Home Chef Review 2020: Healthy Home Cooking Made Easy

www.homechef.com
PescatarianKetoVeganGluten-freeVegetarianPaleoLow-calorieLow-CarbHigh-Protein-MealsWeight-LossOrganicHealthDairy-Free-OptionAllergy-FriendlyDiabetes-Friendly
Our Score:
9.8
User Score:
  • Prep & Cook Time:

    5 - 60 Min

  • Type Of Food Options:

    Pescatarian,Keto,Vegan,Gluten-free,Vegetarian,Paleo,Low-calorie,Low-Carb,High-Protein-Meals,Weight-Loss,Organic,Health,Dairy-Free-Option,Allergy-Friendly,Diabetes-Friendly

  • Recipes Per Week:

    26

  • Free Delivery

    Yes

  • Written by: Kat Torgersen on Nov 25th, 2020

    Home Chef in a Nutshell

    An affordable meal delivery service offering delicious recipes, neatly packaged ingredients, and easy-to-follow cooking instructions. However, allergy-friendly options are somewhat limited. 

    What I liked

    • Really clear and easy-to-follow recipes

    • Huge variety of meal kit types, from 30-minute dinners to oven- and grill-ready

    • Customize the protein in any meal 

    • Pause your account with a single click 

    What I didn’t like

    • No option for single-person ordering (only two, four, or six people) 

    • No real options for specific diets, such as vegan or keto 

    • Nowhere to add in any allergies you might have

    Home Chef Overview

    My friends and I have used meal delivery services for years. Personally, I think it’s a great way to eat healthy, stick to a budget, and feel good about preparing a meal for yourself or your family. 

    I’d heard about Home Chef from a couple of people – and kept seeing the ads in my social media feeds – so I was excited to test it out for myself. After ordering, receiving, and cooking four meals I can honestly say it’s one of the best services I’ve tried. The recipes were tasty, fresh, and looked impressive. 

    When I cook for myself, I usually choose things that “don’t sound too hard,” so I probably wouldn’t have made these meals if it weren’t for Home Chef – but I’m glad I did! That said, there are still some things that could be better. 

    How Home Chef Works 

    The signup process is super easy. You can either enter some basic info or log in through Facebook or PayPal. 

    Once you’re in, you can answer a few optional questions to help Home Chef make better automatic meal recommendations (which you can change, but ensure that you don’t miss a scheduled delivery).  

    It asks if you’re an omnivore, carnivore, pescatarian, or vegetarian. Then you can choose whether you’re calorie-conscious or carb-conscious. There’s also a list of options you can avoid, including pork, wheat, or nuts – but you can’t write anything specific, like a peanut allergy or an extreme hatred of cilantro.  

    Finally, you have to choose how many people you’re cooking for (two, four, or six) and how many times a week you plan on cooking (two through six times – although, it looks like you can just order one meal). After you’ve entered your billing and shipping information, you’re ready to choose your meals for the week! 

    You can also use the Home Chef app for pretty much anything – selecting your meals, pulling up the recipes, etc. I found the app to be well laid out, with essentially all of the same information included on the website:

    I prefer looking at the site on my laptop – especially when it comes to choosing your meals. I just think it’s nice to be able to look at a bunch of options at once. But given the size restraints, I think the mobile app is very well designed and useful if you’re on the go. 

    Home Chef Prices

    For the main Home Chef Plan, which specifically includes meals to prepare for dinner, individual portions tend to range from just under $7 to about $15. 

    These prices could get a little higher if you decide you want to “customize” your meal. For example, you can choose the “Pork Meatballs and Apple Mustard Sauce,” and sub for “ground beef” or “ground chicken” at no extra cost – or you could sub with an “impossible burger” for an additional four bucks per serving. 

    You can also “upgrade” your protein, for example, sub your regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts for organic or antibiotic-free chicken. 

