I’d been recommended Home Chef by a couple of friends – and kept seeing the ads all over my social media feeds – so I was excited to finally test it out for myself. I’m pleased to report that I had a pretty perfect experience with Home Chef.
My weekly menu was varied, the sign-up and delivery process was smooth, and the foolproof recipes brought me out of my comfort zone – in the best way possible. I also loved how many customization options were on the menu.
Compared to the many other meal kits I’ve tested, Home Chef’s recipes were crystal clear and among the easiest to follow. I’m not a confident cook, but Home Chef gave me the confidence to cook new dishes (including salmon, for the first time ever!).
Despite the extensive customization options, Home Chef actually isn’t a great choice for people with allergies or specialized diets like vegan or keto. But for everyone else, Home Chef empowers you to enjoy delicious home-cooked meals, no matter your skill level.
Huge range of low-prep and no-prep options
Order up to six recipes per week
A la carte breakfast and dessert options
Include meals of different serving sizes within the same order
Special deal: Get 16 Free Meals + Free Gift!
No plan for single-person ordering
You can only customize proteins, not sides
Limited veggie options – especially for vegans
Home Chef is one of the most versatile meal delivery services out there. Not only are the majority of dishes customizable, but it also offers a range of meal types for every skill level – from standard 30-minute kits to ready meals.
On Home Chef’s sign-up page you’ll see two different plans: Home Chef and Fresh and Easy. To be honest, I was a little confused to begin with, but here’s the difference:
Home Chef is the main plan where you can choose from the full menu of cuisines, cook times, and meal types. It gives you the freedom to choose meals from both Home Chef and Fresh and Easy menus.
Fresh and Easy is more limited in terms of options as it focuses only on quick and easy meals.
For this review, I’ll looking at the broadest Home Chef plan, but check out my colleague’s Fresh and Easy review if you’re only interested in that plan.
Each week, you have 25+ meals to choose from. The menu is organized by meal type, including classic meal kits and the Fresh and Easy line.
Meal kits are the bread and butter of Home Chef’s offerings. These shipments come with recipe cards and all the ingredients needed to bring these dishes to life (with the exception of some pantry staples like oil).
In addition to basic meal kits, Home Chef includes three or four Culinary Collection meals each week. For an additional upcharge (usually just a few bucks per serving), these recipes offer premium ingredients and more indulgent recipes.
There are also a couple of Family Meal recipes each week. These easy one-pot (or pan) dishes feed a family of four with very little cleanup.
Whether it’s a simple 15-minute recipe or an Oven-Ready meal (recyclable baking tray included!), the Fresh and Easy line is filled with easy prep options for timesaving weeknight dinners.
Here’s a full list of Home Chef’s Fresh and Easy offerings. The “Plus” designation is for more premium recipes which, like the Culinary Collection, come with a small upcharge:
15 Minute Meal Kits
Fast & Fresh Plus
Fast & Fresh
Fast & Fresh Family
Regardless of how your selections break down between these menus, Home Chef lets you order up to six recipes per week and up to six servings of most recipes. This is more than most of its competitors. You can schedule your menus up to five weeks in advance.
When you sign up, you can specify a number of allergens and other ingredients that you wish to exclude, like shellfish or tree nuts.
Home Chef is not, however, an allergen-focused meal delivery service. While you can filter out these ingredients, Home Chef can’t guarantee against cross-contamination. People with particularly severe allergies may want to pass on this service.
The main menu includes plenty of at-a-glance information for each recipe, including common allergens like wheat, milk, and eggs. It also includes a few logos, which highlight things like Greatest Hits (Home Chef’s most popular recipes) and celebrity chef collaborations.
Another logo you’ll see is a green tomato icon, signifying Home Chef’s Fresh Start dishes. These recipes are approved by dietitians and described by Home Chef as “lighter spins on classic favorites.” They’re ideal if you’re looking for healthy or weight-loss options.
Lastly, you can see which recipes are eligible for Customize It options. Most of them are. When I was ordering, around three-quarters of the menu had protein swaps available. Simply click View Customize It Options to see what’s on offer.
Notably, the “Customize It” menu rarely includes vegetarian options. When I tried Home Chef, a number of dishes included Impossible Burger as a potential protein, but this no longer appears to be the case.
