Cost of home chef

Contents

A Month of Meal Kit Menus; Home Chef vs. Blue Apron

Home Chef Tonkatsu Salmon

I’ve been feeling uninspired lately when it comes to cooking dinner during the week. I work full time and a have a heinous commute (1.5-2 hours each way) at least 3 days a week. Some days I’m away from home 13+ hours and by the time I get home the last thing I want to do is think about what I want to cook. Much of this could be solved by deciding what I want to cook each week, making detailed menu plans and shopping for the ingredients on the weekend. But honestly, that’s not me. Rarely do I plan in that type of detail; typically I buy a bunch of core ingredients (various proteins and vegetables) and anything that catches my fancy and wing it.

Cue Dr Phil, “How’s that workin’ for you?”

Answer: Not so good. Because of this, I’ve decided to give a couple of the meal prep companies a try. if you’re not familiar with the concept, these are companies which send you all the ingredients for several meals and the recipes, and you prep and cook the meal yourself.

I have several friends who have tried these services and loved them, yet I resisted. I’m a (former) chef, right? This would be great for someone else, but not me. It’s easy to get all judgy and think “why can’t you just shop?” I know, because I thought that myself. So, why would I need something like this? Well, for exactly the reasons listed above. For me, it’s time, lack of desire to plan, and a lowering of food waste.

But for others, the reasons might be different. Some people are intimidated by the thought of planning and cooking several meals per week because they don’t know how to cook and plan. These kits can help alleviate the stress and they even might teach people how to cook. If that happens, it’s all good in my book.

Fortunately, the initial risk is fairly low in terms of cost. Both companies offer free or discounted trials. Neither of them approached me for this review and I paid for it out of my own pocket. If you want to try one, see the details at the bottom of the post.

Home Chef (referral link with discount) and Blue Apron were the companies friends had tried and liked so that’s where I started. There are at least a dozen other similar companies out there which fill all kinds of niche dietary markets; vegan, paleo, southern, organic, it’s all out there.

My plan was to try two weeks of each company so I could get a broader impression than the reviews I’d read which had done as little as one meal or much as one week. I went online and selected Home Chef first simply because based on my order date, they would be able to deliver first.

I’ve now been cooking Home Chef meals for over 3 years:

Cost:

  • Both companies cost the same, about $9.95 per person or $19.90 per meal (each meal is for two people).
  • Home chef allows you to order as many or as few meals as you want and offers free shipping for boxes over $40. Without that, shipping is $10 so it makes sense to order three meals instead of two (when you have to pay for shipping on two).
  • Blue Apron is fixed at 3 meals per week (for two people) and shipping is included for the $60. They also offer a family meal plan that 2 meals a week for 4, for $70.

Choice:

  • Home Chef offers 10 main course choices each week plus a breakfast, and a smoothie and a fruit basket (the last two cost less). You can pick from any of the items and there are always at least 3 vegetarian options, plus a couple each fish, chicken, pork and beef options. If you want, do nothing and they will send you a auto-selection each week or go in and pick what you want.
  • Blue Apron offers 6 choices; one each of meat, chicken and fish and 3 vegetarian. You can de-select one of the meat proteins options, but doing this does not always allow for a vegetarian option. I found this very frustrating (more on this below).
  • I did not order the vegetarian options from either company. While some of them sounded delicious, I didn’t feel the “value” was there for $10 per person and I would have liked to see more alternative proteins added like tofu.

Packaging:

  • One of the criticisms of all these companies is that there’s a lot of packaging, and while there’s truth there, it’s also necessary. You can’t just throw a bunch of meat, chicken and fish lose in a box with a bunch of vegetables and expect it to arrive safe and sound.
  • When you shop at a grocery store you put vegetables in plastic bags and meat comes wrapped and packaged so it’s not much different.
  • The biggest amount of excess packaging is for small items. For these items, Home Chef uses hard plastic bottles and jars with screw caps on them. These seem pretty wasteful, but I’ve saved them and re-used them for packaging items for my lunches. Blue apron uses more disposable-type containers for pantry items, similar to what you’d get in a restaurant’s to-go orders and they aren’t meant to be re-used.
  • Home chef puts each meal’s ingredients in a separate bag with the proteins separate. Blue apron has them all loose in the box so you really need to take care when unpacking that everything is there and that you don’t accidentally misplace or use an ingredient meant for another dish.
  • Both companies say all the packaging is recyclable.
  • For me, the flip side of all this packaging is that there’s a lot less food waste. Things like demi-glace, figs, fresh herbs, and creme fraiche are all delivered in the right size for the recipe and I’m not throwing away the molding rest of the container 2 weeks later.

Portions and Ingredients:

  • Both offer two portions for every meal. I found the portion sizes to be generous, especially with the vegetables and carbs (rice, potatoes, grains, etc). We often had leftovers of the sides.
  • Protein portions were typically around 6 oz per person.
  • There was some repetition of ingredients. Depending on what you select, it could be more cost-effective to shop on your own, but then you would have to plan each meal too. Many of the meals used garlic, ginger, green onions, green beans, or lemons. There was one week with Home Chef that had green onions in every meal and one week with Blue Apron that had lemon zest in every meal.
  • Single people might find meal kits a bit more of a challenge but I know several singles who have enjoyed it. It may mean eating one of the portions from each meal as leftovers or cooking it separately. On the other hand, they found that many times they could stretch the 2 portions to 3 meals for one person.
  • Blue Apron makes an effort to use all natural (no hormones or antibiotic) and sustainable meat and seafood and I very much appreciate it. Their packages of proteins are clearly labeled as such and Home Chef’s are not. I found the quality of the meat and chicken coming from home chef to be fine (though unlabeled as to providence) but the salmon to be basic farm-raised Atlantic (which I would not normally buy).

The Actual Meals:

Home Chef:

  • It arrived around noon on the day scheduled and was opened at 4pm by my husband. He said everything was well packed and cold. The box was insulated and had at least 6 ice packs in it.
  • When I got home I pulled out everything to take a look and my first impressions were good. There was a thin flexible plastic binder and 3 hole punched full color recipe cards to go in it. Everything was well labeled and organized into separate bags for each meal, with the protein separate.

Home Chef Recipes

  • Then I noticed that one of the protein items (a flatiron steak) was missing. We searched the box. Not there. We searched the refrigerator. Not there. In inside any of the meal bags. Just. Not. There. By this time it was too late to call the company so I emailed them my disappointment. It took until 1pm the following day to get a reply; it was very apologetic and they offered full credit for that meal. Still, not a great way to make a first impression.

Home Chef, Meal #1

That night I decided to make the first meal; shrimp pad thai. This is not a dish unfamiliar to me. I’ve traveled at lot in Thailand, and I live in Los Angeles, home to the largest Thai population outside Thailand and to literally hundreds of excellent Thai restaurants. It was decent, but not the best version or even in the top 10 I’ve ever had. It was too sweet and too spicy.

Ingredients for Home Chef Shrimp Pad Thai

Home Chef Pad Thai Shrimp

Home Chef, Meal #2

Steak salad with caramelized onions and blue cheese. This was the item with the missing protein but I didn’t want to waste it so I used my own steak. The salad was good, though there were a lot of steps. Both mustard and honey ingredients came in little foil to go packets and the walnuts were pre-chopped instead of whole as in the photo. A day after the box was shipped Home Chef sent out a warning about the spice mix for the steaks saying the feedback was that it was too spicy. Glad they did and because of that I used only about 1/10th of what was provided and it was plenty spicy.

Home Chef, Meal #3

Pork chop with kumquat butter- there were lots of steps in this recipe, which might be a bit of a challenge for inexperienced cooks or for people who don’t like cooking. But for people who want to learn and try new things, this is a good way to gain experience. The mix of flavors wad interesting and I never would have made something like edamame fritters if I were doing my own meal planning do it did get me making something out of the norm.

Home Chef Ingredients for Pork Chop with Kumquat Cilantro Butter

Home Chef Pork Chop with Kumquat Cilantro Butter

Home Chef, Meal #4

Salmon Tonkatsu with miso ginger vegetables- green beans, red bell pepper (plate photo at top of page). This could have been better if they’d used a better quality salmon, but we enjoyed it and vegetables had good flavor. Nice to have a meal not loaded with carbs.

Ingredients for Home Chef Salmon Tonkatsu with miso ginger vegetables- green beans, red bell pepper

Home Chef, Meal #5

Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots. This was one of my favorite meals. Again, I learned something. I’d never heard of Berbere spice which is a blend of spices commonly used in Ethiopian food. Again, I went lighter on the spice, saved what was left and was able to use it again in a later meal. I even turned the leftover cous cous and green beans into a salad the next day.

Home Chef ingredients for Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots.

Home Chef Berbere chicken thighs with green beans and cous cous with almonds and apricots.

Home Chef, Meal #6

Steak with grains of paradise spice, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes. This recipe was fairly easy and the grains of paradise spice was an interesting and new to me ingredient. The recipe included veal demi-glace which makes a very rich sauce but wouldn’t be something I’d normally have on hand.

Ingredients for Home Chef steak with grains of paradise, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes

Home Chef steak with grains of paradise, zucchini and mashed sweet potatoes

Blue Apron:

When planning for the two weeks of Blue Apron, I looked ahead at the options and while the first week looks ok, the second week has chicken wings which neither my husband nor I are especially enjoy. Unfortunately, Blue Apron offers no other choices if I want to change out that meal. Sure, there are 3 vegetarian options, but none were available if I want to get something instead of the wings. I’d have to change out the beef or salmon dish instead. So basically, I’m stuck with the wings. the lack of choice leaves me unhappy.

  • Like Home Chef, our first week was scheduled to arrive on a Tuesday with 3 meals in the box. BA sent an email the day before letting us know it had shipped and with a tracking number. We followed it all day Tuesday, but the package did not arrive at our house until well after 7pm.
  • Opening the box; even with the late delivery, everything was quite cold and the two giant ice packs were still mostly frozen.
  • All the ingredients were in the box and labeled with what they were, but not for the dish in which they were to be used. This means you need to be very careful to pull out all the ingredients for the dish when you make it and also not to accidentally use any of those ingredients (like whole lemons which are just loose, not packaged).
  • The box came with 3 recipe cards set up similar to home chef with a large photo and description on one side and instructions on the other, as well as an ingredient focus card, this week on fresh mint. The recipes are not 3-hole punched and did not come with a binder. My husband noted that all of the 3 meals looked the same this week; a protein on top of a starch in a bowl.
  • My first impression is that there are far fewer ingredients per meal, which leads me to feel like Blue Apron might be the better option for a more inexperienced cook.

