Green Chef does an organic meal kit, and we tested it
Wilted or wonderful?
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When we 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 healthy meals—but we were disappointed by its restrictive menu and limited options.
Now, a few years later, we 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, we re-upped our Green Chef subscription and tested a week’s worth of their meals.
Master the kitchen.
What is Green Chef?
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 meals delivered right to your doorstep.
Green Chef offers a variety of different meal plans for dietary preferences (think keto, Mediterranean, and vegan) at different price points, with about 30 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 its commitment to organic and ethically-sourced ingredients. It’s 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, and provide guidelines for protecting the soil ecology and water quality.
Green Chef is also the only meal kit service that claims to completely offset its plastic and carbon waste. And all of its packaging is made from recyclable, reusable, and/or compostable materials. The company even claims that due to these standards, its carbon footprint is 31% lower than traditional grocery shopping.
How much does Green Chef cost?
Currently, Green Chef’s meal prices range from $11.99 to $13.49 per serving, depending on the type of plan chosen and the frequency of boxes. (The menu also includes premium Chef Select meals that are between $6.99 and $9.99 more per serving.)
Plans are first divided into diet type, which includes Keto + Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Mediterranean, Fast & Fit (calorie-conscious), and Gluten Free, and then further divided by servings—two, four, or six per meal. Shipping and handling is $9.99 per box.
We originally chose Green Chef’s “omnivore” plan (which is no longer offered) during the first round of testing, but opted for the Mediterranean plan this time around.
Our total box of four meals came out to $113.91, including shipping, or $12.99 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 most meals starting at $8.99 per serving, regardless of frequency or number of servings. Green Chef’s higher costs are likely due to its sourcing of organic ingredients.
What we tried
When I went to order from Green Chef this time around, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the menus had been broadened. While it’s still a bit confusing to choose between the many plans, there are about 30 meal options offered per week per menu, which is an improvement from the offerings when we first tested a few years back.
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 in the cardboard box, below the bags and next to the ice packs.
I noticed that individual meals didn't have a "best by" date, but certain proteins (like fish) had a note on the packaging that indicated it's best to make within two days of delivery.
When previous Kitchen & Cooking editor Cassidy Olsen tried this meal kit back in 2018, she tried three different meals from the omnivore plan, including red-miso steak stir-fry, chicken with harissa apricot sauce, and Italian breaded pork chops. She largely enjoyed the flavors and portion sizes of the meals, but noticed several wilted and browning ingredients while preparing the food.
I had a similar experience with my testing as well. I tried the meal kit for two weeks instead of one, and was able to choose from a larger, expanded menu with triple the options. Every meal I tried—from vegan maple cauliflower power bowls to barramundi with chipotle lime aioli to chicken with maple dijon sauce—was tasty. But a few ingredients, like kale and Swiss chard, were wilted by the time I started cooking.
What we like about Green Chef
Each meal is conveniently packaged
Compared to other meal kits I've tested, I appreciated that Green Chef's meals all arrive in their own respective bags upon delivery. So I didn't have to spend time digging through a hodgepodge of ingredients when it came time to start cooking.
The only exception to that is the packaged protein, like raw chicken and fish, which are stored separately at the bottom of the box, by the ice packs. (I appreciated that because some animal proteins were prone to leaking, but still didn't contaminate the bags.)
Some parts of the meal packages even contained pre-prepped ingredients, like sauces and marinades. I never had to mix my own dressing for these meals, and even toppings like pecans or almonds arrived pre-chopped, while garlic arrived peeled and portioned.
The recipe cards are convenient and easy to follow
Each recipe card that arrived alongside its meal was clear, concise, and convenient. They contained easy-to-follow steps with accompanying photographs to ensure I was on the right track throughout each recipe.
The cards also feature helpful details that I hadn't seen from other meal kits, like a list of what cooking accessories are needed in a given recipe (think salt, frying pans, and whisks), and ideal cooking temperature of the featured protein.
Plus, every time estimate provided by Green Chef's recipe cards was accurate (sometimes I even finished up early!). Most of the meals provided can be whipped up in around 30 minutes, which is ideal for folks with packed schedules.
There are plenty of dietary options
The main dietary plans for a Green Chef subscription include Keto + Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Mediterranean, Fast & Fit, and Gluten Free. But you can refine your plan even further, by choosing from its subsections like pescatarian, pork-free, or shellfish-free, depending on your diet and preferences.
Of course, if you ever change your mind, you can always browse the full 30-meal menu and add whatever meals strike your fancy, even if it's not part of your official diet plan.
All the meals are delicious and healthy
There wasn't a single meal I had from Green Chef that I (and whichever family member I shared it with) didn't enjoy.
All of the meals I tested were flavorful, satisfying, and filled with seasonal produce. Since I tested this kit during the fall, meals were rich in seasonal produce like kale, sweet potatoes, and apples. And it felt like each dish was packed with healthy nutrients, since there was a diverse range of fruits, veggies, nuts, protein, and whole grains in every box.
What we don't like
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's set foot in a grocery store: Organic foods come with an added cost.
Since all of Green Chef's ingredients are sustainable and organic, they cost more than other meal kits we've tried by a few dollars per serving.
Ingredients aren't always at peak freshness
Speaking of organic foods, the lack of preservatives in Green Chef's ingredients means they sometimes arrived past their prime.
Kale had wilted, scallion edges had browned, and a bag of chard had developed a significant amount of moisture after only two days post-delivery.
Although foods like this are still typically safe to eat, you might be turned off by the look of them—especially when you're paying extra for the meals.
Communication was lacking at times
I was surprised to see that I hadn't received much correspondence from Green Chef throughout my subscription, like I was used to with previous meal kits.
There was no notification email sent to let me know when my weekly box had shipped, when it had arrived, or when the window was closing to choose my meals for the following week. As a result, I didn't remember to select my preferred meals the second week (which didn't really matter, because they were all tasty).
Should you sign up for Green Chef?
Yes, especially if you value organic ingredients!
Green Chef has grown substantially since our first round of testing in 2018—it offers more recipes per weekly menu, and its meals appear to be more focused and flavorful. It also hasn't wavered from its commitment to organic and sustainable ingredients.
While it's 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. 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 kit services on the market.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.