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We recently tried out Home Chef, a meal kit delivery service. These services have been immensely popular lately and there are now several companies that offer this type of subscription. Pricing, meal selection, and delivery options vary depending on which company you choose, so hopefully as you are reading Home Chef reviews, this one will help you make an informed decision if you're in the market to give one of these services a try. When you're finished reading, please leave me a comment and let me know if you've tried Home Chef and tell me what you thought!
HOW MUCH IT COSTS
- The meals start at $8.99 per serving, and the minimum weekly order value is $49.95 (updated 3/8/21)
- Add-ons such as a seasonal fruit basket and a smoothie kit are available at $4.95 per serving, and each order serves 2. (Updated 3/8/21 - add-on availability and options have changed, check Home Chef's current menus for most up to date add-ons)
HOW THE FOOD IS ORDERED
- You can fill out preferences via your profile in your account to include or exclude ingredients you like or dislike.
- Each week a different selection of meals (15+) are available. There are options available such as calorie conscious, vegetarian, carb conscious, and Oven Ready meals. (updated 3/8/21)
- "Protein Packs" are available that contain a collection of raw proteins that you can use as you wish. Options include items such as chicken breast, ground turkey, ground beef, salmon fillets, ahi tuna, and a variety of steaks. Contents in the available protein packs change each week and start around $60 each. (updated 3/8/21)
- There is a Customize It feature available on some dishes that allows you to substitute the protein included in the dish. The options available are based on what fits the individual recipe. (updated 3/8/21)
- In October 2020, Fast and Fresh options were added that require no prep and can be microwaved in less than 5 minutes (they can also be heated up in the oven)
- Oven Ready meals are available, which come with fresh pre-portioned ingredients in an oven-safe tray. (updated 3/8/21)
- Home Chef is not a certified allergen-free facility because ingredients are packaged in the same facility and are packaged together in your box.
HOW THE FOOD IS DELIVERED
- You can choose the day of week for your deliveries, so you know when to expect them.
- Delivery day options may vary depending on your location.
- Deliveries can be skipped or edited, but changes must be received by 12pm(CST) on the Friday prior to the scheduled delivery day.
- Boxes can be left on your doorstep without a signature (though I personally would recommend being home so you can inspect the ingredients and store them ASAP)
- Boxes are shipped lined with insulated material and ice packs to ensure the ingredients stay fresh during transit.
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WHAT WE ORDERED
We ordered Roasted Salmon with Ginger-Scallion Sauce, Patio BBQ Steak Sandwich with Grilled Corn, and we added on the addition of a seasonal fruit basket and a Strawberry Fields smoothie kit. There were 2 servings of each item in our box. The total for our order was $59.60 with free shipping.
HOME CHEF DELIVERY DAY
My box arrived in the afternoon on Friday, the day I selected for delivery. The box was lined with some insulated material and there are 2 layers of frozen ice packs. When I opened it up I noticed some moisture and condensation. When I removed the piece of cardboard shown in this photo I found that the top layer of ice packs had completely melted and ingredients directly under the ice packs felt just on the cool side of room temperature. This was surprising to me since I was at home at the time of delivery and the box was brought inside immediately.
There was a 3-ring binder with pre-punched recipe cards for the meals that I had ordered. I thought this was a nice touch and an easy way to keep the recipes organized from each meal box in case you want to repeat the recipes in the future using your own ingredients.
Under the recipe cards the ingredients for each meal were grouped into separate bags, which I appreciated. This made it easy to quickly grab only the ingredients I needed out of the fridge. The packaging used is recyclable.
Under the bags was a second layer of ice packs that were still semi-solid. There were containers of "frozen sliced strawberries" that were mostly melted, but were still sealed and had not leaked. Under the ice packs were the raw proteins - beef and salmon. There were no ice packs under the proteins, just the insulated box lining, and the bottom of the box felt warm from the hot August weather.
At this point, I contacted Home Chef customer service and let them know what I had encountered with my box, and asked if they thought the ingredients were still safe to use. The representative who responded to me was prompt and friendly. He said that if the ingredients were below 41 degrees they were safe to use. Obviously, I did not have a way of measuring the exact temperature of the meat and by the time I contacted customer service I had already moved all of the ingredients to my refrigerator, rendering the temperature a moot point anyway. I told the rep that I had no way of knowing for sure if the meat and fish had gone bad other than the sniff test and "Well, it looks okay..." The representative apologized for the trouble and immediately credited my account with the same amount that the first order was worth.
We inspected the ingredients and decided that the meat still seemed fresh enough and that we would press on and prepare the meals, though we did decide to not feed the proteins to our toddler out of an abundance of caution.
This was the box labeled as the seasonal fruit basket. I was disappointed to see that the box containing the fruit had taken quite a beating during shipment, and it was damp from the condensation coming from the melted ice packs surrounding it in the shipping box.