Blue Apron, Meal #1

Wild salmon on top of warm creamy barley “salad” with zucchini. Blue Apron gets an extra point for their commitment to sustainable and wild seafood. Our salmon was clearly marked as wild. However, it was sockeye, not king and we got two very thin tail pieces. The barley-zucchini mix was tasty but didn’t wow us with any innovation.

Ingredients for Blue Apron Lemon Butter Salmon with creamy barley and zucchini.

Blue Apron Lemon Butter Salmon with creamy barley and zucchini.

Blue Apron, Meal #2

Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini. Again, very flavorful but protein on carbs. The garlic chives were a nice addition to dish otherwise devoid of color and vegetables. It was nice to have chicken clearly marked as antibiotic free. Chicken demiglace and use of pasta water in sauce was a good option instead of butter. This was the 2nd meal with lemon zest.

Ingredients for Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini

Chicken Thighs with no antibiotics

Blue Apron Chicken Thighs with lemon picatta buccatini

Blue Apron, Meal #3

Spiced lamb and beef tagine. This was one of my favorites from Blue Apron. The ras al hanout seasoning was delicious and the addition of the labneh (yogurt cheese) was made it even more “authentic”. Again, it was nice not to have to buy a whole container of labneh, there was just enough for the meal. The only downside was that the mint was missing from the ingredients but I have some in my garden. This was the third meal in a row with lemon zest.

Ingredients for Spiced Lamb and Beef Tagine

Blue Apron Spiced Lamb and Beef Tagine

Blue Apron, Meal #4

Pork Chops with fig compote on top of kale and barley. This was really tasty and the pork was all natural antibiotic free.

Blue Apron Pork Chops and Fig Compote

Blue Apron, Meal #5

Salmon with thyme potatoes and green beans. This was good, very simple, and not much different from something I’d make on my own.

Ingredients for Salmon with Thyme Potatoes and Green Beans

Blue Apron Salmon with Thyme Potatoes and Green Beans

Blue Apron, Meal #6

Miso glazed chicken wings with purple rice. Ah, the dreaded chicken wings. They were tasty, but I would skip the week rather than be forced to have them again.

Blue Apron Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Blue Apron Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Tools:

Both companies use the same format in cooking in that they try to keep the pots and pans to a minimum. In this way, they often have you cook something in a saute pan, move that item to a plate and then cook something else in the same pan. They also recommend, rightly so, that you prep your mise en place in advance.

Useful tools* (these are all items I use in my own kitchen)

  • 1/2 sheet pans
  • Pre-cut parchment paper– these fit the sheet pans perfectly and help with easy clean up.
  • Tongs
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Non-stick pans saute pans
  • Stacking prep bowls and Mise en Place bowls
  • Cutting boards– I like boards like this because they can be sanitized in the dishwasher.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, chances are you might be interested in trying one of these meal kit services.

If you’d like to try Home Chef, please and you’ll get $30 off your first box (and I’ll get a referral discount as well, so thanks!).
I no longer have any Blue Apron free boxes to give away.

Have you tried one of these companies or a different one? I’d love to hear what you thought about it. Let me know in the comments!

*Amazon links are for examples. If you choose to order something your cost is the same, but I get a teeny-tiny percentage which goes to help support this site.

I’ve now been cooking Home Chef for over 3 years:

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Tagged as: Blue Apron, Home Chef, Meal Kits

Home Chef Review: Is It Worth It?

Home Chef delivers fresh ingredients and recipes to your door. But it could get pricey. Is it worth it for your family? Read on.

Almost half of Americans claim to hate to cook. For many, it’s due to a lack of time to put together a half decent meal. Perhaps because of this phenomenon, meal delivery services have taken over the radar.

One name you probably hear quite often is Home Chef. Founded in 2013, Home Chef delivers more than 1.5 million meals to doorsteps each month. The perfectly portioned ingredients and colorful recipe cards have wanna-be chefs trying new things.

Is it the right service for you?

What Is Home Chef?

Busy families often resort to frozen food or takeout. While it’s convenient, it could be unhealthy and costly. Enter Home Chef, the answer to the desire for a home cooked meal in under 30 minutes. This home meal delivery service promises fresh ingredients delivered to your doorstep with delicious recipes even the novice can prepare.

Home Chef delivers all of the ingredients necessary to create your chosen meals. However, they don’t provide common staples, such as cooking oil, salt, and pepper. You can skip meal planning, grocery shopping, and recipe hunting. Home Chef works with high-quality food suppliers and professional chefs to deliver the best ingredients and tastiest recipes.

    $30 Off Your First Home Chef

    New customers only. Limit 1 per household. Free delivery with orders of $45 or more.

How Home Chef Works

You can sign up for Home Chef in a few simple steps. You’ll provide your email address, food preferences, shipping, and payment information. Based on your preferences, Home Chef then suggests meals for you. But you can choose from the 38 options each week based on your family’s desires. This offers a great opportunity to try something new. Many families try meals they would otherwise never eat.

You can choose your menu on a weekly basis as long as it’s by the deadline. But Home Chef also sets their menus 5 weeks in advance. If you like to plan, you can know what you’ll be eating for the next month or so. Their site has a countdown to let you know how many days are left to order from a specific week’s menu. Once the deadline hits, the menu is no longer available. However, you can still access their recipes for a few months.

You can also choose to add on smoothie ingredients and/or fresh fruit baskets. You choose the number of servings and the items are added to your order.

Once you choose your meals, Home Chef ships the fresh ingredients and recipe cards right to your doorstep. You get to choose the delivery date so you know when it will arrive.

Once you receive your order, you simply unbox the desired meal and follow the recipe steps. Take note: you’ll find a list of “extra” items you need, such as olive oil, salt, and pepper, at the top of the card. You’ll also see any special notes titled “Before You Cook.” This alerts you of any steps you must take before you start cooking.

Each step in the cooking process is broken down into simple instructions and includes pictures. They even offer a “proper plating” picture so you can replicate the look of the meal as you would see it in a restaurant.

Who Benefits the Most from Home Chef?

Home Chef isn’t for everyone, but many people do benefit. If you are too busy to cook anything but frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets or you are sick of takeout, it could be worth a try.

However, if you are the type who follows a strict budget or uses coupons religiously, you might find the price a little much to handle. But if you still want to try out Home Chef, check out this promotional offer. Home Chef charges customers by the number of servings ordered. However, the smallest quantity you can order is 2 servings. Because they charge per serving, you don’t get a price break with the more people you feed.

If you were to shop for the ingredients yourself, the price per serving may decrease with the more mouths you feed. You can either buy in bulk or purchase items on sale. At Home Chef, it could cost as much as $60 for one meal to feed a family of six.

But, for some, the price is worth it. Even though you might spend as much as you would on takeout, you get much higher quality food and the satisfaction of preparing it yourself.

If you have a little time to spend in the kitchen, but less time to meal plan and grocery shop, this service may work well. Keep in mind that while you receive fresh produce and meat, you still have to do a little preparing. Many recipes require you to slice vegetables, chop nuts, and season the meat. Typically, it’s nothing too time consuming, but something you should keep in mind.

    New customers only. Limit 1 per household. Free delivery with orders of $45 or more.

What Are Your Choices?

Home Chef offers a large variety of options even for those on a strict diet. When you sign up, you can specify any allergies or preferences you have.

After entering your email address, Home Chef asks you a variety of questions:

  • How many meals would you like sent to you each week? (Choose 2-6)
  • How many people will you cook for? (2, 4, or 6)
  • Do you prefer meat, seafood, vegetables? You can choose one, two, or all three options.
  • Do you need a low-calorie or low-carb meal plan?

You can then choose to omit any of the following:

  • Pork
  • Soy
  • Red meat
  • Nuts
  • Wheat
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Shellfish

Based on your preferences, Home Chef offers a variety of menu options. A few examples of past meals offered include:

  • BBQ-Rubbed Chicken and Cheddar Mac
  • Greek Panko-Crusted Cod with vegetables
  • Sirloin Steak with Balsamic Sauce and Potatoes
  • Spaghetti and Ricotta Meatballs

The Pros and Cons of Home Chef

Having fresh ingredients delivered to your doorstep with step-by-step instructions may seem like a dream come true and for some, it is. However, you should know the cons before deciding too.

Pros

  • The recipes are very easy to follow, even if you are not a self-proclaimed chef.
  • You can personalize the options to meet your dietary needs.
  • You can pick and choose the number of meals each week or even skip several weeks at a time.
  • Possibly waste less food, as only the necessary amount of fresh ingredients come in the box.
  • Recipes are categorized by difficulty.

Cons

  • You should be home when the food is delivered, as it’s chilled only with standard ice packs.
  • The dietary restriction options don’t include vegan or heart-healthy diet options.
  • Single-member households must pay for 2 servings of any meals they order.

How It Compares

Home meal delivery services are quickly on the rise. While Home Chef has been around for almost 5 years, others are popping up all over the internet. They all offer the same idea – fresh ingredients to make restaurant-quality meals in your own kitchen. A few of the options outside of Home Chef include:

Blue Apron
Blue Apron offers a subscription service. You get a box each week unless you cancel your subscription. You choose from the “2-Person Plan” or the “Family” plan. The 2-Person Plan allows you to choose 2 or 3 recipes per week. The Family Plan allows you to choose 2, 3, or 4 recipes per week. They do offer vegetarian plans, but only for the 2-Person Plan. They specialize in unique recipes with new cooking techniques to keep even the most experienced cook learning new things. However, Blue Apron meals tend to take longer to prepare – some even take up to 90 minutes.

Plated
Plated works much the same as Home Chef. You choose your meals from week to week. You can skip weeks, stop delivery altogether, or order as often as you want. They have more than 20 recipes to choose from at a time. They also offer dessert recipe options. You receive most of the necessary ingredients outside of the standard staples you probably have at home. Plated allows you to mix and match the number of servings you get for each meal. This allows some flexibility for entertaining or nights when not everyone will be home for dinner. The food from Plated is often very unique or gourmet, and the recipes can be complicated or time consuming.

Hello Fresh
Hello Fresh provides farm-fresh foods with the option to choose a meat/seafood or vegetarian plan. They also provide a weekly subscription, but you must choose between a plan for 2 or 4 people and 3 or 4 recipes per week. Based on your preferences, Hello Fresh provides you with 15 new recipes to choose from each week. By default, they choose your meals for you, but you have the flexibility to change them if desired. Hello Fresh is a good choice for those who prefer “standard” recipes rather than the more “gourmet” options from other subscription services.

Related: Home Chef Coupons

Bottom Line

Home Chef is among the many meal delivery service companies vying for your grocery dollar. They are among the easier meals to prepare, yet they don’t lack in sophistication. They are among the services that offer the most options for those on a restricted diet. If you’re looking for an alternative to convenience food, this is a great option. You’ll create a warm, home-cooked meal for your family with fresh ingredients that will not go to waste.