    If your subtotal is more than $50, your shipping costs are lowered from $13.99 to $6.99. However, this could depend on where you’re located. 

    Luckily, it seems like Home Chef often has some sort of deal going on. Also, if you’re a first responder, hospital worker, teacher, or in the military, you can get an additional discount. 


    Pricing

    From $6.99 per serving

    Meal plan options available

    Carnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, carb-conscious, calorie-conscious 

    Shipping costs

    $6.99 to $13.99

    Home Chef coupon

    Cyber Week Home Chef Sale

    Get $90 off total on your first 4 orders

    Home Chef Menu

    There are two different plans to choose from that have a small difference: the Home Chef plan has you choose the recipes you want to make, with varying cook times. Then there’s the Fresh and Easy plan, which actually became so popular that it’s now its own sub brand. This plan creates a menu for you, with only the recipes that take the shortest amount of time to make. That, however, is for another review!

    Back to the main Home Chef plan - each week, you have around 20 meals to choose from. These meal options are automatically organized by “meal type,” which is basically how much effort the cooking process takes. There are categories like “culinary collection,” which is more involved, and “oven-ready,” which requires very little effort. 

    In terms of “extras,” your only option is...meat. This might make sense if there were more vegetarian meals to choose from, but there really aren’t many. Anyways, you can add a whole bunch of extra meat to your order if you want. 

    There aren’t a whole lot of filters. For example, you can’t search by certain ingredients or whether something is low fat. However, you can filter by cook time (i.e., <15, <30, <45, or <60 minutes). At first I was a little annoyed by the lack of options, but the number of choices really isn’t too overwhelming, so it’s not that big of a deal. 

    The recipes generally sound pretty “Americanized.” You’ll find options like “One-Pan Pulled Pork Rice Bowl with Cilantro Crema” or “BBQ Ranch Chicken Tacos with Crispy Jalapeños” – so while you’re probably not going to find any traditional ethnic food options, you will get a range of flavors! 

    There’s a lot of information about each meal. Besides being able to customize the protein for each recipe – as I mentioned above – you’ll also 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 by. Beyond that, you’ll get nutritional info for each portion. 

    You can also take a look at the full recipe for any of the meal options, which is pretty cool. So technically, even if you didn’t want to order anything, you could still come to the site for inspiration and walk away with a meal plan and shopping list. 

    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 everything is provided in your meal kit, but there are some things – like olive oil or a baking sheet – that you might need for some recipes. 



    Overall, I found the menu options really intuitive to navigate – and fun! I spent a good amount of time reading about each one before making my final decisions (yes, it was tough to choose). Here are the four Home Chef meals I ended up with:

    1. Salmon and Lemon Herb Beurre Blanc 

    2. Cheddar & Crispy Potato Crusted Chicken 

    3. Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs and Gemelli 

    4. BBQ Ranch Chicken Tacos with Crispy Jalapeños

    Home Chef Delivery

    This is one area where Home Chef nailed. 

    You can choose your delivery day for each week – so if you usually get your meals delivered on Tuesdays, but know you’re going out of town one week, you can change it to Wednesday. Delivery day options are Monday through Friday, but this depends on where you live. For example, when scheduling a delivery to Richmond, VA, my options were Tuesday through Friday. 

    I received text message updates that included 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. 

    I’m not sure if the company plans for your meals to be delivered at a specific time during the day, but my package arrived at 3:51 pm, which I thought was perfect. It wasn’t too far away from dinner time and not in the morning or middle of the day when you’re more likely to be out and about. 

    I also 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 Unboxing

    The exciting moment came when I was finally able to unbox my Home Chef order. Cutting to the chase - Home Chef obviously puts a lot of effort into its packaging.

    Everything was still cold when it arrived. The box had six ice packs in total – five of which had hard ice in them, and the sixth was still very cold. All of the protein (meats) were placed in a bag away from the other ingredients that were separated out by meal. The proteins had extra ice packs around them. 

    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. 

