We put the two popular meal kits to the test.
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It seems like every meal kit delivery service on the market promises to make your life happier, healthier, and easier—but how can you know what actually works? Brands like HelloFresh, Home Chef, Plated, and Sun Basket are all working to define themselves in a crowded space, yet their same-sounding names and overlapping missions make it difficult to tell them apart—and decide which is actually worth the money.
Lucky for you, we’ve done all the hard work already. I tested the best meal kit delivery companies over three months and judged them on cost, recipe quality, meal options, and more, ultimately picking Home Chef as our favorite kit overall.
But what sets Home Chef apart from certified-organic service Green Chef? And which is right for you? Read on to see how the services compare.
Because Home Chef and Green Chef are both established companies with large networks of food suppliers, they’ve been able to keep their meal prices competitively low. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering how they’ll each fit into your budget.
Currently, Green Chef’s meal prices range from $9.99 to $12.99 per serving, depending on the type of plan chosen and the frequency of boxes. Plans are first divided by the number of servings—you can choose between the Two-Person Plan and the Family Plan (which feeds four)—and then further into diet type, which includes Keto, Paleo, Omnivore, Carnivore, and Plant-Powered (which seems to be based on adaptable vegan recipes). The plan pricing is a bit confusing, to say the least. Shipping and handling is $6.99 per box.
As someone who will eat anything and everything, I originally chose Green Chef’s “omnivore” plan during 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. These sneaky price differences can be confusing for users who just want the meals that sound the best to them, not the ones Green Chef decides they should be eating.
Home Chef, meanwhile, has a fixed price of $9.95 per serving for most dinner meals, regardless of frequency or number of servings. They only offer one menu per week, but these menus always include a “premium” option offered at market price (e.g. Filet Mignon with Smoked Gouda-Potato Gratin is $19.95 per serving) as well as three lunch options for $7.99 per serving. The “Customize It” option also allows for premium cuts of meat to be added for an additional price. Shipping is $10 for orders less than $45, and free for orders above $45.
When you break it down, a couple interested in cooking three standard (for this scenario, omnivore) dinners a week would spend $59.70 at Home Chef, and $80.94 at Green Chef. A family of four would spend $119.40 at Home Chef and anywhere from $104.92 to $209.84 at Green Chef for either two or four meals—the Green Chef Family Plan doesn’t allow the combination of three meals with four servings each.
However you shake it, Green Chef is going to cost you more than Home Chef. Home Chef has some additional fees (with protein upgrades and premium meals) that allow you to spend more than you might originally intend to, but they’re avoidable if you’re sticking to a careful budget, whereas Green Chef has higher prices built in to account for their organic ingredients. Green Chef’s somewhat confusing plan selection process and hidden totals don’t help the situation—and if you don’t pay attention, you might be spending more, too.
If you’re committed to an organic diet and have the cash to spare, Green Chef might be for you. But if you’re looking for savings, Home Chef will be kinder on your wallet.
When we last tested these services for our meal kit round-up, we were impressed by Home Chef’s large, varied menu. Currently, Home Chef offers 14 dinner options and three lunch options per week. Dinners include at least one premium meal and at least two vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free options per menu. While vegan meals are not prioritized, at least two recipes a week can be altered to be vegan.
Since we tested, though, Home Chef has introduced their “Customize It” option, which allows subscribers to swap proteins for over half the dinners offered each week. Some meals allow for swapping an entirely new protein in for another for free, while others allow for upgrades to more premium cuts of meat for an additional price.
Kids don’t like pork? Swap in boneless chicken thigh instead for the Korean Noodle Bowl. Mom wants antibiotic-free chicken breast? Upgrade to the premium cut for $1.99 per serving. These options give couples and families a lot more flexibility in how they eat, without deviating from the organized menu and clear recipes we’ve come to expect from Home Chef.
