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My official Home Chef review and unboxing isn’t my first experience with the company. I tried them once before when my husband was out of town, and I needed quick and easy vegetarian meals during an incredibly hectic week. I only ordered a couple of meals, and I did snap some photos, even though I didn’t know if I’d use them for anything. This time, I ordered again, intending to write a thorough review of several options they offer.
Bottom Line Up Front: Is Home Chef Worth It?
I enjoy Home Chef, and I like that they offer so many different options. There’s something for everyone, regardless of how much time you have, the flavors you prefer, the type of diet you follow, or your skill level in the kitchen. Not everything was perfect, but my “complaints ” were minor and entirely overshadowed by how good the food tasted.
I love flavor, and I’m adventurous when it comes to new recipes. I’m happy to report that these didn’t disappoint. However, if you’re not into spicy/spices or intense flavors overall, check out a few weeks’ worth of menus before you dismiss it. The first time I tried it, the flavors were still exciting, but much tamer.
Yes, it’s worth it, especially when you have a discount code.
What Home Chef Offers
Where to start? There are so many options here. Make your choices by the Friday before the week you want your meals.
Room for Preferences: Meal Options for Everyone
There are the standard meals from their meal plans: Calorie Conscious, Carb Conscious, Vegetarian, Gluten-Smart, for those that are gluten-free (not recommended for those with Celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance), and Vegetarian.
There’s an option to let them know which foods you’d like to avoid, like pork, poultry, shellfish, tree nuts, beef, fish, mushrooms, etc.
You can even choose your protein for the meals once it’s time to make your selections.
Servings and Number of Meals
You can order meals that have two, four, or six servings, and choose how many recipes you’d like per week (two, three, four, five, or six). You can change the number of servings or meals per week whenever you’d like. The meals you order can have a different number of servings, too (I ordered some with two servings for my husband and me to enjoy for lunch, but for dinners, I went with the four-serving option).
Meals can take anywhere from under 30 minutes to an hour. Some of mine were ready in 10-15. Others took longer, but that was mostly time in the oven while I did other things.
These are the average meal kits with just the right amount of ingredients and a recipe you cook yourself. They’ll save you a little time because you don’t have to grocery shop or gather ingredients individually from the fridge or pantry. Still, you’re doing most of the work. Still, some of these can be done in 20 minutes. Others take closer to an hour.
These only require a little prep on your part and come together quickly (30 minutes or less), making them perfect after a long, busy day or for lunches. Makes meal planning a breeze, especially if you’re a busy mom, or working ‘home chef’ like me.
These usually have to cook longer than your average Meal Kit or Express meal, but that’s hands-off time. You’ll do some prep (not much–everything’s already chopped up and ready to go) and then pop your meal in the oven.
Fast & Fresh
These are so fast, you can use a microwave. They’re similar to the Lunches section, where you’ll find individual servings, ready to microwave.
Then there are the more expensive (but often worth it) options: Culinary Collection, Fast & Fresh, Fast & Fresh Plus, Oven Ready Plus, and Express Plus. These meals can cost as much as $18.95 per serving (Culinary Collection), but most hover around $11.99 to $14.99 each.
Suppose you’re looking for a one-stop shop for most of your weekly meals and snacks. In that case, you’ll want to take a look at the add-ons section, where you’ll find breakfasts, coffee, bread, salads, desserts, appetizers, morning sweets, pizzas, salad & protein bundles, and smoothies. I have never tried this particular section, but I’ve been tempted by the desserts. These can range from $3.98 each (breakfasts and desserts) to $14.98 (bundles).
Home Chef Pros
- Meals are delicious, and spice levels are clearly marked.
- Flawless checkout and delivery (other than double notifications that made me wonder if they’d sent two boxes, which they hadn’t)
- “My Cookbook” grows in your account with recipes for all the meals you’ve had.
- You can keep the cooking as simple or adventurous as you’d like–there’s something for every skill level.
- Variety of flavor profiles and time it takes to cook the meals.
- Careful packaging and pre-portioned ingredients.
- Generous portions
- The prices are reasonable (less than you might expect!) as long as you have coupon codes (and there are plenty).
- The recipe cards are easy to follow.
- Fresh ingredients – the ingredients stayed fresh for the few days I tested this meal delivery service.
Home Chef Cons
- It can get expensive if you’re trying to shop with no coupons or credits.
- It’s easy to miss the recipes if they’re always tucked in the side.
- Nutrition information isn’t on the recipe cards.
- Some recipes are higher in sodium and fat than I’d prefer (even the ones labeled Fresh Start).
- Some of the packaging felt awkward to open.
- The chicken package leaked.
- The oven meal took longer to cook than the card said it would.
