For the past year or so, I have been on the hunt for a dinnertime solution. After well over a decade of cooking the same basic rotation of meals, I am ready for some new recipes, tastes, and mealtime adventures.
The trouble is, that I do not have the time to spend hours scouring Pinterest, reading comments and reviews, pouring over new cookbooks, writing out my meal plan, creating a grocery list of one million new items, and trying out sketchy recipes just to find out that they taste awful and it was all a waste. I need simple, done for me, tried and true, and guaranteed delicious.
I’m willing to pay a bit more for convenience and time-saving help when it comes to our meal plans. Which is why I am on a mission to try all of the meal delivery services and meal planning programs available. There are dozens of options out there and I want to find the best ones. Today I’m sharing my fully honest Home Chef review to give you all the details you need to find out if this service is right for you.
What is a Meal Delivery Service?
A meal delivery service sends you recipes and all of the ingredients for several meals each week. Most of them work on auto-ship, sending you a box of food and recipe cards each week, but they do allow you to skip weeks at a time if you’d like.
With a meal delivery service, you don’t have to meal plan, they pick the meals for you. You don’t have to grocery shop, the food just arrives on your doorstep. You don’t have tons of leftover random items because they only send you the exact amount you need for the recipe.
How does Home Chef work?
One of my favorite things about Home Chef is the great amount of variety they offer. When you set up your account you will complete a Taste Profile (this can be adjusted at any time). The Taste Profile allows you to specify the types of food you like and don’t like (beef, fish, calorie conscious, milk, wheat, etc). You’ll also get to select the number of meals and servings you wish to receive each week and in some areas a specific delivery date.
Home Chef then uses this information to pre-select your menu of meals to be delivered. If you’re a hands-off kind of person and don’t care too much about what you get, this makes things really simple. Food just magically appears at your doorstep each week and you have all you need to prepare and eat it.
However, if you like a little more control over what you eat, Home Chef gives you the ability to make all the decisions and adjustments (before the shipping deadline). They provide 13 different meal options each week (11 dinners, as well as a smoothie and fruit basket, add-on options). You can choose to order from any of those 13 options to fully customize your experience.
Most meal delivery companies do not offer so many recipe options each week and many of them do not provide such a simple way to fully customize the meals that are sent to you.
What comes in a Home Chef box?
On your designated shipping day your Home Chef box will be delivered to your home. The boxes are packed well with insulating material and lots of ice packs, so you don’t need to be home at the time of delivery.
Your first box will include a binder to store your recipes. This was such a great bonus that I didn’t expect. I have gobs of recipe cards from Green Chef that are always sliding around my pantry because I haven’t come up with a good place to store them. But the simple binder from Home Chef is the perfect solution!
The box, of course, includes a recipe card for each of the meals you will be making. The recipe cards include pictures and detailed, simple instructions. They also provide cooking times, basic nutritional information, supplies needed, and bonus tips about the recipes.
Home Chef packs the majority of ingredients for each meal in a combined bag. This is really handy so you don’t have to keep track of so many separate items in your fridge. Large produce and the meats are separate, but everything else stays together to keep you organized.
Home Chef provides all the food ingredients you will need except simple things like oil, salt, and pepper. They even include things like butter and eggs.
My Home Chef Experience
I’m basing this Home Chef review on two weekly shipments that we received from Home Chef (for the record, I purchased the boxes at full price and this is not a paid review, although the links I’ve included are affiliate links).
Our first week, we received Chicken Diane with mashed potatoes and green beans as well as Pesto-Crusted Chicken with Parmesan broccoli tots. In our second weekly box, we received Sunday Supper “Pot Roast” Steak with mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, and peas and Crispy Onion Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce and green beans. I ordered four servings of each meal.
The food was quite yummy. My favorite things were probably the broccoli tots (I love all things broccoli and these were so delicious and easy). I will say that it kind of felt like our meals were fairly similar. That is largely my fault since I chose the recipes we received, but I tried to pick things that I thought we all would really like. Which apparently involved lots of chicken, mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and green beans. With all the variety that Home Chef seems to have, I definitely didn’t feel like we were getting much variety in the four meals.
