- Food Allergen Options? Yes
- gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, meat option
- Cost Per Meal: $20 (including shipping)
- Wine Option? No
After taking a break from ordering meal kit services for about two months, I had a really positive experience with Home Chef, so I'm excited about my weekly boxes once again.
In this review of Home Chef I'm going to show you what I got in my first box, what meals I cooked, and I hope to help you decide if you would enjoy this service (or if you should choose another one).
The long and short of things is that Home Chef delivered some delicious meals. They was enough variety for me to feel like I was getting something special, instead of just some vegetables in box. The instructions were easy to read, the meals easy to cook, and cleanup was minimal. However, I still enjoy some other brands better, mostly because of the wider variety of more exotic flavors and ingredient options/upgrades.
With the $30 discount it basicaly cuts the price of your first delivery by 50%, so no matter what your tastes are, it's worth trying for the first week.
Ordering Home Chef
Getting to the Home Chef website was simple enough, and they start you off with a 50% discount to entice you to join. Cool! That brings our price down to $10 per meal, or $5 per serving. That'll get you a bag of frozen pizza bites in the store, but that's about it. For big box of fresh groceries, including meat, fish, and veggies, you'd spend much more!
You do have to sign up before picking your meals. Home chef does offer options to set taste profile to include or exclude things like fish, meat, soy, wheat, milk, and others. However, they emphasize avoid in bold.
It's unclear if they will only offer you meals without this stuff and they just want to make clear that someone with an allergy could be affected due to contamination, or if they may send you meals with those unwanted ingredients form tiem to time.
You can also customize how many meals you want, and how many people they will serve. Of course, portion sizes are relative to your eating habits, but as a 6-foot man, I am pretty satisfied with their allotted portion for a “serving”, but can absolutely eat an entire Home Chef meal (2 servings) by myself.
Six meals for six people is a pretty large order! Home chef absolutely qualifies as a meal kit service that can serve a family.
The food optins at Home Chef are pretty good! There's a decent variety of meals with different featured meats (my main interest) like steak, salmon, pork chops, chicken, and more. There's nothing too crazy, like the wild meals from Sun Basket, but the meals are not at all boring like Hello Fresh.
It's a good middle-of-the road service in terms of style of meals. There's a couple of unique flavors and ingredients to keep you interested, but there's no wacky foreign spices or weird vegetables that turn off some people. I tend to gravitate towards to weird and interesting stuff, but my girlfriend prefers the plain meals.
Everyone has different tastes!
One last cool thing about Home Chef is that you have more than just meal options. You can also add little goodies like fruit salads or smoothies, as well as quick lunch options. I'm sure these options will expand as interest grows.
Shipping & Packaging from Home Chef
Home Chef arrived on time, cool, and packed nicely in the cheerily-decorated box. Inside, each meal was divided into what looks like biodegradeable plastic bags, with separate bags for the meat. I always appreciate when the meat is double-bagged because somehow, one of the packages always leaks.
Leaky meat wasn't an issue this time, but it does happen frequently.
Surprisly, my box also included a free binder for organizing my recipes. Funnyily enough, I had already bought one a few months back when I started these reviews. The recipe cards really started stacking up after just a few weeks.
Though I haven't gone through and remade any recipes yet (from any kit), the cards always look so delicious and I plan to start remaking my favorite recipes at some point in the future.
With a recipe binder, it's like contructing your own “best of” recipe book for future use. Cool!
Cooking with Home Chef
Cookign meals with Home Chef was super fast and simple. This is in contrast to more complicated meal kits like Blue Apron or Plated. Many times, in my opinion, more complicated means more delicious. That means more flavor and more fun! As you'll see further below, my favorite meal kit delivery services often require the most tiem in the kitchen.
However, I think Home Chef strikes a good balance of delicious and diverse meals, without locking you down for 40 minutes in the kitchen (plus cleanup).
I knocked each of these meals out in about 20-25 minutes including prep, and because there weren't a lot of ingredients or a lot of prepping procedures, cleanup was fast too.