Personal chefs: How much do they cost — and are they worth it?

What’s included with the price of a personal chef?

The obvious benefit of personal chefs is that they’ll provide you with meals. But there are a lot of tasks that go into that.

Meal Planning: Part of the job of the personal chef is to develop a meal plan that meets the household’s dietary needs, often with input from the family. This can be especially helpful for homes with limitations on what they can eat. This can include food allergies, religious restrictions and just plain picky eaters — meaning a lot of planning and considerations can be required.

Grocery Shopping: Once the meal options are selected, chefs are also typically responsible for procuring the ingredients needed to prepare the food. If families have strong preferences on the types of food — such as all organic or grass-fed meats — the chef can take that into consideration when shopping. Note: The time and effort to go out and buy the groceries is often included in the price of a personal chef, but the actual cost of the groceries themselves are not. Those are often tacked onto the overall rate or charged for separately.

Food Preparation: While you certainly pay for the food and the planning, the bulk of what you’re getting when you hire a personal chef is their expertise in the kitchen. Many personal chefs come right to your home to prepare the food, though some might prefer to work off-site in their own home or, in the case of a larger chef service, in a professional kitchen. Regardless of where they cook, they do all the chopping, slicing, peeling, dicing and baking needed for the planned meals.

Meal Storage: After the food is prepared, chefs usually package each meal in a way that can be safely and easily stored for you to eat later. If food is prepared outside of your home, the chefs will bring it to you in storage containers or pans that can be reheated immediately or placed in your fridge or freezer.

Cleaning: Perhaps the true beauty of a personal chef is that they clean up if they’ve cooked in your home. There are no dirty pots, pans, knives, spatulas and cutting boards to deal with after you’re finished eating!

Cost by location

The median price of a personal chef in the U.S. is about $200-$300 per week for five meals for a family of four, not including the cost of groceries, which can vary widely by city.

Estimated weekly cost of a personal chef for a family of 4

(Add $60-$200 a week to the cost for ingredients)

City

Sample Costs

Charlotte, North Carolina

Columbus, Ohio

Jacksonville, Florida

Austin, Texas

Chicago, Illinois

Los Angeles, California

Denver, Colorado

Memphis, Tennessee

New York, New York

San Francisco, California

Source: Soma Personal Chefs

While the prices for personal chefs in the above table don’t include the cost of groceries — that would be an additional $60-$200 per week, depending on the kind and quality of ingredients prepared — they can offer insight into how much you would expect to pay depending on the city.

Tips for cutting costs when hiring a personal chef

Hire an amateur: Your neighbor down the street might not have trained at Le Cordon Bleu in France, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a mean lasagna. Ask around to your family and friends to see if they know someone handy in the kitchen who might be looking to make a few extra bucks as your personal chef. These individuals tend to be much cheaper than a professional personal chef, while still able to meet your family’s culinary needs. Note: Some areas might require personal chefs to have a business license and/or food handling certification. In some cases, this isn’t necessary if the food is prepared inside your own home, but it’s still a good idea to check local laws before hiring someone to make sure you’re in compliance.

Share with another household: If you have some friends who are interested in hiring a personal chef, as well, consider going in on it with them to share some of the expenses and spoils. For many personal chefs, it’s not that much more work for them to double every batch. Once prepared and/or delivered, you can split the food however you’d like.

Consider alternatives: Many cities now have simple meal delivery services or traditional catering companies that bring you a set quantity of fully prepared meals once or twice a week. While not nearly as customizable as a personal chef, these services have options available for some of the most common dietary restrictions and are generally less expensive.

Imagine a world where you don’t have to be rich to have someone do your shopping for you.

I was at a party a while back and chatted with a woman about our shopping practices. The conversation started with her complimenting my attire. “Oh, I like your dress.” “Thanks, it’s from Forever 21.” I went on to ask where she got her heels. “Nordstrom. I hate to shop so I hire someone else to shop for me.” Yep. Not me. My shopping experiences entail persistence, sweating and several hours in the dressing room, only to be able to select two articles of clothing, due to my budget.

Some of you may be like me. You would LOVE to be catered to and hire a personal shopper, but you lack the cash. Although I do not have a resolution for clothes shopping, I do have one for grocery shopping! Enter Food Delivery Services.

Since 2012 Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated have pampered their patrons with food delivered right to their doorstep. In 2013 Home Chef came onto the scene, offering similar services. Each of these companies sends their subscribers one box each week, filled with fresh ingredients needed to make chef-designed recipes. An exorbitant amount of time is saved each week, since these companies eliminate grocery shopping, finding new recipes, meal planning, and portioning.

Luckily for you, I have tried and reviewed (click names to read) Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Peach Dish. Now I have the opportunity to review Home Chef and compare it to all of these companies, so that you can make an educated decision as to which one best serves your family’s needs.

The Basics

Price

  • All Home Chef meals are priced at $9.95 per serving.
  • Delivery is free for orders over $40, and they don’t charge sales tax. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $40.
  • Select any number of dinner meals (offers 10) for 2, 4, or 6 people.
  • Additional offers: one breakfast ($9.95/serving), one smoothie ($4.95/serving) or one fruit basket ($4.95/serving)
  • They offer many promotions in magazines, on Facebook or search “Home Chef” promo codes online. I got my first box for $29.70 for two people with a 50% off coupon.
  • Active subscribers have access to a referral program, where you can earn credit for every referral that signs up with Home Chef. Both you and your reference will receive a $30 credit.

Delivery

  • They currently deliver to 60% of the United States and do no specify exactly where.
  • Sends weekly deliveries Tuesday through Friday.
  • You can select the day of week that’s most convenient for you.
  • Delivery day options will vary according to where you live.
  • You can skip weeks according to your availability or interest in the menu.

Menu

  • 10 dinner recipes offered, choose any that you want.
  • They will offer suggestions based on your preferences but you can remove those from your cart very easily.
  • Additional offers: one breakfast ($9.95/serving), one smoothie ($4.95/serving) or one fruit basket ($4.95/serving)
  • Create a Diet Profile: Omnivore, Meat, Seafood, Pescatarian, Vegetarian and Vegan
  • Identify dietary preferences: ingredients to avoid, low-calorie or low-carb meals
  • Offers subscriptions for gluten-free and dairy-free also

More frequently asked questions: https://www.homechef.com/faq

The First Impression

Ingredients are Pre-portioned

A small square box arrived around 4:00 on a Wednesday night. The ingredients were organized in three separate bags, with labels identifying the recipe’s name. The meat was packaged in vacuumed sealed bags and remained separated from the recipe bags. Within each bag, the ingredients were pre-portioned and labeled in their own designated container or bag. The fresh fruit and vegetables were whole and preparation directions were outlined clearly on the recipe card. Above is an example of the Cuban-Style Pork Chop ingredients that were removed from their bag.

Front of Recipe Card

Each meal has a recipe card. The front of the recipe card has a final photo of the meal, along with an explanation of the dish’s flavor profile and a picture of the chef who created the dish.

Back of Recipe Card

On the back of the card, the top section has a written list of the ingredients, measurements, what you’ll need (like salt and pepper), preparation time, calories per serving and other dietary information. It also includes a drink pairing suggestion, which is unique to Home Chef only. The rest of the card is dedicated to teaching the home cook how to make the meal with step-by-step directions and photos. The last photo describes how to plate the dish.

The Taste Test

Thai Fish Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Thai Fish Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Slaw | This was an incredible low-calorie meal that was bursting with flavor. Fresh ginger, fish sauce, cilantro and chili powder took me on a journey to Thailand. The fillets of Tilapia were first roasted, then shredded and lastly pan-seared to create a crunchy exterior. The finishing sauce was Sriracha, for those of us who like it spicy! The Cilantro-Lime Slaw was crunchy and refreshing, complementing the tender fish cakes. After eating this dish, I immediately tucked away the recipe so that I could create it again. The ingredients such as panko, lime, mayonnaise and garlic are simple, but when combined, the punch of flavor will shock you. This recipe was only 521 calories per serving. Yet ours was less, as I substituted regular mayonnaise for low-fat mayo found in our refrigerator. Each of us had two huge fish cakes, which were appropriately filling. The drink pairing for this meal was chilled Thai beer, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Con: None.

Hearty Steak and Goat Cheese Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette and Pepitas

Hearty Steak and Goat Cheese Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette and Pepitas | This was a substantial salad. The tender sirloin steaks, cooked to medium-rare, melted in our mouths. The goat cheese added a zing of creaminess, while the shallots offered a hit of garlicky flavor. The Champagne Vinaigrette was another recipe that you had to make yourself. For me, this was my favorite part because there is nothing like fresh homemade dressing. This dressing included Dijon mustard, champagne vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. It was light and flavorful with a burst of acidity. At only 677 calories per serving, my husband and I were extremely full without the guilt. The drink pairing suggestions included Pinot Noir, Cabernet or Chilled Chardonnay.

Con: Yes, this is a salad that you can easily make on your own without the help of a food delivery service or recipe. It was one of many that I could choose from, but knowing that we wanted a low-carb meal, I chose according to our diets.

Cuban-Style Pork Chop with Ensalada de Aguacate and Citrus-Caramelized Onions

Cuban-Style Pork Chop with Ensalada de Aguacate and Citrus-Caramelized Onions | This was another hearty and healthy meal. The Cuban-Style Pork Chop was marinated in an orange juice and citrus blend that complimented the smoky sear from a prepared spice blend. Ensalada de Aguacate is Spanish for Avocado Salad. The baby arugula was delightful in this salad, as it added a peppery bite. Lastly, we enjoyed the caramelized onions because they were sauteed with the orange-citrus marinade that was also used for the pork. This meal was 501 calories per serving and its drink pairings include Cuban-style beer or rum cocktails.

Con: The salad only had a squeeze of lime to dress it, so I added extra virgin olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar. In my opinion, they should have used the orange-citrus marinade to create a vinaigrette, as this salad was dry without it.

The Final Say

First things first, you probably want to know how all the prices of these companies compare. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh only allow you to choose three meals per week, whereas Plated and Home Chef let you choose as many meals as you want. Plated however, has a minimum of 4 plates. Home Chef has no minimum of meals, but you will pay $10.00 for shipping if you do not meet a $40.00 total. Below is a chart of prices for a box of three dinners for 2 people, avoiding all the minimums, shipping fees and choices, so that you can have a relative comparison.

*Prices have been raised since June 2015 when this review was written. Prices were updated March 2016 *

Now for each of these, I used promotional codes that were offered to new subscribers. If you are interested in trying one or all of these companies, I would suggest liking them on Facebook to receive their promotions. Also you can search for these codes online. If you do not want to continue your service, remember to cancel your subscription so that your account is not charged each week. Each service allows you to skip weeks so that you are able to control what you are eating and how often a box arrives.

