Food & Drink | March 1, 2017 9:00 am

The Only Way to Eat Home-Cooked Meals When You’re Busy AF

Why meal-planning kits are one of 2017's greatest timesavers

Meal planning kits exist for a reason.

The reason is not teaching kitchen amateurs how to cook. It’s not to make life spectacularly more healthy. The reason is that work is long and hard, and no one really likes grocery shopping, and at a certain point someone figured out a reasonable solution for busy people who don’t want to eat microwaved takeout leftovers every night. That’s the reason for me, anyway.

My parents (they love to eat; I grew up in a Filipino household) taught me how to cook. To this day, I remain indebted to the idea that if I didn’t carry on their culinary heritage, no one would. We cooked fairly elaborate meals together, and still do.

In short: I know my way around a kitchen. So much so that I when I texted my mother that I was trying out HelloFresh for a week, her reply was a breviloquent “why?”. But here’s what she doesn’t realize about the crazy, mixed-up world we live in today: the secret to eating well day-in and day-out does not depend on cooking skills. It depends on organization.

Organization is what HelloFresh does really well. The service offers pre-planned weekly menus with pre-proportioned ingredients. My lady — who also knows how to wield a chef’s knife — was in. So we signed up and chose our portion size (two) and frequency (five per week). And just like that, the week was set: DIY pork dumplings Monday, Monterey Jack burgers Tuesday, ginger beef stir-fry Wednesday …

HelloFresh (4 images)

On the weekdays, I rarely get home before 8 p.m. So my issue isn’t knowing how to cook, it’s that I’d like to know what to cook in as timely and mindless a fashion as possible. Usually, this means reverting to a quick-and-easy noodle dish. Because finding the inspiration to shop each time I want a home-cooked meal is not only unrealistic for me — it’s a straight-up fantasy.

So, in a way, HelloFresh serves up fantasy. Each meal comes collated in its own box, which makes for even easier organization. Recipes are simple and clearly laid-out in that they demand approximately zero skill. And the menu is, for the most part, delicious. Can I make a better ginger beef stir-fry? Yes, with hands tied behind my back.

But that is not the point here. The point is, HelloFresh made it dead-easy to make a home-cooked meal amid my helter-skelter schedule. 

And for that reason, I’m glad they exist.

Update: The fine folks at HelloFresh are extending a special offer to our readers. Follow this link to get your first 3 meals free!