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Blue Apron vs Hello Fresh vs Plated vs Home Chef – March 2016

top 4 meal review

This month, I reviewed boxes from the top four meal subscription companies: PlatedHello FreshHome Chef, and Blue Apron. This is my first time reviewing all of them in the same month, and we thought it might be fun and helpful to stack them up against each other to see how they compare!

I’ve outlined all of the boxes below. To help simplify the comparison, I’ve assigned each dish a score out of 5, which I’ve then averaged together to get a total box score.

Check out all of our reviews of Meal Delivery Services to see every meal kit subscription box option!


Plated – Recipes begin at $12 per plate. 2 recipes (4 plates)= $48 per week (+ $6 shipping). 3 recipes (6 plates)= $72 per week (with free shipping). 4 recipes (8 total plates)= $96 per week (with free shipping).

COUPON: Free dinner for two with purchase of 3-dinners plan ($24 value), no coupon required, just use this link

Check out the full Plated review here!


Cheese Tortellini with Basil and Spinach in Tomato Soup

Calories Per Serving: 610

Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Score: 4.5/5 (Note to self: everything is better with tortellini!) I thought this was a tasty and comforting meal!


Asian Beef Tacos with Thai Basil and Peanuts

Calories per Serving: 740

Cook Time: 30-40

Score: 4.5/5 I enjoyed these tacos, and I particularly liked the seasoning on the steak and the charred peanuts.


Pan Roasted Redfish with Baby Kale Risotto

Calories: 760

Cook Time: 35-45

Score: 2/5 Meh. Plated’s instructions for cooking the risotto saved time but didn’t produce the creamy texture risotto is famous for.


Caramelized Pear Shortcakes with Whipped Cream

Calories per Serving: 550

Cook Time: 20-30

Score: 5/5 Outstanding! Great balance of sweet and savory.

Overall dish score: 4/5

Cost per plate: Meals start at $12 per serving. Dessert is $4 per serving.

Number of meals available to choose from each week: 9 meals + 2 desserts (7 standard dishes, plus 2 “Chef’s Table” offerings.)


Home Chef – Meals start at $9.95 per serving, and delivery is free for orders over $40.

COUPON: Save $30 off your first box! with coupon code 3PLATESOFF

Check out the full Home Chef review here!


“Bahn Mi” Meatball Sub

Calories: 728 per serving

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Score: 4.5/5 These sandwiches were delicious! I loved the well-seasoned meatballs and the heaping pile of pickled veggies!


One Pan Classic Chicken Pot Pie

Calories: 757 per serving

Prep Time: 55 minutes

Difficulty: Intermediate

Score: 3/5 While tasty overall, I felt the crust was a little underwhelming.


Chicago-Style Veggie Deep Dish Pizza

Calories: 844 per serving

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Difficulty: Expert

Score: 3.5/5 Not bad! This was my first time making deep dish pizza, and it was a pretty great success. Points off for soggy crust and for using an unseasoned can of tomatoes as sauce. (It would have been so easy to add some garlic, herbs, and seasoning!)

Overall Score: 3.7/5

Cost per Plate:  Meals start at $12 per serving.

Number of meals available to choose from each week: 10 meals + 1 breakfast + 1 dessert + 1 smoothie


Hello Fresh – The Classic Food Box (for omnivores) starts at $9.90 per person per meal. The Veggie Box (for herbivores) starts at $9.08 per person per meal. The Family Box (for families) costs $8.75 per person per meal.

COUPON: Save $40 off your first box with code HTCST2!

Check out the full Hello Fresh review here!


Mushroom and Spinach Flatbread

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Calories per Serving: 720

Score: 2/5 I love pretty much any dish and combines dough and cheese, so I was extremely disappointed to find this dish bland and soggy. I ended up adding sriracha to punch up the flavor.


Jamie’s Roasted Chicken with Lemony Bombay Potatoes

Cooking Time: 55 minutes

Calories per Serving: 418

Score: 3.5/5 While this was a perfectly respectable dish, it didn’t wow me.


Chimichurri Steak

Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Calories per Serving: 624

Score: 4.5/5 The chimichurri really made this dish something special. Yum!

Overall Score: 3.3/5

Cost per Plate: Hello Fresh starts at $9.90 per serving (for The Classic Box).

Number of meals available to choose from each week: 5 meals


Blue Apron – $59.94 for 3 recipes on the 2-Person Plan, $69.92 for 2 recipes on the Family Plan, $139.84 for 4 recipes on the Family Plan.

COUPON: 2 Meals Free on Your First Order, no coupon required, just use this link

Check out the full Blue Apron review here!


