Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough time to prepare a healthy, homemade meal. Figuring out what to make for the week, shopping for ingredients, and cooking each meal can take hours. But research suggests homemade meals are more nutritious than other options, and failing to meet your nutritional needs can negatively impact your mental health. On the other hand, some foods can actually improve your mental health.

Instead of reaching for a fast food menu when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might want to consider meal delivery kits. These are pre-planned, pre-measured, and ready-to-cook meals shipped straight to your home. When testing the best weight loss programs, the Handbook Team tried out HelloFresh to find out if it offers the convenience and nutritional value to simplify meal planning and grocery shopping.

With HelloFresh, you pick a few favorites from a menu of about 100 meals each week. Labels like Calorie Smart, Quick, or Veggie help you find options that suit your lifestyle. Ingredients for the week ahead arrive at your front door on the day of your choosing. All that’s left to do is follow the recipe.

Our HelloFresh review explains the pros and cons of this service based on real-life testing. Keep reading to learn more.

Score: 4.25/5
  • Fresh, unblemished produce, meat, and poultry.
  • Swap any sides or proteins to accommodate preferences.
  • Generous portion sizes are ideal for families.
Key features
  • Price per serving: $9.99–$11.49.
  • Plans: Two to six meals per week, two or four servings per meal. 
  • Types of meals offered: Meat & veggies, vegetarian, pescatarian, family-friendly, fast & easy, fit & wholesome.
  • Type: Meal kit.
  • Delivery area: Continental U.S. and select zip codes in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Shipping cost: $10.99.
Pros and cons of HelloFresh
Pros Generous portions. Fresh meat and produce. Kid-approved recipes, including lunch box meals. Some recipes include instructional photos. Plenty of add-ons for breakfast or snacks. Proteins or sides can be changed when ordering. Menus released up to six weeks in advance. Cons No allergen labels on sauce packets. Delivered in a heavy box. Some meals are high in sodium. Some meals can take longer to prepare than advertised.

Our expert opinion on HelloFresh 

As part of our testing process, we asked a couple with two young kids to test HelloFresh. Based on their experiences, HelloFresh earned a spot on our best meal delivery services roundup as “best for families.” So far, they’ve tried meals like Mandarin Orange Chicken & Broccoli and Beef & Zucchini Baked Penne, and they’re impressed by the quality of the ingredients. 

From our tester

“The produce appears very clean and fresh right out of the box, and is nice and crisp with no blemishes.”

Green beans, broccoli, green onions, and mandarin oranges on a wooden cutting board.
HelloFresh ingredients arrive crisp, fresh, and unblemished.

Our testers love the portion sizes of each meal. “We often have leftovers for lunch the next day, which is great,” they say. Each week’s menu includes an option for one “big-batch dinner,” which doubles the usual amount of servings—perfect for get-togethers or busy weeknights. Our testers say they are planning to freeze the extra servings for later. “We had no clue it would make so much food,” they say. Note that big-batch dinners cost extra.

Beef and penne pasta casserole with dollops of ricotta cheese on top in an aluminum baking pan.
The Beef and Zucchini Baked Penne made more than enough food for a family of four.

As for taste, our testers like everything they’ve tried so far and say they would reorder every meal. Our testers’ two-year-old approves too. “Our youngest has been interested in everything from HelloFresh and especially loves the Beef & Zucchini Baked Penne.” 

Our testers feel that HelloFresh is one of the best meal delivery services for picky eaters because you can swap out any of the sides or proteins when ordering. 

HelloFresh meals are easy to make and require only basic skills for preparation, like chopping, measuring, and sauteing. Our testers appreciate the instructional photos that accompany some of the recipe cards. A few recipes call for special cookware or tools, like an oven-safe pan or a zester, but none have required bigger appliances, like a blender or stand mixer. On the website, each recipe lists the necessary kitchen tools so you can plan accordingly.