My Home Chef Review and Unboxing Experience
When I logged in, I wasn’t thrilled with the picks they had for me that week. They also had so many Culinary Collection options (they sounded better by far) that the cost would go up quite a bit if I ordered a box that week. I skipped that week and went to the next one, mentally reconfiguring my grocery plan. That week’s meals looked a lot better!
It had saved my vegetarian preferences from before, so when I selected Calorie Conscious meals (I often find that meal delivery services like this offer delicious meals that have more calories than I need), the meals were being filtered for both. I had to go in and deselect the vegetarian requirement since I wanted to mix it up this week.
Ordering was streamlined. No hiccups. They emailed me before my meals made it, said there was a supplier shortage on one ingredient, and let me know what they had replaced it with. They also let me know the cooking instructions remained the same.
Pricing: Is Home Chef Worth it?
When I chose the meals I wanted, the total was $135.72, plus shipping. However, I had some credits (I’m not entirely sure where they came from, but I’ll take ’em!) that took the price down by $45.00. That’s something to note: they always seem to have specials, so you’re not likely to have to pay full price, especially when you first sign up.
I think the pricing is fair even if you compare it to grocery shopping as you don’t have as much food waste and every pre-portioned ingredient gets used (and eaten) in the meal kits. I love being able to try new flavors, new recipes as well without having to invest in new spices, or recipe ingredients (this can really add up as well).
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Shipping was $10.99, which is okay compared to some other services I’ve explored lately. I’ll never complain about $11.00 shipping again. They used FedEx, and only two days passed between the printing of the label and when the food showed up at my house.
I wondered if I was getting two boxes at one point because I somehow got a notification that made it look like I’d get a box on Monday after it was delivered on Sunday. There was no extra box or extra charge, though. Just some confusion on my part.
This was the standard type of packaging most of the meal delivery services have. There was a cardboard box, insulation, and ice packs. Everything stayed cold in transit. I appreciated the separate bag for all the meat in the bottom. One package did leak, but it didn’t come in contact with the produce because of the careful packaging.
The recipe cards were hidden behind some of the insulation on the box’s side, so check if you order and don’t see yours. I thought I’d have to refer to their website, where you can view the recipes for meals you’ve ordered, but nope–they were just tucked in the side. I wonder if I accidentally threw away the recipes from my first box because I thought they had forgotten to put them in there.
The non-meat ingredients are all separated by recipe and placed into clear plastic bags with zip tops. If you order more than two servings, your ingredients will be divided into at least two bags. Each bag is labeled, but it’s hard to see at first. Look in the top right corner, just below the opening.
I like that the bags are clear, so you can immediately tell if some of the produce looks like it needs to be cooked sooner than others. Plus, it makes it easier to look in the fridge and grab the ingredients you need without hunting for a label once you’ve familiarized yourself with what’s what.
What I Got (and What I Thought)
I tried to get a little of everything. Each recipe has information about the difficulty level, prep and cook time, spice level, and how quickly you should cook it once it arrives.
Hot Honey Salmon with Zucchini and Tomatoes (Level: Intermediate, Time: 25-35 minutes)
These were easy to make and didn’t take too long. As the recipes suggested, they weren’t quite as quick as the quesadillas. This is where I realized how generous the portions were–the pieces of salmon were huge!
The food was delivered on a Sunday, and I made this on Tuesday. The green onions had to be thrown out since they were too wilted to eat.
I loved the flavors in this dish. I’m a sucker for hot honey anything, and the hot honey butter was delicious. The citrus mojo rub on the veggies was an excellent, zesty complement to the other flavors, even though it didn’t sound like it would be. (I’ve learned to trust the chefs here.)
Beef Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers with Pickles and Tomatoes (Level: Intermediate, Time: 30-40 minutes)
These were quick and easy. They took about 25 minutes. We had to chop the tomatoes, pickles, peppers, and shallots, so there wasn’t much “done for you” here. The flavor reminded me of a healthier version of a Big Mac.
Southwest-Style Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas with Green Onions and Crema (Level: Easy, Time: 10-15 minutes)
These were so fast, which I appreciated at the end of a busy day. They’d be a fantastic lunch option, too.
I wish there had been more of them, or something on the side. This is the only time I thought one of their recipes could’ve used more food, but that was because my whole family liked them so much. Leftovers for the next day’s lunch would’ve been good. If I order this one again, I might double up.
One bag was missing corn. There was lots of cheese, but we supplemented more anyway.
I didn’t love what the beans were packaged in. If you’re familiar with the plastic fruit cups with the lids that peel off, it was like that.
