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Meal kit services are no longer a novelty. There are a plethora of companies out there, ready to provide you with multiple menu options, ship the required ingredients and instructions to your door, and help you enjoy a healthier lifestyle than merely going out to eat or ordering in regularly. Since food serves as the cornerstone of our energy, there's no doubt these meal kits can be a benefit.
While selecting a meal kit plan can ultimately save you the time of dinner planning and grocery shopping by bringing fresh ingredients straight to your home, the multitude of available services means that you still need to exert a little energy into determining which one is best for you. Two of the top contenders—Home Chef and Blue Apron—are a close competition for each other.
Blue Apron was one of the first meal kit services to appear back then these subscription companies were getting their start, and it's almost synonymous with the idea of delivered ingredients to your home. The company focuses on providing restaurant quality meals that even beginner chefs can cook on their own—and the whole dinner table will enjoy.
Home Chef got its start a bit later than Blue Apron, but the company is no less a winner for it. Just like Blue Apron, Home Chef focuses on saving its customers time by delivering quality ingredients for home-cooked meals straight to their doors. However, Home Chef prioritizes homestyle dishes that are sure to appeal to a variety of pallets, no matter how picky an eater some people may be.
Both meal kit subscriptions have their benefits attached to them, which isn't surprising considering the numerous satisfied customers that each business provides. So in a challenge of Home Chef vs. Blue Apron, which one comes out on top? Our comparison is here to help you find the best pick for you.
Before you can even take advantage of either meal kit subscription's services, you'll first need to sign up. With Home Chef, you start with your shipping and billing information before moving onto your meal preferences. You can select low-carb and low-calorie options, as well as put in any ingredients you want to avoid because of allergies. Home Chef will let you choose your start date for deliveries.
Blue Apron has a similar signup process, which also includes a quiz on your dietary preferences. Note that, unlike Home Chef, Blue Apron does not let you filter your meal options based on allergies, though it does provide you with allergy information in each recipe. Even so, it's not a comprehensive system, and some meals ultimately involve some tweaking at home to have low-carb options.
While you may need to tweak certain elements a bit to meet your dietary needs, both Home Chef and Blue Apron make it easy to sign up and start receiving your meal kits.
Once you've gotten your food preferences listed, it's time to choose your plans. Some homes need multiple meals a week for large amounts of people, while others only want a few evenings where they're not wholly responsible for shopping for dinner. Both Home Chef and Blue Apron answer those needs by providing a variety of plan options.
Home Chef has some of the most extensive variety, allowing to receive two meals a week all the way up to six. In terms of servings, you can order two, four, or six portions of food per meal you order. While this even-number of dishes means that you can't order accurately for households with an uneven amount of mouths to feed, you can have leftovers to enjoy later.
Blue Apron has a similar variety, with three main options. On the Classic and Vegetarian Plans, you will receive enough portions to serve two people, and you can order two or three meals per week. On the Family Plan, you'll get enough food for four servings, and you can order two, three, or four meals per week.
Overall, these plans will cover most meal needs out there, though those who have a larger dinner table to feed may need to look into other meal kit services that do just that. However, Home Chef does offer a bit more meals and servings per week, so it has a bit of an edge in this category.
While having enough portions of food per meal is essential, what's even better is knowing what types of food will be available. When comparing Home Chef vs. Blue Apron, you'll find that this is where the two starts to differ; and while both options are great, one will likely appeal to you more than the other.
Let's start first with the types of foods these companies have to offer. As its name suggests, Home Chef wants to provide you with home-style cooking. This decision means that meals will be grounded in the basics, with choices like enchiladas and pork chops to offer an almost sort of comfort food. Since there isn't anything too adventurous on the menu, you can serve picky eaters with confidence.
On the other hand, Blue Apron is a bit more inventive in its recipe choices in that this service wants you to prepare dishes you've never tried before. If you're ready to try new meals, this service is the one for you, especially since Blue Apron never repeats a recipe within a year. Of course, there are more classic-style recipes, too, but the option to explore new avenues is excellent.
Another thing to consider is just what types of meals these companies provide. At Home Chef, you'll find options for:
Blue Apron has choices for Vegetarian eaters, but only on the Classic Plan and not the Family One. They also lack in low carb and no sugar options. Notably, both services don't have a reliable selection of meals for vegan eaters, with only a few choices a week. For people with these dietary restrictions, Purple Carrot is the go-to meal kit service.
With a Home Chef recipe, you'll be able to see the ingredients list, full prep time, and instructions when you look at the listing online. Blue Apron gives you the information on what tools you'll need, ingredients, and cooking tips and techniques.
