As a working mom, providing a healthy, flavorful dinner to my family each night can feel like pulling off a magical feat.
I’m all about meal planning and bulk shopping, but the truth is that I don’t always get a chance to plan the meals I’d ideally eat.
After a marathon day of child-wrangling, emails, laundry, and general life management, sometimes I just want to plop down on the couch and order Thai takeout.
There’s no shame or guilt in that, of course, but eating delivery food often isn’t great for my family’s budget.
On the hunt for a solution that would free up my mental time and energy at least a few times a week, as well as save me some cash, I decided to try two fresh ingredient boxes: HelloFresh and Home Chef.
These boxes, sometimes called “meal subscription boxes” are a popular option for people in all stages of life, not just parents.
Basically, these boxes consist of recipes for tasty dinners, complete with pre-portioned ingredients for the meal (down to the spices!) and detailed directions for how to cook it.
Most often, the boxes contain recipe cards with a photograph of the meal, step-by-step directions on how to cook it, plus relevant tips and information.
I’d tried a few dinner boxes in the past (like SunBasket and Blue Apron), but thought it was time to give this method of preparing dinner another try.
So I was excited to receive a box each from HelloFresh and Home Chef and give their recipes a go.
Hello Fresh vs Home Chef Comparison Table
|What you get||Fresh ingredients
Recipe cards with step by step guides
Recipe cards with step by step guides
|Prices||From $7.49 per serving||From $6.99 per serving
Smoothies are $4.95 per serving
|Diets catered for||Meat and Veggies
Carnivore (meat not fish)
|Food exclusions||None by default but ingredients and allergens are clearly marked on recipes||Pork
Under 30 minutes to cook
|How often do they arrive?||Up to three times a week||One box per week|
|Delivery area||Continental US||98% of the US|
|Shipping cost||Shipping cost varies but around $8.99||Free if order is over $40, otherwise $10|
|Recipe options each week||20 recipe choices||14 recipe choices|
|Allergen free food preparation facilities||No, but HelloFresh ingredients are often separated by their packaging, preventing cross contact.||No. All ingredients are individually packaged, but facilities are not certified allergen-free.|
|Review summary||Average 4.4 stars out of 5 from 39,833 reviews.||Average 4.1 stars out of 5 from 6,425 reviews.|
|Special Offers||Black Friday Offer
$80 Off + Free Shipping here:
|Cyber Week Offer
$80 Off for a limited time:
Home Chef $80
HelloFresh Recipe Box In Review
What is HelloFresh?
HelloFresh are a meal delivery service who offer pre-portioned ingredients for making easy, healthy dinners.
Their grocery deliveries ship between 1 up to 3 times a week in insulated boxes. It’s easy to cancel or pause them at any time.
Every recipe which is created by their chefs is tested 200 times before being offered to their customers.
See HelloFresh recipes: HelloFresh
How HelloFresh Began
HelloFresh were founded in Germany in 2011. They aim to offer their customers fresh, crisp ingredients delivered right to their door.
Despite many competitors emerging on the scene, HelloFresh remains the most popular meal kit in the world, with over 280 million meals delivered in 2019.
I tried out HelloFresh for myself to see how the meals were to prepare and how they tasted.
My HelloFresh Box Has Arrived
The HelloFresh box of two meals for two people arrived via FedEx.
The packaging was standard for a box of this type: recipe cards, food (mostly in small brown paper bags), plastic gel packs to keep the food cold.
I liked that almost everything was recyclable.
The gel packs have directions on them about how to recycle them too, which was great.
I was excited to try the food.
Although there is always the option of choosing the meals you receive in your box, I purposely didn’t look at the meals beforehand, as I was hoping for some surprise and variety in my meals.
The Recipes Inside My HelloFresh Box
I received two recipes: Sheet Pan Chicken and Poblano Fajitas and Crispy Buffalo-Spiced Chicken with Bleu Cheese Sauce, Scallion Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrot Fries.
Chicken is certainly my preferred meat, so I was pumped!