As far as calories go, Plated and Blue Apron boast meals in the range of 550-700 calories per serving. However, Hello Fresh had two of three meals in the 800-calorie range (click the blue name to see the meals) . From the Home Chef meals that I selected (see above photos), the range of calories was 510 to 677. Yet, when looking online at all the options, there were recipes in the 900-1000 calorie range.

Home Chef allows you to choose from 11 recipes, including one breakfast, and Plated has you choose from 8 recipes including an $18-$24 Chef’s Table special. With these two companies, you have more of a variety to choose from. Blue Apron offers 6 recipes for a 2-Person Plan and 4 for a Family Plan. Hello Fresh offers 5 recipes for the Classic Box and 3 for the Veggie Box.

Taste-wise, Hello Fresh and Home Chef were phenomenal. However, for Hello Fresh I chose Fried Won Tons and Swedish Meatballs, both unhealthy options. They were extremely flavorful and exciting to make, but as a health conscious foodie, I would not make those decisions every week. Furthermore, Home Chef allowed me to choose low-calorie meals that were delicious! We savored each bite and enjoyed the guilt-free meals. I was impressed at how flavorful the Thai Fish Cakes were, given that the meal was only 521 calories! When we ate our Blue Apron meals, we threw out the Rice and Beans and only ate half of the Jambalaya. They were flavorless. Still overall, Blue Apron had the most unique ingredients, which was a perk for a foodie like me. To see all the meals we cooked and tasted click on the company’s name: Plated, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.

My final ruling is that Home Chef is a worthy contender to Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh. Not only is it the most affordable of the four companies, Home Chef offers the most recipes and dietary options. Additionally, Home Chef includes a breakfast, smoothie and fruit basket option that no other company offers. Home Chef also offers gluten-free and dairy-free subscriptions. When I asked Blue Apron and Plated about this, both said that their ingredients are prepared in facility that stores and processes items containing gluten. They also said to use your best judgment when selecting meals. Hello Fresh did not reply. Overall, Home Chef’s meals were excellent and healthy. The runner up is

Now the choice is up to you. If you are in a good food mood and want to be pampered, let one of these food delivery services cater to your needs. Please post questions, pictures or comments, I love knowing about your experiences!

Read my Try the World review for an international foodie experience.

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Home Chef Review: A Meal Kit That Goes Beyond the Basics

All products and services featured here are chosen for their potential to inspire and enable your wellness. Everyday Health may earn an affiliate commission on items you purchase.

Who hasn’t experienced mealtime mayhem? Between meal planning, grocery shopping, prepping and cooking, the family dinner ritual can be a very stressful time. For busy families like mine, a meal subscription service can be a lifesaver. But with so many meal kit options in the market, it’s difficult to choose one that suits our needs.

Home Chef is an ideal meal-subscription service for the novice chef who’s willing to cook more than just the basics — and wants to put a healthy, fresh dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Every delivery comes with everything you need to prepare the recipes that come in the box. There are a few staples you’ll need to have on hand (such as olive or vegetable oil, salt and pepper), but everything else comes in pre-measured amounts.

I’ve also found that if you need to track essential vitamins and minerals — for weight management or other health concerns — you’ll love Home Chef. Every recipe card includes a calorie count, plus the amount of grams/milligrams of carbohydrates, fat, protein, and sodium in each serving.

With Home Chef, you have the option to choose your recipes every Monday morning. You receive an email that includes up to 13 meal options to choose from, and you have until Friday to make your decisions. The meal options take the chaos out of meal planning, making this meal subscription a lifesaver on busy weeknights. Learn more about the Everyday Health Wellness Code used for all products and services reviews.)

How It Helps Boost Wellness

Home Chef recipes can be helpful for people who aren’t necessarily interested in expanding their culinary chops but want to avoid the chaos of putting a quick, healthy, fresh, family-friendly meal on the table. That’s not to say there aren’t some creative interpretations of family dinner staples. People who love taco salad, for example, will also love Home Chef’s Tex-Mex Turkey Taco Salad with Corn and Tomatoes.” If cheeseburgers are your jam, you’ll want to check out the “Umami Burger with Parmesan Sweet Potato Fries.”

When you land on Home Chef’s website, you’re greeted by a very simple message: “Pick Your Meals.” From there, Home Chef will ask you to select how many meals you want to cook and how many people you’re cooking for. Then you can specify if you prefer to eat meat, seafood or vegetables, and whether you have dietary preferences (such as low-calorie or low-carb recipes). Finally, you’re given the choice to avoid ingredients including pork, soy, red meat, nuts, wheat, milk, mushrooms, and shellfish.

How It Helps Make Wellness Possible

With Home Chef meals, all the ingredients are portioned, which is convenient for those who are following a specific diet — whether it’s low calorie, low fat or low sodium. And because you get 10 meals weekly, you get plenty of options.

Home Chef’s website, where you can see which meals suit your dietary needs (vegetarian, low calorie or a combination), also gives you more control of what you’re eating and gives you the peace of mind that you’re serving your family a healthier option.

How Much Does It Cost?

The majority of Home Chef meals are a set price: $9.95 per meal. and if your order is $45 or more for a given week, shipping is free. So let’s say you want to cook three meals this week for four people? You’ll spend $119.40.

Home Chef has a premium category with meals like “Filet Mignon with Smoked Gouda” which run $19.95 a meal (premium meals are not available every week, check the website for menu options). Home Chef also offers Smoothies and Fruit Baskets, which are $4.95 per serving. Home Chef offers students 50% off of their first order.

The Bottom Line

With Home Chef, you can customize your weekly delivery so you receive what you want on the day you want it. Having so many choices for meals also gives you plenty of control over what you eat. And if you’re looking to boost wellness, Home Chef’s recipe cards help with providing information on calorie counts and ingredients.

Home Chef shares menus five weeks in advance, making it a cinch to plan ahead. Home Chef has a roundup of helpful technique tips, like “How to Achieve Perfectly Cooked Chicken Every Time” and short videos like “How to Slice an Avocado.”

Learn more at HomeChef.com.

The Competition

Blue Apron was one of the first meal delivery services to launch, so it’s one of the most well-known meal kits of the bunch. The service puts a huge emphasis on the quality and source of its ingredients. You’ll find only sustainable seafood, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats, and non-GMO foods in these boxes.

HelloFresh relies on revamping a lot family dinner classics. You’ll see pasta dishes, meatloaf, burgers, tacos, stir fries, soups, pork chops, and more — with a twist.

Sun Basket focuses on organic, non-GMO produce; hormone- and antibiotic-free meats; sustainably sourced, wild-caught seafood; and tailored meal plans, like paleo, gluten free, lean and clean, vegan, and more.

Home Chef

Brief Company History

Home Chef, the brainchild of Pat Vihtelic, launched in June of 2013, just ten months after industry behemoth Blue Apron got its start. Vihtelic, a former investment banker, founded Home Chef out of his need for easy-to-cook homemade meals. Working in finance was demanding and left little or no time for grocery shopping or meal prep. He quit the finance grind to focus full time on his start-up, and now, just four years later, Home Chef delivers over 1.5 million meals annually to hungry customers across the United States. We were delighted to try Home Chef for the first time last week – here’s our complete Home Chef review.

Ordering Home Chef and Pricing

Home Chef pricing is one of the more affordable meal plans on the market, ringing up at just $9.95/serving. Unlike Blue Apron or one of the other competitors, Home Chef does not lock users into a defined meal plan (i.e. a 2-person or 4-person plan). In your account settings, you may adjust your delivery options to receive anywhere from 2-8 meals, with 2, 4, or 6 servings per meal. You can also select to add in a fruit basket or smoothie (at $4.95/serving), or premium meal when choosing your weekly menu. The weekly recipes include a rotation of 13 recipes with some vegetarian, low-carb, low-sodium, soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free options. Shipping is free on all orders of $45 or more.

Home Chef Delivery and Packaging

Users choose from the available delivery days (Wednesday, Thursday or Friday every week). Changes can be made to your scheduled deliveries up to the 12 p.m. CST the Friday before your scheduled delivery. Currently, Home Chef delivers to 98 percent of the country, though the site doesn’t mention the areas that it doesn’t service (you can check deliverability to your zip code on the site). We ordered the service from a tiny town on the coast of Maine, so my guess would be that the 2 percent includes only very remote areas of the U.S. Shipment from the Home Chef facility took two days according to the shipping labels, arriving at our house on a Wednesday afternoon. We unpacked the box (check out the video), finding the ingredients very well-insulated in the eco-friendly packaging. On top were the week’s recipe cards, then under the first layer of ice packs, I discovered the bags with the ingredients neatly packed for each meal. Digging through several additional ice packs, finally got to the bottom of the box which contained the packages of meat. Since this was our first order, there was also a thin white binder enclosed in which to place our recipe cards (which were already hole-punched for this purpose). Great idea! All Home Chef packaging is 100 percent recyclable. To recycle the ice packs, allow to thaw, then snip a corner and drain the contents into the sink with running water. The plastic can go in with the rest of your recycling. Likewise, all plastic containers used for packaging sauces and dressings can be rinsed and recycled. The cardboard box and the insulation (made from recycled denim) are recyclable too.

Cooking with Home Chef

Recipes

We chose to receive three meals with two servings each. Here’s an overview of the ones we tried:

  • Japanese Chicken with Cucumber-Edamame Salad
  • Blue Cheese and Green Onion-Crusted Bone-In Pork Chop with Green Bean and Grape Tomato Almondine
  • Chicken with Basil-Pecorino Cream Sauce and Roasted Vegetables

All the recipes were delicious and easy-to-make. Here’s what we thought about the overall experience:

Ease of Prep

If you remember my Blue Apron review, one of my harshest critiques was how time-consuming and involved most of the recipes were. Cook time is one area where, in my opinion, Home Chef does a better job. Recipes were simple, easy-to-follow, and we were always able to prep and cook within the allotted time (anywhere from 20-50 minutes). Furthermore, the recipes didn’t require the use of more than 2-3 major kitchen utensils (i.e. a pot and pan or a pan, bowl, and cutting board). Most of the time, we had the kitchen completely clean (except for a pot or pan) before the meal was finished cooking. If fast meal prep is important to you, when ordering, you can click on the individual recipes to see the estimated time to completion and choose the ones with the fastest prep times.

Freshness of Ingredients

Ingredients remained perfectly chilled in the box during shipment. All ingredients looked fresh except for the green beans that accompanied the Bone-in Pork Chop. These had brown spots, which gave them the appearance of being haphazardly selected out of a grocery store bin. We used them anyway, and they tasted fine. To ensure freshness, Home Chef recipe cards indicate how many days you have to cook each recipe. I thought this was a helpful addition.

