Hello Fresh Experiment: Unboxing and Rustic Beef Ragu

This is going to be a series about my experiment using the meal delivery system, Hello Fresh. I’m in no way compensated by Hello Fresh, and I had to pay for this box. However, my wonderful friends demanded to know my smart-assed approach to cooking unfamiliar foods, so I will happily oblige.

The reasons I decided to try this experiment were two-fold:

  • We eat out… a lot. And I’d like to stop that. But I freakin’ hate meal planning and grocery shopping. So by having three meals a week sent to me, it helps eliminate those things I hate.

    Bye comfort zone!
  • To expand our horizons. But my husband and I are picky eaters (my daughter less so, but she has her moments), so I’m flat-out jerking us all out of our comfort zone and waving to it in the rearview mirror as we drive miles away. 

When I was in France in 1997, I hated the people I was with, so I found a different tour group and I ran with them instead. (I’m picky about the company I keep, don’t judge me.) This group had a rule: You must eat two bites of whatever is put in front of you. If you don’t like it after two bites, you don’t have to finish it. So my entire family is going to be adopting that approach to these meals.


I received my first Hello Fresh box. *Cue the excited girl clap and jump*

I was pleasantly surprised to find the ice packs still completely frozen, which meant my meat was still in good shape. Win.

Easy storage!

The rest of the ingredients were broken down into boxes, each labeled with the recipe on them. Total win. A lot of people complain about all the room they take up in the fridge, but I was able to stack all three boxes on top of each other, and it doesn’t eat up that much room. Seriously, people gonna hate about everything.

The recipe cards they sent me were beautifully done (a layout girl like me can appreciate that), and full size pages. I foresee a binder full of Hello Fresh recipes in my future.

Do I anticipate a lot of waste? Yup. But we don’t usually generate that much (our trash can is rarely full) and, at the very least, the boxes can be recycled.

I do have to admit, the biggest gripe I have is that the ground beef that was sent was 85/15 and I generally get ticked off at my husband when he brings that crap home. I’m a 90/10, or when it’s on sale, 96/4 (Laura’s Lean Beef, yo!). But, what are you going to do, right? You better believe that if I’ve got beefalo in the freezer, I’ll be using that instead of whatever ground beef Hello Fresh sends me anyway. (You hear that in-laws? Time to butcher a cow. Chop, chop.)


My original plan was to cook the chicken recipe to start, but the daughter heard that couscous is like pasta, and her pasta-loving self begged me to do the Rustic Beef Ragu over couscous first. I obliged, because I’m a good mommy like that. Or something.

I pulled everything out and got started. Munchkin even got in there and helped cut the zucchini and break up the ground beef while I was busy cutting up herbs.

Speaking of herbs… y’all, this recipe had rosemary in it. Any recipe with rosemary in it makes me happy. You can have your sage and parsley and cilantro (hell, you can have ALL the cilantro cause that ish is nasty)—give me rosemary any day.

The recipe said it would be done in thirty minutes. It took me a little bit more, but I think it was just because of the fact I let my eight-year-old wield a knife so I had to focus on her more than what I was doing. Thankfully, though, the zucchini was blood free and I didn’t have to rush to the emergency room mid-cooking.

The recipe used canned tomatoes to make the ragu sauce, which I’ve read in reviews that some people were ticked about. Look, do you want to do it in thirty minutes or not? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Pop that can and go on your merry little way. Like I said, haters are going to find anything to bitch about. Even using canned tomatoes, I venture to say the sauce I made up tonight is a hell of a lot healthier than Prego.

The start of a beautiful tomato sauce… and the best part, I made it myself!

I did make a modification here, though—because I don’t ever follow a recipe exactly. Look, my day job involves writing instructions for people, so I’m not the best at following them. Besides, as Colette said, “expect the unexpected.”


I got out my trusty Cuisinart immersion blender and made the diced tomatoes a puree. It was mostly because none of us really like chunky tomato sauce. I also used onion flake instead of actually cutting up the onion they sent me because… well, homey don’t do onions. I seriously cannot handle them. I hate the taste, the smell, the texture. Everything about onions is the devil to me. I also only used part of the red pepper in the sauce (and later dug them out—don’t like the texture of those either), but that’s because the Munchkin wanted to eat part of the pepper raw and who am I to turn down a request like that?

I went off book again because I was supposed to throw half the parmesan in the ragu sauce, but no… genius here decided to toss a third into the ragu, a third into the couscous, and use the remaining third to top.

There were also these little roasted zucchini coins that I accidentally forgot to flip, so some of them were a little charred beyond recognition. Eh, sue me. I ate the ones that weren’t burnt to a crisp. (Young padawan hasn’t mastered chopping vegetables into the same size pieces. Give her time, the force will find her.)

And then… dinner was served. The amazing part for me was that I got three good sized plates out of two servings. (They only sell meals in two- and four-serving sizes.) Which, since there are only three of us, it works out quite perfectly.

Dinner was served. 🙂

Was it tasty? Yup. Would I order it again? Yup. The most important question… did the daughter approve it for a second time? Absolutely. My husband was kind of meh. But to be fair, he’s meh on almost everything new and different I make.

Stay tuned for a follow-up with the second recipe.

If you’re interested in experimenting with Hello Fresh, click here to get $40 off your first box. (So you can get six meals—three dinners, two servings of each—for $20. What have you got to lose?) If you don’t click the link, you can also use my referral code which is TRYSHT … yes, I know what it looks like. I’m all about swear words in my promo codes, but I assure you, if I had picked it, it would have been a much more colorful code.



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