Cuban Sandwiches with Sweet Plantain & Kale Salad

Calories: 700 per serving

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35-45 minutes

Score: 4.5/5 Yum! This sandwich was incredible.


Chicken Cacciatore with Fettuccine Pasta & Mushrooms

Calories: 575 per serving

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Score: 4/5 Not the most complex or interesting dish, but it was very tasty and easy to make.


Cod Kedgeree

Calories: 600 per serving

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Score: 2/5 Not my cup of tea. Because I selected Chicken Cacciatore and Cuban Sandwiches, there weren’t any other meals available for the third pick. I couldn’t help feeling like I got stuck with this dish.

Overall Score: 3.5/5

Cost per Plate: Blue Apron costs $9.99 per serving.

Number of meals available to choose from each week: 6 meals (Note: meal choice is limited by the fact that not all combinations of meals are available.)

The Verdict: This is my first month receiving back to back boxes from PlatedHome ChefBlue Apron, and Hello Fresh, and it’s very interesting to stack them up against each other to see how they compare! Looking back at all the meals I received this month, there was definitely at least one standout meal in every single box, but I think Plated’s dishes were my favorite overall. Even though their risotto dish didn’t work for me, I loved everything else.

Favorite box: Plated

Yummiest dish: Plated’s Cheese Tortellini with Basil and Spinach in Tomato Soup

Most fun dish to make: Home Chef’s Chicago-Style Veggie Deep Dish Pizza

Do you subscribe to Plated, Home Chef, Hello Fresh, or Blue Apron? What were your favorite March dishes?

Blue Apron

How do subscribers rate Blue Apron?

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Written by Lindsey Morse

Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker, cold brew coffee addict, and rosé aficionado who loves writing about food and wine. When she’s not sharing her love of subscription boxes with the world, you’ll find her in the podcasting studio, perfecting her cake decorating techniques, or cursing her way through the New York Times daily crossword puzzle.

Posted in Blue Apron vs Hello Fresh vs Plated, Meal Kit Subscriptions| Tags: blue apron | HelloFresh | Home Chef | plated | 32 comments

Comments (32)

  1. Sooo disappointed in Home Chef. I just cancelled my subscription. It’s okay if you don’t need customer service. It’s okay if you never want to cancel your subscription. If you do they still send it and still charge you.

  2. I like Hello Fresh, but I haven’t tried the others. I always skip a month in advance and then review the meals weekly and only order when I find three meals that sound really yummy and/or fun to make. (This also ensures I don’t accidentally get an unexpected order.) i peruse every recipe card in advance to look at all of the ingredients and to decide if I’m feeling up to any cooking challenges I might face. I like that Hello Fresh gives me an opportunity to experiment, as my personal meal repetoire is pretty limited, without requiring me to buy a bunch of ingredients that I’ll never use again. The proteins are always really good, and I like that all their weekly meal choices each represent different proteins and one vegetarian option. For anyone trying a box for the first time, I always tell people to go ahead and skip the next week as soon as you sign up, so you don’t get that second box until you’be had a chance to try all your meals.

  3. I’ve tried Blue Apron n Home Chef. Preparation time is lengthy n fresh herbs tend to be half dried up. Think I will try Simply Fresh n Plated next

  4. Just FYI for anyone considering this CRAP MEAL DELIVERY SERVICE…I received my first order on a Wednesday at approximately 5 pm. I didn’t have time to cook that evening or the next. They charged my debit card for the next shipment FRIDAY AT NOON CENTRAL TIME. I hadn’t even had a chance to try anything at that point and had received it less than 48 hours prior.

    They didn’t exactly make this clear and they never even sent me a receipt or notification that I had been charged and would be receiving anything at all. I assumed I would have until at least Saturday morning to cancel. I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect I’d have an opportunity to try the food before being billed for more. The only reason I caught it is because I saw the transaction on my bank’s website. I emailed them immediately and they didn’t bother to respond until – conveniently – they said the order had been processed. Then they treated me like an idiot who doesn’t know how subscription services work.

    You’ve been warned. Oh, and the food from the first order was nothing great. If I’d paid $20 for that for two at a café, I would have been disappointed. Let alone $20 to make it and clean up myself. The morons also sent me flat leaf parsley instead of cilantro.

    • Which service did you use?

    • If you are talking about Plated, it states clearly in the subscription agreement that if you get deliveries on Wednesdays then you need to decide your meals or skip the following week by Thursday at noon.

  5. Blue Apron is much better than Plated IF you do not mind getting your food the day before and storing it until needed. They both use Laser Ship. When my Laser Ship Driver came late and I wanted to refuse the delivery he said he would just take it home for himself. So a late delivery = a free box of food. Also Plated’s food is very weak. They are as or more expensive than carry out NOT Worth It!!!

