Hungryroot Is the Ideal All-in-One Meal and Grocery Service
When the pandemic started, I was all in on cooking and baking. I made Tupperwares full of soup in my Instant Pot from cans of veggies and broths I bought in a frenzy in mid-March. I also baked brownies and cakes to distract myself from the news and the endless ambulance sirens outside my window. Eventually, however, once my new reality set in—one in which I was homebound indefinitely—so did a new type of burnout. And consequently, I stopped making my own meals and turned to Seamless instead.
This is, admittedly, an incredibly costly habit. After months of ordering online, takeout containers piling up in my fridge, my brain and my wallet begged me to stop. My therapist suggested I look into meal-delivery services, since the ingredients would be delivered right to me (thus avoiding supermarkets), and I could try new recipes without the anxiety of wasting money on large-sized ingredients I barely used. I ordered Home Chef first, which I enjoyed (and you can read more about my thoughts here), but then a friend tipped me off to Hungryroot. She kept getting targeted Instagram ads for the service, eventually caved, and ended up being pleasantly surprised with what arrived. So I took her lead and ordered some myself.
What appealed to me about Hungryroot is that it’s not just meal kits like so many other subscription services: It’s an online grocery combined with personalized suggestions for 10-minute recipes and their ingredients, which you can easily edit to fit your diet and tastes—great for me as a person who eats meat occasionally and prefers to cook mostly veggies. Hungryroot has earned a spot among SELF’s favorite healthy meal-delivery services for its range of options for vegans and vegetarians, your ability to set food goals (saving time, eating more plants, etc.), and to even customize a flavor profile.
I particularly appreciated how Hungryroot’s recipes aim to be quick and easy to prepare (important for people with cooking fatigue like me) and its health-focused philosophy: Hungryroot promises that its food is free of additives like artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives and colors, and high-fructose corn syrup. I was intrigued by all of the plant-based, in-house breakfast and snack items I could add to my cart every week, like black bean brownie batter and cold zucchini noodles. This way, on top of dinners alone, I had other nibbles on hand for my growling morning stomach and inevitable 3 p.m. cravings.
To review Hungryroot’s subscription and grocery service, I followed our meal-kit buying guide and evaluation criteria. I ordered two weeks’ worth of meals (eight total), as well as breakfast items and snacks. Here’s how it went.
When I first signed up, the first step I took was to fill out Hungryroot’s quiz to personalize my plan. This quiz gives the service a sense of my goals (to save money or time, improve health, etc.), dietary needs, eating habits (do I eat breakfast and lunch? Do I snack?), and what types of food I enjoy. I then chose the number of meals and servings (up to 14) I wanted per week. As someone who cooks for one, I opted for four two-serving meals and also let them know how many breakfast, snack, and sweets servings I wanted added to each order.
At any time on its site, I could toggle between the My Hungryroot and Food Profile tabs. Under the former, this is where I could see and edit Hungryroot’s generated selection of meal plans and snacks in my cart for the upcoming week. Every week Hungryroot displayed digital recipe card illustrations for my meals (based on my quiz and food profile). On each card I could view the recipe, its estimated prep time, overall calorie count per serving, and the exact grocery items they suggested to prepare my dish (which I could easily change within the card).
No recipe called for more than four ingredients, which was a relief given how so many other meal services call for an exhausting amount of ingredients and fine-tuning. Below the recipe cards, there were all of my snack and breakfast grocery items listed for potential selection, which are paid for with credits as part of its credit system (more on this later), which I could change.
The Food Profile tab is where I could, nicely, continue to give the service a better sense of my needs and likes. At any time I could adjust my diet and the types of foods I liked to cook and eat (pastas, grain bowls, salads, sandwiches, bakes, etc.), and I could let them know on a very specific level how I felt about individual items. From bell peppers to breakfast muffins, I could tell Hungryroot whether I ate these (or wanted them included in my suggestions week to week) often, sometimes, or never. For someone with a picky palate, this level of tailoring was a plus, since it’s annoying to get sent food choices over and over that you low-key hate.
Ultimately, here’s the menu of recipes I ended up with for the two-week test period:
- Chicken curry bowl with zucchini
- Spinach feta turkey burgers with avocado crema
- Chickpea pasta with sweet baby broccoli and Alfredo sauce
- Red-lentil fusilli with pasture-raised meatballs
- Niçoise salad
- Veggie stir-fry
- Market plate
Some of the snacks that I either chose or came included were:
- Medjool dates
- Sous-vide mushroom egg bites
- Parmesan butternut squash crackers
- PB&J oats
- Siggi strawberry yogurt
- Dark chocolate banana bites
- Shelled edamame
- Mini sweet bell peppers
- Lemon dill hummus
- Black bean brownie batter
For comparison, in a normal week when I’m ordering Seamless, I spend anywhere from $80 to $100 for three orders of food with two servings in each. Factor in around $60 for snacks, coffee, and an in-house restaurant meal. For two weeks, that’s around $320. If I grocery-shop for my week’s meals, that cost is more like $50 to $75, which totals around $150 for two weeks. Not cheap, I know, but New York is New York.
Hungryroot’s smallest plan (three two-serving meals only—no add-ons) starts at $60, but this is very much based on each customer and whether they’re looking solely for meals, for groceries, and how many they cook for. According to Hungryroot P.R., the plans average from $60 to $100 per week, with minimum deliveries starting at $59.
This is for the meals alone. If you elect for more than just meal groceries, your plan also includes a certain number of credits (in my case, it’s 56). My snacks and breakfast items, ordered on top of my meal groceries, were covered by the credits, each depending on the item itself and ranging anywhere from two credits (for seasoned chickpeas) to at least 11 (for a black bean burrito bowl, if I wanted to add another meal). Once you hit your credit limit, anything else you add to the order will cost extra out of pocket.
