Speedy recipes, Fresh Ingredients, Flexible Subscription
-The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly-
Hello Fresh: More than Food. Chef-curated recipes based on seasonal farm fresh ingredients, delivered to your doorstep every week.
Summer has officially started! For us, that means we are even busier than we were in the Spring! With no school until September 5th, I’m tasked with trying to keep the kids busy and entertained. Most days (weather permitting of course) will see us out and about during the day, so I will be looking for quick and easy meals to feed my family.
Likewise, Christine will be helping run her hubby’s business and busy with her gardens and Tracker (fur-baby), so she will also be looking for delicious, easy to prepare meals to feed herself and her husband. She wants her kitchen time to be limited so that she can be outside as much as possible! And who can blame her? Hello, summer!
Hello Fresh is designed for busy families like ours. With speedy recipes, farm fresh ingredients, and a flexible subscription, Hello Fresh aims to make dinner time easy. They do all the shopping, most of the prepping, and all of the planning. Everything is delivered right to your door, with plenty of ice-packs to keep everything cool and fresh. All that is left to do is the cooking and the eating.
This time around, Hello Fresh offered both Christine and I the chance to test out the same recipe box. Christine received the 2 person Pronto box, and I received the 4 person Pronto box. Each box contains the ingredients for three recipes. We received the same ingredients, the same recipes, and the same instructions so that we could share (and compare) our experience together!
The Pronto Plan is quick, convenient, delicious and nutritious! Meals are simple to prepare, taking under 30 minutes to make, and full of exciting flavours to help break your mealtime routine.
- Pre-cut veggies & pre-measured ingredients
- Speedy recipes that can be cooked in 20-30 minutes
Pronto Box 6/24 – 6/30
This week features some distinct tastes of Canada in celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday!
Peameal Bacon sandwiches are often considered a signature dish of Toronto. Salty peameal bacon paired with a delicious coleslaw – it’s a dinner dream come true!
Maple Syrup is the ingredient that comes to mind when one talks about Canadian cuisine. This Canada Day, celebrate with a tasty maple-glazed salmon, wild rice and a yummy arugula salad.
Never made a roulade before? The simple instructions will make you a chef that will impress all your dinner companions!
All meals contain fresh and simple ingredients sourced right here in Canada. Ingredients and recipes will change throughout the year, with a focus on what is in season. Despite how fancy the pictures look, each recipe we are making this week contain 11 or less ingredients. The only ingredients we need to provide from our own kitchens are oil, sugar, salt and pepper. The recipe cards are easy-to-follow with step-by-step instructions, and even include what kitchen utensils we will need (the type of knife, a grater, parchment paper, etc). The pronto box recipes we received promise to be easy (with a level 1 cooking difficulty) and with a 30 minute preparation/cooking time.
Restaurant quality meals in half an hour? Count us in! Let the COOK OFF begin!
4 person Pronto Box
I was SUPER excited when Purolator dropped off my meal box on Wednesday morning. When I reviewed Hello Fresh earlier this year I was really WOWED by the amount of food I received (the 2 person Pronto Box that week made enough food for Chris, myself AND my 9 year old son).
When it comes to meal boxes like this, my biggest two concerns are: Freshness/Quality & Portion Size. Chris and Thomas are both very hearty eaters. Taylor has a much smaller appetite, and I prefer my plate to be full (and I mean heaping full) of vegetables with just enough protein to fill me up. My first impressions about all three meal boxes was that the ingredient amounts seemed awfully small, but I know that looks can be deceiving, so I kept an open mind. I was super excited to try everything out!
Peameal Bacon Sandwich with Apple-Mustard Slaw
Out of the three meals, this was the one I was most excited about. Being from Western Canada, I had never tried Peameal Bacon before but I have several friends who rave about it so I was excited to try it.
As Peameal Bacon was totally new to me, I had no idea how to cook it so I went by the directions exactly. The meat ended up over-cooked resulting in tough, chewy and difficult to eat pork loin. It was almost akin to chewing on a piece of leather. Portion wise, we found this meal very small. It was mostly coleslaw which is not at all filling.
I’m told that if I had been given proper cooking instructions for the meat that this meal would have been a lot better, but because I have no experience with Peameal Bacon I followed the recipe as written. This meal was a complete and total miss for my family.
I will also add: this is not bacon. This is very thinly sliced pork chop, and the “bacon” part is deceiving and added to my disappointment with this meal. I love bacon, but I’m not a huge lover of pork chops (I prefer ham and pork roasts).
