One of the major barriers to entry when it comes to deciding whether or not to sign up for a meal kit subscription is figuring out if its meals are substantially healthier than what you can get going out to eat. While most everyone loves to dine out on occasion, the reality is that most restaurants sneak in excess calories into their meals and don't use the cleanest or most nutritious ingredients available.
We were curious to see how some of the most popular dishes from top-rated chain restaurants fared against those offered by Green Chef, so we decided to compare three different meals from three restaurants with similar recipes offered by Green Chef. Here's what we discovered!
For the purposes of this article, we found restaurant meals that were as close as possible in style to what was found in the recipes offered by Green Chef. We also used meals from these restaurants that were in their standard forms and not in modified versions, such as gluten-free or diet-conscious.
We realize that these restaurants may offer healthier versions of their most popular dishes to accommodate certain diets, but we wanted our comparisons to reflect consumer demands as accurately as possible and most consumers of popular chain restaurants order the standard versions of the following meals.
Round 1: Green Chef Vs. P.F. Chang's
Green Chef Recipe - Spicy Chili Beef & Veggie Stir Fry
This Asian-inspired recipe by Green Chef features chili-spiced ground beef and Sriracha-lime aïoli along with stir-fried onions and red bell peppers and roasted broccoli. Each serving contains 690 calories, 55 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs, and 31 grams of protein and there are 9 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, and 1,000 mg of sodium.
You can access the full nutrition facts here.
P.F. Chang's Meal - Beef With Broccoli
Perhaps one of P.F. Chang's most popular dishes since its creation, Beef with Broccoli comes with flank steak, ginger-garlic aromatics, green onion, and steamed broccoli. The beef is covered in a garlic-soy sauce and you can choose from side items such as rice (white, brown, or fried) or noodles.
Each serving contains 670 calories, 33 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbohydrates, and 50 grams of protein and there are 33 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, and 2,110 mg of sodium. You can access the full nutrition facts for this meal and all other P.F. Chang's meals here.
Green Chef vs. P. F. Chang's - Calories
Although these meals are incredibly similar in respect to overall calories at first glance, it's important to point out that the nutrition facts for P. F. Chang's do not take into account the inclusion of side items like rice (brown, white, or fried) or lo mein noodles. While going with the side of white or brown rice isn't a bad option, a lot of people choose to pair this meal with the lo mein noodles which adds around 560 calories, 15+ grams of fat, and 60+ grams of carbs to your meal.
Thus, you're looking at consuming upwards of 1,230 calories for P. F. Chang's meal vs. 690 calories for Green Chef's meal.
Green Chef vs. P. F. Chang's - Macronutrients
P.F. Chang's meal has higher protein, however, 50 grams is a bit overkill unless you plan on splitting up the meal into two servings or sharing it with someone else. In comparison, Green Chef's meal has 31 grams of protein, which is absolutely plenty for one person.
You'll notice that Green Chef's meal has 1/3 the number of carbs compared to P. F. Changs. While having higher carbs isn't necessarily a bad thing in all cases, you can see that P. F. Chang's Beef with Broccoli contains 33 grams of sugar due to the sauce - and that's before you add in any side items. For reference, this amount of sugar exceeds the amount in one cup of standard ice cream.
In contrast, Green Chef's meal only has 9 grams of sugar, which stems primarily from the vegetables used and possibly a little from the sauce as well.
Finally, Green Chef's meal does contain higher fat than P. F. Chang's, but this meal is a part of their keto collection and, as such, it contains higher fat and protein while having lower carbs. Something to keep in mind is the fat in Green Chef's meal stems completely from the beef and aioli, so people who prefer leaner meat may gravitate towards P. F. Chang's but should also consider whether or not the trade-off of having higher sugar is worth it.
Again, we realize that P. F. Chang's may accommodate dieters who are concerned with consuming high amounts of sugar and may allow them to remove the sauce completely or have it on the side. In this case, this swap makes the meals competitive with one another without taking into account the inclusion of side items.
Green Chef vs. P. F. Chang's - Cost
Finally, Beef with Broccoli from P.F. Chang's starts at $17 per meal, whereas Green Chef's Spicy Chili Beef & Veggie Stir Fry only costs $5.75-$6.50 per serving, depending on your plan. While P. F. Chang's Beef with Broccoli is a delicious treat on occasion, Green Chef's Spicy Chili Beef & Veggie Stir Fry is by far the healthier option when it comes to having lower sugar and sodium and it's much cheaper.
Round 2: Green Chef Vs. Cooper's Hawk
Green Chef Recipe - Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Green Chef puts a spin on this Italian-style chicken meal by adding seasonings of rosemary, basil, sage, and swaps bread crumbs for a light Parmesan coating. This dish comes paired with sautéed green beans with toasted hazelnuts and marinated Roma tomatoes.
Each serving contains 670 calories, 50 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs, and 51 grams of protein and there are 5 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 690 mg of sodium. You can access the full nutrition facts here.
Cooper's Hawk Meal - Dana's Parmesan Crusted Chicken
One of Cooper's Hawk's most delectable dishes, Dana's Parmesan Crusted Chicken comes with breaded-chicken breast topped with Parmesan and lemon butter sauce along with tomato basil relish, garlic green beans, and the famous Betty's Potatoes.
This meal contains 1,380 calories, 90 grams of fat, 70 grams of carbs, and 70 grams of protein as well as 10 grams of sugar, 10 grams of fiber, and 2,670 mg of sodium. You can access the full nutrition facts for this meal and all other Cooper's Hawk meals here.
