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Home Chef Meal Kit Review + Coupon – August 2020

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 offer vegetarian, gluten-free, and calorie/carb-conscious recipes, and in my experience, their ingredients almost always arrive at peak freshness.

box flaps showing specialty print

This is a review of my customized delivery that includes three 2-serving dinner options (2 x $9.95/serving and 1 x $13.95/serving) for two people with free shipping ($67.68).

Delivery is free for orders over $49. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $49. (Please note: these shipping thresholds were what I was able to find by tinkering with my account—Home Chef’s FAQ is opaque about this.)

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.)

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.

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 August 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.

 

Sometimes a green envelope full of promo materials arrives, sometimes it does not. This month it did with info from Grove Collaborative (which Megan explored here), Marriott Vacation Club, Geico, Laithwaites, and Wayfair.

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 cushy insulation that can be placed in a curbside recycling bin, in locations that accept RIC 1 recyclables.

Beneath the insulated flap lies all of this month’s meals, neatly packaged into individual 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 many reusable/recyclable ice packs.

 

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. I’ve always appreciated this level of detail and organization.

meatballs ingredients laydown

Meal #1: Turkey Bacon Swiss Meatballs with Garlic Butter Cracker Zucchini

Calories: 622 per serving

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

Actual Time to Table: 47 minutes

Cook within: 5 days

Difficulty: Easy

Spice Level: Not Spicy

 

Hooray, meatballs! Can you believe in all my years of reviewing Home Chef, I’ve never customized my protein? This was a first for me—rather than the suggested ground turkey, I opted for Impossible “meat.” There was a slight upcharge for this customization ($13.95/serving rather than $9.95).

Also, Home Chef had a ton of meatball recipes this month and I wanted to order them ALL. However, I exercised some self-restraint and only selected this one.

 

You know how at the beginning of this review I mentioned Home Chef‘s produce almost always arriving at peak freshness? This was an exception. When I unboxed everything, I thought these zucchini were pre-cooked or coated in sauce or something and didn’t think much beyond that. Days later, as I began preparing this meal, I was horrified to find the zucchini was practically disintegrating due to being so mushy and weird. The centers fell out and they were a soggy, inedible heap. I recently pilfered several large zucchini from my partner’s parents’ garden so it was an easy replacement, but if you were relying on this ingredient for a complete meal, it would be pretty disappointing. These went in the trash in favor of my own zucchini.

 

To the provided aluminum pan, I added my fresh zucchini, the cherry tomatoes (which were also a little soft and strange on arrival), some olive oil, the garlic pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I combined the Impossible meat with two packs of crushed crackers, 2 packets of mayo, half of the bacon, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. If you’ve never cooked with Beyond/Impossible products before, the texture and appearance are pretty spot-on to that of animal products. The recipe said to create 6 meatballs, but I was able to make 8 nicely-sized ones. Everything in the pan roasted inside of a 425-degree oven for 25 minutes. 5 minutes into cooking, I discovered a second packet of garlic pepper, so I quickly removed the pan, sprinkled on the packet, and tossed everything back into the oven like it never happened. As that cooked, I mixed the remaining bacon with the last packet of mayo.

 

I would have happily enjoyed this meal as-is after its 25 minutes in the oven! But, the best was only yet to come. I spread the bacon mayo over the meatballs, topped them with the shredded Swiss, and covered the veggies with the remaining crumbled crackers and parmesan cheese. The pan went back into the oven for 4 minutes.

 

When I removed the pan from the oven to begin plating, my partner said, “This looks great! What are you going to eat?” The portions did look small at first. I plated this meal on sandwich-sized plates as I knew my big white dinner plates would dwarf what we would each receive. I’m pleased to report that this meal was both filling and fantastic. The meatballs were succulent and sharp with the Swiss on top, and the veggies with the garlic pepper, crumbled crackers, and parmesan were excellent. I am a little bummed about the original zucchini we received, and I’d have reached out to customer service if I didn’t already have a surplus of zucchini in my kitchen. In the lengthy period of time I’ve reviewed Home Chef, this is one of maybe 2-3 occasions where an ingredient ultimately wasn’t up to par, so this instance barely puts a dent in HC’s track record for me.

