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Hello Fresh Germany reduces food waste by including exact portion sizes called for in its recipes in meal bags. 
Hello Fresh Germany reduces food waste by including exact portion sizes called for in its recipes in meal bags.  (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)

When restaurants in Kaiserslautern were closed in the latest round of coronavirus restrictions, I found myself craving new recipes made with healthy, local ingredients. But I didn’t want to spend hours searching for ingredients at German markets, so I turned to the Hello Fresh meal delivery service.

After viewing my options on the service’s website, I signed up for a weekly delivery of three vegetarian meals for two people, using a 30 euro rebate card that came with a packet of coupons. The boxes were delivered via DHL to the front door of my home in Rheinland-Pfalz, on the same day each week.

Each box contained three brown bags with ingredients and an envelope with recipes written in German. There was a cooler bag made of recyclable materials that housed ice packs and perishable items, usually yogurt, cheese and sour cream. The veggies and herbs required chopping prep, and all the cooking utilized the oven or stovetop. 

A recipe card from Hello Fresh Germany shows how Mediterranean noodle salad with halloumi cheese should look. Spinach was included in the delivered ingredients instead of zucchini.
A recipe card from Hello Fresh Germany shows how Mediterranean noodle salad with halloumi cheese should look. Spinach was included in the delivered ingredients instead of zucchini. (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)
The photo on Hello Fresh’s recipe card for the antipasti bowl with mozzarella cheese, with risotto, spinach and red peppers, shows what the dish should look like.
The photo on Hello Fresh’s recipe card for the antipasti bowl with mozzarella cheese, with risotto, spinach and red peppers, shows what the dish should look like. (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)
Hello Fresh keeps ingredients cool in a recyclable bag that includes two ice packs.
Hello Fresh keeps ingredients cool in a recyclable bag that includes two ice packs. (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)
Some of the fresh veggies, herbs and spices from Hello Fresh in Germany.
Some of the fresh veggies, herbs and spices from Hello Fresh in Germany. (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)

The recipe cards featured pictures of beautifully presented meals. Mine never really looked the same as the pictures.

I learned quickly that sweet potatoes, red onions, zucchini, garlic, cheese and olive oil are key ingredients for vegetarian meals in Germany. Add various combinations of pasta, gnocchi and halloumi cheese, and that’s what’s on the menu with HelloFresh.de.  

Torchietti in tomato and red pepper sauce, topped with basil and mozzarella, from Hello Fresh in Germany. The meal was included in a Classic Box of vegetarian meals, selected by Hello Fresh.
Torchietti in tomato and red pepper sauce, topped with basil and mozzarella, from Hello Fresh in Germany. The meal was included in a Classic Box of vegetarian meals, selected by Hello Fresh. (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)
The way Hello Fresh’s antipasti bowl with mozzarella cheese, with risotto, spinach and red peppers, really looked after being prepared by an amateur chef.
The way Hello Fresh’s antipasti bowl with mozzarella cheese, with risotto, spinach and red peppers, really looked after being prepared by an amateur chef. (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)
What Hello Fresh Germany's Mediterranean noodle salad with halloumi cheese looked like after it was prepared and photographed by an amateur chef.
What Hello Fresh Germany's Mediterranean noodle salad with halloumi cheese looked like after it was prepared and photographed by an amateur chef. (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)

One week I opted for Hello Fresh’s Classic Box of preselected veggie meals. For 41.47 euros ($50.71), I got three dinners for two people, including torchiette pasta with a tomato and red pepper sauce, Caesar salad with gnocchi, and cream of zucchini soup. 

The pasta meal tasted better than it looked in the photo, but the meal lacked creativity, was carb-heavy and struck out in the new ideas department.  

The salad scored points for its easy-to-make, anchovy-free Caesar dressing, though next time I would use half the recommended garlic. I haven’t made the soup yet because temperatures where I live have been too hot for hot soup.

The next week, when I went online to pick out my three meals from the week’s offerings, the dinners I wanted were considered add-ons and jacked the price up to 62.65 euros ($76.12). So I ditched my wish-list and switched back to Hello Fresh’s picks: Mediterranean noodle salad, lentils topped with potatoes and cheese, and risotto with spinach, zucchini and peppers. Total price, 41.47 euros.

These recipes were new to me and used healthy, local produce. The soy cooking cream with tomato paste made a delicious sauce for the lentils — a good source of protein — and sweet potatoes. The risotto was good, too. The small touches, like the marinated spinach and tomato on top, were the best part.

Although Hello Fresh’s Germany branch touts its sustainability and recyclable packaging, one of the biggest drawbacks to the service is the packaging waste. Food waste, on the other hand, is practically eliminated since Hello Fresh provides exact portion sizes. 

Another negative is the price. A pasta dinner with sauce for two could be prepared at home for only a few euros. What you gain with the delivery service is convenience and a break from treks to the supermarket.

With restaurants opening across Europe and the long days of summer calling me outside, I’ve hit pause on my Hello Fresh deliveries.  But I’ve saved several of the recipes and plan to test what I’ve learned from the food delivery service.

benit.heather@stripes.com 

Hello Fresh ships meals in a box delivered by DHL. Inside are paper bags with nonperishable ingredients, a cooling bag containing items that need to be refrigerated and an envelope with recipes. 
Hello Fresh ships meals in a box delivered by DHL. Inside are paper bags with nonperishable ingredients, a cooling bag containing items that need to be refrigerated and an envelope with recipes.  (Heather Benit/Stars and Stripes)

Website: hellofresh.de. There’s also an app.

Hours: Delivery options are based on your address. The website provides a list of times and days of the week to choose from after you pick the meal plan.

Prices: Meal plan options include meat and vegetables, vegetarian or family friendly. The portion sizes can be for two, three or four people, with either three, four or five dishes per week. For a package of meat and vegetables recipes for two people, three meals per week, the cost is 40.48 euros. For a family friendly package with two meals for four people, it’s 50.48 euros. Here’s a price calculator: https://www.hellofresh.de/plans?locale=de-DE

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