Hello Fresh Review, pt. 2

You can see pt. 1, where I explain the box and what’s inside, here.

First I made the Tilapia with Orange Butter Sauce and Gingered Quinoa. I did a terrible job. I’ve never cooked fish or quinoa before! I’ve only had the pre-made quinoa that comes in individual containers.

Tilapia disaster.

Tilapia disaster.

Pros:

  1. It took me forty minutes to prepare the whole thing. The recipe says it takes thirty, but I’m a bit slow at chopping everything.
  2. The recipe instructions were very clear, for the most part. (More on that in a minute.)
  3. My cat really, really liked the smell of what was cooking.

Cons:

  1. The recipe doesn’t tell you how much salt and pepper to use. I didn’t use nearly enough because I was afraid the chicken bouillon cube (used as stock in the quinoa) would be really salty. It also told me to fry up some green onions, but I can’t find anywhere on the card where it says to use them. I assume it was as a garnish.
  2. The ginger in the quinoa overpowers everything else in the entire dish. Again, the recipe didn’t say how much to use, so it’s assumed that I’m supposed to use the whole chunk they gave me. I didn’t even use that much and the ginger flavor was too present.
  3. The recipe called for putting the nectarine sections in the middle of the fish, then folding the fillet over to make a little bundle. The fish would absolutely not fold over onto itself.

Final Thoughts: I really didn’t like this dish, but then again I don’t like seafood at all.

Next up, I made the Spicy Sesame Beef with Sauteed AsparagusThere’s no picture for this one because it was so… nope.

Pros:

  1. The instructions were pretty clear, but then again they’re in a terrible order.

Cons:

  1. The asparagus was way, way undercooked. It said to blanch them for 1-2 minutes, and then cold shock them. Then they’re added to the stir-fry and cooked for maybe another two minutes. They were hard and chewy.
  2. Again, there’s no salt and pepper measurements.
  3. The meal was SO bland, despite the garlic, soy sauce, and chili flakes. The noodles would not soak up any of the sauce.

Final Thoughts: I didn’t dislike this one as much as the fish dish, but I certainly wouldn’t want it again.

Conclusions: I know that part of my not liking Hello Fresh so much was my own fault, because I don’t like fish. The dishes themselves, however, were not great. I followed the instructions almost exactly, except when the food wouldn’t cooperate (like the fish) and the food was all very bland.  I haven’t even tried making the chicken parmesan meatballs yet, so all of that stuff went into the freezer. For $69 a week, I’d rather just take the time to go to the grocery store and buy what I want, or better yet, order food to go from somewhere I like to eat. Hello Fresh seems like a nice way to save some time (not having to go to the store, hardly any prep time needed to cook), but I don’t think it’s worth the money, nor did I think any of it tasted very good.

Hello Fresh Review, pt. 1

I got a coupon for Hello Fresh from my last Love With Food box. Hello Fresh is a food delivery service. You can choose how many meals you want for how many people (even numbers only, and only from their suggestions), and if you’d like the classic box or the vegetarian box. The service is expensive at $69 a week for three meals for two people. However, I think it’s more of a convenience thing than a value thing. You get literally all of the ingredients you need to make three pre-selected meals with, except salt, pepper, olive oil, and sometimes butter. All you have to do is cook everything. The box also comes with three instructional cards to tell you step by step how to make each dish. The week prior to each delivery, you go to Hello Fresh’s website and pick from five meals each week which three you would like (with the plan I chose). I will say, however, that I didn’t know this. I thought they would e-mail me to let me know when the choosing time frame was open, but I never got an e-mail, so I didn’t get to choose. That’s more my fault than anything, though. Apparently you just have to remember to do this on your own. Hello Fresh did call me the day my delivery shipped out, which I was not expecting. They just wanted to know if I had any questions or needed any information about the service.

