Home Chef Review 2020 - Is It Really Worth The Price?

www.homechef.com
VegetarianPescatarianClassic
Our Score:
9.8
User Score:
  • Prep & Cook Time:

    5 - 60 Min

  • Type Of Food Options:

    Vegetarian,Pescatarian,Classic

  • Recipes Per Week:

    26

  • Free Delivery

    Yes

  • Written by: Felicity Kay on Jun 9th, 2020

    Due to the current and unprecedented situation with Covid-19, HomeChef is experiencing a period of extremely high demand and is unable to accept any new orders

    Home Chef Bottom Line

    A great customizable set of meals for couples, and people without specific diets or allergies. 

    What we like

    • Highly customizable meal options and flexibility 

    • Free shipping on orders over $45

    • Really easy to follow instructions, with a “before you cook” section, giving you very clear instructions for even the most reluctant of cooks!

    What we don’t like 

    • No option for single portions - only from 2 people and up 

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

    • Nowhere to add in any allergies you might have

    Home Chef Delivery

    Once you've chosen the day to receive your delivery (more on that process below), Home Chef will send you an eco-friendly, recyclable refrigerated box on your doorstep at some point during the day

    I arrived home to find my delivery waiting for me on the doorstep at 6.30pm, and even though it was a particularly warm day, the food inside was still cold

    Any meat I’d ordered was vacuum packed, while other ingredients were placed in a sealed ziplock. I also really liked the tote bag that Home Chef included, as well as the fact that some of the loose ingredients were placed in reusable plastic containers, and not unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. This is actually far better than other meal delivery companies, such as Blue Apron or Sun Basket, who both really overuse plastic. 

    Home Chef offers free delivery on weekly orders over $45, and delivery is just $10 if you don't get to that amount. Again, this is a pretty great option - Hello Fresh doesn't offer any free shipping, although Blue Apron gives you free shipping if you order a minimum of 3 meals a week. 

    Home Chef Pricing

    Home Chef’s meals start from as little as $6.99 per serving, with lunch meals starting from $7.99 (including a “Five Minute Lunch” option) and dinner options from $9.99. The average meal costs around $10, although some meals (especially those with meat or fish) cost a little more. 

    For two diners, I would expect to pay around $50 a week minimum for about 4 meals. In any case, remember that shipping is free if you order over $45, and only $10 if you order under the minimum. I don't think you'd have a hard time getting to the free shipping threshold. 

    If you're comparing, Home Chef is actually one of the more affordable meal delivery kits on the market - Blue Apron was the cheapest, while Sun Basket was one of the more expensive. 

    Home Chef Menu and Meal Options


    Pricing

    $6.99-$17.95

    Foods served

    Meat, vegetarian, fish

    Regions served

    US

    Availability 

    Almost 98% of continental US

    Shipping costs

    Free over $45, $10 under $45 orders


    Home Chef has a wide range of menu options - from meat dishes like New York Strip with Garlic Demi (which is a little steeper than most, at $17.95 a serving) and Ginger Steak with Peppers, to fish meals like Cajun Shrimp Tacos and Thai Fish Cakes. 

    Just another quick word on those slightly pricier options - there are one or two that I saw which were around $20 per meal. I guess this is about the same price as you'd pay at a nice restaurant, so I liked that Home Chef gave me the option to spoil myself, but otherwise, the other meals are much more of a “stay at home and cook for yourself” price range. 

    What I really liked is that you can easily customize any meal. Just click on the Customize button, and choose which protein you would like to change - e.g., ground beef for turkey, and add it to your order. It’s actually one of the most customizable meal delivery kits I’ve seen. 

    There are also options to use only organic products, the level of spice you'd like, and even adding extra portions of meat, which cost extra. You’ll get every part of the recipe included in your order, other than salt, pepper and olive oil, which are all pretty individual seasonings.  

