On Black Friday I came across a pretty good sale for Home Chef, "a meal delivery service supplying weekly deliveries of fresh, perfectly portioned ingredients and chef-designed recipes", that I could not resist. My husband and I have been using Hello Fresh for a while now and been happy with it, but the deal was half the price, so I figured for $30 for six meals (two servings of three different meals) I'd give this a chance.
It arrived a few days after ordering. It came first thing in the morning, fortunately right before I left for work so I could put the ingredients in the fridge. It comes with several ice packs so that everything remains cold if you don't get it until later. I picked three meals: Turkey Chili with Cheddar cheese; Rotisserie-style chicken with cheddar, broccoli, and rice casserole; Blade steak with dried tomato-oregano butter with smoky creamed corn and pan-roasted potatoes.
I decided to make the turkey chili first. Most of the ingredients are sent to you, it is assumed you would have basics like olive oil and salt and pepper.
They also include a nice detailed step by step recipe with photos (on the back side) so you are really walked through things, in case you need the help. I've made chili so many times I only skimmed the recipe before setting off on my own.
Sorry Muffin, there are onions in there now.. so none for you.
After adding the crushed tomatoes and the tomato sauce I thought it was a little thin so I chose not to add the additional water they recommended. Even without the water, it took a while to boil down to a consistency I prefer - not a lot of time but enough that I wished that I hadn't put in all of the crushed tomatoes.
What is nice about home delivery meals like this is that everything is proportioned. So you don't have to buy a pound of cheese or 12 oz of sour cream for one meal. You don't have to go to a grocery store and remember everything in the recipe. If you generally cook a lot and enjoy it these subscription services are probably not worth it for you, but if you find yourself with a lot of leftover unused ingredients when you only use part of something for a recipe, this can be quite economical. Home Chef is $9.95 per serving and if you order three meals a week the shipping is free. If you only order two then they charge $10 for shipping. Home Chef also offers fresh fruit for $4.95 per serving (a little expensive in my opinion) and a breakfast option if you would like to cook breakfast. We also like the size of the menu cards and the fact that they sent us a binder to store them in.
Hello Fresh is packaged a little differently, in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags. The ingredients seem slightly better in quality and the flavors seem a little more complex, aka orzo instead of rice, but their service is also a little more expensive at $69. The Hello Fresh recipe cards are 5x7 and not meant to be bound in a book. Both sets of recipe cards lend themselves to being replicated if you decide you really like the meal and want to make it again, which we have done with several of the recipes.
Neither site requires that you purchase every week, so if you don't like the sound of the meals you can skip the week. If you know you won't have time to cook, you can skip the week. Both sites also cater to some special needs. Gluten free, seafood, allergies, among others. I don't believe either site claims to be allergen free, though.
What I like about this is that everything is included. My husband gets home before I do so he usually makes dinner and he has very little imagination when it comes to cooking and less inclination to make anything outside of his comfort zone. I would bring home something different, like a head of cauliflower, and he would avoid it at all costs. He also had a very limited palate, so when I would cook with different types of ingredients he would pick them out and it was very frustrating for me. By having recipes, he can follow instructions which he is a stickler for when he cooks, and because he is picking out the meals he has been more adventurous in his eating. He still doesn't eat all of the red peppers in meals, but he eats a lot more than he used to ☺
Yes, I have to put with these two each time I cook. It is why the island is rarely used for food prep
In the end, the meal was very good, and there were leftovers enough for us to have a second meal from it. The chicken dish was very good as well. The sauce reduced a little too much because someone wasn't paying attention to it and it was a little salty and I prefer my rice casseroles to be far cheesier.. (DH said it was just fine to his taste). The steak was also very good although the potato that came with it had a few black spots inside of it. When I wrote to Home Chef to tell them they promptly gave me a very nice credit for our next box.
All in all, we were pleased and we will be getting another box.
If you would like to give either service a try there are referral options that get you a reduced price for the first box. Home Chef offers $30 off the first box if you use the link and Hello Fresh offers $40.
I wasn't compensated for this, I just needed something to talk about while I wait for kittens. If you decide to order, I do get a small kickback, but that did not influence my review in the least.