I thought I’d share my first experience of Huel.
A bit of background: I’m a programmer by trade, and my hobbies include aikido and morris dancing, so I sit around all day and then go and sweat a lot in the evenings. I’m ridiculously tall and my belly is too big and I’d really like to carry less weight around (square-cube ratios mean I land very hard when someone throws me at aikido) and need to form a coherent plan for how to achieve that.
I absolutely love food, but I also don’t like the time it takes to make it properly so I’ve been interested since Soylent was first announced in partially replacing conventional food for the sake of convenience, nutritional assurance and getting a better handle on my energy intake. I’ve previously eaten quite a lot of Joylent, but they also have a habit of shipping me boxes which are barely held together by their inadequate parcel tape (and they get delivered by a terrible courier), and I’m bored of their flavours and they don’t have an unflavoured version (they promised one, but it has yet to appear). The plan has been to find a suitable Soylent-like product and eat quite a lot of that, allowing myself to put the appropriate effort into food when I can so I can really enjoy it, and not eat inadequate prepackaged sandwiches ever again.
So, let’s try Huel.
Shipping: excellent. Interlink/DPD are an excellent courier, happily delivering my Huel to a local shop so I can pick it up without having to go through the hassle of getting it from the post room at work (and then carrying a giant box home on the tram) or picking it up from the depot or involving my neighbours who always want to have an extended discussion about why I should welcome Jesus into my life before they’ll let me have my parcel.
Nice sturdy box. Delighted to discover that the shaker is the same kind I got for Joylent. I have one of theirs, but the wire ball version wasn’t as good at blending as the kind with the plastic grid in the top which I later bought from Tesco. Now I have a Huel-branded one! Hurrah. Still don’t understand why the printing comes off these things so much anyway.
Two big bags of unflavoured, unsweetened Huel. Strange choice to start with? Maybe, but I had such a bad experience with vanilla Joylent that I’m really really wary of Huel being vanilla flavour, even though the evidence suggests it’s incredibly mild by comparison. Nice big, sturdy bags. Very impressive. Also, one bag of rhubarb and custard flavour system because come on, rhubarb and custard! So happy that’s one of your flavours. It strikes me as extremely English. I am looking forward to experimenting with other flavours I sort out myself though.
I’ve been taking a shaker of Joylent to work for lunch lately (“Is that Huel?” one of my colleagues asked, soon I’ll be able to tell him “this is Huel, and it’s rhubarb and custard flavour”), so I thought I’d do the same with the Huel, but let’s just try some first. One scoop, some water, shake it up.
Wow, this shakes up easily.
Wow, this is pretty thin on the recommended ratios.
So, unsweetened, unflavoured Huel tastes like… oats. Someone got a bowl of water and soaked some oats in it all night and you drank the water. Oh and it’s got bits floating in it. Lots of little bits of… flaxseed casings? Something like that. That was a surprise. I didn’t expect the bits of things.
Quite tolerable, actually, but I never really planned to drink it like that. So add a bit of rhubarb and custard flavour to what’s left, blending it with water first in case it just forms a lump. Turns out to be quite hard to blend with water for some reason, it goes a bit stringy but I got there eventually.
It’s a very subtle flavour. Smells like custard powder, tastes… well, a bit rhubarby. Don’t really get the custard coming through. Maybe I didn’t use enough. Hint of that stevia sweetness. However, even that subtle hint really improves the experience of drinking Huel. Great. Make up three scoops, have for lunch.
After sitting in the fridge at work all morning, it’s settled a surprising amount, but it’s easy to shake up again. Again that subtle rhubarb and custard flavour’s really effective, although I do find myself wondering what happens if I use more flavour powder. Still, it goes down very well and I feel nice and full all afternoon. I’ve decided that the bits are entirely tolerable, and they certainly make the powder look more exciting. Also, sitting around for a while makes everything hydrate better and the powdery feeling is gone - I’m familiar with this effect from Joylent, although that tends to go gloopier.
No dodgy reactions from my stomach so far. Not sure if this is because I went through that adaptation with Joylent already (there was a lot of gas coming out both ends for a couple of days) or because Huel’s just different. Not complaining anyway. Today I’ve got another shaker full of Huel, with more flavour powder in it this time. Still tastes quite subtle, but very nice. We have a tradition of a cooked breakfast at work on Fridays so I’ll be having Huel for lunch (we also have a tradition that the restaurant serve nearly-inedible fish on Fridays, so it’s a great day to bring something else in from home).
- Ordering experience is great
- Shipping time and courier excellent
- Packaging good, but the bags require a surprising amount of precision to properly reseal
- Mixes up easily
- Tolerable even when unflavoured
- Rather nice with rhubarb and custard powder in it
- Transparent about development plans and formula changes
- Flavour powders are a great idea
- The scoop’s a little awkward, perhaps if it was a bit wider it’d be easier to scoop powder in and dump it out into the shaker
- Joylent just lost a customer
- I wonder what happens if I put miso in it? Unflavoured offers such scope for experimentation!
I need to stop rambling and go to work, but I am so tempted to just drink the shaker and make another one instead of joining my colleagues for bacon. Trouble is I know I’ll do both, and that belly’s not going to shrink itself…
Next week I’m in London for a few days. The Huel is coming with me and is going to save me the cost of at least one overpriced meal a day, which will likely pay for the whole supply I’ve got in itself. When I get back I’ll likely be ordering a much bigger box, but I’ll see how that experience goes first just to make sure.