I even reached out to customer support but was unable to uncover more information. Unless Home Chef restores the Impossible options or replaces them with another veggie-based substitute, it’ll be near impossible for a vegetarian (let alone a vegan) to use this service.
Home Chef’s generalized menu is also not particularly suitable for other specialized diets like keto or paleo. Pescatarians will have a little more luck, with shrimp and salmon options in bountiful supply. Home Chef is also a solid choice for a low-sodium diet, as you have control over the amount of salt you add to each meal kit.
When you go into the individual recipes, you’ll see tons more information. You’ll find details like how difficult the meal is to prepare, how spicy it is, how long it takes to cook, and when you need to cook it. Beyond that, you’ll find extensive nutritional info.
You can also take a look at the full step-by-step recipe for any of the meals, which I think is pretty cool. It makes it easy to gauge whether a recipe is right for your skill level or the amount of prep you’re willing to do.
One of the details I really appreciated is that each recipe clearly notes the pantry items you’ll need to have on hand. Of course, most of the ingredients are provided in your meal kit, but there are some kitchen basics – like olive oil or a baking sheet – that you might need for some recipes.
If you have a very basic kitchen, you may need to choose recipes based on the equipment needed. Home Chef gives you all the information you need to decide upfront.
When it comes to the food itself, there are a few international options – including Italian and Asian cuisine – but the recipes are generally pretty Americanized. You’ll find options like Ranch-Crusted Pork Chop or BBQ Ranch Chicken Tacos with Crispy Jalapeños.
I thought there was a good range of flavors, and as the menu changes weekly, there’s always something new to try. I don’t have kids, but the menu options seem perfect for a family. With Family Meals and other crowd-pleasing dishes, Home Chef has plenty for picky eaters.
I’d describe the quality of ingredients as “fair to good.” I didn’t have any complaints about the meat and produce in my shipment, but I’m not impressed by Home Chef’s lack of clarity when it comes to its animal welfare practices and the origins of each ingredient.
Home Chef’s Extras section includes everything from breakfast items and desserts to a wide variety of meats and seafood. There are also snacks, bread, and even beverages. Basically, anything edible you could want!
With such a huge menu to look through, I spent quite a while browsing before making my decisions. With the customization options, there are so many potential choices – much more than I’ve seen on other weekly menus.
Here’s what I ended up ordering:
Salmon and Lemon Herb Beurre Blanc
Cheddar and Crispy Potato Crusted Chicken
Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs and Gemelli
BBQ Ranch Chicken Tacos with Crispy Jalapeños
Home Chef sends refrigerated fresh produce, not frozen. My box had six ice packs in total – five of which had hard ice in them, and the sixth was still very cold. The proteins were packed separately with extra ice packs, a reassuring feature for food safety.
As soon as I unpacked my box, I put all of the perishables straight into the fridge. Everything had its own expiration date, but I didn’t really pay attention to them as I was planning to cook everything within the week (per Home Chef’s recommendation).
Not everything has to stay refrigerated (goods like dried pasta, for example), but you may find it easier to just toss everything in the fridge. Most ingredients are sorted by recipe into plastic bags, so you can easily keep them organized.
In terms of packaging, most everything was recyclable or could be reused. The box was cardboard, so no problem there. And I just tossed the ice packs in my freezer to reuse. This was fine for my first order, but if I ordered from Home Chef every week, I definitely wouldn’t have a use for so many ice packs.
Luckily, the ice packs are also recyclable, so any you don’t reuse you can cut open, pour out the contents, and recycle the film in the same place as you recycle plastic bags.
To protect all of the contents from moving around in transit, Home Chef used something that looked like one of those blankets movers use. I looked it up and it’s made from recycled cotton and denim and it’s recyclable, too. There’s a handy page all about recycling in Home Chef’s FAQ if, like me, you want to know what to do with all of the components as you’re unpacking.
At the very bottom of the box is a meal card with each recipe. They come pre-hole-punched, so they’re super easy to add to your Home Chef binder (you’ll get one in your first order) and refer back to. That said, I didn’t see these at first and almost put them in the recycling bin with the box!
It’s a good thing I didn’t accidentally throw the recipe cards away because I much prefer having a physical recipe to cook from. It’s easier than referring back to my phone or laptop – especially when things get messy or cluttered in the kitchen.
