Imagine you are leaving work and as you head to your vehicle, bike, bus stop, or train station you call your spouse or significant other. After a brief hello and yes my day was good you ask the dreaded question of, “what do you want for dinner tonight?” Both of you hate this question because it has become the same old routine. Naturally, you decided on something quick and easy. Now, imagine another scenario where you tell your significant other or spouse, “well thanks to these trending meal kits dinner arrived at our house 2 hours ago!” This second scenario is perfect, right?
Much like many other subscription boxes, meal kits have become very trendy over the past few years. Food delivered to your door along with a recipe. This seems like the perfect and easiest way to prepare a homemade, delicious meal. Being someone who enjoys cooking I decided to give Home Chef, one of the many meal kits available, a try.
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The initial low purchase price is appealing and a referral system is in place to continue with these “lower” prices. Home Chef, like any other meal kit, claims to offer low prices and quality meals. Over the past year, Lynden and I have used the program a handful of times. After receiving my most recent meals I decided to share a product review. Although I understand other people will have different opinions, I wanted to look at this product from a budget standpoint.
Typically a meal from Home Chef is $9.95 per serving. Everything needed is provided, except stable items such as olive oil or salt and pepper. To ensure safe to eat products the package has several ice packs and insulation. Ingredients are separated into bags for each recipe sent. From an environmental standpoint, the packaging seems wasteful, especially in a small community with little to no recycling opportunities. Still, though I understand that the company is going for simplicity and convenience, after all, that this the driving force behind these meal kits.
Before I provide a review of these products I need to provide a background on how Home Chef came into our lives. As some of you know, Lynden and I are both specific eaters. Although neither of us are vegetarian, we both are pickier about the meat we eat and very rarely does pork find its way to our table. Even more rare in this house is seafood. I am more adventurous in trying new recipes but Lynden tends to favor basic meals. After reviewing Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef I settled on the third. We have never tried any other meal kit. Although I would like to try another company, after the most recent Home Chef delivery, I doubt I will every try another kit.
In the most recent kit we received three meals; Lemon Parmesan Chicken Orzo, Spaghetti and Ricotta Meatballs, and Copacabana Smoothie. Three meals which are very basic. Overall we spent $50 for these three meals, two of which were disappointing. After dinner last night I actually “paused/canceled” our subscription and for one very important reason. The price we paid for these meals were significantly more than grocery store prices. No, seriously I logged onto the Smiths Food and Drug app and created a list to compare the estimated cost at the store to the actual cost of the meal kit. So, just how reasonable are these kits you ask? Well how about we break it down based on each recipe.
Lemon Parmesan Chicken Orzo
This recipe requires the following ingredients: (for simplicity I have placed estimated cost at my local grocery store to the right)
Cost from Home Chef: $19.90
Cost from local grocery store: $7.53 plus tax
Spaghetti and Ricotta Meatballs
*Ground Beef is based on 92% lean
Cost from Home Chef: $19.90
Cost from local grocery store: $7.73 plus tax
Cost from Home Chef: $9.90
Cost from local grocery store: $3.84 plus tax
Personally for Lynden and me Home Chef has not been a good option from both a financial and culinary stand point. For the most recent delivery we would have saved $30 by purchasing the ingredients for the Lemon Chicken, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Smoothie at the store. Although I have enjoyed some meals, the two main dishes were not work the convenience of not visiting a grocery store.
While Lynden and I both agree that the meal kit option is probably not the best route for us, we disagree on if it is a good option for anyone. In areas were the cost of living is more I could see these meals being comparable to the grocery store. Additionally, for someone such as his sister in California these meal kits make sense. She gets home late and spends too much time commuting. It would only make sense that the thought of grocery shopping at 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM would be a pain. So yes,I would recommend other people to try out these meal kits, depending on your work life balance and cost of living. I on the other hand will stick with shopping and prepping the meal myself; maybe I will even invest in a food saver. Ultimately though these kits accomplished two things, they gave me some new insight into cooking and have encouraged me to take the necessary steps to meal prep on the weekend to survive the crazy work week.