Our nights are busy. So are our days. And our weekends. Basically, we’re just always busy. About a year ago, we were eating out a lot, which of course means also spending a lot of money. I was doing a lot of Swagbucks to earn some extra cash for summer vacation and there were quite a few offers for these meal-kit delivery services. As the frugal kind of person that I am, I wasn’t sure that it would be worth the cost after the initial discounts, but after comparing a few, I discovered I really like one of the services, so I thought I’d share my feedback with you all so you can try for yourself.
For each service, I opted to only do two servings for each meal. My two boys, ages 7 and 5, tend not to eat too much for dinner, so I just share a portion of the entree with them, and most of the servings are large enough for me to do that and still be full myself. I usually give the boys different sides, like the fruit and veggies I know they’ll eat. Full disclousure, I don’t eat beef or pork, so I cannot give feedback on that. The thing I like best about all of the services is that you get exactly the amount of food that you need to cook the meal, so I don’t need to buy a whole bottle of say, rice vinegar, that I might only use a couple times, so it cuts down on waste, for me, anyway. This is just my take on the services I have tried: Blue Apron, GoReadyMade, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef.
Blue Apron was the second service I did. I opted for only two meals per week. I would give it 3.5 stars. The meals were all pretty good, but as a whole, many of the meals had flavors that were a little more exotic than my family likes. Many of the meals took longer than a half hour for me, but they have added more that are around 20 minutes. Recently they partnered with Weight Watchers Freestyle, with six meals each week that has the points already figured for you, so it definitely could help anyone trying to do Weight Watchers or just trying to eat healthier and watch their weight. Meals for two servings are $9.99 each, and you get free shipping if you do three recipes per week, which comes to $59.94. They seem to have increased options and dropped their prices slightly since I did it last. I receive emails often from them to sign up again with $20 off for three weeks, so I might do that to save some money for a few weeks.
I had plans to give you feedback on this, but turns out they have just gone out of business in the last month, and frankly, I’m not surprised. It was the worst out of what I had tried. They did have some meals that only needed microwaving, which was convenient, but really, it was more like an upgraded microwave meal for more money.
Most recently, I tried HelloFresh. I did like the meals I received a lot, and there were quite a few options to choose from, but it seems like there was more repetition on their weekly menus. I was, however, a little disappointed in their packaging. The first meal I opened had a carton of grape tomatoes that had popped open and spilled some, so there was a crushed tomato mess in the bag. I would give it 4 stars as a whole. It’s similarly priced to Blue Apron and Home Chef, but a couple dollars more at about $53 because they do not have a way to get free shipping. They also have gourmet options that cost $5 more per serving (we tried lobster ravioli), and an interesting option for Dinner 2 Lunch, also for $5 more per serving, which makes for an inexpensive lunch. Dinner 2 Lunch lets you cook just once, and then turn your dinner into not just leftovers of the same meal, but a twist on the same ingredients, like taking a chicken dinner and making it chicken pasta or tacos for lunch. I did not try this option, but if I do Hello Fresh again, I would try that out.
The Big Winner? Home Chef
Home Chef was the first meal service I tried and the only one I have kept doing. It’s a solid 5 stars for me. I like how the meals are separated in bags and you get all ingredients you need, except olive oil, salt and pepper.
You can choose from 13 dinner options and a few quick lunch options. Recently, they added a customize option for some of the options, so you can change the protein being offered, like exchanging the beef for a burger for turkey, which is great for me. Each dinner serving is $9.95 and the five-minute lunches are $7.99. If you spend $45, shipping is free, so it’s a better deal to do three meals opposed to two. There are sometimes premium options like scallops or better cuts of steak that cost a little more. There are “express” options that can be cooked in 15 minutes, and most other options can be made in 30 minutes. Three two-serving meals each week totals $59.95. At $20/meal to (mostly) feed our family of four, it is pricier than what you could purchase on your own probably, but it’s less than buying the same meal at a restaurant. I have made meals that I would have never made before (like risotto and scallops, which was amazing), and have not even done that many duplicates in a year’s time. We have liked just about every meal we have had. I have also received a couple emails to join secret menus to review and take photos of new recipes for a credit. Home Chef also has the best referral option. You can send $30 off to a friend, and if they join, you also get a $30 credit. They have good customer service; just a couple times over the last year I have had a missing ingredient, and once, some potatoes that were rotten inside. They gave me a credit to use on future meals. All-in-all, I’ve been very pleased with my Home Chef experience.
It’s been fun to try all these different meal-kit services, and it definitely got me cooking at home more than grabbing something quick for dinner. Of course, your experience and taste might vary, so if you’re thinking about it, give them all a try to take advantage of the great sign-up benefits. I am still open to trying other companies, so if you have done any others, please feel free to share.