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Green Chef vs. Sun Basket: What's the Real Difference?

Green Chef vs. Sun Basket

Comparing Two Organic Meal Kit Subscriptions

Have you seen our list of the best meal kit delivery services? If so, you know that there are a ton of players in the meal kit delivery game. Today, I’m going to look at two companies that are known for sending tasty, organic meals made with non-GMO ingredients: Green Chef and Sun Basket.

These two subscriptions have a lot in common. They both offer plans that can suit a number of different diets, and each subscription delivers chef-designed recipes and all the fresh, organic ingredients you’ll need to make them at home in your own kitchen. But Green Chef and Sun Basket aren’t identical. There are subtle differences that set them apart, and in this article, I’ll help you figure out which one is right for you. Read on to find out more about the food, recipes, packaging, cooking process, and more!

by Lindsey Morse, Taste-Tester Extraordinaire
November 13, 2020| Leave a comment

Green Chef vs. Sun Basket

To help identify exactly what sets these boxes apart, I’m going to look at how they compare in the following ways: flavors, recipes, ingredients, accommodations for special diets, packaging, price, overall convenience, and more. If you want to skip forward to a specific section, feel free to use the Table of Contents on the left to navigate. If you want the full play-by-play, keep on reading.

Here’s what I’ve found to be the most notable differences (and similarities) between these two meal kit services:

The Food

Of course, the most important question when picking a meal kit delivery service has to be the obvious one: is the food any good? Well, both of these boxes consistently serve up dishes that are mouth-wateringly delicious, but there are some key differences to note.

Green Chef Salmon Dish Prepared

Image from our review.

In my experience, Green Chef recipes are designed around specific diets and lifestyles. If you’re following a keto diet, trying to eat balanced or vegetarian meals, or gluten-free, Green Chef has an entire menu each week with choices that should work for you. Recipe-wise, I’ve seen Crispy Southern Chicken with Creole Dijonaise served up alongside Miso-Glazed Sweet Potato Tacos. The dishes tend to feel like elevated home cooking, like something you might find in a cozy neighborhood cafe.

Sun Basket Huevos Rancheros Dish Prepared

Image from our review.

Sun Basket, on the other hand, is more ingredient-focused. While they still offer meals that are paleo, gluten-free, diabetes-friendly, veggie-friendly, pescatarian, and Mediterranean, they lead with their dedication to fresh, clean ingredients. Fun fact: Sun Basket recipes are developed by Justine Kelly of San Francisco’s famous James Beard award-winning restaurant, The Slanted Door. Unsurprisingly, the food is on the adventurous side. (Think Shanghainese Meatballs with Cabbage, Thai Lettuce Cups, and Char Siu and Italian Sausages with Vegetable Skewers and Two Romescos.) Global flavors dot the menu, and many of the dishes would be at home on the menu of a quirky bistro.

One thing to note: even though these subscriptions cater to those with all types of dietary restrictions, I think they can also work for carnivores and omnivores who follow a more traditional diet. Even though many of the dishes are developed with specific diets in mind, the recipes don’t feel overly restrictive. To get a better idea of what you can expect from each box, you can compare upcoming menus for these (and many more) meal kit delivery services with my weekly menu roundup!

The Menu

Both Green Chef and Sun Basket offer rotating menus that change weekly and feature seasonal ingredients. In both cases, you can view upcoming menus in advance and choose which recipes you’d like to receive. Both boxes also offer a fairly extensive menu; however, depending on the specific diet you follow, one box might better fit your needs.

Image via Green Chef.

Green Chef offers 3 different menus each week: Keto + Paleo, Plant-Powered, and Balanced Living. Each menu offers around 8 or 9 choices, and you’re welcome to switch-up your plan. You can order from the Keto + Paleo menu one week and the Plant-Powered menu the next. (Worth noting, however, is that you can not pick and choose recipes from different menus in the same order.)