I got my package today, and it was quite heavy. Everything inside was either very, very cold or still frozen. They package the items in this crazy insulated padding and add lots of frozen packs in there to keep everything cold. I immediately separated everything based on what items went with which meal, and put them in big ziploc bags to put in the refrigerator. However, Hello Fresh has already done most of that work for me. Each meal’s ingredients are pretty much already contained in one bag, and they’re labelled so that you don’t have to sit there and figure out which little packet of sauce goes with what meal. The tomatoes seemed firm and fresh. (Yes, I totally squeezed them a little to check.) I could smell the herbs even from inside the plastic bags. The meat and fish all looks fresh. Everything is already portioned out, so all I have to do is follow the instructions to cook it!

I received everything to make:

  • Chicken Parmesan Meatballs over Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Spicy Seasame Beef with Sauteed Asparagus
  • Tilapia with Orange Butter Sauce and Gingered Quinoa

All of it sounds good to me, minus the last one. I really, really don’t like seafood. Still, I’m going to make it and try it.

My only complaint so far is that the insulated padding smells dreadful. It smells like Raid bug spray, and the smell even stayed on my hands until I went to wash it off. Edited to add: I think that it might be the smell of the dill? I’m not 100% certain, though.

I’ll make another post about the finished meals to decide how I like it as a whole, but so far I’m pretty impressed.

Goodies Taster’s Box July 2013

I’m not even going to do a real review for this box because I’m so disappointed. This box is tiny. I don’t expect a ton of items for $7 a month, but I do expect something.

I got:

  • Cosmos Creations salted caramel popcorn- The sample bag is tiny, and has approximately one handful of popcorn in it.
  • Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers- I’ve had these before and I do not like them. Also, there are literally five crackers in this package.
  • The Better Chip spinch & kale with sea salt chips- These look OK, and they’re the largest out of the chips/popcorn samples.
  • Gimbal’s cherry lovers’ fruit chews- I thought these were jelly beans, but they’re some sort of hybrid between jelly beans and fruit snacks. Still, I like them!
  • Glaceau fruit water in strawberry kiwi- I’ve had this before and I don’t care for it. You can get it at pretty much any grocery or drug store for less than $1.

And that’s it. The box has three bags of chips/popcorn, two of which are tiny, one candy, and one drink.

The only good thing about this particular box is that they separated the drink from the snacks with a cardboard partition, so that the snack bags wouldn’t get squashed during shipping.

Next month I get a free box from all of my reviewing points on the Goodies website, so I think that will be the deciding box. I’m so disappointed with this box because I specifically took my account off of the hold because of the wonderful boxes I’ve been seeing lately. Normally Goodies boxes have quite a number of things in them, even if they’re small. This one has fewer items than I’ve ever seen one of these boxes have and the items are small. I really hope next month’s is better.

e.l.f. Beauty Bundle

The makeup company e.l.f. has a new bundle subscription service that just recently started. I was a little wary of signing up because I don’t really have much experience with e.l.f.’s products. However, I had a little extra money, so I went for it. The subscription costs $19.99 plus $6.95 shipping and handling every eight weeks. The website really didn’t give much information on what to expect in the bundle, aside from a few pictures of possible bundles.

First Impressions: The box is packaged really well. It comes with all of the products tucked into a reusable drawstring bag, and then that bag is in a box with lots of hot pink tissue paper. It felt pretty heavy when I picked it up (well, heavy for a box of makeup).

First e.l.f. bundle.

First e.l.f. bundle.

The Contents: There’s a lot of stuff in here!