Overall, both companies offer an excellent variety in meals, though Home Chef has an edge in terms of appealing to different dietary restrictions. Ultimately, it'll be up to your tastes whether you prefer the familiar feeling of Home Chef or the potential adventure at the dinner table that comes with Blue Apron.
Meal kits may be the focus of these companies, but they also offer some extras you can add to your orders. At Home Chef, you can upgrade certain meals to "premium" status, breakfast choices, smoothie offerings, and seasonal fruit baskets. These items come at an extra cost and will deliver with the rest of your order.
Blue Apron has an additional wine service that helps you easily pair up drinks with your meals. The bottles aren't as large as a standard offering of wine, but you'll receive six a month. The wine guides will help you tell which drinks should go with which food offerings, adding another layer of convenience to your meal planning life.
Both companies also offer an additional online market that has cooking tools available, such as pots, pans, and more. These services help ensure that you'll always have the right appliances ready in your kitchen so that you can prepare all the meals Home Chef and Blue Apron have to offer.
Each Blue Apron and Home Chef have different options ready for them. While you don't have to use any of the extra services if you're not interested in them, they are readily there if you want to try something new during your subscription.
Delivery And Shipping
Since the whole convenience of a meal kit delivery subscription rests in having pre-portioned ingredients dropped off right at your door, you want to have a service that's reliable on that front. Both Home Chef and Blue Apron allow you the convenience of selecting which days you want to receive your meal kits on as part of your sign-up process.
At Home Chef, you have the options of any day between Tuesdays and Fridays. Blue Apron goes a bit farther than that and offers delivery on all days of the week, giving you more options for fitting it into your schedule. However, depending on the state you live in, you'll find that will impact the days available to you. Both services allow you to change your delivery day as necessary.
When it comes to shipping itself, almost all plans provide free shipping with very few exceptions. Both Home Chef and Blue Apron only have one option where you won't have to pay a shipping cost: their two meals with two servings per week. In the case of Home Chef, if you add on a bonus from their store (like a seasonal fruit basket), you'll pass the free shipping cost threshold.
Delivery locations are also important to consider. Blue Apron wins in this regard since they serve all fifty US states. Home Chef does not have the same service area, and, while they cover many different locations, some areas are out of the picture.
In a meal kit subscription, the packaging is critical for several reasons. Not only do you want the box to keep all your ingredients cold, but you also want everything to be easy to identify and easy to clean up after. Both companies place an emphasis on environmentally friendly and recyclable materials, which does help a bit with the concern of how many boxes you'll receive through your use of the service.
When it comes to keeping ingredients cold, you'll find that Blue Apron has a bit of an edge. Yes, each company has included insulation and ice packs (with additional cooling materials for the meats), but Blue Apron will keep your ingredients cooler for longer. With Home Chef, you'll want to be home to immediately receive your box and store everything inside before the outside temperatures take effect.
Other than that, both companies take due care to ensure that your ingredients arrive safely—even Home Chef's seasonal fruit baskets show up at your door carefully packed and without bruising. In terms of sorting out your components, Home Chef makes it easy to distinguish everything with their individual, see-through bags, including portions of meat.
While Blue Apron does provide your pre-portioned ingredients, you'll find that all the parts for every meal you've received for the week come in one big box, without any dividers to separate them easily. Still, since the packaging is either transparent or easily labeled, you'll be able to tell what each item is when you start to cook.
We're a bigger fan of how Home Chef organizes their boxes, but we admit that Blue Apron is better at keeping everything fresh, with a smaller risk of ingredients going bad. For those reasons, we consider this category a tie.
Food Prep And Recipes
Another critical aspect to have in a meal kit subscription service is the food prep process. No matter what your cooking level is, you'll be able to prepare the meals from both Blue Apron and Home Chef with ease—even if you're just a beginner.
With Home Chef, you receive a straightforward and easy to read recipe card for each meal. With your first order, Home Chef will also give you a binder to collect your instruction in, so you can easily keep track of them without adding any extra clutter to your kitchen.
As for the cards themselves, Home Chef includes tips for both pre-preparation and the cooking process itself. The colored photos make it so that you can see what every step of the way looks like, which can help if you're not familiar with a particular cooking technique. Aside from images of the prep process, Home Chef recipe cards also provide a plating guide to have a perfectly picturesque meal.
The best way to celebrate the holidays is with some delicious food. Rachel Hollis
Blue Apron likewise has a similar approach to their recipes, with large cards that are easy to read and straightforward instructions. Pictures accompany each step, and they're especially helpful for knowing the sizes when chopping up ingredients.
