Home Chef Review: The Most Affordable Family Meal Kit

Estimated read time 3 min read

Most meal kit companies have pitched themselves to Americans as a way to save time at the grocery store and to cut back on wasted food. But a meal kit dinner for a family of four will frequently cost $40–$50, plus shipping—not exactly cheap eats. So in a crowded meal kit marketplace, Home Chef stands out with notably lower prices than the rest of the field—generally ranging from $7.99–$9.99 per serving, when lots of other kits start around $9.99 per plate and go up from there.

I cooked Home Chef meals for my family of four for two weeks, trying to determine if the service actually offered a good value. Here’s my honest review.

What are Home Chef’s recipes like?

The majority of Home Chef’s offerings skew very basic: think seared protein with a sautéed vegetable side. But there are enough change-ups available—including meatloaf, tostadas, and soups—to mix it up a little while still appealing to picky eaters.

What I liked:

While most of Home Chef’s dishes are simple, the results were well-seasoned and satisfying. And some dishes did stand out from the meat-and-potatoes style options. The recipes for brown butter sage gnocchi and maple-glazed trout both added a few intermediate culinary techniques like frying herbs and candying walnuts, both of which made the dishes more fun to eat. You’ll typically find those more interesting techniques and bigger flavors in a subcategory of the menu called the Culinary Collection, which can cost as much as $4 more per serving.

What I didn’t like:

As someone who cooks on a regular basis I found many of Home Chef’s recipes to be a bit too basic. There were some flourishes, like a thyme and peach preserve glaze over pork chops, and a sundried tomato pesto mixed into turkey meatballs, but overall the meals felt less exciting than those I tried from Blue Apron.

If you have kids at home, that simplicity can be a boon. While I might have preferred a little more variety and flair, Home Chef’s simple recipes went over better with my kindergartener and pre-schooler.

What ingredients does Home Chef use?

Home Chef meal kits include pre-portioned proteins, prepared packets of sauces and stocks, and usually just one or two items of fresh produce. They aren’t typically organic.

What I liked:

The quality of the proteins and produce matched conventional items I would pick myself at the grocery store. Home Chef tends to send more pre-prepped ingredients, like diced squash or segmented broccoli, than other meal kits I tried. That cut down on prep time and made Home Chef’s recipes easier and quicker to throw together than many I’ve tried from other services. The recipes also all include a “cook within X days” guideline, which was helpful for planning my weekly menus.

I also appreciated that Home Chef allows quite a bit of customization in terms of proteins, depending on the subscription plan you choose. You can swap in, say, scallops, not only for salmon or shrimp recipes, but also for chicken or beef ones if you want to. Just make sure that whatever you choose actually makes sense in the recipe—a dish that involves baking chicken probably won’t come out as well with fish, which would get overcooked if you followed the recipes timing instructions. The recipes don’t change even if the ingredients do. Swapping in seafood may trigger an upcharge, but other swaps, like poultry for pork, usually do not cost extra.

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