HelloFresh Recipe 1: Chicken and Poblano Fajitas
I first made the Chicken and Poblano Fajitas.
The recipe came with chicken cutlets, tortillas, poblano peppers, onions, a small tomato, cilantro, a lime, a spice blend, a red pepper crema sauce, and Monterey Jack cheese.
There were a few steps involved, including dicing veggies, roasting, then cooking chicken and making a simple pico de gallo to top the fajitas.
How Easy Was this HelloFresh Recipe to Make?
The fajita recipe was easy to cook—the directions were quite clear.
I loved the addition of the poblano peppers, which made it feel a little elevated.
I really enjoyed the spice blend for the chicken, too.
Although I’m not a cream-based sauce fan, the red pepper crema definitely added a flavorful element to the finished meal.
Ready to Eat, Chicken and Poblano Fajitas:
HelloFresh Recipe 2: Crispy Buffalo-Spiced Chicken
My next recipe, which I cooked a few days later, was the Crispy Buffalo-Spiced Chicken with Bleu Cheese Sauce, Scallion Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrot Fries.
This came with carrots, potatoes, chicken cutlets, a panko bread crumb blend, bleu cheese sauce, hot sauce, a spice mix, scallions, and sour cream.
How Easy Was this HelloFresh Recipe to Make?
As with the first recipe, the directions were well-written and easy to follow.
The buffalo chicken recipe was definitely a bit more involved than something I would typically do on a weeknight, as it involved roasting two ingredients separately, plus breading and mashing potatoes.
Still, I didn’t have any trouble cooking the recipe in about 35 minutes. The panko-breaded chicken was totally delicious!
I’m not a big mashed potatoes fan, but these ended up tasting better and being much less work than I anticipated.
Ready to Eat, Crispy Buffalo-Spiced Chicken:
How Did the HelloFresh Recipes Taste?
Both recipes ultimately tasted great and were a hit with both me, my husband, and my toddler.
Although the boxes are meant to feed two adults, I found I could easily take a bit of my portion and a bit of my husband’s portion to make a full meal for my two-year-old. Take note, parents!
Is HelloFresh Good Quality?
Having tried the HelloFresh service, I would definitely recommend it.
The ingredients were fresh and pre-portioned, it was great for health-conscious singles, couples, and families, especially those who are looking to eat flavorful meals that are a slightly elevated without being too gourmet.
If you want to try HelloFresh for yourself they have a special offer.
For a limited time you can get $80 off your first box, along with free shipping here:
HelloFresh Reviews from Customers
I loved the meals but what did other customers think of HelloFresh?
On average HelloFresh US got 4.4 stars out of 5 from 39,833 reviews across 2 independent platforms, Trustpilot and Consumer Affairs.
Considering the number of reviews this is a very high rating to have maintained on average.
Customers loved the:
- selection and quality of recipes.
- customer service, which many reviews praised.
- how easy the recipes were to make.
There were occasional reports of missing ingredients or some people growing tired of the same ingredients.
The vast majority of reviews were positive and found that the service helped them to eat more healthily and saved on unwanted groceries too.
Here are a few sample reviews from HelloFresh customers:
How Do I Sign Up for HelloFresh Meals?
You can sign up directly on the HelloFresh website: HelloFresh.
It will ask you first what plan you want. You can choose from:
- Meat and Veggies
- Calorie Smart
- Quick and Easy
This will filter the meals that are suitable for your diet for you.
You can then customise your plan by selecting:
- meals for two people or four people.
- number of meals per week: three, four, or five.
You enter your email and then choose the meals for the week.
Even if you have a free box or coupon code, you will be required to enter your credit or debit card number to check out.
After checking out you can then choose the meals you want for your first delivery.
Is HelloFresh Worth the Money?
I definitely believe HelloFresh is worth the money. As well as offering quality pre-portioned ingredients for tasty dinners, the service can help save on costs in other areas.
For example if you add up how much you spend on unused groceries each year, last minute buys at the corner store, and take-out, it can come to a surprisingly large sum.
