HelloFresh. Don't. No, really, don't.

Following on from my previous item, in which I hoped I might have saved you 500 (dollars/pounds) by avoiding that robot, I'm now going to advise you to save yourself 30 pounds per month, by avoiding an organisation called HelloFresh.

What do they do?

Each week, you'll open simple step-by-step recipes complete with nutritional information and fresh,
pre-measured ingredients to get you whipping up delicious dinners in no time.

True. Each week DPD will bring you a large cardboard box containing everything you need to create three different dinners. All you need to add is water and usually a little cooking oil, and you will almost certainly have all the necessary pots and pans, utensils and maybe tinfoil. The packaging is, admittedly, rather impressive. There'll be a big plastic bag containing a very efficient looking insulation mat and two or three ice packs. Inside this will be the meat and any other readily perishable goods. There will also be three brown paper bags in the box, each containing all the necessary non-perishable requirements for each of the three meals - onions, garlic, chili and string beans spring to mind, as well as little bags of soy and other sauces and various dry powders.

How did I get into it?

One of my daughters had discovered HelloFresh, and they had given her three voucher numbers to be given to friends and family, which gave them one free meal pack. So I signed up, and soon my first pack arrived. Part of the signup process involved providing direct debit bank details - of course!

And how were the meals?

I must have been very lucky here, because the first one I thought I'd try was called Chicken Laksa. It was very nice indeed! As with all their meals, there was a fair amount of preparation and coordination of the different pots and pans but I got there in the end. I suppose good food needs good preparation and lots of hard work; too much of both for this one-pan guy to be honest. I worked my way through the other two meal kits and was less impressed. Neither reached the levels of the Laksa. After the first meal, the Laksa, I was definitely of a mind to take up a subscription. 30 quid a week for three meals for two people - or two nights of each for a single person. So essentially, 5 quid a night. Hmmmm, borderline value; I usually spend less than this to feed myself, and I do eat well.

But next . . .

Exactly a week after receiving the free sample pack, a text message: your DPD driver Marcin will bring your HelloFresh order between 11:30 and 12:30. You know, you've all had these. Wait a minute, thought I! I didn't order another weekly pack! It seems it's an opt-out requirement - you don't tell them to send another, you have to tell them to NOT send another, otherwise they just do. I went to their website and cancelled my subscription, and worked my way through another three meals. So now, out of six dinners, only one was truly impressive, the first. The other 5 were just, well, dinner really, nothing delightful.

And next . . .

Blow me down if Marcin wasn't back again the following week! Now I've paid 60 quid for dinners I didn't opt in for. Back to their website - confirmed, I have already unsubscribed. I need to phone these buggers, I thought. But then, within minutes, an email: thanks so much for updating your account to the Chef's Special. Whoa! I didn't touch anything on their website! I looked, I saw I really had already unsubscribed, and left. Apparently this was enough to resubscribe.

Phoned them

A nice German gentleman (they are at heart a German company) admitted that the last event, my inadvertent resubscribe, was an error. He confirmed that I would NOT receive any more meal packs. Sure enough, yesterday, a week after the last one, Marcin of DPD did not visit me. It transpires that if you DON'T want one you have to give 9 days notice!


As for the downsides: well I've already advised you that out of a total of 9 dinners, only one actually had my mouth watering; the other 8 had me wondering what I was wasting my money on. Then there's the Hotel California situation, which seems apt:

You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave

See the last line there?

So it's quite a clever operation - by accepting that one free offer you're actually committed to receiving two more. When the first free one arrives, you've already missed the boat for cancelling the second one. Then, because you don't know that number 2 is already in the pipeline, you've already missed out on cancelling number 3 when it arrives. So that free offer is far from free really, isn't it?

More on the content

Now, for 30 quid I would expect really very good quality ingredients. But I'm quite fussy, particularly with meat. I trim off every speck of fat. Some of the recipes include mince: beef or pork. If I buy mince I buy the pinkest lowest fat mince I can find. I reject if there's any white bits apparent in the mince, because they equal either fat or cartilage - gristle. And as for chicken fat, no way. Chicken fat tastes absolutely disgusting. The beef and pork mince I've received from HelloFresh are of low quality in the above respects, in my humble submission. One recipe called for chicken thighs. They were boneless, but so fatty it took me 20 minutes to trim them, at the expense of maybe one eighth of the total weight.

Then there's the rest of the ingredients. Chilli and garlic, for example. Both must have been cheap, because I was unable to taste either in the finished meal. One of the recipes advised you to put in as much chopped up chilli as you dare in the dish. I put it all in, I like heat. Nothing. I could go on about quality, but I will add one point: I can't remember what the ingredient was now, but I do clearly recall noticing it was a little beyond its best-by or sell-by date. That shouldn't happen.

Some of the recipes were fairly complex, requiring numerous ingredients. Because of quality issues and sheer quantity, I found that everything lost its identity. You could no longer taste ingredients A or B, and everything became a sort of unidentifiable C.


So there we have it. I won't use the words rip or off, but I do object to the three week tie in, which you seem unable to escape, and the quality issues. All in all, I really cannot recommend HelloFresh at all.