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Author Kenaz Filan
Kenaz Filan
Created on Jun 5th, 2023
Fact checked by Emma Vince

Home Chef vs. Dinnerly 2023: Customization or Quantity?

In this post, I examine 2 excellent meal delivery services, each excelling in different ways. However, after running all the numbers and analyzing each service, Home Chef came away with the win.

To start things off, Home Chef has a fantastic “Customize It” tool. But that’s not all. Home Chef also has excellent meal prep practices including pre-made sauces and pre-chopped ingredients. These 2 features gave it the edge over Dinnerly.

The extra service and customization options at Home Chef made it the winner overall. But only barely. The lower price at Dinnerly, for example, could easily sway someone primarily concerned with pricing into the Dinnerly camp. This was a close one. Read on to find out more.

At a Glance: Who Won Each Category?

💲 Price:

Dinnerly ($2.12 per serving)

🍔 Menu Variety:


⏰ Prep Time:


🍴 Customization:

Home Chef (3 dietary options)

👍 Ordering and Delivery


🙋 Customer Support:


Menu Variety

Winner: Tie

Home Chef came close to winning this category because it has a better selection of meal categories. It also has a better organized selection of specialty kits. However, Dinnerly makes up for its shortcomings with its massive list of weekly recipes.

Typically, Dinnerly offers 50+ recipes a week. Home Chef only offers 30+ (although it does have  “Customize It”, which we’ll discuss in the next section). After that, the 2 companies are roughly comparable in the remaining subcategories.

The categories Home Chef offers consist of: Calorie-Conscious, < 30 minutes, and Carb-Conscious. Further, in addition to standard meal kits, Home Chef also offers Express Meal Kits, Oven-Ready Kits, Grill-Ready Kits, a Culinary Collection, and Fast & Fresh Kits.

Most of the options Dinnerly offers are based on the number of people served – 2 or 4 – although there’s an option in each to go vegetarian. It does, also offer a handful of fully-prepared microwavable meals.

Another great perk of both services is that you can view their menus several weeks in advance. 5 weeks for Home Chef and 3 weeks for Dinnerly.

Home Chef's Wedding Soup with Turkey Ricotta Meatballs

Home Chef's Wedding Soup with Turkey Ricotta Meatballs can be made in 30-40 minutes and is classed as Intermediate difficulty level

Home Chef offers a number of sub-menus and flags specifying certain specialty kits. These include the Culinary Collection, Express, Express Plus, Fast and Fresh, Fast and Fresh Plus, and Oven-Ready. Dinnerly also provides tags for certain specialty meals e.g. < 30 minutes, low-calorie, kid-friendly, one-pot meals, and healthy.

Half of Home Chef’s menu consists of half American recipes, but there are also some Tex-Mex and Italian recipes. Although the Dinnerly menu I looked at also consisted of half American recipes, it had a slightly better variety throughout the rest of the menu, including Greek, Italian, Asian, and Tex-Mex recipes.

Both companies offered fairly substantial extras. Home Chef has an Extras menu offering breakfasts, bread, dessert, salad, snacks, soups, protein, and beverages. Dinnerly has a Market menu that offers special ingredients, desserts, and other extras. Also, some of Dinnerly’s “meals” are well-suited for breakfast or dessert: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes, Cheddar and Rosemary scones, etc….

Dinnerly's Vegetarian Mushroom Étouffée

Vegetarian Mushroom Étouffée at Dinnerly, 30-40 Minutes, Kid-friendly

Cook times for both companies were comparable. Home Chef ranged from around 5 minutes (for microwavable options) up to 50 minutes. Meals were also classified according to the cooking level. They ranged from Easy to Difficult.

Similarly, Dinnerly offers meals ranging from 5 minutes (again, for microwavable options) to 40 minutes. Dinnerly meals were also split up into various cooking levels ranging from Easy to Difficult.

Home Chef offers a few meals labeled as Family-Friendly (One Pot Creamy Sausage and Corn Chowder) scattered across its menu as well as a number of more high-class/adult recipes (Butternut Squash Alfredo Gnocchi). Dinnerly does likewise, offering both kid-friendly and primarily adult recipes (Grass-fed Cheeseburgers and Vegetarian Mushroom Etouffee).

