In my meal delivery adventures, I decided to give Home Chef a shot as my second one. Again, I got it at a discounted rate, but then, don’t all of them seem to offer half off for the first week? I got Home Chef deliveries for two weeks this time instead of three. In some ways, it was better than Hello Fresh, but in other ways, it was worse.
First, for the better
My ingredients didn’t seem to rot in the fridge while they waited for me to cook them. That was really one of the best parts. It all came in resealable plastic bags instead of brown paper bags. I could see through them and see that my ingredients were fresh. They’re also recyclable like plastic grocery bags. The plastic didn’t seem to encourage ripening of the produce like the brown paper bags had done from Hello Fresh.
Home Chef sent—in my very first box—an awesome three-ring binder to organize my recipes. All of the cards came three-hole-punched and they’re printed so that when you flip the page in the binder, the recipe is facing the correct way. I absolutely loved this. In comparison, Hello Fresh wanted people to purchase a binder, their cards did not come three-hole-punched, and there’s no way to hole-punch their cards without ruining some of the writing. Hello Fresh’s cards are also all printed in the same direction so that when you flip the page, you now have to turn the whole binder upside down in order to read it. What. A. Pain. In. My. Ass. So, as far as the actual recipe cards themselves, Home Chef is the clear winner here.
Home Chef had a much wider variety of meals to choose from each week than Hello Fresh. I had no trouble picking meals that didn’t contain pork or that weren’t spicy without being forced to upgrade to more expensive meals. In fact, it didn't look like they even had upgraded meals every week. They did have smoothies and fruit that were available as an add-on each week. The fruit was pretty pricey—$10 for five pieces of organic fruit. The smoothies were also $10 for two servings.
Home Chef also gave me the option to choose multiple dietary preferences. I could exclude certain allergens or even annoyances like bone-in meat or chicken that still had the skin on it. Again, very much unlike Hello Fresh, which only let me choose one of three dietary preferences—no pork, no spicy, or no gluten.
Now, for the worse
I was massively disappointed in my first Home Chef delivery when I eventually figured out it had arrived with the single, tiny ice pack halfway melted, sliced open, and smeared all over the contents. Hello Fresh had always arrived with two huge ice packs—one on top of and one underneath the meats. Home Chef only puts in one small ice pack, adjacent to the meats, so they didn’t arrive as fresh as they could have been. I also couldn’t save the padding/insulation from the box because it was covered in the ice pack goo. That was disappointing since I’d always saved those from my Hello Fresh boxes to use as furniture padding for when we'll move in August.
The food itself
You know how when you peel garlic, there’s that thin membrane between the stiff peel you remove and the clove? Yeah…the membrane was still there and had to be removed so that I could properly chop the garlic. Tiny in comparison to needing to replace ingredients, but worth mentioning since it happened with every meal that had garlic.
In my first box, I also had tomato issues. But seriously, when do I not have tomato issues? People suck at growing and selling tomatoes. Only tomatoes that have been JUST PICKED are worth a flying fuck. But, I do expect my red tomatoes to actually be red. My Roma tomato that came with my Home Chef meal was pink, yellow, and green. It was so fucking ugly. Just for the hell of it, I cut it open and touched the interior. Grainy, gritty, nastiness. Gross. So fucking gross. I noped right the fuck out and threw it in the trash where it belonged. I used my own tomatoes for that salad because I don’t eat that hothouse garbage that’s been “forced” red.
My second tomato issue with the first box was the moldy grape tomatoes. Again, I just used my own. It’s kind of whatever. I don’t expect to get decent tomatoes in the mail, anyway.
Let’s find some balance
The variety of the meals from Home Chef was really great. I didn’t feel like I was getting different versions of the same things meal after meal. Like how one week, Hello Fresh sent me mashed potatoes for every meal. Another week, they tried to send me rice for every meal. Like, shit! Give me some fucking change! The only thing I got twice from Home Chef was sirloin steaks, and that was entirely by choice.
My meals from Home Chef were: Sirloin steaks with a Sherry wine demi-glace, mashed potatoes, and balsamic Brussels sprouts; New England style fishcakes with romaine and tomato salad; chicken in oregano-tomato cream sauce with blistered tomatoes and green beans; Sicilian shrimp risotto with tomatoes; sirloin steak with loaded potato wedges and smoky mushrooms; and a strawberry cheesecake smoothie. I really enjoyed each meal. I’ll definitely be utilizing aspects of these recipes into the food I make in the future.
As far as value, variety, and quality, I can’t really decide on a clear winner between these two recipe delivery services. If I had to choose, though, I'd lean more toward Home Chef. They both seemed to have their advantages and their drawbacks. I guess I’ll just have to keep trying other companies, too!
Have you ever tried one of these companies? Which one? Did you like it? Comment below!