Serving Size

Most meals are between 500 and 800 calories per serving and packed with protein to leave you feeling full long after the meal is over. I was most skeptical about the Japanese Chicken, but the edamame and cucumber side salad proved to be so filling that I had to pass my plate off to the hubs to finish. We also saved some of the delicious Basil-Pecorino cream sauce to toss over noodles for a pre-run meal the next day. Portion sizes did not leave anything to be desired.

Nutrition

Each recipe comes with basic nutrition information per serving – calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein, and sodium. The good news – all the recipes we tried had meat, so they contained 50+ grams of protein. According to WebMD, women need about 46 grams of protein every day and men need about 56 grams. While the recipes certainly met our protein needs, they were also high in fat and sodium. According to the FDA, a 2000-calorie diet should limit fat intake to 65 grams. The Pork Chop and Chicken with Basil-Pecorino Cream Sauce had a staggering 42 and 52 grams of fat per serving, respectively. Additionally, Daily Value of sodium is 2400 mg per day. The Japanese Chicken, smothered in soy sauce, boasted 1733 mg of sodium – almost 75 percent of the daily recommended value. The other two recipes had about half the recommended daily sodium limit per serving. Thankfully, we selected low-carb recipes, which contained around 10 percent of the recommended 300 grams of carbohydrates. Even though the recipes we chose weren’t the healthiest regarding fat and sodium, you may choose healthier options by reviewing the nutrition information for each recipe before you order. For example, on the menu for next week, the Buffalo Turkey Meatball Salad has just 573 calories, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 32 grams of fat, 59 grams of protein, and 866 mg of sodium.

Overall Take

Home Chef features delicious recipes that are easy to make. If health-conscious, choose your meal selections carefully.

Meal delivery continues to gain in popularity, as it’s a fun and convenient way to try new dishes with no leftover or wasted ingredients. Home Chef (our review) is currently one of the leaders in this crowded field of brands, but is it in your budget to sign up?

The weekly and monthly cost of weekly delivery isn’t listed until you login, so how much does it really cost? Here’s everything you need to know about Home Chef’s pricing:

How Much Does Home Chef Cost?

You can find the price of available meals by clicking, “Our Menu” on the top nav. You’ll see this week’s meals, and the prices are listed “per serving” like this:

So, how much are meals? Unless a price is listed, you can assume that it costs the default price of $9.95 per serving.

Tip: While most meals cost $9.95 per serving, there’s also a selection of lunches which cost $7.99 per serving, and optional add-ons, like smoothies, for $4.95 per serving.

*You can also choose to view their optional “Premium Meals,” for special occasions, which are priced at $11.95-$19.95 per serving. (When available)

Cost Per Week and Month?

When you sign up for Home Chef, you’ll set your “Number of Weekly Meals,” (2-8) and the “Servings Per Meal.” (2-6)

To determine the cost, multiply your total number of weekly servings by $9.95. If you have chosen any lunches, multiply that number by $7.99 and add it to the total.

Here are the weekly and monthly costs of popular Home Chef delivery options:

Tip: Use a coupon! There’s always a promotion available for new customers. You can save $30 on your first order + $10 off your second orderwhen you use a coupon.

*When I eventually decided to pause my subscription, I was also presented with the option of having meals delivered every other week, instead of every week. That’s good for busy people, and a great way to cut your monthly bill in half!

Shipping Cost?

So, how much does Home Chef charge for shipping? Delivery is always free on $40+ orders, but costs $10 for any order less than $40.

For this reason it makes sense to set a weekly total of 5+ portions to avoid being billed for expensive shipping fees.

Is Home Chef Expensive?

At about $10 per person per meal, Home Chef costs less than going to a quick-serve restaurant, which costs about $12-14.

It’s also not cheap to make your own meals, as Americans spend a lot more than they realize at the supermarket. The worst part is that we end up wasting about half of the food we do buy!

That should make you appreciate the efficiency of meal delivery which doesn’t leave you with unused ingredients to languish in the refrigerator or pantry!

Is Home Chef Worth It?

If you enjoy cooking simple meals with fresh ingredients with no waste, Home Chef might be a better investment than buying groceries to cook, or dining out!

I’ve enjoyed the anticipation of Wednesday deliveries, as well as the hour or so of time that it gives my wife and I together when we cook.

Another positive aspect of meal delivery services is that it gets you out of your comfort zone of cooking, as we have the habit of cooking the same 10-15 dinners all the time.

I’ve had about 5 more shipments from Home Chef over the last couple of months, and have chosen to skip weeks when we are busy or not home.

Tip: You can skip deliveries for weeks that don’t work for you. Just be sure to do so several days ahead of time to avoid being billed, or having food sent on an inconvenient day!

Related: How much is Nutrisystem? | How much does WW Cost?

Conclusion:

Is Home Chef in your budget? Meal delivery from any top brand can look expensive at first glance, and you could certainly argue it is. However, a large part of the reason is that we don’t realize how much we’re already spending on food.

For our family, it’s not uncommon to spend $80 eating dinner out at a restaurant. That’s about twice the cost as a dinner (4 servings) from Home Chef. So, if you compare Home Chef to eating out, it’s not expensive.

However, if you’re thrifty and can efficiently pull off a simple, home-cooked family dinner for under $30, then all meal delivery brands look pricey!

So, we are currently in the midst of trying other meal delivery services, including HelloFresh, so that we can compare and decide which is the best. They all seem to be in the same price range, and they all offer great coupons and new customer promotions for signup.

So, if you aren’t in love with the one you signed up for, just cancel after a month or two, or put your membership on hold while you think it over.

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Home Chef View Plan

Ideal For

  • People who are too busy to shop and prep ingredients
  • Anyone who is looking for a healthier alternative to frozen meals
  • Those who want to learn to cook and enjoy new recipes

Customers Are Raving

“Trying something new the next couple of days and tonight’s was HOLY YUM we are obsessing!!”
@brittmiracle

“Goat Cheese-Crusted Chicken with a 4 year old on the side, coming right up!”
@svanhaze.mua

”Signed up for Home Chef because: 1. Life is stressful 2. I kept just buying snacks every time I went grocery shopping because of said stress.”
@thepandasplate

Favorite Home Chef Meals

1. Chicken with Green Peppercorn Sauce and Panko-Crusted Broccoli
$9.95 per serving | Prep & cook time: 25-35 minutes | Difficulty level: easy

2. Cajun Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Corn Slaw
Price: $9.95 per serving | Prep & cook time: 20-30 minutes | Difficulty level: easy

3. Tomato Risotto with Mozzarella, Kale and Pine Nuts
$9.95 per serving | Prep & cook time: 35-45 minutes | Difficulty level: intermediate

What’s Unique About Home Chef?

In the crowded field of meal kit delivery companies, originality is key to standing out. Home Chef has added a personalized touch to its service by asking customers to complete a survey to establish their “taste profile” to help to determine the meals that best suit their flavor preferences and dietary needs.

One thing we liked about the service is that it allows customers to choose their meals up to 5 weeks in advance, meaning you can take care of your entire month’s eating in one go.

Each week there is a selection of 18 different dishes to choose from, including quick, 5-minute lunches as well as dinners and add-ons such as smoothies. A binder arrives with the first delivery, in which recipe cards can be filed and organized and unlike other meal services, Home Chef also sells skillets, pans, knives, mixing bowls, and other utensils, as well as pantry items.

Home Chef’s meal plan has clear and simple-to-follow recipes. Every recipe opens into a step-by-step guide to creating the perfect dish. It’s foolproof. From how to slice the vegetables, to what seasonings to add and when, this meal kit is ideal for any cooking level.

The recipe card will also show the nutritional information which is unique to every recipe. For anyone interested in healthy living, this is a perfect guide. It includes:

  • Calories
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Sodium

Customize Your Proteins

Personalize your meals with Home Chef. You can customize your order in 3 ways:

  1. Swap your protein on select meals.
  2. Double your protein on select meals.
  3. Upgrade your protein to enjoy a premium cut.

Environmentally Friendly

Packaging and shipping materials can be very dangerous for the planet, and if meals are being delivered every single week, this can really have an effect. Home Chef is dedicated to safe and eco-friendly disposal of its packaging. Everything from liners to gel packs – can be safely recycled.

Mobile App

Home Chef has mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices. You can access the weekly recipes, keep track of orders and deliveries, and even review meals and send feedback from your handheld device.

For every friend who downloads the app and tries out the service, you’ll receive $30 in vouchers.

Snacks and Smoothies

In addition to regular meals, Home Chef also offers diverse smoothies and fruit baskets as optional add-ons to your orders. For people who are dieting, and want to curb their sweet tooth with healthy options, these are competitively-priced alternatives.

Kitchenware

The Kitchenware section of the Home Chef website allows any budding chef to buy things to stock up their own kitchen. You’ll find everything from pots and pans, to zesters, peelers, and seasonings.

Home Chef Get $90 off

How to Start Cooking with Home Chef in 4 Easy Steps

1. Sign up

Getting your own Home Chef plan is about as easy as it gets. You just enter in your email and location, and the site will start walking you through the process of building a unique taste profile.

2. Customize your plan

Now, it’s not a dating site, but Home Chef does want to know what you’re into and if you have any deal-breakers. You’ll be taken to a page where you’ll fill out your taste preferences.

Decide how many people you’ll be cooking for—2, 4, or 6—and how many times a week you’d like to cook a Home Chef meal—2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Note whether you prefer meat, seafood, or vegetables, and if you are looking for low-calorie or low-carb meals. Finally, you can select which food you want to avoid, including pork, soy, shellfish, and nuts, among others.

3. Choose your delivery date

On the next page you’ll be asked to give your shipping details and schedule your first delivery. You’ll then fill out your preferred method of payment, which can be credit, debit or PayPal.

The standard process will charge you every Friday, but you can skip a delivery or cancel at any time. Make sure to cancel by the Friday before your next delivery at midday CST, or you may still be charged. You can plan your menus and meals up to 5 weeks ahead using the calendar and menu features.

4. Select your meals

After completing payment details, it’s finally time to pick your first batch of Home Chef meals. This is where the fun begins. Choose from 18 tasty options every week. Your Home Chef meals for the week will come in a fully-recyclable box, with each of the week’s recipes printed on colorful, easy-to-follow recipe cards that you can keep in a binder supplied by Home Chef.