However, both companies offer kits with multiple servings to cater to people looking to feed a family. Dinnerly, for example, has subscriptions available that provide meals for up to 4 people. Home Chef goes even further by offering meals for as many as 6 people. When you take that into account, both companies can be very attractive for those wishing to feed multiple people.

Meal Customization

Winner: Home Chef

Home Chef wins this category primarily because it has an awesome “Customize It” tool that allows you to upgrade, swap out, or increase the proteins in certain meals. In the week I examined, 18 of the 30 meals offered included the option of using the “Customize It” tool.

Home Chef's Customize It tool

With Home Chef's Customize It tool you can swap the protein in your meal

Additionally, Home Chef offers anywhere from 2 meals to 6 meals per person in a single subscription. And each subscription can be tailored to as few as 2 people or to as many as 6 people. Dinnerly offers from 3 meals to 6 meals per person. However, the number of people it serves is limited to 4.

Home Chef's diet and ingredient filter

Home Chef lets you avoid ingredients you don't like

In contrast, Dinnerly has no customization tool at all. Although the list of ingredients for each recipe is available on the site, you have to do your own substitutions and customizations strictly by inspection and when preparing the meals at home.

Home Chef's recipe label with tags

Recipe label with tags at Home Chef

Home Chef also provides a filter for 9 different allergens (Pork, Beef, Poultry, Fish, Shellfish, Mushrooms, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, and Sesame). Other allergens, like milk, eggs, wheat, and soy are listed among the ingredients. If you select any allergens, you won’t see these meals as options for you to purchase.

Dinnerly, on the other hand, only offers a vegetarian preference through an automatic filter. But it does provide tags for those wishing to filter out allergens by inspection. These tags include Low-Cal, Low-Carb, Nutritious,  No-added Gluten, No Added Dairy, Vegetarian, and Vegan.

Dinnerly can, to a certain extent, accommodate some diets that Home Chef may not be able to. Specifically, someone looking for dairy free or no added gluten options might be better served at Dinnerly – even though such requires visually inspecting tags rather than using a computerized filter.

Meal tags on Dinnerly's menu

Dinnerly has clear meal tags with every meal

A word of warning, though: As far as allergens are concerned, both companies handle multiple ingredients in each one’s corresponding facilities. As a result, neither company can guarantee that there’s no cross-contamination. With that in mind, both companies recommend you seek services elsewhere if you have serious allergy issues.

Ordering, Delivery, Unboxing

Winner: Tie

This category resulted in a tie. Having evaluated each company according to 3 different subcategories, I came to the conclusion that both companies performed fairly well throughout. Neither 1 dominated nor gained any decisive edge along any of the metrics.


Ordering on Home Chef is fairly straightforward. It begins with an optional 4-step quiz you can take to help Home Chef tailor the meals it offers more specifically to your tastes. Whether or not you take the quiz, the ultimate ordering process follows a basic 6-step process:

  1. Click Pick Your Meals

  2. Choose Preferences

  3. Provide email and zip code

  4. Build Your Box

  5. Provide Billing Information

  6. Select Recipes

Dinnerly, also offers you a 6-step process to sign up:

  1. Click Choose Meal Kit

  2. Select Your Plan

  3. Provide email and zip code

  4. Provide Delivery Details

  5. Provide Payment

  6. Choose Meals

Changing an order on Home Chef is fairly easy. The FAQ section details the process for editing orders, rescheduling orders, and skipping orders.

Home Chef box with food in front of it

Your Home Chef box arrives with the food still fresh and well packed

For example, to edit an order: Go to your account, visit Upcoming Orders, scroll to the appropriate delivery and click Edit Meals. Click the recipes you wish to remove (by clicking the minus sign) and the ones you wish to add (by clicking the addition sign).

Editing your Dinnerly order is fairly easy. Its editing process is detailed in the Customer Service Section. First, you log on to the website and go to Orders. Then, click Edit Recipes, click Remove for any meal you don’t want, and click Add for any meal you want to add. When you finish, click Save.

