Unboxing Home Chef | Here’s What We Thought

We've heard a lot of hype about the Home Chef meal delivery service, so we decided to try it out. Three recipes later, here's our complete review of this meal kit.

Brief Company History

Home Chef, the brainchild of Pat Vihtelic, launched in June of 2013, just ten months after industry behemoth Blue Apron got its start. Vihtelic, a former investment banker, founded Home Chef out of his need for easy-to-cook homemade meals. Working in finance was demanding and left little or no time for grocery shopping or meal prep. He quit the finance grind to focus full time on his start-up, and now, just four years later, Home Chef delivers over 1.5 million meals annually to hungry customers across the United States.

We were delighted to try Home Chef for the first time last week – here’s our complete Home Chef review.

Ordering Home Chef and Pricing

Home Chef pricing is one of the more affordable meal plans on the market, ringing up at just $9.95/serving. Unlike Blue Apron or one of the other competitors, Home Chef does not lock users into a defined meal plan (i.e. a 2-person or 4-person plan). In your account settings, you may adjust your delivery options to receive anywhere from 2-8 meals, with 2, 4, or 6 servings per meal. You can also select to add in a fruit basket or smoothie (at $4.95/serving), or premium meal when choosing your weekly menu. The weekly recipes include a rotation of 13 recipes with some vegetarian, low-carb, low-sodium, soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free options. Shipping is free on all orders of $45 or more.

Home Chef Delivery and Packaging

Users choose from the available delivery days (Wednesday, Thursday or Friday every week). Changes can be made to your scheduled deliveries up to the 12 p.m. CST the Friday before your scheduled delivery. Currently, Home Chef delivers to 98{2646a176311491570739a13dd319592155ac9cdba4632368aea58c38c45c78aa} of the country, though the site doesn’t mention the areas that it doesn’t service (you can check deliverability to your zip code on the site). We ordered the service from a tiny town on the coast of Maine, so my guess would be that the 2{2646a176311491570739a13dd319592155ac9cdba4632368aea58c38c45c78aa} includes very remote areas of the U.S. Shipment from the Home Chef facility took two days according to the shipping labels, arriving at our house on a Wednesday afternoon.

We unpacked the box (check out the video), finding the ingredients very well-insulated in the eco-friendly packaging. On top were the week’s recipe cards, then under the first layer of ice packs, I discovered the bags with the ingredients neatly packed for each meal. Digging through several additional ice packs, finally got to the bottom of the box which contained the packages of meat. Since this was our first order, there was also a thin white binder enclosed in which to place our recipe cards (which were already hole-punched for this purpose). Great idea!

All Home Chef packaging is 100{2646a176311491570739a13dd319592155ac9cdba4632368aea58c38c45c78aa} recyclable. To recycle the ice packs, allow to thaw, then snip a corner and drain the contents into the sink with running water. The plastic can go in with the rest of your recycling. Likewise, all plastic containers used for packaging sauces and dressings can be rinsed and recycled. The cardboard box and the insulation (made from recycled denim) are recyclable too.

Cooking with Home Chef

Recipes

We chose to receive three meals with two servings each. Here’s an overview of the ones we tried:

  • Japanese Chicken with Cucumber-Edamame Salad
  • Blue Cheese and Green Onion-Crusted Bone-In Pork Chop with Green Bean and Grape Tomato Almondine
  • Chicken with Basil-Pecorino Cream Sauce and Roasted Vegetables

All the recipes were delicious and easy-to-make. Here’s what we thought about the overall experience:

Ease of Prep

If you remember my Blue Apron review, one of my harshest critiques was how time-consuming and involved most of the recipes were. Cook time is one area where, in my opinion, Home Chef does a better job. Recipes were simple, easy-to-follow, and we were always able to prep and cook within the allotted time (anywhere from 20-50 minutes). Furthermore, the recipes didn’t require the use of more than 2-3 major kitchen utensils (i.e. a pot and pan or a pan, bowl, and cutting board). Most of the time, we had the kitchen completely clean (except for a pot or pan) before the meal was finished cooking. If fast meal prep is important to you, when ordering, you can click on the individual recipes to see the estimated time to completion and choose the ones with the fastest prep times.

Freshness of Ingredients

Ingredients remained perfectly chilled in the box during shipment. All ingredients looked fresh except for the green beans that accompanied the Bone-in Pork Chop. These had brown spots, which gave them the appearance of being haphazardly selected out of a grocery store bin. We used them anyway, and they tasted fine. To ensure freshness, Home Chef recipe cards indicate how many days you have to cook each recipe. I thought this was a helpful addition.

Serving Size

Most meals are between 500 and 800 calories per serving and packed with protein to leave you feeling full long after the meal is over. I was most skeptical about the Japanese Chicken, but the edamame and cucumber side salad proved to be so filling that I had to pass my plate off to the hubs to finish. We also saved some of the delicious Basil-Pecorino cream sauce to toss over noodles for a pre-run meal the next day. Portion sizes did not leave anything to be desired.

Nutrition

Each recipe comes with basic nutrition information per serving – calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein, and sodium. The good news – all the recipes we tried had meat, so they contained 50+ grams of protein. According to WebMD, women need about 46 grams of protein every day and men need about 56 grams. While the recipes certainly met our protein needs, they were also high in fat and sodium. According to the FDA, a 2000-calorie diet should limit fat intake to 65 grams. The Pork Chop and Chicken with Basil-Pecorino Cream Sauce had a staggering 42 and 52 grams of fat per serving, respectively. Additionally, Daily Value of sodium is 2400 mg per day. The Japanese Chicken, smothered in soy sauce, boasted 1733 mg of sodium – almost 75{2646a176311491570739a13dd319592155ac9cdba4632368aea58c38c45c78aa} of the daily recommended value. The other two recipes had about half the recommended daily sodium limit per serving. Thankfully, we selected low-carb recipes, which contained around 10{2646a176311491570739a13dd319592155ac9cdba4632368aea58c38c45c78aa} of the recommended 300 grams of carbohydrates. Even though the recipes we chose weren’t the healthiest regarding fat and sodium, you may choose healthier options by reviewing the nutrition information for each recipe before you order. For example, on the menu for next week, the Buffalo Turkey Meatball Salad has just 573 calories, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 32 grams of fat, 59 grams of protein, and 866 mg of sodium.

Overall Take

Home Chef features delicious recipes that are easy to make. If health-conscious, choose your meal selections carefully.

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