So fast and easy, with stuff you are likely to have around
I’m often amazed at how HelloFresh comes up with very easy, very simple recipes that are, however, super tasty – specially now, when they’ve made their recipes quicker and simpler, both to save customer’s time and their own profits. This recipe is a prime example. It’s a complete cheat curry and one I think I should be able to recreate. What makes it particularly fast is that it’s made with pre-cut chicken, but buying tenders and cutting them into pieces shouldn’t take that long. I’m planning to make it for my vegan daughter, though I will have to figure out what to use instead of peppers, as she doesn’t like them.
The recipe below is for two portions, double for four.
Thai Coconut Curry Chicken
1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
salt to taste
10 oz chicken tenders, cut into 1″ strips
1 Tbsp curry powder
2/3 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tsp chicken stock concentrate
1 tsp sugar
juice from 1/2 a lime
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Heat a generous drizzle of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and salt to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and a pinch of salt and continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken browns. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the coconut milk, the chili sauce, stock concentrate, sugar and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and lime juice. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve over rice.
Cilantro Lime Rice
1/2 cup Jazmine rice
3/4 cup water
salt to taste
zest from 1 lime
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Place rice, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in lime zest and chopped cilantro.
To make the sandwiches, you slice and sautée the onions and peppers, you cook the ground beef with Italian seasoning and beef base and then mix them together. The kit has you make garlic aioli by mixing mayo with garlic powder and garlic butter by mixing your own butter with that same garlic powder. Instead of the garlic powder, I minced some of my own garlic cloves and used that. The buns are toasted with the garlic butter and mozzarella cheese, you spread the mayo and then add the beef filling. They were filling and very tasty.
The side dish was HelloFresh ubiquitous oven baked potatoes – they were plain this time, but I added some Italian seasoning to make them tastier. I feel, however, that HelloFresh should have chosen a different vegetable. This dish was very carb heavy to begin with and very light in vegetables. Maybe zucchini chips would have been a better choice? I did like the potatoes, however.
I made this dish five days after receiving it and everything was still fresh.
This post contains a referral link, if you sign up you get a discount and I get a $10 credit if I’m subscribed to HF when you subscribe, which I probably won’t be.
Hello Fresh often offers slight variations of the same dishes. I’ve encountered the Dijon sauce in this meal kit as a dill sauce and a chives sauce, both served on chicken breasts. I’m happy to say that the sauce is just as good without the herbs, though the kit makes about half as much sauce as you really need for this dish.
The garlic bread, made on a ciabatta bun, was very good as well – even though I had refrigerated the buns for four days by the time I made it. The reason was probably the copious amount of garlic butter it contained. HelloFresh doesn’t end you butter, so they’re very generous in their recipes with your own supplies. Here, each bun slice asked for a whole tablespoon of butter. Still, at least the results were worth it.
The main reason I’m giving this kit low grades was the salad. It was nothing special and I don’t think it went particularly well with the chicken.
The meal kit was easy enough to make, but the chicken half breasts were too thick to cook in the recommended time – they took me about 15 minutes to cook altogether. The ingredients were fresh, even though I cooked them four days after I received the box.
This was my first HelloFresh kit in over a year, and an update on a Parmesan chicken kit I had in 2019. I’m glad to say it was an improvement. The mozarella-panko-Italian seasoning crust was delicious – so much so that my daughter ate a second chicken breast (I got a meal kit for four this time) and asked me to make it again. Indeed, the kit made enough breading for six breasts altogether, so I did make it again for her a couple of nights later.
The couscous, which I found to be rather tasteless last time, was cooked in chicken broth and lemon zest this time, and was very tasty. The copious butter didn’t hurt, of course. The carrots were OK, not exciting, but good enough.
The portion size was adequate for non-huge apetites or people with a carrot fetish. Among the three of us, we ate the whole 4-person meal kit, except for the carrots. There were lots and lots of big, fat carrots.
I should note that the instructions for this dish left out how long the chicken should cook for. Fortunately, I was able to figure it out by looking at the Parmesan chicken instructions. The answer is 15 minutes.
The ingredients were fresh, and overall I was quite happy with the meal kit. It should be easy enough to recreate.
After giving up on cooking for a while, I’ve gone back to making meal kit meals – they work particularly well when it’s just my husband and I for dinner.
HelloFresh has changed from last year, and their meals are now simpler and quicker to cook. They still range from pretty good to very good, though they are not nearly as tasty as the Gobble meals I’ve cooked lately. They’re far cheaper, however. Currently, if you use my referral link, you can save $40 off your first box, though there may be better deals out there.
These are the last six dishes I made from HelloFresh.