  • Lotion Wipes in Vanilla & Coconut ($3)
  • Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths ($3)
  • Eyeshadow “C” Brush ($3)
  • Angled Blush Brush ($3)
  • Baked Palette in “California” ($10) – This palette is really nice. The eyeshadows aren’t highly, highly pigmented, but I think with an eyeshadow primer and a decent brush they’ll look quite nice on. The colors are all relatively neutral with a shimmer to them. The compact and mirror are actually quite nice.
  • 3 piece Nail Polish Set ($3) in “Beach Party” – The colors in here are all relatively tame, as far as polishes go. There’s a salmon color, a hot pink, and a darker red.
  • Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara ($3)
  • Glossy Gloss in “Pink Candy” ($3) – This is not nearly as horrible of a pink as the name suggests. It’s more of a neutral pink than anything.
  • Shimmering Facial Whip in “Pink Lemonade” ($1) – Again, this isn’t a horrible pink. I’m just not a big fan of shimmer all over my face.
  • Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder in “St. Lucia” ($3) – I was shocked at the quality of this compact, but in a good way. It feels very sturdy.
  • Mineral Lipstick in “Party Pink” ($5) – As with the rest of the pinks in this set, the tone is more neutral than you’d imagine.

All together, there are eleven items in the box, so that comes out to approximately $2.45 per item, including the cost of shipping. That’s a pretty good deal, considering some of the items contain more than one element to them.

Conclusions: I quite like this box! The quality is a lot nicer than what I was expecting, honestly. It’s not amazing, but it’s good. I like that e.l.f. includes a card with information about all of the items as well as prices for each of them. The total value (according to e.l.f.) is more than what I paid for the box. This would make an excellent gift for someone just starting their makeup collection. I’ll probably get one more of these bundles, but I can’t see sticking with it long term, because I’m pretty specific about what makeup I wear. Still, it seems to be a good value and I actually like ten out of the eleven items I got!

Love With Food July 2013

Love With Food is a “gourmet” food sampling subscription service. For $10 a month, they’ll send you a box of snacks. The website says they’ll send “8+” snacks in your box, and they’ll donate a meal to a hungry child with each box purchased. The theme for this month’s box is “Fun on the Boardwalk.”

My first Love With Food box was kind of disappointing, so I cancelled my subscription. Recently, I’ve been seeing other people’s reviews of boxes and the quality seemed to have improved, so I resubscribed.

First Impressions: I forgot how tiny the Love With Food boxes are! However, when I opened mine it was jam packed with stuff.

July's box.

July’s box.

What’s Inside?

  • Kukuraza Hawaiian Sea Salted Caramel Popcorn – This popcorn has a tiny bit of pink sea salt mixed in. I’ve never tried that kind of salt before, but together with the caramel it sounds really good.
  • NECCO Wafers – I’m not a big fan of these, but I know someone who is, so I’ll give them away.
  • Nature’s Bakery Strawberry Fig Bar – Think Fig Newtons, but a little bit better. I tasted one of these as soon as I got the box (I was hungry!), and it was good, but not great. They are a tiny bit on the dry side for some reason.
  • Angel Mint All Natural Orange Salt Water Taffy – These are tasty, if you’re a salt water taffy fan.
  • Lord Nut Revington Rebel Mary Peanuts – What a name for a company! I guess it gets your attention, though. These peanuts are flavored like a spicy bloody mary drink.
  • Vermont Smoke and Cure BBQ Beef Stick – The information for this product states that it’s made from beef free of antibiotics and preservatives.
  • Twangerz snack toppings- Margaritas would definitely be spiced up by using these little packets of salt on the rims! I got packets in Lemon Lime, Lime, Chili Lime, and – get this- Pickle flavor!
  • Uncle Henry’s Handmade Sourdough Pretzels – These are hard pretzels, and they’re relatively large. They survived the shipping quite well!
  • $25 Hello Fresh coupon/voucher – This gives you $25 off of your first order with Hello Fresh. It’s a food delivery service that sends you everything you need to make a meal, including meat (there’s also a vegetarian option). I’ve been wanting to try it, but it’s really expensive. It’s $69 for three meals for two people. However, they literally send you everything you need, including spices, vinegar (or similar items), all of the vegetables, etc., so maybe it’s worth the money in exchange for time saved? Since I had the coupon, I’m giving it a try.

All in all, I really like this box. The quality of the box has definitely gone up from when I previously subscribed. Although some items (like the fig bar) don’t really go with the theme, they all somehow still go together. To me the theme feels more like “snacks for a night of drinking.” I am for sure keeping this subscription for next month!