Friday, April 18, 2014

box of tricks

Way back in February I received a gift through the post for my birthday. The gift, which had come from amazon, included amongst the several sheets of paper and brightly coloured inserts, a voucher for Hello Fresh. Intrigued, I didn't bin it automatically, and instead it languished in a drawer for a few weeks. Every so often I would spot it and realise I should do something with it, and then put it back away and get on with what I was doing. Then, during my recent spate of treating myself, I decided to place an order. 

The voucher got me £20 off my first box, so it cost £19 for the first delivery, which included three meals for two people. The voucher only works if you sign up for the subscription service which means you order a minimum of two boxes.

I was really impressed with the customer service, even before our first box arrived we received a handwritten welcome postcard, and a phone call to check we didn't have any questions. I couldn't decide if this was slight overkill, but it was nice to deal with a company that genuinely seem happy to have your custom.

As well as the recipes we got a free sample of a chia seeds "shot". I've never had chia seeds before but they livened up the yoghurt I had for breakfast, and I felt virtuous before I'd even started work. As well as the free seeds we got the ingredients for Chicken Laksa, Pork Chops with Crushed Potatoes and Pork and Beef Meatballs.

Every recipe comes with step by step instructions, although I would recommend reading them through before starting as they can jump around a little. The premise is that the delivery includes everything you need for each recipe (except for salt, pepper and oil) in pre-measured quantities. Again, sometimes the portion sent includes more than the recipe requires, but a few spare herbs is no bad thing.

Each of the recipes took between thirty to forty minutes, so I left the longest recipe until the weekend. I enjoyed getting in from work and spending some time cooking, and having everything to hand and a recipe to follow meant it was a good way to relax. It was lovely trying things I would never have thought to make at home, and for me the most surprising dish was the pork. It was very simple, but a real revelation to realise what a difference a little sage and butter can make to how much flavour a dish has.

All of the meals were a success, and all of the produce looked to be really good quality, particularly the meat. I was also pleased that the use-by dates on the produce left enough time to not have to eat all of the meals on consecutive nights. The recipes didn't require advanced culinary skills, but tasted brilliant. I found myself really enjoying dinner, and savouring it, rather than eating without really noticing. I liked that the dishes I made looked like the pictures on the cards, which isn't always the case when I follow a recipe!

I found the portion sizes more than enough for two people, but I'm not sure The Husband agreed. I was a little dubious at first, particularly with the Laksa, as the portion of noodles and chicken looked minimal. However, I felt pleasantly full after each meal; The Husband did too, but that was only with the addition of extra carbs in the form of bread or pasta each night.

With the box we ordered, you can do a meal swap for one of the dishes, and although we didn't use it this time, it was definitely a good option to have, particularly as The Husband can be, shall we say, selective, in what he eats. If you pick the vegetarian box, or the five dish box, there are no swaps available currently. Whilst part of the idea of the box is to try things you wouldn't normally eat, I prefer to have the option to rule out something I definitely wouldn't want. Also, having looked at some of the menus, I think that at times some of the dishes can be a little simple -  even with a money-off voucher I would hope for something more exciting than pasta with chorizo (which seems to be regular feature).

So, would I order again? Well, I am committed to at least one more box, and I am looking forward to ordering it in a few weeks. At the moment I have put the delivery on pause (otherwise you automatically get it every week) so that we can time it for a quieter week. The company have done the costings and I do think it is probably equivalent to buying the ingredients from the supermarket. 

However, the reality is, if I were shopping for the recipes, I would probably buy more of the ingredients and either make a double portion to freeze or use them for other dishes. I think that at least some of the ingredients would be cheaper to buy in bigger quantities, potentially reducing the cost per dish, per person. Having said that, as someone who is always mortified by how much we have leftover from our shops (hence the celery soup and grapefruit cake I made last weekend!) it was another tick in the virtuous box to know we weren't contributing to the food waste statistics for a week.

At £39, which is the standard price for the box we ordered, £13 for a dish for two people seems expensive when I consider what our normal weekly shop costs. It is definitely a luxury, and I'm still undecided as to whether the convenience of having all the required ingredients and a recipe dropped at the door, and the novelty of eating something other than the same few dishes, is worth the extra outlay. I would hope to keep the account open, and maybe place an order every few months as a treat. There are apparently extra perks when you have ordered a set number of boxes too, but I'm trying not to let myself get drawn in by that! 

If you are interested in trying it out yourself - feel free to use my referral code at Hello Fresh:


With this code, you get £20 off your first box (as long as you buy a minimum of two), and I get £12 off any box I order - which I would of course be thrilled about! Hello Fresh state that you can use this code on blogs and twitter so hopefully I'm not breaking any rules! I also just want to make clear that I haven't had any involvement with Hello Fresh beyond being a normal paying customer, I just wrote this post to share my experience (and it seemed a shame to waste the photos!). Let me know if you give it a go, or if you have already - I'd love to know what other people thought!


  1. sounds fun, I do like trying new recipes x

    1. it was great fun - definitely worth a go though I am worried it might turn into a bit of a habit! thanks for your comment!