Subscription Showdown: Blue Apron vs. HomeChef

It’s a little strange, isn’t it, seeing a post on this blog that has nothing to do with either books or writing? True, this post won’t fit with the general theme of this blog, but it does have to do with another passion of mine – food! I’ve noticed lately that the most visited post on this site is Uppercase vs. OwlCrate – A Review, where I reviewed two young adult book subscription boxes. While receiving those fabulous bookish goodie boxes was an awesome experience, I was actually inspired to try those because of another subscription we regularly receive – meal deliveries. You see them advertised all of the time – Plated, Hello Fresh, HomeChef, Blue Apron, Freshology, etc. But are they worth it? My short answer – absolutely. Long answer – We spent six months receiving Blue Apron boxes each week, and we only recently made the switch to try out HomeChef. Keep reading for a detailed review of the strengths and weaknesses for those two services, and see why meal subscription boxes are the best thing ever, at least in this house.

BLUE APRON

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MEAL SELECTION: I remember how excited we were to receive this first box. Thanks to a friend on Facebook, it was the first meal delivery subscription that we’d heard of, so we jumped on board. Each week, there are six meals to choose from, three with meat and three vegetarian. You must select three meals, no more and no less. They are pretty exciting meals though, a lot of ethnic flavors and ingredients that I’ve never used before. (Downside – There’s not a lot of wiggle-room for variety. If you want to switch up eating either all meat selections or all vegetarian selections and instead have a little of both, your options are going to be limited. To stay cost efficient, Blue Apron will eliminate some combinations based on your choices.)

PRICE: $59 a week for three meals that serve two people. (There is also a four person option at a higher price, which is a different menu from the two-person selections). It’s a great deal, especially in summer and early fall months when there’s a lot of variety in fresh produce. In winter, however, we got a little tired of always seeing squash and soups (which soups, for me, don’t justify a $10 per serving price). If you’re not interested in any of the meals for a week or if you’re planning to be out of town, you can mark any week as “Skip”, and you won’t be charged. We’ve got all upcoming deliveries set to “skip” right now while we try out HomeChef because we still like to see what Blue Apron is having so that we can compare.

INGREDIENT QUALITY/PREPARATION/TASTE: Ingredients always arrived fresh and stayed so long enough for us to fix all three meals. On the rare times that we had a missing ingredient or that the packaging of an ingredient leaked, we simply emailed customer service and were generously reimbursed for our troubles. I do think that Blue Apron has the upper hand over HomeChef on the overall quality of steaks, but other meats seem to be about the same.  It seemed like we were always way over on the estimated preparation time, even though I’m pretty experienced in the kitchen. The recipes were easy to follow, but even on those that were expected to take 35-45 minutes generally took us at the least an hour. The overall taste was delicious though, and well worth the time. In six months of having Blue Apron every single week, we frequently found ourselves saying, “There’s yet to be a bad one!” Which was true, we liked most every meal we received, some more than others. Like I said in Price, the meals are much better in summer/early fall though, as in winter months we were more frequently saying, “Well, it’s not bad, but not outstanding.” In the world of food, there’s not much that I won’t try at least once. It was this way that I found I didn’t particularly care for lentils, and so therefore we would either avoid the Blue Apron meals that included lentils, or I would keep a substitute on hand at the house like wild rice.

WANT TO TRY?: After you’ve received a few boxes, Blue Apron will send you free meals to send to friends. This is a FREE WEEK (3 meals) for your friends to try. As such, I currently have THREE (3) of these trials to give out, so if you happen to have found your way to this blog and would like to give Blue Apron a shot, leave your name and email address in the comments to this post. *FIRST THREE* people to do so, I’ll send you the free week of meals. Please be aware, before you can receive this free week, Blue Apron will want you to register an account, which does include adding a credit card, BUT you won’t get charged for your first week. If you aren’t interested after that first box, you will need to unsubscribe immediately (or set the next week to “skip”) to avoid getting charged for the next week.