Aside from the recipe cards themselves, Blue Apron also offers an excellent form of chef support in the way of their mobile app. This resource is a terrific boon for learning chefs since it includes numerous instructional videos at the ready, that not only show cooking techniques but also information on individual ingredients to increase your culinary knowledge.
Both services happen to provide very informative and easy to follow instruction cards. By a thin margin, we feel that Blue Apron has the edge in that the directions are overall clearer to follow, plus the mobile app can readily answer whatever questions you have. But make no mistake—Home Chef's recipe cards are just as accessible, and the included booklet is a nice touch for those that collect recipes.
Pausing And Canceling Service
No matter how much use you get out of a meal kit delivery service, there will ultimately be some weeks where getting boxes at your home won't be necessary. Maybe you'll be out on vacation, or your schedule won't be accommodating. No matter the case, you'll want to easily be able to pause your service when the time comes.
Blue Apron and Home Chef both handle this aspect reasonably well. With Home Chef, you merely need to log into your account, then select the pause option. This function can work for a short amount of time, or even as a "permanent" cancelation. Home Chef will send you occasional emails to come back, but it's not excessive. You can also resume service at any time without jumping through any complicated hoops.
When it comes to pausing with Blue Apron, you can select the weeks you want to skip in advance, and the meal options don't even need to be online for you to do this. However, cancelation is a bit more complicated, requiring you to email customer service, which will then give you the complete instructions to cancel, which is rather inconvenient.
If you see yourself planning to pause in the future, both companies will do you well. However, if you don't want to deal with the hassle if you choose to cancel your subscription, Home Chef takes the edge.
No matter which meal kit subscription service you choose, you'll ultimately end up paying far more than you would if you shopped for ingredients on your own. Even so, that cost is, in the end, reflecting the convenience you're receiving for not needing to research recipes, head to the grocery store, and pick out fresh produce on your own. In the realm of meal kit companies, these two come close.
Starting with Home Chef, you'll pay a cost of $9.95 per serving, no matter what plan you select. If you want to upgrade your meal to a premium option, naturally that cost will increase. If you want a smoothie or seasonal fruit basket, it'll be $4.95 a piece, and breakfast options are also $9.95 per serving. With a two meal, two servings plan, you're looking at $40 per week.
The costs of Blue Apron are a bit more varied. On the Classic and Vegetarian plans, you'll have a price of $9.99 per serving. On the family plan, things start to vary a bit: two recipes per week come out to $8.99 per serving, three meals cost $7.99 per serving, and four dishes comes out to $7.49 per serving. For two meals on the classic plan, the cost will also come out to $40 per week—before factoring in shipping.
Eating good food is my favourite thing in the whole world. Nothing is more blissful. Justine Larbalestier
As mentioned, both Blue Apron and Home Chef offer free shipping, but only after a certain threshold. If you don't need more than two servings, two times a week, you likely won't want to order much more food than that. With Home Chef, the shipping cost is $10, and Blue Apron charges $7.99.
While Blue Apron ultimately charges less when it comes to shipping, it's rather easy to receive free shipping on the two meal-two servings plans with Home Chef: merely add any of their extras, like a fruit basket or smoothie, to pass the free shipping threshold. Blue Apron offers fewer chances to do this.
Ultimately, it's a matter of how you want to spend your money. Even so, if you choose any of the more extensive plans, you'll have no issue receiving free shipping, so the cost becomes far less of a concern.
When you put these two companies side by side, it's evident that there's no easy answer to who wins in the battle of Home Chef vs. Blue Apron. Both services have put their years of experience in the meal kit industry to good use, and they provide excellent products. It becomes tricky to offer a definitive answer, as food preferences can be so subjective.
However, we can give you some guidance on which may be better for you based on a few factors.
If you need to attend to allergy or other special dietary needs, have picky eaters to appeal to, want some extra options, need a hassle-free way to cancel your subscription, and you live in one of the states where they provide service, consider Home Fresh.
If you want more exotic meal options, don't need to worry about allergies, are interested in the wine service, and want access to additional online and app cooking services, then Blue Apron is likely your better bet.
No matter which you choose, both Home Chef and Blue Apron provide a variety of meals, multiple plan options to accommodate for different homes, hearty portion sizes, and recipes suitable for chefs at any level with well-packed boxes, fresh ingredients, and environmentally friendly packaging. Both companies even offer deals for first-time users, so it's the perfect opportunity to see which is best for your home.