For example, the pork chops immediately below are just salt + pepper baked pork chops. Nothing special, right? Well the pine nut compound butter makes them way better. I wouldn't have thought of that myself. Plus, with the swiss chard and parmesan, it makes a complete, nutritious, and filling meal.
Meal #1: Pork Chop with Pine Nut & Parmesan Butter with Garlic Swiss Chard
I'm a huge fan of pork chops. the fattier the better. These were a little lean for my taste, but they were bone-in, which is something that I think improves the flavor of any meat. I cooked them for the allotted time on the recipe card, and they turned out a little dry. However, I only mention the negatives to set you up for the amazing positive about this recipe – the pine nut compound butter.
Oh man, that stuff was delicious. It was simple to make, and added a great ‘comfort food” element to these everyday pork chops.
I don't understand why the picture looked the way it did though. It appears to have a round, smooth butter ball with pine nuts draped around the outside. Mine just turned into buttery, nutty mash. It was delicious, for sure, but didn't look as attractive as the photo.
The veggie mix was good too! I love swiss chard and other big leafy greens like kale.
Meal #2: Shrimp Lo Mein with broccoli and carrots
Another super simple recipe for the second night, but again, it turned out delicious. This is just your basic shrimp and noodles with veggies mix, Asian style. It wasn't that hard to get it to look like the photos this time, haha. The thick garlic teriyaki sauce, the spicy paste, and the roasted sweet peanuts added a unique depth of flavor as well.
I wish they had used some “asian” style noodles instead of boring spaghetti, but it still tasted good.
Meal #3: Pork Banh Mi Bowl with pickled vegetables
I was a little disappointed that this recipe was basically just ground pork with a spice pack with some veggies covered in vinegar. The flavor was tasty, and this was actually my second favorite recipe of the bunch (the pork chops being first).
However, when you're paying $20 for a 2-person meal, as I fried the pork and cut up the cucumbers I was just thinking to myself that I could have made this for about 30% of the cost.
Remember, when ording meal kit delivery services, fresh food with the convenience of home delivery and recipe selection is what your paying for (in my opinion). Many people do find it worth the cost, and that's why these companies are growing so fast. I just run a tight budget in my home 🙂
Canceling Home Chef
Normally, meal kit services really try to trick you into staying on for another month. They make you jump through hoops like finding the secret ‘cancel' button on their website, or even make you call a special phone number to talk to someone.
However, Home Chef avoids that nonsense and gives you an easy-to-find “pause” button in the area where you schedule and choose your next meals.
This is also cool because you don't actually have to cancel your account or remove your credit card. You also don't have to worry about accidental rebills using the normal system (with most meal kit companies) where you have to manually pause each week, and you can only pause a couple weeks or months into the future.
Comparing Home Chef To Other Meal Kit Services
As you probably gathered above, there are some pros and cons to Home Chef. In terms of flavor, if you are looking for super simple, low calorie, and basic choices, then Hello Fresh is the way to go. I didn't like them that much, but lots of other peope do.
For an option with a similar difficulty and variety of meals, Green Chef is another option to consider. I liked their meals better than Home Chef, but I was only a member for a week at a time for each, so it could be just due to meal choice. Green Chef also has more specific diet options, including paleo, vegan, keto, omnivore, gluten-free, vegetarian, and carnivore (keto, paleo, and carnivore are quite rare in the meal kit world!)
My personal, number 1 favorite kit so far, through all of these months of rigorous testing, is Plated. Spicy, crunchy shrimp bowls, cuban beef, and long-life noodles were on the menu when I tried them out. Delicous! However, they were pretty expensive, with the meaty meals costing $24 each (vs $20 for Home Chef), and there were upgrade options!
So you can see how Home Chef fits comfortably in the middle of all of these and has a solid home in the world of meal kit delivery companies. Since they are currently offering a $30 discount (50%) to new members, it's a great time to try them out.