I Tried it! Hello Fresh Meal Delivery Product Review

 

Welcome to the 2nd edition of my meal delivery product review series. I started this series to test the plethora of meal delivery services available and to see if they were cost effective, easy to prepare and healthy. My hope is to find a way to help people eat healthy and do away with the age old excuse…I don’t have time to eat healthy. The first article in the series focused on Home Chef, in which my family prepared 3 meals sent to us by Home Chef. You can find the article here.

In this edition, we tried the service..

Hello Fresh

 

Here’s what we found!

Is the Website easy to use?

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Yes, the site is very easy to use. You select a plan, enter address and payment information and are then directed to the menu page. There are choices selected for you, but the menu can be changed.

Unlike Home Chef, this site does not allow for allergens, which is a problem for me, since I’m allergic to gluten. On their website, this is what Hello Fresh says about allergies:

“We offer plans for meat eaters and vegetarians along with the option to customize plans via the following preferences: beef-free, pork-free, fish/shellfish-free, fit, quick, or variety.

However, we do not yet offer the option to tailor your plan for specific allergies.

That being said, HelloFresh has a team of dietitians that reviews every ingredient for any of the major 8 allergens: wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish. 

The dietitians then use this information to identify and disclose if any recipe contains any of these allergens. Information about any potential allergens in any recipe is then posted on the website next to the meal choice, and the specific ingredient that contains the allergen is called out. “

Once the account is set up, you can choose among 5 different meals. There is also a link to a calendar, where you can see when future deliveries are scheduled. You can select a date and change future menus as well.

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Is it cost effective?

I paid $74.88 for 12 meals or $6.24 per meal. However, this included a $30 discount for the first week. Subsequent deliveries are $8.74 per meal, slightly less than Home Chef, which was $9.99. Again, these prices are pretty standard. I’m finding the prices range from $8.00 to $12.00 per meal

Is there a variety of meals and is it good quality food?

I found the meal variety to be lacking for this service. This site had 5 meals from which to choose. This isn’t a lot, when you’re choosing 3 meals. AND, as stated above, they don’t give you the option to exclude allergens, something that I was able to do on Home Chef. I had difficulty choosing meals that were gluten free. In fact, the choices were so limited, that I had to choose a meal that included flour tortillas. I decided I’d simply eat a salad that night, not an ideal solution.

As far as I could tell, the food was not organic, free-range or pasture raised. The one thing I did like was the inclusion of a nutrition information sheet in the box.  This sheet included ingredients as well as nutrition information for 10 different meals (5 on each side of the sheet). In my case, however, it was the WRONG one and NONE of my 3 meals were on the sheet. (Not good!)

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Some of the seasoning packets and canned goods did include ingredient lists. Which was helpful.

 

The meals were, for the most part, whole food meals. There was very few processed ingredients. This is ALWAYS a good thing in my book.

Are the meals easy to prepare?

The box came on the exact date as expected and was packed in a lined cardboard box, with an ice pack at the bottom, where the meat was stored. Here’s how it looked:

 

Since I was unable to choose a specific menu, such as gluten-free, like I was with Home Chef, I was at the mercy of Hello Fresh, having only 5 meals from which to choose. As before, my family made the meals. The process was very similar to Home Chef, with step-by-step instructions. However, they were not written quite as clearly, and were a little harder to follow. My family said they didn’t like cooking these meals as well.

As I unpacked the box, the recipe cards were on top, the produce bags were next, packaged in brown paper bags, with the meat at the bottom.

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The three meals we made were:

  1. Honey sesame chicken tenders
  2. One pan pork carnitas tacos
  3. Good gravy pork chops

Honey sesame chicken tenders with rice and broccoli

The ingredients

 

 

The instruction card

 

The final result

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One pan pork carnitas

This meal was SUPPOSED to include 8 flour tortillas, however, there weren’t any tortillas in the bag. Instead, I made a batch of my Cassava flour tortillas, as my husband prepared the meal. This was the second thing that went wrong with this service.

The ingredients

 

The instruction card

 

The final result

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Good gravy pork chops with sweet potato fries and cheesy broccoli

The ingredients

 

The instruction card

 

The final result

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Do the meals taste good? PLUS Overall impression and closing thoughts…

I will be awarding each service up to 5 spatulas (instead of stars) to show my thoughts on the service. ( I went back and gave Home Chef 4 spatulas.)

