Meal kit companies make it easy for busy people to eat healthy and fresh meals at home. They deliver preset meal ingredients in a box to your door, and you use them to create the intended meal. It’s a great option for couples and small families, and can often help people save money if they’re trying to eat out less.
Two of the most popular options in the United States today are Blue Apron and Home Chef. We’re taking a close look at these two meal kits to see what they offer — and which is worth trying out!
Blue Apron offers eight different meals per week. Generally, the chef-created meals have a lot of excellent variety while still being very appetizing: You’ll see options like sweet-and-spicy salmon over rice and beans, sheet pan BBQ pork, Monterey jack cheeseburgers, and so on. Pastas and Mediterranean dishes are very common, but you can switch between menus week by week and explore if you don’t like the latest recipes. You can also choose serving sizes between two or four people, but no single-serving options are available. Blue Apron doesn’t do any add-ons for desserts or side dishes.
Home Chef offers different meals every week as well and switches their extensive menu up at least a little every week, but you can only order from the current menu. Meals are generally a little more varied than Blue Apron, ranging from chipotle chicken lettuce wraps to couscous with Greek chicken and cucumber to Tex-Mex steak sandwiches, salt and pepper shrimp, and Maui pork tostadas. We noticed a lot more Latin and Asian dish options in Home Chef than Blue Apron’s catalog, although, the current menus may vary. Your options are between two, four, or six people, and a plan requires you to get at least two dishes per week. Home Chef occasionally offers special recipes for a premium experience (many of these services offer Thanksgiving meals, for example).
One of the biggest differences here is Home Chef’s greater customization options. Not only is the current menu larger in Home Chef, but there are add-ons (like dessert yogurt), and a broad “Customize It” option that allows you to add various types of protein (chicken, fish, pork, steak, etc.), switching out different proteins, doubling the protein in dish, or just making it vegetarian.
Both Blue Apron and Home Chef are very limited when it comes to strict dietary guidelines. If you have specific dietary requirements, you may find it challenging to locate the right meals. That being said, Home Chef generally offers more direct diet customization options than Blue Apron.
With Blue Apron, you can choose a “Vegetarian” package that will include no meat. At least a few vegetarian meals are offered with each week’s new menu. There’s also a “Freestyle” package that Blue Apron makes with Weight Watchers. Other than that, you don’t really have dietary options — but you are can skip a week whenever you want.
Home Chef, meanwhile, offers specific recipe options for people who don’t want (or can’t eat) specific ingredients. There are recipes without nuts, without soy, without wheat, without milk, low in carb, and so on. You can also make any meal vegetarian on demand. This generally works better for dietary needs, but neither option is great for stricter diets, like vegan lifestyles.
Sign-Up and Pricing
Both companies ask that you sign up and create a general flavor profile so they can recommend dishes (Home Chef’s account creation requirement requires slightly more investment). From there, pricing is based on the servings that you choose per week. Each service offers an app where you can make meal choices or changes and order whenever you’re ready.
Blue Apron’s servings cost between $10 and $8, based on the ingredients and whether it’s a lunch or dinner meal. If your order for the week goes over $49, then shipping is free. If meals don’t meet that price, there is an $8 shipping charge.
Home Chef prices range from $7.50 to $10 per serving, while add-ons are usually around $5 to $6, and premium meals are somewhat more expensive than regular servings. If you order at least $59 for the week, shipping is free. Otherwise, there’s a $10 charge. While the plans are obviously similar, Home Chef’s is a bit more demanding than Blue Apron’s.
Both companies offer a variety of discounts and deals that change over time. Notably, Home Chef also offers a specific student discount when first signing up.
Packaging and Shipping
Blue Apron and Home Chef ship across the continental United States (Blue Apron even offers some on-demand shipping). Both companies offer recyclable packaging with the meats at the bottom of the box, closest to the ice. While the companies will provide specialized seasonings, they expect that you will have basic cooking ingredients on hand, like salt, pepper, oil, and so on.
The ingredient bags themselves are actually quite different. Blue Apron bundles its ingredients together and you have to carefully unwrap everything to see what it is and take it apart. Home Chef, meanwhile, has a pleasant process where each dish is organized and labeled (including allergy warnings) in separate bags.
Cooking times vary depending on how familiar you are with the recipe, how many people you are serving, and so on. Blue Apron recipes tend to take around 20 to 50 minutes. Home Chef options are designed to generally take around 30 to 45 minutes.
Here again, Blue Apron’s bundled approach to ingredients is more time-consuming. Home Chef’s ingredients are already divided into portions and usually prepped (chopped, sliced, etc.) which leads to a lot less stress and makes things generally easier.
The good news is that both companies use very high-quality ingredients that are delicious once prepared and rarely if ever disappointing.
If you don’t mind paying a bit more – around $10 per week – then Home Chef is the easy winner here. Their recipes are interesting and excellent, their preparation makes meals even more effortless, and they have the most options for specific diets or preferences. Blue Apron may be a better choice for more casual users who just want to try out a meal kit service, but otherwise, Home Chef comes out ahead.
It’s also worth noting that Blue Apron is going through an interesting financial period right now, and may be experiencing some significant changes in the future. If these changes impact its meal delivery options, we’ll be sure to let you know.