With HelloFresh you’re only getting the ingredients you need for the meals you eat, so there’s no waste.
It also saves a lot of time each week that would otherwise be spent planning out meals, getting recipes, adjusting quantities and ordering the ingredients.
They delivery tried and tested recipes that are ready to go.
The fact that the meals are healthy too is great for anyone looking to follow a healthier food plan.
HelloFresh Black Friday Offer for our Readers
$80 Off Including Free Shipping on 1st Box here:
Home Chef Meal Kits In Review
What Is Home Chef?
Home Chef offer pre-portioned weekly ingredient boxes for members to make easy, healthy dinners.
Their meals take 30 minutes or less to make and are simple to cook.
They also offer customizable options such as swapping or doubling the proteins in the meals.
You can find out more and see their meals on their website: Home Chef
How Home Chef Began
Home Chef began in 2013 in Chicago. The founder Patrick Vihtelic wanted to offer meals that were delicious as well as easy to prepare.
So he partnered with a professional chef to make sure that he could deliver on his promise of great tasting dinners.
While Patrick still runs Home Chef, it’s now owned by Kroger and meals can also be found in their supermarkets.
Home Chef Review
The week after trying HelloFresh I gave Home Chef a try to compare the two meal services.
My Home Chef Box Has Arrived
I received the Home Chef box of two meals for two people on a Thursday via FedEx.
It was a sturdy cardboard box with the standard packaging, including a foam cushion and gel packs to keep the food cold.
Ingredients Were Pre-portioned and Packaged Separately
Each meal and its ingredients was packaged in an individual plastic bag with zipper seal.
Meat was in separate plastic containers.
One cool thing is that your first HelloFresh box comes with a binder that you can put your recipe cards in. This is such a nice touch.
The binder is really useful for people who are using meal subscription services as a way to get more meal ideas. It can essentially become your own personal cookbook, even if or when you stop getting boxes.
The Recipes Inside My Home Chef Box
As with HelloFresh, I didn’t check out the recipes online, so I could be surprised.
I received Butternut Squash Alfredo Gnocchi with Kale and Asiago Cheese and Honey-Ginger Chicken Katsu with Jasmine Rice and Mushrooms.
Home Chef Recipe 1: Butternut Squash Alfredo Gnocchi
First up was the gnocchi recipe, which came with cubed butternut squash, fresh kale, gnocchi, a small bag of crispy onions, garlic salt, shredded asiago cheese, and a packet of alfredo sauce.
How Easy Was This Home Chef Recipe to Make?
The recipe was incredibly easy to make.
I roasted the squash, cooked the gnocchi in the skillet, popped in the kale and sauce, then topped it all with cheese and crispy onions.
All in all, a total cinch.
I found this recipe super delicious, despite the fact that the the alfredo sauce was a little bit salty.
The crispy onions were the perfect touch to finish the dish and kick it up a notch.
My husband liked the dish during dinner, too although he said later it felt it didn’t agree with his stomach.
Ready to Eat, Butternut Squash Alfredo Gnocchi:
Home Chef Recipe 2: Honey-Ginger Katsu Chicken
Next up, a few days later, was the Honey-Ginger Katsu Chicken.
This meal came with two chicken breast fillets (one per person), crimini mushrooms, green onions, jasmine rice, panko bread crumbs, soy sauce, chopped ginger, honey, two garlic cloves, and again, a small bag of crispy onions.
The ingredients stayed fresh in the fridge for the few days until I could make the recipe, which was a relief.
How Easy Was This Home Chef Recipe to Make?
This recipe was also pretty easy, although significantly more involved in terms of cooking steps.
I roasted the mushrooms, cooked the rice, and then breaded and cooked the chicken. I also made the honey-ginger sauce.
Again, this was an overall hit. I really enjoyed the crispy chicken and the sweet-hot ginger sauce.
The rice had a good flavor and the mushrooms meshed well with the other two elements of the meal.
Ready to Eat, Honey-Ginger Katsu Chicken:
Is Home Chef Good?