  6. I’ve been loving Hello Fresh – we’re vegetarian (my husband and myself) and they do a box specifically for veggie folks. I love cooking – it’s fun! And the food has been fantastic – sometimes really good, sometimes amazing. There is something revolutionary about the fact that we’re cooking at home now at least 3x/week and making tasty, healthy food. I’m also sort of using Hello Fresh as a diet technique – their meals are well-designed nutrition-wise, so I’m losing weight – and it’s nice looking forward to a memorable home-cooked meal.

  7. I love the comparison review! Thank you for sharing your insight! I just started with Hello Chef this week, and loved it! so convenient and the quality of the ingredients was really good! I think I’ll try these others as well for some variety down the line! 🙂

  8. I find Blue Apron to taste better, offer a better selection, actually have side dishes, and have less problems than HelloFresh, but HelloFresh is easier to prepare for a person who doesn’t have time to spend 30 minutes washing and cutting stuff every night. I wish they had a service that had side dishes (I shouldn’t have to add food when I’m spending $10/person already), had some food prepared (washed greens, chopped garlic, etc), didn’t need garnishes but sometimes prepared needed sauces, and could help me get dinner from door to table in 30 minutes. I have not yet heard of a service that is that easy. I’ve been using Blue Apron for about 5 months and HelloFresh for 2.

  9. I use both Blue Apron (arrives Saturday) and Hello Fresh (arrives Wednesday) for almost two years now. Yep. Six meals a week, then we eat out one night. I try to order the fish option, one red meat (maybe) one chicken and the rest veggie. So I can relate to ALL these comments.

    My thoughts?
    Yes, Hello Fresh quality was poor for a week or two recently, but they seem to have fixed that. (And for two weeks they experimented with powdered garlic rather than fresh..yuck..but that ended.. I thought they might be having money issues?).

    Blue Apron sometimes is quite complicated..veggie burgers? Delicious, but my kitchen was a mess. But I love it, some times the work is easy, other nights I really feel like I’m cooking. Yes, the Blue Apron limits on selection are extremely limiting! Let me choose 3 out of the 5 (like Hello Fresh–3 out of 6!!). I avoid the risotto recipes, anyone who knows how to make risotto will not like the short cut version. But I always order the Hello Fresh pizza…there fresh pizza dough ( whole wheat from Brooklyn) is phenomenally good…and I can’t buy it any where. Oh and when Hello Fresh has steak…I order it, the quality and tenderness is top notch. Finally a comment on the fish. I am usually amazed at how good and fresh the fish is ( once it was sushi grade tuna…wow, I know how much THAT costs.). But, after one try, I avoid the catfish from Blue Apron. Very meh.
    As to calories? Well we usually split the meals 3 ways…sometimes I have to add some rice, or a little more pasta, but it works really well. We have found that the portions are way to big. This is the best way to do portion control, you never overeat with these services. ( the proof? My husband has list 60 lbs while on the service, and his weight has now stabilized.)

    My one big complaint, that no one has mentioned, is the paucity of vegetables. I usually supplement with a green salad or roasted green veggie. When they do have side veggies, the quantity is quite small. Eight spears of Asparagus for two people is not enough! So we always have extra arugula, some tomatoes, onions, and then some veggies in the fridge. For example, if they have me roasting sweet potatoes, I might add some Brussels sprouts to the pan, no more work, but more veggies.

    My grocery trips are very short and focused. We waste almost nothing. Everything in the fridge gets eaten and I love the variety of the six meals. I actually think I am saving money because there is no frivolous purchases, no waste, and we are eating way healthier. ( okay,both services could probably do more brown rice and whole wheat, but they are trying)

    We have no plans to quit or switch. ( though I am tempted to try The Purple Carrot)

  10. Thanks for this! I’ve been using Hello Fresh for about a year. The last 3 boxes had problems. The last box had almost nothing usable except the meat. 85% of the produce was moldy. They even forgot to include the recipe cards!! I absolutely loved their meals until now. I’m not sure whats happened to their quality lately, but they have lost me as customer. I am switching service in the next few weeks and was curious about Blue Apron & Plated.

    • I am a former subscriber to Blue Apron. While I found the vast majority of their recipes really great tasting, I was dissatisfied with missing items, leaky items, missing recipe cards, etc.
      The customer service in dealing with said issues is really very good, but I felt as if the attention to detail in packaging was lacking. They continually had to make up for what should have been handled correctly in the beginning.
      I also did not care for the limitations set on choices for menu selection. If certain recipes are selected, some of the other selections are automatically blocked, thereby limiting the customer.
      So, all in all, I loved the great recipes, seasoning combos and different ingredients I normally wouldn’t try/pair…but the snafus caused me to cancel and look elsewhere.