Maple-Glazed Salmon with Orange-Arugula Salad and Wild Rice
I was really worried about the portion size with the salmon meal, but once everything was prepared my worries were squashed. The salmon portions were a good size and they tasted amazing, and there was so much rice that we had leftovers for lunch the next day. The glaze for the salmon was delicious, and even my 9 year old enjoyed it. Best of all, this was a VERY easy recipe to prepare, with very little prep work required. I would 100% prepare maple-glazed salmon again.
Unfortunately, my arugula had gone bad. I made this recipe on Thursday (I received the Hello Fresh box on Wednesday) so I was surprised that the arugula had gone slimy. I replaced it for what I happened to have on hand which was a mix of baby spinach and iceberg lettuce. My substitution did not work very well with the dressing, but the salmon and rice were delicious.
Cranberry and Cream Cheese Roulades
This is the meal my 9 year old was most excited for. I prepared it according to directions with two minor exceptions: On my portion, I substituted Laughing Cow Cheese (regular) for the Cream Cheese because I hate Cream Cheese, and I am the only one in my family who likes cranberries so I used half of the cranberries (instead of a quarter of them) on my own portion. I left them off the other portions completely. I made this meal for the kids and I. My youngest two have small appetites, so they shared a chicken portion meaning I was able to stretch this meal to feed five.
I had never made a roulade before, and so I was excited to learn a new kitchen skill, and I was impressed by the amount of broccoli and potatoes that were included with the chicken (there was SO much broccoli)! We love broccoli in my house, but I had never roasted it before, and was thrilled with how it turned out. The portions were quite large, and I would definitely make chicken roulades again (although I would use toothpicks instead of the string because the string was difficult to remove, especially for the kids).
I think the Chicken Roulades was the prettiest dish out of the three I made, and really the only one that I consider to be “Instagram” worthy.
2 person Pronto Box
Cranberry and Cream Cheese Roulades
I have to say that at first I was really worried about the portion size of the chicken breasts. I have never seen breasts that small. Although I had trouble butterflying the breasts, they turned out great – well – for the most part. I messed up on one and sliced it unevenly so I ate that one and gave hubby the perfectly sliced portion. Also, I am not a huge fan of cranberries or cranberry sauce – in fact – I dislike them and never eat them but hubby loves them. I followed the directions of the recipe provided by Hello Fresh in regards to preparing the chicken and oven roasting the potatoes. The one thing I did differently was that I steamed the broccoli instead of roasting it in the oven. I also topped it with Parmesan cheese to give it some added flavour. Since there was a cranberry theme happening, I went one step further and added some cranberry sauce that I happened to have on hand with some of the cranberries that were provided and added it to the plate for dipping.
I must say, I loved the combination of the cream cheese and cranberry. Dinner was easy to prepare, fast and above all – it was delicious and filling! Hubby was happy that it came with the recipe because he wants to make it again – he liked it that much!
Peameal Bacon Sandwich with Apple-Mustard Slaw
Ahhhh Yes! Peameal Bacon! Living in Southern Ontario, I grew up eating this meat. From a very early age, I learned how to prepare and cook it so that it would be juicy and tender. While there is always a great debate whether or not Peameal Bacon is actually Bacon, that really doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that I love it and it is a staple in our home.
The package that I received contained 8 very very thinly sliced portions of Peameal. The recipe directions called for cooking it on medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. I read that, looked at the Peameal and said to myself ” No Way in H-E double hockey sticks” was I cooking it for that long. The Peameal would turn out to be dry and chewing it would be akin to gnawing on an elastic band. I cooked the Peameal for approximately 30 seconds per side and it turned out very juicy and tender.
When I made the coleslaw, I only added about 1/4 of the apple to it. We don’t particularly care for sweet slaw so doing that made it more tangy than sweet. When I was putting everything on the bun, I put very little coleslaw on it but I did take the leftover apple and grated a lot on top of the coleslaw. In our home, when we have pork, applesauce is a must. It’s the perfect companion – so it made sense to me that I would have a lot of apple to accompany the Peameal. I also sprinkled some of the paprika that was provided on top of the grated apple. As an added garnish, I took the remainder of the mustard mixture, cut up some tiny Ontario grape tomatoes and made a Maple Leaf (yes – that is supposed to be a Maple Leaf -lol-).
The Peameal sandwich was delicious – although – my preferred bun of choice would have been one that was thinner and softer. I’ve had these types of buns in the past that were provided to me and they are okay – just not my personal favourite. Everything was super fresh though, tasted great and the flavours mixed very well together. Most of all it was very quick to prepare and quite filling.
Maple-Glazed Salmon with Orange-Arugula Salad and Wild Rice
I’m not sure which meal I love the most. The one with the chicken or this one. I love love wild rice, salmon and salad. For this recipe, I followed the directions to a T – pretty much. The salmon was delicious, the wild rice was too and the salad – I think was the pièce de ré·sis·tance. It was absolutely refreshing.
