I tried organic meal kit Green Chef—here's what to expect
We put the sustainable meal kit to the test.
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When I first tested for our best meal kits roundup in 2018, Green Chef fell somewhere in the middle. The service, which was the first USDA-certified organic meal kit on the market, impressed us with its fresh ingredients and health-minded recipes—but we were disappointed by its restrictive menu and limited meal options.
Now, two years later, I thought it was high time to give Green Chef another shot. Most meal kit companies are evolving constantly to keep up in a competitive space, meaning that their menus, practices, and prices aren’t all the same year-to-year. So on the tail end of testing organic grocery delivery service Thrive Market, I re-upped my Green Chef subscription and tested a week’s worth of their meals.
How does Green Chef work?
If you’re familiar with meal kits, you’ll be familiar with how Green Chef operates. Once you subscribe, you can expect weekly (or semi-weekly) boxes of their meals delivered right to your doorstep.
Green Chef offers a variety of different diet-based meal plans (think keto, paleo, and vegan) at different price points, with about eight meal options to choose from per week. You can change your plan, skip deliveries, and adjust upcoming meals at any time before the next week’s cutoff date.
What sets Green Chef apart is their commitment to organic and ethically-sourced ingredients. They’re a USDA-certified organic company, meaning that customers are buying certified ingredients from suppliers that undergo annual compliance inspections, maintain a strict list of approved ingredients, require documentation of organic practices, and provide guidelines for protecting the soil ecology and water quality.
While Green Chef occasionally swaps in non-organic ingredients when necessary, this is about as close as you can get to 100% organic with a meal kit. Their certification helps explain the company’s more limited weekly menus and higher prices. You can learn more about how they source their ingredients on the Green Chef website.
How much does Green Chef cost?
Currently, Green Chef’s meal prices range from $9.99 to $14.99 per serving, depending on the type of plan chosen and the frequency of boxes. Plans are first divided into diet type, which includes Keto, Paleo, Balanced Living (omnivore or pescatarian), and Plant-Powered (vegan or vegetarian), and then further divided by servings—two, four, or six per meal. There is also a Family Plan that allows up to 12 servings per meal. Shipping and handling is $9 per box.
As someone who will eat anything and everything, I originally chose Green Chef’s “omnivore” plan (now part of Balanced Living) during my first round of testing, but when I noticed that the gluten-free meals that week were more appealing, I opted into that plan instead. While I received an email about a “one-time change to my plan” in my inbox that afternoon, I had to go hunting for a receipt to find that there was an extra charge of $7 for going gluten-free.
However, I did not run into any pricing issues during my latest round of testing. I still chose the omnivore section of the Balanced Living plan. My total box of three meals came out to $55.94, but this included an initial $25 discount. Without the discount, my standard weekly box would be $80.94, including shipping, or $13.49 per serving.
This is definitely on the higher end of pricing for the meal kits we’ve tested—Home Chef, the best meal kit we’ve tested, has a fixed price of $9.95 per serving for most dinner meals, regardless of frequency or number of servings. Green Chef’s higher costs are likely due to their sourcing of organic ingredients.
I ordered a week of Green Chef meals—here’s how it went
When I went to order from Green Chef, I was pleasantly surprised to find that their menus had been broadened. While it’s still a bit confusing to choose between their many plans, there are about eight meal options offered per week per menu, which is an improvement from the offerings when we first tested in 2018.
Because I’m now cooking for five at dinner, I decided to order three two-person meals to have for weekday lunches with my partner. I selected Red-Miso Steak Stir-Fry, Chicken with Harissa Apricot Sauce, and Italian Breaded Pork Chops. Only after did I realize I forgot to choose any vegetarian or vegan meals. Sorry, vegetarians.
My box arrived on the scheduled Friday afternoon with each meal’s ingredients packed snuggly into their own labeled brown bags. I appreciated being able to toss the bags into the fridge without organizing individual ingredients. As always, the proteins were packed separately, below the bags and next to the ice packs. I put the steak in my fridge to prepare on Monday, and froze the other meat for future cooking.
Red-Miso Steak Stir-Fry
First up was Green Chef’s Red-Miso Steak Stir-Fry with Udon Noodles, Carrots, Edamame, Pickled Ginger and Carrots. I chose this meal because it sounds roughly like something I’d make on my own, and I love working with miso.
When I tore open the meal bag, I was surprised to see that many of the ingredients were pre-prepped. The carrots and cabbage were already chopped, the miso sauce was already prepared, and there was a baggie of finely minced garlic and ginger that was almost a paste.
All these pre-prepped ingredients made preparing the meal very speedy and simple. Everything was plated and ready to eat in 30 minutes, and I only dirtied a handful of prep bowls, one pan, one pot, and a cutting board. Both my partner and I enjoyed the meal, even if the flavors were somewhat ambiguous—the portion size was generous, and it made for a satisfying lunch.
However, the pre-prepped ingredients aren’t perfect. Although we only waited two days before preparing the meal, the cabbage and carrots were wilted and browning. This, of course, is what happens when ingredients (especially organic ingredients) are chopped well before they’re prepared. I would prefer whole ingredients when I’m not cooking a meal kit the same day it’s delivered.
Chicken with Harissa Apricot Sauce
Next up was Chicken with Harissa Apricot Sauce and Couscous with Dried Apricots, Pistachios, and Broccoli. I was intrigued to find this on the Green Chef menu, as I recently had a very similar apricot-chicken-and-couscous meal from EveryPlate. I ended up enjoying them both, although in different ways.
Like with the miso steak recipe, many of this meal’s ingredients were pre-prepared. The apricot sauce was already made, and the broccoli was already roughly chopped. Unfortunately, the stems of the broccoli were quite brown by the time I went to cook.
This was another incredibly easy meal to prepare, with few dishes and little effort. The chicken was moist and flavorful, and the couscous was interesting. The broccoli did not fare as well, and the recipe card’s instructions to “sautée the broccoli with oil, salt and pepper” were not exactly helpful (I prefer to steam or oven-roast broccoli in this scenario).
Despite the broccoli, this was still a three-and-a-half-out-of-five star meal.
Italian Breaded Pork Chops
I was really hopeful for this meal—although I don’t love pork chops, Italian Breaded Pork Chops with Barley, Cremini Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese sounded like a really comforting classic. Unfortunately, the pork chops I received were so thick and rounded, I couldn’t get them fully cooked in the pan without scorching the battered exterior.
My instincts said to pound the chops thinner before frying them, but I followed the recipe card’s instructions for testing fidelity and was disappointed with the results. The barley base was fine, but nothing to write home about, either.
I will say this is the only meal that didn’t have any browning or wilted ingredients. Both the grape tomatoes and cremini mushrooms held their shape and color in the package before being prepared, likely because they weren’t pre-chopped. We’d give this meal a two-and-a-half out of five.
Is Green Chef worth it?
Green Chef has grown substantially since our first round of testing in 2018—they offer more recipes per weekly menu, and their meals appear to be more focused and flavorful. They also haven’t wavered from their commitment to organic and sustainable ingredients.
While they’re not the most affordable service we’ve tested, we think Green Chef is a great option for those who are committed to eating organic, or those who have more restrictive diets not accommodated by other meal kits. Some of Green Chef’s flavors are a bit vague, pulling from different international cuisines without being specific about them, but the meals are fast, filling, and visually appetizing, with more generous portion sizes than we’ve seen with other kits.
Curious about how Green Chef compares to the competition? Check out our roundup of the best meal kits on the market.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.