How many times have you stood in front of the fridge, and all of a sudden your mind goes blank. Even if there is food in there, you can sometimes feel uninspired when it comes to food. Don't get me wrong I love cooking and I do experiment occasionally with food, when I have the time, but more often than not I make, and eat the same things over, and over again.
So what do you do when you're bored, the fridge is empty and you're lacking in inspiration? Well the most obvious answer is to let somebody else do the cooking, and go out for a meal or have a takeaway, but if you love being in the kitchen, there are other ways, you can read through some cookery books, you can take a trip to your local supermarket or farm shop or you could try one of the many meal delivery or box schemes that are out there.
Probably like most of you I'd seen the adverts for Hello Fresh on TV but it wasn't something that I'd never thought much about, that was until I received a £25 gift card in a recent Glossybox. An odd collaboration with a beauty box but after a little discussion with Mummy Lou and a look at the Hello Fresh website, we decided to use the voucher and order a box.
Some meal boxes on the market deliver ready prepared meals but Hello Fresh is a little bit different. Every week the chefs at Hello Fresh create delicious, and nutritious recipes in their own kitchens, and instead of being sent a ready meal, you're sent the freshest and best quality ingredients to make the recipes in your own kitchen, usually in less than half an hour.
There are a few different boxes to choose from a Classic Box, a Family Box, and a Veggie Box. Obviously being a vegetarian, I went for the Veggie Box, which is ideal for lacto ovo vegetarians like myself - It contains no meat or fish but it does potentially contains eggs, and dairy products. My one issue is that some of the recipes do contain wheat or gluten but as you'll see there are ways round it.
The Veggie Box that I got costs £36 and comes with the ingredients to make three, generous main meals for 2 people, but you can also get a Veggie box that makes 3 meals for 4 people if you have more mouths to feed. The Classic Box works in a similar way and you also have the option of getting a 5 meal box, and the Family box provides 4 meals a week for 4-5 people.
The good thing about the Hello Fresh scheme is that it flexible, you don't have to buy what you don't want, you can pause and stop deliveries at any time or you can just get a one off box when you feel like it. All the boxes are delivered on a Monday and then you can see a preview of the next weeks meals and if you don't want them you can just pause your account.
I enjoyed my first box so much that I got another one delivered on Monday and this was it.
My boxes were delivered by DHL and I received emails from both them and Hello Fresh ahead of my delivery. My goodies came in a strong cardboard box divided up into a couple of section depending on the food type. All of the chilled items came with ice packs and well wrapped up in insulated packaging, and the rest of the items were well protected with brown paper.
All of the vegetables, fresh herbs and tinned items arrived in excellent condition.The vegetables were firm and unblemished, I received pasta that was made in Italy and the tinned tomatoes and lentils that I got were organic.
I also received a paper bag containing two fresh garlic cloves, and little individual, portion controlled plastic pots of spices.
Finally I received an insulated bag, filled with ice packs and my refrigerated items - fresh peas, real Cypriot Halloumi, a small tub of Creme Fraiche and some real Italian Buffalo Mozzarella. No smart price items here - just good quality, premium, authentic products
So you've got your ingredients then what ? Well for every recipe you received a full colour recipe card, that gives you full instructions on how to prepare every aspect of the dish. The card also provides allergy advice, and nutritional and calorie information. It also gives you a little bit of inspiration behind the dish and an idea of what to expect from it.
The first recipe that I tried this week was Lentil And Charred Vegetable Halloumi Salad.
I am probably the worlds biggest halloumi lover (read my post in praise of the squeaky cheese here) so this recipe was right up my street. Basically you char grill the red pepper and the courgette in a little bit of olive oil, before mixing with the drained green lentils and rocket. You then top it with an
easy salad dressing made with a sprig of thyme, some lemon juice, seasoning and olive oil. Then you toss the halloumi in a little olive oil and some lemon zest before frying it till golden. Top your salad mix with the halloumi and you're done x
In a word - amazing - The saltiness of the halloumi combined perfectly with the tangy dressing, the earthiness of the lentils, the pepperiness of the rocket and the sweetness of the peppers. This was a really nice, and surprisingly filling dish that I'll definitely make again. The only things I needed to add were some salt, pepper and olive oil, and I had some thyme and some lemon left over.
The next meal that I made was something I wasn't sure about at first but it's something that I will definitely make again - Mustard Seed Green Bean Salad With Roasted Sweet Potato.
This was probably the most complicated of the 3 recipes, because you were really making three separate things, it was still pretty simple though and the step by step instructions were easy to follow.
Seeing as I'm a bit of a sweet potato addict the wedges were easier enough to make and they were served with a creamy creme fraiche, lemon and ginger dip. Alongside that you made a salad with fresh peas, sugar snap peas, and green beans, with added red onion, red chilli, garlic and lemon zest, all topped with mustard, nigella, and coriander seeds roasted in oil.
This dish was a real taste explosion that made the most of some really fresh ingredients. The sweet potatoes were sweet and caramelised, the dip was zingy and creamy, and the bean salad was full of fresh flavours, with a hit of warmth from the raw onion, garlic and chilli, and spiciness from the roasted seeds. As I say this dish really surprised me by just how good and how filling it was, and by the multitude of different flavour sensations. I didn't use all the chilli as it was a little on the warm side and I had some ginger and some lemon leftover, and again the only thing I needed to add was oil, salt and pepper.
The final recipe was a nice quick and filling Italian meal, Rigatoni Caprese With Olives And Mozzarella.
This recipe came with a packet of Italian made dried rigatoni pasta which was obviously crammed full of wheat and gluten so I substituted it for the same amount of gluten free pasta. I couldn't find any free from rigatoni but pasta is pasta so fusilli it was. All of the recipes list the allergens quite clearly and it's pretty easy to substitute or replace your own ingredients if your don't like something or if you are allergic.
This was probably the quickest and easiest recipe of the three, you just a really basic tomato sauce, with organic tinned tomatoes, onions, garlic, black olives and lots and lots of fresh basil. Just mix your sauce in with pasta and top with some fresh basil and torn up buffalo mozzarella.
This was a really simple recipe but again it was a recipe that came into it's own because of the freshness and quality of the ingredients. The olives were strong and salty, the basil was hot and peppery and the mozzarella was incredible and easily the nicest that I've ever had. It was firm on the outside and beautifully creamy on the inside. The only additions were salt, pepper and olive oil but I have to admit that I add the a little bit of red chilli to give it a bit more of a bite. This wasn't the most exciting recipe of the 3 but it was a good staple recipe that could be the base for many more meals.
My Hello Fresh experience so far has been a good one, the quality of the ingredients has really, really impressed me and the recipes have all been tasty, plentiful and easy to follow. Even if your not a regular cook I don't think you'd have a problem following the recipes and if like me you are a dab hand in the kitchen then these recipes will hopefully inspire you to experiment and try out new things and different ingredient combinations.
The boxes aren't cheap but with the box that I get each meal works out at around £6 per potion, per person which isn't that bad when you consider what you spend on a takeaway or in a restaurant. That said I won't be buying a box every week but for an occasional treat or for a when time is precious or when I'm lacking in inspiration, I'll definitely indulge again.
If you fancy trying out a Hello Fresh for yourself, just go to the Hello Fresh website, sign up using my referral code A2NEYL, and get £20 off your first box x Whether you're a hardcore foodie or even if your just a lazy, this could be the answer to your stomachs prayers. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions please leave me a comment x