Green Chef vs. Cooper's Hawk - Calories
Unlike the first round of meals we compared, Green Chef blows Cooper's Hawk out of the water for this particular dish when it comes to calories. Green Chef's meal has less than half the calories and is a great portion size for most people, whereas Dana's Parmesan Crusted Chicken by Cooper's Hawk contains an excessive amount of calories for most individuals.
Green Chef vs. Cooper's Hawk - Macronutrients
If you took a closer look at the fat, you'll notice that Green Chef's meal only contains 9 grams of saturated fat whereas Cooper's Hawk's meal contains 50 grams of saturated fat. While part of this may be due to the use of more Parmesan cheese in Dana's Parmesan-Crusted Chicken, we can make a fairly good assumption that a lot of the saturated fat stems from the cooking oils they use in the chicken, sauces, and in Betty's Potatoes.
Saturated fat is a normal component of dairy, but in this case, it's pretty evident that the Parmesan crust cannot be the main culprit, and the majority of saturated fat in this meal stems from whatever cooking oils were used.
You'll also notice that the meal from Cooper's Hawk has 70 grams of carbs vs. 12 grams of carbs in Green Chef's meal. Green Chef's carbs stem from green beans and tomatoes, making it a great option for most people on keto.
However, those who aren't on keto may prefer a dish that comes with a side of carbohydrates, and Cooper's Hawk does offer other options for sides in addition to Betty's Potatoes that are more well-balanced and have lower fat.
Finally, Green Chef's meal has 51 grams of protein whereas Dana's Parmesan-Crusted Chicken has 70 grams of protein. Both of these meals are quite high in protein and truthfully most people don't need to consume this amount of protein in one sitting, however, Green Chef's meal is catered towards those on keto or a low carb diet so it makes sense why it favors higher protein and fat and has lower carbs.
In comparison, Dana's Parmesan-Crusted Chicken is not intended for those on keto or a low carb diet so 70 grams of protein is unnecessary. Of course, the side item does influence this amount (we assume that Betty's Potatoes is the side item included in the nutrition facts) but even after removing the side item the amount of protein would still be a bit too high.
Green Chef vs. Cooper's Hawk - Cost
Dana's Parmesan-Crusted Chicken from Cooper's Hawk costs $20.99, which is nearly 4 times more expensive than Green Chef. While Cooper's Hawk offers the ultimate comfort food dish, Green Chef certainly keeps both your waistline and wallet in mind.
Round 3: Green Chef Vs. Carraba's
Green Chef Recipe - Chicken With Creamy Mushroom Sauce
This recipe by Green Chef offers a slightly different version of Chicken Marsala and comes with cremini mushrooms, scallions, lacinato kale, jasmine rice, walnuts, a rosemary, basil, and sage blend, and a creamy mushroom broth. This recipe from Green Chef is a popular option as not all consumers are on keto or a low-carb diet and prefer to eat a more well-balanced meal.
Each serving contains 690 calories, 36 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbs, and 49 grams of protein along with 3 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 720 mg of sodium. You can access the full nutrition facts here.
Carraba's - Chicken Marsala
Definitely one of Carraba's healthier options, their Chicken Marsala comes with wood-grilled chicken topped with mushrooms and a Lombardo Marsala wine sauce. This dish is served with your choice of side and you can't forget about the bread as well.
This meal contains 530 calories, 29 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 54 grams of protein along with 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 1,240 mg of sodium. You can access the full nutrition facts for this meal and all of Carraba's meals here.
Green Chef vs. Carraba's - Calories
At first glance, it may appear that Carraba's offers the better option as its Chicken Marsala has lower calories. However, Carraba's nutrition facts don't include the side items that are paired with this meal, so realistically both meals are quite comparable if you add on one of the more popular side items.
For instance, if you select a side of mashed potatoes you'll add 300 calories and if you choose a side of fettuccine this adds 690 calories. So, you're really looking at a starting caloric value of 530 calories, but upwards of 1,220 calories if you add on pasta.
On top of that, most people go through at least one loaf of bread while waiting on their meal which rounds up your potential total calories to around 1,520, roughly. Of course, you can always forego the bread at Carraba's, but most customers don't and it's incredibly hard to resist.
Green Chef vs. Carraba's - Macronutrients
As discussed above, the same concept applies to starting value macronutrients vs. final macronutrients for Carraba's meal. While the starting values for both carbs and fat are lower than Green Chef, you have to consider the amounts of macronutrients contained in each of the side items before determining the meal's final values.
Let's use the same side items as an example. Pairing your meal with a side of mashed potatoes adds on 16 grams of fat and 35 grams of carbs to your meal, whereas the fettuccine adds 47 grams of fat and 43 grams of carbs.
Also, if you consume one loaf of bread you'll add another 14 grams of fat and 39 grams of carbs to your meal.
Thus, the winner here really depends on which side items you pair with the Carraba's meal. However, we believe Green Chef edges out Carraba's since most people will not pair the Chicken Marsala with low calories sides, like steamed veggies, and most customers will give in to at least some bread with their meal.
Green Chef vs. Carraba's - Cost
The Chicken Marsala by Carraba's costs $20.99, making it 3.5x more expensive than Green Chef. If you're looking to have a several-course meal that will leave you stuffed, then Carraba's might be the way to go.
However, if you prefer cleaner eating and are calorie-conscious, Green Chef would best suit you.
Have you tried Green Chef? If so, what were your favorite meals?