By Olivia from The Stingy Bitch

We are very excited to share this post from Olivia at The Stingy Bitch. She has who kindly given us permission to repost this article.  
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Look, I enjoy a freebie just as much as the next person. In fact, I probably enjoy it even more being The Stingy Bitch and all. So, when the opportunity to get a free box of food delivered to my house presented itself, there was no way in hell I was going to turn that down. Especially when I could use that freebie to learn something valuable about my finances:

Would it be worth it for me to sign up for Hello Fresh instead of buying all of my food from the supermarket?

If you’ve been following my IG stories, you would know that I did a little experiment to compare the cost of three Hello Fresh meals to the cost of buying the EXACT same ingredients from the supermarket. I ordered the Vegetarian Plan with 3 recipes for four people (sorry meat eaters, I didn’t compare the value of the meat boxes because I’m strictly vego). The weekly price for the Vegetarian box is $114.96, but with delivery the total cost of the box comes to $124.95. Each meal is advertised as $9.58 a serve and the included meals were:

  • Smokey Bean Chilli with Corn Salsa and Garlic Rice
  • Thai-Style Chickpea Patties & Sesame Fries with Tomato Salad & Mayo
  • Honey-Thyme Haloumi & Roast Veggie Freekeh with Creamy Pesto Dressing

So, what exactly did I learn from my Hello Fresh experiment? Well…

It Turns Out That Buying The Exact Same Ingredients From The Supermarket Is NOT Cheaper Than Hello Fresh
So many people replied to my IG stories telling me that they could make Hello Fresh meals themselves for way cheaper than the company charges and, I have to admit, I believed them. In fact, I was adamant that I could make them so much cheaper at home myself too. That’s why I took the plunge and decided to recreate one of my Hello Fresh meals with ingredients that I paid for at my local supermarket.

I spent half an hour in Woolworths sourcing the cheapest ingredients to match the exact same Haloumi and Roast Veggie Freekeh recipe and, I kid you not, the supermarket ingredients ended up bloody costing me more than the Hello Fresh meal did. I ended up spending $38.62 on ingredients which meant that four meals were $9.62 a serve. In comparison, the Hello Fresh meal came to $9.58 a serve (not including delivery). So yeah, my mind was frickin blown by the fact that I couldn’t actually buy these ingredients any cheaper by doing it myself at my local supermarket.

You win this round, Hello Fresh.

I Definitely Should Have Shopped Around More
I have to admit that I bought the supermarket ingredients after a long day at work and the last thing that I wanted to do was shop around at different stores to try and save a few dollars. In hindsight, I am sure that I could have made this meal even cheaper if I had bothered to buy groceries from a range of different places. Some of you guys mentioned to me that buying the vegetables from markets, or checking out ethnic grocery stores for ingredients, would have made it cheaper and that is a lesson that I am going to incorporate into my future grocery hauls – so thank you!

Hello Fresh Had No Leftover Ingredients
Once I had made the three Hello Fresh meals over the course of three nights I was left wondering…wait, that’s it?! This box allegedly contains $114.96 worth of food and I didn’t even have any leftover freekeh (seriously has anyone ever heard of freekeh before because I’m still confused as to what the hell it is?)? I didn’t even have leftover vegetable stock cubes, or thyme, or spinach to try and compile something edible to get me through the rest of the week.

The only way that I could justify spending more money on the supermarket ingredients is that I actually had a lot of leftover ingredients that I could have used again. With all the leftover stock cubes, almonds, freekeh, thyme, spinach, garlic and pesto sauce, I could have made another portion of the roast veggie freekeh for a fraction of the price. Or I could have used these ingredients to make other dinners later on in the week.

I Didn’t Even Think It Was That Convenient
Unpopular opinion: Hello Fresh ain’t even that convenient. Ok sure, the food gets delivered straight to your door at a time that is convenient for you. Don’t get me wrong, that is way more convenient than driving to the supermarket and spending thirty minutes wandering down aisles whilst you search for bloody freekeh.

