Home Chef delivery box filled with meal kit sitting on

How to Use Home Chef 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.



Since first writing about that (Dinner-in-a-Box is Not at All What I Thought) 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 1) our zip code is in its delivery area—nearly 98% of the country is, 2) it is the cheapest and 3) 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.

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.

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

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 them 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 $7.99 per serving for lunch (something fairly new); $9.99 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 $30 coupon should you wish to give Home Chef a test run. I can’t wait to know what you think!

Bonus: 10% Ebates cash back on top of that $30 coupon, as I write. If you don’t have a free Ebates account, get that first here, then head to Home Chef.

Updated 5-23-19

Question: What creative ways have you discovered to use meal kits to stretch your food dollars? Share using the comments feature below.

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7 replies
  1. Birgit Nicolaisen
    Birgit Nicolaisen says:

    We’ve been ordering Home Chef for a while now. I would say that most meals are 4 or 5 star. I like that we can pick and choose menus, so we can skip any with brussel sprouts (not a family favorite). We can also skip weeks when we are out of town or our schedule doesn’t allow for it or we just aren’t feeling the menu choices that week. We have 2 adults and 1 teenage girl (who eats like a bird…lol) so we usually have leftovers for lunch. In fact I have HC leftovers today for lunch. YUM!! Their customer service is great and if we have a problem with a meal, they are quick to give a partial or full credit for that meal. Not sure how far the meals travel in the box, but occasionally something isn’t usable (like wilted vegetables). A quick e-mail to customer service and there is a credit for our next order. I am also eating different foods that I never would have tried without HC. Who knew I liked salmon? We were recently contacted by HC to try some new items they are thinking of adding to the menu rotation. Never thought we’d be guinea pigs for unknown menu items. Hope they don’t include brussel sprouts. LOL And we have been eating out less in general since starting HC. A HC meal costs about $10 per serving (we get 2 meals of 4 servings) so about $80. It seems a lot, but you would be hard pressed to eat a decent meal out for under $40 for 3 people. The only complaint I would have is sometimes the meals are just protein and veggies, so we add some rice or pasta to complete the meal. I highly recommend HC to anyone!!

  2. Linda Pries
    Linda Pries says:

    It all sounds so good until I go to the website and look at the menus and see how very few meals sound at all appetizing and then look to see what ingredients I would end up tossing in the garbage without using. For instance grilled zucchini, or Cajun ( spicy) anything. I already spend less than $30 a week on food and have no desire to spend more.

  3. Sharon Madison
    Sharon Madison says:

    Just to clarify for others, I missed out on the Ebates cash back because I signed up for it, but proceeded to Homechef, as directed. I believe the correct direction is to STAY ON EBATES site, access Homechef from there, then the rebate will be applied. It’s a 10% rebate, so it can be significant.

  4. Bookworm
    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.


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