One of my favorite parts about getting meals from meal delivery services is that my cooking skills are expanded and I learn to be more adventurous in the kitchen. I would have never thought to mash up some broccoli, mix it with breadcrumbs, and roll it into fun little balls of deliciousness. And at initial glance, I thought it looked very complicated and time-consuming, but it wasn’t at all.
Although all the food was similar, it all tasted delicious. The meals were simple to make and the recipes were easy to understand. All of the ingredients were provided and they all arrived fresh and in great condition.
Ordering is a breeze and the option to select our exact meals was really appreciated to make sure we received things that we would like to eat.
The food was quite healthy. While some people might frown upon the cream and butter types of ingredients in nearly every meal we ate, we are not opposed to fats, so this wasn’t a problem for us. And I love that the portions were filling, but not too much. And fresh vegetables are a key part of each meal.
No measuring! This is a lovely part of all the meal delivery services. Since they only send you the exact amounts you need, you don’t have to pull out any measuring cups (except for the occasional measure of water).
The prep time for all of the meals was estimated at 35-50 minutes. I learned from my Green Chef experience that I am a slow cook, so I always take nearly twice as long to cook my meals. Which makes the meals a little difficult to fit in on busy weeknights. Since we only received two meals with each box I’m able to find two nights a week to make these great meals and fill in the other busier nights with faster options.
I think I was spoiled by trying Green Chef first. Green Chef only uses 100% certified organic ingredients. Home Chef, on the other hand, does not use organic ingredients. This isn’t a huge issue, but I was disappointed by some of the ingredients. Instead of sending an egg they sent liquid eggs. The butter sent was pats of butter like you’d get at a restaurant. The sour cream and mustard were also wholesale packets like you’d see in a restaurant. It wasn’t bad quality, it just wasn’t what I expected I guess.
The “In Your Kitchen” details on the recipe cards were inaccurate. I like to pull out all the pots and pans and spoons I will need before I start cooking. They include a list of these types of items, but in every single recipe, there were things missing. It was not a big deal, but it was annoying to have to keep pulling more things out when I thought I was prepared.
If you get more than two servings, they just send you double of all the ingredients. Green Chef used to do this as well, but they do not do this any longer. It is annoying to have to double all the details in the recipe and open up twice as many packages (and have twice as much packaging to get rid of). It would be really nice if they would double things on their side.
Again, I was spoiled by trying Green Chef first and was surprised to discover that Home Chef does not do much of the prep work for you. With Green Chef there were always a few things that I might need to slice or dice, but many things came already cut. With Home Chef, I had to cut and dice everything which definitely adds to your cooking time.
Meal delivery services are not cheap. Although they aren’t ridiculously expensive either. With Home Chef you pay $9.95 per serving for most of the meals. They do offer premium meals from time to time with a higher price. Shipping is free over $45. It ends up being less than what you might pay at a restaurant, but more than many people pay for a meal at home. (Interestingly, Crystal Paine did a price match on her Blue Apron box recently and the cost of purchasing the same ingredients in the store wasn’t too much different than she paid for the box.).
At this point, I can only compare my experience with Green Chef and Home Chef. While I liked the food and recipes better with Green Chef, the prices at Home Chef are much easier to swallow. And I love the convenience of picking from so many different options each week with Home Chef.
Meal Delivery Services
Blue Apron – get $60 off your first 3 boxes with this affiliate link
Meal Planning Services – these develop a meal plan and send you recipes and grocery lists, but do not ship food, so they are much more affordable
eMeals – free 14-day trial
Once a Month Meals (freezer cooking) – free mini menu available to try it out
Plan to Eat – free 30-day trial
Prep Dish – my favorite and the main meal-planning service I use!
I know there are several other meal delivery and meal planning services out there. These are just the ones I have tried or plan to try soon. If you would like me to try and review a service that is not listed above just let me know in the comments.