Dinner-in-a-Box is Not at All What I Thought!

Over the past year or so I’ve been hearing a lot about a new way to get dinner on the table. Every month or so another one of these meal kit delivery services would contact me to give it a try.

Seriously? Who in their right mind would trust seafood, meat and produce from some unknown assembly plant, piled onto a loading dock then moved into the back of an unrefrigerated FedEx truck for who knows how long and until some delivery guy leaves it on the porch?

The whole idea sounded ridiculously expensive, if not just plain gross. I didn’t need to test the obvious so I did what comes all too naturally for me: I jumped to conclusions. Turns out I was way off base and so wrong. Today I’m here to come clean and set the record straight.

Several weeks ago I casually mentioned the meal kit option for super busy households. I had just started testing one of these meal kit services. I determined that Home Chef is the least expensive and invited two other families to help me test. I set out to get a true, unbiased picture of how this works and what it’s all about. I needed honest, real-life feedback.

One of my testers was a young bachelor in California—a very picky eater with limited cooking skills. The other, a local family of four with two children ages 7 and 2.

We have been preparing and eating Home Chef dinners now for about six weeks—each of us receiving the minimum order of two dinners (2-servings each) delivered once weekly. None of us came into this with any meal kit experience. We had no idea what to expect.

(By the way, Home Chef is not aware that we’ve been testing. I set up our accounts and have covered the cost of all the meals and delivery during the testing period.)

I could write chapters about every detail of our Home Chef experiences, but in the interest of time and space, I’ll cut to the chase: Home Chef has greatly improved our lives—as varied as our lifestyles and situations are. It is an amazing service. Nothing about it is gross (I’m so sorry I even thought of that as a possibility). In fact, the food arrives fresher than meat, fish, seafood and produce at my local supermarket. It is high quality and did I say fresh?

Home Chef uses some kind of space age gel packs that are still frozen hard upon arrival. Even if that box sits on the porch all day, those packs remain frozen, but the food is never frozen arriving at exactly the right temperature to maintain flavor and safety.

Home Chef does a terrific job of delivering amazingly fresh ingredients and offering a variety of dishes. All of us have loved the meals—even the picky bachelor and equally picky 7-year old.

Each meal requires about 30 minutes of preparation. We can change our delivery day, adjust our meals, skip a week or pause our accounts whenever we need to. And there are no contracts involved, which means we can cancel anytime. The food is amazingly delicious, too. In six weeks, not one regret was reported.

Here’s how it works: You join (cancel anytime if you want). You sign up for the number of meals you want in the week and the number of servings. Then you choose your meals from 13 different options (they change weekly). You can tailor meals to your dietary needs including low-calorie and low-carb and more.

The cost for Home Chef is $9.95 per serving. Shipping is free for orders over $45; $10 for orders less than $45. I have done my best to compare Home Chef costs against the cost to buy the exact same ingredients at my local supermarket. While it’s not easy to quantify the cost of say one tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar (at least with Home Chef I don’t have to buy the entire bottle to get the bit I need), I’m surprised that Home Chef does not cost more than what I would spend for the same exact ingredients locally. This investigation comes to a very similar conclusion.

Based on what our test group experienced collectively, here is what you can expect from Home Chef:

  • You will most certainly improve your culinary skills and repertoire. The food is amazing.
  • It is SO much fun, and never gets old opening the box to see what’s for dinner.
  • You will surprise yourself as you prepare recipes you might otherwise skip over in a magazine or cookbook.
  • Your kids and other family members will surprise you when they are willing to try new things and then end up enjoying food items they’ve never tried before or were certain they hated!
  • The ingredients are, for the most part, fresher, higher-quality and generally better than you might find at your average chain grocery store. The meals are amazingly delicious.
  • You will notice your refrigerator has more room because it’s not a repository for leftovers (that sit there until they turn green).
  • Home Chef serving sizes are surprisingly generous (2-servings were adequate for the testing family with two kids who are light eaters).
  • Your children will get engaged with the process. Because every ingredient is perfectly portioned, labeled and ready to go, older kids and teens can get involved in making dinner.

All of us are impressed with Home Chef, so much so that none of us will be cancelling the service anytime soon. Home Chef has changed our lives in different ways, and all without increasing our food costs. In fact, Harold and I have spent less for food since joining Home Chef.

You can check it out HERE. And when you get to that page, you’ll see that I’ve arranged for you to get a $30 coupon should you wish to give Home Chef a test run. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences!

