I know what you’re thinking: “This isn’t a recipe site, it’s a money site. Why are they talking about Home Chef!?”
Home Chef has a long reputation of offering affordable, fresh and tasty home-cooked meals that can be healthy and great for your family of picky-eaters. Starting at $9.99/serving on meal kits and $7.99/serving on oven-ready meals, Home Chef offers convenience delivered right to your door for a fair price. That’s why it’s still our favorite meal delivery service.
Rated #1 in customer satisfaction and our favorite meal delivery company.
Home Chef offers multiple meal choices each week with ample variety to meet dietary needs. While not the most adventurous or customizable meal box out there, Home Chef delivery fresh, quality ingredients and tasty recipes consistently.
- Recipes are easiest to follow
- Customize meals with your favorite protein
- Super fresh ingredients, all measured out
- No vegan option (vegetarian only)
What is Home Chef?
Home Chef was founded in 2013 with a simple goal: improving the cooking experience for customers. It has done that for the past decade plus, serving as a customer centric meal delivery service that provides fresh and tasty meals that can satisfy picky eaters or necessary dietary restrictions. Home Chef delivers fresh pre-portioned ingredients directly to your door with easy to follow recipes that rotate weekly anyone can cook to oven ready options you can just pop in and heat. There’s something for everyone with Home Chef.
Since Money Under 30 first compared the best meal delivery companies including HelloFresh and Blue Apron several years ago, we have become regular meal delivery customers.
We tend to rotate through a few of the companies—Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Home Chef—depending on the recipes offered each week. But after cooking and trying well over 100 meal-delivery recipes (we have the recipe cards to prove it), we keep coming back to Home Chef. We like them because they offer:
- A variety of meal choices that will appeal to most tastes and dietary needs.
- Ingredients conveniently packaged by meal.
- Easy-to-follow instructions, including a helpful “before you begin” section.
Home Chef pros & cons
- Customizing your favorite source of protein — You can use the “Customize It” feature which lets you decide what type of protein you’d prefer to have in your dish. Each recipe where a protein can be selected is marked in an orange “Customize It” logo.
- Super easy recipes with great instructions — Recipes have clear instructions so you know exactly what to do; they are also categorized by difficulty level so you can decide what level of difficulty works best for you.
- Super fresh ingredients all measured out — With Home Chef, everything exudes freshness and comes in the exact measurements needed. No waste.
- No specific options for vegans – only vegetarians — Home Chef at this time does not cater to individuals who want to choose vegan meal plans.
How Home Chef works
Home Chef deserves kudos for their excellent user interface. Despite offering a veritable smorgasbord of options, categories, and subcategories, they manage to keep things simple and well-organized. Here’s what the ordering experience looks like.
Home Chef will start by asking you a few simple questions like whether you’re new to meal kits. At this stage you’ll provide them your email address and zip code. If you’d like to browse the week’s menu without sharing your email quite yet, you can do so by heading to their weekly menu page.
You can choose to make an account after the first step or later on if needed.
After that you’ll be asked to set some preferences, like any foods you want to avoid or if you’re looking for vegetarian meals These preferences simply dictate which recipes you see first.
After setting your preferences, Home Chef will let you know if a promotion has applied, like the one you get if you use our Home Chef link. You can also see other discounts you may qualify for on this page.
Next is the order summary page where you can customize your box size with your desired servings per meal and meals per week. You’ll get a sneak peak of how the pricing and shipping scales here as you change selections.
Once again, you can change this information at any time. Home Chef doesn’t restrict to you whatever “plan” you choose here; you can get two meals for three next week this week, and two meals for three plus one meal for six meals the following week.
You might’ve expected to pick out your meals next, but Home Chef wants you to check out first instead.
Punch in your address, and then it’s time to whip out your rewards card. Home Chef accepts Paypal so definitely use a rewards card that offers 5x points on Paypal transactions if you have one.
Also worth noting here is Home Chef’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If you’re dissatisfied with your order, you can email email@example.com within seven days to request a refund.
Then it’s finally onto the fun stuff: picking out your delicious meals.
There are a few key takeaways in the “Your Upcoming Orders” screen, and some are less obvious. For example:
- Weekly meals default in. Home Chef will automatically default in weekly meals based upon your preferences. They won’t wait for you to choose or confirm them; you’re getting a box each week until you change the settings.
- Edits to next week’s box must be in four days prior to your delivery date. You can change the day of the week you receive Home Chef boxes by clicking “Manage Delivery” at the very top.
