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Unlike a lot of products we test at Reviewed, a meal kit delivery service isn’t something you buy once and use for years to come—it’s a subscription that gets factored into your monthly budget, asks you to make choices each week, and changes how you cook, eat, and spend time with your friends and family. As a result, choosing which service is right for you is a major decision—and a personal one.
Since the launch of model meal kit company Blue Apron in 2012, a seemingly endless number of competitors have emerged, each with unique gimmicks and recipes—from vegan to pre-prepped, Southern barbecue to Martha Stewart-approved.
Whether you’re an experienced home chef or you don’t know your way around a kitchen, cooking for yourself or trying to feed a family, a good meal kit can make dinner as convenient as it is delicious. To find the best meal kit—and to help you decide which services are worth your time and money—I spent three months testing and retesting 11 meal kits, cooking more than 40 different dinners across three different kitchens on my own busy weeknights. I evaluated for quality of ingredients, recipe accuracy and variety, difficulty, speed, packaging, cleanup, taste, and more—everything the average busy person (like me) considers when it comes time to make dinner. Here’s what I found.
Our favorite meal kit: Home Chef
Cost: Visit HomeChef.com for updated pricing. When tested, meals were $9.95 per serving, regardless of frequency or quantity. Meals can serve 2, 4, or 6 people.
Like its name suggests, Home Chef provides customers with the tools necessary to become true masters of the kitchen. From Home Chef’s fresh, high-quality ingredients to well-written recipes that break down intimidating cooking methods into digestible steps, everything about this service made me feel like I was preparing restaurant-worthy (or at least guest-worthy) meals without running around like a maniac.
Take Home Chef’s 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’s offerings are diverse enough to accommodate almost any diet, including vegetarians and vegans. It offers 16 dinner options per week, as well as a handful of lunch and snack choices as add-ons to its main menu. 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 summer simplicity. Vegetarian meals, like the Wild Rice and Brussels Sprouts Harvest Bowl, were on the table in less than 30 minutes.
At the heart of Home Chef’s success is its organization. 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, recipe instructions are consistently clear, time estimates are largely accurate, and the website is easy to navigate, allowing you the freedom to choose meals and skip delivery weeks at will. This clarity and 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 be wise to incorporate more biodegradable packaging into their existing model, but I struggle to find any other criticism of this excellent service.
Other meal kits we love
Home Chef wasn’t the only meal kit we tested, as there are plenty out there to suit your various needs. Our full roundup of the best cooking subscription boxes can be found on Reviewed.com. Head there to see what other meal kits we tested, what we liked and didn’t like about them, and why.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
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