Goodbye Frozen Food, Hello Fresh!

By

Getting comfortable in the kitchen.

In light of the recent strike, I have become much more cognizant of how I go about feeding myself.  The dire d-hall situation has forced me to think about what life will be like without access to a dining hall at all—when I am an adult… (dun dun dun).  While I still do not know where I will be next year, I can be sure of one thing: there will be no HUDS. I will have to fend for myself.

This thought terrifies me for a number of reasons, but I am not afraid of having to cook for myself after May of 2017.  I have Hello Fresh to thank for that.

It all started this summer when I was en route to Shake Shack on Newbury Street.

“Hey! Do you like eating healthy?”

I turned around to see a young man in a green apron waving at me.

“Uh, usually I do…” I said, gesturing towards the holy mecca of burgers that I had been fantasizing about all day.

He laughed. “Can I have a minute of your time?”

Usually I don’t stop to talk to people selling things on the street. After engaging in a two-hour conversation with a Green Peace worker a few years ago, I had learned my lesson. But SJ, the green apron guy, promised he would be quick.

SJ was a representative for Hello Fresh, an international company that offers healthy meal plans and delivers boxes full of fresh ingredients to make recipes, some of which are developed by British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. Each week, users can select three step-by-step recipes out of several to have delivered to their homes.  Each box contains enough ingredients to make food for either two or four people.

After listening to SJ’s spiel, I decided to try a discounted trial of Hello Fresh.  I had been living in an apartment all summer with full access to a kitchen, but my cooking had been limited to frozen food or various forms of pasta.  Cognizant of the impending doom that is adulthood, I realized that I needed to learn to cook actual, fresh food sooner rather than later.  Especially meat—I am not a vegetarian, but I definitely did not like handling meat.  As a result, when left to my own devices, I tended not to eat it because I did not like, nor knew how, to cook it.

Hoping to become more comfortable in the kitchen, I downloaded the Hello Fresh app on my phone and ordered the Classic box for two people, although I was very nearly tempted by the Vegetarian box to continue my avoidance of cooking meat.

The following Monday, a large box filled with fresh ingredients and dry ice arrived at my doorstep.  Each recipe’s ingredients were separated into labeled boxes, and only the bare minimum of each ingredient was provided, so as to minimize waste.

I made beef and snap pea stir-fry and chipotle-glazed pork chops with garlic-mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.  My third recipe was for pesto chicken skewers, but I did not have time to make them, so I gave the ingredients to a friend for her to make.  Each recipe came with step-by-step directions, with a picture for each step.  This made the recipes very easy to follow.  I also loved not having to go to the grocery store to get all the ingredients.  Before having Hello Fresh, grocery shopping had been half the battle for me to actually cook something.  Having it all right there allowed me to focus on my cooking skills, especially with meat.  By following the simple directions in each recipe, I realized that cooking was not as stressful as I once found it. In no time, I was sautéing pork chops like a pro.

To be honest, I was shocked by how little time it took me to make these dishes—and how good something that I had made all by myself tasted! There were certainly a few missteps along the way—I cut my finger peeling ginger and ended up undercooking my potatoes so that I had to put them in a blender to mash them—but both dishes were not only edible, but also delicious.  However, I thought the portions allotted by Hello Fresh were quite small; I could have easily eaten all the food that was supposed to be for two people if I were really hungry.  Perhaps that says more about me than it does about Hello Fresh, though!

Despite the “small” portions, my overall experience using Hello Fresh was positive.  I definitely became more comfortable cooking for myself and for others, and was able to eat healthfully in the process. When the days of HUDS and dining halls are long behind me as an adult, I could certainly see myself using Hello Fresh again. Now, if only they delivered fresh ingredients to Harvard dining halls during the strike…

Caroline Gentile ’17 ([email protected]) welcomes any suggestions for other apps that make #adulting less intimidating.