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 two 2-serving dinner options (at $9.95/serving) for two people, and one 6-serving dinner option ($7.49/serving) for the week ($84.74).
Delivery is free for orders over $49. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $49.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Home Chef
The Subscription Box: Home Chef
The Cost: Meals for 2 start at $6.99 per serving, and delivery is free for orders over $49. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $49.
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 January 2020 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 Grove Collaborative, ibotta, WSJ Wine, Geico, and Amore Coffee.
So, about the packaging situation...
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 chilled with the help of a reusable/recyclable ice pack.
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!
Meal #1: New Orleans Shrimp Roll and Cajun Fries w/ Roasted Garlic Crema
Calories: 991 per serving
Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 40-50 minutes
Actual Time to Table: 52 minutes
Cook within: 3 days
Spice Level: Mild
I usually go for shrimp pasta with my monthly Home Chef order, but I figured I'd change things up a bit and delight my beau with this tasty-looking sandwich.
As I was unboxing this delivery, I realized pretty quickly that the shrimp package had leaked in transit. Home Chef packages its proteins within a sealed plastic bag, so thankfully, the damage was minimal. Also, the mixed greens were starting to look a little sad in their plastic bag, so I quickly intervened by storing them in a paper towel within a tupperware container. Greens don't last long when stored exclusively in plastic, so consider this a tip from me to you!
Like any meal kit, I started by rinsing off the fresh produce, which was just two potatoes and one tomato for this recipe. Everything was really fresh and firm! The potatoes were cut into fries, then tossed on a foil-lined tray with a little bit of olive oil and the cajun spice blend. The two peeled garlic cloves were drizzled with oil inside a foil nest. I tossed the baking sheet in a 450 F oven for 15 minutes. While the potatoes and garlic roasted, I sliced up the tomato and patted the shrimp dry.
In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat with a touch of olive oil, I seared the shrimp on one side for 3-4 minutes, then flipped them and let everything cook through for another 5 minutes until they reached a safe internal temperature of 145 F. The recipe card didn't suggest cooking them for so long, but the fries and garlic still had awhile to go and there was plenty of time to achieve a nice sear. Once the shrimp were to my liking, I tossed them in the remoulade sauce off to the side.
I removed the garlic from the oven after 15 minutes and returned the potatoes to roast for another 15 after flipping. In what I thought was a clever move, I already added the mayo and sour cream to a small mixing bowl for the garlic crema, thinking I could mash the garlic into the other ingredients to save myself some time. Nope. It would have been intelligent to follow the instructions and mash the garlic first, because my way didn't really work. The 2 cloves remained largely intact thanks to each having a very caramelized side, so the intended flavor profile wasn't quite there. I added some salt, pepper, and garlic powder to cover my mistake, and it was pretty effective.
Once the fries were finished, I toasted the buns directly on my oven rack for about 3 minutes. I was really impressed by the hearty quality of the bread!
To serve, I added the saucy shrimp to the toasted bun, followed by the tomato slices and mixed greens. If you're thinking "that looks like a lot of crema for one person," that's because I added both servings to one bowl for my partner and me to share. This was a great meal! Much to my surprise, the bun was the real star of the dish, and is an item I feel often gets overlooked with other meal kits. It was firm, supportive, tasty, and toasted beautifully. The shrimp in the remoulade sauce was just spicy enough and packed enough protein to make for a filling dish. There's no going wrong with oven-baked cajun fries and garlic crema, either. My meal companion asked what the "lumps" were in our dipping sauce which prompted me to confess my prior deviation from the recipe, but neither of us really cared. What matters most is how delicious this meal was! I'm genuinely impressed.
Meal #2: Korean Pork Noodle Bowl w/ Green Beans and Red Bell Pepper
Calories: 617 per serving
Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 35-45 minutes
Actual Time to Table: 1 hour and 7 minutes
Cook within: 5 days
Spice Level: Spicy
So, I've been eyeing up the 6-serving offerings from Home Chef for a few months now and the pull of these Korean noodles finally made me go for it. For this type of meal, it's $7.49/portion compared to the standard $9.95/portion for two-serving meals. One thing I prefer about grocery-purchased home cooking over meal kits is the amount of leftovers I end up with, so I was excited to see the true yield of this recipe and whether it would reheat well.
There were many moving parts to this dish, so I went the mise en place route rather than struggle to keep everything on my modest cutting board. A few extra bowls to wash are no big if it makes everything easier in the end. I cleaned off the produce, only to find the green onions had become a little wilty after a few days in the fridge. Lucky for me, I had some more growing in my window, so the unusable pieces I had to trim were supplemented with some from my own collection.
I trimmed the ends of the green beans and cut them into bite-sized pieces, sliced up the green onions while keeping the tops and the ends separated, minced the cilantro, juiced one half of the lime while slicing the other half into wedges, and chopped up the bell pepper. Lastly, I mixed 1/2 cup of water, the teriyaki glaze, and all of the gochujang in a mixing bowl to form the sauce. The recipe recommended only using half of the gochujang to start then adding more to taste, but I love the stuff so I threw it all in there without a second thought.
It's no secret that I eat a lot of noodles, but I don't often cook six servings at a time. My go-to pasta pot is good for about 4 servings max, so imagine my surprise when I poured everything in and found the pot wasn't quite big enough. Oops! Luckily, the pot didn't overflow and everything cooked through just fine for 4 minutes. There was a little bit of stickage to the bottom, but it wasn't the end of the world. I drained this massive noodle pile into a colander, rinsed it with cold water, returned it to the pot, and stirred in the sesame oil.
