the work week. But I think they would all make great Date Night-In dinners. Especially since Blue Apron also has wine pairings for each meal for an additional charge.
If I had to decide between Blue Apron and Hello Fresh it’s a tough decision because I really enjoyed most of the meals, but I think I would choose Hello Fresh as my favorite. Mostly because of the easier meal customization and that their ingredients came in boxes separated by meal.
While I enjoyed the variety of food and learned some new recipes. I ended both of my services after my free week mostly because of the price and I wish they had gluten-free, dairy free or paleo options. Not that I eat strictly any of those diets, but almost each meal came with an item that a strict gluten or dairy free person couldn’t use. But I would consider reactivating my account use either meal service again, especially during those busy weekends with little time to plan for the week. Which for some of you might be EVERY week.
I am a Hello Fresh affiliate so if you are interested in ordering use this CODE: FALL50HF to receive a $50 discount off your first two boxes.
There are so many other meal services out there, I would also love to try Sunbasket or Terra’s Kitchen next especially because of their organic quality ingredients.
Linking up with Heather for Friday Favorites. Be sure to read other Friday Favorites posts here.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”19I98″ via=”no” ]Meal services are convenient for any busy household before ordering read Blue Apron vs. Hello Fresh #healthy #homemade #dinner[/ctt]
Have you used a meal service before?
What’s a go-to meal you plan when you don’t feel like thinking?
What Blue Apron or Hello Fresh meal would you want to try?