Image via Sun Basket.

Sun Basket offers 9 meal plans to choose from: Chef’s Choice, Fresh & Ready, Paleo, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, and Diabetes-Friendly. Unlike Green Chef, Sun Basket allows you to mix and match any of the recipes they have available, regardless of which plan you choose to follow. That said, the overall number of recipes is about 20 per week, slightly less than the total number available across all Green Chef meal plans. Want to stock your pantry while ordering your meals for the week? Sun Basket has market add-ons like cheese, seafood, and waffles.

The Recipes

Green Chef sends a two-sided recipe card to accompany each dish, and each card provides nutrition information, allergen warnings, items you’ll need to prepare the dish, easy to follow instructions, and full-color pictures to accompany each step. The photos of each step can be a great help for visual learners (like me!), as well as inexperienced home cooks looking for regular confirmation that they’re on the right track. But what happens if you do get stumped while cooking? Not to fear! You can always call Green Chef for help. They include their phone number at the bottom of every recipe.

Things I love about Green Chef recipes:

  • Two-sided recipe cards.
  • Full-color photos accompany every step.
  • Nutrition & allergy information is clearly outlined.
  • Stumped? Call Green Chef for help!

Instead of sending individual menu cards, Sun Basket includes a booklet in each box that includes the recipes for all of the week’s featured meals. (In addition to providing cooking instructions, the booklet includes wine pairing suggestions, tips for how kids can help cook, and detailed nutrition and allergy information!) Unlike Green Chef’s photo-heavy recipes, Sun Basket recipes only include one photo of the completed dish. That said, their instructions are perhaps a smidgen more detailed, and it’s important to note that while they often feature recipes that feel adventurous, the cooking instructions are surprisingly straightforward. I also like that the menu booklet includes recipes for all of the week’s meals, even those you didn’t order. This feels like a bonus to me. 

Things I love about Sun Basket recipes:

  • Each recipe has a suggested wine pairing.
  • Nutritional value & allergy information are clearly outlined.
  • Instructions are clear and straightforward.
  • Sun Basket calls out ways kids can help cook.

Regardless of your level of cooking expertise, I think both Green Chef and Sun Basket send recipes that set you up for success. I’m pretty confident in the kitchen, but even if you’re a cooking novice I think you’ll find both companies send large, full-color recipes that are clear and easy to follow. One tip: regardless of which box you choose and how comfortable you are in the kitchen, I always recommend taking a peek at the full recipe before adding a meal to your box.

Plans & Pricing

When it comes to pricing, Green Chef and Sun Basket are both in the same ballpark. Green Chef meals are $11.99-$12.99 per serving, and Sun Basket meals cost between $10.99- $12.99. Shipping costs are $8.99 and $7.99, respectively. Whether you’re after a family menu or just looking for a two-person plan, both subscriptions offer plans for you.

Green Chef Plans & Pricing

Image via Green Chef.

  • 2 Person Plans:
    • 3 meals per week, 2 servings each:
      • $77.94 + $8.99 shipping (Keto + Paleo)
      • $71.94 + $8.99 shipping (Plant-Powered & Balanced Living)
    • 4 meals per week, 2 servings each:
      • $103.92 + $8.99 shipping (Keto + Paleo)
      • $95.92 + $8.99 shipping (Plant-Powered & Balanced Living)
  • 4 Person Family Plans:
    • 2 meals per week, 4 servings each:
      • $103.92 + $8.99 shipping (Keto + Paleo)
      • $95.92 + $8.99 shipping (Plant-Powered & Balanced Living)

Green Chef COUPON: Expiring Soon! Save $90 off your first five Green Chef boxes! $40 Off including Free Shipping on 1st box + $20 off 2nd + $10 off 3rd, 4th & 5th Boxes ($90 Total). No coupon needed - just use this link.

Sun Basket Plans & Pricing

Image via Sun Basket.

