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How We Use Meal Kits to Cut Food Costs During Quarantine

Faithful readers will recall that my husband and I tested and now continue to enjoy the most popular meal kit delivery service.

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Since first writing about that I’ve gotten the most interesting feedback. But first, a quick review:

  • From the meal kit delivery services available at that time, I selected Home Chef because our zip code is in its delivery area—and now nearly 98% of the country is
  • It is the cheapest meal kit option.
  • I predicted it would be the most family-friendly. Turns out I nailed it.
  • Home Chef beats take-out, curbside pick-out, DoorDash, and all other contactless, home delivery of food
  • No tax or tip added to the bill

Home Chef meals are absolutely delicious and use normal, fresh food—not exotic fare or ingredients we’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce.

Users select meals and menus based on preference and dietary needs including classic, calorie-conscious, carb-conscious, less-than-30 minutes, and vegetarian.

A Home Chef meal kit includes all of the fresh ingredients and instructions needed to cook restaurant-quality meals for 2, 4, or 6 people in the comfort of your own kitchen, eliminating recipe searches and food shopping by sending everything required for that meal—perfectly portioned and ready to go.

Seriously, Home Chef is like having your own personal shopper and sous chef. The meals are wonderful, so easy to prepare—and versatile. And here’s the best thing: Everything I need to make that meal is included all portioned out and ready to go except for oil, salt, and pepper. And I can leave out or reduce items to taste, like the red pepper flakes; or salt.

During these times of quarantine, lockdowns, shut-downs, and restrictions, Home Chef has become a godsend for so many families and individuals. Sure does beat take-out, pick-out, and other kinds of home delivery. We can make our meals when we want them, the way we want them without tax and tip added to the bill.

I have enjoyed your feedback (much of it pre-quarantine era)—especially the creative, innovative, and clever ways many are figuring out how to enjoy Home Chef while at the same time make the service work to cut overall food costs:

Single professional

Cooking for one is not an easy task. I’m not an experienced cook, which makes it even more challenging. I end up going to the grocery and leaving with half a dinner and $50 in snacks. Or if I do plan ahead and try to buy ingredients for a specific recipe, I end up with extra ingredients that expire before I use them. Eating in restaurants gets tiresome and very expensive.

With Home Chef, I choose three 2-serving meals per week ($60). I’m single, but still, when I prepare one meal, I cook both servings at the same time for convenience. Then I reheat the second serving the following night. HC meals are so good, it doesn’t even seem like leftovers.

With some of the meals (for instance pasta dishes) I can stretch it out for a light lunch, too because the portions are large. I usually freeze the meat for the final meal then prepare for days 5 and 6. One night a week (usually on the weekend) I’ll eat out with friends or family.

What used to be multiple weekly grocery store trips plus ordering delivery or take-out, has now changed into a $60-a-week Home Chef plan—way less than I used to spend on food. I do make an occasional grocery store or Costco run every few weeks for some snacks, fruit, light lunches, and paper goods. Asher

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Single senior

I am so pleased that I decided to try out Home Chef (thanks for the $35 coupon, by the way). I hadn’t planned to continue after that initial delivery, but I enjoyed it so much, I’ve discovered a way that even on my fixed income, I can make this work.

I order three 2-serving meals plus the 2-serving fruit option one week, and then I use the Skip [a week] option for the following two weeks.

That total cost is $70 or about $23 per week spread over three weeks. I freeze some of the meat and follow the instructions for where and how to store the other ingredients.

I divide the ingredients for each meal so I prepare just one serving at a time. Each 2-serving meal makes four meals for me because I’m a light eater and the portions are large. That’s how I get 12 meals plus fresh fruit almost daily from that one Home Chef delivery box!

Cooking has become enjoyable for me again, and the food is so delicious. I call HC my spark of joy. Millie

Average Family

We’re a family of four with two young boys. Home Chef is not something we would have thought we could afford, but when Mary asked us to be an EC test family, we agreed, happily. Now that the test period is over, we’ve figured out how we can continue without destroying our food budget. In fact, we are spending a bit less on food each week than we did before we had HC.

Each week we order three 2-serving meals (about $60)—three dinner meals. The portions are large enough that we share the meals four ways, with the adults getting larger shares.

