When I first discovered meal subscription plans, I thought my struggles in the kitchen were done. For the same price as a weekly grocery run, I'd have full meals without a lot of effort – and my lack of cooking skills wouldn't matter because the subscription plan would do it all for me. They'd provide me with all the ingredients, recipes, and instructions – and it would all be conveniently delivered straight to my door.
But in searching for the best meal subscription out there, I came face-to-face with the OGs: Home Chef and HelloFresh. I mean, why would I pick anything else besides the ones that got the business started? Well, if you've found yourself in the same predicament as me, I'm here to help you choose the meal kit that's best suited for your needs.
If you're looking for ready-to-eat meals: Home Chef
Yes, both Home Chef and HelloFresh provide their subscribers with the ingredients of the recipes they choose – similar to every other meal kit out there. However, Home Chef also provides the option to purchase ready-to-eat meals that provide little to no preparation. This is a huge plus in my book because some days, I feel really lazy and I don't want to cook but I also don't want to spend money buying take-out. That's where the ready-to-eat meals come in. I don't have to worry about spending too much time in the kitchen after a long day at work and I don't have to worry about ingredients spoiling because I don't have the time or effort to actually cook.
If you're looking for a cheaper option: Home Chef
I live in one of the most expensive cities in America – probably the world too. And although I'm a single woman without any kids or pets, I still like to get my bargains where I can get them. That's why I picked Home Chef over HelloFresh in the end. Home Chef is one of the most affordable meal kits out there, with prices starting at $6.99 per serving. The ready-to-eat ones go for $13 but serve two people. On the other hand, HelloFresh goes for $7.49 per serving and although that's just a $0.50 difference, that can definitely rack up quickly.
If you're looking for more dietary options: Home Chef
As different diets become more popular and widely known, it's great to hear about a meal kit subscription that can cater to its customers. Although HelloFresh offers pescatarian, fit and wholesome, and veggie options, Home Chef lets you pick and choose the ingredients you don't want your meals to include. Not only do they offer vegetarian, carb-friendly, and calorie-friendly options, they can also offer substitutions – including protein – for you to purchase on your own or that they can send you.
And although Home Chef allows you to choose meals without allergens, you should know that all of Home Chef’s products are packaged and shipped in one location, so you might be want to be aware of possible cross-contamination.
If you're looking for the longest-standing brand: HelloFresh
If you're also torn between these two brands and would rather go for the brand that has been in business the longest, you might want to choose HelloFresh. It's true that this brand is the most popular one and it's the one many people think about when they think about meal kits. HelloFresh first launched in 2011 and it's only been getting more popular since then. I can tell you the number of friends who tell me they love it on top of the constant marketing letters I get from them. That doesn't mean Home Chef is brand new either, they've been around since 2013.
The Verdict: Home Chef
From my list, I think it's fair to say that Home Chef comes out as the crowned winner in the battle of the OG meal kits. Despite being younger than HelloFresh and possibly less popular, it still is superior – at least in my opinion.
When it comes to recipe options, dietary variety, and affordability, Home Chef takes the lead. When picking out my meals from Home Chef, I can rest easy that I can replace any ingredients I don't want and choose between ready-to-eat and meal kit recipes, all while staying within budget and even picking some carb-conscious and calorie-friendly options.