Considering Home Chef meal kits? We’re not a fan — and here’s why (plus find out what meal kits we prefer)
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
Home Chef is a popular meal kit company.
However, in our testing over the years, the company falls short on many levels and isn’t recommended for most home cooks — though it’s a good choice for some (see below). Here’s a look at the pros and cons of our experiences with Home Chef.
- The company has a large variety of recipes to pick from each week — typically more than most other meal kit companies.
- The company lets you swap proteins with much more flexibility. For example, most fish recipes can be switched to chicken or another protein easily, which essentially creates even more options.
- Recipes are generally simple and easy to follow.
- Recipes tend to be simpler than other meal kits and a bit faster to prepare, but that comes with some sacrifices.
- Most ingredients for each recipe are sorted into plastic, zip-top bags (unfortunately, the bags have ventilation holes in them for the produce so they can’t be reused easily).
- The company offers a good selection of recipes that can be prepared in a single foil oven pan that is provided or a single pot or pan.
- You can also buy Home Chef in many Kroger owned grocery stores, including expanded options such as prepared sides.
- Many meals feel smaller. Often the entire meal is a serving of meat and a single side, whereas other meal kits often include two sides, although this obviously varies based on the recipes in question.
- The quality of the produce isn’t always the greatest. For example, it’s common to find more than few bad green beans in you bag and other veggies that look a little worse for wear.
- Home Chef also sometimes suffers from seeming to offer just a bit less of ingredients than other meal companies might. It’s not a huge deal and most people can probably spare the calories, but it’s a subtle difference that cuts down a bit on the value.
- Meat isn’t a strong point for Home Chef. For example, meat sometimes has inconsistent shapes, which can affect cook times, or has small, odd trims or tears.
- Many recipes rely a bit too heavily on preprocessed ingredients to add flavor. For example, pre-made crispy onions are a common topping. Cream cheese and sour cream are used frequently to form a sort of “sauce” around veggies and meat. Cheese is a common topper and often little baggies of pre chopped peppers, onions and other veggies are simply added to the pan. None of this ends up tasting bad per se, but it also just sort of feels like you’re just tossing in a bunch of ingredients, stirring them around and serving it. On the flip side, these can save some time and reduce the need to follow more complex steps, so it could be a pro for some cooks.
- Put another way, Home Chef takes the name “meal kit” perhaps a bit more literally — it seems more aimed at recipes where you mix this group of ingredients together and then another group and dinner’s ready. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it also doesn’t leave much room for creativity or learning more about cooking.
- Many ingredients come in plain plastic bags or containers without any information about where they were sourced from.
- All of these cons might be justifiable if the company offered more competitive pricing — but it’s on par with services such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron, which we tend to rate higher.
All that said, Home Chef is probably a good pick for busier people with simple tastes and who don’t need huge portions to keep them happy — and aren’t really prepared to take on tackling making their own cream sauce, for example. People with food sensitivities, prefer to know more about where their food comes from or with more daring tastes will likely find Home Chef lacking and HelloFresh and Blue Apron can be good alternatives.
The meals are definitely a big upgrade from boxed mac and cheese, Hamburger Helper or other similar solutions but is also likely accessible enough for those without advanced cooking skills to prepare with a little bit of patience and willingness to learn.