I Tried 4 Different Home Meal Kits
One day, while at my local Kroger, I noticed the Home Chef meal kits were available in the store so I cured my curiosity and bought one. The prep & clean up were a breeze, and the recipe was tasty too - so I was officially hooked. I remembered that I had seen most of the other companies advertise on Groupon, so I decided to give them all a try to compare which one I liked best. Each kit I tried is ranked below, from 4 to 1, with 1 being my favorite.
The above pictures are some of the meals from the various kits - I would love to say that I remember what everything is and what company it was from.. but I don't.
A few general things that every meal kit was pretty similar on: First, these meals are pretty high in sodium once prepared. The kits don't really come with many processed ingredients, so I assume this is due to the amount of salt that each recipe recommends. If you are on a low sodium diet, I recommend using a no-salt alternative or skipping salt all together. Second, all of the companies require you to subscribe and sign up for auto-pay, but all of them make it very simple to pause or cancel anytime. Third, packaging is pretty similar of all companies. All ingredients come in an insulated box with an ice pack to keep the contents fresh until you can put them away.
4. Dinnerly - By far the cheapest kit of the 4, with pricing coming in around $6 per serving, including shipping. However, the reason they are able to keep the costs low is because just the ingredients come in the box - that's it. With the other companies, each recipe is bagged and labeled with its designated ingredients inside and a recipe card is included. With Dinnerly, you have to access the recipe online. Not that big of a deal, but when I'm cooking off of a new recipe, I reference it often and I think the physical recipe card that comes with the other boxes is helpful.. I do have a printer, so I could just be nitpicking. I feel like Dinnerly is great if you are cooking for a family. The recipes seem to be focused on being easier & picky-eater/kid friendly. There is some variety, including vegetarian options, and there's 12 or so options to choose from each week.
3. Blue Apron - Blue Apron comes in at $9.99 per serving. One thing that stood out about them is that you have the option to get 2 recipes per week, an option I hadn't seen with the other companies. The recipes come bagged separately with recipe cards included. They have a lot of options if you are following a specific diet regimen as well - WW, Whole30, Paleo, etc. I don't really think of myself as a picky eater, but the recipe selection with Blue Apron left much to be desired for me. The best way I can say it is, the options were a little too "culinary," if that makes any sense. The meals remind me of going to lunch at one of those places you've never heard of, so you browse the menu online before you go and 98% of the dishes have at least 1 ingredient you detest. And I know I could have ordered the kits anyway and skipped the ingredients I don't care for, but I felt like if I'm going to try the meal out, I wanted to get the full experience - not just my version of it. Kinda defeats the purpose if I have to remix all the meals.
2. HelloFresh - Honestly, for overall quality, variety, and taste, HelloFresh is a tie with my #1 pick. I believe I signed up through Groupon and got my first 2 boxes using that voucher. Once your initial promotion is over, HelloFresh starts at $8.99 per serving with shipping, depending on your subscription. There's a subscription option to serve 2 or 4, and to order 2 (hadn't noticed that before) - 4 different recipes per week. You can also choose between different diet lifestyles. Overall, I had a 10/10 experience with HelloFresh and would definitely order from them again.
1. Home Chef - As I said above, comparing Home Chef to HelloFresh (and even Blue Apron) on quality, variety, and taste, they really rank the same. But where Home Chef beats the competition is flexibility. With every subscription, you can pause/cancel any time, choose the amount of servings you want per week, skip weeks, etc. But with Home Chef, you can choose the degree of preparation difficulty you want with their Home Chef Express, Culinary Collection, Oven-Ready, and new Slow Cooker options. And, you can customize every dish by choosing your main protein (some for free, some for an extra charge). And, they offer additional items every week like smoothies, entree salads, a 6-person serving in case you're feeding a crowd, and protein packs - variety packs of meat for you to use in between recipe kits. With your first box, they send you a binder and all of the recipe cards come 3-hole punched so that you can start a cookbook to keep on hand. And, if you're still not ready to commit to a subscription, the boxes are available at Kroger for the same price as purchasing online.
As of now, I am still a Home Chef weekly subscriber. I should point out that I am only cooking for myself 99% of the time. Since opting for meal kits back in November, I've noticed that I'm not at the grocery store nearly as much. My weekly Home Chef delivery of 3 meals with 2 servings each runs exactly $59.70. For breakfast, I normally have a protein shake. For lunch, it's either the leftovers from the night before or something small & cheap like soup or something. To offset the cost of nearly $10 per serving of the kit, I won't spend more than $30 per week at the grocery store, so my other meals have to be cheap.
Since I started trying out meal kits, I have noticed that I am spending less on food and I'm not tossing out nearly as much wasted food. So it can be a cost saver, depending on what your food & grocery bills look like now. It's also a huge time saver for me because I can select my meals in about 5 minutes tops. Then, if I need to go to a physical store, I'm not there long with my $30 budget.
I recommend meal kits to anyone that wants more variety in their current recipes, to save time on shopping, to learn how to cook new things, to waste less food, or if you're on a diet like Paleo, Whole30, WW, heart-conscious, etc and you want to add some creativity & variety to that.
Have you tried any meal kits? Let me know what your experience has been!