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Home Chef Meal Kit Review + Coupon – December 2019

unopened box

Home Chef is a meal kit subscription that delivers a weekly box of the pre-portioned ingredients needed to make 2-6 meals that feed two, four, six, or eight 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 my customized delivery that includes a mix of seafood, steak, and poultry dinner options (starting at $9.95 per serving) for two people, with three meals for the week ($59.70).

Delivery is free for orders over $49. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $49.

This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

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About Home Chef

The Subscription Box: Home Chef

The Cost: Meals start at $9.95 per serving, and delivery is free for orders over $49. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $49.

COUPON: Save $80 off your first four boxes! No coupon needed - just use this link.

The Products: Fresh ingredients and chef-designed recipes—everything you need to make restaurant-quality meals at home.

Ships to: 98% of the U.S. You can check to see if Home Chef delivers to your zip code while signing up.

Home Chef December 2019 Review

When you first sign up for Home Chef, you take a short quiz about your meal preferences and dietary restrictions. They ask what you like to eat, as well a what you tend 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.

Let’s take a look at what was in our green “delicious deals” envelope:

 

So many promos! We have appearances from KiwiCo, blink, Naked Wines (which Megan can tell you all about), and Geico.

So, about the packaging situation…

interior view of box ingredients with lining

If you’ve been here before or are already a subscriber to this meal kit, it’s business as usual. If you’re new here, welcome—and allow me to explain! The box was cushioned and insulated with packaging comprised entirely of recycled water bottles. The whole lining can be placed in a curbside recycling bin, in locations that accept RIC 1 recyclables. How easy is that?

 

Beneath the insulated flap lies all of this month’s meals, neatly packaged into individual, recyclable bags with convenient handles and slide-zip closures. Underneath the ingredient bags is another cardboard divider that keeps the meats separated from everything else. And, beneath the proteins is a nest of reusable/recyclable ice packs, which keep the meat chilled. 

 

As previously mentioned, every Home Chef meal comes in a plastic bag, except for the meat and some ingredients that are too large (such as ears of corn). Most things tend to fit, though.

The bags are also labeled with the title of each recipe for clarity. They really thought of everything!

shrimp linguine ingredients laydown

Meal #1: Creamy Corn & Tomato Shrimp Linguine

Calories: 736 per serving

Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 25-35 minutes

Actual Time to Table: 32 minutes

Cook within: 3 days

Difficulty: Intermediate

Spice Level: Not Spicy

 

I’m in the habit of ordering a shrimp pasta dish with almost every Home Chef delivery as a little monthly indulgence. They’ve yet to disappoint!

 

Like any meal kit, I started by rinsing off the fresh produce, which was just the cherry tomatoes for this recipe. I was delighted by how fresh and firm they were! The tomatoes were sliced in half, two cloves of garlic were chopped, and the shrimp was patted dry with a paper towel before receiving some salt and pepper.

The recipe card suggested cooking the linguine for 9-10 minutes, but as someone who eats a lot of pasta, I knew 7 minutes would be the ticket. I placed a small measuring cup next to the pot so about 1 minute before the pasta finished cooking, I could ladle out 1/4 cup of the pasta water to use for the sauce later.

In a large, non-stick skillet heated to medium-high with some olive oil, I added the shrimp to sear on each side for 3 minutes until they reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. From there, the shrimp was transferred to a plate.

To that same pan, I added a touch more olive oil plus the corn, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper until everything warmed through for 3 minutes. Then went in the tomatoes until softened for an additional 3 minutes. The veggies joined the shrimp on the plate off to the side.

 

Back to the same pan, I poured in the cream and attempted to bring it to a boil. My stove is moody and oftentimes unreliable when it comes to appropriate heating (the options are medium or hellfire, no in between) so a lot of minutes were burned (hah) waiting for the cream to thicken. I eventually grew impatient and stirred in the pasta, reserved pasta water, parmesan, and seasoning mix before taking the pan off the burner.

shrimp linguine finished dish

To serve, I topped each bowl of noodles with the shrimp and veggie mixture plus a little spare parmesan cheese. The sauce was still a bit thin due to my burner issues and impatience, but this dish was still really great! I thought the tomatoes were juicy and bright, the corn was a lovely color contrast, and the ranch seasoning in the sauce provided an interesting twist. A dish this nice made an ordinary weekday evening spent in my pajamas watching the Penguins game seem much more special.