I forgot to skip this week and got HelloFresh’ default meals. I wouldn’t have selected this one, as I try to avoid pork as much as possible, but it was pretty good. The pork was tender and the cinnamon-smoked paprika spicing was very tasting. It really didn’t need the cherry sauce, but this one was very nice as well. In general, I’ve really enjoyed the jam-based sauces that I’ve gotten in meal kits. Still, the meat didn’t have as much flavor as I would have liked.
I enjoyed the mashed potatoes, which really go very well with green onions. I don’t like carrots, but my husband was very happy with the slaw – he had my portion as breakfast the next day.
All in all, this wasn’t my favorite meal but it was a nice alternative. As usual, it was a perfectly sized meal.
Cherry Sauce Recipe
For two people, multiply as necessary, substitute with another flavor jam if as per your liking.
1/4 cup cherry jam
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp cinnamon paprika spice*
1 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste
In a small microwavable bowl, mix together the jam, vinegar and spice. Microwave for 40 seconds. Add the butter and mix until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
* 1 part ground cloves, 8 parts onion powder, 8 parts ground cinnamon, 6 parts smoked paprika, 16 parts mustard powder, 24 parts sweet paprika, 24 parts white granulated sugar”.
I might have liked this burger more if I hadn’t overcooked it – and if I hadn’t recently had an amazing waygu burger from Gobble. As it was, I found it OK. The pepper was a bit too spicy for me, though I used plain ketchup. My husband had his with the spicy ketchup (which is really just ketchup mixed with hot sauce) and far more peppers, and he still didn’t think it was spicy at all, so YMMV.
The potatoes, mixed with a sweet & smokey BBQ spice, were very good, though. I’ll have to make them again for my vegan daughter. I found the recipe online
This dish was a big disappointment. It was relatively complex and I had great expectations, but they weren’t met. Basically the whole thing was bland, all the flavors blended into one another and didn’t excite the palate anywhere.
It’s a pity, because this could have been really good. Maybe some dried fruit in the rice would have helped or a harissa sauce instead of the lemon garlic sauce. Actually, having fresh garden instead of garlic powder might have made the sauce more exciting.
This was another meal with a delicious jam sauce. It’s a simple enough recipe that it should be quite easy to make at home.
The greens came with a simple lemon juice dressing, so I decided to use my own instead. The potatoes were OK, but they were just plain. HelloFresh does much better when it adds spice to its potatoes.
Still, it was a pretty good meal.
Balsamic Fig Sauce
2 tsp oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
5 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp jam
1 tsp chicken stock concentrate
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste.
Heat oil in a small saute pan. Add shallot and rosemary leaves. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the jam. Simmer for one minute, until syrupy. Add the stock concentrate and water. Cook until thick, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The filling for these tostadas was actually very good and both my husband and I really enjoyed them, but I overcooked the tortillas, thus making them too tough and difficult to handle it. It would have been better if the tortillas had been soft.
I selected this meal kit for Moroccan Pork Sausage Tagine with Dried Apricots and Chickpeas over Couscous because it seemed easy enough to veganize it for my vegan daughter, by simply substituting vegetable concentrate for the included chicken concentrate, and omitting both the sausage and the cream on her portion. It did mean having to cook the sausage in a different pan, but that wasn’t a big deal.
All in all both my husband and daughter enjoyed this dish, and it’s simple enough to put together. It was a good portion for both of them. If you make the original recipe, beware that the sausage is very salty, so be careful of how much salt you use in the other ingredients.
All ingredients were good quality, though the carrots were a bit wobbly.
I should point out that calling this dish “Moroccan” is almost insulting. Yes, the dish includes couscous and dried apricots – but that’s as far as the Moroccan influence goes. The vast majority of Moroccans are Muslim, and Muslims cannot eat pork. The sweet Italian pork sausage included in this recipe is not used in Morocco. Moroccans are famous for their merguez sausage, which is made of lamb or beef and has no pork products in it, but it is probably too expensive for HelloFresh to include.
I paid about $8.50 for this mealkit or about $4.25 per portion. Great deal!
Hello Fresh seldom offers steak as part of their regular offerings. Instead, dishes with steak are usually considered “gourmet” and require an additional supplement. These are usually a very poor value, so I never ordered them. I did this time because when I added to my cart, HelloFresh showed that the 65% off discount that I had applied to the supplement as well. Alas, when I checked my account I realized that I was charged the full supplement price, which makes me feel defrauded. Still, it’s a lesson learned and in the future I just won’t order any meals that require paying a supplement.
But all ingredients were very tasty and, in particular, the mushroom sauce was phenomenal, which helped elevate both the meat and the mashed potatoes. I’ve had similar mushroom sauces before, but I liked how simple and quick this one was (recipe below).
