Home Chef is one of those meal kit solutions that’s well worth trying out if you often have nights when you’re too tired to shop and cook. Regardless of the size of your household, dietary preferences, or your culinary skills, getting dinner on the table every night can easily become a chore.
That’s exactly why meal kits have exploded in popularity over the last few years. Even as people spend more time cooking, meal kits like Home Chef make a home cooked dinner more accessible to the average busy home cook. Of course, with this rise in popularity comes an overwhelming number of options. From pre-made frozen dinners to fully plant-based choices, it can be hard to find a meal kit that’s right for your lifestyle.
Cook-in-yourself and heat-and-eat options
Plans for up to 6 servings
Up to 6 different meals per box
Select allergies to remove items from your menu
Calorie-conscious and carb-conscious plans
Step-by-step recipes with images
Can swap out proteins
Simple recipes for cooks of all levels
Under 15-minute dinner options
Choose your own delivery date
One option that purports to accommodate every household, thanks to an extensive weekly menu and customization options, is Home Chef. And although you can now purchase Home Chef meal kits directly from some grocery stores, the business continues to offer its signature meal kits consisting of pre-portioned ingredients and recipe cards. This way, home cooks of all levels can put their skills (and ovens) to use without having to worry about the grocery store or meal planning.
We wanted to see how Home Chef lives up to its promises and stacks up against competition. So we ordered a box of three meals that each served two people. During testing, we paid close attention to the delivery experience, including the packaging, the meal variety, ingredient quality, recipe instructions and overall taste. Here’s how our week of Home Chef went, and what you should know about the service before you subscribe.
Home Chef review: Fees and delivery
Home Chef makes meals in three serving sizes: to feed two, four, or six. Each box contains between two and six different meals. The default option, for three meals that feed two, costs $53.94 (or 33.94 with the first-time $20 discount), plus $9.99 shipping. For first-timers, that comes out to $43.94, or $7.23 per serving, including shipping. After your first-time box discount (which lasts for the first four orders), you’ll pay $10.65 per serving for this size box. This is slightly more than other meal kits, which you’ll notice if you look at our Blue Apron review.
For a hearty box of six meals that serve six, you’ll pay $8.71 per serving, including the first-time discount and shipping. Without the discount, the largest box costs $9.26 per serving.
You can select your preferred delivery date and day of the week, so you don’t have to worry about the box arriving when you’re out or away for the weekend. And Home Chef offers a pretty quick turn-around time. You can have your first box delivered in as little as three business days after signing up.
Once you’ve signed up and paid, you can view the weekly menu, which includes over 25 options for dinner. The menus are available five weeks in advance.
Home Chef review: Using the meal delivery service
Because of the flexible delivery date and customizable menu, it’s easy to have Home Chef fit into your lifestyle and eating preferences. When building your box, you can sort the meals by calorie-conscious, less than 30 minutes, carb-conscious, and vegetarian.
And most of the meals are further customizable, as you can choose your favorite protein. For example, if you’d like the Creole-Style Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Relish, you can swap out the ground beef for steak strips, ground turkey, or a double portion of ground beef.
It’s worth noting that there are very few vegetarian options, however, without a protein swap. If you filter by vegetarian meals, your options narrow down to a few desserts (chocolate lava cake and apple pie crisp), and an appetizer-style flatbread that comes fully prepared. Your other option is to choose a meat-based dish that has an option to swap in Impossible meat.
The box arrives with ice packs and each meal in a perforated plastic bag. Proteins are packaged separately in the bottom of the box to stay cold. Each meal also comes with a double-sided recipe card that’s three-hole-punched so you can build your own little Home Chef cookbook in a binder.
Home Chef Review: Taste and nutrition
We received three of Home Chef’s meal kit meals. Each meal comes with a helpful label that indicates the maximum amount of time you should wait before cooking.
The Smoky ‘n Sweet Shrimp and Pepper Wonton Tacos had the shortest (three days) lifespan, so we made that meal first. The recipe is rated easy and is estimated to take 25 to 35 minutes. In fact, it took even less time. The meal came with a foil tray for roasting, so we didn’t have to dirty a baking sheet, which is always nice (but also means more to recycle). The shrimp were fully deveined and the peppers were pre-sliced, so really all we had to do was dump everything into the tray and roast. For toppings, there was a crunchy slaw and a packet of Ken’s Pan Asian Dressing. We found these packaged salad dressings overly sweet and syrupy, so we would rather use lime juice and some hot sauce for our slaw. However, the shrimp and peppers were perfectly tasty and cooked up in just 10 minutes (the recipe suggested roasting for 15 to 20).
These were nice tacos with a good amount of filling. We did find the sriracha-mayo condiment a bit odd, however, and would have preferred sour cream on the tacos to mayonnaise.
Next, we tried the Mushroom-Smothered Turkey Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrots. This was a true comfort food meal. The mashed potatoes were nice and fluffy and well seasoned with garlic salt and sour cream. The meatballs also held together well, thanks to panko breadcrumbs and ricotta, and had a delicious glaze made with chicken demi-glace and butter. While not the lightest meal, it also wasn’t overly filling, thanks to the use of turkey instead of red meat. This was a longer and more involved meal that required two pans on the stove, a baking sheet, and the oven. It took about 45 minutes to make, but most of that was hands-off as the potatoes cooked.
The third meal on the menu was Sausage Rigatoni with Tomato Cream Sauce, except ours came with Impossible Burger instead of sausage. This was marked as an Intermediate recipe that should take 25 to 35 minutes. It took us about half an hour, and it tasted delicious. This dish has a short and sweet ingredient list, but plenty of flavor from the ground “meat”, tomato paste, and cream sauce base. On the side, we enjoyed crispy golden basil-garlic bread. Again, not a super healthy recipe (each serving has 890 calories and 43 grams of fat), but definitely tasty and satisfying, if not a bit too rich.
Home Chef review: Customer reviews
Long-term Home Chef customers love that the service makes cooking dinner something to look forward to. As one satisfied customer puts it, “Cooking used to be a dreaded chore for me, but I have to say, with Home Chef I actually enjoy it. First, I love that I don’t have to find recipes and shop for the ingredients; second I love the easy instructions that even I can follow; and finally, I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal I didn’t like.”
Should you use Home Chef?
Home Chef is a great choice for cooks who want to streamline dinner by using pre-portioned ingredients. This meal kit goes a step further than others by sending many pre-mixed dressings and sauces, which makes prep easier and faster, though you won’t be able to control the ingredients as much. Home Chef is especially great for families, as it includes meals that serve four or six people, plus the ability to customize proteins to suit everyone’s tastes.
If this product isn’t for you
If you prefer a meal kit that may take a bit more time but teaches you more about the culinary arts, consider Marley Spoon. You won’t find any pre-mixed ingredients in this kit, but everything comes portioned with easy step-by-step instructions that will help hone your cooking skills.
Or, if you want to make dinner even faster and skip all prep work, Freshly meals come ready to heat and include a variety of options for all dietary needs. Freshly offers over 50 meal options each week, including sides like Sautéed French Green Beans, and stand-alone proteins, such as Baked Turkey Meatballs, in addition to the standard meals.
Lizzy Briskin is a freelance writer focusing on food, health, lifestyle, travel, the outdoors and fitness. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, EcoWatch, Smart Mouth, Maed, Munchery, and more. She is also a chef, recipe developer and food photographer, having received professional culinary training at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Lizzy has lead a successful gluten-free and vegan food blog, and worked as a recipe editor in the meal kit industry.
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