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You don’t know what you want to eat, but you want to keep your meals healthy, not spend an exorbitant amount and still fill up your pantry? If you’re indecisive and time-poor (with good food intentions), you may want to check out Hungryroot.
Somewhere between an online organic grocery store and a meal delivery service, Hungryroot occupies an interesting niche. For this food subscription service, you’ll need to do some kitchen prep, but the idea here is to keep things as simple and generally healthy as possible while offering a modest amount of food choice and meal customization.
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It’s an interesting middle ground. You’re not popping ready-made meals in the oven, but you’re also not dealing with an hour-long recipe featuring 20 ingredients. You’re also not picking and choosing your individual groceries (a la Instacart) unless you really want to go to all that effort — but Hungryroot’s Food Profile, based on your preferences, is meant to take care of that task.
And you’re certainly not dealing with name brands, unless you haunt the local food co-op or shop the specialty aisles of Whole Foods. These are smaller, organic and health-conscious brands, even if you’re dealing with something as simple as a muffin or a jar of sauce. It’ll take time to find what works.
So we took some time — a few months, off and on, with Hungryroot. Our thoughts, below:
How it works:
Once you sign up — this is a subscription-only service that’ll arrive weekly unless you pause, skip or cancel — Hungryroot asks you a few things about yourself (how you like to eat, your dietary needs and goals, etc.). From there, the company will deliver all the food you need for the week, along with recipes that put your ordered food to use.
Note: You can always edit the individual selections or change your Food Profile if your diet changes. I just chose not to.
The groceries are purposely nutrient-dense, fresh and free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors, trans fats, hydrogenated oils and modified food starches. Which means you’re not going to recognize a lot of the labels. The company also offers a smaller amount of beverages and ready-to-eat options, but this is really about getting a few boxes of weekly groceries that you don’t really have to spend too much time thinking about — and also getting a plan on how to use them via a virtual cookbook that contains several thousand recipes.
You can pick your selections or see what’s coming either on the Hungryroot website or via an app. The service is available in 48 states and D.C.; availability of some items can be based on where you live.
- After filling out the Food Profile, we never made any adjustments. Having a few boxes of groceries arrive every week with a recipe plan took out a lot of food shopping angst.
- When we did use the suggested recipes, they were extremely simple to follow (most of them were as simple as “pour into pan, heat up and serve”). And when we didn’t follow the recipes, we still found uses for most of the items.
What kind of works
- While some items were very hit or miss on taste, the idea that these items were particularly chosen for modest health reasons was appealing. And there were plenty of meat/protein options, even if the company does tout its appeal to vegans and vegetarians.
- Little Potato Company? Bellwether Farms? Mozaics? I’d never heard of most of the brands Hungryroot utilizes. It takes some getting used to, but you’ll find things to like (and not) if you can stay away from mass-produced, mass-marketed food.
- There was a little repetition between orders, but again, you can edit the shopping list.
What needs work:
- Like other food delivery companies, the produce was occasionally not as fresh as we’d like and sometimes crushed in the box.
- Food weaknesses? Breakfast. We’ve never had more tasteless bagels or something less filling (and quite as wasteful) than their pre-packaged “Egg Bite.”
- The beverage selection is minimal and you’ll definitely need to make a separate order or grocery trip if you want any everyday staples.
- I got an order when I thought I had paused the service. It ended up being my fault, though like any subscription plan, it causes me some stress to remember which weeks I wanted to utilize Hungryroot and when I wanted to pause.
- The cost: I spent $165 each order and it certainly wasn’t enough for a household of two (and didn’t quite cover enough meals for even one person). The brand claims it’s saving the average customer $22+ each week on groceries — we’re not sure how to verify that claim.
If you’re like me and food is simply the fuel you use to get through your day, Hungryroot works on convenience. It also offers a healthier alternative to takeout (and a healthier alternative to the way I cook). Most of the food and meal options were decent if not memorable; then again, the 5-10 minutes everything took to prep more than made up for the lack of superlatives.
It is a little pricey — certainly cheaper than ordering out but more expensive than hitting the local grocery store. But if your time is precious and your meal expectations modest, Hungryroot offers a healthier alternative (food-wise and mentally) to most dedicated meal kit plans.
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