  • 2 Person Plans:
    • 2 meals per week, 2 servings each, for $51.96 + $7.99 shipping
    • 3 meals per week, 2 servings each, for $71.94 + $7.99 shipping
    • 4 meals per week, 2 servings each, for $87.92 + $7.99 shipping
  • 4 Person Family Plans:
    • 2 meals per week, 4 servings each, for $103.92 + $7.99 shipping
    • 3 meals per week, 4 servings each, for $143.88 + $7.99 shipping
    • 4 meals per week, 4 servings each, for $175.84 + $7.99 shipping

Don’t forget to use our coupon when signing up!

Sun Basket COUPON: Get $35 off plus 4 free gifts! No coupon needed - just use this link.

Dietary Restrictions

Both Green Chef and Sun Basket are pretty great when it comes to accommodating special diets and food allergies, but there are a few key differences. Let’s break them down:

Special Diets

Green Chef offers three separate meal plans that cater to different dietary preferences: Keto + Paleo, Plant-Powered, and Balanced Living. In practice, I think that these plans can work for those counting calories, being mindful about healthy eating, looking for low-carb meals, and following a ketogenic, paleo, or vegetarian diet; however, since Green Chef doesn’t allow you to pick and choose meals from different menus, those with other dietary restrictions might struggle to find suitable options. Pescatarians, for example, might not always have enough non-meat, seafood options to fill out their box.

Sun Basket offers even more diet-specific meal options: Chef’s Choice, Fresh & Ready, Paleo, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, and Diabetes-Friendly. That’s a whopping 9 different meal plans to choose from! (Plus, you can also sort recipes to see which options are soy and dairy-free.) While certainly impressive, it’s worth noting that there may not always be a ton of choice for each plan. If you’re looking for Diabetes-Friendly meals, for example, you may only have a handful of options.

Food Allergies

Green Chef is very transparent about the risks of cross-contamination, and they make it clear that their ingredients are processed and packaged in the same facility and that they therefore can not guarantee their meals are free from major food allergens. That being said, they’re one of the only meal kit delivery services to receive a Gluten-Free Certification from the Gluten Intolerance Group’s Gluten-Free Food Service program. If you’d like to learn more about this certification and what it means, you can visit Green Chef’s FAQ page for additional information.

Similarly, Sun Basket does not recommend subscribing if you have severe food allergies, as their recipes are packed in a facility that handles gluten, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

Both services do disclose ingredients and nutrition information so you can avoid any “no-no ingredients” when placing your order. Even so, I always recommend you read through the recipes thoroughly and use your best discretion, especially if your allergies are severe!

The Ingredients

If you’re looking for an organic meal kit, you’re in the right place. Green Chef and Sun Basket are both extremely vocal about their passion for organic meals and non-GMO ingredients. (Both companies hold USDA certifications relating to their organic practices.)

Green Chef Ingredients

Image from our review.

As a matter of principle, Green Chef includes organic ingredients whenever possible, and everything in their kits is certified organic unless labeled otherwise. According to their website, they’re committed to buying local and supporting family farms. There’s an emphasis on “high quality” ingredients and “high-integrity” foods, but I can’t find much detail that elaborates on these claims.

Sun Basket Ingredients

Image from our review.

Sun Basket, on the other hand, is detailed and thorough in its approach to quality and sustainability. This begins with a focus on seasonality and carries through every step of the ingredient sourcing process. Impressively, they claim that their standards meet or exceed those of most natural grocery stores! Produce is organic whenever possible, meats are raised responsibly (and free of antibiotics and added hormones), and seafood is all wild-caught and sustainably sourced. Their website outlines the company’s animal welfare standards in great detail. Here are a few highlights:

  • 100% of Sun Basket’s eggs are organic and pasture-raised (free-range when pasture-raised eggs are not available).
  • 100% of chicken is fed a vegetarian diet and given the ability to roam freely.
  • 100% of beef is humanely-raised, grass-fed, and antibiotic-free.
  • 100% of pork is from ethically-run family farms, antibiotic and hormone-free, and raised in open, group environments.
  • 100% of lamb is pasture-raised and antibiotic-free.
  • 100% of seafood is wild-caught or sustainably-farmed.

