Home Chef Review: More Sustainable Meal Kits
Home Chef meal delivery service aims to make your life easier with a focus on simple yet healthy and delicious meals. Similar to other meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, you get all of the ingredients you need – pre-portioned – right to your doorstep. Home Chef also uses packaging designed to be recycled or reused, and their meal kits can reduce the food waste associated with clean up from takeout.
How We Review Meal Delivery Services
To review different meal delivery services, we base our review on several factors. These include their food options, ingredient sourcing, packaging, and customer reviews to ensure that they are both good for you and for the environment.
- Dietary options – We look at both the quality and variety of the recipes and whether they offered vegan, paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.
- Ingredients – We research how they source their ingredients, whether they use organic, non-GMO, and locally grown products. We also look for important eco-friendly labels from authorities like the USDA, Non-GMO Project, and the Marine Stewardship Council.
- Packaging – The packaging for each meal is also very important. We want to know how much of their packaging is recyclable or biodegradable, and whether the brand used recycled materials in their packaging.
- Customer reviews – Finally, we look at customer reviews to see what users think about the meals and the service overall.
Home Chef Meal Delivery Service Overview
The company was founded in 2013 to make preparing home-cooked meals simpler and easier by removing the hassle of grocery shopping. Founder and CEO Pat Vihtelic partners with chefs to create the menu options and bring more enjoyment to cooking at home. Since then, Pat and his team have ramped up production to deliver more than 10 million meals each year, reaching more than 97% of the U.S. population. Healthy meals are finding their way to families across the country, and they don’t have to leave home to get them.
Over the years, the company has grown to more than 700 employees spanning all aspects of design, production, technology, customer service, and more. Everyone is dedicated to bringing fresh, healthy, easy-to-prepare menu options to customers throughout the United States. As Home Chef continues to evolve, it is always looking to incorporate new menu items, ingredients, and customization options to its meal subscription service portfolio.
Sustainability Practices at Home Chef
Home Chef’s menu options change each week. That means that different products are needed. The company is committed to sustainability in sourcing and packaging its meal delivery kits.
- All suppliers must follow industry best practices for the humane treatment of animals and animal welfare standards. Home Chef only uses high-quality ingredients.
- The company sources products from a wide range of suppliers, and some of these products are organic. Customers also have the option to swap out a traditional ingredient for an organic one when available.
- There are a variety of vegetarian options and customers can customize meals to fit various dietary needs as available.
- Packaging is designed with a focus on reducing waste, recycling paper and plastic, and reusing materials when possible. Many materials are readily recyclable, though collection depends on what individual recycling centers accept.
- Meal delivery can reduce carbon emissions by limiting trips to the store, and can decrease food waste as well by providing pre-portioned ingredients and appropriate serving sizes.
Home Chef’s Corporate Citizenship Efforts
Communities benefit when companies give back. Home Chef partakes in the ID.me program to offer up to 10% off to first responders, doctors, nurses, hospital employees, military members, and teachers. There are also discount programs for students to make healthy meals more affordable and accessible.
In 2018, Home Chef merged with Kroger to make Home Chef meal kits available in select Kroger grocery stores. This means that meal kits are conveniently on the spot for quick preparation without the wait or need for a subscription. While subscription members have access to a broader range of menu options, anyone can try a few recipes at home by purchasing them at the grocery store.
The company is also committed to charitable giving. Over the years, it has donated a portion of its proceeds to organizations such as Heifer International and the Midwest Food Bank. These funds are used to support individuals in need and ensure that they have nutritious food available to them.
Protecting the Environment with Recyclable Packaging
Home Chef strives to balance its packaging demands to guarantee that products arrive safely and in good condition while also reducing waste. Materials can either be recycled or reused around the home. The company also uses recycled products for some of its packaging supplies, such as the cardboard boxes and insulated liners.
- Recycle boxes and bags: Everything from the cardboard boxes the meal kits are delivered in, to the plastic bags used to portion products or keep them cool are recyclable. Check with collection facilities to determine which number recyclables they accept.
- Plastic containers: Just like the cardboard boxes and plastic bags, the plastic containers used to ship the foods in your weekly menu are also curbside recyclable.
- Insulated liners: Home Chef uses recycled cotton and denim to insulate their shipments. Simply cut the liner open, throw the cotton or denim contents away, and recycle the plastic bag.
- Ice packs: Ice packs can be refrozen and reused in lunch bags or coolers. To dispose of them, carefully cut open the plastic pouch, pour the non-toxic contents into the trash, and rinse and recycle the plastic bag.
Home Chef Pricing
Pricing for Home Chef varies depending on what types of meals you order, but pricing starts at $6.99 per serving. There are several different types of meals to choose from including:
- Meal kits, which are ready in approximately 30 minutes.
- 15-minute meal kits for a faster cook time.
- Oven-ready meal kits that are baked to perfection.
- Grill-ready meal kits that come with a grill-safe bag.
- Culinary Collection which includes premium meats and ingredients to upgrade your meal.
There are also entree selections that are vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, calorie-conscious, and carb-conscious. Simply fill out the dietary preferences and allergen restrictions and meals will be recommended for you to choose from. You can also customize each meal with various swaps and add-ons.
In addition, there are meal kit subscription discount programs for first responders, doctors, nurses, hospital employees, teachers, military members, and students, which can also reduce the price of weekly plans. Groupon vouchers can also be used for first-time customers on your first order. Plus, with the Home Chef referral program, active subscribers receive a $30 Home Chef credit each time a new member signs up using their referral invitation.
Home Chef Pros and Cons
We love that Home Chef offers so many ways for customers to customize their meals. Their “Customize It” feature lets you upgrade, swap, or even double up on the protein for many meals. They also give you the flexibility to skip deliveries or pause your account if something comes up. And, of course, we give them high marks for their approach to packaging, specifically their recycled cotton and denim insulation.
One big downside to Home Chef is that they offer less organic options than some other services. According to their site, while their products are “occasionally organic,” it’s not something they guarantee. If you are looking for USDA organic produce and meats, you might need to consider another service.
More Healthy Meals, Less Wasteful Packaging
Home Chef has a plethora of menu options to fit virtually any lifestyle. Whether you want something quick and fresh you can pop in the microwave or have a little more time to spend on prep work, there are is a meal plan for you. Plus, you can choose meal options ranging from vegetarian to seafood to dairy-free to low-carb and low-calorie depending on your dietary goals and preferences. All of these are also delivered in recyclable and reusable packaging. Change things up to try something new and feel good knowing that ingredients in this meal kit delivery service are responsibly sourced and delivered in eco-friendly packaging.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. His writing on natural health, nutrition, and supplements has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.