Reviews of Home Chef, Hello Fresh, and Blue Apron Meal Delivery Services
In anticipation of a busy season with work and school commitments for our family, we decided to try the Meal Delivery Services of three companies - Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh. For those not familiar with this type of service, companies assemble all the fresh and healthy ingredients needed to make a pre-determined number of meals. They provide all the ingredients needed (minus olive oil, salt, and pepper) to create meals complete with recipes selected to showcase seasonal produce. An insulated box with ice packs arrives at your door, ready for assembly.
Always ready to provide feedback, our family of four (to include two teens who like to scrutinize meal selections) prepared to review the three companies' boxes of ingredients. After 10 months of subscribing to these companies (and staggering orders based on the weekly menus or based upon our family's schedule), I feel that we can provide an honest weigh-in of our opinion of the services.
I will admit that I love this concept. I dislike grocery shopping. We have limited specialty items and an even more limited specialty produce selection, locally. This service has saved me more than once as I have had all the ingredients ready to pull together for a healthy delicious meal in under 30 minutes (for the most part). We have ventured far beyond our quick-meal dinner repertoire and we have saved from eating out as often as we had in years past during busy seasons. I also loved that I had professional chefs designing seasonal recipes that eliminated my need to stress about meal planning and budgeting grocery expenditures. The flexible service allows users to pick and choose meals that appeal to your tastes, diet preferences, and often times your schedule. I appreciated the ability to skip a week when the menu did not work for my family or if our schedule had us out of town.
Blue Apron was the first company we tried and we fell in love immediately. We were sent fresh produce and organic meats and seafood that we would normally not be able to find, locally. The portions were perfect for the four of us, leaving no waste (and no leftovers for my husband's lunch). Recipes were creative, unique, and allowed us to explore new cuisines that we had not tried prior. The teens were willing to venture into new flavor experiences. We found ourselves eating out at restaurants much less as we had all the ingredients we needed. Todd and I made the meal delivery nights into "date nights" and cooked together using the gorgeous photographed recipe cards. These meals also taught us new cooking skills. One night we roasted carrots in olive oil, garlic, and kosher salt to top the salad greens as the meal accompaniment. I can't even describe how good these carrots turned out. Another meal challenged us to slice summer squash, brush with garlic-infused olive oil, followed by grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh chives. Talk about incredible! I ended up making this for a dinner party appetizer last month - it's THAT good! I was embarrassed that we had been missing out on these roasting methods for preparing winter vegetables for years.
We rationalized the higher price as a substitute for eating out at a restaurant. We recognized we were eating more healthy and organic selections and exposing ourselves to a wider variety of cuisine options.
Some of our favorite dishes included:
Thai Chicken Noodle Soup with Yellow Curry and Mushrooms - Blue Apron's version of Tom Kha Gai with lemongrass, galangal, makrut lime leaves, bok choy, and a coconut-based broth.
Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Heirloom Tomato and Garlic-Oregano Potatoes was one of our first meals with Blue Apron and this met every family members' approval.
Spicy Pork and Korean Rice Cakes with Baby Bok Choy - cooked in a savory black bean sauce and the "beloved Korean street food (tteok) rice cakes made for such an interesting flavor combination
We found the meals to average $8.75/person but we were limited to only being able to order two meals/week.
This company originally delivered each of the three weekly meals in smaller boxes assembled with all the necessary ingredients per recipe packaged together. Although I loved the idea of everything being packaged as one meal, the boxes didn't fit in our refrigerator. Since then, they have transitioned to smaller bags labeled with the recipe. I love that everything is ready to go. We had a few hiccups with this company missing ingredients or experiencing produce that was past it's prime, upon delivery. They were great to work with to remedy the problem and since then, they seem to have improved. The meals with this company are less adventurous than Blue Apron, and less popular with my crew.
Some of our favorite dishes included:
Chicken Pineapple Party Tacos with Bell Pepper and Fresh Radishes to include the most amazing pineapple salsa and a total prep time of only 20 minutes!