    There’s also the option to autopilot your way through your meal selection: go to your taste profile on your account, and set your food preferences to include any foods you don't like eating (which you would have already done when you signed up to the service). Home Chef will then know to leave these out when choosing your weekly meals. 

    There are supposedly around 26 different meals here to choose from, although (possibly due to my filtering options), I only found 21 at any one time. There is always a selection of vegetarian options (which you can see from the green leaf symbol). 

    Menu filtering options with Home Chef as well as the ingredient and time breakdowns
    Filter your recipe choices with these four options, and look out for some key ingredients and timings too

    As you can see in the screenshot above, there are 4 filters at the top Home Chef thought would be helpful for me. Selecting even one of them vastly changes the meals on display for you to choose from. I chose: 

    • Shrimp Bruschetta Risotto

    • Pecan Crusted Chicken

    • Creamy Mushroom and Kale Tortellini 

    Before selecting anything, I had a choice of 21 meals, with 3 “protein packs” (which are 8 servings of protein-packed food like turkey and sausages).

    What I didn't like was that there wasn’t any easy filtering for the different types of food - what if I wanted to see only fish meals, for example, or just starters, mains or snacks. Instead, you’ll have to manually scroll through the menu options and check the labels:

    In fact, just clicking one of the filters available - the “Carb-conscious” - gave me 21 almost completely different options. 

    I would have liked to have seen a much better range of filtering, including an option for “All” meals. After all, maybe I would have discovered something I would have liked to have tried? 

    I'd like to give a special mention to just how easy the recipe and cooking instructions are (they’re actually some of the easiest instructions - Blue Apron and Hello Fresh actually confused me with some of their vague instructions, leading me to ruin parts of my meal). In fact, with my first Home Chef order, I received a ring binder with the printed recipe cards. I was so inspired that I went and searched the other recipes on the site, which were also really detailed, with step-by-step instructions: 

     

    Otherwise, there’s the Home Chef blog, with some extra recipes and videos but I didn't find it particularly useful - for me, the recipe cards were everything I needed to get started. 

    There’s also a dedicated Home Chef app, which looks pretty much like the desktop dashboard. You can order from it, change your settings and see your stored recipes - it's nothing crazily different from the desktop experience, but a good option for those looking to order or make amends on the go. It’s not as great as Hello Fresh’s app, which has meal delivery tracking, but it's still a good app in its own right. 


    The Verdict

    I was really pleased with my choices. I find risotto in particular really tough to get right so I was amazed that I could easily follow Home Chef’s instructions, to produce the perfect risotto! 

    The same went for the kale tortellini, but I had a small mishap with the chicken: the recipe card told me to cook it for 17-20 minutes, until the chicken “reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees”. 

    Without a thermometer, I had no idea when this was, so left it to cook an extra few minutes… and burned the chicken slightly. It still made for a tasty meal, and it was definitely my mistake, but it still made the recipe slightly dryer and less enjoyable! 

    All in all, I'd say it was a very tasty meal, although maybe I’m biased as I slightly ruined both my Sun Basket and Blue Apron meals. 

    How it Works 

    Home Chef is super easy to get started with, and you can sign up in minutes. I clicked one of the green buttons, and got to this screen: 

    I really liked the specific categories Home Chef gave me, but I did notice one huge option that was missing: vegan, which both Blue Apron and Sun Basket have options for

    Even with the “dietary preferences” selection, I felt that having only two choices - “Low-calorie” and “Low-carb” - just didn't go far enough. What about if I wanted extra protein? Or no gluten? 