Meal Options & Specialty Diets

Home Chef offers a large variety of meal options for people with varying dietary restrictions and preferences, including:

  • Vegetarian
  • Nut-Free
  • Poultry
  • Soy-Free
  • Wheat-free
  • Seafood
  • Pork
  • Gluten-free
  • Low-calorie
  • Low-carb
  • Breakfast
  • Beef
  • Dairy-Free

With Home Chef you can select plans for 2, 4, or 6 people per week, and also stipulate whether you’d like to cook 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 meals per week. If you’re cooking for kids, the company suggests that a kid’s portion be counted as a half portion.

Home Chef offers 18 meals to choose from every week, including a few 5 minute lunches. You will also have the option to add a smoothie or seasonal fruit basket for $4.95 per serving. The meal options you have per week will be affected by the preferences that you specified when you signed up. Even if you didn’t set any preferences, the site will still state if the recipe has specific qualities to look out for, including nuts, soy, dairy, and if it’s heart-healthy or low carb.

Most weeks, you can also choose an optional premium meal, such as the “blue cheese-crusted filet mignon,” at $19.95 per serving. These meals usually require a little more effort to cook, and cost significantly more than the standard meals.

2 servings:

Meals per week

Meal kit price

Price per serving

2

$39.80

$9.95

3

$59.70

$9.95

4

$79.60

$9.95

5

$99.50

$9.95

6

$119.40

$9.95

4 servings:

Meals per week

Meal kit price

Price per serving

2

$79.60

$9.95

3

$119.40

$9.95

4

$159.20

$9.95

5

$199.00

$9.95

6

$238.80

$9.95

6 servings:

Meals per week

Meal kit price

Price per serving

2

$119.40

$9.95

3

$179.10

$9.95

4

$238.80

$9.95

5

$298.50

$9.95

6

$358.20

$9.95

Keep in mind that with Home Chef you always have the option of adding a delicious fruit basket, smoothie, or dessert on any given week for only $4.95. The company’s “5 minute lunches” are also a nice go-to item to get you through the day, and cost a little less than the dinner meals, at only $7.99 per serving.

Shipping costs $10 per order if your order is under $45. Once you go over $45, all shipping is free, so it may pay off to order an extra meal or a dessert if it pushes you over the finish line.

Home Chef delivers to 98% of the United States, so chances are you will be within the delivery area. Nonetheless, during signup, when you enter in your zip code the company will let you know if delivery is available to your area.

Home Chef is also set up well for the holiday season or as a go-to birthday gift, with electronic gift cards that you can easily order through the site for an amount of your choosing.

Home Chef Get 90$ off

What’s in the Box?

A big part of the fun with Home Chef is cracking open that box waiting on your front porch. It’s not quite Christmas morning, but don’t be surprised if you get a kick out of it.

Inside the box you’ll find a special insulating lining as well as cooling packs to keep your food at a safe temperature until you’re ready to cook things up.

The box comes with your recipes for that week printed on colorful, easy-to-follow recipe cards that you can collect in your own Home Chef binder.

The ingredients for each of the week’s meals will come in separate, clearly-labeled packages, so keeping things organized should be a cinch. The proteins for that week will come in a separate package which has extra cooling packs. Part of the draw here is that each recipe includes exactly the amount you need of each ingredient so you don’t need to worry about guesstimating what you need or throwing away unused produce.

Help & Customer Support

The FAQ section is categorized to help customers find exactly what they are looking for quickly. If you’re still looking for more information, Home Chef has a live chat function on its website, as well as a phone line during business hours. You can reach out via social media too, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts all manned by helpful staff.

Home Chef – It’s What’s for Dinner

Home Chef is a simple-to-use meal delivery service with an emphasis on tasty, nutritious food. Its meals are homey without being flashy or overly adventurous—there’s no mention of locally sourced ingredients or global cuisine. This may render the service somewhat uninspiring for the more foodie orientated consumer, but Home Chef does deliver on its promise to save time, reduce food waste, and bring people together around the dinner table.

Home Chef View Plan

Video: Healthy meals delivered to your doorstep

Home Chef (along with competitors Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh, and others) is one of a growing number of so-called meal delivery services. The first thing you need to get your head around is that they’re not meal delivery services, they’re ingredient delivery services. Turning those ingredients into food is entirely your responsibility.

Read also: How HelloFresh uses big data to cook up millions of custom meals

My wife and I have been using Home Chef now for four weeks. Every week, a box from Home Chef arrives at our doorstep. Inside are three bags, corresponding to the three meals we’ve selected, as well three proteins (usually steak, fish, and chicken) sitting under some ice packs. Everything is packed in an insulated container.

The packing materials, for many, could be the first objection to Home Chef and the other meal delivery services. Because these meals come in cartons with packing materials, you’ll have an increased trash load to manage. Since we get so many of our purchases from Amazon Prime, one more shipping carton doesn’t make our weekly box processing all that much harder, but for some of you, it might be a deal breaker.

We’re not sure which is more scary: David with power tools or David cooking.

The online experience

You might be wondering what a food review article is doing in ZDNet, but keep in mind that these services depend on the web to provide their storefront to consumers.

Beyond the basic web presence these sites offer, they also have to create menus that meet with the logistics involved in home delivery, along with all the supply chain operations necessary to keep food fresh, pick and pack boxes unique to each customer, and source and manage vendors.

Normally, those logistics are never seen by customers — unless they screw up. In our case, Home Chef screwed up one meal on our first trial order, providing the wrong set of ingredients to accompany the protein source, and the wrong cooking directions for one of our three meals. To their credit, they made good on the mistake and gave us a free meal the next week.

Read also: Kroger buys Home Chef meal-kit delivery service – CNET

When I called the company before placing my first order, I was told that each box came with absolutely everything you need to cook each provided meal. That’s not strictly true. You’re expected to have salt, pepper, cooking oil, and a variety of pots and pans.

This, in fact, is a bit of a peeve I have about Home Chef. It may reflect my lack of cooking skill, rather than any limit to Home Chef. I am quite good at cooking eggs, making sandwiches, grilling hot dogs and burgers, and ordering from Uber Eats. I excel at drive-throughs. But cooking actual meals with complex recipes — that’s a skill I never developed.

Each week, a few days prior to getting your food, Home Chef sends out an email reminding you of what’s coming. Each recipe requires different cooking utensils. Our most recent — steak with horseradish-herb cream, potatoes pressé, and wilted spinach — required a muffin tin for the potatoes.

If I were still single, there’s no way I would have had a cupcake pan. Fortunately, my wife had one, so we were able to make the meal. What I’d like to see is Home Chef include a list of gear required to complete the menu as part of that weekly email. The company is fundamentally a data-driven service, so it shouldn’t be all that difficult to add those details to the notification email.

Pricing and delivery

But let’s get back to how the service works, what you get, and what it costs. Home Chef offers a variety of subscription levels based on how much food you want delivered. We get two portions of each meal, and get three meals a week. Each meal portion is $9.99. If there are more people in your family, you can order more portions, and if you want to cook more nights in a week, you can order more meals.

We decided to start with the default, so we get six portions and spend about $60 a week. The available menu varies week by week. You can choose from about 10 different items, depending on your taste preferences. You can pre-schedule your meals about five weeks out. If you don’t pick your meals prior to the shipping day, Home Chef will chose for you.

Read also: Amazon Meal Kits now serving in Seattle – CNET

When you set up your account, you pick the day of the week you want your meals to be delivered each week. In the case of a holiday, Home Chef delivers either just before or after the day you select. They’re quite good in letting you know via an email update when they’re changing the delivery schedule.

Making the meals

So far, we’ve cooked 11 meals. My wife cooked eight, and I cooked three. Because we have considerably different skill sets, we have considerably different opinions of the process. Here are the meals we’ve made so far:

  • Harissa chicken tagine
  • Teriyaki ginger-glazed salmon with stir-fried bok choy and carrots
  • Chile Rellenos chicken with chipotle butternut-carrot mash
  • Prosciutto pasta primavera with yellow squash and toasted walnuts
  • Steak Wellington with roasted carrots and mushroom demi-glace
  • Classic french green peppercorn pork tenderloin with mashed carrots and roasted asparagus
  • Chicken with basil-pecorino cream sauce and roasted red potatoes
  • Salmon with brown-butter tomato relish and wild rice
  • French onion pork chop with glazed carrots pignolo
  • Steak with horseradish-herb cream and potatoes pressé and wilted spinach
  • Ricotta and mozzarella cheese tart with blistered grape tomatoes and arugula-caramelized onion salad

My wife finds making the meals to be kind of fun (her own words). These are essentially meal kits, in that all the parts are in the package, but assembly is required. Because she doesn’t have to plan the meals, or run to the store (or stores) to source all the various ingredients for some of the more complex meals, and it’s all just in the bag, she doesn’t mind cooking the meals.

She says, “It’s kind of cool making meals I would probably never attempt otherwise. Some of them pretty fancy, from a kit. I just use the bag the ingredients came in to put the veggie peels and trash in, and it makes cleanup easy. I’m usually jazzed by the results. I’m like, ‘Ooh, I made Steak Wellington.'”

Read also: Drone deliveries in the US could happen ‘within months’ – TechRepublic

By contrast, I have found myself in a generally foul mood by the time I’ve finished my hour-plus of meal prep. The company claims all meals take a half hour. They lie. They take Denise 45 minutes to an hour and me, well, an hour or more. One meal, the one with the potatoes mentioned above, was very poorly timed, because the potatoes took far longer to cook than the recipe specified.

Anyway, I’m in a generally foul mood, because I don’t find the directions complete enough. There are no pictures of individual ingredients, so it’s not clear sometimes what a particular ingredient looks like. For example, one instruction line said “Peel and mince shallot.” What is mince? What is a shallot?

After a while, the process of elimination helped me figure out that a shallot was like an onion and Google helped me find out how to mince (which is really chopping into small pieces — not that they’d actually say “chop into small pieces.”)

This is an important point. You need to do the food prep. They include the ingredients, but if you’re having sliced carrots in your meal, you have to peel and slice the carrots yourself. They don’t come cut up for you.

Another direction contained the phrase: “Trim off woody ends of asparagus.” What are the woody ends? Again, to Google. In that same recipe, there was some instruction where you were supposed to use demi-glace and sherry. From the packages, it wasn’t clear which was the demi-glace and which was the sherry, but by the end, I only had two packages, so I threw them both in.

But here’s the thing: I made something described as, “A creamy demi-glace sauce studded with shallots and briny green peppercorns accent tender pork perfectly. Savory mashed carrots and roasted asparagus provide hearty and delicious sides.” Seriously. I made that. Me. And it was outrageous.

I also made something, called Harissa chicken tagine, described as having “a touch of the exotic, but also large dollops of the familiar: A sauce of tomatoes and zucchini transformed by a dash of harissa, a red pepper paste from Tunisia that brings smoky notes, adding complexity.” It was really delicious.

