Home Chef was great fun to try and added some unique extras that the other meal services don't offer! If you didn’t get a chance to read my other meal service reviews, you can find them at these links: Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh)
Ordering: I used an online coupon code and it was fairly easy to set up the ordering to whichever meals you prefer. There are 11 options that you can
put in any combination and they add helpful icons including calorie conscious, carb conscious and vegetarian. You are also able to add a breakfast, smoothie and a fruit basket. I decided to try all three to get the full feel for the service. You can get $30 off your order by using this code. You can select which meals you would like to receive, but when I changed my selections it didn't save and it reverted back to the default meals and I ended up not receiving the meals I had picked. When I contacted them they said it was too late so I was stuck with what I got. That was frustrating but *spoiler* all the meals were still delicious!
Website: Changing the meals you're receiving and adding more meals or extras (breakfast, smoothie or fruit basket) is simple and straight forward (other than how it didn't save but that might have been my fault). It also allows you to look at the upcoming order options with a 2-month calendar that shows the next 6 orders.
App: The app is great for looking at your current week or a 1-2 weeks before or after, but it is difficult to navigate farther out because it makes you load each individual week (versus the website where you can click on the date you want to look at.
Packaging: Home Chef also separated each meal which was especially helpful since I had 6 different selections. The fruit 'basket' had a ton of packaging around it which made it stay safe but it gave a very different feel than if you opened it up and they were nicely placed in a small basket (partial fruit packaging pic below). The ice packs were also all non toxic and reusable.
1. Bone-In Chimichurri Pork Chop with roasted chayote and smoked almonds: I had never tried chayote before and I love trying new things that I'd be afraid to buy in the store or wouldn't even be able to find (not sure I've ever even seen chayote before and thought it tasted kind of like a jicama/apple hybrid. I wouldn't necessarily buy it instead of say potatoes on the regular but love trying new things. The chimichurri sauce had a nice flavor with the pork- very similar to a HelloFresh meal I had from the last meal service box.
2. Homestyle Chicken and Dumplings with peas and carrots: This was one of my favorite meals! I had never made chicken and dumplings or for that matter even eaten them that I can remember. I always thought they must be difficult to make so I assumed it was out of my cooking scope. The only negative with this meal is they gave the dumpling mix and just labeled it 'dumpling mix' instead of giving the ingredients so I'm not sure what all went into the mix in order to recreate it next time.
3. Sirloin with Fig and Red Wine Reduction with rosemary-roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and goat cheese: I LITERALLY liked the plate it was so delicious. I absolutely love fig preserves and red wine together and would absolutely make this again. The potatoes mixed with brussels sprouts with goat cheese sprinkles were very yummy as well. I would add a little more goat cheese than what they included (although that's counterintuitive to my balancing the nutrition part below so I'd need to add extra whole grain bread, fruit or veggies).
Breakfast-Mini Quiches Lorraine: This was an excellent breakfast. It was supposed to go with an apple and arugula salad but it had 1246 calories per serving so I planned to have the salad another time but then forgot about it-oops! So I just ate the dressing and apple with other things. I also just ate one mini quiche turned giant overfilled quiche and it was very filling (still probably around 500-600 calories for just 1 and it made 4 total. I would absolutely make this recipe again but would put less filling per pie pastry both so they wouldn't spill and so it would cook faster (recipe said 30-40 minutes and it took at least an hour).
Smoothie- Raspberry-Peach Smoothie: This was a simple and tasty smoothie. My husband didn't want any smoothie so I put half of the ingredients in the blender one day and the other half the next day. This actually added more work since I had to cut everything in half instead of dumping it all into the blender but it still worked out fine. at $4.95 per serving, this is about how much you'd pay if you stopped at a smoothie shop on your way to work or as an afternoon snack and would save time.
Fruit- Spring Basket with kiwis (2), Gala apples (2), Bosc pear, and orange: The fruit was all excellent in but at $1.65 per piece of whole fruit, it's significantly more expensive than the same fruit at the grocery store. That being said, if this is the difference between you getting fruit and not getting fruit, it's well worth the added expense!
Nutrition: The meals that I received had a nice balance of macronutrients and micronutrient filled veggies plus I was able to add fruit for even more health benefit. The nutrition information on each meal includes detailed nutrition facts. Again like the other meal services, Home Chef tends to be higher in fat than recommended (all three meals and breakfast) and there wasn't as much ability to leave the fat out as in other meals. I received some of the meals that were labeled calorie or conscious so that might mean other meals were even more unbalanced. It is a little bit frustrating that these services don't have more balanced meals when they could easily do so and most customers wouldn't know the difference. You can easily rebalance them by adding a whole grain roll or more fruits and veggies (in most cases protein was within normal range and carbs were too low). It's likely that their customers desire low carb options since the have icons helping you to see which meals are carb conscious, but if you eat all your meals this way you're likely to miss out on important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals which you find in nutrient rich whole grains, fruits and veggies.
Overall: These meals were the most 'chef level' of all the services I've tried so far so the company name Home Chef is very appropriate. There's a good variety of options each week ranging from very high calorie to very light with all different proteins and flavors available. The prep time was on par with Blue Apron or Plated. I liked that there were options such as homemade chicken and dumplings which I hadn't made before and wouldn't have picked from a recipe book.
Here are the prices with known current coupon codes of all the services I've ordered so far:
Plated $72 with $40 off = $42
Blue Apron $59.94 with $30 off = $29.94
Hello Fresh $59.94 with $40 off = $19.94
Home Chef $69.70 with $40 off = $29.70
+optional extras ($9.90 fruit basket, $19.70 breakfast and $10 smoothie)
Green Chef (review coming next week!) $80.94 with $53.96 off = $26.98
Sun Basket (review coming in 2 weeks!) $74.93 with $34.47 off = $34.47