Out of all the household chores, cooking is my least favorite. I particularly find meal planning overwhelming, especially when I’m trying to lose some of my pandemic pounds. Once I pick what I want to make, I rarely have all the ingredients in the fridge or pantry. And because I work a full-time job, I don’t want to end my day at 5 pm, make the 30-minute trip to the supermarket for what I need, and cook dinner.
And yes, I know there are things I can do like plan meals ahead of time, shop for ingredients, and cook on the weekends. But, I know myself – I’d much rather enjoy my weekends than spend a whole day playing chef.
So, to make cooking easier for me, we subscribed to four meals a week from Hello Fresh. According to the website, this weekly meal plan provides easy-to-follow recipes, convenient meal kits, and pre-portioned ingredients. In a nutshell, it definitely delivers on all of the above! The meals are delicious. Each kit comes with an entree, side dish, and vegetable. This week’s shipment even arrived with cheesecake for dessert!
After a month of receiving these deliveries, there are some things I’ve learned. If you are thinking of subscribing, keep reading.
Pick Meals on the Website
Unless you choose what recipes you want, the company will select them for you. So, if you have dietary concerns or don’t like kale or spinach, take the time to pick what you want. They give you up to 21 recipes to chose from. If not, you could wind up with pork chops and a side of kale salad. Did I mention I don’t eat pork?
The front of the recipe clearly states the prep time, typically between 5-15 for each meal. Well, unless you are a professional chef with excellent knife skills, double the prep time allotted for each meal. Many of the fresh ingredients need to be chopped and mixed in some fashion. The cooking times are spot on, but the prep times not so much.
Buy a Zester
The most popular ingredient in each of these recipes is at least one lemon. Now, I know how to quarter and squeeze a lemon, but I’ve never zested one. And apparently, a cheese grater is not a good substitute – something I learned the hard way. I had no idea what a zester was, so I put out a 411 text to my neighbors to see if anyone had one. Luckily, my next-door neighbor did, and as a bonus, she knew how to use it.
Long story short, I now have my own zester in my kitchen drawer.
For Weight Watchers members?
While these meals are nutritious and convenient, they can also pack on the points. This week, I made the most delicious pecan-crusted chicken and devoured it. It was only a few hours later that I realized it was 19 WW points. Now, I know Hello Fresh can be part of a healthy eating/weight loss plan, but it might be a good idea to cut those portions in half and load up on the veggies.
These meals produce a lot of trash. There are fruit and vegetable peels, multiple plastic packets of condiments and ingredients, and pre-packaged cheese or panko crumbs or whatever else you need. Everything is packaged as if you are ordering for two people, and because we are a family of four, they double up on everything. It would be nice if they had larger packages of ingredients. I know this seems minor, but it’s a lot of waste when cleaning everything up.
Overall, these meal-prep kits are saving me time and stress. It can get expensive, and sometimes I want to make a WW-friendly meal instead. I recommend starting with 2-3 meals a week and see how you like it. Let me know if you give it a try!