Expectations vs Reality

HelloFresh Meals: Expectations vs Reality

If you’re thinking of signing up to HelloFresh, it’s very easy to be cynical when checking out their website and seeing all the beautifully presented meals cooked by professional chefs. You can even check out their upcoming menu for the next 3-4 weeks to see what dishes you could potentially be cooking. I’m personally a bit of a sucker for incredible looking food, but I also don’t want to be hooked in by a sales process that doesn’t match reality. Therefore, I wanted to test whether I can cook dishes up to look the same as the HelloFresh meals marketing material. In the process, I’ll also let you know if the meals tasted as good as they looked – because that’s important, right?

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a professional chef or photographer. I’m just a keen home cook with the advantage of a well-equipped kitchen. My pictures are taken with an iPhone 8 whilst I suspect HelloFresh uses a slightly more professional camera. None of this stops me from trying to compete!

What is HelloFresh?

HelloFresh is a fresh food delivery service that supplies weekly meals to homes all across Australia. For a reasonable weekly cost, you receive between 3 – 5 different meals including all the pre-portioned ingredients and a detailed recipe card. Each dish can generally be whipped up in less than an hour producing tasty, healthy meals. I find this is a fantastic way to ensure I eat healthily during the week and avoid going to my default takeaway choices. I’ve written a detailed review of Hello Fresh which you can find by pressing the button below.

Check out my HelloFresh review

If you’ve never used a Meal Kit service before, I’ve also pulled together the most detailed Meal Kit Guide on the internet to help you out.

Hello Fresh Meal 1 : Moroccan Spiced Chicken

This Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Lentil Rice & Cucumber Yoghurt promises us that the Lentil Rice will be a ‘revelation’ when served alongside the Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes. A fresh smattering of Parsley on top adds a touch of colour to the final dish with some fresh flavour. The recipe card promises to have this meal ready in 30-40 minutes. Let’s have a look at HelloFresh’s attempt compared to mine:

HelloFresh Meal - Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Visually, I’m going to claim success on this one. Admittedly, my plating (‘bowl’ing?) lets me down along with much darker lighting but all the edible elements are there. The chicken came out well-coloured and appetising, with the fresh colours of tomato and parsley coming through. The cucumber that arrived was too big for the amount of yoghurt, so admittedly that’s a little thicker than it should be.

Reality Matches Expectation

Not only did the meal look appetising, but it also tasted great. I’m a convert to lentil rice, which really complemented the spicy chicken and wasn’t too dry thanks to the cucumber yoghurt. The spice used is Ras El Hanout which is generally available in supermarkets here in Australia so I’ve used it a few times since to replicate those Moroccan flavours. Perhaps the unsung star of this dish is the roasted Beetroot though, providing a sweet earthy flavour running through the dish. Even if you dislike pickled beetroot, this is a completely different taste experience and well worth a try.

Hello Fresh Meal 2 : Mexican Pork Tacos

Moving from Morocco to Mexico, these Pork Tacos are served with Quick Pickled Onion & Garlic Aioli. I have a bit of fun reading the marketing write-ups for these dishes, promising that these Tacos will ‘turn a weeknight dinner into a fiesta’. I’m not sure I’ve ever returned home from work and needed a fiesta… more like needing a siesta. The dish can be pulled together in 25-35 minutes so let’s see how my attempt compares:

Hello Fresh Meals - Mexican Pork Tacos

I discovered very quickly that getting these Tacos to sit up in the same way as the promised picture, is almost impossible. Obviously, they just want to fall back flat instead of nice and tall for the photograph. As a result, I’m actually immensely proud of my picture. Using a skewer through the middle of the tacos allowed me to get them perfectly set up for a few seconds and they actually look really appetising.

Because my photo is also a fake reality, I’m saying this is Reality Fails Expectation.

However, everyone knows you’re going to get a bit messy eating Tacos so having them fall apart is just part of the Mexican ‘fiesta’. I was able to get these Tacos well filled and even had some leftover pickled onion for lunch the day after (beautiful on a salad). The sweet pickled onion perfectly cut through the spicy Mexican Pork, with a nice crunch from the Shredded Cabbage. These were absolutely delicious and I plan to cook them again, though I won’t be attempting to photograph them next time.

Hello Fresh Meal 3 : Seared Salmon

I’m going to provide a bit of a spoiler by saying this was my favourite Meal Kit meal I’ve ever had (and I’ve had hundreds in my time). It couldn’t have started any worse though as Hello Fresh forgot to pack my Salmon. A pretty critical ingredient, it must be said. You can see how they responded to this mishap in my full Hello Fresh review. Anyway, once you have your Salmon, it’s served with Mint Pearl Couscous & Lemon Yoghurt. If you’ve never had Pearl Couscous before, this is a perfect dish to give it a try (hint: delicious!). Let’s see how my attempt compares:

Hello Fresh Seared Salmon Comparison

I had quite a disagreement with Hello Fresh here on the best way to photograph this dish. Placing the Salmon on top of the Couscous gives a fantastic height to the dish that I think elevates the dish (mind the pun). So, I’m sticking with my side angle, with nicely coloured salmon and the earthy Pearl Couscous. The fresh Mint and Lemon give a nice bit of colour to the dish and I might have snuck an extra piece of Salmon on there. I was feeling extra hungry! It looked incredibly impressive and this would be the perfect date night meal.

Expectation Meets Reality

The taste really matched up to the visuals. Sweet Beetroot and Sweet Potato partnered with the fresh Mint and Lemon flavours are a winning combination. Alongside the tender Salmon, flaking apart and mixing in with the Couscous, this is a beautiful dish that works together perfectly. Make sure the root vegetables are in the oven long enough to get a bit of extra caramelisation as that brings another smart dimension to the dish.

Hello Fresh Meal 4 : Mediterranean Haloumi Burger

To give this dish it’s full title is a bit of a mouthful – Mediterranean Haloumi, a Pesto & Caramelised Onion Burger with Potato Wedges. Apparently you won’t need the local pub’s menu when you’ve got this recipe under your belt according to a Hello Fresh. I’m not sure any dish is going to stop me going for a pub lunch, but it’s a nice claim to make. Total cooking time is 40-50 minutes. This is mainly the Chips in the oven, the actual effort is more like 25 minutes. This is how my attempt compares:

Hello Fresh Meals - Halloumi Burger

I slightly regret getting this picture from side-on but I was getting pretty hungry at this point, so I wasn’t going to compete by deconstructing my burger. Although you can’t see the Tomato in the burger, I can guarantee it is there. The chips came out really well (tip: shake them every 5-10 minutes to help stop them sticking and crisp up all over) with good colouring. The burger has plenty of Haloumi and Caramelised Onion dripping down the side. A super easy dish to cook, I’m quite impressed by the way this came out.

Expectation Meets Reality

This is one dish where they can’t really get the taste wrong. Potato Wedges, Haloumi and Caramelised Onion are always going to be an absolute winner. There’s also a creamy Pesto dressing to spread onto the burger, adding a nice slightly nutty hint to the dish. I was surprised that both the Pesto and Onion came pre-prepared which kept the effort down to a minimum. Often with Meal Kits, these will need to be homemade from the fresh provided ingredients.

Tastebuds tingling? Hit the button below to check out the Hello Fresh menu for the next few weeks and see if you’d like to try it out.

   See the HelloFresh menu

We also offer a special discount where you can save 40% on your first Hello Fresh order when you click through from FoodBoxMate. You should see the discount automatically applied at checkout. Hit the button below to get the discount.

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