In my largest, deepest, non-stick pan off to the side, I crumbled up the ground pork over medium-high heat with a little bit of olive oil. This took closer to 15 minutes than the suggested 7-9 because busting up that much ground pork is no easy task and I wanted everything to be safely cooked through to 160 F. My arms were so tired after this step, but a workout is always welcomed. That just means I'll have room for more noodles.
Once the pork was finished and set aside, I turned up the heat just a little before throwing in the green beans, red bell pepper, and a big pinch of salt. The veggies cooked for 8-9 minutes until tender and slightly charred. It was really satisfying to hear them hiss in the pan—made me feel like I was doing this dish some justice. After that, I stirred in the pork, the heartier end of the green onions, and the teriyaki-gochujang mixture. It didn't take long for the sauce to come to a boil and coat everything beautifully.
I transferred the pork and veggie mixture into my largest bowl before adding the noodles into the hot pan to warm through for 3 minutes. The noodles and lime juice then joined the pork and veggies.
Each serving received some minced cilantro, sliced green onions, and a lime wedge. Firstly, the yield on this dish was exactly six generous servings! My dinner guest and I enjoyed a bowl and had two servings of leftovers each to enjoy later. That really came in handy when I started feeling under the weather later in the week and didn't need to cook anything for a few days. These noodles reheated nicely and were hearty without being too heavy. The red pepper and green beans were great for both color and texture, and the pork was divine with the sauce mixture. This six-serving meal was great for meal prep and I recommend taking the plunge if you're looking to add convenience to your make-ahead meal schedule.
Meal #3: Black & Blue Steakhouse Risotto w/ Mushrooms and Spinach
Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 50-60 minutes
Actual Time to Table: 1 hour and 22 minutes
Spice Level: Not Spicy
It felt like enough time had passed since my last risotto endeavor, meaning my patience for stirring rice for all eternity had been restored. Let's go!
After cleaning off the mushrooms, I chopped them along with the whole onion and the spinach. I did my best to separate the steak strips so they could be patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper. There were more strips than my plate could comfortably fit, so although they weren't entirely separated, I knew that was an issue I could resolve while cooking them in the pan.
I brought 4 cups of water to a boil in the pot on the back burner before toasting the rice in a little bit of olive oil on the front burner. Then I added 1 cup of boiling water to the opaque rice and stirred until nearly all the water absorbed, which took about 8 minutes. From there, I added 1/2 cup of boiling water at a time to the rice and continued to stir for about 20 minutes until my desired texture was achieved. About halfway through the stirring marathon, I realized I could be cooking the onions and mushrooms at the same time! Oof.
Following that epiphany, I began to caramelize the onions on medium-high heat with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper for close to 12 minutes. Once nice and golden, I stirred in 1/2 cup water to deglaze the pan and transferred everything to a plate off to the side.
The mushrooms were cooked in the same pan with a bit of salt on medium-high heat, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. The recipe suggested quartering the mushrooms but I prefer them sliced. After quickly stirring the mushrooms, I moved them up to one side and tossed in the steak strips to the vacated other side, undisturbed once again, for about 5 minutes. I then added the demi-glace, 1 tablespoon of water, and some salt and pepper. This mixture was brought to a simmer and cooked for another 4 minutes until the steak was entirely done and the sauce had thickened slightly.
When the rice initially finished cooking, I placed a lid over the pot and set it aside. Once the steak and mushrooms were just about done, I placed the pot back on the front burner over low heat, then added the spinach, parmesan, all of the onion (because the recipe suggested half and then adding to taste, but I wanted to taste all of it), the 2 butter packets, and a pinch of salt. It only took a few minutes for the spinach to wilt and for everything to combine.
Behold, one of my most decadent Home Chef creations to date! This meal had "special occasion" written all over it with the bleu cheese crumbles, flavorful steak, savory mushrooms, and wonderful spinach risotto—though, full disclosure, I enjoyed it in my pajamas on the couch with season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: risotto is a labor of love. Was the hour+ cook time worth the end result? You betcha. This dish was the rich, comforting, savory experience my January self really needed. I didn't realize this until I was cleaning everything up later, but there were two packets of demi-glace! One of them got stuck under my cutting board and I missed it completely, but I don't think a second packet was necessary to the success of this meal. I'll just use it for something else!
Verdict: Home Chef rules. I've reviewed a few meal kits in my time, and this one regularly gets my recommendation to anyone that asks. None of my recipes this month were quick, but if you're someone that's pressed for time, there are plenty of fast options to suit your needs! The quality of the produce is always there (I take accountability for not storing the green onions ideally!) and the convenience is appreciated. My overall cost for this month was more than my typical total ($84.74 compared to $59.70) but that's because of my adventure with the 6-serving dish at $7.49/portion. This delivery included ten portions across all 3 meals, bringing the cost to $8.47 per serving, which you'd be hard-pressed to find with takeout meals of equal quality. If you do know of a place in Pittsburgh that can whip up a bangin' shrimp roll or decadent steak risotto for less including delivery and tip, point me in the right direction. Until then, Home Chef continues to be worth it for me as a monthly supplement to my meal rotation.
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.
Value Breakdown: At $84.74 for this box, the 2-serving dinners were $9.95/portion and the 6-serving dinner was $7.49/portion (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!
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