The boys, ages 9 and 4, mostly enjoy the meals and are trying new things all the time. To stretch our HC meals, we supplement the boys’ plates with things they like such as carrot sticks, cheese, applesauce, or mandarin oranges. No one leaves the table hungry and we are eating fresh, healthy food that is really delicious. HC is such a huge help for our busy lives. Wendy



Large Family

We are a family of six (four teenagers) for whom it has become prohibitively expensive to eat out in a nice restaurant. Even limiting eating out to special occasions like a Birthday or to celebrate a big accomplishment takes a toll on the food budget. I used the $30 coupon you offered to try Home Chef just to see what it would be like. I loved it.

Because I discovered I could have a Home Chef account that we can use on and off (the Skip option lets me skip one week at a time, but the Pause option puts my account on hold and allows me to start it up and then pause again, anytime), our kids now have the option for their Birthday dinners to go out for fast food or to have a Home Chef 6-serving family meal at home ($60). So far, it’s Fast Food: 0; HC: 3. The kids do the cooking for our Home Chef meals (super easy-to-follow instructions) and that’s been a big hit. Susan

Dinner Club

My husband and I plus two other couples have over the years created our own Dinner Club, where we take turns hosting Friday night dinner for the group. The last two times we hosted, we ordered a 6-serving Home Chef meal kit ($60). We loved preparing the meals and everyone raved about the food.

Here’s the fun part: Without meaning to I think we’ve raised the bar for the Dinner Club. More than that, we used to spend a lot more than $60 for one meal—and it would take me all day to shop, prep, and cook. Now our friends think we’ve gone to culinary school because it’s so good and nearly effortless. We’re loving Home Chef! Bob and Joyce

Home Chef meals start at $6.99 per serving for lunch; $9.95 per serving for dinners. Shipping is $10. You can check it out HERE. When you get there, you’ll see I can still offer you a $35 coupon for your first delivery should you wish to give Home Chef a test run (you can try it, get $35 off, and then cancel anytime, by the way).

Home Chef now makes it easy to gift meal kit service, too! Takes no time at all (order your gift right at Home Chef site, and they’ll take care of the rest.

Updated 12-24-20


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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our EC users. Keep your comments positive, encouraging, supportive, and on-topic. Please no lectures or personal promotions.



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6 replies
  1. Nina T says:

    Thanks for this overview of Home Chef, Mary. It is true the affordability and practicality of a meal delivery service is relative; I have always been interested in trying Home Chef, however, my inner Frugal Fran and Workaholic Professional would not allow it. Now, with targeted offers and available Home Chef promotions AND free shipping, I am able to try Home Chef for a VERY LOW price per box. My inner Frugal Fran is satisfied. Working from home during the pandemic also facilitates making more meals at home. Looking forward to my first box. What I appreciate about Home Chef is they allow you to donate meals (vs. skipping) if you aren’t interested in the meal plans offered in a given week; it is notable when a company has incorporated social impact into their strategic plan.

    Reply
  2. Jean Christoffel says:

    I don’t understand the math exactly. With the $7 shipping fee and $9 per meal, for 3 meals (6 servings) it’s $61 which is over $10 for each serving and that’s if I only ate one meal per day for six days. If I plan to eat more than one meal per day, or eat on the 7th day of the week, over a month’s time, it would cost me about $20 per day for 30 days. That would be a $600 in groceries per month! As a single person on a fixed budget I think that’s an outrageous amount of money to pay for food. My current grocery bill is about $60 per week for all of my meals and I rarely eat out so my monthly groceries cost about $240 or less than half of what this service would cost me. Am I doing the math wrong?

    Reply
  3. Richard Rorex says:

    All of these delivery options are fine for those who have someone to eat dinner with. As for me, I go to restaurants so there are people around me. After losing my wife of 58 years, I look forward to going out to restaurants. This mandated isolation has been hard to abide seeing those who mandate apartness do not seem to live by their own rules. I do not think most people understand loneliness until it happens to them. Also, I have found that except for pizza, most restaurant carry-out meals do not travel well.

    Reply
  4. Kay Seiler says:

    I’ve tried at least three services, and I disagree that Home Chef is the cheapest. Every plate is cheaper and the meals are the best of all I’ve tried.

    Reply

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