 

Meal #2: BBQ Ranch Steak Tacos with Pickled Jalapeños

Calories: 720 per serving

Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 15 minutes

Actual Time to Table: 29 minutes

Cook within: 4 days

Difficulty: Easy

Spice Level: Mild

 

I’ve ordered Home Chef “express” meals in the past and really enjoyed them, so adding these tacos to this month’s delivery was a no-brainer, especially considering how wild things are getting now that Christmas is right around the corner.

 

I really struggled to separate all of the steak strips before drying them with a paper towel, which is where I tacked on several extra minutes. The strips came in three thick bundles and seemed infinite as I did my best to work quickly to pull them apart, but more and more kept forming and before I knew it, I had wasted quite a bit of time on something that would eventually solve itself in the pan. After a quick pat to dry (where the strips then got stuck to the paper towel, the agony) I seasoned each side with salt and pepper.

For the veggie prep, I cored and diced the tomato and sliced the jalapeño into small strips before tossing them in a small mixing bowl with the rice vinegar and a pinch of salt to marinate.

 

The steak strips cooked in a large non-stick skillet set to medium-high for 8-10 minutes rather than the suggested 4-6. I frantically worked to break apart the strips as they cooked to ensure consistent separation thorough cooking. When everything was done to my liking, I poured in the BBQ sauce and gave it all a stir until coated.

tortillas warmed on plate

While cooking the steak strips, I briefly paused my furious spatula separating to wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave them for 30 seconds.

steak tacos finished dish

Voila, my finished tacos! Aren’t they cute? Firstly, I’m so charmed by the color palette of this recipe. The tomatoes and jalapeños kept things bright, juicy, and just a little bit spicy, while the ranch and shredded cheese played well with the BBQ sauce. In hindsight, this was a really easy meal to throw together, steak prep woes aside. I was able to whip this up before an event and still had a little time to spare before heading out, and for me, that’s what express meals are all about! Plus, these tacos were much tastier and far more thoughtful than some other random dishes I’ve frantically improvised before going out.

 

Meal #3: Panko-Crusted Boom Boom Chicken with Sesame Broccoli

Calories: 547 per serving

Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 30-40 minutes

Actual Time to Table: 51 minutes

Cook within: 5 days

Difficulty: Easy

Spice Level: Medium

 

Another easy-to-assemble meal! Like the last dish, I’ve ordered a few of these pan-included meals in the past and was enamored with how simple they were to make, and how delicious they were, of course—especially when my health took a hit in the early fall and I needed all the help I could get.

 

This was the easiest thing on earth to throw together. After rinsing off the broccoli, I threw it in the provided pan with the water chestnuts, Asian sesame dressing, and some salt and pepper before giving everything a stir. It was sort of difficult to keep everything contained in the pan while mixing it all together but I fared well. When it came time to add in the chicken breasts, I had no idea where they’d possibly fit—my pan was full! As it turns out, broccoli stacks well in this situation, so I precariously stacked the veggies to the side and squeezed in the chicken, which I topped with boom boom sauce and panko.

Once the oven reached 425 degrees, I tossed the pan in for 35-40 minutes total. At the 25 minute mark, I tested the internal temperature of the chicken only to find the uppermost breast was still several degrees under 145, so I added some extra cook time in a wholehearted attempt to not poison my dinner guest.

boom boom chicken finished dish

I’ll start out by saying the portion size of this dish was excellent—my huge plate just dwarfs the dish. I’ll work on procuring a smaller dish for next time! Boom boom sauce seems to be having a cultural moment right now and I can see why—it’s creamy, spicy, and a little bit mysterious in that I can’t immediately place its ingredient list from taste alone. The chicken cooked through really well, and roasted broccoli and water chestnuts are always going to be winners, even more so with the addition of the Asian sesame dressing. As for clean-up? I just tossed the pan in the trash and that’s all she wrote! Less time in the sink scrubbing meant more time with my lovely neighbor catching up over this excellent meal. What’s not to love?