Green Chef allows subscribers to choose from one of five diet plans: Keto, Paleo, Omnivore, Carnivore, and Plant-Powered. Carnivore is a Family Plan exclusive, and you can’t seem to swap out recipes from different plans each week, but you can change plans entirely. Each plan offers five to six recipes to choose from each week. Their savings-oriented Family Menu is very limited, only offering a handful of these same dinner options per week, but with more servings.
Ultimately, Green Chef is a certified-organic service, 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. Not every single ingredient can be organic, but this is about as close as you can get with a meal kit. Their certification helps explain the company’s fairly limited menu and higher prices. You can learn more about how they source their ingredients on the Green Chef website.
Home Chef’s large menu and “Customize It” option allows for the most variety, and they also offer snacks, smoothies, lunches, and other non-dinner foods on their regular menu. Despite tailoring to some specific diets, Green Chef has less flexibility and less variety overall.
When it comes to recipe quality and accuracy, Home Chef takes the cake. Their fresh, high-quality ingredients and well-written recipes that break down intimidating cooking methods into digestible steps made me feel like I was preparing restaurant-worthy (or at least guest-worthy) meals without running around like a maniac.
Take their Farmhouse Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Green Onion Gravy, and Corn. While browsing for meals on the company’s website, I initially saw fried chicken and laughed. How could a food so many people find impossible to cook at home be executed well in the context of a meal kit? I was shocked—and thrilled!—to find that Home Chef’s recipe yielded wonderfully even, juicy chicken with nary an oil burn in sight. I could hardly believe I did it myself.
If the words “fried chicken” make you clutch your heart in health-related fear, don’t worry—Home Chef isn’t just for indulgent diets. I was impressed by the depth of flavor in the Yang-Yang Beef with Shishito Peppers, a lighter alternative to traditional Chinese food, and loved the Hot Honey Salmon with Zucchini and Tomatoes for its summertime simplicity. Vegetarian meals, like the Wild Rice and Brussels Sprouts Harvest Bowl, were on the table in less than 30 minutes, but the average box-to-table time on my Home Chef meals was about 45 minutes.
I was much less impressed with my recipes from Green Chef. The flavor profiles of most meals were all over the place—mixing Thai with Southwestern and so on—and some directions were clearly incorrect on one of the recipe cards. All the meals tasted just fine in the end, but none wowed me. My favorite recipe of the bunch, Sweet Potato and Mushroom Tacos with Cotija Cheese Crisps and Slaw, was odd yet satisfying after a long day at work.
Home Chef easily wins this round in terms of flavor sophistication and recipe accuracy. Sorry, Green Chef.
At the heart of Home Chef’s success is its organization—and that extends to its packaging. Any experienced cook knows that preparation is half the battle, and this company knows it, too. Ingredients are divided per meal into labeled bags that easily slide into the fridge. This organization made for faster fridge-to-table times than a lot of the competition and saved me the stress of forgetting ingredients and re-reading recipes four times over.
Home Chef would, however, be wise to incorporate more biodegradable packaging into their existing model. While it wasn’t the most wasteful packaging we’ve seen, most of the materials were recyclable, not biodegradable.
Green Cheft’s packaging is less plastic-heavy and thus more eco-friendly, as you might expect from an organic service, but also decidedly less organized than Home Chef’s—meals weren’t organized into separate bags. Packaging woes are hard to get around when you’re dealing with food, so Home Chef wins this round for organization.
If you’re looking for a meal kit that is certified organic, Green Chef is only your only real option. But beyond their certification, we can’t really recommend this service. In the healthy-living and organic-eating sphere, we much prefer Sun Basket, our favorite meal kit for vegetarians. With 18 different meals to choose from each week, this largely-organic service better accommodates a wide range of diets with more variety and better prices.
However, Home Chef is our favorite overall for a reason. High-quality ingredients, well-written recipes, and fantastic flavors make the experience one you’ll want to integrate into your weeknights—and the service’s organization makes it incredibly easy to do so.
Still not finding what you want with these services? Check out our round-up of all the best meal kit delivery services.