Authored by Chloe Zimmerman
As a college student, fast and easy meals are of utmost importance to me. However, eating take-out every night or buying frozen meals is not only hard on my wallet and personal health, but it’s also hard on the environment. The single-use, excessive packaging used for this type of food distribution is unsustainable and overall contributes to the non-recyclable waste left in landfills. I know what you might be thinking, “Why not shop for ingredients and cook for yourself?” Traditional grocery store shopping has been a struggle for my busy schedule. Oftentimes, I come home at the end of the day, and the last thing I want to think about is what I can make for dinner and how to fully utilize my groceries. Shopping for specific meal ingredients is overwhelming and often ends in waste, as I buy produce that I sometimes do not use in time or I do not plan my meals closely enough.
A practical solution I have found for all of these issues is HelloFresh. For the past two years, I have used HelloFresh to learn new techniques in the kitchen, broaden my food palette, and, most of all, cut down on food waste and excessive packaging. I believe that this option is great for college students or busy working adults looking to easily select their meals and not have to think about it until it is time to cook.
With HelloFresh, there are many options to accommodate different diets and needs, including vegetarian and vegan, quicker options, and they even offer a discount to help students. Personally, I choose the four meal options, each with two servings, so I am able to “meal prep” lunch and dinner four days a week and have the freedom to order a pizza or go out with friends for the other three nights, all without feeling like I am wasting food or having a negative impact on our environment. HelloFresh also owns Green Chef, EveryPlate, and Chef’s Plate, offering options for whatever fits your lifestyle. HelloFresh has proven its commitment to sustainability through its packaging, pre-portioned ingredients, reduction in carbon footprint, and social impact.
HelloFresh has integrated several packaging innovations to make its brand more sustainable. The majority of their food packaging is number 2 or 4 plastic, which is widely recyclable, and the meal kit bags are made from post-consumer fibers and are 100% recyclable and compostable. To keep the food fresh and cold, they use ice packs with a water-based gel that lets you empty it into the trash, then rinse and recycle the wrappers. This new product has allowed them to eliminate a significant amount of insulation liners from their boxes, which in the first 2 weeks of January 2022 alone, reduced their box weight by 48,750 pounds. To keep the box insulated, HelloFresh uses corrugated liners, honeycombed paperboard, and ClimaCell plant-based insulation foam, which are all fully recyclable. Most of the boxes are 100% recyclable, and HelloFresh uses a Box Fit system to determine the most efficient ice level and box size so that the delivery vehicles can carry more boxes, ultimately emitting less carbon into the atmosphere. Lastly, paper “protein pouches” are used to ship ice and proteins with temperatures between 36° and 54°F, like shrimp and scallops. This uses less packaging and is fully recyclable.
Another great reason I use and love HelloFresh is that they are giving back to the community to create a more equitable food system and helping solve the issue of food insecurity through an initiative called Beyond the Box. They launched Meals with Meaning in 2020, providing free meal kits to people in America facing food insecurity. Additionally, their giving program, called LimeAid, allows you to nominate a family or individual in need to receive 12 free boxes of meals. Lastly, Hunger Matters is another initiative collaborating with HelloFresh’s culinary teams to share healthy and cheap recipes, resources for local food banks and pantries, and healthy eating tips to empower communities nationwide.
Because HelloFresh pre-portions its ingredients, you are not overbuying, and customers use 70% fewer food scraps during prep than cooking meals from grocery shopping. By getting the food from their farms to your table faster, your ingredients stay fresh longer, and there is less thrown away.
HelloFresh proudly presents itself as the world’s first carbon-neutral meal kit company, and in 2021, they offset 62,000 tons of carbon emissions. They accomplish this by sourcing 100% of the organization’s electricity from zero-emission renewable wind energy. Additionally, they use domestic suppliers to buy directly from the source and eliminate extra steps from supplier to customer. This ensures that your food is even fresher when it gets to you than at traditional grocery stores.
As busy adults, it can be daunting to find the time and money to plan your meals out each week, grocery shop for exactly what you need, and avoid food and single-use packaging waste. There are many meal kit services that have become readily available in the past few years, and in my opinion, HelloFresh is at the top of that list. Finding a company that not only emphasizes a sustainable model of business but also finds various ways to reach a broader community and give back is essential for tackling food insecurity, wasting less, and having a positive impact on the environment—creating a brighter future.