Let’s face it, grocery shopping and cooking can be a hassle. Especially in college. Researching to find recipes, figuring out transportation to the store, and then oftentimes spending more money than you intended to, all the while juggling school work, can be quite difficult. I had gotten to the point where I was doing everything in my power to avoid the grocery store, resorting to a diet consisting of ramen, dino chicken nuggets, and EatStreet delivery orders. This was until I decided to start using HelloFresh.

The first week of this semester I let the HelloFresh marketing team sway me, and after less than one month of using the service, I don’t plan on looking back. I had seen promo codes on podcasts for years, endless Instagram ads, and numerous influencer codes, so I decided to finally give it a try.

Here is a basic rundown of what it is:

HelloFresh uses a website and a mobile app. Signing up is easy and they offer deals for first time users at a fraction of the regular cost. The app is self-explanatory as well. You create your plan, or the number of meals and servings you want, and then you get to pick your meals from a variety of 20+ dishes, including vegan and vegetarian options. You then select your delivery date, and it is delivered to your door, or in my case, my apartment’s package room.

The ingredients are delivered in brown paper bags that include the contents for each dish. This includes spices, produce, sauces, toppings, etc. Everything is measured out perfectly and the meat, if applicable, is included in a refrigerated part of the package. Directions for each meal come on slips of paper, giving detailed step-by-step instructions with photos included.

So far, I have done HelloFresh for three weeks, so here is what I have gathered and my advice for those who are interested: 

Truth be told, I’m obsessed with it! I simply don’t shut up about it, and I fear HelloFresh is becoming a personality trait of mine. I have not only improved my cooking skills, but I have made dishes that I would have never come up with on my own. Beef flautas? Coconut chicken curry? Those are never things that would have come to mind. The stress that comes with the dreaded question of “what should I have for dinner?” has gone away, and I haven’t been to the grocery store in a month.

Olivia Frankel

But I’m going to be completely honest, there are some prerequisites if you are considering doing HelloFresh.

1. You must know how to cook.

I’m not talking about boxed mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, “I know how to make pasta” know how to cook. You should have a level of knowledge above basic cooking. This includes knowing how to chop efficiently, being able to cook raw meat, and having time management skills in the kitchen. “Medium difficulty” is no joke.

* If you think this might be what stumps you, I encourage you not to shy away, but to

make your way over to YouTube, which is filled with endless, simple videos on these skills! * 

2. You need a decent amount of time.

It is time consuming. If a recipe says, “40 minutes”, double that time. I’m allotting some “eating time” in that doubling, but it can take a while. Based on their time estimates, HelloFresh must assume that everyone can chop and peel vegetables at lightning speed. I may just be slow-moving in the kitchen, but you have to give yourself time. Most of these are not quick dinner recipes.

3. I recommend you find a partner to cook with (or lots of room in your fridge for leftovers!)

When putting in your preferences on the app, the minimum number of servings you can do is two. To keep down the cost, mess, and the amount of work, I would highly recommend recruiting a partner to do this with.

FYI: this “partner” doesn’t need to have the first requisite. In my case, my friend

has a basic knowledge of cooking and they do little things like boiling water, chopping veggies, and cleaning up. Doing it with someone just makes everything easier for you, and more fun too!

4. Be ready to improvise.

In some cases, produce can go bad, or a part of the dish may be too difficult and not work in your favor. Improvise. I found myself flinging carrots across my kitchen when trying to peel them with a knife and decided to give up entirely. I then made a quick side salad to substitute them. Or for one recipe I didn't have enough baking sheets, so I made potatoes in the air fryer. Just be aware that everything may not go as planned and you must think on your feet.

Olivia Frankel

Wise words of advice & some tips for HelloFresh:

1. Some things are easier to do in the air fryer. 

To eliminate messes, dishes, and long preheat times, cook things like veggies and potatoes in the air fryer. In my opinion they come out better anyway!

2. Warning: lots of sour cream.

It’s weird. I know. But almost every recipe finds a way to use sour cream as some element, so if that’s not your thing, beware.

3. Some things are easier to do on your own.

Example: I hate making rice. Despise it, honestly, I’m not sure why. I often use Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice as a substitute for cooking rice, and it makes the experience easier, quicker, and again, eliminates dishes.

4. Prep before!

To save time, I often chop all of my vegetables and aromatics earlier in the day, place them in little bags or Tupperware, and then cook with them later. This splits up the time and makes the cooking experience a lot easier when it becomes time for dinner. TIP: light a candle next to you when chopping onions- it reduces the chances of crying. Trust me, on this one because there are a lot of onions. TIP 2: Use kitchen scissors to cut up your herbs or green onions! So much easier and quicker than chopping.

5. Skip weeks.

Sometimes the number of meals rack up, you can skip weeks as often as you please. I think this is an easy way to keep the cost down and to keep food from spoiling.

6. REMEMBER: they’ll automatically charge you.

Your preference settings will be your best friend. Make sure you check the app regularly, and skip meals if needed, so you won’t see a surprise charge and have meals that weren’t chosen by you delivered to your door. Can you tell this is something that happened to me?

Olivia Frankel

So, is HelloFresh worth it? In short, my answer is yes. The first delivery costs $8.50 per person (if splitting), which is unbeatable price wise. It then becomes around $30 per person which is still much more cost effective than buying your own groceries. While yes, the cooking takes a while, you are relieved of the stress and time of grocery shopping, measuring out all your ingredients, finding recipes, and choosing what to eat for dinner.

My advice is if you have all four prerequisites, at least try it once. If you don’t, then it may not be for you. But it’s only $8.50 and I think it's an experience that a lot of people can benefit from trying. Happy cooking!

Tag @spoonwisco to show off your HelloFresh meals!