Subscription meal kits are ALL THE RAGE these days. I’ve always been someone who enjoys cooking, but doesn’t have sufficient time to do it as well/often as I would like. A friend gave me a free box promo for 2 different services for me to try, and who can say no to free, yummy food??
NOTE: It’s very important that if you order a free box through a friend, you must cancel by the Wednesday prior to the next box coming to ensure you are not charged and sent new box! Each service requires you to enter your credit card information to get your free box, which means you are essentially subscribing for the service. More on the cancellation process below.
Meal Kit 1 – Hello Fresh
3 meal recipes, 2 servings each (6 servings) – Pronto Plan
Delivery: Hello Fresh was a day late. This was most likely due to weather, but no specific explanation was provided. Have a back up plan in case your box is late. The box was left on my veranda as I had instructed.
Packaging: Most packing materials were made of paper and therefore reusable or recyclable. You do get a bunch of little plastic baggies inside which are not recyclable. Overall, waste (as compared to the typical grocery store fare) is not terrible, although less packaging is always better if you can swing it!
Side Note regarding waste
I was curious about the environmental footprint of these meal kits after discussing with a friend, and how it compares to buying all of the ingredients at a typical grocery store. Turns out, a study has been done on this! (American-based, but I would expect a similar result in Canada). Assuming you shop like an average consumer, the study concludes that meal kits have a lower environmental footprint. Kind of surprising! To learn more, read the study. I like to think I could beat the meal kit via shopping local, making sure I don’t waste any food, and avoiding unnecessary packaging, but that is an analysis for another day.
Freshness of Ingredients: Everything was very fresh! The meal kits include fresh herbs which is so lovely in the dead of winter.
Ease of Preparation: Recipes were not too difficult. I think I only made 1 or 2 minor errors. 🙂 Budget some time to prep everything, even for the Pronto Plan. Maybe 20 minutes-ish.
Validity of Serving numbers: Each box contained food for 3 recipes, with 2 servings per recipe. For at least one of the recipes I was able to easily get 3 meals out of it. Also for another recipe, I had enough leftover greens and potatoes that could make another (slightly boring) meal.
Meal Kit 2 – Good Food
2 meal recipes, 4 servings each (8 servings) – Family Basket
Delivery: Arrived on Wednesday as expected.
Packaging: I’m a bit disappointed in the amount of plastic as compared to Hello Fresh. There is the usual little plastic baggies inside, but the meal bags were also plastic. I’ll make efforts to use these over and over again before recycling them.
Freshness of Ingredients: Everything was equally fresh as the HF box. Look at these lovely fresh peas!
Ease of Preparation: Pretty easy! I like the Good Food directions quite a bit, as each step is shown with pictures to make sure you’re doing it right.
Validity of Serving numbers: For the first meal, I easily got 5 meals out of it, when the serving size is officially 4. This pretty much mirrors Hello Fresh. I like that they don’t scrimp for those that may have bigger appetites. The second recipe also had enough left over to make an extra lunch sized serving.
Value for your $: I chose to put the price for the easy prep plans so we are comparing apples to apples. There are other plans as low as $10-11 per serving. Since I got more servings than advertised, I was interested in knowing my personal “cost per serving”, which ended up being less with Good Food:
|Meal Kit||Box Type||Cost/Serving (Advertised)||T’s Actual Cost/Serving|
|Hello Fresh||Pronto Plan||$13.33 (6 servings)||$11.43 (7-8 servings)|
|Good Food||Easy Prep Basket||$12.10 (8 servings)||$9.68 (10 servings)|
Waste produced: no food waste. I even composted the peels and such. Lots of “packaging” waste. Both meal kits came in a cardboard box which was insulated with corrugated cardboard, and each box contained a water-filled frozen pack to keep everything chilled. I put those in my deep freeze for reuse as long as possible. The Hello Fresh meal bags were paper, so I can reuse and then compost. the Good Food meal bags are plastic. They will be reused and eventually put into the recycle bin. I preferred the HF packaging overall. All that said, remember the study regarding the environmental footprint, read it, and decide for yourself based on all the evidence.
Yummy-ness of recipes: I enjoyed every recipe that I made, as did Hubs. I think part of the reason is the freshness of ingredients. Because I shop and prepare meals frugally, I may use dried herbs rather than fresh, lemon juice from a container rather than buying fresh lemons, frozen vegetables, etc. Both meal kits used all fresh ingredients.
If I were to suggest improvements, I would say some recipes could use a larger portion of vegetables vs protein and starches to reduce calorie intake and increase the health factor.
Ease of cancellation
Hello Fresh was super-easy. I found the details around cancellation on the website, and followed the instructions. Basically clicking a button!
Good Food was a bit more difficult. After hunting around for information on how to cancel the subscription, I ended up 1. asking my friend who subscribes, and 2. chatting with a Good Food employee online. The employee was very courteous, and only rebutted my request to cancel once. Apparently they have a system whereby you can stay in the program and not get billed. After 3 months they will send you an alert to ask if you want to continue the subscription. A nice option to retain people who might get a box sometime in the future. The employee cancelled my subscription promptly when I declined the offer.
Would the kid eat any of it?
No. Please note, I have a very picky child. Do not let this sway you – I’m sure you’re perfect non-picky children will love these meal kits.
To be fair, for one HF meal, he ate 3 homemade fries and a piece of a bun, only because it was dessert night. I refused to give him dessert until he ate something on his plate. That said he won’t eat my homemade fries so maybe it’s a win? I had very low expectations based on experience. From the GF box, he tried one almond sliver (WOW! Milestone!) and ate the naan bread. Don’t worry, I make him eat fruit daily so he won’t get scurvy.
I really enjoyed both of these meal kits. Based on the recipes I chose, the Hello Fresh meals were a bit less calorie dense, which is good for someone like me who is watching calorie intake. That said, I could have been more selective with my recipes from Good Food, as there were quite a few to choose from.
Are they FI/RE Friendly?
As someone aiming for FI in 12-ish years, would I regularly order subscription boxes in the future? Not regularly. I can definitely make healthy meals for a lot less. That said, I could see myself ordering a box on occasion when I’m:
- having a really busy week
- hosting house guests
- on vacation with access to a kitchen, and I don’t want to buy a ton of stuff just to make a few meals
- as a gift for a friend
- as a gift to myself when I’m bored out of my skull with my meal plan
Now I can feel assured that I’ll get something of quality since I have first hand knowledge of the programs.
Want a free box?
Reach out to me if you want to try a free Good Food box – they gave me a few to give out. Quite the robust suck-you-in program.
Have you tried a meal kit subscription? What was your experience? Please let me know in the comments!