Previously, my personal best was throwing chunks of ham into a pan with scrambled eggs.

While I was preparing and cooking the food from the kits Home Chef provides, I had a feeling of desperation, rage, and impending doom. That said, having eaten the meals (and handing them to my wife and having them actually be good), there was definitely a rather pleasant feeling of pride and accomplishment.

Portions and food quality

I am a big guy. I like big portions. However, eating big portions isn’t healthy and I’ve reluctantly learned to practice portion control over the years. There is really a certain amount of food you’re supposed to eat so you’ve had enough, but not feel full enough to pass out.

The portions provided by Home Chef are just enough. That’s it. They’re filling, but not to the point where you might not want a late-night snack. The amount of protein (the most expensive part of the product for them to provide) is adequate for what most dietitians recommend in a protein portion. There is never enough for leftovers.

I’ve ended each meal feeling satisfied enough to not feel ripped off or feel the need to rush into the kitchen and forage for cold cuts.

Read also: Here’s how 3D food printers are changing what we eat – TechRepublic

Food quality is quite good. A few of the meals were actually insanely delicious, most are very tasty, and only one or two bordered on meh. Definitely beat the heck out of the fast food it’s been replacing.

I wouldn’t say the foods are low calorie (we’ve had carbs and some cream sauces), but they are certainly more healthy than fast food. In almost all cases, you get a protein and a vegetable, and sometimes also some carbs. It’s very well balanced.

We had one pork chop meal that was very tough, but otherwise the quality was as good or better than we would find in the local Safeway. The fact that the meal kits come with the seasonings and the weird stuff (like demi-glace and shallots) all in a bag is very helpful.

Home Chef was recently purchased by supermarket giant Kroger. This should make for easier sourcing for the company, but it will be interesting to see if the quality remains as high.

The reasons why

I decided to sign up for Home Chef on a whim, based on an actual Facebook ad I saw. My wife and I are very busy and have found it challenging to eat healthily. When we cook at home, it’s been very simple foods, because the extra time it takes to hunt around the supermarket for specialty ingredients just has not been a priority.

In many cases, the supermarket isn’t even open by the time we finish our work days. We’ve relied on Shipt and InstaCart for supermarket delivery, but the problem is that you can never count on the selection of the shopper for any given recipe.

The Home Chef ad offered a half price promotion, giving us six meals for five bucks each. I thought that, for $30 (delivery included), how bad could it be? I called the Home Chef folks and they promised I, with my minimal cooking skills, would be able to turn their ingredients into food. As I’ve discussed, I have some issues with that, but my idea was I’d do the cooking and see if I could pull it off.

I did not expect my wife to really welcome the idea. I just wanted to see what Home Chef offered. As it turns out, my wife loves it, which was a surprise. We’ve had really nice meals, with no hassle finding all the ingredients.

That said, these are $10 dollar meals (including delivery cost). They’re more expensive than if you can shop at the supermarket and cook at home regularly, but they’re less expensive than my regular diet of living off meals delivered by Uber Eats. Honestly, they’re less expensive than a Dominos delivery, if you add enough sides to make it interesting.

What’s wild is the almost political level of debate on Facebook about Home Chef. Some folks love it and some are deeply, deeply offended by the idea of a convenience service for something you can shop for on your own.

Read also: A lot of robots touch your food before it gets to you

I haven’t done an item-for-item cost comparison between Home Chef and the supermarket, but I don’t think that’s actually possible. For some of the ingredients, you’d have to buy a lot more than a meal’s worth in a supermarket. In the past, I have spent a lot of of money on food that I never used and had to throw out instead.

Worldwide, The New York Times reports, we waste 1.3 billion tons of food a year, or about 30 percent of all our food. Here, in the US, one report says that Americans waste so much food, 15 percent of the food we buy is thrown out — still in its original packaging and within the printed expiration date.

We’re not alone. Londoners are estimated to throw out the equivalent of about $600 of food a year, per person. In New Zealand, the average family throws away about three “trolleys” (which, I gather, are shopping carts) of food every year.

My point is, we’re not using the food we buy efficiently, and it’s not just me. We buy packaged foods, we over-allocate so we don’t run out, and we’re suckers for those great Costco and Sams Club deals.

Getting food pre-apportioned out, so you get only exactly what you use, may seem criminal to some folks, but in light of all the food waste, it’s actually not a bad idea.

Convenience is important, too. It seems like such a first-world problem to have pre-picked and portioned ingredients show up in a frozen box every week, but many of us are so busy we don’t have the time to feed ourselves properly.

Back in the day, it might have been considered the job of one family member to stay at home and prepare food while another was the so-called bread winner. But in our modern world, most adults have to work, some of us work a tremendous number of hours, and food preparation, sourcing, and quality is sacrificed to that lack of time.

There’s a nasty side effect to quick food: Poor health. Those of us who live off of fast food, or quick-to-prepare foods, are often feeling health effects, gaining weight, and losing fitness. Anything we can do to reverse that, to get healthy food back into our lives, in the context of how we actually live our lives, is of considerable value.

Read also: Food gadgets for the best holiday dinners

With all that, paying $10 a meal (including shipping) for something that is not only healthier and tastier, but also helps us increase our cooking skills (I now know what shallots and mincing are!) can’t help but be a good thing.

As for whether Home Chef is better than Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh, and the others, I can’t tell you that yet. I can tell you that the meal kit ingredient service concept does have legs. We’ll probably keep this up, and if we experiment with the other services, we’ll let you know how they turn out.

As for my wife and I, I just finished cooking “Ricotta and Mozzarella Cheese Tart with blistered grape tomatoes and arugula-caramelized onion salad.” It involves baking pastry dough. I actually made it (me!), and it was delicious.

Tonight’s dinner: Ricotta and Mozzarella Cheese Tart with blistered grape tomatoes and arugula-caramelized onion salad. I actually made that myself.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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Home Chef began in 1984 as a small family business with the aim to provide healthy home-style cooking to elderly people, people recuperating from illness and those people who are time poor due to busy lifestyles and are unable to cook healthy meals for themselves on a day to day basis.

It all began in Bassendean with a small team and the goal to create delicious, healthy, easy meals and provide exceptional customer service each and every time. This quickly grew and required a move to bigger premises in South Guildford. Home Chef has remained in South Guildford for over 28 years until 2015 when Home Chef relocated to a larger purpose built facility with the latest plant and equipment ensuring our customers are receiving the best quality and food safety available today.

In Home Chef’s 30 years of operation we have grown from strength to strength and we are now proud supporters of the meals on wheels program in many shires and local councils. We also actively support clients returning home from hospital after illness, aged care providers and other government-funded programs. We also freight our meals to many regional hospitals. As well as many busy professionals, mums and trades people who simply do not have the time to prepare a healthy meal every night.

In addition to our regular meals, Home Chef provides special dietary meals, texture modified meals and meals complying with the National Standards for Adult inpatients for WA Hospitals.

Home Chef operates in strict compliance with the Food Safety Act 3.2.1 and undergoes regular food safety audits and random meal testing to ensure the safety of our food and peace of mind of our customers.

Home Chef is still a WA family owned and run business and we are proud to employ a passionate customer care team, professional delivery drivers and highly qualified & skilled kitchen staff.

We are committed to providing you with a professional friendly service. All our staff have been carefully selected and police checked. They are individually trained in food safety and customer care, ensuring you receive a ‘first class’ delivered meal service.

Men’s Journal aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission. Questions? Reach us at [email protected] content

2020 has only just begun, and already we’re feeling slightly overwhelmed. Between work, school, family, and scratching out some semblance of a social life, keeping our New Year’s resolution already feels like a daunting task. Where are we going to find the time to get—and stay—healthy this year? It’s hard enough finding an hour in the day to squeeze in a gym run.

We found one way to carve an extra hour out of our day. By ordering food and meals from Home Chef, we’re going to spend less time in the kitchen, and more time getting—and staying—healthy in 2020.

It’s so easy. We select the Home Chef meal plan we want, choose our own delivery schedule, and get on with our daily life. No more weekly grocery store excursions, no more prepping and cleaning—Home Chef takes care of everything. All we’re gonna do is eat right, work out more often, and have more fun in 2020.

Best of all, by signing up now, we saved $100 on our Home Chef meal plan! We got $25 off our first four box deliveries. That helps a lot, particularly during our annual post-holiday cash crunch. You can do it, too. Just go to homechef.com, or download the free app.

Home Chef

Get and Stay Healthy with Five Home Chef Meal Plans:

  • Classic Meals—Pre-portioned ingredients with easy recipes for meals made in about 30 minutes;
  • Express—Prepped and pre-portioned ingredients with recipes that cook in about 15 minutes;
  • Oven Ready—Pre-portioned ingredients arrive fresh inside a cooking tray – no prep, no mess;
  • Culinary Collection—For when you’re feeling fancy; or
  • Entrée Salads—Perfect for saving time and money at lunchtime.

As you can see, Home Chef is far more than just a selection of glorified TV dinners that taste as bad as they look. Home Chef gives you the option of pre-prepared, pre-cooked meals you just heat and serve (our choice, the big time-saver). Or you can choose a box of pre-selected recipes with easy cooking directions—you’ll look like a home chef, even though you’re not. All the meals are simple, healthy, and delicious.

You can customize or alter your weekly box at any time, right through the Home Chef app or online. You can customize your plan by selecting your preferred proteins, or skip weeks when you’ll be traveling or whatever. And you can tag your favorite meals, so you can order them again quickly and easily any time you’d like.

Home Chef has another great perk you won’t find with other meal delivery services. HomeChef is part of the Kroger family of markets. So if you prefer, you can just buy Home Chef meals or recipe boxes at your local Kroger supermarket. How cool is that?

Easy & Affordable

Home Chef meals start at about $7 per serving, so it’s totally affordable—especially considering the time you save in prep and cleaning. You can choose meals that are calorie- or carb-conscious. You can pick meals that take less than 30 minutes to prepare. And of course, there are a ton of vegetarian options.

Home Chef

There are Quick Meals to choose from, and several pre-boxed Protein Packs (including fresh seafood) that let you choose your own sides. Even tasty—and (reasonably!) healthy—desserts are available. With this many options, there’s no reason to get the same-old, same-old with Home Chef.

Ready to spend less time going to the market and slaving away in the kitchen, and more time living your life? Go to Home Chef today, and get and stay healthy this year.

Get It: Start your Home Chef meal delivery plan today!

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HelloFresh v.s Home Chef: I Tried Both Meal Delivery Kits and Here’s How It Went

So I default to one of the staple meals I always have the components for, or I order takeout from our usual roster of restaurants. When it comes to midweek dinners, I’m literally dialing it in.

