WASHINGTON, January 10, 2013 — One afternoon a lovely cold box arrived on my front porch. Inside Hello Fresh, a new gourmet food delivery service, had provided recipes and all the ingredients needed to make three totally different meals: a chicken, a fish and a pasta.
Grouped together by recipe, ingredients for each meal were bagged and labeled, so once in the fridge there was no hunting, pecking, and guessing. I could simply pull out the all the labeled ingredients needed for the dinner I was making and get started. And when I say all ingredients, I mean all down to the tiniest pack, a tablespoon of white vinegar and the single foil-wrapped cube of bullion.
The recipes are idiot proof. Look at the pictures and follow the step by step directions, which are even broken down by the minutes each task takes so that you plan the steps (and your mini cooking breaks).
Each recipe card also includes nutritional information: calories to carbs to protein and fat. The recipe cards are so easy, in fact, that it’s a wonder why every cookbook and magazine recipe in the world hasn’t followed the Hello Fresh model.
I made all three meals after work for my six-year-old daughter and myself. None took more than an hour total from prep to table.
Dinner One: Pasta with zucchini and turkey sausage. Although I wish Hello Fresh has sent whole wheat pasta rather than plain linguine, other details made up for it, like the individually pre-peeled clove of garlic. This dish had complex, rich flavors and was exceedingly easy to make. Because the sauce, meat and vegetable were cooked in a single pan, cleanup was super easy. Another benefit of the single bowl dinner was that my six-year-old who typically resists both vegetables and meat plowed through her bowl because the sausage and zucchini was so well mixed with the pasta.
Dinner Two: Citrus flounder with gingered quinoa. The vacuum-packed flounder was unexpectedly fresh. The recipe, which called for wrapping the flounder around thin slices of nectarine and sprigs of dill, resulted in a light and flavorful dinner, especially good when paired with the gingered quinoa.
The ease with which this moist quinoa was made has forever changed the way I cook grains. A little olive oil, then dried quinoa and then finally two cups of chicken stock. Voila…non-stick, fluffy grains.
Dinner Three: I’ll admit that I am not a fan of Chinese food so when I saw the chicken with cashew and basmati rice recipe, my expectations were low. However, this dinner turned out to be my favorite of the three. The chicken was so tender (thanks to a simple marinade) that I could cut it with a fork. The basmati rice plumped up so that the grains were loose and fluffy, perfect for soaking up the soy-infused sauce. Biggest bonus of this meal was the addition of the crisp snow peas, which my daughter plucked out and ate like candy.
For me, Hello Fresh proved to be useful, tasty, fun and educational. One disappointment was that I would have preferred to cook with whole grains and organic produce.
Hello Fresh says it will source organic when it is available, but because some of the ingredients it taps for its recipes rely on more exotic ingredients, it’s not always possible.
Hello Fresh is new, but on the move. Already it ships food from New York and reaches the entire East Coast and deep into the Mid-West to Missouri and Illinois. It will be rolling out nationwide later this year.
Members are sent a list of choices for each week and then choose three to have shipped to their door. The cost for three meals for two people is $69. A new vegetarian option that debuted last month costs $59 for three meals for two people.
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