I have to get something off my chest…
I recently cheated on HelloFresh (HF) with Blue Apron (BA). Ever since I subscribed to HF I’ve been peppered with BA emails, mailers and weekly promotions. I finally caved and gave it a shot to see if I should make a switch.
Before I go into a full review of both meal subscription services I want to say that this post isn’t sponsored and neither BA or HF have reached out to me to review their delivery service — although I’d totally be excited if they did! But the good news is that you get my truly honest opinion on both services.
WEEKLY PLAN PRICING: For both services I chose the two-person box which comes with 3 generous portion recipes (I found both services leave just enough leftovers to feed my toddlers or pack a lunch for the following day). However, if you’re looking to feed a larger family you should consider the family plan. Here is how the plans stack up against each other in terms of pricing…
MEAL & DELIVERY CUSTOMIZATION: Both services allow you to customize your boxes by choosing from a menu of weekly chef-curated recipes (including vegetarian options) either on the website or on the mobile app. However, HF offers a little bit more flexibility with six menu options to pick from and you can further customize your recipe preferences by adding a filter to your account such as quick, variety, pork-free, beef-free, seafood-free or fit (meals 500 calories or less). BA picks the default meals for you based on your saved preferences but gives you an option to swap out dishes from another menu. However, not all substitute options may be available so choices can be limited.
You can also customize your delivery schedule. For both services, you can skip a delivery (or multiple deliveries) with at least a week in advance notice. If you aren’t home during delivery your box is left on your doorstep. Both systems use the same frozen gel packs for insulated shipping so your box is packaged to stay fresh for the entire delivery day. The packaging is also modified depending on the season or your location.
PACKAGING: I found this to be the biggest difference between the services.
HF has the best packaging stratagem – everything I need for each meal is contained in three cardboard boxes, inside the larger shipping box.
BA throws ALL of the ingredients into one large box. Additionally, most of the ingredients come in individual shrink wraps or paper bags. The extra packaging seemed wasteful but I did appreciate BA taking up less precious space in my fridge. Also, one thing I had to be extra careful about with BA was some of my recipes required the same ingredients in different amounts (mainly spices), and in a hurry one evening I used the incorrect portion with the incorrect meal so you need to pay extra attention when sorting out your ingredients!
RECIPE CARDS: Both services include full color recipe cards on card stock with photo demonstrations and easy step by step instructions to prepare the meal. Personally, I like HF cards better because they are smaller so they fit better in the stack inside my kitchen drawer and I love that HF includes a kitchen tools list and estimated nutrition (not just calories, but carbs, fat, protein, and fiber).
THE FOOD: With BA and HF all of the ingredients are super fresh, locally sourced and arrive in pre-measured quantities. You receive everything you need (down to pinches of chili flakes and one-ounce bottles of vinegar) with the exception of olive oil, salt and pepper. With HF I feel the ingredients are prepped one step further than with BA. For example, an annoyance I had with BA was the garlic wasn’t peeled and it added a ton of extra prep time to my meal. For me, this basically canceled out some of the promised convenience.
Both services consistently produce flavorful meals but the BA Pork Chops & Spicy Chow Chow was hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever made. The BA recipes were a little more experimental which I enjoyed because I’m always looking to improve my cooking skills. The HF recipes are a little bit healthier with simple mainstream dishes that balance the right amount of flavor and complexity.
I also can’t rave enough about how both systems offer the highest quality meats and seafoods. In fact, my experience with HF ingredients has somewhat made me a meat and seafood snob now when grocery shopping. I love how fresh the seafood is, how the chicken comes trimmed with no fat and the portion size of beef/pork is always so generous.
THE VERDICT: Both services do a terrific job of delivering amazingly fresh ingredients and offering a variety of dishes and easy-to-read recipes. I felt the deliciousness of the BA meals canceled out the inconvenient and wasteful packaging. And the HF ingredient prep, fewer steps and simplified packaging cancel out the higher pricing (a few dollars more than BA).
While meal delivery services aren’t for everyone and can be more expensive than your normal meals, I suggest trying it out as a treat from time to time if you want a free pass on meal planning, the luxury of having your groceries delivered to your door and learning new skills.
Want to try HelloFresh? Use promo code MG8GKD for $40 off your first box! That means you can try out HelloFresh for $29 and then cancel after your box arrives or keep on going. I don’t have a code for Blue Apron but I would suggest trying both services out to see which one you like best!