When supermarket shopping was like Russian roulette at the start of the pandemic, I batch cooked and froze meals knowing that if I did have to self-isolate, I would have home-cooked meals to fall back on. What I hadn’t factored in was that I would now be eating my own cooking EVERY SINGLE DAY. I also hadn’t appreciated how often I ate out and how small my repertoire was.
I then decided I was bored, bored, bored of cooking and bought two weeks’ worth of ready meals, where the only decision of the day was made by the use by date. As a novelty this worked for a week, the variation in quality offset by the fact I wasn’t opening the fridge and staring into the abyss.
Then snacking replaced meals as the real can’t be bothered anymore set in. This, I recognise was neither healthy nor solving the problem, so by the time the second lockdown came around I was ready for a change.
Hello ‘meal kits’! or to be more precise, Hello Fresh. Luckily for them, a half price offer popped up on Facebook coinciding with my need to redress my eating habits. I responded and received a phone call explaining how the site worked and before I could say – let me think about it, I had signed up.
One delivery in and my immediate impression was favourable. You can sign up for between 3-5 meals per week with servings from 2-4 people. If you are a singleton on the minimum menu (3 recipes, serving 2 people) you effectively get 6 home cooked meals for £26 (+ postage) if you don’t mind eating each recipe twice.
Delivery is efficient and well packaged with recycled materials. You have a designated day and a text giving you the one-hour slot. So, what of the actual recipes? They were incredibly easy to follow, if you have never cooked in your life, you could still make these. No chef assumptions here and all the ingredients are just enough for the recipe, so no waste and the dishes are tasty and relatively healthy (each recipe has full nutritional information). I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen these if I was flicking though a cookbook, but I enjoyed all three and happily rebooked for the following week.
And that’s when the wheels fell off the wagon. Delivery once again on point, but the recipes were not what I had ordered and worse, were recipes I had rejected as the ‘suggested menus’ when ordering. So whilst this website is relatively easy to use, it does have its pitfalls and customer service will tell you it’s always customer error, so tough (I did get a £10 credit when I said that wasn’t a particularly empathetic response). With a bit of more thought towards customer service in the operation of the website, this service could have kept its 100% record.
But despite that, I’m sticking with it for now or at least until boredom strikes again or we emerge from lockdown. It might well be worth researching other similar offerings like Simply Cook and Gusto before signing up. And don’t forget your local restaurants and self-employed chefs, who may well be offering pre-prepared meal kits that you either cook from scratch or just finish off. You will be eating well and supporting our hospitality industry, what a great combo.