All the ingredients were included and they were mostly fresh (the carrots were a little wobbly) and good quality. The steaks were very, very thick but at least they were around the same thickness.
I paid a little over $20 for this meal kit, including the supplement, or about $10 per person.
I recommend you double the sauce
3 Tbsp butter, divided
4 oz white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. beef demi-glace
1/4 cup water
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat in a pan, preferably one you used to cook steak. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until softened – 2 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the demi-glace and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in the mustard. Simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the remaining Tbsp. butter.
Truth be told, I love pasta baked with sauce and cheese, and I’m a pretty big fan of good meatballs as well. Still, this is the sort of dish I can easily make on my own and, as it turned out, much better.
There were lots of things wrong with this dish. First, baking the meatballs was a mistake, they were left dry and with a crusty shell. The recipe also called for too much salt. Second, the tomato sauce was pretty tasteless. No wonder, making a pasta sauce requires a long simmering town. This dish would have been much better with a commercial pasta sauce. Finally, the mozzarella cheese was pretty bland. The dish could really have used some Parmesan cheese instead of the bread crumbs that was included.
I paid ~$8.50 for this meal kit for two people with the discount.
For the last six months I’ve been trying different meal kits, both in order to avoid getting take out and because I just like reviewing things. Having tried most of the meal kits out there (all of them with promos which brought down the price significantly), I think I’m finally done.
Meal kits fall into 4 price categories, which I’ll call budget (~$40 for 3 2-serving meal kits), mid-range (~$60 for the same), premium (~$70) and super-premium (~$80). In order to compare apples to apples, my reviews are organized by price category and they are listed in my order of preference. Please click on the title of each Meal Kit to see a more comprehensive review.
In all of these months, I haven’t really had any major problems with any of my deliveries – I’ve had no missing ingredients, for example. Once a box didn’t come (which was fine, as I didn’t want it and had forgotten to cancel in time) and another time, the box didn’t come until after 11 PM, but that’s about it. Skipping has been a breeze, as has been cancelling.
Budget Meal Kits
There are two of these meal kit services, both products of mid-range meal kit companies. They offer simpler meals, with fewer ingredients that require the use of more of your staples. The menus tend to be very classic American.
Every Plate is HelloFresh’ budget offering. They currently only have 6 offerings, including a “premium” one that costs $6 more per kit, but they’re moving to 8 offerings in mid-March. That’s good, because I often can’t find 3 dishes I want to eat/make in their weekly menu.
I mostly liked what I got – the premium kit was particularly tasty. I really didn’t feel I was compromising too much by getting these kits.
$39 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $20 off your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).
Dinnerly is Martha & Marley Spoon’s budget offering. They offer 8 choices a week, 3 of which are vegetarian. The meals are less refined than those by Every Plate and I enjoyed them less. In all, I wasn’t a fan.
$39 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promos.
Mid-Range Meal Kits
There are several companies in this category. They tend to have more sophisticated offerings, they may include ingredients that are not as easy to come by (or that you’d have to buy far more than you’d want to) – but they still require that you use some of your staples. Some of these companies offer discounts for larger purchases. Here they are, in my order of preference.
HelloFresh is the service I’ve tried the most, simply because they’ve sent me the most “come back” offers. They offer a variety of plans, and include one weekly “gourmet” recipe, featuring steak or expensive ingredients, for $12 more per kit.
Most of the recipes have surprised me as to how tasty they are – whoever is responsible for creating them does a pretty good job. That said, I don’t always find enough meals I want to cook in a given week, and lately it seems they’re downgrading their ingredients. Still, it’s a company I like to go back to (with a coupon).
$61 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $40 off your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).
Blue Apron is actually very similar to HelloFresh, but it offers far fewer discounts. It does seem to have better quality ingredients than HelloFresh, however. The food I had was also tastier than I anticipated, and I would likely re-subscribe if I got another promo – but so far no luck.
$60 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promos.
Home Chef’s offerings are a more middle American than the other two, and I’ve had gret difficulty finding kits that I really want to make. But the kits I did make were very good. While Home Chef has occasional premium meal kits, they also regularly have steak without a premium price (unlike other companies in this price point).
Update 2021: Since my original review, Home Chef has expanded their offerings. They now allow you to choose your protein in many kits, usually at an additional cost, and they offer impossible burger for ground beef dishes. They also now offer a variety of oven dishes that include a tray and call for minimal preparation – these often combine raw and pre-cooked ingredients. Basically, they’ve become a cheaper, less exciting, version of Gobble (see below under super-premium kits).
Starts at $60 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $35 off your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).
