Order’s Up: Meal Kits for People Who Love Fast Food
Home Chef vs Blue Apron
If you want to up your home-cooking game, a meal delivery service can get you there. When you sign up for a meal kit, you’ll get to select a series of recipes each week, and the pre-portioned ingredients and instructions will come directly to your front door.
You don’t need to go to the store, you don’t need any kitchen trial and error, you don’t even need to have any ideas. That’s no small thing at the end of a long day of work.
Meal kit services are also a great way to eat healthier. They introduce you to all types of ingredients you may not be familiar with, and encourage you to cook more meals at home, which is almost always healthier than whatever you’re going to get at the drive-thru.
As the meal delivery industry has grown, Blue Apron has been at the forefront with the greatest name recognition. Home Chef is hot on their heels though, with a great product to offer as well. Let’s compare Home Chef and Blue Apron, to see which service is a better fit for you.
- Wide variety of recipes
- More affordable than many competitors
- Flexible plans, easy to cancel or pause
- Mobile app
- No lunch, snack, or dessert options
- No options for more than 4-person families
Blue Apron is the meal kit industry leader, and the company has a self-stated mission of providing high-quality ingredients and easy, unique recipes that can teach you great kitchen techniques and introduce you to new ingredients.
Blue Apron has partnered with sustainable farmers who produce top-quality ingredients. Every week, Blue Apron allows you to select from 8 different menu items, including 3 vegetarian options.
|4-person family plan,|
|4-person family plan,|
|4-person family plan,|
*Shipping costs $7.99 for the 2 person, 2 recipes/week plan. All other plans have FREE shipping
- Builds you a “taste profile” to help choose meals you’ll like
- Easy to follow recipes no matter your level of expertise
- Flexible—skip a week or change delivery date
- Limited to only 8 menu options per week
- No desserts
|Cost per serving||$9.95|
|Shipping on orders over $45||Free|
|Shipping on orders less than $45||$10|
With 13 meals available each week, Home Chef gives you a lot of different options for taking your home-cooking forward.
The 13 available meals include around 3-4 vegetarian options, and you can also add fruit baskets and smoothies for $4.95 per serving, or order a simple “5 minute lunch” for only $7.99.
All Home Chef meals can be prepared and ready to serve within 30 minutes, and to calm any sort of kitchen nerves, the company provides easy-to-follow recipe cards that will guide you until it’s time to dig in.
Home Chef also helps you develop a “taste profile,” which learns your preferences and helps you select meals that are most likely to suit you.
Which Meal Kit Provides a Better Service? Let’s Break It Down...
Blue Apron doesn’t just help you create better meals at home, according to the company, the goals is “to build a better food system—from the ground up.”
Blue Apron’s vision is to develop a supply chain in which food is created by trusted providers, who are locally-based. In this system, food doesn’t travel long distances or sit on shelves for ages—it’s delivered fresh and ready to prepare, from growers who are located in the community. This makes the food tastier and better for the environment.
Blue Apron has obviously seen the writing on the wall—consumers are very interested in premium ingredients and reliable sourcing, as well as conservation. To meet this demand, Blue Apron’s ingredients include sustainable seafood recommended by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, hormone-free pork, beef and poultry, GMO-free produce, and cage-free eggs. The company also features a number of USDA certified organic ingredients.
Home Chef is devoted to providing customers with fresh ingredients from its own community of trusted suppliers. The company uses locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible.
Some of the providers include Paysan Breton, producers of fine dairy products, World Wide Farms, a leading producer of fresh herbs from across the world, and family-owned businesses like “Sea-To-Table,” a Brooklyn based company that provides high-quality shrimp caught by fisherman on both the east and west coasts.
The ingredients in Home Chef’s recipes are precisely-proportioned so that you’ll never waste food and always know exactly what to use for that new kitchen creation.
WINNER: Blue Apron
The push for sustainable, premium ingredients is changing the food industry, and both Blue Apron and Home Chef have taken note. Blue Apron simply has received more certifications for its efforts, and appears to have taken more steps to improve sourcing and the level of ingredients provided.
2. Best Value for Money
With both Blue Apron and Home Chef, pricing is straightforward and easy to follow.
On Blue Apron, a 2-person plan costs $10.99 per serving and if you order 2 recipes per week, then shipping is $7.99. Once you order 3 recipes, shipping is free. No matter which family plan you go with, the shipping is free and meals cost $9.99 per serving for 2 recipes per week and $8.99 if you order 3 or more.
With Blue Apron, you can also order wine at about $10/bottle—or $65.99/month for 6 bottles with shipping included.
Home Chef charges $9.95 per serving, with free shipping on orders over $45. An added bonus of Home Chef is that you can also order the 5-minute lunches for $7.99 each. These require no cooking whatsoever, and can really hit the spot when you just need a quick, easy, and delicious lunch on the go.
