Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Boxed Life - Home Chef

I am a sucker for things delivered and I'm not the only one.  There is a huge industry right now that is designed just to deliver things to you in a box.  Ipsy. Birchbox. Hello Fresh. Home Chef. Blue Apron. Stitch Fix. And so. many. more.

This post, though, is about meal prep boxes. There are multiple out there, three of which are listed above, though I think they are mostly pretty similar.  I did a lot of research before I started one.

We did Home Chef because they were a little bit cheaper and had more family friendly meals.  Meals that I knew Aaron and I would both like and something that I would be happy to come home and make. Also, this blog post is not sponsored by Home Chef (you'll really see that if you read the whole thing!), but is just about our experience with the service.

How did it work? Home Chef had a really nice app on the phone we could use but you can also use their website.  There were nine different meals to choose from each week (a big plus compared to some of the others) plus a smoothie and breakfast recipe and a fruit basket to add on.  You had to choose at least two meals to not be charged shipping.  You chose the meals, typically three, the week before they were to be delivered.  Then they came packed in a box with the exact amount of ingredients you needed to make the meal and a recipe card.  What I really liked is that you could skip as many weeks as you wanted.  They now have other options too like once a month.

So you get a box. In the box come all your ingredients, like this:


The ingredients are individually packaged.  All the ingredients for each meals come in one bag. I always just threw the whole bags in the fridge and the meat in the freezer until I needed it.  Each ingredient was already portioned out and wrapped individually, if needed.  This made food prep super easy but would probably drive an environmentally conscious person insane.

The good part is that we made some awesome meals with Home Chef.

Chicken Chasseur.  This is the end product of the recipe/ingredients above.

Chicken Tikka Masala. My unicorn recipe!

Tuscan Pork Chops
Ultimately, we stopped the Home Chef box, mostly for financial reasons. Meals were $9.95/person.  That means meals were $20 each and the portions, while generous, were only for that one meal. No leftovers, unless you paid extra for the four-person meals.  That's as expensive as eating out! This meant that we paid roughly $60 a week for three meals in addition to still having to buy food for breakfasts, lunches and two other meals during the week.  Our grocery budget went up 50%.  One of the service providers, though I can't remember if it was Home Chef or Blue Apron, has completed studies that show that when making the same meal from Home Chef, most people spent equal to or the same amount of money as they would buying all the ingredients at the grocery store.  That might be true for people that don't cook all the time, but I had most of the seasonings and ingredients they were using.

We enjoyed our boxes and made some really great meals. It helped spice up the kitchen life for me for a while.  I kept the recipe cards for the meals we especially liked and will continue to make them in the future.

So would I recommend it?

I really enjoyed the service and convenience and would recommend Home Chef to anyone that wants to try a service like this. For families that cook multiple meals a week, I don't think this is the best avenue.  The convenience is amazing, but I don't think it's worth the cost every week.  I do think it's great for learning how to cook, maybe for newly weds that are just venturing into the cooking for two world.  And Home Chef now has an option where you can do one box a month, which could be a special treat.  It wasn't for us, but it could be for you.

What about you, have you tried a meal prep box? Did you like it?




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