- Home Chef will send you boxes and charge your card indefinitely. For that reason, you’ll want to take a few minutes now to skip weeks you don’t want to receive boxes so you’re not charged for food you don’t want.
- You can donate your skipped boxes. After clicking Skip Week, Home Chef will sometimes ask if you’d like to donate your box to Feed American instead, which is a wholesome, mindful touch.
- There’s no “stop all deliveries after a certain date” option. Maybe you just want to try out Home Chef for a week or two and ensure that you’re not charged after that. Unfortunately, there’s no elegant way to tell Home Chef to only send you X number of boxes. Rather, you need to wait until your last box has arrived and quickly cancel your account before you’re charged again.
I definitely still want my first box, so let’s click “Edit Meals” and pick out some food!
Right away you’ll notice a strange number in the top right that’s different from what you paid earlier. Don’t worry; this is just your subtotal before shipping and your discount (worth mentioning again you’ll get one if you use our link to sign up). Home Chef isn’t bamboozling you.
It’s on the “Edit Meals” screen where you can finally see the pricing information for Customize It options. If you want to swap out chicken for steak in the BBQ Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas, for example, the price is actually pretty reasonable.
I hope that avalanche of detail didn’t intimidate you, because Home Chef is actually extremely easy to use. In fact, it’s the most user-friendly meal delivery site in recent memory. Despite offering categories and subcategories of meal kits, and the ability to change meals, servings, even individual ingredients, it’s all effortless and intuitive.
The bottom line: Home Chef is twice as easy to use as competitors offering half the options.
Home Chef pricing and plans
The price for Home Chef depends on what plan you select and amount of servings per a plan. Most subscriptions will pay around $9.99 per a serving.
- 2 servings: 2-6 recipes a week for $9.99 – $10.99 / serving
- 4 servings: 2-6 recipes a week for $9.99 / serving
- 6 servings: 2-6 recipes a week for $9.99 / serving
Fresh and Easy meals with Home Chef, including those that are oven-ready, start at $7.99 per a serving. Culinary Collection meals can scale to around $19.99 per serving with Customize It options feeding just two.
Shipping for Home Chef comes in at $10.99.
For two people ordering just two meals per week, the price per serving is still cheaper than a the cost of eating out at a sit-down restaurant.
Home Chef is more designed to cater to families and foodies who plan to prep six or more servings per week. And because around 40% of their recipes can be prepped in under 15 minutes, you don’t have to worry about running out of time to cook and letting ingredients expire in the fridge.
Home Chef sign-up offer and discounts
» Get 18 free meals (that’s up to 45% off first five boxes) PLUS get free shipping on your first box. Use our link to sign up for Home Chef and apply voucher.
Home Chef typically offers additional discounts for the following individuals:
- Medical providers
- First responders
- Government employees
These discounts are available through verification with the company ID.me.
Home Chef features
Taste and variety
Every Monday, you’ll get an email with 30+ meal options! So a heck of a lot of choices. And you call mull over your options throughout the week as long as you decide by Friday at noon CST that week.
To help you choose, you can actually fill out a “personal taste profile” so Home Chef knows which meals to recommend first. Here’s a sampling of some past meals within certain personal taste profiles:
Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Pizza with fontina and honey.
Green Goddess Risotto with asparagus and peas.
Pesto and Feta Turkey Meatloaf with cheesy green beans.
Garlic and Lemon Salmon with creamy Parmesan broccoli.
Crispy Pepperjack Chicken Cutlet with green beans.
Steak House Meatballs with Blue Cheese and roasted vegetables.
- Less than 30 minute meals
Thai-Style Ground Pork and Cabbage Bowl with sesame, peanuts, and cilantro.
Creamy Turkey Rigatoni with bacon and crispy onions.
Meals for most dietary needs and preferences
In addition to the “personal taste profile” feature, you can filter out recipes based upon the following dietary restrictions: vegetarian, without nuts, poultry, chicken, without soy, without wheat, customer favorites, seafood, pork, carb-conscious and calorie-conscious, staff picks, and without milk.
There are meal delivery services out there catering to vegan and keto diets specifically, but Home Chef is not one of them (yet).
Sometimes it’s nice just to have a big ol’ box of meat. You might be hosting a barbeque, trying to bulk up, or you simply like having a full freezer.
In any case, Home Chef has you covered. The service offers “Protein Packs” that you can add to your box anytime.