    What about my allergies? I’m super allergic to eggplant, and I wanted to input this information somewhere. But, when I scrolled down, all I saw was this:  

    I understand that Home Chef wants to cover the most common bases for allergies (such as wheat and shellfish) and food objections (pork and red meat), but missing out even a self-select or free text box to write down your allergies seems a serious misstep. But then again, most meal delivery kits don't really have some way to exclude your meals from your particular allergens

    Still, onwards I went. The next screen was where I found another issue: no meals available for single people (which I’m discovering is a theme with home meal delivery services): 

    I guess I could have done the math and just ordered double for myself, and then reduced the number of times I planned on cooking a week, but still, I felt a little excluded. And actually, what would I have done if I was cooking for an odd number of people? The options of only 2,4 or 6 diners seemed a little limiting. 

    For the purposes of an honest Home Chef review, I continued. I clicked to the next screen, and saw this information: 

    It’s really good to know that the packages are shipped with ice packs (for reasons I’ll get into shortly) and that I had the option to see both my current delivery date and the date of my next week’s delivery too. Unlike many other meal delivery services, it was very refreshing to see that I had three different days to choose from to receive my order. Of course, being able to choose every day of the week would be much better, but compared to others on the market, I was still impressed.

    But if this is a problem for you, know that Blue Apron delivers 5 days a week (including Saturdays), and Hello Fresh deliver 5 days a week on weekdays

    Another nice little touch: I put in a deliberately wrong zip code, to see if Home Chef would prevent me from delivering if I was in a hard to reach area:

    That’s good to know. 

    I corrected my details, and was taken to the payment screen: 

    There is a lot of important information here, so make sure you double-check it: you can skip future deliveries and cancel at any time, and even get your money back if you're not 100% satisfied. 

    What’s in Home Chef’s Box? 

    Home Chef’s packaging is all recyclable, which is a really nice touch that I appreciated - I have a soft spot for eco-conscious companies! 

    You’ll find in each Home Chef box: 

    • Individually portioned out ingredients for each meal you order

    • Step by step instructions with pictures (which you can also preview on the site)

    • If you’ve ordered a pre-prepared, ready to cook meal, you’ll find it already assembled and oven ready. 

    Everything was also really nicely organized - which is more than I can say for Blue Apron, who seemingly just threw everything into a box with very little regard for presentation. 


    Customer Support

    Home Chef has a few different channels of support, should you need to get in touch about your order. 

    There’s an 800 US landline number, which is open between 9am-6pm Monday-Friday, and 10am-2pm CST on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday. 

    Otherwise, there’s an online email form you can submit, with several different options for questions to ask. 

    I received a reply about two days later:

    If you get tired of waiting for an answer, there’s a helpful FAQ section with a search bar and a range of potential questions, segmented into sections: 



    Unfortunately, even once I searched for “allergy” (in an attempt to see where I input this information), I found nothing: 

    Canceling Your Plan

    It’s super easy to skip a delivery, pause or cancel your subscription to Home Chef

    Log in to your account, go to Account Information, then Delivery Details and then “pause your account”: 

    You’ll then see a range of reasons for wanting to pause your account. Select the one that works best for you:

    And confirm you would like to pause your account. This counts as canceling your account - but you should know that if you request to pause/cancel your Home Chef account after the Friday 12PM CET deadline, your order will still be processed and you’ll still be charged

    Expert Bottom Line on Home Chef 

    I really liked Home Chef - the ingredients were fresh, the menu choice was interesting and varied (and tasty) and I liked their no-fuss delivery service. 

    I would say I was a little disappointed that there was no single portion options, vegan or specialty diet options, and there were also some very strange filtering choices. 

    Still, it's one of the top choices on the market for a reason: it's easy to tailor a meal plan for yourself, and it's an ideal choice for those who don’t (or won't) cook, with instructions that were so easy that even I could follow them! 



    About The Author

    Felicity Kay

    Writer

    Felicity loves and lives for food, and new culinary experiences in general.
    When she's not out walking her dogs, she's trying out the coolest new restaurants and take out in the local area - one day she might even learn to cook!

    Felicity loves and lives for food, and new culinary experiences in general.
    When she's not out walking her dogs, she's trying out the coolest new restaurants and take out in the local area - one day she might even learn to cook!

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