Some examples of Blue Apron meals that we prepared:

Left to Right: Chicken Schnitzel with Fingerling Potato Salad and Lingonberry Jam; Seared Pork Chops & Kamut with Corn, Spinach, and Stone Fruit Salsa; Steaks au Poivre with Crispy Fingerling Potatoes and Sauteed Kale

HomeChef
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MEAL SELECTION: So, like I said before, we were getting kind of tired of Blue Apron’s winter meal selections, so I started investigating other meal delivery services. After reading many reviews and comparisons, we settled on HomeChef. The biggest factor in this choice was the meal selection – which HomeChef does an unrivaled job with. Each week there are at least 11 different meals to choose from, plus a fruit basket, smoothies, or the occasional dessert. Most of the meals are dinners, but there is usually at least one breakfast option and a couple options that I think would make good lunches. The variety here is phenomenal, and unlike Blue Apron, options don’t ever disappear – you can choose ANY meal combination that you want. Several options for those who need special dietary needs (gluten-free, vegetarian, nut-free, etc.). There’s still a good selection of ethnic dishes, but there’s also more simplistic meals for the less kitchen-adventurous.

PRICE: Varies. For three meals for two people, it’s the same as Blue Apron – $59/week. BUT Here’s where HomeChef differs – you don’t have to select three meals. You can get as few as two meals or get as many extra meals as you want (just pay the additional price per serving). Each meal is typically $9.95 per serving, unless otherwise noted (smoothies and fruit baskets are cheaper, and occasionally there might be one fancier meal that will be more expensive than the others). You can also increase any meal from two to either four or six servings, a really cool idea if you know you’ve got company coming and want to fix something unique for them. HomeChef also has a “Skip” option for weeks that you aren’t interested in receiving meals.

INGREDIENT QUALITY/PREPARATION/TASTE: This is only our third week of HomeChef, but so far, SO GOOD! I prefer HomeChef’s packaging, as ingredients for each meal are packaged together rather than separately (like Blue Apron, which meant extra time sorting through to find what was required for each meal). Ingredients are fresh, and so far we haven’t had any incidences of missing or leaking ingredients. We especially enjoyed that the recipes list exactly what pans and other supplies we would need to use up front, rather than having to read through the recipe completely to find out. We were blown away that on the first week when we ordered a deep dish pizza, they actually included the foil deep dish pan to bake it in! Their recipes also include suggested drink pairings and detailed nutritional info, a definite plus. One recipe even had a reference to Mean Girls, which made me infinitely happy. As for preparation, it’s definitely simpler than Blue Apron, and we stick pretty reasonably within the expected time frame. Sometimes I do feel like there’s a little less technique to be learned here, like I don’t always feel like I’m really cooking since there’s not as much effort, but that can definitely be a plus on nights when I’ve had a long day and don’t necessarily feel up to playing chef. As for the taste, WOW! It definitely has exceeded our expectations. I was really biased towards Blue Apron, but from our very first HomeChef meal, I was hooked! It may look simple, but the flavors are far from it. Also, with our first box they included a recipe binder for free – which has definitely come in handy!

Want to try it?: Want to give HomeChef a try? I don’t have any free meals to give out, but what I do have is this link to get $30 off your first box – which is a phenomenal deal. If you get three meals, that means you’ll be getting them for $30…That’s $5 per serving! You can’t get good fast food for that price.
CLICK HERE to get $30 off your first HomeChef order!
(A green banner will pop up in the window after you’ve first clicked the link, and it just says that your $30 discount will be applied at checkout)
Once you sign up, you can refer friends and also get more moolah off of your orders!