The back of a HelloFresh beef and penne pasta recipe card with step-by-step photos and instructions for making the meal.
Photos and instructions accompany every step of some of HelloFresh’s recipes.

When browsing the weekly menu, you can easily see the estimated cook time for each meal. There’s a large selection of recipes that can be made in 20 minutes or less, which our testers say is crucial for family life. “I need someone to help with the kids when a recipe takes longer than that,” one tester says. 

Each HelloFresh weekly menu has another bonus for families: quick lunch box recipes for kids. The well-balanced meals come together in 15 minutes and provide enough servings for multiple days.

From our tester

“The Mandarin Chicken & Broccoli tasted so good! The sauce was tangy and sweet, and overall it was super flavorful. I liked that there were lots of fresh veggies in there alongside the chicken.”

Who may like HelloFresh 

  • Anyone looking for large portion sizes.
  • Families needing lunch box meal kits.
  • Families or individuals wanting to improve the variety of their diet. 
  • Picky eaters wanting to swap out ingredients as needed.
  • People without diet restrictions.
  • Beginner cooks.

Who may not like HelloFresh 

  • People looking for a variety of low-sodium options (less than 140 mg per serving).
  • People following keto, paleo, vegan, or plant-based diets.
  • People who need food manufactured in dedicated allergen-free facilities.

How does HelloFresh work? 

HelloFresh is a weekly subscription service that you can pause or cancel anytime. During sign up, you’ll be asked to choose your preferences, like family-friendly, vegetarian, or quick meals. You’ll also select the number of servings for each meal (two or four) and the number of meals you’d like each week (two to six). 

Screenshot of personalized meal plan selections on the HelloFresh website.
To sign up for HelloFresh, you’ll be asked to indicate your meal preferences and plan size.

On the next two screens, you’re asked to create a username and password and enter your shipping information. 

You can choose to receive deliveries on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. Depending on where you live, you may see delivery options for other days of the week. Unfortunately, you can’t ask for the food to be delivered at a specific time of day. HelloFresh says deliveries may arrive any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. You may want to have a backup dinner planned for the delivery date. Our testers’ first delivery arrived at 6:45 p.m.—too late to make dinner for that day.

The packages arrive with an ice pack to keep everything cool during transit, but you should use your best judgment when inspecting the food and throw out any temperature-sensitive items that don’t feel cool to the touch (and report those items to HelloFresh customer service). 

Next, you’ll enter your payment information. HelloFresh accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and PayPal. You’ll automatically be charged each week four days prior to your delivery date. You can skip a month at any time by logging into your account and resetting your delivery dates. If you simply forget to choose meals for the week, HelloFresh will choose meals for you based on your indicated preferences.

Finally, you can select meals for your first delivery, add extras, and swap out proteins or sides. You can also select meals for the next six weeks. The cut-off for choosing your meals for the week is five days before your delivery day. 

Ingredients are sorted into brown paper bags for each meal. Our testers say the bags arrived torn for their first delivery, and only one ice pack was included. However, the food seemed sufficiently cool. Depending on how much food you order, the box can get heavy. “I could have easily hurt my back trying to lift it,” one tester says. 

Three HelloFresh brown paper delivery bags with rips in some spots.
HelloFresh packs ingredients into separate brown bags and ships them all in a cardboard box. Some of the bags were torn on arrival at our tester’s home.

Meal plan options

HelloFresh offers the following meal plan options to suit your diet or lifestyle:

  • Meat and Veggies.
  • Vegetarian.
  • Pescatarian.
  • Family-Friendly.
  • Ready in Under 20 Minutes.
  • Fit & Wholesome (includes Calorie Smart meals that offer less than 650 calories per serving and Carb Smart meals with less than 40 grams of net carbs per serving).

How much do HelloFresh plans cost? 

Most HelloFresh plans cost $9.99 per serving. The minimum order is two 2-serving meals, which costs $45.96 ($11.49 per serving). On the other hand, a box with six 4-serving meals costs $239.76 ($9.99 per serving). Because you can add extra items for breakfast or snacks, your total cost may be higher. 