Okay, let’s get to the meat of this review (pun intended): the cooking and the taste.
All of the meals were really easy to prepare, even the “expert” level salmon dish I chose. I’d read that some people find the recipe cards confusing, but this wasn’t the case for me.
I noticed that cards contain information for cooking each potential alternate protein, regardless of which one you ordered. Maybe the excess information is what’s confusing to some people. Ultimately, all I can suggest is that you pay attention when reading the recipes and read through all of the steps first before starting!
All of the ingredients were premeasured and it was such a time-saver to have everything I needed to hand, rather than rooting around for things in my cupboard. The whole prepping process was way faster than recipes I’ve cooked before – none of them took more than 10 or 15 minutes of prep time.
Everything I cooked turned out delicious, but if I had to choose a favorite, it was the Salmon and Lemon Herb Beurre Blanc. This recipe is part of Home Chef’s Culinary Collection, which features premium ingredients and more challenging cooking techniques.
First off, I’ve always been a bit intimidated to cook fish – it feels like there’s always a risk of undercooking it and making myself ill, but then if you overcompensate and overcook it, the texture turns tough and chewy.
As an extra challenge, I also had a friend over and cooked this meal for them, so there was pressure to have it turn out well.
After cooking salmon with Home Chef, I would totally cook it on my own again. Seriously, I felt like a pro. The recipe told me exactly how hot the salmon should be internally (145 degrees, if you’re wondering) and included tips like keeping it underneath foil before serving to stop it from drying out.
I’m not sure if it was because this was a more premium cut of salmon or the recipe was so precise – but it came out perfectly – flaky, moist, and delicate. *Chef’s kiss*
The recipe also gave me some useful tips on how to cook the sides as well, like the best way to remove the ends of green beans is to line them up evenly, then trim them with one cut. This kind of advice helped me feel more confident while cooking, as well as honing my skills for the future.
My friend was as impressed as I was – and there were no leftovers!
My second favorite meal was also the easiest. The BBQ Ranch Chicken Tacos with Crispy Jalapeños was one of the oven-ready options. These low-prep meals are where Home Chef really shines.
I just had to assemble a few things – chicken, corn, olive oil, and seasoning – into the tray provided and throw them in the oven. Because it was a taco, there was a little bit of assembling to do right at the end, but the whole process took just over 20 minutes.
Just a note of caution: give the chicken a few minutes to cool down before assembling and eating. You don’t want your first taco to be too hot!
Home Chef delivers to 98% of the US. Unless you live in a particularly remote area, you’re likely to be covered. In my case, Home Chef nailed the delivery! Home Chef lets you pick your exact delivery day, which remains constant each week unless you change it.
Many areas will have the option to choose any day Monday through Friday, but smaller cities may have a more limited range from which to choose. For example, when scheduling delivery to Richmond, VA, my options were Tuesday through Friday.
I received text message updates that included the FedEx tracking information. The messages started the day before my scheduled delivery and I got two notifications the day of: one confirming my meals would be delivered that day and one letting me know they’d been delivered.
It arrived in plenty of time before dinner, and I appreciated that the package was left right at my doorstep. I live in a small apartment building, and was happy to not have to carry it up the stairs or worry about a hungry neighbor taking advantage of some free food!
Home Chef makes it pretty easy to sign up, although you do have to go through the whole process, including adding your payment details, before you can pick your meals for the week.
Choose your preferences. The first screen will ask you to choose between the main Home Chef plan or the Fresh and Easy sub-brand that’s focused on speedy prep. At this stage, you can also select low-carb or low-calories preferences and highlight basic allergens from a preset list.
To clarify, you’ll have access to the entire menu regardless of your chosen preferences (including dishes that contain allergens) – this step just brings the most relevant recipes for you to the top of the list.
Enter your email address and zip code. If you live outside of Home Chef’s delivery area, it will let you know at this stage. You can also sign in with your Grocery account.
Build your box. Choose how many diners and how many recipes you need per week. Home Chef will give you a guide price based on an average per-serving price of $8.99 plus the relevant shipping fee. (Your final price will depend on the meals you choose and the customizations.)
Add your delivery details. Home Chef also requires a valid phone number.