The minimum order at Home Chef is 2 recipes apiece for 2 people each week (4 total). On Dinnerly, it is 3 meals apiece for 2 people each week (6 total).


Home Chef deliveries to roughly 98% of the United States. If you’re unsure whether it delivers to you or not, you can enter your zip code on step 3 of the sign up process, and it’ll let you know if the company delivers to that location.

Similarly, Dinnerly also delivers to most of the United States. However, the delivery day you wind up with depends on your zip code and location. Still, to confirm the details of such, you can enter your zip code and email in the respective fields and it’ll tell you.

Dinnerly's delivery schedule menu

The delivery schedule menu at Dinnerly

If you need to reschedule a delivery on Home Chef, it’s a fairly easy process. First, there’s a detailed FAQ that you can examine for assistance. The procedure just involves clicking View Order Summary under the date listed under the order in question and, then, making the appropriate changes.

The process for rescheduling on Dinnerly is also fairly simple. You can skip, pause, or cancel orders as indicated in the Dinnerly Customer Service section. However, you can’t pick a new delivery day if your zip code/location doesn’t allow for service on such a day. Beyond that, you shouldn’t have any issues rescheduling a delivery.

To make managing your orders easier, both Home Chef and Dinnerly have apps available. Simply download the app to your phone, and you should be able to manage your whole account without difficulty.


Home Chef ships your fresh ingredients with the idea of keeping them refrigerated and cool, not frozen. To that end, you can expect to find the following items in your box: the box itself, a box divider, the ingredients you need, produce bags, recipe cards, gel ice packs, and an assortment of plastic containers as needed.

The contents of a Dinnerly box are quite similar: the box itself, your meal kit ingredients, a paper separator, ice packs, 1 of 3 possible types of liners (type determined by destination), an assortment of plastic bottles, plastic bags, and plastic containers.

Both companies organize their ingredients fairly well. Home Chef makes sure to precisely portion all the ingredients needed for each recipe. Dinnerly does pretty much the same. And both companies have a number of packaging options for the various ingredients: bags, bottles, etc….

The Home Chef website provides extensive storage instructions in its FAQs. The question “How should I properly store and handle ingredients?” is answered under the Recipes + Ingredients heading. It gives specific details for dairy products, fresh produce, meat, seafood, and numerous other types of ingredients.

Dinnerly does likewise in its Customer Support section. Accordingly, Dinnerly tells you that the proper temperature to store fish and meat is below 40 degrees. It also instructs you to store meat and fish at the bottom of the refrigerator. From there, it goes on to give a few other tips for herbs and other produce.

Both Home Chef and Dinnerly ship their ingredients fresh. When they arrive, you should put them in the refrigerator as soon as possible, unless you’re specifically instructed otherwise.

Home Chef's recyclable box and recipe cards

The recyclable box and recipe cards at Home Chef

Home Chef is also committed to handling packaging waste. To that end, most of the items that come in a Home Chef box are recyclable or reusable. For example, the box and divider that Home Chef uses are both made from recycled cardboard and can be recycled at your curb. The produce bags the company uses are made from either plastic #4 or #5 and can be recycled any place plastic is accepted.

Other Home Chef items that can be recycled or reused include insulated liners, ice packs, plastic containers, and recipe cards. The details for each are given in the FAQ under the Shipping + Delivery section.

Dinnerly has a similar interest and approach to recycling. Like Home Chef, the Dinnerly box and separator can be recycled with your other recyclables at the curbside. Additionally, the ice pack can be drained into the garbage, and then the plastic sheath can be recycled. You can find more details on other Dinnerly packaging materials on the Dinnerly recycling page.

Meal Prep

Winner: Home Chef

Home Chef wins this category, but it was very close. The deciding factor was the fact that Home Chef does more pre-prep work than Dinnerly. Dinnerly does some, but Home Chef is more consistent in that regard.

Home Chef doesn’t fully prepare the meals, though. Instead, the meal kit it sends you contains all the ingredients you need to prepare the meal yourself. Those ingredients are shipped fresh, they’re not frozen. The company recommends using poultry, pork, and seafood within 1-2 days and steak or chops within 3-5 days.