Garlic Truffle Chicken with Green Beans and Tomatoes (Level: Easy, Time: 40-50 minutes, primarily hands-off)
This one took longer to cook than it said it would, so I wouldn’t necessarily pick this one as a lunch option, even working from home. It was hands-off at that point, but I’d rather make something quick for lunch and get it out of my mind instead of feeling like I need to keep checking on something in the oven while I’m working. I made this one the night before so my husband and I could microwave it for lunch when we were ready the next day.
It was annoying that the chicken package leaked, and yet it was still difficult to open.
This was a lot of food! I didn’t think it looked like that much while I was making it, but I was impressed. It had a strong, cheesy, buttery, peppery taste–absolutely fantastic flavor, even reheated. The beans and tomatoes were simple and good.
FAQs about Home Chef
Question: Is it hard to cancel Home Chef?
Answer: Not at all. It’s easy to skip weeks, too. If you want to cancel, click on Account in the top right corner of the screen, then Account Settings. From there, you’ll see the option to cancel.
Question: How does HelloFresh compare to Home Chef?
Answer: Home Chef meals felt more balanced to me. I didn’t struggle as much to find meals that fit my lifestyle and how I prefer to eat (loosely macro-tracking, trying to increase my protein intake a bit and keep carbs and fats moderate). Home Chef lets you get up to eight servings of a meal under their Standard Plan, but HelloFresh meals only have two or four servings.
Question: Are Home Chef Meals already cooked?
Answer: No, but they’re set up so you have all the ingredients you need for each meal in one or two bags, so it’s easy to grab what you need and get started. Sometimes, some prep has been done for you, which could also speed things up. Overall, these are meals of at least two servings that you’ll need to do at least some prep on and cook. It’s one of the best meal kit delivery services out there, our team at Subscription box loves Home Chef meals!
Other Meal Delivery Services to Try
Green Chef: This meal delivery service is very similar to Home Chef in how everything works. They focus on sourcing organic ingredients (if something isn’t organic, they’ll label it, so you know) and creating recipes you can whip up in around 30 minutes. Their meal plans are Mediterranean, Gut & Brain Health, Calorie Smart, Quick & Easy, Plant-Based, Protein Packed, Keto, and Gluten-Free. You can order up to four meals per week and get two to six servings of each one.
Green Chef is a meal kit service that delivers boxes filled with fresh ingredients on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis to make chef-curated meals. Diet and allergen friendly options, are one of the reasons I love Green Chef. Save big with $250 off and enjoy free shipping using code VENT250
Sunbasket: You’ll also find organic ingredients at Sunbasket. This meal delivery service is one of our favorites here at Subscriboxer. Some meals are done in as little as five minutes (others take about 30 minutes). Their meal plans include Pescatarian, Paleo, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Carb-Conscious, Keto-Friendly, Diabetes-Friendly, and Fresh & Ready. You can get two or four servings of each meal you order.
Hello Fresh: I’ve always enjoyed Hello Fresh‘s variety of flavors. You can sign up under the Meat & Veggies, Veggie, Family-Friendly, Fit & Wholesome, Quick & Easy, or Pescatarian plan (don’t worry, you can mix it up if you’d like). Choose whether you’d like two or four servings per meal, and get up to six meals each week.
Purple Carrot: This option is for all the vegetarians out there. You can get meal kits, prepared meals that save you even more time, shop the “Plantry” (here’s where you’ll find the extras, like sides, snacks, plant-based milk, etc.), or opt for less prep as a step between meal kits and prepared meals. You may find Purple Carrot frozen meals at your local grocery store if you want to get a feel for the meals before signing up. You can get two or four servings and choose to order two or three meals per week.
Choose from meal kits OR ready to go "heat and serve" prepared meals, Purple Carrot has premium ingredients (100% plant based, vegan). I love that I can get delicious vegan dishes, without having to "think" about how to do it.
Find out how Home Chef compares to more meal delivery services:
- Green Chef vs Home Chef Compared
- Factor vs Home Chef
- EveryPlate vs Home Chef Compared
- RealEats vs Home Chef
Would I Order Home Chef Again? Yes.
I wasn’t completely blown away the first time I ordered from Home Chef, but I knew I wanted to give them another try because they were still good. This time, the meals were even better than before, the prices were reasonable, and as long as I went in with my eyes wide open (and paid careful attention to how long the meals would take to make), I had to work to find anything “wrong” with them. Home Chef also offers some great options for those with dietary restrictions as well.
There are plenty of meal choices for everyone and cooking was a breeze! There were some Home Chef recipes that I absolutely loved, such as the Hot Honey Salmon with Zucchini and Tomatoes recipe, which tasted amazing! I’ll definitely be ordering more Home Chef meals in the future.