This is part of a series offering reviews of the top meal delivery services, plus tips and tricks on how to get these subscriptions shipped straight to your kitchen for a fraction of the advertised price. Other posts include A Low Price for Plated, How to Hack Hello Fresh, and Save Big on Blue Apron.
Cost: Regularly advertised price for the three meals per week plan for two people is $59.70. But after redeeming a generous 20% cash back rebate from MrRebates.com, plus an automatic $30 credit for first time Home Chef customers, my adjusted cost was $23.76 or $3.96 per meal.
Delivery dates available: Wednesday, Thursday or Friday
Meal choices: Home Chef offers plans for two, four or six people. Any family size can pick between two and six meals delivered per week. They offer ten different recipe choices per week, and you are able to select meals by dietary preference (low-calorie and low-carb) as well as choose to avoid foods that may contain common allergens or aren’t permissible for consumption by certain faiths (soy, nuts, gluten, dairy, mushrooms, red meat, pork and shellfish).
Home Chef offered a range of options, from traditional to adventurous. Selections the week I ordered included steak and potatoes, burger and fries, mushroom flatbread, quinoa and arugula salad, and parsley and pistachio fettuccine. The three meals I opted for were “calorie conscious” choices (ranging from 402-538 calories per serving) but you never would have known, as they were all filling and far from lacking in flavor.
Packaging and ingredients: My Home Chef box and its contents, insulated with a thick padded liner, were still cold when I arrived home from work. While I couldn’t think of a reason to store and way to re-purpose it, this paper-based insulation was easy to recycle. Produce, spices, starches and other ingredients were divided by meal and situated at the top of the box, with the proteins at the bottom. Also included in the box were my three recipe cards, a booklet with information on food safety, cooking tips and kitchen tool basics, and a plastic binder were these and future recipes could be kept.
Recipes and instructions: Our menu for the week included blue cheese, smoked almond and chive-crusted pork chops with honey-roasted carrots, steelhead trout niçoise with warm potato and spinach salad, and mojito lime chicken with roasted cauliflower and blistered tomato-jalapeño relish.
The recipe cards include a suggested cook by date on them. The fish was recommended to be cooked within three days, so the trout niçoise was the first meal I made. I’ve always been wary of warm potatoes and string beans on a salad of leafy greens, but I gave it a go. And while I don’t think it’ll become a diet mainstay, I did enjoy trying it.
Although the trout was among the best fish we had from any of the meal delivery services, the chicken was another story. When I opened the package for the mojito lime chicken, one of the filets seemed a little off, both in color and texture. As much as I hate waste, I maintain an “if in doubt, throw it out” philosophy when it comes to meat, so I discarded both and instead defrosted two chicken breasts that were in my freezer.
The pork chops were the last meal I made. Like the trout, the pork chops were fresh, juicy and delicious.
Level of difficulty: Two of the meals did start on the cook-top and then required transfer to the oven, which meant more dishes to do than usual, but otherwise, all three of the recipes were quick to prepare and easy to make.
Ease of cancellation: I was able to cancel future orders online the same day my box arrived without issue. Customer support and subscription information were included in the booklet that came inside the box, indicating that “You can make change to your weekly menus anytime before Friday at noon CST. You are always able to skip weeks in advance, pause your account or cancel our service if necessary.”
Overall impression: My biggest, and only, disappointment was the questionable meat. I was very pleased with Home Chef’s introductory cost, the menu variety ranging from home-style to hipster, the option of up to six meals per week (!!!) and the transparency and ease of cancellation.
I’m also impressed with Home Chef’s cause marketing efforts, partnering most recently with Heifer International, an international economic development charity. During the month of February, if customers select the one meal each week marked with the Heifer logo, Home Chef will make a donation to help Heifer International fight world hunger.
Stayed tuned for one last post in this series – a final analysis and comparison of the cost, quality and convenience of Plated, Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef.