If you're a fan of meal delivery kits, or are looking to take the plunge, and are considering giving Home Chef — one of the most popular providers — a try, read my review before you dive in. I tested all the major meal delivery kits, and Home Chef scored the top spot as the Most Flexible meal kit delivery service for its variety of meals, from those that can be made in a zippy 15 minutes to more elaborate dishes that require 30–45 minutes or more. We'll get into more specifics about why we recommend Home Chef, but first let's learn more about its basic features.
What is Home Chef meal kit delivery service?
Home Chef is a meal kit delivery service that contains premeasured ingredients and an accompanying recipe, enabling you to create a fresh-cooked meal at home without having to run to the supermarket or measure your own ingredients.
Home Chef offers a variety of meal kit delivery plans that range both in size (from two to six servings per meal, two to six meals per week) and in preferences, including Meal Kits, Express Meal Kits, Oven-Ready, Grill-Ready, Culinary Collection and Fast & Fresh options, followed by the choice of Carb-Conscious, Calorie-Conscious and Vegetarian filters.
Once you choose a plan, it's time to select a delivery date and browse the recipes that are available for that week. When that delivery day comes, you'll receive a box filled with fresh pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step instructions for each meal.
We really appreciated how customizable Home Chef is. For example, if you would prefer steak instead of chicken, you can swap out one protein for another. You can also double up on or upgrade proteins (opting for a more premium cut of steak or choosing scallops instead of shrimp) for certain meals. Plus, the generous portion sizes of some meals means you'll have leftovers for lunch the next day.
How did we test Home Chef meal kit delivery service?
For this review, I tried all Home Chef meal kits at dinner with my family. I’ve been eating for a living for many years now: I have a degree from the French Culinary Institute and have worked for various food publications. I’m also a mom with an active teen and tween, for whom I cook daily.
I evaluated Home Chef based on the following criteria:
Subscription price, because everyone has different budgets.
Ease of use, because you’re getting a meal kit to make your life easier, so you don’t want anything too complicated or time-consuming.
Menu choices, because you want a good variety of recipes and ingredients.
Taste, because above all, you want your dinner to be yummy!
Packaging: Is there too much? Too little? Is it putting out excess waste into the world? We factored this into our reviews.
In making the selections, I also considered feedback from other on-staff meal kit testers for a variety of opinions (we got reviews from a family of five, a family with both an infant and a tween, and a family of three with vegetarians and a vegan). I also weighed info from Facebook Groups devoted to discussing meal kits, plus expert advice from Jaclyn London, a New York City–based registered dietician.
Every meal kit has different strengths and weaknesses. Some are very easy, others offer more variety, some are great for families and others are geared toward vegetarians.
Here's how Home Chef meal kit delivery service stacked up:
Subscription: Starting at $7.99 per serving (depending on the type of kit) if you order meals for four people (less if you use a promo code). Three meals per week for four people costs $131.
Ease of use: Each set of ingredients comes in a recyclable plastic bag with a corresponding recipe card. Most meal-prep times were accurate and none of the steps were particularly complicated. Even novice cooks could make any of the meals we tested.
Menu choices: There are about 35 menu options to choose from each week with familiar flavors inspired by global cuisine (Italian, Tex-Mex, Greek, American classics, etc.). They do not cater to specific dietary restrictions, though some vegetarian/plant-based recipes were available. There was an option to filter recipes by the following categories: Calorie-Conscious, Carb-Conscious, Vegetarian and Under 30 Minutes. You may order a maximum of six servings of up to four meals per week.
Taste: All three meals we tried were reasonably healthy and tasty. One tester said the Japanese-Style Steak Tacos was the best meal I had cooked in a while. We tried the Souvlaki Greek-Style Chicken one night, which is a version of a dinner I make two or three times a month anyway, which is to say that many of the options are perfect for newer cooks and perhaps a bit too familiar to more experienced ones.
Packaging: Most of the packaging is recyclable or reusable and also keeps the food at a safe temperature during the journey from the facility to customer's home. You can learn more about how to recycle each component of packaging here.
Let’s learn a little more about meal kits and answer some commonly asked questions.
What can I expect from a Home Chef meal kit?
Cooking dinner can be as fast or as deliberate as you like. With each delivery of preportioned ingredients and recipes that may feed two, four or more people, you won’t have to worry about what’s for dinner. There are options to suit every dietary need. You can filter meals by your time constraints as well as by categories such as Carb-Conscious, Calorie-Conscious and Vegetarian. You can usually choose your delivery day and even add on extras like portions of fully-cooked proteins, breakfast foods, quick lunches, snacks and desserts.
What if I'm nervous about trying Home Chef?
Home Chef offers significant discounts to first-time customers, making it very affordable to try before you commit (or don’t) to any one plan. All you have to do is take advantage of any one of these offers and then mark your calendar with an alert for the date by which you must cancel the subscription.
What if I need to skip a week?
You can skip a week or cancel anytime if your needs change.
Where can I find the Home Chef nutritional information?
On the website, simply click on a Home Chef meal and scroll down beneath the picture and "Nutrition (per serving)" section on the right. You will see "See Full Nutrition Facts" in green. The link will take you to a table with all the nutritional facts as packaged and prepared for that meal.
How big are the serving sizes?
The serving sizes were surprisingly generous as compared to many other meal kit delivery services we tried. The protein portions were five ounces per serving and we had leftovers from each meal that we happily ate for lunch the next day.
Are there recipe cards in the box?
Yes! Each dish's set of ingredients comes with a corresponding recipe card with prep and cook times, a list of items you will need to have on hand, a handy guide to internal protein temperatures and written instructions with photos.
How do Home Chef ingredients stay fresh during shipping?
Home Chef ships fresh produce using a biodegradable, insulated box with water-soluble, cool gel packs (these act like ice packs) designed to keep your food refrigerated, not frozen.
Can I recycle the Home Chef packaging?
Yes! Home Chef provides all the information you may want to know about recycling its different forms of packaging.