Home Chef Subscription Box Vegetarian Review + Coupon – November 2017
Home Chef is a subscription meal delivery service that delivers you a weekly box of the pre-portioned ingredients you need to make two to six meals that feed two, four, or six people. Home Chef advertises easy recipes that can be made in about 30 minutes. They say their ingredients are fresh (though they don’t provide a lot of information about their sourcing practices), and they offer vegetarian, gluten-free, and calorie/carb-conscious recipes.
This is a review of the vegetarian plan (starting at $9.95 per serving) for two people, twice a week ($39.80 per week + shipping). Delivery is free for orders over $45. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $45.
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The Subscription Box: Home Chef
The Cost: Meals start at $9.95 per serving, and delivery is free for orders over $40.
COUPON: Get $30 off your first box from Home Chef. No coupon required, just use this link.
The Products: Fresh ingredients and chef-designed recipes— everything you need to make restaurant-quality meals at home.
Ships to: 90% of the U.S. (You can check to see if Home Chef delivers to your zip code here.)
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
When you first sign up for Home Chef, you take a short quiz about your meal preferences and dietary restrictions. I like that they ask what you like to eat, as well a what you like to avoid. Based on your answers, Home Chef will choose recipes for you to get each week. As is the case with most meal kit services, you can log in and hand-select the recipes you’d like to receive. Note though, that the more particular you are with your diet, the fewer options you’ll have. For instance, it looks like there are only around 3 veggie meals each week. So the ability to customize things kind of disappears.
That said, there are usually about 10 items on the menu, total, and some “Add On” items like fruit or breakfast picks that you can choose to include in your box.
Each meal’s ingredients are packaged in a handy zip-shut bag. Bigger items that might not fit in the bag arrive loose in the box. Inside those bags, most ingredients are individually wrapped and of course, pre-portioned to minimize waste. It’s so simple to just grab these bags out of the box and toss them in the fridge until I’m ready to cook (and then grab them out of the fridge and have everything I need on the kitchen counter in one trip)!
As usual, always recycle what you can from these boxes! The ice packs can be thawed out and drained or kept in the freezer ’til you need them again. They’re great for packing coolers before parties or trips!
Broccoli Parmesan Risotto with Cheddar and Shallot
Calories per Serving: 616
Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 35-45 minutes
Actual Time to Table: About an hour
Broccoli and cheese is kind of the savory version of peanut butter and chocolate. It’s just a perfect combo that tastes particularly satisfying on chilly fall/winter days. I was eager to try this dish, but also a little worried about how everything would balance out. I’m a big broccoli fan and can easily put away the amount of broccoli they sent along in one sitting (there’s about as much as comes inside of one of those steam-in-bag freezer packs you can get at the grocery store).
I think the part of this recipe that makes it “intermediate” is that there’s a lot going on at once at the top of the process. Going by the recipe card, you should be heating broth, prepping veggies, and then getting the veggies in the oven all around the same time. The only problem there is that the broth heated to boiling way faster than it took me to chop up the veggies and get them on the baking sheet. There’s no specific instruction on what to do once the broth is boiling (you don’t end up using it until step 4), so I let it be. Not sure that was the best plan of attack, though, but I’ll get to why in a moment.
I’ve made risotto in a cooking class before, but never on my own. From what I remember, the trick is to keep the rice moving (never stop stirring!) and test it every so often to know when it’s ready. The process takes a long time—you ladle in the broth bit by bit, letting the rice soak it all up before adding more. The issue I hit was that my risotto hadn’t fully cooked by the time I ran out of broth (which was particularly worrisome being that the recipe card noted that I might have more broth than I needed in the end). The rice still had crunch and bite to it, so I ended up adding plain water to the pot, little by little, and letting the rice soak it up as well. It ended up working fine if taking longer. I’m wondering if my pot was just too hot, or more likely, whether some of the broth liquid cooked off during the time it was sitting boiling while I was assembling my baking pan of veggies.
