Home Chef is a great option if you’re a novice to an intermediate cook who craves home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients.
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Note on COVID-19: Due to high demand, Home Chef may experience delivery delays.
As a foodie who loves to try out new ingredients and cook her own dishes, I’ve been skeptical of meal kits for a while. Not that I have anything against them — rather, I wondered if the selection and taste would suit my liking. Plus, as someone who is frugal, I wasn’t sure if the price would be worth it.
Home Chef is one of many meal kit delivery companies, but one that seems more moderately priced. Otherwise, it seems similar to other competitors in that it offers customizable meals, various servings per meal, and the ability to choose how often you want meals delivered. It’s a good service for those who don’t consider themselves fancy chefs but like the taste of a fresh and delicious home-cooked meal.
About Home Chef
Home Chef is a meal kit delivery service that offers nationwide availability — though you’ll want to check if they deliver to your specific area by putting in your ZIP code to confirm. It offers plenty of meal choices for most dietary needs, plus options to help you build your own meal plans with their protein packs.
You can choose delivery for each week or every other week, with the option to skip deliveries. Your ingredients come packaged for the specific meal and have a recipe card with easy-to-follow instructions.
How Does Home Chef Work?
Ordering from Home Chef is done completely online and is a straightforward process. You’ll be directed to the home screen where you can choose your dietary preferences such as vegetarian options. From the “choose your plan” dropdown menu, you can choose from regular meal kits or Fresh and Easy meal kits (each comes with its own options and pricing).
Then enter your email address and browse the menu options, the number of meals you want per week (up to six per week), and the number of portions (for up to six people). You can change your preferences at any time.
Afterward, enter your address and payment information and create a password. Then, choose what you want and click “add to order” — there are no minimum meals you need to order, though you may have to pay for shipping. You’ll notice that there are default meals picked for you, but again, you can choose what you want.
If you want to customize your meals and delivery date, make sure to select them four days before your set delivery date. The same goes if you want to skip meals. Once you select the meals you want, you’ll be able to see the subtotal before checking out. All you need to do then is to finalize your order and wait for your delivery.
Features of Home Chef
Options for Various Dietary Restrictions
It seems like a simple meal kit, but what is so great about Home Chef is that you get to choose from a variety of options. You’ll receive an email each week with a wide variety of meal options (though some of the dishes are technically the same, it’s the protein that is different, hence a different meal option). There are quite a few options to suit your tastes, including carb-conscious and vegetarian options. You have until Friday at noon CST that week to finalize your options.
Home Chef recommends meal choices based on the preferences you choose and meals you’ve ordered in the past. Plus, you can filter out recipes based on dietary restrictions such as meals without nuts, carb-conscious, staff picks, calorie-conscious, and without soy. Unfortunately, there aren’t keto and vegan-friendly meals as of right now.
You don’t need to purchase a predetermined amount of meals with HomeChef. Instead, you choose the servings you want and then as many meals as you want to be delivered each week or every other week. That means if you have friends or family visiting you can increase the number of meals. The same goes for needing to skip deliveries if you’re not home or don’t feel like getting Home Chef that week.
Customize It Option
This feature lets you switch out certain ingredients with select recipes. In most cases it means you can swap out the protein — so instead of beef, for example, you can get a vegetarian protein option or even chicken.
Fresh and Easy
The Fresh and Easy option makes it even easier for you to get fresh home-cooked meals on the table. Instead of ones that usually take at least 30 minutes to cook and prep, Fresh and Easy meals cut down the prep time for you. You get prepped ingredients so there’s no need to chop anything. All you need to do is to assemble, cook, and you’re done!
There are typically three options to choose from:
- Grill ready: Throw all the ingredients together in the grill-safe bag so you can simply put it on the grill.
- Oven ready: Toss ingredients together in the pan that’s included and bake it in the oven. In some cases, the ingredients are ready for you in the tray for you to pop in the oven.
- Entree salads: Mix ingredients together in a large bowl to make your salad.
15-Minute Meal Kits
If you hate the thought of having to slave over a hot stove or if you have limited time to prepare dinner, the 15-minute meal kit is a great option. There are usually two to three options each week where you can get flavorful meals with 15-minute prep and cook time.
Home Chef’s culinary collection is pricier than their standard meal options, costing you anywhere from $11 to $15 per serving. However, you do get more “fancy” ingredients and the dishes are up to any discerning foodie’s standards. It’s great if you’re looking to impress others or want something more special.
Sometimes you’re interested in assembling your own meals but want to prep some of the protein. That’s where these protein packs come in. You can choose from a variety of options you can add to your box whenever you want, so you don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store.
My Experience Trying Out Home Chef
I wasn’t disappointed when picking out my meals – there was quite a variety of dishes and I ended up picking the Pulled Pork Enchilada Skillet with Lime Crema (a 15-minute meal), Steak Strip Tacos with Creamed Corn Elote and Jalapeño Ranch Slaw, and Basil Parmesan Chicken with Zucchini and Grape Tomatoes (a Fresh and Easy meal). Once I confirmed my order, I got an email with my estimated delivery date, plus an additional one from the courier service — my meal actually came ahead of schedule!