According to our testers, meals with premium proteins like steak and fish cost $5–$8 extra in total. Big-batch dinners, which double the usual servings, also cost extra.

Shipping costs $10.99 for each weekly delivery.

Recipes per weekPrice per serving for 2 peoplePrice per serving for 4 people

HelpGuide Handbook’s testing methodology for meal delivery services

of research
500+   hours
of research
26+   platforms
600   people
and tested
200+   meals prepared
and tested

Our Handbook Team tests the top meal delivery programs by signing up as mystery shoppers to try the service and meals for one week each. So far, we have tested 26 of the top meal delivery platforms. During that time, we do the following:

Our meal delivery service testing process
Sign up for the service as a new member. Sign up for the service as a new member.
Select one week’s worth of meals. Select one week’s worth of meals.
Evaluate the program for dietary and food allergy options. Evaluate the program for dietary and food allergy options.
Place an order for the meals and set a delivery date. Place an order for the meals and set a delivery date.
Track and evaluate the delivery. Track and evaluate the delivery.
Unbox package when it arrives and document the condition and quality of all items. Unbox package when it arrives and document the condition and quality of all items.
Prepare meals throughout the week following instructions and recipes. Prepare meals throughout the week following instructions and recipes.
Evaluate each meal for taste, convenience, portion size, and freshness. Evaluate each meal for taste, convenience, portion size, and freshness.
Contact customer support with questions. Contact customer support with questions.
Cancel subscription. Cancel subscription.

We become familiar with each meal delivery service to learn how they work, the types of meals they offer, and how much effort it takes to prepare each meal. We specifically ask each tester to evaluate each meal kit for ingredient freshness, convenience, taste, portion sizing, and whether they offer meals with enough food to feed a family of four.

Testers also note the types of meals the brands offer, whether they deliver the ingredients and recipes for you to prepare your own meal, or if they deliver pre-made meals that you heat in the stove or microwave oven. If the platform gives you the ingredients to prepare, we look to see if they offer meals for different cooking skill levels.

We also surveyed 600 meal kit and meal delivery service users to learn more about their experiences. We use these survey results, our testing data, and insights from nutrition experts to develop a thorough perspective on each meal delivery service we review.

For more information, see our healthy living review methodology.

How we test HelloFresh 

Ingredient freshness: 5/5

We ask testers to unpack all ingredients immediately upon delivery and look for signs of spoilage. So far, everything in the HelloFresh delivery has been fresh, crisp, and high-quality. Testers haven’t thrown out anything rotten or questionable. 

Convenience: 4/5

Our testers say HelloFresh meals took longer to cook than advertised, and the first delivery arrived after the kids had gone to bed. On a more positive note, the directions are easy to follow and don’t require an excessive amount of cookware. “Cleanup is no worse than a normal night of cooking,” one tester says. 

Sauces and spices are pre-portioned to save time and reduce clean-up, but you do need some pantry staples on hand, like butter, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Each recipe lists items that aren’t included in the delivery to help you plan ahead. 

Taste: 4/5

So far, our testers have rated the taste of HelloFresh meals as 3.5–4.5 out of 5 and say they would eat every meal again. Nothing has been inedible or contained an odd texture, but you may have a different opinion based on your preferences. Their two-year-old also enjoyed the taste of each meal and often asked for more. 

From our tester

“I think the meals have brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me realize that I could try to make more types of food that I’m not used to making, including whole dishes like enchiladas or proteins like pork.”

Accurate portion size: 4/5

Our testers believe HelloFresh portion sizes aren’t accurate and that you’ll likely end up with excess food. To some, that may be a good thing, especially if you need more calories than most. If you feel that HelloFresh meals provide more servings than you need, you can order fewer meals, eat leftovers for lunch or dinner, or freeze your leftovers for a future meal. 