Express meal kits
Sometimes you just want a fresh, home-cooked meal without spending half your evening on prep-work. Home Chef provides!
In addition to the standard “Meal Kits” options, on each week’s menu, you’ll see express options built for speed — Express and Express Plus. These are prepped, pre-portioned ingredients that cook in 15 minutes.
As the name implies, these go from box to plate faster than an ad-free episode of Friends.
This is Home Chef’s oven-ready line with no prep and no mess. You just pick your meals and they arrive in a pre-portioned dish with ingredients that are already for you in an oven-safe tray. All you have to do is pop everything in the tray and bake it and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal with no clean up at all!
There are also fresh options that can be microwaved and even Grill-Ready options you may see on the menu for the week.
In addition to standard meal kits, 15-Minute Meals, Protein Packs, and Fresh and Easy (phew), Home Chef offers one final category of weekly meal: Culinary Collection.
Meals marked “Culinary Collection” represent Home Chef’s premium options for the week. These meals cost around $11 to $15 per serving, but they’re worth it if you’re trying to impress your date or host a special evening.
‘Customize It’ option
Perhaps one of Home Chef’s best and most unique features is “Customize It,” which lets you swap out ingredients within certain recipes. It’s one of the major reasons it has become our favorite meal kit delivery service.
The most common swappable option is protein. Let’s say the Steak Strip Marsala Risotto sounds magical, but you’re trying to minimize your red meat intake. No problem! Click “View Customize It Options” under the recipe and simply choose Diced Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts instead. Emeril Lagasse ‘Bam!’
Add on extras
Home Chef lets you add-on extras to your order like dessert, salad, or bread, that you can add in addition to your default weekly meals. Some options include a pair of pumpkin spice lattes from La Colombe you can serve chilled over ice or a slice of banana bread.
There are also options to bundle and save. There’s an appetizer duo I spotted of pretzel bites and spinach & artichoke dip that looks really good.
Flexible plans with ‘Build-A-Box’
Unlike competitors, Home Chef doesn’t ask you to purchase a “meal plan” with a preset number of meals per week. With Home Chef, you can choose as many meals as you’d like delivered each week, which is super convenient.
Maybe you’re busy or out of town, and only want one meal next week? All good. Maybe you’d like to impress friends next week, and would like three meals for two, but one meal for six? They can do that, too!
I like this flexibility because it means no meals (or materials) go to waste.
Available to buy in store
You can find over 100 Home Chef products throughout Kroger stores. These include soups, ready to heat-and-eat meals and items like ribs served already hot for you to devour.
Home Chef has a pretty extensive FAQ library. However, if you can’t find your answer there, you can always submit a request or call them up during regular service hours.
A live customer service support line is a rarity among meal delivery services, so Home Chef deserves kudos there.
My experience using Home Chef
I’ve got to admit that I’m not a “read the instructions” guy.
I’m a quick start. I dive in and learn as I go and the first thing I appreciated was the fact that there were easy-to-follow recipes.
Unfortunately, that can be a dangerous trait when cooking something new. More than once, especially with Blue Apron, I’ve skipped important steps because I wasn’t paying enough attention.
While Blue Apron’s recipe cards might be the most beautifully designed of the services we’ve tried, I will say that Home Chef’s are the easiest to follow thanks to their “Before You Cook” and “While You Cook” sections, which highlight prep and explain important steps.
Good cooking involves timing, and it’s great to be able to anticipate critical parts of the recipe before you get there.
Meals with wide appeal
As the meal delivery industry has grown, companies have started to differentiate themselves.
Blue Apron, for example, are definitely geared towards foodies who want the experience of cooking with new ingredients and trying new flavors. While we have loved most of our Blue Apron meals, some of the flavor combinations have ranged from “that’s different” to “umm, weird.”
I’ve heard from a few friends that Blue Apron recipes were just too unique for their tastes.
Home Chef, by contrast, has a good selection of more traditional meals like Chicken Marsala, sirloin with mashed potatoes and Brussel sprouts, and roasted salmon with ginger scallion sauce. That’s not to say you won’t find some delicious new recipes to try with Home Chef. Recent Home Chef vegetarian enchiladas, for example, was one of the best variations of the meal I’ve had owing to a few unique ingredients.
I will say that with Home Chef, it seems like your options are more limited with some competitors. With some companies, for example, you must choose among certain combinations of meals, increasing the chance you’ll get a meal that’s not up your alley.
Who is Home Chef good for?