The packaging is typical of other meal kits and everything was fresh and intact when I opened them. It comes in a large cardboard box that has everything insulated in recycled fiber, sealed in a plastic bag. My only concern is that there is quite a bit of packaging (especially plastic), but most of the materials can be recycled depending on location. I was able to reuse some of the containers, so that was a perk.
What I really appreciated was that all the ingredients for the dishes were packed conveniently in zippered plastic bags (except for the meats) and labeled. It was easy to keep everything organized in my fridge until I was ready to cook them.
The box also includes recipe cards with easy-to-follow instructions. It even listed the number of ingredients needed, so if I wanted to recreate the recipe on my own, I could. Even the more intermediate recipes I found easy to follow and the directions were simple and direct enough that I think anyone would be able to follow them.
As for the cooking part, the estimated times were pretty accurate. The only thing I had to provide on my own were salt, pepper, and olive oil which I already had on hand. I loved that the easy prep and 15-minute meals also considered the fact that some people hate to wash dishes and kept the cookware to a minimum. The photos on the recipe cards, although small, were easy enough to see and I was able to tell how the recipe wanted me to chop and prep the ingredients.
The dishes tasted really good — even my picky husband liked them! The portions were fair and we added some tortillas for the Pulled Pork Enchilada Skillet, but it would have been perfectly fine on its own. As for the Basil Parmesan Chicken with Zucchini and Grape Tomatoes, it really was as simple as it looked: toss the ingredients into the included tray and stick it in the oven for the instructed amount of time. I was surprised at the flavor for the minimal amount of ingredients required.
All in all, the overall experience was really positive. I appreciate that all I had to do was follow the instructions and out came fresh and tasty home-cooked meals.
Home Chef Cost
You can get Home Chef as low as $6.99 per serving (such as the Fresh and Easy salad meals) and up to $19.99 per serving for 2 servings of a Culinary Collection meal. In most cases, you’ll be paying about $9.99 per serving, shipping not included. If you purchase over $45 worth of meals, shipping is included.
This means that if you want a few meals, you’ll have to pay $13.99, which bumps up your cost per meal.
That being said, even though Home Chef is pricier than some of its competitors, it can be worth it based on the quality of ingredients and the fact that there is a wider variety of options for those with different dietary restrictions. Other meal kits may offer some vegetarian dishes, for example, but you’ll be limited to a small handful. Home Chef not only offers more vegetarian options, but you can also choose from carb- and calorie-conscious meals.
Related: Cheapest Meal Delivery Companies
Pros and Cons of Home Chef
For any sized family — Flexible meal plans to accommodate small to large families.
Meal variety — Plenty of meal options to choose from with some dietary options available.
Easy recipes — Recipes are easy to cook.
Free shipping available — Free shipping for orders over $45.
Some packaging is recyclable — Some packaging is able to be recycled and reused.
Limited dietary options — Not many options for restricted diets like keto.
Can be pricey — Culinary options are quite expensive.
Shipping can be pricey — Shipping fees can add up .
Alternatives to Home Chef
Want to try other meal kits? Here are a few options:
EveryPlate is a budget-friendly option, with an average of $4.99 per serving. Most of the meals can be completed in 30 to 40 minutes, including prep time. For beginners, the recipe cards have easy to follow instructions and photos so that you can see what you need to do for each step (usually around six steps). However, the menu options are more limited, and there are not as many customized options. For instance, you can choose from a 2- or 4- serving plan and are limited to 3 receipes each week.
HelloFresh offers good quality ingredients and a wide variety of menu options. You may find some unique tasty options but still easy to cook for novices. Customers will find that the ordering process is straightforward — choose the Classic, Calorie Smart, or the Family Plan. You can choose from 2 or 4 servings and up to 4 recipes each week. The recipe cards are easy to follow and clear to understand. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, Hello Fresh isn’t going to be as accommodating. Meals are an average of $8.99 per serving.
For more information visit HelloFresh
Related: Best Food Delivery Apps
Should You Try Out Home Chef?
Home Chef is a great option if you’re a novice to an intermediate cook who craves home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients and may have some dietary restrictions. The meals are quite tasty and not that time-consuming to prepare. If you’re someone who likes to learn to cook as I do, you can keep the recipe cards for later use. Plus, if you’re time-starved or can’t be bothered to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, Home Chef’s 15-minute and Fresh and Easy meals are a great contender.
For those who work from home or are wary of leaving the house because of COVID-19, Home Chef is great because it takes no time to create meals that, dare I say, are of similar quality to restaurant meals. Besides, if you have the extra time, why not spend it cooking something nutritious and delicious? You can even make it a family affair by having your (older) kids involved in cooking.