    Something interesting - to protect all of the contents from moving around in transit, there was something that looked like one of those blankets movers use. It’s made entirely from recycled materials. That seemed like it could come in handy, so I held onto that, too. 

    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 save and refer back to. This ended up being a great idea. I enjoyed not having to keep looking at my phone or computer while cooking. 

    That said, I didn’t see these at first and almost put them in the recycling bin with the box! 

    Favorite Home Chef Meals

    Besides being delicious, all of the meals were really easy to prepare (even the salmon dish, which is rated at an “expert” difficulty level). I’d say nothing took more than 10 or 15 minutes of prep time, which makes sense because you don’t have to measure anything out or search for items in your cupboard. 

    If I had to choose a favorite, I think I’d go with the “Salmon and Lemon Herb Beurre Blanc.” This recipe is part of the “Culinary Collection,” which I guess means it’s one of the more involved meal options.  

    First off, I’ve always been a bit intimidated to cook fish – don’t ask me why. But after preparing this recipe, I would totally cook salmon on my own again. Not to mention, I now know some really easy tricks to make baked green beans and potatoes really delicious. 

    Not only did I make a tasty meal that impressed my friend (no leftovers this time, unfortunately) – but I also learned some things I can use in the kitchen later. 

    My second favorite meal was also the easiest. The “BBQ ranch chicken tacos with crispy jalapeños” was listed as an “oven-ready” option, which means you’re really just assembling a couple things and throwing them in the oven. 

    Home Chef Customer Service

    If you run into any questions along the way, you have a couple options. Home Chef has a fairly detailed Help Center. You can type in whatever topic you’re looking for and any relevant articles will pop up. 

    If you can’t find the answer on your own – or if you’re feeling extra lazy – you can contact customer support via phone (Monday-Friday: 9am-6pm CST; Saturday: 10am-2pm CST) or by submitting a request support ticket

    There is currently a disclaimer that Home Chef is experiencing a high volume of questions, so you might be waiting a bit longer than normal to hear back – which was probably why it took about three days before I got a response. 

    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!  

    I also tested out what it’s like to pause or cancel your Home Chef subscription, and wrote about it in this short blog post.

    Alternatives to Home Chef

    Home Chef is great – but it’s not your only available option. And, if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or something else, it’s probably not your best option. HelloFresh’s Veggie Plan has a lot more options for vegetarians, or those looking to incorporate more veggies into their diet. 

    Then there’s Sun Basket, which does a far better job of helping you create a specialized menu on its Gluten-Free or Diebtic meal plans, for example.  

    Another thing I found frustrating about Home Chef is the substantial upcharge for something like organic or antibiotic-free chicken. (Like, what sort of disease-ridden chicken automatically comes with this meal?) If this is something that’s important to you, you’ll be happy to know that all of Green Chef’ plans are certified-organic.  

    The Bottom Line

    When it comes to my Home Chef experience, I really don’t have much to complain about. The delivery was on-time, the ingredients were fresh, and the recipes were straightforward.  

    My biggest gripe is that Home Chef really doesn’t cater to anyone with dietary restraints, including allergies. But luckily, meal kits are easy in that you can leave out the ingredients that don’t work for you, or swap them for your favorite, allergy-friendly alternatives.

    If you’re someone like me, who can pretty much eat anything, you’ll find lots of delicious choices here. And despite there not being an option to order a single serving size (I live alone!), I was more than happy to have leftovers from the delicious meals I got to prepare.

    About The Author

    Kat Torgersen

    Contributing Writer, Delivery Rank

    When she's not testing out recipes in her own kitchen, Kat is probably just out eating somewhere else. Formerly of the DC consultancy world, Kat now writes, edits, and manages content for clients around the globe.

    When she's not testing out recipes in her own kitchen, Kat is probably just out eating somewhere else. Formerly of the DC consultancy world, Kat now writes, edits, and manages content for clients around the globe.

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