No-Fuss Pesto Chicken with Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes and Spring Salad - I went crazy when I found out that there is such as thing as "nut-free" pesto! With Bella's nut allergies, we've steered away from pesto all these years, yet these meal ingredients featured the most delicious nut-free pesto.
The Pat LaFrieda Burger with Balsamic Onions on Brioche Buns and Crispy Cauliflower Oven Fries - this Black Angus beef custom made for Hello Fresh coupled with the seasonings made for an incredible summer meal. I have always steered away from cauliflower, but after roasting the florets with panko, olive oil and seasonings, I became a fan!
Thai Beef Rice Noodle Bowls with Beef Stir Fry and Peanut Sauce - the cinnamon, cilantro, coriander, and garlic blend of seasonings made this light meal a summer weather hit.
Do-It-Yourself Pork Dumplings with Quick-Pickled Slaw and Soy Dipping Sauce - Not going to lie, this meal took a full hour to prep and cook (and that was with both Todd and I cooking via assembly-line style) but we ended up ordering these more than once. We served these to guests on two occasions as they made a bunch and everyone loves homemade pot-sticker/dumplings.
As soon as I stumbled onto the Home Chef menu page, I knew that we were going to have countless recipe options that would be crowd-pleasers in our home. Sure enough, the family-friendly meal options became instant hits. We loved how these menus were also quick to get on the table. Most often, garlic was already peeled, ginger was already peeled and chopped, and portions were divided into recyclable containers for ease of preparation to cut down on the amount of time spent prepping. Although this was a benefit for our family's situation during this busy season, I also missed the idea that I was cooking entirely from scratch with the Blue Apron meals as they would send an entire head of garlic with their recipe boxes. The teens raved about the meals, and I appreciated the speed at which I could pull all the components together. Home Chef has many more weekly options to choose from and even include smoothie "kits" you can order to supplement your meal selections, seasonal specialty items, breakfast menu items, and an option to add in fresh fruit to your box. I appreciated that you can create a diet "profile" with this service and identify diet preferences to include Omnivore, Meat, Seafood, Pescatarian, Vegetarian, and Vegan and identify preferences such as gluten-free, dairy-free, low-calorie, or low-carb. With 10 weekly options, it is easy to find something for everyone. You can also select the delivery day that works best for your schedule which I appreciated, as well. You also can skip weeks as needed due to schedule or interest in the menu items.
Some of our favorite dishes included:
Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps came together in 25 minutes and tasted so fresh and healthy with the perfect amount of crunch with water chestnuts, slaw and green onions.
Mexican Street Corn Shrimp and Grits - Okay, prior to this meal, Todd and I had NEVER tasted grits! We live in the Pacific Northwest. This was hands-down our best-delivered recipe ever! With chili shrimp, roasted corn and red onions, queso fresco, and homemade lime crema - this is amazing!
Mongolian Beef with Ribeye Steak and Roasted Chinese Broccoli
Bo Ssam Steak Burrito with Pickled Onions, Persian Cucumber and Slaw
Korean Pork Noodle Bowl with Green Beans and Fresno Chili
Pork Egg Roll in a Bowl with Wontons - picture a deconstructed Egg Roll as a healthier stir-fry concoction. This was a family favorite and even met the needs of the Paleo member (minus the wontons).
Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Tart with Greek Cucumber Salad - these were one of my personal favorites as the puff pastry, baby spinach, feta and ricotta cheeses made for a meal with a huge "wow-factor" in under an hour.
All Home Chef meals are priced at $9.95 and include free shipping on orders over $45.
AND THE WINNER IS:
Family favorites, consistently great quality produce and proteins, and a wide variety of weekly options for menu items to choose from lead us to picking Home Chef as our favorite.
If you would like a code to try any of these delivery services for "free" for your first time, shoot me a message, and I can e-mail you a link.