I found the credit system a bit confusing to interpret. Because of my additional snacks, my plan was $120 per week. A sign-up discount meant I wound up paying $72, but for the second week, I paid the full $120 again. Hypothetically, if there were no discount, for two weeks on average, I would pay $240. That’s not the cheapest, compared with my supermarket-only weeks. But compared with my takeout-only two-week periods, I saved at least $80 and had eight servings to eat and a bunch of smaller items for nibbling. Plus, importantly, the service saves me the hassle of going to an actual grocery store and lugging heavy bags back to my apartment. Let’s also not forget that I could have elected for fewer snacks and to save money as a goal in my quiz, but did not.
Order & Delivery
The order and delivery processes were fairly straightforward; I was able to choose my meals one week in advance, which was fine for me. Under my settings, I could choose any delivery day but Thursday and Friday. You have until noon E.T. on the Thursday before your next delivery to edit your order, and since I opted for weekend delivery, I appreciated having so much time to change my mind. Hungryroot ships nationwide, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, and shipping is $7 for plans under $70. In my case, shipping was free. They sent me email notifications to confirm my order, shipping with tracking, and alerts when I skipped weeks.
What I found was not so straightforward to do was skip a delivery or pause my account. In order to skip for a week, I had to go into the rescheduling calendar and deselect the date I wanted to skip. This was a little wonky, and it would’ve been easier if I had been able to just hit a markedly visible “skip” button. As a heads-up, if you’re looking more for flexibility like I was, there is no way to indefinitely pause your account, though you can opt to pause for a set number of weeks.
The groceries arrived in 100% recyclable insulation and cooling packs meant to last several hours, which was nice. This effort to decrease waste seems par for the course with most meal subscription services now, and I’m glad.
Ease of Use
The Hungryroot box arrives with the ingredients piecemeal inside the box, instead of packed into smaller bags with enclosed recipe cards. That’s likely because it’s a grocery service, not a meal-kit service. The recipes are not printed, and unfortunately, Hungryroot lacks a mobile app at the time. In order to access the recipes or to make plan changes, I had to visit the site itself in my phone browser. The site is mobile-friendly, though it’s not so easy to find past recipes for reference. In order to do this, you have to visit your account order history, go into an individual order, then into its order slip, where the recipes are displayed in a PDF, which requires some finagling and resizing so you can read their steps. I wish there’d been one easy recipe box to access with simple cards (or better yet, an app!).
The recipes themselves were extremely easy to follow, luckily, and didn’t require me to look at them in much detail. Each had only around four ingredients—usually some sort of base, protein, veggie, and sauce—and maybe three steps. Let me tell you, this was a relief after a long workday, when I didn’t want to deal with a ton of chopping and grating and just wanted fresh food in my belly. The grains and premade sauces were microwavable, which saved me so much time, and most meals didn’t take more than 20 minutes to prepare—a big plus!
Hungryroot offers many vegetarian options like Beyond meatballs, organic guacamole, dal black lentils, cauliflower gnocchi, and many more interesting veggie-based dishes that actually taste good. This was really nice, given that other services I’ve used seem to default to sending a ton of pasta if you opt for vegetarian meals. And if Hungryroot did feature pasta in a meal plan, it was cleverly made of vegetables (like Banza’s chickpea shells). Even the snacks were plant-based, such as Parmesan crackers sourced from butternut squash (how? I don’t know!) and vegan cookie dough and brown batter made of chickpeas/almond and black beans, respectively. I ate those both raw, and they were really yummy. I also had the ability to add all sorts of fresh veggies to my order, which is how I wound up snacking on mini sweet bell peppers and snap peas—a nice change from jerky and string cheese.
Figuring out the nutrition of each dish on the whole was tricky. Typically, meal kits display nutrition facts with each dish. Hungryroot, however, notes the amount of calories per serving on each meal card, but I couldn’t find a nutritional breakdown for the meal overall. You can click into each individual ingredient or grocery item on the card and read its nutrition content that way, but if you wanted to know, say, the sodium content of an entire meal, you’d need to do some digging and math.
The FDA advises that the average person eat 2,000 calories per day in order to maintain a healthy body weight. The meals I chose ranged in calorie count per serving from roughly 300 to 700, well below the 2,000 mark. There wasn’t a ton of added sodium or highly processed ingredients, and thanks to its 200-plus grocery offerings and more than 3,000 recipes, Hungryroot has lots of room for you to get more specific about what exactly you eat, down to the last green bean. Each meal was light and tasty, and offered a decent two servings, and I felt pleasantly full (but not bloated) for several hours after eating.
The Bottom Line
The TL;DR here is that I enjoyed Hungryroot and plan to add them to my regular rotation of delivery services. Hands down, my favorite features of the service were its fun, varied, plant-based groceries, the speedy prep time of meals, and the ability to add breakfast and snacks (like that brownie batter, which I could eat every day).
Navigating the site to find things like past recipes and where to skip, as well as figuring out the credit system and nutrition of each dish, was a pesky process, admittedly, but not ultimately deal breakers. Once I figured out how the system worked, I was excited to try vegetables I don’t regularly buy, interesting snacks in lieu of total junk food (banana bread overnight oats and BBQ sweet potato puffs, you’re next), and to spend more time at my dining table eating than in my kitchen cooking, with leftovers to spare for lunch the next day. The recipes were just that simple, involving not much more than the sautéing of a patty (and honestly, I haven’t even tried the five-minute dinners yet!).
If you’re someone who seriously misses cooking and wants to try complicated, new recipes, this is maybe not the service for you. But if you’re looking to save time on grocery shopping and food preparation like me (and so many others), you still want food that tastes comforting and fresh, and you’re at all health-conscious, I definitely recommend giving Hungryroot a go.