Some examples of HomeChef meals that we’ve prepared:

From left to right:
Collage of Week 1 Meals – Chicago-style Deep Dish Veggie Pizza with Ricotta Cheese, Sauteed Spinach, and Roasted Red Peppers; Chicken with Baharat Spices with Charred Squash Salad and Cilantro Oil; Sirloin Steak with Red Pepper Steak Sauce with Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans
Collage of Week 2 Meals – Korean Pork Medallions with Crunchy Rice Vinegar Slaw, Sriracha Marinade, and Red Chiles; Seared Italian Sirloin Steak with Parmesan Polenta and Roasted Pepper Demi-Glace; Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Cauliflower Mash and Garlic Kale
Our fabulous first meal from Week 3 – Grilled Lamb Chops with Mustard Cream, Lemon Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo, and Fresh Spinach Salad

OVERALL:
Our current preference is HomeChef over Blue Apron, mostly because we love the wide variety of meals we can choose from each week and the better flexibility of how many meals we can select each meal. Most of the time, three dinners a week is about all we have time to cook at home anyway, but it’s nice that we can select more or less depending on what we have planned for the week.
As for meal delivery subscriptions in general, this has been the biggest blessing for us. A lot of the times when I’ve recommended either service to friends, they’ve responded that they worry it’s too expensive. I’m not sure what kind of meals they’re used to preparing, but I know that before I started subscribing to these, I could easily go to the grocery store, spend $200, and not even have enough food for a week. Now, we only stop at the grocery store for basic essentials – coffee, creamer, and the occasional snack food. It’s majorly saved us money in the long run, especially with most servings being around $10 a meal – less than what we would expect to pay for going out to a good restaurant for dinner.  It’s also saved us so much time – knowing that there are full meals in the fridge at home, not having to stop and pick up a forgotten ingredient on the way home from work, and having ingredients already perfectly portioned out for two. We’ve also really enjoyed cooking together, learning new techniques, and fixing some really impressive food that we normally wouldn’t have thought to make. I totally recommend giving a meal delivery subscription box a try, and with the special offers I’ve mentioned above, why not give it a shot?

CLICK HERE to get $30 off your first HomeChef order!
(A green banner will pop up in the window after you’ve first clicked the link, and it just says that your $30 discount will be applied at checkout)

UPDATE:
We’ve now been subscribed to Home Chef for over six months! Want to know what we think now? Click here to read HomeChef: Six Month Subscription Review

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11 thoughts on “Subscription Showdown: Blue Apron vs. HomeChef

  1. Julie, I’d LOVE to try one of those free weeks! Thanks for this thorough review. I love cooking and meal planning, but I’ve lost my creativity lately and would love to try one of these to get the juices flowing again. Name: Kristy Browning
    email: kristyjoydoyle@gmail.com

  2. This has been so helpful. Because I have coupons for both, I was wondering about the difference, and there it was, Blue Apron vs Home Chef. Thank you. I look forward to reading more of your blog based on this post.

    I am signing up tomorrow. Just a note: I work full time from home. Moved to a new city, and 5 days after we moved into the house we bought (100-year-old house), my husband presented with a brain tumor. It was benign, but nearly two years later, he is not himself, cannot work or drive, and can’t help with meals. I used to love to cook for my family, and for a couple years have just been uninterested. As a result, we go out a lot or throw away a lot of food, or eat a lot of peanut butter.

    This just may be one of those modern amenities that will vastly improve our lives.

    Appreciate your well-written assessment!

    • Joan, thank you for your lovely comment. I hope you enjoy your new subscription service. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but before subscribing, I found myself in a rut. I felt like I was no longer creative when it came to meals, and I kept making the same old things. Blue Apron and Home Chef have definitely been game changers. I love learning about ingredients I’ve never used before and new preparations, plus it’s a bonus that I don’t usually have wasted leftover ingredients in my fridge that I just have to toss out.

      I’m sorry that life threw you and your husband an unexpected curve ball. I hope that this subscription will help you regain your interest as it did for me!

      I also want to say that I really appreciate your comment. This post gets quite a few views and people who follow up by checking out the websites for more info, but it’s really personally helpful to me to receive a wonderful comment such as this…to know that I’ve connected with someone I’ve never met, and that what I’ve written has helped them, even if it’s just deciding which subscription to choose. Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. Hi there all!

    I just signed up for Hello Fresh and I LOVE it! I’m finally cooking at home most nights instead of paying to go out for unhealthy prepared meals! I recommend it for sure. I used the code 86F7PB and even got $40 off my first box (code never expires, so you can too!) ^_^

    Happy cooking!
    Clare

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