Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A Home Chef Experiences Home Chef.

This is a review of Home Chef, a meal kit and food delivery company.

Several weeks ago, the Kroger company (we know them as City Market around here) offered an online deal for Home Chef.  For those not in the know, Home Chef is one of those companies that provides meal delivery services.  Meals can be premade to be microwaved or cooked in the oven, or come as kits where you do all the prep work and cooking.  Home Chef hit the market in 2013, and was purchased by Kroger in 2018.  Now we know why Kroger pushes the online site, and also offers meals, ready to cook, in their deli departments.

The offer I went for was $80 towards meal purchases plus free shipping on the first order.  To complete the offer, I was required to pick out three meals, with two servings in each. There are categories of: Meal Kits, Family Meals, Express, Oven Ready, Fresh & Fast plus extra categories of: Lunch, Bundle & Save, and Extras (breakfast, soups, snacks, beverages, drinks, pantry and protein).  


Alright, my purpose for trying this out was, well, I do not always want to cook, I want convenience.  Shocking, I know.  Looking at the oven ready selections was a bust as they were already recipes created by myself, such as parmesan chicken or lasagna.  Why in the world would I want to buy someone else’s version of it?  Looks like convenience was not on my to-do list, so ended up with three meal kits: Teriyaki Glazed Yellowtail, Bacon Crusted Trout and Creamy Pesto Chicken Flautas.   Roy and I truly enjoy eating seafood, so the first two were a given, and attempting another Mexican dish sounded like fun. 


Servings for each kit start around $7.99 and can get very, very pricey if you select anything from the “Culinary Collection”.  The size of each serving is basically what is recommended by dietary practitioners, and eating only that serving, plus exercise, you will be a runway model in no time.  In our household, my husband considered both portions as a single serving (I did get to taste a few forkfuls), and off to work he went.  I, on the other hand, dug through the refrigerator and found leftovers to have for my dinner.   That is our household, so do not judge by our way of eating which is not always in a healthy manner.

Honestly, this kind of meal service is perfect for, say, a single person who might like to cook, but not the time to shop; or is seeking convenience.  Might work for a couple too; definitely not us, as a couple, though.  Price?  First let me get back to the deal I went for.  The first order received $40 credit, out of the initial $80, but was charging for shipping.  I contacted customer service about why no free shipping on the first order.  A very nice gentleman explained it was an error, corrected my bill, so what would have costed me about $75, ended up costing only $30.  However, the $40 credit that should have still been available, well I got some cow patty excuse that the offer was a mistake.  Excuse me, but what? 

Secondly, on price, this is the kind of service that is for, again, convenience, so you are going to pay for that privilege.  Unless you do not mind spending way more for meal ingredients, than you would at your local market or supermarket, this might be a good deal.  For those who have to live within a budget, this type of service is a way to break your personal piggy bank to smithereens.

My Home Chef account is now on “pause”, you cannot cancel the account unless you call customer service and speak with a representative.  This will be an interesting conversation in the future, let me tell you! (Note: as of Feb 1, I was able to cancel the account via email)

Consider what I have just written as the pros and cons of dealing with a meal delivery service. 

Now, I bet you are wondering, after having to prep and cook the meals myself, how did they taste?  Did we just waste $30 on an experiment, or get three good meals for a bargain?

The measured portions for each meal come in a little baggy, the protein is in a separate baggy, and the directions on a laminated sheet, that can be inserted into a binder, Home Chef includes.  The ingredients are separated into packets or containers, with their name written, so you know what is what.  Following the easy directions (photos included), prep took little time, cooking time was accurate.  The recipe is also printed on the sheet, so if you collect the sheets, you can make the dish if you purchase ingredients from the market.  Each serving took up the space of a smaller, than standard, sized dinner plate.  However, if you place the serving on a dessert sized plate, well it looks like a king-sized meal to enjoy. 


Taste wise, the meals were delicious, the seasonings were spot on, and the sides are perfect accompaniments to the proteins.  With the teriyaki glazed yellowtail (aka snapper), there were four portions of rice to only two portions of fish.  Thankfully, some leftover chicken, from the fridge, helped to create two more meals.  In other words, the amount of rice/veggie mixture was, basically, filler.





Saute edamame and Portabello mushrooms.                      


Pan cook seasoned yellowtail.

Enough rice side leftover to make two more meals.

Single serving.

Two servings.

Live a little, learn a lot, and that is how I am grading our experience with Home Chef.

Mary Cokenour