I would recommend Home Chef to anyone looking for fast and easy dinners that taste great.
Both recipes were quite easy from beginning to end, taking about 35 minutes max to cook.
There wasn’t a ton of hands on prep, which is something I really appreciate in a weeknight meal.
The flavors were simple, but tasty.
You can see their full recipe options here: Home Chef Meals
If you want to try Home Chef for yourself they have a special offer.
For a limited time you can get $80 off your first box here:
Home Chef Reviews from Customers
On average Home Chef scored 4.1 stars out of 5 from 6,425 reviews across 2 independent platforms, Influenster and Trustpilot as well as their Facebook page.
Customers liked the:
- Quality of ingredients.
- Flexibility of the meal selection and meal options.
- How easy the recipes were to make.
- Variety of meals.
- Quantity of food provided for each serving.
A few users found some meals to be salty or that one or two ingredients were damaged on arrival. A few users also felt that cancelling the subscription could be easier (you have to email in).
All in all the majority of customers love their dinner recipes which were easy and tasty.
These are some sample reviews from Home Chef subscribers.
Ann has tried their new Fresh and Easy meal range which offers healthier meals that are ready to go in the oven:
How to Sign Up to Home Chef
You can sign up easily on the Home Chef website and choose from their two main plans “Home Chef” or “Fresh and Easy.”
Home Chef vs Fresh and Easy
Home Chef are the standard dinner recipes. These offer tasty meals which are quick to prepare.
Fresh and Easy are their newest range. They have healthier, leaner meal options. They are also prepped one step further so that they’re ready to go in the oven.
What Dietary Preferences Can You Choose with Home Chef?
You have the option of choosing your general diet from omnivore, vegetarian, pescatarian and carnivore (which is meat but no fish).
You can select the types of meals you want (if you would like to) from:
Then, you can add the ingredients you want to avoid, such as pork, milk, mushrooms, red meat, nuts and shellfish.
You enter your email and then check out before you choose your meals for the week.
Is Home Chef Worth the Money?
With meals starting at $6.99 per serving, Home Chef is economical when you consider all that comes with it.
You get a free recipe binder, recipe cards with step by step guides and fresh pre-portioned ingredients for meals that suit your diet.
It takes away the hassle of planning out dinners and groceries by offering tasty recipes that are ready to go.
It also reduces any unused groceries each week as you have the ingredients you need for those particular recipes.
All in all it’s a great service for helping out busy professionals or families who want to enjoy tasty meals without the hassle.
Home Chef Cyber Week Offer
$80 Off Your First Order for a Limited Time:
Which is Better HelloFresh or Home Chef?
I had a great experience with both companies and overall, I think both are solid options for people wanting to try meal subscription boxes.
If you value home-cooked food, but are busy and overwhelmed, either box can be a solid solution for you.
Both companies appear to be focused on the mainstream healthy eating, rather than on special diets (paleo, keto, vegan, etc).
It is possible to get allergen-free meals but you have to check the labels on the meals each week (although you can of course mark your overall preferences).
I definitely liked the HelloFresh recipes a bit more (despite the creamy sauces, haha!).
HelloFresh’s packaging is also more sustainable. It also seems, based on reviews, that their service is much easier to pause or cancel.
Home Chef’s meals seem to be slightly less health-focused and they aim to offer more on taste and fast meal prep. This could just be the recipes that I tried though.
It’s also worth noting that Home Chef also have their new range: Fresh and Easy which offers much leaner recipes which are oven-prepped too.
Home Chef’s lunch and smoothie add-ons are a big plus. I didn’t try either of those options, but it seems that customers really love the smoothie kits (which can be used for breakfasts, snacks, etc).
The price point between the two is comparable. With both services, you can save on time planning and ordering meals. And money that could otherwise go on take-outs or groceries that you buy and never use.
Both HelloFresh and Home Chef are terrific options for anyone who’s busy but who still wants to ensure they’re eating a tasty home-cooked meal.