I would call myself a hobby-chef. I love trying new things in the kitchen and tackling difficult dishes like Vietnamese pho, sourdough bread and even sushi. One of the things I have always put off was the home delivery meal services. I enjoy grocery shopping and I enjoy meal planning (I know, I know, who is this crazy woman?!). We eat healthy 80 percent of the time, and I know what to put in my body. But the time has come ladies and gentlemen! I keep seeing all these ads and getting discount codes for half of your first shipment, so I decided to give it a go and report back on what I found.
I did a little research and found an article outlining the top nine home delivery services. I looked into one fan favorite and then the top rated service in the article: Hello Fresh and Home Chef. I looked at the meals for Hello Fresh and ultimately decided that they were too high in calories for us. I shoot for 400 calories per serving in a main dish and theirs were mostly in the 700-1000 calories per meal range. Home Chef was more in our range at 400-600 calories per meal and I was pretty confident I could make them work for us by cutting cheese or oil here and there.
So, I went with Home Chef. Or so I thought. I received word that my meals had shipped from Home Chef AND Hello Fresh. What?! I guess I accidentally chose meals at both services and didn’t realize what I had done. Hello Fresh was kind to refund me my money since I was not even sure what meals I purchased and what was coming to my house. So, I’m an expert now after receiving six meals in one week. Let me tell you about them.
- Holy packaging Batman! I am no environmentalist, I do recycle and use reusable grocery bags, but these boxes are riddled in plastic – plastic – and more plastic. A giant cardboard box, with a thick foam insulator lining, with three meals, separately packaged and every single ingredient within those meals packaged up…you get the idea. PLUS, an icepack on the bottom. It made me feel guilty for all the garbage I created, now times that by two.
- Be careful ordering in the winter. The polar vortex had just hit, and one package arrived completely frozen, even the fresh produce. That made for mushy ingredients, which for the hobbyist chef, was not too pleasing. So, note to self, maybe not for North Dakota winters unless you can receive the package at the door immediately.
- The calorie count for these are pretty gosh darn high – but you can make some healthy swaps. Cutting out all the oil and using Pam can be a major saver. For our meals, we cut all the cheese by half of what the recipe called for and subbed out all sour cream for yogurt. I was able to cut 100-200 calories per serving and was pretty pleased.
- I decided to order meals more “adult-like” and not from the family-friendly options. I ordered for two people just as an experiment to see if I would like this service. They do come in a variety of diet options (vegan, vegetarian, Paleo) and even some for kid-friendly options.
- The flavor has been very good so far and I really like knowing what is going into my meals. The seasoning packets are a bit of a guessing game, but otherwise I have enjoyed the dishes we tried from both services.
So, the big question is, “Would I do it again?” My answer would be probably not. I was a bit turned off by the frozen produce arriving. I also really enjoy meal planning and think I add in enough variety to our weekly meals that this service isn’t really for our house. I can see how a single person who enjoys cooking may love it. It’s just enough food for two people, no leftovers.