Home Chef Meal Kit Review 2023: The Best for Nights When You Just Can’t

published Dec 28, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

For home cooks looking for convenient meals that don’t cost a fortune, there’s the option of meal kit delivery. These services have been around for decades and have stuck around to offer a dinnertime solution. Home Chef is an OG meal kit delivery service that’s been shipping pre-portioned ingredients for faster home-cooked meals since 2013, and offerings have only expanded in the last decade. Now, in addition to the traditional meal kit formula of sending ingredients and a recipe, Home Chef also offers heat-and-eat meals, individual proteins, lunches, and even logs of compound butter — all of which you can have delivered weekly. 

I tested out a week’s worth of meals from Home Chef to review the quality, taste, and variety of the food and how easy the recipes are to follow. Here’s what you need to know about Home Chef if you’re wondering if the meal delivery subscription is right for you. 

Quick Overview

A Quick Look at Home Chef

  • Meal kit delivery service with meals starting at $9.99 per serving 
  • Menu includes pre-portioned ingredients for recipes, heat-and-eat meals, individual proteins, lunches, and more
  • Large variety of plans, meal choices, and dietary preferences to suit different needs 
  • Easy way to save time and effort in the kitchen

What Is Home Chef?

Home Chef is a meal kit delivery service that’s set up as a subscription model. You can pause or cancel your membership any time, so you can try a single week if you’d like (just be sure to pause before the deadline of the Friday before your next delivery). 

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

How Does Home Chef Work?

If you’re a new customer, you’ll start with an onboarding quiz about dietary preferences and foods you want to avoid. Then you select how many people you need to serve (either two, four, or six), and the number of meals you’d like per week. The minimum subscription is two meals, and you can order up to six. You can pause or cancel your membership anytime you need. 

Once you’ve onboarded and provided your shipping and payment info, you’ll automatically have a cart filled with a selection of meals based on your quiz answers. You can do nothing and accept the food that Home Chef’s algorithm thinks you’ll like, or you can customize your menu. 

Once your menu is set, the meals arrive on your selected delivery day. Each meal is packed in a separate plastic bag to keep the ingredients bundled together. Raw meat and seafood are packed separately from fresh food with ice. 

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

How Much Does Home Chef Cost?

A subscription of three weekly meals that feed two costs $60 plus $10.99 shipping, without any discounts. New subscribers will pay a flat rate of $41.96. 

A larger subscription of four meals that feed four people costs $160 plus $10.99 shipping without a discount. 

Your total price also depends on any meal upgrades or bonus items you add to your box. 

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

Does Home Chef Offer Variety in the Meals?

Home Chef offers a surprising amount of customization. There are five main types of meals.

  • Meal Kits: Pre-portioned ingredients and a recipe card that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour to put together.
  • Express: Simpler meals, like rice bowls and pasta, that take less than a half-hour to make. 
  • Oven-Ready: Pre-chopped ingredients that need to be combined and popped into the oven or microwave. They take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes, and are mostly hands-off. 
  • Fast & Fresh: Microwave- and oven-friendly meals that don’t require assembly. 
  • Lunches: Individual servings of microwavable heat-and-eat meals.

Home Chef also has meal bundles, such as an entrée paired with a side salad or a baking kit. You can also add extras to your menu like muffins, tamales, Naked smoothies, and individual proteins. Those wanting to serve more would also benefit from the Family plan, instead of the Standard plan which serves up to two.

You can further customize many menu items by swapping out the standard protein for something different. For example, instead of getting a piece of salmon for Spicy Gojuchang-Glazed Salmon, you can switch to boneless skinless chicken breast, mahi-mahi, or sirloin. In some cases, a protein swap costs more. 

Does Home Chef Accommodate Dietary Needs?

Home Chef is quite attentive to dietary needs and preferences. Meals are labeled with icons that indicate vegetarian, under 625 calories, under 35 grams of carbs, or over 30 grams of protein per serving. It also has labels for keto-friendly meals and gluten-smart (the food is not certified gluten-free). 

A Week of Home Chef Meals Reviewed

To try out the full Home Chef experience, my partner and I ordered a range of meals from each menu category. We ended up with the following:

The ingredients arrived in what seemed to be good shape (more on that below), with delicate lettuces on top and heavier proteins below. 