 

Meal #2: Cheddar & Crispy Potato Crusted Chicken with Chipotle Ranch Roasted Vegetables

Calories: 610 per serving

Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 35-45 minutes

Actual Time to Table: 58 minutes

Cook within: 5 days

Difficulty: Intermediate

Spice Level: Spicy

 

This was my partner’s pick, though at one point he did encourage me to exclusively order all-meatball dishes. We ultimately agreed this was probably the better option.

 

To get things started, I patted the chicken breasts dry and seasoned them on both sides with the spice rub and a little bit of my own garlic salt. Then, I chopped up the poblano, sliced the green onions (separating the ends from the tips), and crushed up the potato sticks in their bag. On a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet, I spread out the already-cubed butternut squash with the poblano and the white parts of the green onions. I tossed this trio with a little bit of garlic salt and olive oil. The squash looked and felt pretty wet out of the package and in hindsight, I wish I’d have taken the time to dry it off a bit with a towel. Everything on the baking sheet roasted in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes.

 

With the vegetables roasting, I seared the chicken breasts with a little bit of olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes per side. In a small bowl, I combined the generous portion of cheddar with the green onions. At this point, the veggies were ready to be removed from the oven. They didn’t look all that roasted due to the butternut squash being so wet out of the package. I added the chicken breasts to the far side of the pan, topping them with the cheese-onion mixture and potato sticks. There was a ton of cheese. I was considering only using 1/3 of what was provided but my partner, ever the cheese fiend, encouraged me to just use it all. Everything went back into the oven for 12 minutes.

I still wasn’t pleased with how the “roasted” veggies were looking so after removing the chicken, I cranked the oven up to 445 and put them back in for another 10. They looked better, but nothing like the recipe card.

 

To serve, I drizzled the veggies with the provided packet of chipotle ranch. This meal was tasty but came up a little short compared to the expectations set by the recipe card. Now I know to pat the produce dry in the future! The chicken was super cheesy and the seasoning was a great complement, while the veggies were soft and a little smoky and creamy with the ranch on top. My partner mentioned the veggies would have been fine without the ranch and I agree, which is shocking, because I really, really love ranch. We enjoyed this meal nonetheless, and I can see how it would be a hit with kids or generally-hesitant eaters.

 

Meal #1: One-Pan Pulled Pork Rice Bowl with Cilantro Crema

Calories: 753 per serving

Time to Table, According to Home Chef: 10-15 minutes

Actual Time to Table: 16 minutes

Cook within: 4 days

Difficulty: Easy

Spice Level: Spicy

 

This pulled pork rice bowl caught my eye because it can allegedly be pulled together in 10-15 minutes! Even though I spend 99% of my time at home nowadays, I still struggle to find enough time to get a nice meal together. I know it’s not a competition, but 10-15 minutes is a challenge I am eager to accept.

 

To prep, I quickly ran my knife through the fully-cooked pork, quartered one half of the lime and juiced the other, diced the jalapeño, and chopped the cilantro, stems and all. In a small glass bowl with 2 tablespoons of water, I reheated the rice in the microwave for 2 minutes.

 

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and a tiny bit of oil, I heated the pork and corn for 3 minutes. Then, I added the enchilada sauce and hot sauce, letting everything cook for another 2-3 minutes. Off to the side, I mixed the sour cream with the diced jalapeño and cilantro.

 

To serve, I filled the bottom of each bowl with rice, followed by the pork corn mixture, the jalapeño-cilantro crema, and the crispy tortilla strips, which I almost forgot. This meal was insanely easy to put together—it only took me 16 minutes! The seasoned rice could have used a bit more flavor, but the saucy pork played well with the crema and the tortilla strips. Clean-up was super easy, too.

Verdict: There were a few bumps in the road with Home Chef this month and that is a-okay. Overall, I really enjoyed each meal—there were just a couple of minor details that didn’t lead to this delivery being as much of a slam dunk as past deliveries. Will those details prevent me from ordering again in the future? Absolutely not! Home Chef is still my favorite meal kit and I am happy to recommend it to those looking to switch up their meal repertoire as a fun treat. Because I customized one of my proteins this month, the cost of each meal averages out to $11.28 per serving, which feels more than fair to me considering the convenience of having everything shipping right to my door.

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 $67.68 + free shipping for this box, the three 2-person dinners break down to $11.28 per serving.

Check out all of our Home Chef reviews and our list of the best meal kit subscriptions!

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 | 0 comments

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