In February, 2018, I began my meal kit adventure. I’ve always been a lousy cook who resorted to using fast food burgers as my “I don’t know what to cook” staple. Since we were eating fast food at least 3 times a week, which cost us approximately $18 each of those days, the idea of creating fresh, healthier meals for just a little less than $20 seemed like a good idea.
I was concerned about a few things.
Meal Kit Concerns
- Would I be able to pull off the actual cooking part, or would I still be a lousy cook even with the ingredients and instructions handed to me?
- Would it be difficult or aggravating or just too much trouble?
- Would they offer meals that we would actually eat, or would it all be things we wouldn’t like?
- Would the ingredients really be nice and fresh?
- Would the food taste good?
I didn’t start out with the idea of trying different meal kit services and comparing them. I just wanted to put food on the table that was relatively healthy and tasted good. Eventually though, my curiosity made me wonder if one service might be better than another, so I decided to try a few out, and review them here.
If you decide to try either HelloFresh or Home Chef, you’ll find discounts at the end of this article, so scroll down or read to the end!
In the future, I’ll run more head-to-head comparisons as I finish trying new services, but today, I’m comparing HelloFresh with Home Chef. Here are some notes on how I evaluated them.
How We Rated Each Meal Kit
Each meal review took 4 factors into account, using a 5-star rating system:
- Flavor (5 = best)
- Prep Time (5 = short and easy)
- Difficulty Level (5 = easiest)
- Cleanup (5 = quickest)
For this comparison, I’ve averaged the Flavor scores and the Overall scores to determine which service wins actual meal reviews. In addition, I will comment on other features of the services, outside of the meals, such as packaging, delivery, etc. to help determine the overall favorite for our family.
Average Flavor Score:
HelloFresh – 4.1
Home Chef – 3.4
Average Overall Score:
HelloFresh – 4.0
Home Chef – 3.7
With scores of 4.1 and 4.0 for flavor and overall scores, HelloFresh beats Home Chef’s 3.4 and 3.7 scores. While it may not seem like a huge difference between a 3.4 and 4.1, in reality, the gap between the satisfaction level was pretty large.
Here are the average scores for all categories. Bolded numbers reflect the winning score.
HelloFresh vs Home Chef - Meal Ratings
|Meal Kit Service||Average Flavor Score||Average Prep Time||Average Difficulty Level||Average Cleanup Score||Average Overall Score|
Which Meal Kit Service Provided The Most Dinner Excitement?
Although we did have one outstanding meal from Home Chef, it was the only one that brought any real excitement to our experience. Every other meal, even the ones that were pretty good, were all either disappointing or just not very exciting. None of the Home Chef meals made ME feel good about the meal I’d provided. None of the Home Chef meals made ME feel as though I was an accomplished cook.
HelloFresh, on the other hand, provided a relatively consistent level of excitement surrounding most of the meals. Not only were we pleased with the flavors of many of the dishes, but we also enjoyed the way most ended up being displayed visually on the plate. HelloFresh meals look as good as they taste. After most of them, we were happy and satisfied. And just as important to me, I consistently felt great about my ability to cook a fantastic meal. Nearly every HelloFresh meal gave me a sense of worth that I’d never really experienced before. Although Home Chef isn’t terrible, it never gave me that boost of confidence and thrill of accomplishment in the way that HelloFresh did.
For me, the difference between a 4.1 / 4.0 HelloFresh score vs. a 3.4 / 3.7 Home Chef score is significant. One is far superior to the other.
Now let’s talk about the services in general.
HelloFresh vs Home Chef General Notes
|Meal Kit Service||Choice of Meals||Ingredient Freshness||Delivery||Packaging|
|HelloFresh||8 weekly choices||Mostly perfect, with a few wilted leafy greens||On time||Excellent packaging. Recyclable and reusable materials for the most part|
|Home Chef||11 weekly choices||Always fresh, although never had any leafy ingredients so there is no way to judge that quality||On time||Excellent packaging. Recyclable and reusable materials for the most part|
Meal Kit Delivery, Packaging, and Meals
Both HelloFresh and Home Chef delivers food on time in packaging that keeps the food fresh. The materials used in the box are, for the most part, either reusable or recyclable. There is generally no more waste than you would have if you purchased the ingredients in a grocery store.
Both HelloFresh and Home Chef provide beautiful, easy to use, step-by-step recipe cards. Home Chef also provides a 3-hole punch binder to put your cards in, so they get a thumbs up from me for that.
One tip: Regardless of which service you use, I recommend always chopping all your veggies first, even if the recipe recommends chopping them later in the process. Unless you’re an expert in slicing and dicing, you’ll feel stressed trying to get that done while something else is cooking.
The ordering process is virtually the same for both, and in general, both services are equal in their performance for the entire process from start to finish. I’m completely satisfied with the actual service of both.