The Packaging

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that meal kit delivery kits also deliver a fair amount of packaging, but both Green Chef and Sun Basket strive to limit the environmental impact.

Image from our review.

Whenever they can, Green Chef makes sure their packaging is made from recyclable, reusable, and/or compostable materials. (Sometimes this isn’t possible due to food safety.) Deliveries are packed inside an insulated brown box, and ingredients for each recipe are packaged together in a brown paper bag. Basic recycling information is printed right on the box, and you’ll find more detailed information on their website. Expect to see packing materials like reusable plastic jars (#5 plastic- Polypropylene) and recyclable paperboard boxes, paper bags, plastic bags (#4 plastic film), and plastic clamshells (#1 plastic).

Image from our review.

Shipments from Sun Basket also come packed in a brown cardboard box with ingredients for each recipe separated in a paper bag, and their packaging materials are innovative and largely recyclable. In the height of summer, expect your box to be protected with insulation made from 100% reclaimed denim. Curious about how best to dispose of your box? There’s an entire page on the Sun Basket site dedicated to advising subscribers how to reuse, compost, recycle, or dispose of packing materials.

 

Modifications & Cancellations

Can you skip a box or cancel your subscription? The easy answer is yes! It’s easy to adjust your delivery schedule or stop your subscription with both of these services.

Green Chef allows you to skip or modify your weekly orders up to several weeks in advance. You have until 7 days before your scheduled delivery date to make your desired changes.

Similarly, Sun Basket also lets you see, skip, and modify weekly deliveries up until the Wednesday before your delivery.

Both meal kits can be canceled online if needed and can be easily reactivated in the future, too.

The Final Verdict

So, which box is best for you? To be honest, it really depends on your specific needs. But here’s how I see it:

Price? Both boxes come in right around the same price, and both boxes offer high-quality organic food.

Taste? I love the creative menus offered by both boxes, but each one offers a slightly different vibe. Sun Basket meals feel more adventurous, so I think it’s a natural fit for foodies, risk-takers, and those with an appreciation for global cuisine. Green Chef’s flavorful yet slightly more familiar offerings are probably a better fit for families, picky eaters, and those who prefer simple, comfort foods.

Special Diet? This is a tricky one. Both boxes cater to special diets, so it really depends on your specific requirements. Those in search of vegetarian meals will probably find plenty of options on both menus, but if you’re looking for paleo or keto-friendly recipes, Green Chef is probably the way to go. If diabetic-friendly or Mediterranean meals are more your jam, I recommend Sun Basket.

Convenience? Again, this is a wash. Both boxes offer pre-portioned ingredients that are grouped by meal, easy to follow recipes, and user-friendly online portals.

 

Final Thoughts: I love recommending Green Chef to my ingredient-conscious friends looking for a subscription that delivers tasty meals that fit their special diet. (It’s my go-to recommendation for those who eat keto or paleo!) But if you’re a hip foodie who cares equally about how tasty your food is and where it comes from, I think Sun Basket is the box for you!


Ready to give one of these boxes a try? Check out these coupons to score some free meals!

Green Chef COUPON: Expiring Soon! Save $90 off your first five Green Chef boxes! $40 Off including Free Shipping on 1st box + $20 off 2nd + $10 off 3rd, 4th & 5th Boxes ($90 Total). No coupon needed - just use this link.

Sun Basket COUPON: Get $35 off plus 4 free gifts! No coupon needed - just use this link.


Looking for more options? Check out our roundup of meal kit delivery services recommended by MSA readers like you!

Have you tried one (or both) of these meal kits? Share your experience in the comments!

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.

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