Luckily, the additional water didn’t water down the flavor at all. And I mean, it would’ve taken a lot of water to null the taste of a risotto packed with veggie broth, butter, and a bunch of shredded cheese. All that cooking resulted in two lunch-sized portions of risotto. It doesn’t look like a lot per serving, but the heartiness of the thick and creamy risotto definitely makes for a filling meal. Still, alas, the amount of broccoli was a little scant. This is a repeat bummer that I face with Home Chef—they’re recipes are delicious, but so often, the ratio of grain or starch or pasta to veggies is wildly skewed towards the former. I feel like more broccoli could’ve not only balanced better with the amount of risotto but also made this dish feel more like a dinner, rather than a lunch portion.
Fontina and Mushroom Grilled Cheese with Pumpkin Soup
Calories per Serving: 743
Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 35-45 minutes
Actual Time to Table: About 35 minutes
I was a little apprehensive about these grilled cheese sandwiches, just because there were only two slices of cheese in the box—one for each sandwich. Will that be enough? We’ll see…
Despite the fact that there were technically two dishes being made here (the sandwiches and the soup), this was a super easy recipe that I’m surprised made it to the intermediate category. Mushrooms are growing on me, though I really can’t stand when they’re too soggy or gloopy. This recipe used criminis, which you slice down to quarter-inch-thick pieces. Once they hit the pan, they also shrink a tiny bit, and they brown beautifully. Cooking alongside garlic and fresh sage (this is the first time I’ve cooked with fresh, velvety sage rather than the dried stuff), these mushrooms smell absolutely divine. If you ever wondered what umami is all about, I’m pretty sure it’s captured by the aroma emanating from my kitchen.
The soup is really simple, and thus, really easy to make. I was surprised how veggie-heavy it was, too—most of the heft of the soup comes from the pre-mashed pumpkin, plus a hint of milk. I would’ve thought there’d need to be way more cream in there to make it turn out as smooth as it did. I’m definitely saving this simple soup recipe for Thanksgiving!
I was really pleased with how this simple little meal turned out! It looks a lot like a lunch, but it’s as filling as a dinner. (What a cozy, easy thing to make and eat on the couch after a cold fall day, huh?) I don’t know if I’d call it a grilled cheese—I expect grilled cheese to be a little more ooey gooey. Maybe a “mushroom melt” would be more appropriate. Either way, it’s super tasty. The garlic and sage bring out all the best flavors in the mushrooms, and the browning process keeps them tasting hearty, firm, and even the slightest bit crisp. I was a bit worried that it seemed like the milk might’ve curdled or separated in some way in the soup (you can kind of see the little white dots amidst the pumpkin), but it didn’t impact the taste nor the texture in any way.
My only real beef with this dish was that there was really only enough soup to fill this one bowl that you see above in the end. I don’t know if that’s me eating too much soup in one sitting (very likely) or if it cooked down more than expected. You could certainly thin it out a bit with some veggie broth or water, but the thickness of it is one of my favorite things about it. So again, the balance here was a little strange… but the flavors were right on point.
The Verdict: This was a great fall-appropriate menu from Home Chef! I get the feeling that both of these recipes (the broccoli and cheese risotto, in particular) might fly with picky kids’ palates, too. The dishes were both on the hearty side, though the portions seemed to be more lunch-friendly than dinner-ready. The balance of ingredients felt a bit off with the dishes in this box (the amount of broccoli vs. risotto and the small amount of soup in the second recipe), but the way they taste definitely makes up for it.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Each week, Home Chef introduces new recipes to choose from, though there are favorite dishes that repeat now and then. You may not see these exact recipes available for the ordering, but I can say that mushrooms, cheese, and pastas/rice appear a lot in Home Chef vegetarian options—if these flavors appeal to you, then there’s a good chance you’ll come across something you like!
Coupon: Get $30 off your first box from Home Chef. No coupon required, just use this link.
Value Breakdown: Price-wise, Home Chef meals start at $9.95 per serving, which is cheaper than Plated ($12 per serving) and on par with Blue Apron ($9.99 per serving) and Hello Fresh ($9.99 per serving).
Would you want to try either of these Home Chef recipes? And if you have tried them, what did you think?