The only difference between HelloFresh and Home Chef comes down to the actual meals themselves. Of course, flavor preferences are personal, so while we strongly prefer the meals from HelloFresh, I know of others who like Home Chef’s meals better. (My sister is one of those people). But this comparison is based on the various meals we tried here in my home, so while your experience may differ, this is what we found to be true.
My Meal Kit Concerns Addressed
Okay, so let’s finally address the concerns I had before I started this process.
Would I be able to pull off the actual cooking part, or would I still be a lousy cook even with the ingredients and instructions handed to me?
I was able to look like a “real cook” with both services, but HelloFresh meals made me feel even more accomplished. HelloFresh gives me that feeling of being a “super-chef”, and the boost in my confidence soared with each successive HelloFresh meal I created.
Would it be difficult or aggravating or just too much trouble?
In general, all of the meals are easy enough for anyone to accomplish. While a few might be a little easier, or a little more difficult than others, none of them caused me any undo aggravation or trouble. Even “lousy cooks” can create real meals with either HelloFresh or Home Chef.
Would they offer meals that we would actually eat, or would it all be things we wouldn’t like?
Even the worst of the worst meals that we ate from HelloFresh and Home Chef were all quite edible. Keep in mind that I tried a lot of dishes that I would never have eaten (or even considered) otherwise. Flavor combinations, spices or ingredients I’d never tried or even heard of, and cooking techniques that I’d not used before…all of these were things I specifically chose so that I could get outside of our little box. By choosing things I was uncertain of, I assumed there might be quite a few that we would hate. I was wrong. Despite trying so many new things, in general, we liked or loved most of them. That’s a pretty nice surprise.
Would the ingredients really be nice and fresh?
For the most part, yes. I received some wilted arugula a couple of times, and some carrots that weren’t as crunchy as they should have been once…all from HelloFresh. Home Chef, on the other hand, never really sent much produce that would be in danger of wilting, so I have no way of knowing if it would have held up or not. But aside from that, the majority of the ingredients I received from both services were every bit as fresh as they would have been if I’d gotten them from the grocery store. A few, in fact, seemed fresher and more beautiful than I’ve ever gotten from a store. For the most part, the veggies are bright, fresh, and beautiful, and the meat and seafood look great.
Would the food taste good?
There are, of course, some misses among the hits, but all in all, we’ve had a ton of wonderful, delicious, exciting, and beautiful meals. We strongly prefer HelloFresh for consistently yummy dishes, but Home Chef hit a couple of home runs as well with some tasty meals. Without a doubt, even with the occasional dishes that fell flat, this experience has been great. The dishes certainly taste better than my go-to fast food choices, and in most cases, I’d even say that the dishes taste better than most quality restaurant meals I’ve had. And I get to say that I created them! Yes!!!!
Who Benefits From Using A Meal Kit Service Such As HelloFresh or Home Chef?
- Lousy cooks, people who don’t know how to cook, beginners, and fast-food junkies should all consider using a meal kit service. If you are at all interested in being able to cook delicious restaurant-quality meals, either for yourself or your family, I’d strongly recommend trying this. You really CAN do this, pretty easily. You’ll get a real kick out of being able to pull off some amazing dinners!
- People who hate grocery shopping should definitely consider a meal kit service. Of course, you’ll still have to go to the grocery store for some things, but you’ll no longer be buying veggies that sit around and go bad because you only need a little for a meal. And you’ll no longer have to decide what to buy in the first place!
- People who hate deciding what to cook. If you’re like me, you end up with just one or two things you eat over and over again because the process of making decisions is just too overwhelming. A meal kit service makes it easy to choose each week’s meals.
- People who want to try new food styles, but don’t know where to start. Meal kit services provide meals from a variety of different cuisines so you can always find something new to experiment with.
- People who want to provide healthier dinners for themselves and their families. I really didn’t compare all the health attributes of these dinners, so it’s certainly possible that they aren’t as healthy as some other choices might be. But I’m fairly certain they are all healthier than the fast food burgers or pizzas I’ve had as a staple in my dinner rotation. So…yeah…that’s all I have to say about that.
- Anyone who is spending at least $8 per person for any meal (which is basically what any fast-food combo is going to cost you) should consider a meal kit service. Most of them, with HelloFresh and Home Chef being no exception, cost around $10 per person per meal. These meals are well worth the cost.
- Anyone who wants to be able to provide a great meal in about 30 minutes should try a meal kit service. Some of the meals take a little longer. I don’t think any of them took more than 45 minutes, if I remember correctly. If you are already a great cook, then you can probably already pull off a great meal in 30 minutes. But people like me, who struggle to cook, tend to take an hour or two to make a meal. We simply don’t have enough experience to bring it all together easily on our own. But with the instructions and ingredients provided by meal kit services, we can pull it off too. And that’s really cool.