Now – I have to be honest and say that even though I absolutely loved this dish – hubby was NOT a fan. He really dislikes wild rice, doesn’t like Arugula (I just found out) and really isn’t too hip on Salmon. He will eat Salmon in a dish such as a macaroni salad or something along that lines. Later in the evening when I asked for his honest HONEST opinion he said “He ate it and liked it because I made him” -haha- Who cares about him anyhow! He doesn’t know what’s good for him! – Heck – he didn’t even eat vegetables until I met him over 16 years ago. Still to this day he tells people that I “MAKE” him buy the “Green Stuff” and “MADE” him eat it! – haha- Hubby’s questionable feelings aside, this dish was delicious, fresh, filling, easy to prep and fast to make.
Our first issue with this review popped up before we even received our food boxes. My contact emailed me telling me when the boxes would arrive, but that there was some issues with Christine’s address (specifically her postal code) but that it was dealt with. I immediately emailed her back asking what the issue was, but she never responded. Ultimately, Christine’s food box was mailed to the wrong TOWN. An observant Purolator driver noticed the mistake and with the help of another driver, her food was delivered. Had the driver not caught the error, her box would have been lost and all that food would have spoiled.
For myself, my main issue was with quality control regarding the arugula from the salmon meal. Both bags contained a fair amount of slimy, rotten arugula leaves that were completely mixed in and spread throughout the bags. It was not as simple as removing a couple bad leaves, both bags were spoiled. It is a small issue in the scheme of things, but for the price of a Hello Fresh food box I would expect 100% of all the ingredients to be fresh and edible.
It took several weeks for Hello Fresh to respond to these issues, and nothing was done (nor said) to alleviate our customer service concerns or to try to make things right.
Ultimately, our experience with Hello Fresh was a lot different than I was expecting. My last experience was SO good (100% positive) so I am very disappointed that I can’t say the same this time. Our experience with the customer service side of Hello Fresh has fallen short and unfortunately clouds our over-all opinion. Although we were generally satisfied with most of the food and cooking experience, the customer service part is leaving a really bad taste in our mouths.
Once our contact finally responded, I was told: “I also want to apologize for the bad arugula, normally for our customers we would credit up to a full meal for an error like this.” In regards to the address issues: “The issue was only that the postal code wasn’t in our data base but this was fixed so the address we printed should have been correct…We are quite small at the moment and with 100’s of emails everyday, I do get under the weather with requests, especially when I have to leave the office and there’s little capacity for coverage… I will look into why the town was changed, I did enter [town name] into our CRM… If there was an error printing the label, it’s possible that our Ops team made a manual change last minute without asking me.”
- We both like the inclusion of the recipe cards, and how easy the step-by-step instructions were. The recipe cards mean we can recreate the meals we loved on a future date, so this adds to the value.
- Each meal was easy to prepare, and was ready within half hour.
- The serving sizes were generous for almost everything. We disagree about the Peameal Sandwiches, but all other meals we both agree that portions were on the larger side (and we did not leave the dinner table hungry).
- We each found at least one meal that we LOVED and would prepare again on our own, and we both enjoyed learning the new skill of making Roulades and will take that skill with us in the future to create our own.
- We both liked the convenience, the meal variety, and the break in our regular routine for some meals that we probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise.
Would we recommend Hello Fresh? YES, we would, but not until they get their customer service issues dealt with by hiring enough staff to actually deal with their current work load. The food, generally speaking, was delicious. The portions were large. The recipes were easy. And they get bonus points for being super convenient, family friendly, and sourcing their ingredients locally right here in Canada. They also get bonus points for their recycling program (which you can read about in my previous review).
For a more positive review experience, including prices and plans, please check out my previous Hello Fresh review.
If you would like to learn more about Hello Fresh you can visit them online and on social media.
Hello Fresh is currently available in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, and the Maritimes with plans to expand to other provinces soon.
Andrea resides in Calgary, Alberta, and is the proud mom to five boys between the ages of 7-22. Running mainly on coffee and sarcasm, in her spare time she enjoys listening to Canadian Rock, watching Calgary Flames hockey, reading YA Dystopian novels, and binge watching Netflix.
Christine is the proud mother of three amazing adults in their 20s, and one ‘fur baby’, a dog named Tracker who is never far from Christine’s side. A devoted gardener, during the spring and summer months Christine can normally be found tending to her flower and vegetable gardens. Living in Southern Ontario near Lake Erie, Christine enjoys spending time outdoors, is an avid hiker and fisher, including ice fishing in the winter months.
Disclosure: We received samples for testing and review purposes. Opinions in this post are honest, and our own, and have not been altered or influenced in any way.
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