What Is Home Chef?
Home Chef is one of the many meal delivery boxes that are available nowadays to help with the schlog of constantly planning meals for your family. I've already done a review of our experience with standard Home Chef meals, so please visit my original post for some more basic information about the service including how much does Home Chef cost, frequency, availability, etc.
What are Oven Ready Meals?
For those who prefer less prep (chopping vegetables, several cooking steps and the use of several pans, etc) when making dinner, then Home Chef Oven Ready meals will be a good option. Oven Ready meals contain pre-portioned ingredients that all go into a single metal pan that bakes in the oven. The most work you'll have with an Oven Ready meal is rinsing fresh produce and mixing in any sauces and seasonings that a given meal may have.
What Are Fast & Fresh Meals?
For those who are really after a hot, zero effort meal, Home Chef's selection of Fast & Fresh meals have no prep and can be cooked in the microwave in less than 5 minutes (or you can use the oven if you prefer).
Since my past experience with Home Chef was with only the traditional meals that require a bit of prep and multiple steps, I wanted to give this service another go with the faster meal options and compare the quality and, most importantly, the yummy-ness factor.
Does Home Chef Meat Come Frozen?
Throughout my experiences with Home Chef, the meat for our meals have arrived cold but not frozen. The meat is packaged separately from the rest of the ingredients for a given meal and is packed at the bottom of the box between two thick ice packs.
That's A Lot Of Packaging...
Yeah, I agree. Between the box and its lining and ice packs, the bags that separate the individual meals, and the packaging of each individual ingredients, each box does generate quite a bit of packaging trash. The silver lining is that almost all of Home Chef's packaging is recyclable, including the outer wrapping of the ice packs included in the box (truthfully, I end up saving most of the ice packs in my own freezer for my own use later). You can read more about Home Chef's recycling information here.
What If I'm Not Home When It Arrives?
The boxes are left with no signature required, so if you're not at home the moment it arrives, no worries. The ingredients will stay fresh until you're able to get home and transfer them into the refrigerator. Just don't, like, leave it there all weekend while you're gone on a family camping trip or something. Common sense and all.
Fast & Fresh Meal
I ordered the French Onion Beef Sliders with Potato Slaw to test out the Home Chef Fast & Fresh meals. Although this meal can be prepped in the microwave with the provided microwave-safe tray, I had a little time and vastly prefer food warmed in a real oven, so I used my own pan and heated up my oven to 375F, as per the instructions for the oven-heating option.
To make this meal, all I had to do was combine the fully-cooked beef with the packet of demi glace and cheese, place it into one half of the tray, and top with the pre-prepared onion jam. On the other side of the tray, the pre-cooked potatoes were placed. After cooking in the oven for about 20 minutes (it would only take 6-8 if I had used the microwave) all that is left is to place the beef mixture onto the King's Hawaiian rolls, combine the potatoes with the included slaw mixture and dressing, and you're ready to eat! Total time was about 25 minutes, though it would have been less than 10 minutes if I had used the microwave.
I'd eat just about anything stuffed inside of a King's Hawaiian roll, but these sliders were insanely delicious! The beef was tender and the demi glace and onion jam provided a pronounced kick of flavor. There were enough ingredients to make 4 fully-loaded sliders (Home Chef's recipe card stated two servings) and they are so filling that you may be able to stretch it farther than that.
The potato slaw also got a thumbs up from both of us. The red potatoes were perfectly tender without being mealy, had tons of flavor from the oil and herbs that they were pre-seasoned with, and then the fresh slaw mixture combined with the Italian dressing made for a simple and not-too-heavy side dish that paired nicely with the sliders. I may have to recreate this potato slaw on my own one day - I really liked the idea!
Oven Ready Meal #1
The first oven ready meal we tried were the Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs with Sesame Green Beans. I thought this meal was just as easy to prepare as the Fast & Fresh sliders, the only difference being that you start out with raw ground turkey that you have to season and form into meatballs. To prepare the meal, you season the green beans with the provided ingredients (providing your own olive oil) and bake on one side of the provided pan. Meanwhile, you mix the ground turkey with panko, mayo, soy sauce, and salt, form into 6 meatballs, and place them onto the empty side of the pan. During the final bake, you mix up a garlic oil dressing. When everything is done baking the dish is garnished with the dressing, fried wonton strips, and sesame seeds. Total time from start to finish was about 45 minutes.
This meal was another winner. Ground turkey can be hit or miss since it dries out easily, but these meatballs were sooo good! The turkey was juicy with tons of flavor from the mix-ins, sauces, and garnishes. The green beans came out with a perfect texture - soft but not mushy - and were super tasty with an Asian twist on the flavors. I'd order this one again!
Oven Ready Meal #2
Our last meal in this box was another oven ready meal: Cheesy Salsa Chicken with Chipotle Ranch Broccoli. After rinsing the broccoli and patting it dry, I combined it with some olive oil (from my own kitchen) and the provided seasoning blend in the metal tray. After 15 minutes, I pushed the broccoli to the side, added the raw chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper, and baked for an additional 17 minutes.
The final step was adding the salsa to the chicken and baking a third and final time until the salsa was warmed and the chicken finished cooking. Before, serving, the provided chipotle ranch dressing was drizzled over the broccoli and topped with crispy onions. The chicken got a generous sprinkle of cheese, and we were ready to eat. Total time from start to finish was about 35 minutes.
Out of all 3 meals, the chipotle ranch broccoli was the best side dish. The broccoli came out soft with just the right amount of crisp on the florets and the included chipotle ranch dressing was superb. I could have eaten it all on its own!
The cheesy chicken salsa was pretty basic, but it was still a tasty main dish and when eaten with that incredible broccoli it was a filling and satisfying meal.
Will I Keep Ordering?
I've always found meal boxes to be super fun, though I admit to balking a little at the amount of prep and number of steps involved in the traditional menu items, especially when already paying convenience prices. With the Oven Ready and Fast & Fresh options, however, a perfect balance is reached between ease of preparation and quality of the resulting meals. For my future Home Chef orders, I will be exclusively ordering the quicker and simpler Oven Ready and Fast & Fresh options.
Do You Want To Try Home Chef?
Click here to browse menus, read more about the service, and get started with your own meals deliveries!
Do you love this post and want to be able to find it later? Use the image below to pin to your Pinterest boards, or share with your friends on social media by using the buttons at the top and bottom of this post. Thank you for visiting my blog!