Home Chef is a meal in a box subscription – every week, you choose from a variety of recipes and have all the ingredients and preparation instructions delivered to your door. The basic concept is the same as other weekly meal delivery services, but it has its own unique features and recipes. Their meal options include many great Asian, Indian, African, and South American inspired dishes, along with more traditional American home-style and steakhouse fare.
Meal selections are suggested automatically according to a profile you fill out noting your family’s preferences, but you can change your selections any time. Home Chef offers an incredible 10 selections available for 2, 4, or 6 people, a breakfast choice, a smoothie choice, and a fruit basket selection. The portions are large, and this is currently the least expensive and has the most choice out of any similar major subscriptions (for 2 people) – $9.95 per person per selection (they typically have one meal option a week that’s a premium meal and costs a little more, though).
The food is packed in puffy, padded cooler pads, with each meal packed in a separate bag containing nearly everything needed to make a complete meal. The box is always packed with several ice packs.
DEAL: Get $30 of free food when you sign up – just use this link to get the deal!
The recipe cards display prep time, difficulty, a “best cooked by” time frame, and even a spice level. There is also a list of stuff you may need from your own kitchen such as cookware and salt and pepper. You have to have a basic kitchen set-up (stove/oven, cookware, etc.), but a couple tablespoons of cooking oil and salt and pepper are usually the only ingredients you have to have at home – they even include liquid egg (instead of expecting you to have eggs on hand), and oil for shallow-frying when a recipe calls for more than a few tablespoons worth.
This week’s options included some special offerings for Thanksgiving! Two of our “meals” were each a pair of sides, perfect for serving with our feast.
The back of the card has the actual recipe guidance, complete with pictures and bold-facing of ingredients. The recipes are accompanied by pro-tips and explanations of cooking terminology and techniques. The tips appear in a sidebar so they don’t clutter the actual recipe. I love that they include a heads-up for when ingredients are divided and used in different parts of the dish. The prep is done is a sensible order – items with long lead times are started first, chopping is done all at once when it makes sense to do so, but they’ll also have you do some of the latter stage prep while other food is cooking, shortening the overall prep time. The recipe cards have pre-punched holes so you can store them in a recipe binder, but we usually prefer to just wait till the recipe is offered again instead of attempting to gather the ingredients to recreate it ourselves.
The recipes for our Thanksgiving sides were configured just like the normal recipes, except that they jumped back and forth between the two dishes.
All of the provided ingredients for our three recipes this week. Each recipe was packed separately, and neatly, in its own bag, except for the meat (which is shipped in a separate section of the box, surrounded by ice packs).The bags are, of course, recyclable, but they also have a handy resealable zip closure. I find this really useful, as the old bags would not always survive initial opening intact. These new bags stand up in the fridge, keeping everything together, and the clear side and labeling makes it easy to identify which meal is which. Unless otherwise noted, each of the pictures of prepared food below shows one of two servings made by each recipe.
The potatoes were cheesy and creamy, with the pretzel topping adding a bit of textural surprise. This dish would make a great anytime meal, paired with a simple veg and protein.
The rice dish was simply a mix of seasoned rice and roasted veggies — it had lots of cruciferous bite. This dish covered a couple of bases for us — it had our carrots and Brussels sprouts, two holiday favorites, and the overall feel of the dish, with its cranberries and pistachios, made a decent stand-in for stuffing.
The fried onions clung well to the mushrooms, which I put on half of the green bean casserole — this lead to accusations of hogging the onions. This won’t be an issue if you put mushrooms on the whole dish. The creamy sauce helped the topping stick, but it mostly sank to the bottom of the dish, meaning the reheated leftovers (with sauce reincorporated) were better than the original!
There were alot of green beans in this dish — I think the deep casserole dish worked well, keeping the topping to bean ratio from becoming meager.
The sweet potatoes were yummy, and I loved the use of pepitas in the crumb topping. It was a bit like an apple crisp, or the non-marshmallow version of sweet potato casserole.
My only complaint was with the roasting of the sweet potatoes. Whereas the other three sides had oven-warming or roasting components that could be accomplished after a turkey came out of the oven and was resting, the sweet potatoes needed to be roasted prior to preparation and finishing in the oven. This made timing with a giant bird a little difficult (I made a 22 lb turkey, so it took up pretty much the whole oven). Apart from that, the dishes were excellent.
Three of the four sides were in the form of a casserole and were finished by topping and heating in the oven, so it was best serving them straight from the cooking dish.
We’ve done a turkey breast in years past, but we decided to go with a full bird this year, as they were only 29 cents a pound. This was the smallest they had — 22 pounds! Plenty of leftover meat for making carcass stew. I brined it overnight in a concoction of water, juice, sugar, salt, and herbs. I even threw in some paella seasoning — it gave the turkey a healthy glow!
Our Thanksgiving spread. We rounded out our meal with some homemade gravy, our turkey, some mac ‘n’ cheese, and crescent rolls. The sides really made our meal into a Thanksgiving dinner instead of a random turkey night. I was surprised at how easy it was to prepare all four at the same time — much simpler than the all-day cooking fest required to make the traditional versions of the dishes and get them to table. The ingredients weren’t really pared down from the classic versions, but I think having the directions set out made it easier to mentally plan the workflow to get everything finished around the same time.
These dishes went great with our big turkey and other sides. They saved some time and the trouble of coming up with original dishes to add some creativity to our meal. The flautas were also a great addition to our Thanksgiving — we made them when we were sick of turkey leftovers! We are always very pleased with Home Chef, and their Holiday sides offerings were no exception. With easy preparation and approachable flavors, it is a great subscription for fans of homestyle meals.
Have you tried Home Chef? What did you think of your meals?