Dinnerly does likewise. Its ingredients are shipped fresh in chilled, insulated boxes. The company recommends that seafood should be consumed in 1-2 days, meat and poultry within 2-3 days, and other foods in 3-5 days.

Home Chef meals, typically, require you to prepare and cook them. As such, most meals aren’t shelf-stable. However, Home Chef does offer a few Extras that might fall into the “Shelf-stable” category. For example, Home Chef has Dark Chocolate Strawberries which you can eat after just opening the package. Also, there are a few occasional salads.

A bowl of dark chocolate strawberries from Home Chef

It'll be hard to resist these dark chocolate strawberries from Home Chef

Dinnerly has no shelf-stable meals or meals that are ready immediately after being taken out of the fridge. However, it has a Market section where you might find the occasional exception in the form of a snack or dessert.

Home Chef does offer Easy-Prep Meal Kits and Oven-Ready meal kits. Additionally, the spin-off company Fresh and Easy has Grill-Ready, Oven-Ready, Fast & Fresh, <15 Minutes, and Entree Salad meal kits, all of which are accessible through the Home Chef site. The general idea behind these kits is to make clean-up really easy and fast.

In contrast, Dinnerly offers a small handful of microwavable/oven-ready meals. These meals, of course, are also very easy and fast to clean up.

Dinnerly's microwavable meals

Microwavable meals at Dinnerly

Home Chef does a lot of pre-prep work for you. It doesn’t pre-prep and cook the entire meal, but many times, it’ll pre-make sauces, precut ingredients, and do similar work to make your task of preparation a bit easier.

Dinnerly will premake some common sauces (soy sauce, bbq sauce, etc…) but not the more complicated ones that you might need to make during cooking (glazes, etc…). The same is true for precut ingredients. Depending upon the particular recipe in question, some ingredients are precut, and some aren’t.

Customer Support

Winner: Tie

Both Home Chef and Dinnerly have pretty much the same options for contacting Customer Service if needed. Each has a chatbot, a phone number, a website email form, and a FAQ (or its equivalent).

Home Chef’s phone line is available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm and 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. The chatbot is actually live chat at the same times as well as on Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm. All times are CT.

In comparison, Dinnerly’s phone line is available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 10 pm and 9 am to 9 pm on Saturdays. However, it’s closed on Sundays. All times are EST.

To test their services out, I contacted both companies through their chatbots. That is, by far, my favorite form of contacting customers, because, in my experience, it’s the quickest. That was true here as I expected.

I asked both companies the same question on their corresponding chatbots. The answers took very little time to get. The question I asked was, “Are you able to remove an ingredient or allergen from a recipe before delivery?”

Home Chef's chat bot

The Home Chef chat bot was helpful in answering questions

As suspected, both companies gave me satisfactory answers. Home Chef offers some functional filtering so that offending recipes aren’t presented to you. But as far as removing ingredients, unless it’s done via the “Customize It” tool, you’ll have to make do with inspection and removing the ingredients yourself.

At the current time, Dinnerly has no automatic filters for ingredients. All the filtering and such must be done by inspection. And any substitution must be done by the customer when he/she receives the order.

Dinnerly's chat bot

The Dinnerly chat bot was also helpful in answering my questions

Finally, canceling a Home Chef subscription is fairly simple. Like many companies, Home Chef offers the option to “deactivate” the account, so that it’s effectively canceled for as long as you like, but it leaves the option of reactivating your account at a later date of your choosing.

To cancel your Home Chef account, simply log in, click Account (upper right/bottom right for App), click on Account Settings (My Settings for App), and select Pause Subscription (bottom left, Pause My Account for App).

Make sure you confirm the cancellation (otherwise it won’t register). Also, realize that you need to cancel before Friday 12 pm Central Time if you want to avoid receiving a shipment for the following week.

Canceling a Dinnerly subscription is no more difficult. Again, be aware that you can only cancel up until the 5th or 6th day before a delivery (which day is determined by shipping region). To cancel, go to the Settings tab under My Account. Click Stop Subscription. Click Confirm.

