Influenced: My Review of Home Chef

I am a big sucker for ads and have already made a list of 50+ things I saw online and was swayed to buy or try based on the advertisement, Instagram account, Buzzfeed article, etc. I’ll eventually share out my best of best but since I’ve been on a cooking kick, I wanted to share my review of Home Chef.

Home Chef is a meal kit delivery service, and you’ve likely seen this promoted if you follow any sort of other popular lifestyle or fashion bloggers. With this service, you receive the raw ingredients to cook a meal yourself. I am not a Home Chef partner, and in no way receive any benefits or profits by sharing this review. I signed up for an account with a promo code for something like $90 off my first four orders ($15 off per week) last fall around mid-October.

Home Chef meals start at $8.99 per serving and can go up or down depending on how many portions you order and any customizations such as type of protein. Their website currently indicates you need to order $49.95 as a weekly minimum (when I tried the service, you could go lower but had to pay for shipping under a certain threshold). I tried Home Chef over about 6 weeks, placing 3 weekly orders with each order comprising 3 different meals for 2 people (week 3 below had 1 meal cancelled due to stock items, which they notified me of promptly).

Things I actually ordered

The Good

The Food Itself: Everything we tried tasted good, and was not overly difficult to prepare. The portion sizes are plenty filling for adults. The proteins are satisfying for adult eaters (I was initially worried if it would really feed Geoff adequately), but you will not have any leftovers. They all come vacuum sealed and are stay very moist once prepared If you’ve struggled to use all of an ingredient, these will come pre-portioned with just the amount you need (e.g., one green onion, one packet of sauce, 1/2 cup of rice) to help avoid food waste or paying for more than you need. The only items you are expected to have at home are really salt, pepper, and cooking spray or oil.

Menu Variety: Home Chef offers 20+ options on their menu per week. As a “picky gourmet,” I could pretty easily select meals that sounded tasty. There is a good variety of different cuisines without anything being too crazy. Home Chef makes it easy to sort and filter based on factors like dietary preferences or difficulty level. You can change the protein for nearly every meal, but there may be a cost difference for major upgrades (e.g., chicken to steak or seafood). Home Chef has also several add-on items like bread, salad, and dessert.

Online Menu: The online menu has great pictures, and you can preview the instructions and ingredients for each meal. You can view at least 4 weeks’ worth of menus in advance, which is super helpful to plan ahead as well as potentially plan any skip deliveries.

Flexible Scheduling and Convenience: Home Chef offers very flexible scheduling. It’s as easy as advertised to skip weeks or customize your order without any hidden costs or penalties. You can select your delivery day for each order. All of this is easily accessible via the website or mobile app, and you can customize email reminders as well. You also know you’ll have everything you need (or the advance notification to make a meal sub), versus the occasional miss or replacement from normal grocery delivery.

Some of the meals I made

The Bad

Cost: Home Chef (and most meal kit services) is cheaper than eating out or ordering takeout, but for most people probably costs significantly more than doing it all yourself. If you are spending a lot eating out, just getting into cooking more, or want variety for every meal it is a fair option to try. It is more flexible to try versus other services and they run great intro deal for new customers. You will save money on certain items if you find yourself buying a lot of herbs, condiments, or spices for the first time or one-time use (for me, it’s things like an entire container of goat cheese). At the cost per serving of Home Chef, I can probably get twice as much or more food doing the prep myself and I personally love leftovers. I found the price of Home Chef pretty fair with the promo code, but a little expensive once that ended. My local grocery stores also offer their own meal kits or prepared meats that are more affordable, and I live two blocks away from a Publix.

Level of Effort: Most of the meals I ordered were not particularly complex, but a lot of them still took 30-45 minutes to prepare or require a multiple pans. As someone who is pretty familiar with the kitchen, I honestly thought some of these would be a little simpler or easier. Granted, you can select easier meals and their oven-ready meals are super simple (dump everything in a pan and bake). There were more steps involved than I had anticipated for some of the more average meals, and at the same thing, some things I would have liked to learn (e.g., demiglace steak sauce) came already prepared in a packet. If you are newer to cooking, it is a good learning experience but it might take longer to prepare depending how much prep there is for the vegetables or starches in your meal.

Plastic: By nature of being a mail-order meal kit, almost every ingredient comes individually wrapped or packaged. This is convenient to skip measuring and shopping, but feels very wasteful in the amount of trash and recylcable materials you have for one meal. Think of a salad kit in a bag or the way airplane meals are wrapped. The shipments also arrive in a well insulated box with gel ice packs that you also have to dispose of.

Overall Verdict

The food quality and convenience of Home Chef is great. It’s a good introduction to cooking and trying new meals you may not have prepared before. Two big takeaways for me were the appropriate amount of ingredients you really need for two people, and that you should definitely bake chicken breasts with some sort of cream-based sauce and a crunchy chip crumbles on top.

However, the cost can start to add up if you have prior experience budgeting and doing your own cooking. I honestly am not even the best grocery budgeter, and I think there are a lof of more cost effective alternatives, such as your grocery stores’ meal kit offerings as well as a good blog or cookbook on easy meals. I personally would rather get a better value out of my own cooking and use the savings on a really nice meal either at home or at a restaurant.

So, while I enjoyed my trial of Home Chef for a few weeks, once my promo ended I cancelled my account and haven’t reactivated it. If you want to give it your own try, be sure to search for a good promo code first and use it upon sign-up during account creation! You can also see the cost update live as you pick and choose different meals for each order to compare directly to what you spend now.

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