Add billing details. You can pay by credit card or Paypal. Home Chef will tell you exactly when your payment will be taken (this relates to the date you’ve picked for your first order). This is also the stage to add any discount codes like our special deal: Get 16 Free Meals + Free Gift!.
Add more preferences. Once you’re in, you can answer a few optional questions to create your Taste Profile. This helps Home Chef learn what you like to make better automatic meal recommendations for future orders (you can still change these – but more on that next).
Then you’re ready to pick your meals! Remember that now is the time to customize your order as well. The price of your weekly shipment will depend on what meals you choose and whether you make any changes. You won’t know your final cost until you’ve made all these decisions.
Skipping a week is easy. It just takes the click of a button. Navigate to Your Upcoming Orders where you’ll see all of your orders listed by date. Click the Skip Week button to cancel that week’s order. If you change your mind, just click Unskip.
This is also the place where you can change your meals by clicking Edit Meals. To remove a meal, click the green Remove button (or Trash icon in the app). Then to add a meal, click Add to Order. On many recipes, you’ll also have the Customize It option.
One pretty unique thing about Home Chef is that you can also adjust the serving sizes on individual recipes. Most services make you commit to a two-person or four-person plan, for example, but with Home Chef you can mix and match serving sizes within one order.
To change your delivery day, hit Manage Delivery under the order date. You can even change the delivery address for a certain week, which is useful if you’ll be staying at a friend’s house or going on holiday but still want your regular order of meals.
Skipping or making changes to your meals has to be done by 12 PM CST on the Friday before the scheduled delivery week. And be sure to double-check you’ve saved your changes.
Canceling your first order is a slightly different process, and it’s a bit more complicated than just hitting a skip button. This is because when you pick the date for your first order during the sign-up process, it schedules it automatically. To skip your first order, simply remove all of the meals from that order.
When the deadline arrives, Home Chef’s system will recognize the order as empty and will automatically cancel it for you.
To reschedule your first order, you’ll have to contact the support team and select Rescheduling My First Order in the dropdown menu.
If you run into any questions or issues along the way, you have a couple of options. First off, Home Chef has a fairly detailed Help Center. You’ll find this by scrolling right to the bottom of the home page and clicking on FAQs & Support.
You can type in whatever topic you’re looking for and relevant articles will pop up. I found the search function pretty good for filtering keywords. For example, when I looked up how to recycle the packaging – I just typed “recycling” and found what I was looking for.
If you can’t find the answer on your own or you have a question it doesn’t cover, you can contact customer support via phone (Monday-Friday: 9 am-6 pm CST; Saturday: 10 am-2 pm CST) or via live chat.
Earlier in my review, I talked about navigating the automated chat option when I was trying to learn more about vegetarian options and whether Impossible Burger was still available. If the automated chat falls short, you’ll have the option to speak to a real human for more info.
You can also submit a request support ticket via an online form. It took about three days for me to get a response via this method. To be fair, though, there was a disclaimer saying that Home Chef was experiencing a high volume of questions at the time.
I asked whether Home Chef planned to offer vegan options in the future. And while the answer was essentially “probably not,” the customer service agent who responded to me went out of her way to suggest dairy-free and vegetarian options that could work for a vegan diet.
I really appreciated the extra effort! Plus, you can contact customer services with your query before you’ve even signed up to Home Chef, it’s not just reserved for subscribers.
When it comes to refunds, Home Chef seems pretty reasonable, although this information was quite hard to find. It’s not included in the Help Center and I had to scroll through the fine print of the terms to find out the company’s policy.
If you’re not 100% satisfied with your meals, Home Chef does offer refunds. You’ll need to email firstname.lastname@example.org within seven days of delivery explaining the situation and request either Home Chef credit or a refund.
It’s up to Home Chef whether you get a full refund or just a refund for the defective portion of your order. Refunds are provided using the same method of payment you use for your account.
It may be that you don’t get on with Home Chef and want to cancel your account completely. I’ve had previous experiences with companies who make it hard to cancel a subscription with them, so I wanted to test out how easy it was to pause or cancel your Home Chef subscription. You’ll be pleased to hear it’s really straightforward!
