An avid cottager tried Hello Fresh and here is what happened

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Published: September 16, 2020

Exclusive offer for Cottage Life readers: get 6 free HelloFresh meals plus free shipping using code COTTAGELIFE during checkout at hellofresh.ca.

 

Switching back to a fall routine after a lazy summer at the lake is never easy. And it’s been especially stressful this year, so to ease my family into a healthy fall routine, I tried HelloFresh for a week. My goals were twofold: I wanted to make school weeknights easier, but I also wanted to help my family detox from constant cottage grilling. Since there’s only so much lettuce you can fit on a burger, I was eager to explore the “fresh” part of HelloFresh. Thankfully, it delivered.

 

HelloFresh is a “meal kit” that arrives at your door, removing the stress of meal planning, grocery shopping, and finding room for leftovers in your fridge. The recipes are simple; the ingredients are pre-portioned; and the food is, as the name suggests, fresh.

 

Everything about HelloFresh is designed to eliminate stress. It’s cheaper than takeout, it’s more convenient than buying groceries in bulk ahead of time, and it’s infinitely healthier than the weekday-rush meals we often resort to after a stressful day. It also eliminates food waste, which is a huge plus for any cottager who’s felt pangs of guilt while driving to the dump with a garbage bag dangling out their car window.

 

How the process works

To get started, visit hellofresh.ca and create an account. As a Cottage Life reader, you can get 6 free HelloFresh meals plus free shipping using the code COTTAGELIFE at checkout.

 

From there, you’ll be able to choose whether you want the “Meat & Veggies,” “Family friendly,” or “Vegetarian” plan, along with the number of people (two to four) you’ll be cooking for.

 

You can also choose how many nights each week you’d like to receive meals. For instance, choosing to have kits delivered for three nights a week would relieve meal-planning stress while still allowing some kitchen creativity or takeout experiences.

 

At that point, you can select from upwards of twenty meals, and they’ll be delivered right to your doorstep, along with precise instructions for how to prepare them.

 

What’s in the box?

When I received the box with my meals, it contained everything I needed and nothing I didn’t. Each day—and each ingredient—had its own package. And while that led to a lot of material being used, everything was recyclable. Even the frozen cooler packs were easy to empty and put in my blue bin. There were also thoughtful, easy-to-follow recipe sheets that won’t intimidate novice cooks like me.

I’m used to salmon on the grill, but the crispy skin of the Speedy Salmon with Warm Cranberry Relish made me want to relinquish my tongs.

 

At first I was surprised when I unpacked each meal. Why? Because while the plans are pre-portioned and pre-packaged, the ingredients are in no way “pre-cooked.” If your meal contains Israeli couscous, you’ll be washing it and cooking it from scratch. And if your Seared Barramundi with Horseradish Sauce has a side of home fries, prepare to scrub and slice the potatoes yourself. I don’t know why that caught me off-guard—it wouldn’t be “fresh” otherwise—but after a couple of nights I ended up appreciating the lack of handholding. Sure, I found it weird cutting and roasting my own croutons from a ciabatta bun. But to be honest, it was the first time I realized that croutons are meant to be more than tiny cubes of stale bread.

Yes, cutting my own croutons for the Summer Tomato Bruschetta Bowl was weird at first. But I swear I’ll never eat store-bought croutons again!

 

So would I do it again?

In a word, definitely. I’ve often heard that the best-tasting meal is one that someone else prepared. But after a week of HelloFresh, I’m not so sure about that. Yes, I enjoyed the food—way more than I thought I would. But I was surprised to find that I enjoyed cooking it with my son even more. Even if it meant cutting my own croutons.

The site called the horseradish sauce in the Seared Barramundi with Horseradish Sauce “feisty.” They’re correct, but it blends perfectly with the sweetness of the apples.

Curious to try it for yourself? Then here’s some great news: Cottage Life readers can get free HelloFresh meals plus free shipping using code COTTAGELIFE at checkout. Get started at hellofresh.ca.