Verdict: My dishes from Home Chef this month were once again stellar. I’ve sung the praises of the convenience and quality of this meal kit, and I’m happy to sing them again, especially now that the wildest time of the year is upon us and I could use a little extra help in the evenings! For three dinners, my total came to $59.70, which is a bit more than my typical weekly grocery bill, but still far less than what I’d spend on 6 meals of takeout. Though I couldn’t financially justify a delivery every single week, I still think Home Chef is certainly worth it as a monthly supplement to my regular meal rotation. It’s been great having meals ready to prepare right after I step through the door or close my laptop after a long day of working from home, and I’m excited to start perusing next month’s options soon.

To Wrap Up:

Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Since Home Chef menus change weekly and you must choose them ahead of time, you won’t be able to order these dishes unless they are offered again in the future.

COUPON: Save $80 off your first four boxes! No coupon needed - just use this link.

Value Breakdown: At $59.70 for this box, each dinner was $9.95 per serving (with free shipping). Per Marne’s advice, it’s always a good idea to get at least one add-on (or a third dinner) if you’re only ordering 2 meals since it pushes you over the free shipping threshold. Why pay for shipping when you could just have more food, you know?

Check out all of our Home Chef reviews and find other meal kit boxes in this list recommended by MSA readers!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist.

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Written by Savannah Sprowls

Savannah Sprowls

Savannah spends her days testing the creative limits of an all-black wardrobe, rattling about years spent overseas, and whipping up carb-heavy meals at home. Degustabox was her first foray into the world of monthly subscription boxes, and she still gets wildly excited every time a package arrives.

Posted in Food & Drink Subscription Boxes, Home Chef Reviews, Meal Kit Subscriptions, Subscription Box Reviews| Tags: Home Chef | 9 comments

Comments (9)

  1. I always enjoy your reviews, Savannah, they really entertain me 😉
    You should get a cheap-o induction burner plate to use for dishes that need that fine tuned temperature between medium and high… mine comes in handy.

    • Thanks really kind, marie—thank you! Also, great tip about the induction burner. I have one, but it only ever gets used for hot pot. I’ll be keeping that in mind the next time I prep another dish that would benefit from greater control.

  2. It hurt my heart that the pan was thrown in the trash especially since it’s recyclable. Poor whales.

    • Unfortunately, a lot of areas don’t offer recycling. My area is one that doesn’t offer it. I live in the mountains though so the whales are safe!

      • It all ends up in the oceans directly or through runoff. But I get it. We have to go to a recycling center where most of the stuff gets thrown out because people keep mixing their garbage in.

  3. I love Home Chef and order often. I was to receive my box last Thursday, but received an email from Home Chef stating it would be a day late. Friday came and went with no delivery. The same with Saturday. Finally around 2 PM Sunday FedEx finally delivered my box. My meat was setting on a half thawed ice pack which would usually be fine. The produce and dairy in my ingredient bags were spoiled, so I just decided to toss everything. Home Chef did credit my entire box, thankfully. I won’t be ordering anything until after the holidays when I hope FedEx is less busy. I really wish they’d use UPS. I’m always having some kind of problem with FedEx but UPS is always wonderful.

  4. I have generally been very happy with my Home Chef deliveries, but the last two weeks the deliveries were a day late. I emailed customer service and they told me that, since it’s Christmas, the delivery company was very busy and having problems keeping up. I don’t really buy this explanation, since it’s perishable and should be delivered on time, and if their delivery service can’t do it, they need to fix that. I did receive a one-meal credit from them, but it left a bad taste (no pun intended).

    • Deliveries are late because of FedEx. They are super understaffed for the holiday season nationwide 🙁

      • Interesting. FedEx has been leaving my packages at Walgreen’s after one home attempt, and I am NOT happy with that. One was left the next town over, no where near me, and I don’t drive. I called and made this point and they did eventually deliver. The other was left closer to me, I went with the door notice and Walgreen’s wouldn’t give it to me as it was addressed to my housemate (even though FedEx lets anyone at the house sign for it and my ID has the address). Anyway, it would have been nice to get an email from Home Chef to let me know what to expect.

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