$6.99 per portion
2 meals/week for 2 people: $39.96 plus shipping
$9.99 to $13.99
Out of the many services I’ve tried, Home Chef has one of the lowest advertised starting prices. Home Chef meals start at just $6.99 per portion with our introductory deal, but the varied menu can affect the price pretty drastically.
For the main Home Chef Plan, individual portions tend to range from just under $7 (for lighter meals) to about $17 (for more premium dishes).
The lowest starting price really only applies to salads, which are much simpler than your typical meal kit. In general, I’d say you can expect to pay about $10 per serving on average. For the quality of meals you get, this is still a competitive price!
The premium meals like Fast & Fresh prepared meals or those in the Culinary Collection are sold at a higher price point but you’ll have to opt-in to receive those. You can do this by logging in, going to the Subscription tab, and turning on Opt-Ins.
Prices could also get a little higher if you decide you want to “customize” your meal. For example, if you choose the Pork Meatballs and Apple Mustard Sauce, you can sub in ground beef or ground chicken at no extra cost – but it’ll cost you an extra $4 to add vegan Impossible Burger.
You can also upgrade your protein, for example, by subbing your regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts for organic or antibiotic-free chicken for an extra $1.99-$3.99.
Upgrades improve your recipes, but the cost can add up
On average, a family of four eating with Home Chef five nights a week will pay $187.79. There are also the added savings associated with fewer trips to the grocery store (and less impulse buying) as well as less food waste.
If your subtotal is more than $50 or you’ve ordered three or more meals, your shipping costs are lowered from $13.99 to $9.99. Realistically, if you’re ordering anything more than two meals for two people, you’ll easily hit this and qualify for the cheaper delivery fee.
Home Chef is as flexible with pricing as it is with everything else. If budget is important to you, you can choose the cheaper meals and skip the more expensive opt-ins or customizations. It’s up to you how much you want to spend – but you’ll have plenty of options regardless.
Home Chef often has a deal for new customers (this is the current one: Get 16 Free Meals + Free Gift!). Also, if you’re a first responder, hospital worker, teacher, or in the military, you can get an additional discount.
Lastly, there’s a small e-commerce sales tax added if you live in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia.
If you’re eligible, the tax will be listed as an extra line in your order summary.
From my experience, Home Chef is totally worth trying. Everything about it is easy and flexible and I was really impressed at the quality of the meals I was able to make at home.
Home Chef’s easy prep meals, including its Fast & Fresh line, make it a great option for busy people who want to cook at home and eat well without all the fuss. It’s also ideal for families, with Family Meals and the option to get up to six servings of most dishes.
If you live alone like me, the 2-serving option leaves you with plenty of leftovers – ideal for a working lunch the next day.
I can’t recommend Home Chef for vegetarians or vegans, since there are few to no plant-based options on any given week’s menu. People following other specialized diets, like keto or paleo, will also struggle to make Home Chef work.
Having said all that, people with no dietary restrictions will plenty to love on Home Chef’s menu.
If you’re still not totally convinced by Home Chef, we tested other top meal kit services and shortlisted the best meal kit providers of the year.
Home Chef meals start at $6.99 per serving with a minimum weekly order value of $39.96 (plus $13.99 shipping). After looking in detail at Home Chef’s plans and pricing, I found it to be value-for-money compared to other meal delivery services I’ve tried.
Home Chef’s Culinary Collection, which includes premium meals, costs between $10.99 and $17.99 per serving.
It can be. When I researched Home Chef’s pricing structure, I found the cost varied depending on which meals you select and how many meals you want a week – so you have control over how much you want to spend. It also sends you the exact amount of food you’ll need, which means you can save money by cutting down on food waste.
Home Chef has some great weight-loss options as part of its weekly changing menu outlined above. Each week, Home Chef offers at least three Calorie Conscious (less than 625 calories per serving) and three Carb Conscious (less than 35 grams per serving) meals.
To cancel your subscription, log into your account and go to Account > Account Settings. The option to pause or cancel your subscription is at the bottom of the navigation tabs. The whole process can be done in three steps – as I outlined when I wrote about canceling my Home Chef subscription.
Home Chef’s meals ship refrigerated and fresh, not frozen, with the possible exception of some proteins. Depending on their ingredients, some meals can be frozen for longer-term storage. Home Chef recommends refrigerating all your ingredients and enjoying your meals within one week.