WINNER: Home Chef
There isn’t a lot of daylight between these 2 companies when it comes to the pricing. That said, Home Chef had a slightly lower per serving price so we gave them the edge.
3. Fun Extras
Food goes better with friends, and also with a nice glass of wine. With Blue Apron you can sign up for a monthly arrangement of wines from renowned winemakers.
You’ll get a monthly delivery of 6 bottles of wine, and can mix and match with whites and reds, or let the company suggest a wine that matches with your menu selection for the week. These are smaller than full-sized wine bottles, just 500ml, but they should be just right for dinner for 2. Because Blue Apron cuts out the middleman, it can provide better wine for a cheaper price, and all wines come with tasting notes, flavor profiles and the “story behind the bottle.”
With Home Chef you can add a little extra fun to the mix with smoothies and seasonal fruit baskets. The smoothies range from cranberry orange dream smoothies to blue Hawaii smoothies to frutti tutti smoothies. The seasonal fruit depends on what’s in season. You can expect interesting fruits like anjou red pears, fuji apples, and navel oranges.
WINNER: Home Chef
Everybody loves a good smoothie — especially in the summertime. The wine pairing offered by Blue Apron is a fun and unique concept, but not everyone is a drinker, and at a price point higher than what you can find at your local package store, this doesn’t seem like it’d be relevant for everyone.
4. Meal Selection and Recipe Difficulty
Often the hardest part about cooking at home is figuring out what to make. Most of us have the same handful of standard dishes, and breaking out of the box can take some inspiration, which is sometimes hard to come by.
With meal kits you never have to come up with the ideas yourself. The company thinks up unique and interesting offerings every week, and all you have to do is sit back and pick the one that sounds most appealing to you.
With Blue Apron, you get to choose from 8 menu items per week, and usually around 3 of these will be veggie options. These include fun offerings like Mexico City chicken tinga tostadas, and meals that include ingredients that you may have never heard of, like baked harissa chicken.
The recipes are kept as simple as they are tantalizing, though with the family plan you only get 4 options to choose from each week.
Whichever recipes you pick on Blue Apron, you’ll be able to access online cooking tutorials and general cooking tips that can help you whip up those meals in no time.
The options are more extensive at Home Chef, which offers 15 meal choices per week, including 3 “5 minute lunches,” which require no cooking whatsoever. There are also usually 3 veggies options available each week.
In addition, the company allows you to set up a “taste profile,” which helps Home Chef determine which meals are most likely to work for you, and each week the company sends you a selection of meals tailored to your preferences.
WINNER: Home Chef
Home Chef offers more weekly menu selections than Blue Apron, which increases the chances of finding something you like, especially with the taste profile factored in.
5. Environmental impact
A great consciousness has taken hold among shoppers these days, and the meal kit industry definitely got the memo. While most companies use a significant amount of packaging in their meal kits, there is a big push among providers to make the packaging environmentally-friendly.
Blue Apron states that all of its packaging is reccyblabe — from the ice packs to the liners and containers. All you need to do is put all the packaging inside the Blue Apron box and leave it with your cardboard curbside recycling. If that’s not an option, you can take the packaging to a local recycling facility, or you can use special return labels to ship everything back to Blue Apron for free.
If all of that is not enough, you can also leave the packaging at a local post office or schedule for the company to come pick it up from you.
Home Chef lines it's boxes with recycled, compostable materials that are environmentally friendly.
You can recycle both the box and gel packs. The box can go in with your cardboard recycling, and the gel packs with plastic recyclables, after you’ve drained them.
All of the plastic used by Home Chef is 100% recyclable as well.
WINNER: BLUE APRON
Home Chef keeps it reasonable with the packaging but Blue Apron just provides you with more ways to recycle your packaging easier.
With Home Chef, you can change your meal selections or skip a weekly delivery at anytime up until the weekly deadline. You must send in your cancels or edits by 12pm on the Friday prior to the scheduled delivery day .
If you’d like to cancel or skip any meal order you can do so with Blue Apron up to 5 weeks ahead of time. You can also cancel at any time and not face any sort of fees.
WINNER: Home Chef
With either company you can cancel or skip deliveries freely, through with Home Chef it's easier to pause your account or make easy changes to the frequency of deliveries.
And the Verdict is...
Blue Apron and Home Chef are worthy competitors. While Blue Apron seems to go that extra mile when it comes to ingredients and environmental impact, we gave the edge to Home Chef because of the meal selection flexibility, pricing, and fun add-ons.
True, Blue Apron is the industry leader, but Home Chef has a great offering, and Blue Apron should be keeping an eye out in the rearview mirror.