Marley Spoon was the meal kit company that least impressed me at this price-point. Granted, I only got two kits because their promo wasn’t that great, but neither of them was particularly noteworthy. They do have a large menu of choices, including 6 vegetarian ones. In all, I didn’t find a compelling reason to choose it over the other kits.
$61.50 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promo.
Premium Meal Kits
It’s probably not surprising that as we go up in price, the meal kits get better. They either include more exotic and/or organic ingredients. Some companies offer even more adventurous/sophisticated kits – and some actually send you all the ingredients you need save for oil, salt & pepper. Here they are, in my order of preference.
Note: Plated has ceased operations since my reviews. I miss it, as it was one my favorite meal kits.
I love Plated. It’s one of my favorite meal kits and, if I could afford it, it’s the one I would stay subscribed to. The offerings are pretty sophisticated, and they often include ingredients that I wouldn’t want to buy myself. More importantly, they include all the ingredients I need – including butter! I have greatly enjoyed almost every meal I’ve had from them.
Plated is also available at select Safeway supermarkets. The kits there usually vary in price depending on the ingredients, but they’re generally cheaper than with the subscription. They have a much lower selection, however.
$72 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promo.
Sun Basket distinguishes itself by providing a large variety of meals catering to special diets – from paleo to vegan. Most importantly, they don’t ask you to subscribe to a specific plan, but you can chose from any meal they provide. This is cool for families like mine that have members with very different food preferences. Sun Basket also sends more organic produce than other companies – and they’re probably the most environmentally friendly meal kit service.
Still, I wasn’t awed by their kits and I haven’t felt a compelling reason to re-subscribe.
$72 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for $40 off your first box.
Purple Carrot is an all-vegan meal kit company. Having a vegan child at home, I gave it a try. Unfortunately, she didn’t like any of the three meal kits I got for her – and would not even eat the leftovers.
$72 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Google for promo.
Super Premium Meal Kits
In addition to the kits listed below, there are two other meal kits services which fall in this category. As neither offers good promo codes – and their offerings don’t seem particularly enticing – I’ve decided I’m not going to try either. Do comment if you do. Peach Dish – a Georgia based company – specializes in local ingredients and offers both international and classic Southern food. One Potato specializes in family-friendly fare.
Gobble sends out meal kits that can be put together and cooked in 15 minutes. They manage this by sending pre-sliced vegetables, prepared sauces and some pre-cooked sides (like rice, lentils and sweet potatoes). Still, most kits require you to do enough that you do feel like cooking. Their meals are generally pretty good – one, specifically, was great – and I love how quickly they are to put on the table. This is a kit I’d definitely stay subscribed to if I could afford it.
$79 for 3 kits with 2 servings each. Use this referral link for 1 free meal kit in your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).
Green Chef distinguishes itself by offering a variety of plans catering to special diets – everything from keto, to gluten-free to vegan. Unfortunately, they only offer five choices per plan, and you cannot mix and match between plans (though they do have an omnivore plan, still with only five choices). Once upon a time, Green Chef was fully organic, but since being bought by HelloFresh, they now send out non-organic meats.
The dishes I tried were pretty good, though they seemed overpriced for what they were.
$67 to $85 for 3 kits with 2 servings each, depending on plan (omnivore is $79). Use this referral link for 2 free meal kits in your first box (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).
Ready Made Meals
In addition to meal kits, a number of companies have entered the market offering ready-to-heat, microwavable meals. Basically, an upscale version of your parent’s TV dinners. I’m not sure I’ll try enough of these to merit their own category, but I’ll list the one I’ve tried so far (I will also be getting Thistle next week – use promo code https://www.thistle.co/referral/MARGARI98F for $30 off your first order).
Freshly offers fresh, refrigerated, microwable meals that you can heat up in just 2-4 minutes. Quality wise, they are way above any frozen meal I’ve tried. Indeed, taste wise they are as good as most meal kits. They do suffer a little texture-wise.
The biggest issue is that their menu doesn’t change much from week to week, so if you’re craving variety, you won’t find it here. They also don’t offer vegan meals. Still, it’s a good choice for when you have a busy week and you can’t make time to cook.
$60 for 6 meals (1 serving each). Use this referral link to get $20 off your first and second week (I might get a credit if I’m subscribed at the exact moment you subscribe).
Non-Subscription Meal Kits
In addition to the meal kits above, there are a couple of companies that sell meal kits that don’t require a subscription. I have not yet tried these ones, but I might in the future. Good Eggs, a Bay Area company, delivers 3 and 4 serving meal kits from an extensive set menu and Amazon.com sells kits through their Prime Fresh service (which costs $16/month).