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Greta

    Dear Mary,
    Not only do you improve our lives with new tips and encouragements, you also arrange to ‘gift’ us a COUPON to try your recommendations! You are the BEST!! Thank you !!
    We are ‘everything-free’–gluten, soy, dairy, nightshade, sugar…..as well as organic when we can, especially on meat. I am excited to check if Home Chef offers particular menu choices that we could use. Have a great day….and thanks again!

    • Mary Hunt

      Greta, thanks for your kind words. And I think YOU’RE the best!

  • Cindy

    When you mentioned Home Chef 6 weeks ago I decided to give it a try. I am single and got the lowest option which is the two meals a week plan. I totally agree with all you’ve said! The food is fresh as all get out and stays fresh for several days in the fridge. The finished meals are delicious! And it is so much fun to cook them with everything right in front of you pre-measured and ready to go. And there are no leftover bottles of stuff or leftover fresh herbs that will go to waste because you’ve had to buy a big bag or bottle to get that small amount you need for your recipe. The servings are quite large. My box should make 4 meals but I can easily get 6 to 8 out of each box. I add on the fruit each week in order to get the free shipping which is a win-win because the fruit is top notch. It probably isn’t for everyone, but I am having fun with it.

    • Mary Hunt

      You and I think alike, girl! When I make HC for dinner I really do feel like The Next Food Network Star! The instructions are what I love. So easy, so logical and it all gets done at the same time. Adding the fruit is the secret to not paying for shipping.

  • Bookworm

    I had heard about this before, and liked the sound of it, but was afraid to do it. Now I’ve signed up and can’t wait for my first delivery. Thanks for the $30 coupon!

  • Judy

    I joined up a few weeks ago when I saw this on your site. I was impressed with the meals,cooking techniques ,variety and quality.I have paused now for a couple weeks because we having company and are going out more often. I plan to resume after that. Also, as a side benefit, you get nice recipe card sheets,and a loose leaf binder to make up your own cookbooks. Another benefit is you go to the store less often ,which has saves money too. I order 3 meals everyother week which gives me free shipping and enough meals. I have cooked about 8 of the meals so far. Judy Park

    • Yay, another HC fan! Doesn’t it feel like you have an invisible sous chef who just takes care of all the deciding, planning, shopping, opening, measuring? That just makes me smile.

  • Me

    I went to the web site and didn’t quite understand the pricing. It says $9.95 per serving, and that there are two servings per meal. Does that mean a meal for two would be nearly $20? If so, I do not find that to be comparable to going to the grocery store and cooking your own meal.

    If there is something I’m missing here, someone please explain. ??

    I did see many people saying that they got more than 2 servings out of the meals, so that would be better, but still…..

    • Me

      I find the concept very intriguing, though….it sounds like a good gift for kids just starting out on living on their own, especially boys. 😉

      • maxhalberg

        Yes a meal for two would be $20 (often with another small serving for next days lunch leftover). But that’s less grocery trips (gas savings), no meal planning, and no wasted ingredients (wasted money) since you get the perfect amount of everything for each recipe. It’s not a service for everyone, but for many busy people time is a valuable commodity and it saves plenty of that and also provides amazing recipes.

      • Oh that would be a fabulous gift. It makes cooking like a rock star not only possible, but very enjoyable!

    • Home Chef, clearly, is not for every lifestyle and family situation. My husband and I think more of this being a high quality, much more delicious alternative to eating out in a restaurant. I don’t know where you live but here in Colorado we can’t have dinner out for two for much less than $40 because there’s the cost of the meal and then tax and 20% tip on top of that. And yes the portions are very generous. Many times the two-serving dinner is so sufficient, there is plenty for lunch the next day.

  • Miz Storge

    $9.95 per serving? So dinner alone for a family of four would be around $279? That’s way more than my weekly grocery and restaurant bill. Sorry, I’m more interested in the “eat well on $4 a day” cookbooks.

    • Read the post again … I think you missed a few thing 🙂

  • onemore4gsus

    So are these entrees only, or are sides included?

    • maxhalberg

      Sides are included and they are awesome. Check the menus on the site. I had Sirloin Steak with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts for dinner last night. Turned out amazing.

      • onemore4gsus

        Thank you!

  • Margaret

    $10 each with $10 shipping is $30 for 2 people. That does not strike me as a bargain!

    • Do you eat out in a restaurant occasionally? How much does that cost for two people. This is like eating upscale restaurant food. You certainly would not want it every night, but twice a week?

  • Jule barta

    My husband and I have been doing Blue Apron, a similar service, for about a year. We absolutely love it. It is just the two of us, so we have found that we end up spending a lot less then if we went to the grocery store. The ingredients are fresh and not processed. We have never had a bad meal. We are both very busy so it is nice to not have to meal plan, deal with shopping, and traffic. We also eat out a lot less and have both lost weight.

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