      • Right, I’m about to cancel Blue Apron because of their lack of customer service. No customer service (they don’t reply), leaky and missing products. I think their customer base has grown beyond their capability to get the quality products consistently, then get them packed and shipped. I can help with the situation by giving them one less customer. lol

  11. I’ve been Hello Fresh-ing for a while now. I love it. Love the quality, and they are mostly 30 to 45 minutes total. I’m trying Blue Apron this week for the first time, but Hello Fresh’s recipes seem a lot more appealing to me.

    • On our 2nd week of hello fresh, my hubby and I are enjoying making dinner together trying different things we would never make on our own. Food has been fresh, delicious and customer service was great when I needed it!

  12. We alternate between Home Chef, Plated and Hello Fresh. I think the best produce quality is Hello Fresh, easiest to prepare is Home Chef, and closest to restaurant quality is Plated.

  13. Have you found any services that offer multiple meal choices per week that are low carb/low calorie? I have recently started a diabetic/low carb diet and would love to try a meal service. Unfortunately, most either exceed 500+calories per serving or are very high in carbohydrates.

    • Hi-
      I have been getting Blue apron for about two months now, I love it. I do with there was less carbs, and more protein. The flavors are amazing, I am learning a lot.

  14. Yay, love the comparison review!

  15. We’ve been using Plated for about a year and have discovered many new, delicious recipes. I love that I don’t have to think about what to cook twice a week and that we can try new recipes without buying full size ingredients we may never use again. I’m vegetarian and my boyfriend isn’t. There is usually at least one dish for each of us on the weekly menu but sometimes I skip because nothing looks good. I’m a picky eater and sometimes there are ingredients featured that I just don’t like. We have had a few misses, but overall have been happy enough that I think about trying another service so we can have delivery more than once a week.

  16. I love Plated! I find myself making many of the dishes again myself with the recipe cards. I like the fact that you can choose your meals out of a list.

  17. I haven’t tried any of these but those photos are cookbook-worthy!!

  18. We love Home Chef in our house! We’ve never made anything with crusts, but everything we’ve had has been great. It’s been super easy to recreate meals, and you get access to all of their recipes. Customer service has been pretty awesome as well. Great review!

  19. We’ve tried Plated and Home Chef, and found Plated to be the best. We’ve learned new methods and have had the chance to try new ingredients and flavors. There have been a few dishes we weren’t crazy about, but the far majority have been restaurant quality. Home Chef meals weren’t bad but they were mostly bland and were not restuarant quality.

  20. Great review! Loved seeing a real side by side comparison.

  21. We have been plated customers for a couple of years now and they truly never disappoint. Their recipes are always so delicious (of course we like some more than others) and we recreate the ones we really like because the ingredients and preparation is not ridiculous. We’ve recently tried Home Chef and it’s comparable.. maybe just not AS tasty as the Plated recipes. Blue Apron was a big strike out with us, I don’t like that they practically choose your meals!

  22. I recently just cancelled Blue Apron after about a year. I found the food to be delicious! But it took way too long to prepare, IMO. Sometimes at the end, I’d realize I went through all the work for a sauce to drizzle on top, which seemed a bit much.
    Which service did you think was the easiest to prepare?

    • I have that exact same question ?
      I’ve been using Blue Apron for about 5 months after a phenomenal cook recommended it to me. I really love it so far, and my husband and I feel the huge majority of the meals have been extremely tasty! However, I have a super busy work schedule, so I’ve had to skip a few weeks as some have had long prep times (but I’m really slow). So I have 3 questions for those who have tried multiple services:
      1. Which have you tried?
      2. Which have you felt was the tastiest?
      3. Which have you felt was the easiest?
      Thanks! ?

      • Plated. Hands down.

      • I have tried Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated and Home Chef in that order. Hello Fresh and Blue Apron took the longest time to make and I normally have to start an hour before dinner time. Plated and Home Chef menus are very appealing and you are not locked to 3 meals (whatever you selected for your plan) when you might only want 2. Plated has delicious desserts!! Home Chef is the easiest and quickest for preparation time. They also have the largest menu choices for each week. My family is more into simple meat and potatoes kind of meals so Home Chef so far is my top choice. Not to mention, they have delicious breakfast!

      • I started with blue a but the preparation time i felt was too long plus the recepies although they were tasty i rarely saw one that i was familiar with i just started dinner thyme. There are larger menu choices and the prep is less but they cost more could you do a comparison with them compared to the others curious to see what your opinion is.. Maybe hello flesh next or home chef. …

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