Inside I found 2 pears, 2 apples, and 1 orange. The fruit itself didn't show signs of damage from shipping. We consumed it over the course of a couple of days and found it all to be good quality and quite tasty, though at ~$10 for this add-on, too expensive for the amount of fruit you get.
Our first meal was Roasted Salmon with Ginger-Scallion Sauce. I appreciated that the meal was incredibly simple with few ingredients and not too much prep work. The garlic arrived peeled and the fresh ginger was already chopped.
The salmon was shrink wrapped in individual packages.
The salmon looked and smelled completely fine despite the questionable packaging, so I felt more confident as I prepared the fish per the recipe's instructions, searing it in a skillet and then finishing it off in a hot oven.
The finished meal was delicious! There was a lot of flavor in the ginger-scallion teriyaki glaze and it tasted amazing spooned over the roasted salmon. There was an additional step to create some scallion curls for garnish on top of the fish, but we didn't care much about making things pretty - we just wanted dinner - so we stuck to slicing the scallions and mixing them in with the glaze.
The beans were prepared simply by cooking them for just a few minutes in a hot skillet with garlic and ginger, so they retained some crisp. It may be my new favorite way of working with fresh green beans.
The second meal was Patio BBQ Steak Sandwich with Grilled Corn and Herbed Butter. Here are all of the ingredients, save for a few pats of butter that I left in the fridge when taking the photo - oops!
I should mention that when gathering the ingredients for this meal I noticed that we had been sent 2 bags of items for this meal by mistake. There was the correct amount of protein, but we ended up with double of everything else (4 rolls, 4 ears of corn, etc). I guess if there's going to be an error with the order, having too much of something is better than not having enough.
Prep work for this meal was also quick and simple, and included peeling and slicing the onion, chopping the parsley (and mixing with the butter), and shucking the corn. The instructions stated to slice the rolls, but our rolls arrived pre-sliced, which was nice.
Everything in this meal was cooked on a grill or a grill pan. As we are currently sans grill, I pulled out our trusty Lodge grill pan (seriously, everyone needs one of these in their kitchen).
One advantage we would have had if we had a working grill is that preparation would have been even faster if we could have grilled everything at the same time. Instead, I turned on the warmer on our oven and transferred the ingredients in there after they were grilled so that everything stayed warm. It worked great.
There's nothing fancy about this meal, but it didn't need to be fancy... it was incredibly filling and you can't go wrong with BBQ grilled steak, onion, and cheese on a toasty bun spread with parsley butter. All of the ingredients were good quality, the corn was crisp and sweet and was a pleasing side dish.
At just over 800 calories per serving (each meal contains 2 servings) you could easily cut the sandwiches and corn in half and feed 4 people. It's a nice value for the money.
And one more money shot, because it really was a pretty and colorful meal.
The last item to try was the Strawberry Fields Smoothie, another of the add-ons available. The smoothie selections vary depending on the week. Each bag of ingredients makes a large batch of smoothie that will serve 2 people. My smoothie contained Greek yogurt, a fresh pear, canned pineapple juice, and frozen sliced strawberries. All of that gets blended together with some ice.
There was also an "error" with the smoothie ingredients, as I only ordered one but was sent 2 bags of ingredients (so 4 total servings). But again, I was fine with that error since it ended up in us having extra ingredients instead of not enough.
It was a really delicious smoothie. I followed the instructions and used the recommended amount of ice and the consistency was perfectly smooth with just enough frothy thickness. Though the smoothie was yummy, at almost $10 for one batch (2 servings) I have the same opinion as I do about the seasonal fruit basket add-on... it's a bit pricey.
IS HOME CHEF WORTH IT?
WHAT WE LOVE
Home Chef has one of the best and most diverse selections of recipes that we've seen so far from a meal kit service. Each week there are so many delicious options that it is hard to choose which ones to have delivered. I found it helpful that the full nutritional info is available for every meal before orders are placed so I can make sure they fit within my calorie needs for the delivery days.
The meals themselves are a great value - some lower than most restaurant meals.
The portions are generous and preparation is fast and fuss-free.
All of the food tasted amazing and the ingredients were good quality despite the melted ice packs and condensation in our box.
Customer service was friendly and their responses were prompt.
WHAT WE DON'T LOVE
The smoothie and fruit basket add-ons are pricey at $9.95 each (2 servings) In the future we will stick to only ordering the meals.
There were errors with our order resulting in extra ingredients. Though this time that works out in our favor, I hope that any future orders won't go the other direction and have ingredients missing instead.
Packaging needs improvement. The boxes should be better insulated and an extra layer of ice packs should be added under the proteins at the bottom of the box, especially when shipping during the warm months. Customer service was receptive to my comments about the packaging.
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