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I decided to award Hello Fresh 2 spatulas. I was flip flopping between 2 and 3. At the end of the day, I decided on 2 spatulas. My reasoning for 2 spatulas:

  • They gave me the wrong nutrition sheet
  • They left out the flour tortillas
  • The food isn’t organic/grass fed/pasture raised
  • Inability to exclude allergens.

I gave them an extra point for the whole food nature of the meals and the price per meal, as well as the taste and ease of preparation. At the end of the day, we didn’t like our experience with Hello Fresh nearly as well as that of Home Chef. The meals were easy to prepare, but the instructions were a bit confusing. My family began to call it “The bad meal service,” which is unfortunate.

Even though the meals were less expensive than Home Chef, this service lacked the ability to exclude allergens. I don’t mind paying a bit more, if I know I’m guaranteed an allergy free meal.

We did enjoy the meals. My boys liked the tacos, while my husband and I liked the pork chops. That said, my family all said they enjoyed the Home Chef meals more. We received 2 weeks worth of meals for both services, so we have a good idea as to the quality and taste of the meals provided by each service.

Overall, our experience with Hello Fresh was not as positive as our experience with Home Chef. I can’t pinpoint only one thing we didn’t like. It was really the whole experience: The lack of tortillas, lack of allergy-free menus, the wrong nutrition sheet, the instructions, and the meals, which simply lacked the flavor and zing of the other service.

If you have tried Hello Fresh, and had a more positive experience, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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I Tried It: Home Chef Meal Delivery Product Review

Would it surprise you if I told you that in 2015-2016, Americans spent more money eating in restaurants than on groceries? (1) That’s right, for the first time in history, Americans spent more in restaurants, at $54.857 billion, than they did on groceries, at $52.503 billion. (1) With time at a premium, families often turn to take out and pizza delivery for a quick meal, between school, PTA meetings, sporting events and work.

“I don’t have time to cook healthy.” or “I don’t know how to cook.” These are two of the most frequently heard excuses every nutritionist hears. Granted, planning meals, shopping & cooking does take time. That’s why I decided to try the plethora of meal delivery services currently so popular and on the market. My theory: if these meal delivery services are cost effective, easy to prepare and, most important, taste good, people will no longer have excuses for eating healthy. Over the course of the next several months, my family and I will be trying these services. We will be asking these questions:

  1. Is the Website easy to use?
  2. Is it cost effective?
  3. Is there a variety of meals and is it good quality food?
  4. Are the meals easy to prepare?
  5. Do the meals taste good?

The first service we tried was

HOME CHEF**

Here is a video from their website, which indicates Home Chef meals are less expensive than purchasing the same ingredients at the grocery store. (I haven’t added this check to my review)

 

Is the Website easy to use?

I felt this website was easy to use. You begin by entering your email address:

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On the next page you select the number of meals. you want, from 2 per week to 6 per week. Then the number of people, either 2, 4, or 6. You also choose dietary preferences

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I really like this next option, allergens. (I’ve found not all sites have this option)

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Once you get past this page, you enter your shipping and payment information. It preselects meals for you, but gives you a few options from which to choose. That’s it, just sit back and wait for your food.

Once your account is set up, you can go in and see what your future meals will be, change your menus, and skip or pause shipments at any time. The site is very easy to use

Is it cost effective?

I paid $84 for 12 meals or $7/meal.  However, this is including a $35 introductory discount for the first delivery. Subsequent deliveries are $9.99/meal. When you initially look at the price per meal, the cost seems high, but not in comparison to eating out in restaurants. Equivalent meals in a restaurant would have been at least this much, if not higher. Unlike the news report above, I have not worked out how much it would cost to purchase the same items in the store. However, considering the current prices of chicken breasts and pork tenderloins, I don’t think I’d be able to buy it in the store for any less.

Another thing to consider is the price in comparison to other delivery services. My research suggests that these are pretty standard prices. In fact, when compared to some services, these are rather reasonable.

Is there a variety of meals and is it good quality food?

There was adequate variety on the site. They have 6 or 7 different meals on the menu at any given time. However, as far as I can tell, the food is not organic or locally sourced. This could be a concern for people wanting organic, free-range or grass-fed meat. (Such as myself) Another issue were the lack of an ingredients list on the packaged foods. There were several pre-packaged items in the produce bag, such as cranberry sauce, seasoning packets and chicken broth flavoring. None of these items had an ingredient list, which I personally find quite troubling.

With that said, these were, for the most part, whole food meals. The only processed part of the meal was the sauces, which could be left off, if desired. I feel these were good, wholesome, healthy meals.

Are the meals easy to prepare?

