Meal Kit Review: Home Chef is a Solid Choice for No Fuss Dining

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Home Chef is a middle priced meal kit service furnishing easy-to-cook meals catering to all-American tastes. It’s a solid choice for people who want to get something tasty and not overly complicated on the table. It’s reasonably priced and some of the dishes are very good. However, overall, I wasn’t excited by the offerings.

The Plans

Home Chef offers quite a lot of flexibility with their plans. They have kits for 2, 4 and 6 persons and you can get from 2 to 6 meals a week. Meals costs $10 per person per meal (so 3 meal kits for 2 a week will cost you $60), and shipping is free for orders of over $45, otherwise it’s $10. This means that if you order only 2 meals for 2, you’ll end up paying $50. Premium meals cost extra.
Home Chef also offers “5 minute lunches” with pre-cooked ingredients for $8 a serving, and smoothies and fruit baskets for $5 per serving that you can add to your weekly deliveries.

Like other services, Home Chef provides incentives for signing up. Use this link to save $30 off your first box, or go directly to the site to get the most current offer (currently $20 off each box for four weeks).

The Food

Home Chef offers 13 meal kit choices weekly, including at least 3 vegetarian options. They don’t offer vegan options – unless the vegetarian kits just happen to be vegan. They don’t cater to any specific diet either.

The meals tend to be slightly upscale versions of basic modern American food. They include burgers, pastas, rice bowls, tostadas, flatbreads and baked chicken/salmon/pork chops with vegetable & starchy sides. Few of their recipes have exotic ingredients.

Home Chef is now offering the ability of slightly customizing some recipes by substituting the protein with another choice (for example, getting ground pork instead of beef strips or ground turkey, or getting a smaller amount of antibiotic-free chicken instead of regular chicken). This should give some flexibility to people who simply don’t like some proteins.

Premium meals are not yet available every week, but when they are, they usually consist of fillet, scallops or even lamb chops. They cost up to $20 per portion (so yes, a meal for two would be $40).

The quality of the ingredients I got was pretty good, but Home Chef does not specialize in sending organic ingredients.

While I enjoyed the meals I got from Home Chef, it’s not my choice for a long term service because the choices just don’t seem very exciting to me. Plus as most of their meals don’t usually require exotic ingredients, I can make them at home using my ingredients for less.

The Shipping & Delivery

Home Chef scheduled meals to be delivered at my house on Tuesdays. They can arrive between 8 AM and 9 PM, so you are better off not planning to cook them that night. Personally, I prefer kits that arrive on Monday to give me more flexibility as when I cook them during the week – I don’t like to get to the weekend and feel rushed to cook a meal kit before it goes bad.

A bigger problem with Home Chef was that while my first week’s box came without a hitch, the second week’s box never appeared! They sent me a notification that it was on its way, they sent me the tracking, but it never arrived. Fortunately, customer service was very helpful and they refunded my purchase.

Note: Home Chef kits are also available at some Kroger supermarkets

The Packaging

Home Chef sends its kits in a standard cardboard box. Like other services, the box has a liner (not pictured). While Home Chef says that the liner is made of recycled cotton and denim, it apparently cannot be recycled back or added to the yard waste/compost bin. That means it takes space in the trash can – and the landfill! Fortunately the freezer packs, which are also disposable in the trash, are smaller than those of other companies.

Most of the ingredients for the meals come in zippered plastic bags (though beware that the zippers break easily). The meats, however, are between freezer packs. This is a handy way of keeping all ingredients together – though it does mean either refrigerating them all, or taking the ones that don’t need refrigerator out of the bags.

With your first order, Home Chef sends you a folder and recipe cards come pre-perforated so that you can keep them in it.

The Results

These are the three Home Chef meals I made:

Texas-Style Steak on Toast with smashed red potatoes and red onion gravy
A very good meal.
Parisian Bistro Bone-In Chicken with dauphinoise potatoes and Vichy carrots
Really, really delicious. I’ll make it again.
Jerk Steak Tacos with caramelized pineapple slaw
I wasn’t fond of the jerk sauce, but liked the slaw.

I also made one meal using my own ingredients:

Coq au Vin with Bone-In Chicken & Mashed Potatoes

This was more like baked chicken with mashed potatoes, mushrooms and wine sauce, but tasty enough

All in all, I was happy with the service. Cancelling was very easy and quick, it’s done online. Home Chef preserves your account, so that it’s easy to resubscribe again. Home Chef’s offers some incentives to resubscribe. Twice they e-mailed me giving me a $10 credit – which they seem to be adding to the $10 credit I already had (which has not gone away!). More recently, they offered me the same deal they are offering new subscribers: $20 off per week for four weeks. Alas, when I looked at their menu I didn’t find much that excited me, so I decided to re-subscribe to HelloFresh and alternating it with Blue Apron for a month or so. I will make more Home Chef recipes to get a better feel for the service, however.

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