I have never considered myself to be much of a chef; though I did know the basics of the kitchen, most of the complicated cooking was left to my mom. However, once I left home for college, she started complaining about my lack of enthusiasm when it came to preparing meals and began constantly reminding me how important it is to know at least a few simple dishes I can make on my own. After enduring this for about a year, I finally decided to take initiative and become a more active member of the kitchen. Now there was only one problem left: what dishes did I want to make? I was lucky enough to be at home, where I could access a wide variety of ingredients, yet I was clueless about how to use them.
I knew how to make a few simple dishes, and there was always the option of just putting together some kind of combination of instant noodles and whatever ingredients were lying around the house. Yet, the idea of living off what I usually ate seemed boring, and only eating noodles is not the healthiest of options either. Without any ideas, I decided to do some research into pre-prepared meal kits.
Finally, a solution to this dilemma.
Having read through a few different articles, I decided to try out HelloFresh Meal Kits for one week. I found these meals to be pretty decent in price, considering I was cooking for my entire family of three people, and convenient as the ingredients were already pre-packaged for you. The website allowed you to choose 3-4 recipes each week, with the option of changing them to whichever other recipe was available before the delivery date. Since I was trying these recipes out on a budget, I opted for the cheaper option. I also decided to go with HelloFresh because of their availability internationally, making it much easier for me to choose my meal preps if I ever planned to do so at college or while abroad.
In terms of the ingredients, they were all packed freshly and delivered via same-day delivery by Fedex. The fish and meats were below the vegetable and grain compartments. HelloFresh also included ice packs to keep the ingredients cold and guarantee freshness.
Day 1: Seared Salmon and Lemony Lentil Bowl
The first delivery was made quite late on Monday (March 1st), so I decided to begin cooking on Tuesday. The first recipe I chose was Seared Salmon and Lemony Lentil Bowl paired with Spinach, Sweet Potato, and Feta Crema. The physical copy indicated that the cooking difficulty was medium with a total preparation time of 25 minutes. Right away, I can confidently say that this recipe took way longer than 25 minutes. Perhaps it was my lack of natural cooking talent or the fact that I was trying to follow a specific recipe, but I found myself cooking much longer than the estimated time. The recipe itself was pretty standard and not as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a lot of fun cooking this dish, and it came out nicely too. Despite the few mistakes during the cooking process, such as overcooking the sweet potatoes, I was quite pleased with how the dish turned out. It didn’t look as nice as the sample pictures did, but it did taste great! I had my brother and mom eat some as well, to which they agreed.
Day 2: Korean Style Beef Salad
On Thursday, I made Korean-Style Beef Salad with Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers. Compared to the recipe yesterday, this one was also of medium difficulty and had an estimated preparation time of 30 minutes. However, I felt that this recipe was a lot easier than the one I made on Tuesday. There were more steps, but I thought that the overall process was not as complicated. It may have also been because I was getting more used to these meal preps. Once again, I found the recipe to be pretty standard with fresh ingredients provided by HelloFresh. Since it was a salad, I had no difficulty preparing the vegetables and cooking the beef. The dish itself turned out good too, and I felt that I did a much better job on this one. I made fewer mistakes (I hope), and the final product tasted as good as it looked! I also had my family taste this one, which they enjoyed even more than the salmon and lentils.
Day 3: Lemony Almond Crusted Chicken
The final recipe on the Saturday of the meal prep week was the Lemony Almost Crusted Chicken with Kale and Carrot Ribbon Salad. This recipe felt as if it was a mixture of the last two recipes–similar to the Korean-Style Beef salad, the chicken had a medium difficulty and was estimated to take 30 minutes to prepare. This recipe was interesting since it honestly felt more challenging than it initially seemed. I had some trouble with getting the almonds to stay on the chicken after sprinkling them, and it ended up making a bigger mess than I had hoped. Thankfully, I managed to save the dish by adding extra almonds to the finished product that made it still taste as good. The salad was much easier to make, and I felt that the apricot vinaigrette was an excellent addition as a dressing. Overall, although I personally did not think this was as successful as the beef salad, I still enjoyed the meal with my family!
Overall, I found meal preps to be a fun and convenient way of cooking! It was a good experience for me to step out of my comfort zone and become less lazy around the kitchen. It was easy for me not to stress what to cook next, and the recipes were all reasonably standard enough to follow clearly. Even if there were any mistakes, I could quickly fix them. Furthermore, I gained some valuable skills and practice that I hope to use in my future cooking endeavours. I enjoyed my meal-prep experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who may want to try something similar!