Our food editor, Emily Jenkinson tries out HelloFresh, the recipe box delivery service and gives it a big thumbs up.

What will fill my stomach in the most delicious, filling and yet nutritious way with as little possible effort on my part? This is my main thought at the end of the day, when the children are in bed, order is finally restored and dinner is, er, not waiting - unless I peel myself off the sofa and cook it. And so a culinary rut has emerged. Can HelloFresh dig us out of it?

BACKGROUND

Launched in 2012 by former lawyer Patrick Drake, HelloFresh is one of a number of recipe box delivery services that provides all the ingredients you need – all measured out – to cook a meal. A friend had recommended it, raving how much easier it had made her life and how delicious the recipes were, but it wasn’t until a £40 discount voucher popped into my inbox that I decided to give it a whirl.


SET-UP

A friendly, clear and simple to use website, I can choose between the Classic, Veggie or Family boxes. As meat and fish eaters, the Veggie one is out. Meanwhile, the Family Box recipes look too similar to my existing repertoire. So Classic it is.

I select my ideal prep time (no more than 30 minutes) and order three boxes per week, catering for three people (myself and my husband and any suitable leftovers for our two young children). It comes to £48.99 a week which works out at £5.44 per person per meal – a lot cheaper than our average Ocado shop. I choose my three recipes from a choice of five and set my delivery day for the coming Tuesday. Exciting!

THE TRIAL

The Look - My box arrives. Everything is beautifully packaged in brown paper and cardboard – and with minimal plastic, something I feel very guilty about, but which has become largely unavoidable when buying from supermarkets.


The Ingredients – On the whole, of excellent quality and sourced from independent producers. My only criticism is that the chicken is Class A as opposed to the organic free-range that I would expect.

The Recipes - My recipes this week are: Cajun Blackened Cod with Spring Greens and Sweet Potato Mash, Chicken Pie and Gnocchi Bolognese, which come on recipe cards that can be filed away afterwards for use another time. These are WAY more delicious than I had expected them to be and the recipes are incredibly easy to follow with the ingredients all to hand. The amounts are also generous so there have been leftovers for the kids the next day, which – miracles - they have also wolfed down.

OVERALL VERDICT

A big thumbs up. Not only has this saved on the cost of my usual weekly Ocado shop (which I will now only need to do every 2 weeks at a third of the cost), it has greatly reduced our use of plastic and completely reinvigorated our mid-week menu, not to mention my desire to cook at the end of a busy day. It has also been wonderful to have meals planned (as opposed to thrown together) freeing up some mental space for other life admin. The biggest surprise though as been the taste – really exceptionally good.

Needless to say, I have downloaded the app and chosen my recipes for the next FIVE weeks. What a brilliant and well-executed idea.

September 2017