I chose 3 low calorie/low carb meals per week for 4 people.

The meals, which came on the exact start date as was given to me on the website, came in an insulated cardboard box. Upon opening the box, the recipe/instruction cards were on top. After removing the cards and lifting the insulation, the produce could be seen underneath. The meat was at the bottom, underneath several ice packs.

Here’s how it looked:

My youngest son and I unpacked the box. The items were all marked very clearly. The produce bags had the name of the recipe written upon it, as did the meat and recipe cards. We separated everything out as indicated below:

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The three meals were:

  1. Maple-glazed pork tenderloin with carrots and Brussels sprouts
  2. Tex-Mex turkey taco salad
  3. Sage chicken with cranberry demi-glace and broccoli and butternut squash

My intent was to have my thee boys (2 sons and my husband) prepare the meals, since the purpose of this exercise is to prove that novice or inexperienced cooks can prepare healthy meals.

TEX-MEX TURKEY TACO SALAD

My youngest son prepared the first meal, Tex-Mex turkey taco salad. This son LOVES to cook, and has the most experience. He and I have even taken cooking classes together. Since I ordered for 4 people, the recipes came with 2 of everything. (as you can see in the photo above) We broke this recipe down, and only prepared one pack. We got 2 meals out of this particular recipe.

The ingredients and the instruction card

The final result
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SAGE CHICKEN WITH CRANBERRY DEMI-GLACE AND BROCCOLI AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH

My oldest son prepared the second meal, Sage chicken with cranberry demi-glace and broccoli and butternut squash. This son HATES cooking, and would live on pizza and ramen noodles if I’d let him.

The instruction card and ingredients

The final result

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MAPLE-GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CARROTS AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

My husband prepared the final dish, Maple-Glazed pork tenderloin with Carrots and Brussels Sprouts. Because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and nutrition/foodie, I’ve always done the cooking in our home, so, my husband simply isn’t used to it. Here’s how his dish turned out:

Ingredients and instruction card

The final result

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Are the meals easy to prepare?

All three of my guinea pigs said they found the recipes very easy to prepare. The instructions were clear, straight forward and easy to follow. All 3 meals were ready in about 45 minutes.

My older son, who hates to cook, said he actually had fun preparing the meal, and would definitely use this service. He felt it was great for busy people. He also indicated that if you don’t know how to cook, this would be a great way to learn.

With that in mind, I was there to help all three of them. I tried to stay out of the kitchen, but, they did come to me with a few questions. Some of the instructions assume the cook will have some basic skills and knowledge in the kitchen.  (Thus the questions. 😊)  However, it was nothing major and I think they could have muddled through without me there. Anybody, of any skill level could have made any of these meals.

Do the meals taste good? PLUS Overall impression and closing thoughts

I will be awarding each service up to 5 spatulas (instead of stars) to show my thoughts on the service.

I give Home Chef 4 spatulas. I did not give them 5 spatulas, due to the lack of organic food and the lack of an ingredients list.
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I loved all three meals, although I think the Pork Tenderloin was my favorite, with the Taco Salad a close second. My sons liked the Taco salad the best, while my husband preferred the Pork.

Overall, I was impressed with the entire experience. The food was good and the recipes easy to prepare. Most importantly, my family had fun with it. Despite the issue with the meat and lack of an ingredients list, I would feel comfortable referring a nutrition client to this service. It’s a good place to begin, for someone new to cooking, as well as healthy eating.

 

Stay tuned to the next meal delivery service in this series: HELLO FRESH

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** This is NOT a paid advertisement for Home Chef. I am simply doing this out of curiosity and as a service to my readers as well as future clients.**

Sources:

  1. https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/01/01/heres-what-the-average-american-spends-on-restaura.aspx

I tried it! Treeline Treenut Cheese Product Review (Vegan/Vegetarian/Dairy Free)

Every so often, I have things I want to share that don’t fall within my normally scheduled articles, which is why I have a few types of articles which I post randomly. Here are the themes I have so far:

  • “JUST THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW…”
  • “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?”
  • “ALLERGY-FREE”

I’m adding a new theme called I TRIED IT! This series will include product reviews, as well as recipes and projects found on the internet/Pintrest, which I’ve tried for myself. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. When I found the subject of today’s article, I knew it was just the right time to begin. (Just FYI…These are not paid reviews.)

TREELINE TREENUT CHEESE HERB-GARLIC FLAVOR

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Let me give you a brief backstory, to explain why I decided to try this cheese. Over the summer, I did an Elimination Diet, to discover the underlying cause of my chronic sinus headaches. During that time, I discovered several foods that were contributing factors. One of those foods just happened to be dairy products, such as cheese. (Much to my chagrin!)