Family Friendly: 4/5

Our testers think HelloFresh has family-friendly qualities, like the big-batch dinners. “If you were hosting family or had your kid’s friends come over after soccer practice, it’s a way to plan for more food to be on the table,” one tester says. 

Lunch box meals can also help parents prepare healthy food for their kids to bring to school, and our testers think most kids would eat (or at least try) most items on the full HelloFresh menu.
On the other hand, our testers aren’t happy that some meals take longer than advertised to cook, which takes them away from time with their kids. 

From our tester

“I also don’t love that I have to pay extra for meals that include nicer proteins like steak or fish, since that’s hard on our family’s budget.”

Other factors we consider

When evaluating meal delivery services like HelloFresh, we also consider customer service, shipping times, packaging quality, price, menu customization, and healthy options. 

It’s easy to manage your account through the HelloFresh website, but if you have questions or run into trouble, the best way to reach someone is to call the customer care line at 646-846-3663. 

Deliveries ship quickly so your food remains cold, but unlike some other meal delivery services like Blue Apron, HelloFresh boxes don’t have an insulated liner to prolong chilling time. Ingredients are bundled in brown paper bags, which may rip. It’s unclear whether this happens when the food is being packed or during transit. 

Starting at $9.99 per serving, HelloFresh is one of the cheapest meal delivery services on the market and offers a good variety of meals. It’s also one of the few brands that allows you to customize your order by swapping out sides and proteins.

Finally, we asked Christi Bowling, a registered dietitian based in Franklin, Tennessee, to review the HelloFresh menu from a health perspective. She recommends eating meals where half the food consists of non-starchy vegetables, a quarter consists of lean protein, and the final quarter is a whole grain or a starchy vegetable. 

“By following this template, you can ensure you are getting a variety of different foods in your diet and that you are consuming the right portion sizes of each nutrient,” Bowling says. “When looking at HelloFresh, the menu items that most closely resemble the balanced plate are the Protein Smart, Carb Smart, and Calorie Smart options.” Bowling also recommends these options if you want to lose weight.

Our final thoughts on HelloFresh 

Our HelloFresh review is positive overall: Testers say the meals are tasty, make plenty of food, and include fresh produce. Our testers have enjoyed the opportunity to try meals outside of their comfort zone, and the ability to swap sides and proteins makes HelloFresh a more family-friendly option compared to competitors. However, HelloFresh may not be the best choice if you have serious dietary restrictions.

Our favorite things

We like the portion sizes of HelloFresh meals, which are more likely to give you leftovers than to leave you hungry. We like the quality and freshness of ingredients, the taste of the finished meals, and the detailed recipe cards, especially when they include pictures for each step. We also appreciate how easy it is to swap out proteins or sides to accommodate preferences, and that menus can be viewed up to six weeks in advance. 

Our complaints

We don’t love the HelloFresh packaging and would like to see an insulated liner in the cardboard box, plus sturdier bags that don’t tear in transit. We also don’t like that sauce packets and other ingredients don’t contain allergen labels. Many HelloFresh meals are high in sodium and may not be the healthiest options, especially for people with high blood pressure. Research also suggests that eating a high-sodium meal before bed can impact sleep quality, so you may want to scrutinize the sodium content of each HelloFresh meal even if you don’t have hypertension

Frequently asked questions

Meal delivery services like HelloFresh can help you save time on meal planning, add some variety to your dinner rotation, and reduce the amount of time you spend in the grocery store. Depending on your goals, HelloFresh may be worth the cost. Most meals start at $9.99 per serving. Our testers think HelloFresh is a good option if you’re looking for a customizable family-friendly menu and don’t have significant dietary restrictions.

HelloFresh may help with weight loss, especially if you eat meals with enough protein and fiber to help you feel full. This can help you reduce the calories you consume throughout the day, which may help with weight loss. 

HelloFresh is one of the most customizable meal delivery services on the market. You can swap out any protein or side dish to meet your preferences.

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