Southwest-Style Chicken and Corn Soup

I started with the Southwest-Style Chicken and Corn Soup, a Fast & Fresh meal. The ingredients come in a plastic baking dish, so you combine everything except the garnishes in the dish and microwave or bake it to heat it through. I don’t love the idea of heating plastic, so I followed the instructions but used a glass container instead. 

The chicken breast is pre-cooked, so I was worried about it drying out in the oven, but was pleasantly surprised at how juicy it was. The soup was flavorful and fresh-tasting. It had a nice amount of heat from salsa verde and I loved the crunchy tortilla chip topping. It wasn’t the most substantial meal (there was corn, but no grains), but it made a satisfying lunch. 

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

Butternut Squash and Fig Mini Flatbreads

Next up, the Butternut Squash and Fig Mini Flatbreads, an Express meal that takes 10 to 15 minutes. The veggies are all pre-cut, so I only had to heat the naan and stir everything else together on the stove before assembling the flatbreads. 

They were very cheesy (thanks to both Gouda and mozzarella), and I loved the sweet and savory pairing of butternut and fig jam with cheese and red onion. We would have loved more toppings for the naan, but overall this was a hearty seasonal dinner for two. 

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

Everything Bagel-Style Salmon

I made the Everything Bagel-Style Salmon for dinner the next night and was relieved to find that the salmon fillets still had their skin on (the skin is essential for keeping the fish moist and flavorful as it cooks). This is part of the pricier Premium meal category (I suppose because it features salmon). 

The salmon was paired with a spring mix salad with honey Dijon dressing. About half of the cherry tomatoes for the salad were sadly soft and gooey and some of the spring mix had turned, so I had to pick through it to remove brown bits. We loved the cream cheese topping on the salmon, which tasted fresh and high-quality. 

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

Egg, Cheese & Bacon Waffle Sandwich

The Egg, Cheese & Bacon Waffle Sandwich was an extra that I threw into my box for breakfast. I heated it in the air fryer, and it made a tasty and quick morning meal that could travel. Mine got a little singed, which is likely my air fryer’s fault. I wouldn’t necessarily order these again because I prefer a fresh breakfast sandwich, but they’re a great option in a pinch and reasonably priced at less than $5 each.

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

Vietnamese-Style Turkey Lettuce Cups

Next, I prepared the Vietnamese-Style Turkey Lettuce Cups. I substituted the turkey with shrimp, which arrived frozen. This was another Express meal, and it took less than 15 minutes. We loved the seasoning for the shrimp filling, which was made with premade ponzu sauce, a pho seasoning base, and garlic. Unfortunately, the garlic that arrived with the meal kit had visible mold on it (luckily I had some at home), and the slaw mix had completely turned to mush in the bag (I also had some shredded cabbage on hand to use). Despite those setbacks, this was one of our favorite meals of the week; the flavors were bold and different from our typical weeknight dinner.

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

Spicy Korean-Style BBQ Beef

The Spicy Korean-Style BBQ Beef is a microwave-ready lunch that heats in a few minutes. It’s perfect for a busy workday and has a nice balance of sirloin, brown rice, and veggies. The meal looked far different from the picture-perfect array shown on the Home Chef website. Still, I didn’t mind a bit of a jumble, and the spicy Korean BBQ sauce was sweet, hot, and delicious.

Credit: Lizzie Briskin

Garlic Parmesan Turkey Meatballs

Lastly, I made Garlic Parmesan Turkey Meatballs, a classic meal kit recipe. This was the most involved dish on the menu and took about 35 minutes. We loved the cheesy, buttery cauliflower mash served with the meatballs, and the meatballs themselves stayed moist and juicy, thanks to mayonnaise and a rich cream cheese sauce. This was a filling meal that didn’t feel too heavy. I’d make it again. 

Home Chef Review: The Verdict

I enjoyed the convenience of having Home Chef meals in the fridge so I didn’t have to plan a meal or even think about what I’d make for dinner. Overall, I thought the dishes had great flavors and appropriate portion sizes. Most of the ingredients were high-quality and fresh, but a few of the vegetables were a little worse for wear by the time they arrived at my door. 

I found the step-by-step recipe instructions to be fairly easy to follow (although things got a bit confusing if I swapped my protein) and the meals didn’t take longer than the stated time, which I appreciated. In particular, I also loved that the Express meals required very few dishes, but still felt homemade. 

I’d recommend Home Chef to anyone looking for a solution to dinnertime stress who values customization, has specific dietary preferences, and likes variety in their meals — it was definitely fun to try a new cuisine each night without a ton of work and effort.