I LOVE cheese and miss it dearly. Yesterday, while I was at Whole Foods purchasing Grass-fed Creamline milk for my Pioneer Recipe, (Throwback Thursday), I looked at their vegan/non-dairy cream cheeses.

There were several brands, but the ingredients left something to be desired. (even the organic/non-GMO verified ones) Have a look:

DAIYA CREAM CHEESE

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INGREDIENTS

Filtered water, coconut oil, tapioca starch, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and/or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, potato starch, pea protein isolate, sea salt, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, lactic acid (vegan source), agave syrup, natural vegan flavors, titanium dioxide (naturally occurring mineral), vegan enzyme, cultured sugar.

VEGAN GORMET

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INGREDIENTS

(vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-gmo): Filtered Water, Palm Fruit Oil*, Soybean Oil*, Inulin (Chicory Root Extract), Soymilk Powder* (Soybeans*), Soy Protein, Agave Syrup*, Sea Salt, Soy Protein*, Lactic Acid (Plant Extracts), Rice Starch*, Lemon Juice Concentrate*, Natural Flavor (Plant Sources), Locust Bean Gum*, Xanthan Gum. *Certified Organic.
CONTAINS: Soy.

GO VEGGIE

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INGREDIENTS

FILTERED WATER, COCONUT OIL, MID-OLEIC SUNFLOWER OIL, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CORNSTARCH, SEA SALT, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, NATURAL VEGAN FLAVORS, ORGANIC LOCUST BEAN GUM, XANTHAN GUM, ORGANIC GUAR GUM, VEGAN CULTURE.

What’s in Treeline Treenut Cheese?

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I advocate a whole food diet. There are, however, instances where purchasing ready-made/processed items just makes life easier.  When I purchase ready-made/processed food, I’m very careful what I buy. I carefully read the ingredients to make sure they are easy to read and there aren’t too many.  In other words, I try to purchase ready-made/processed foods which are made from whole food ingredients, NOT starches, oils, gums, phosphates, fillers, or isolated proteins. You don’t want a product, when you need a chemistry book to decipher the ingredients list. (If you can’t pronounce it…don’t put it in your mouth)

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INGREDIENTS:

Cashew nuts, filtered water, sea salt, lemon juice, dried scallions, garlic powder, white pepper, onion powder, *L Acidophilus, dried basil, dried oregano.

*L Acidophilus is one of the most common types of probiotics and can be found in fermented foods, yogurt and supplements. Follow this link to see the benefits of consuming this probiotic. 

When I found this TREELINE TREENUT CHEESE,

I was very excited.

It passed the ingredients test,

but would it pass the taste test?

How did it taste?

It wasn’t white, like regular cream cheese, but it was quite creamy. It spread nicely on my gluten free paleo toast, much like cream cheese, but would it taste like cream cheese?

It was very good!

I was quite surprised, it actually did taste remarkably like cream cheese. There was an ever so slight hint of something, an after taste maybe, that distinguished it from real cream cheese, but hardly noticeable. It was there, but in the background. This jazzed up my toast beautifully. I can absolutely see it on a bagel.  I will more than likely buy this again.

(However -There are recipes on the internet to make your own vegan cream cheese with cashews. I’ll have to give them a try as well.)

What I love about this cheese:

It had simple, whole food, easy to read ingredients. There are no gums, oils, fillers, or starches. It’s just good, simple, wholesome ingredients…AND IT TASTES GOOD!

Are there any drawbacks:

  • PRICE – It was quite pricey – $7.49 for one six ounce container. This is understandable, however, considering cashews aren’t exactly cheap.
  • NOT ORGANIC – This product isn’t organic. I always try to buy organic whenever possible. Looking for the USDA organic seal will help ensure a good product, though not always. (as seen above)
  • NOT PROJECT NON-GMO VERIFIED – This bothers me as well. This means it could have GMO ingredients. I try to look for the Project Non-GMO Verified sticker on labels. This doesn’t guarantee a good product, as we saw above, but it does help.
  • IT’S NOT REGULAR CHEESE – What I mean by this is…it doesn’t shred or melt like regular cheese. Sometimes you just want some good gooey cheese!

Closing thoughts:

Overall this is a decent product and worth a second look, despite the price and lack of organic/non-gmo certification. It’s price does make me hesitate, however. I plan on making my own nut cheeses in the future. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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