Home Chef delivery box filled with meal kit sitting on

How We Use Meal Kits to Cut Food Costs

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

 

A plate of food on a table, with Home Chef and Meal kit

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 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 item to taste, like the red pepper flakes; or salt.

I have enjoyed your feedback—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 with free shipping). 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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MORE: 4 Strategies to Cut the Cost of Food for Every Lifestyle


Single senior

I am so pleased that I decided to try out Home Chef (thanks for the $30 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 with free shipping 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 with free shipping)—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


RELATED: My Favorite Kitchen Money-Savers


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 with free shipping). 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’ve hosted, we ordered a 6-serving Home Chef meal kits ($60 with free shipping). 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 (something fairly new); $9.95 per serving for dinners. Shipping is $10 or free shipping for orders over $45. You can check it out HERE. When you get there, you’ll see I can still offer you a $35 coupon for on 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) I can’t wait to know what you think!

Bonus

For all of my readers who are Rakuten members, you’ll get 10% Rakuten cash back on top of that $35 coupon, as I write. If you don’t have a free Rakuten account (An Awesome Way to Get Cash Back When Shopping Online) get that first here, then head to Home Chef.

Pro tip

The Rakuten Cash Back Button is the easiest way to get Cash Back while you shop. Just add the Cash Back Button as an extension to your browser, and it will automatically notify you of Cash Back and discounts when you visit your favorite stores. Simple steps for how to do that here.

Updated 1-23-20


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11 replies
  1. Patricia Goff says:

    Unforchanantly there are 6-7 people at my house so this wouldn’t be an option for me. Also there is usually 1-2 meals that my brothers would even eat. They want old fashioned meals like my mom made. They won’t eat stuff like plant foods and neither will the kids. We do eat healthy but more old fashioned. If I lived alone it might be good but when I lived alone I just had a lean cuisine every night and shared it with the dog. LOL I hate cooking now because they are all picky eaters. I have cooked an entire meal and then gave it to the dogs or a neighbor because everybody refused to eat it. My neighbors liked it and always ask for my leftovers. It is just that my brothers don’t trust me I guess. they think I am putting stuff in there that they won’t eat. No beans, no peas, no tomatoes, no corn, no pork, etc. Just a mess. One of my brothers will eat a store bought pumpkin pie but not a homemade pumpkin pie. When you have challenged siblings it isn’t fun. Though I did make banza rice (from chickpeas) once and my brother loved it but he never knew that it was made with chickpeas. LOL

    Reply
  2. Susan says:

    Hi Mary, can I get the rack you turn discount and the $35 coupon if I don’t have the button in my browser. I missing the coupon code or I’m confused of how this works without me going through your link because I’m going through Rakuten? Thanks

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Create your Rakuten account first and get the button on your browser. Now click on the link to go to Home Chef. Rakuten should give you a message to activate your 10% cash back for the Home Chef site.

      Reply
  3. Kay Seiler says:

    I disagree that Home Chef is the cheapest. We tried HC and it was “okay”. I tried two more, one of which was also “okay”, one was awful. Finally, I tried Every Plate. The food/recipes are excellent with lots of choices each week, and the three-meal/two-servings-each plan is under $40.

    Reply
  4. Kathy Wright says:

    I agree! We dont get the meals every week, but they absolutely feed us empty nesters twice. They are delicious, the instructions are wonderful. There are some i have prepared again from the instructions because they were not in the current rotation. Our adult sons have enjoyed the meals when they have visited on a night we have them. My youngest says the steaks rival a good restaurant!

    Reply
  5. MICHELE BOULANGER says:

    I have noticed on this website and others how convenient these meals are for people who don’t have time to shop but I have NEVER read how damaging this meal service, and other meal services, are to the planet. All of that trash in the landfill !!! It’s very sad that millions of people put their comfort before this planet.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      All of Home Chef packaging including the ice product is recyclable or reusable, Michele. Ice packs are non-toxic, 99% water and 1% salt. You can read specific details HERE. Your suggestion that Home Chef and its customers do not care about the environment is baseless and absolutely not true.

      Reply
  6. Birgit Nicolaisen says:

    We have been using HC since you first mentioned it back in the day. We are 3 in my family, so we usually order 4 servings of 2 meals a week. This gives us plenty of leftovers for a couple of lunches at least. Our palates have expanded and we eat a greater variety of food now. Who knew I would like salmon? The “skip a week” option is great for when we will be out of town or that week’s meals don’t really catch my fancy. Just wish I could get more people to join. It’s been great for us and we have cut way back on eating out.

    Reply
  7. Lyn says:

    I, too, have discovered just how much I love cooking the Home Chef meals! Another use I have found saves me stress and packing… I have relatives far away; we get together to rent a house midway between us each year. This year, I ordered 2 6-serving meals to be delivered to the house we rented. Since the meals come with everything needed, I didn’t have to bring anything except oil and salt and pepper for those meals. Everyone raved about having such great food, staying in and being together instead of standing in line at a restaurant and paying so much more for dinner. We will definitely do this again!

    Reply
  8. Lesley Nyborg says:

    Have you tried EveryPlate? It’s plainer but also less expensive than HC. I use both. Since my husband and I are losing weight I do tweak the menus to cut carbs and fats.

    Reply
  9. Bookworm says:

    I’m like the Single Professional in your post, except I’m retired. Like her, I order 3 2-person meals, cook one whole meal at once, and eat the leftovers the next day. I don’t even freeze the meat of the 3rd meal — they send all the meat vacuum wrapped. I just follow what they say on the recipe card about how long you can keep it refrigerated. I have been using Home Chef for over a year now, ever since your first post about it. I just love it. Before HC, I thought I hated cooking, but what I hated is the process of buying all the ingredients, then remembering where I put the recipe, gathering all the ingredients to cook, measuring them out, and storing the remainder which would then rot since I didn’t use it up fast enough. All that’s left is the actual cooking, which they have made so easy. No microwaving, just oven-roasting, browning, sauteing, and occasionally simmering.

    Reply

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