However, it is not convenient for me to come home from a long day at work only to realise that I have to spend another 45 minutes preparing dinner. Plus, if anyone knows my roommates then you would know that, for us, that 45 minutes suggested meal prep time actually means it will be at least an hour and a half before dinner is ready. Usually, I get home from work and want nothing more than to EAT straight away so I whip up something quick like an omelette, or pasta, or a stir-fry. All of those meals are so much quicker (and cheaper) for me to make and so I’m not being fooled into believing that these boxes make my life any more convenient.

Choosing Cheaper Ingredients Would Have Saved Me Money
I know I’m bringing it up again but, seriously, does anyone actually ever cook with freekeh? Google tells me that freekeh is way more nutritious than brown rice which is cool and all BUT brown rice is also like $2.50 for 1kg which is even cooler to me than the $6.50 for 500g freekeh price tag. Seriously, this Hello Fresh experiment has taught me the importance of choosing cheaper ingredients if I want to save money on groceries.

Not only would I have chosen brown rice over freekeh for this recipe, but changing some of the vegetables based on season/specials would have saved me even more money. Green capsicums were half the price of red capsicums in Woolworths and, although red capsicums are arguably better than the green ones, it was more cost-effective to buy the green ones. Literally any veggies would have been good in this recipe and so buying whatever is in season or on special would be a way to make this recipe even cheaper.

Hello Fresh Hasn’t Convinced Me To Stop Being A Stingy Bitch
Honestly, I loved my week of bougee meals. It was really nice eating new meals and trying different recipes (and discovering freekeh) but, for me, there is no way I can justify spending $9.58 on a weeknight dinner that I have to cook for myself at home.

When I spend money on food it’s because I’m spending money for the experience. I’m more than happy to spend $20 on avocado toast when I’m out for brunch with my boyfriend or $15 on a panini when I’m catching up with friends for lunch. Hell, I’m even happy to spend $18 on a cocktail for no other reason other than the fact that bars are open again. Ask me to spend more than $5 on a dinner that I’m eating by myself at home on a Monday night though and you’ve got another thing coming.

What Works For Me Probably Doesn’t Work a For You
Everyone spends a different amount of money on food per week and that’s totally ok. I reckon that I could get away with spending about $50 on groceries for a week of food, but I’m the type of person that would eat scrambled eggs on toast for a week just to save a few dollars. Just because I’m cheap when it comes to how much I’ll spend on food for myself, doesn’t mean you have to be too.

If you’re one of those people that loves spending heaps of money on bougee meals during the week, or ends up spending heaps of cash on Uber Eats, then Hello Fresh could actually be a good way for you to save money. One of my IG followers messaged me to let me know that she splits a two-person Hello Fresh box between three people each week because the portions are large enough for them to share and I am ALL ABOUT THIS. A Hello Fresh meal plan with 5 meals for 2 people is $99.96 and splitting that between 3 people means that these guys are spending $33.32 on 5 dinners a week. Those are some Stingy Bitches that know what works for them and I am super impressed.

A few of my colleagues also argued that Hello Fresh is worth the $9.58 per serve because the servings are large enough for them to have some leftover for lunch the next day too. A $9.58 serve that is split between one dinner and one lunch is a bloody steal, and I am here for it.

You Just Gotta Keep Doing You
I think that the most important lesson that I learnt from my Hello Fresh experiment is that there isn’t one meal plan that is going to work for everyone’s financial situation. We each have our own priorities when it comes to determining whether or not something is worth our money. For example some of you guys told me that Hello Fresh is worth your money based on convenience alone, and some of you guys argued that it is worth your money because of how many flavours are incorporated into the recipes. On the other hand, some of you guys argued that there is no way these meals are worth it because you cook in bulk and end up eating dinners that cost $3.20 per serve.

At the end of the day, you have to figure out what your priority is and determine how you can save money whilst still living your best life. If you’re saving money AND enjoying that Hello Fresh, then don’t let anyone stop you.

Quick PSA: I am NOT affiliated with Hello Fresh at all. I was just lucky enough to have a mate with a free Hello Fresh box voucher.