Over the summer, my family had a lot of crap going on: car accidents, foster kittens, colitis issues, finding out Laurence is allergic to milk and eggs, etc. It made for a lot of fraught mealtimes and far more eating out than we wanted or normally did. By the end of August, I was really sick of it, and decided to give Hello Fresh a try. I thought that I could put together some meals of my own, with built-in nutrition/veggies, and while it’s expensive, at least it would be cheaper than eating out. With so many different food allergies/issues/preferences in my household, it’s hard to meet the needs of more than three people, so I decided to just try this for me. I chose to do four two-serving meals per week (so that I had leftovers the next day for lunch), and got my first box on Sept 12.
Week 1 – September 12
Meals: BBQ meatloaf with shingled potatoes and roasted green beans; spaghetti with Brussels sprouts, lemon, and parmesan; beef flautas with pico and lime cream; crispy chicken parmesan with Israeli couscous and roasted carrots. I made them in that order on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings. Brief thoughts on these meals:
- Meatloaf: a bit of heat in the spice mix, and I don’t like spice. Otherwise good.
- Veggie spaghetti: sauce never thickened, sprouts were too uneven in texture, overall just not a good meal (did not eat the second serving)
- Flautas: again too much spice, kinda boring, I skipped the pico because I don’t like pico generally but otherwise it was an okay meal
- Chicken: for some reason the carrots and scallions were still frozen in this meal despite being in my fridge for five days, which gave the carrots a weird texture and made the scallions unusable. I mixed it up, put all the lemon stuff in the couscous and had the carrots just plain-roasted, which I prefer anyway, and skipped the hot paprika spice that was meant to be in the chicken. Best meal of the four.
Overall thoughts for week 1: Hello Fresh likes to use panko crumbs in every meal they can, eh? Also, I was surprised at just how many prep dishes each meal used. I prefer to use as few dishes as possible, but this was like cooking for a whole family in terms of cookware and prep-ware. That stressed my kids out because they were having to clean twice as much at dishes-time, and stressed me out because there would be stuff everywhere and multiple processes going on at one time. All that, and only one meal was one that I really enjoyed. Two others were okay to fairly good, but both were ones we make on our own at home, so it wasn’t exactly new-to-my-family. Slightly worried about locking myself into this…
Week 2 – September 19
Meals: chicken sausage and spinach ricotta ravioli; special sauce house burgers with griddled onion and garlic potato wedges; creamy pesto grilling cheese ciabattas; Tunisian-spiced meatballs with apricot glaze, roasted carrots, and scallion couscous. Again, ate those in that order on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Brief thoughts:
- Chicken sausage ravioli: Holy hell this was awful. Excruciatingly over-spiced and salty. The ravioli themselves were good, so I ended up removing them from the meal and eating just ravioli. I had to buy food for lunch the next day.
- Burgers: Slightly modified this to my tastes, and loved it. At least the burger and sauce, I loved. The “fries” were kinda meh, mostly because they were oily and too soft, and I don’t like potato skins. But the sauce for dipping kinda made up for it. I can see myself using the burger part of the recipe again in the future.
- Pesto cheese ciabattas: I didn’t realize before I got these that 1) the cheese in these sandwiches was half an inch thick, and 2) they were meant to be coated in a hot spice mix. So I scrapped most of this meal, and Jason just made me some pesto-and-grilled-cheese ciabattas that were more to my liking.
- Meatballs: This was also pretty good, though I would have preferred less meat and more carrots tbh. Weird that one meal with a carrot side dish came with four carrots, while this one came with two, and smaller ones at that. Both carrot meals had the same amount of meat and couscous, so it’s not that, either.
Overall thoughts on week 2: Well, Jason cooked 2.5 of the four meals, and I still hate cooking, and I’ve found that I’m not saving a lot of money because I tend to have to go out to eat for a lunch at least once per week so far… Plus some of the meals are kinda same-y? I don’t know. I guess maybe that’s me, I tend to pick out meals that are same-y? But the spices, the panko, the veggies, the sides…there’s a lot of stock stuff here. Ah well.
Let’s be real. I have another two weeks of Hello Fresh that I’m locked into, and while I’m sure some meals will be better than others, what I’ve really affirmed is this: I despite cooking. I always did, and I’m not sure why I thought a meal kit would improve the situation. I think I thought it would be more organized, less chaotic, etc. Maybe I thought the ingredients would already be prepped, so there would be less work to do. But I guess people get this because want to feel like they’re really cooking and don’t know how to start? I mean, we’ve cooked from home – including meal planning, grocery shopping, etc – for years, so that part isn’t new. I don’t really need step by step instructions. What I need is something I can pop in the oven with very little work on my part. TV-dinners, except healthy. Maybe I just need to start grabbing the Meal Simple kits at HEB a couple times a week. I don’t know. But I won’t keep this subscription after my trial period. Too much cost for something that stresses me out both by the amount of cooking and the quantity of cooking utensils used. Be more efficient, HF! Heh.
Also, I despise our kitchen. It looks big and pretty and stuff, but the layout is awful, especially when two people are cooking. I can’t wait to redo the entire thing one day. (Well, no, I can’t wait to PAY SOMEONE ELSE to redo the entire thing one day. If I don’t specify that, J will take it as an invitation to do it himself, ha!)