At the end of the process, both companies will request you fill out a survey. Finally, both companies will send you a confirmation email.


Winner: Dinnerly

Dinnerly wins this category. Its lowest price per serving is a full $5 per serving below that of Home Chef’s. And, even though Home Chef has a slightly lower shipping fee most of the time, it’s not enough to compensate for that disparity.

Home Chef’s best price is $7.99 per serving. This is the cost of the largest plan which is 6 recipes apiece for 6 people every week. This is significantly higher than Dinnerly’s best price: $2.12 per serving even when you take into account the respective special discounts that are incorporated into each company’s price above.

Dinnerly's family box pricing

The family box from Dinnerly is an inexpensive option for families

Further, this is particularly significant when you realize that the Dinnerly plan is only 6 recipes for 4 people per week. The image above shows Dinnerly’s current lowest price before any special discounts are added.

Add-ons at Home Chef, like snacks or accessories or whatever, are occasionally as low as $4, but usually range between $6 and $12. On the other hand, Dinnerly add-ons go as low as $2 and up to $16 for items like pies, for example, and sometimes even higher for certain items.

Lowest per-serving price from Home Chef

You'll pay Home Chef's lowest per-serving price if you order 6 servings of 6 recipes per week

Shipping fees at Home Chef are $10.99 for orders with 3 or more meals and $13.99 for all orders under $50. Of course, Dinnerly comes out in between with a flat fixed shipping fee of $11.99 per order.

Features Comparison: Home Chef vs. Dinnerly

Home Chef


Best for

Larger families

People and small families looking to save money 

Starting price

$7.99 per serving

$2.12 per serving

Shipping cost

$10.99 to $13.99


Minimum order

2 meals each for 2 people

3 meals each for 2 people

Menu variety

30+ choices per week

50+ choices per week

Prep time

5 to 60 minutes

20 to 30 minutes

Low-prep options

Oven-Ready, Fast & Fresh, Grill-Ready

All meals made with 6 ingredients or fewer

Allergies catered to

Pork, Beef, Poultry, Fish, Shellfish, Mushrooms, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, Sesame

Only through inspection: Gluten, Dairy

Special diets

Calorie-Conscious, Carb-Conscious

Low Calorie, Low Carb, Keto–Friendly, and Nutritious via diet tags

Customer support

FAQ, Online chat, Contact Form, Phone

FAQ, Chat bot, Contact Form, Phone


Get 18 Free Meals (50% off your first 4 boxes)!

Get $170 off your first 6 boxes!

And The Winner Is: Home Chef

Home Chef wins this contest, but only barely. This is, basically, because of Home Chef’s highly flexible and useful “Customize It” tool. This gave it the lead in the Menu Customization category. Plus, its superior pre-prep practices gave it the lead in the Meal Prep category. Together, those factors edged out Dinnerly’s strengths.

But Dinnerly could be a better pick for some people. Dinnerly's services cost a lot less and they have many more recipes to pick from. Some people might really like those two things.


Can Home Chef meals be frozen?

Yes, some Home Chef meals can be frozen. First, Home Chef has a handful of microwave-ready/oven-ready meals that require no prep and could, in principle, be stored in the freezer for a time. Additionally, any Home Chef meal you make, likewise, could be stored in the freezer.

However, many meals, regardless of who makes them, may not taste as fresh once they are frozen. This is true of Home Chef meals … and Dinnerly meals, as well, for that matter.

Does Home Chef have gluten free meals?

Generally, Home Chef doesn’t cater to gluten free diets. Although it does tag wheat as an allergen, allowing you, by inspection, to filter out meals that contain it, the company prepares all its meals in the same facility.

So, if you’re highly allergic to gluten, or any other allergen, you would be advised to find a different meal delivery service. Home Chef can’t guarantee that there’s no cross-contamination.

Is Dinnerly good for college students?

By my estimation, I think Dinnerly is an excellent choice for college students. First, it’s one of the less expensive meal delivery services. Additionally, it offers a lot of different options. This should help make sure its customers are rarely bored with their selections. Both those qualities, I would think, would be highly desirable for college students.

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