Home Chef is good if you want home-cooked down to earth food that really is not super fancy. But the food is really good and totally not too complicated to make with user-friendly instructions. That makes Home Chef good for me.
Plus even though I do not have a lot of food allergies, most people in life have something they can or cannot eat and Home Chef makes that easy for you too.
And if you are environmentally conscious like so many of us these days, rest assured that Home Chef delivers in a recyclable box.
Where does Home Chef deliver?
Home Chef delivers to 98% of the United States, so just about everyone. You just have to put in your zip code to confirm that they deliver to wherever you’re living.
Is Home Chef worth it?
Home Chef is worth giving a try because it offers convenience in the form of tasty, delicious meals directly to your door at a fair price.
We already let you know Home Chef is our favorite meal delivery service. So I was curious to see exactly how Home Chef compares among the best meal delivery services for families and meal kits for the health-conscious. We also wanted to see how it stacks up directly among some of these competitors. Let’s take a look.
Home Chef vs HelloFresh
In terms of name recognition HelloFresh is one of the most popular meal delivery services. It’s great for beginners who want to easily learn to cook, people want some health-focused options with wellness goals in mind, and/or people who value sustainability.
HelloFresh offers 45+ weekly recipes and 100+ seasonal and convenience items to choose from that can please a variety of different diets and preferences.
The recipes are easy to prepare with simple step-by-step instructions that anyone can follow, and the pre-portioned ingredients provided are always fresh.
- Easy meal prep with simple instructions
- Range of options to please everyone
- Eco-friendly and convenient packaging
- More expensive than some competitors
- Delivery window can be inconvenient
HelloFresh offers six different meal plans to browse through, including a veggie & plant-based meal option, a family-friendly option that are kid-tested, and a pescatarian option with sustainably sourced seafood. You can easily customize your weekly order with menu options that include Calorie Smart (under 650 calories), Protein Smart (38g+ protein/serving), and Carb Smart recipes. There’s 45+ weekly recipes and 100+ seasonal and convenience items to choose from.
Prices for HelloFresh start at $9.99/serving, coming in cheaper than dining out at a restaurant or picking up takeout without the excess waste of some options you’d whip up at home because the ingredients are per-portioned.
» MORE: Compare options with our HelloFresh Review
Home Chef vs EveryPlate
EveryPlate, known as the most affordable meal delivery service, provides fresh, tasty, home-cooked meals at a more budget-friendly price.
EveryPlate is an affordable meal kit company focusing on simple comfort food recipes that are easy to make and tasty. The budget-friendly options with EveryPlate are up to 56% cheaper than top meal kit services and can save you up to 30% on your groceries.
- One of the lowest cost meal kit services
- Easy meal prep
- Minimal plastic packaging
- Somewhat limited menu
- Few vegetarian and gluten-free meals
EveryPlate offers a somewhat more limited menu with fewer vegetarian options. The ingredient quality may sometimes also not be up with what you’d typically get with Home Chef. It does, however, start at only $4.99/serving. To reduce operating costs and pass on more savings to you, EveryPlate uses simpler packaging and recipes. This means fewer ingredients, fewer cooking steps, and fewer dollars per meal.
» MORE: Budget-friendly breakdown in our EveryPlate Review
Home Chef vs Blue Apron
Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that offers fresh, quality ingredients sourced directly from farms, importers and family-run purveyors, but at a premium price.
Blue Apron offers both meal kits you prepare yourself and heat-and-eat meals that are already fully cooked. Ingredients are sourced directly from family-run farms to ensure freshness and quality and recipes are curated by a team of professional chefs.
- Highest-quality ingredients
- Adventurous recipes foodies will love
- Plenty of menu choices
- Not allergen-friendly
- Excessive packaging
Recipes from Blue Apron are prepared by a team of experienced professional chefs who have put together a rotating list of over 70+ different meals. Pricing is between $7.99 to $12.49 with premium options that can range up to $19.99 per a serving. If you’re willing to pay a little more than you normally do for dinner to have gourmet-quality meals at home with a wider meal selection, Blue Apron might be worth it for you.
» MORE: Details on quality in our Blue Apron Review
If you enjoy eating and like cooking – consider giving a meal delivery service like Home Chef a try. We think you’ll be satisfied given its our personal favorite.
Meal delivery can not only be cheaper than dining out, but you’ll also save time planning and shopping for these meals. If you can afford it, you might try meal deliveries and find yourself wondering how you ever lived without them.