That’s when a meal kit makes sense for me. Sure, it’s more expensive than regular groceries, but I’m willing to pay a premium for the convenience of not having to think about dinner. I know I’ve preselected the recipes, everything I need is in the fridge, and I can have food on the table in the time it takes to watch an episode of The Mindy Project. You might have other reasons for trying one of thr best meal delivery service, maybe you’d like to eat healthier, improve your confidence in the kitchen or expand your recipe repertoire.

I tried 2 of the best meal kits on the market – Home Chef and HelloFresh – to get a feel for what’s available. Here’s how the week went.

Price: $9.95 per serving
Shipping: $10, free for orders over $45
Special offer: Get $30 off your order
Good for: less experienced cooks, lots of choice

Home Chef Get $30 off

HOW IT WORKS

I chose how many meals I wanted per week (between 2 and 6), how many portions per meal (2, 4 or 6), and when I wanted them delivered (Tuesday to Friday). Home Chef has an 8am-8pm delivery window and will leave your box on your doorstep if you’re not home to receive it. The insulation and cooling pack kept everything chilled until I managed to get it into the fridge. At signup I was also asked to create a taste profile with my dietary requirements to get the best meal delivery for weight loss. You can get really specific here if you want to, like saying you prefer chicken over seafood, that you want to avoid pork or dairy, or are interested in low-carb recipes.

RECIPE SELECTION

The best thing about Home Chef is the large number of recipe choices. Each week there are a dozen meals to choose from plus several add-ons like smoothie kits, which cost extra. Home Chef uses your taste profile to preselect which recipes you’ll get, but you can easily change them online. I ended up swapping mine because they were too similar to what I would cook myself, and besides—choosing the meals is the fun part.

The recipes are mostly elevated basics: tacos and quesadillas, pasta and risotto, stir fries, and meat-and-two-veg. There are usually 3 vegetarian and 2 seafood options per week, and there’s always a steak; HelloFresh often charges extra for steak so that’s a real bonus point for Home Chef if you love red meat. A helpful feature is the “quick and easy” label denoting short cook times and simple preparations—perfect for busy weeknights or beginner cooks. I went with Asian-inspired pork burgers and a vegetarian lasagna.

THE BOX

Each meal comes in its own plastic pouch so you can just grab one when it’s time to cook. I loved that there were recycling instructions for the insulating material but wished there was less plastic packaging overall. Sending 4 garlic cloves in 2 separate ziplock bags is just plain wasteful.

THE FOOD

The 5-step recipes cards were well-illustrated and beginner-friendly, even including an explanation of what a rolling boil is. What I liked the most was the “at a glance” information like cook time, difficulty level, spice level (really useful if you’re cooking for kids) as well as how long the ingredients would last. No more guilt while the lettuce wilts in the fridge!

The pork burgers were seriously delicious and marinating the meat in ponzu was a new trick for me that I’ll keep in my arsenal. But the side dishes in both recipes were disappointingly basic: a boring salad of romaine lettuce and a garlic bread that needed a lot more butter and garlic. Luckily both were easily improved by adding a few fridge and pantry ingredients. The portions were satisfying, though the lasagna and garlic bread combo felt carb-heavy and I would have preferred a vegetable side to lighten it up.

Home Chef Try Now

HelloFresh

Price: $8.74 – $9.99 per serving
Shipping: $7.99, free for orders of 6 or more servings
Special offer: Get $20 off your order

HelloFresh Get $20 off
Good for: interesting recipes, well-sourced ingredients

There are 3 plans: vegetarian (3 meals per week; 2 or 4 servings per meal), classic (2-4 meals; 2 or 4 servings) and family (2-3 meals; 4 servings). I went with the classic which is the most popular plan and again was asked to set up a taste profile which was used to preselect my recipes. HelloFresh requires menu changes to be made a full 5 days before delivery, so if you get your box on Monday, you need to finalize your choices by the Wednesday before. As with Home Chef, if you’re not home during the 8am-8pm delivery window, the insulated box will be left on your doorstep.

How many choices you get depends on your plan, but overall there are a lot fewer than Home Chef. The vegetarian has 3 options, the family plan has 5, and the classic has 7 plus a “premium” recipe (such as rib-eye steak or duck) that costs an extra $5 per serving. I was disappointed to find that there were no vegetarian recipes available on the classic plan whereas with Home Chef I was able to mix and match vegetarian and meat meals.

Many of the recipes were similar to Home Chef’s but were slightly more interesting and gourmet. There were more international flavors, more variety in the cuts of meat, and some yummy-sounding side dishes like cauliflower mash and apple-and-sunflower-seed salad. I liked that the website clearly displayed cooking times for each recipe. I selected cajun pulled pork over rice and mole spiced beef tacos, both labelled as quick 20-minute meals.

Kudos to HelloFresh for the eco-friendly paper and cardboard packaging. And according to the website, the company buys sustainable seafood and organic produce where possible. I was also impressed with the sheet of nutritional information that states the provenance of all the ingredients. The majority came from the USA and Mexico, including a box of fancy heirloom cherry tomatoes. Occasionally the box included more of an ingredient than the recipe called for, so I got to stock my pantry as a bonus.

The 6-step recipe cards were simple and clear, and included useful cooking tips like what to do if you don’t have a microwave to warm your tortillas. Portion-wise, the tacos were on the lighter side but the pork was super filling and we even had leftovers. Both recipes relied on packets of premade spice mix and some of the main ingredients were precooked, including the pulled pork and steamed rice. While these were huge time-savers, they made the meals feel a little bit “instant” and harder to replicate on my own. The heavy seasoning also made the food taste slightly more like takeout food than wholesome home cooking.

On the other hand, the dishes were more exciting than my regular home cooking and I got a huge sense of satisfaction from how good they looked.

HelloFresh Try Now

HelloFresh or Home Chef: What’s the Bottom Line?

After a week of cooking and eating, it’s clear that both of these meal delivery providers are popular for a reason. And on my end—I’ve been doing a lot more cooking at home as a result of the experiment. To sum up: with Home Chef, the food was approachable and crowd-pleasing, but may be a little basic for experienced home cooks. If you have more adventurous tastes, HelloFresh is an easy way to shake up your recipe repertoire without requiring much time or effort.

Looking For The Best Meal Delivery Service? Try Home Chef

Who is Home Chef good for?

Home Chef is good if you want home-cooked down to earth food that really is not super fancy. But the food is really good and totally not too complicated to make with user-friendly instructions. That makes Home Chef good for me.

Plus even though I do not have a lot of food allergies, most people in life have something they can or cannot eat and Home Chef makes that easy for you too.

And if you are environmentally conscious like so many of us these days, rest assured that Green Chef delivers in a recyclable box.

How much Home Chef costs

Home Chef meals start at $6.99 per serving, which is pretty reasonable in my book, and shipping is thrown in for free when you spend more than $49.

Can you cancel Home Chef any time?

Even though I’m someone who is a converted home delivery guy, there are some weeks I really just don’t want it or need it.

Or my wife and take the kids and head out on vacation.

I appreciate the fact that you can decide to also skip your meal delivery on a particular week without any problem – as long as you notify Home Chef by Friday at noon CST the week before your scheduled delivery.

Visit Home Chef

My experience using Home Chef

I’ve got to admit that I’m not a “read the instructions” guy.

I’m a quick start. I dive in and learn as I go and the first thing I appreciated was the fact that there were easy-to-follow recipes.

Unfortunately, that can be a dangerous trait when cooking something new. More than once, especially with Blue Apron, I’ve skipped important steps because I wasn’t paying enough attention.

While Blue Apron’s recipe cards might be the most beautifully designed of the services we’ve tried, I will say that Home Chef’s are the easiest to follow thanks to their “Before You Cook” and “While You Cook” sections, which highlight prep and explain important steps.

Good cooking involves timing, and it’s great to be able to anticipate critical parts of the recipe before you get there.

Meals with wide appeal

As the meal delivery industry has grown, companies have started to differentiate themselves.

Plated and Blue Apron, for example, are definitely geared towards foodies who want the experience of cooking with new ingredients and trying new flavors. While Lauren and I have loved most of our Blue Apron meals, some of the flavor combinations have ranged from “that’s different” to “umm, weird.”

I’ve heard from a few friends that Blue Apron recipes were just too unique for their tastes.

Home Chef, by contrast, has a good selection of more traditional meals like Chicken Marsala, sirloin with mashed potatoes and Brussel sprouts, and roasted salmon with ginger scallion sauce. That’s not to say you won’t find some delicious new recipes to try with Home Chef. Recent Home Chef vegetarian enchiladas, for example, was one of the best variations of the meal I’ve had owing to a few unique ingredients.

Above: A few of the recipe choices from a recent Home Chef weekly menu.

I will say that with Home Chef, it seems like your options are more limited with some competitors. With some companies, for example, you must choose among certain combinations of meals, increasing the chance you’ll get a meal that’s not up your alley.

Home Chef compared

So I was curious to see exactly how Home Chef compares to the very best food delivery services around at this point in time. Let’s take a look.

*Note that this is a great table; be sure to scroll right to view it entirely!

Home Chef HelloFresh Blue Apron Freshly Purple Carrot SunBasket
Price per meal $6.99 $8.99 $9.99 $8.99 $9.99-$11.99 $10.99
Minimum order 2 meals / 2 plates 2 meals / 2 plates 3 meals / 2 plates 12 meals 3 meals / 2-servings 4 recipes for 2 people
Delivery Cost Free on orders over $49, otherwise $10 $6.99 Free Applicable shipping charges will appear upon checkout Free $6.99 per order
Vegetarian plans Yes Yes Yes, 2 – person plan only Yes Yes Yes
Kid-friendly meals No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Promotion $100 off your first 4 meals $90 off your first box + free shipping on your first order $60 off your first order Get $60 off your first four orders ($15 per order) of Freshly with code LAUNCH15 N/A $35 off your first order
Our Score 9.7/10 9.6/10 9/10 8.8/10 9/10 9/10
Learn more Try Home Chef Try Hello Fresh Try Blue Apron Try Freshly Try Purple Carrot Try SunBasket

Just a note that if you’re super interested in trying to find a meal delivery service that really matches what you’re looking for, I suggest that you read this review of the different meal delivery options.

It’s the very best way to take a look at the options side-by-side.

Summary

If you enjoy eating and like cooking – consider giving a meal delivery service like Home Chef a try.

Meal delivery is not only cheaper than dining out, but you’ll also save time planning and shopping for these meals. If you can afford it, you might try meal deliveries and find yourself wondering how you ever lived without them.

MoneyUnder30 Promotion – Get $100 off your first four meals.

  • Can A Meal Delivery Service Save Money? What About Time?
  • Plated Review – My Experience Using Plated Meal Kit

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