Is A Home Chef Subscription Actually Worth The Price?

Today, there's certainly no shortage of meal-kit services looking to bridge the value gap between expensive restaurant meals and the hassle of grocery shopping for freshly cooked meals. Names like Blue Apron and HelloFresh (read our recent review of HelloFresh) may dominate the marketplace, but others, such as Home Chef, have established themselves over the years as well. Launched in 2013, Home Chef is now owned by grocery giant Kroger.

Home Chef offers subscribers a more customizable experience than its competitors. For example, subscribers are able to swap out chicken for beef in a recipe, or even opt for plant-based alternatives. Besides being able to tailor ingredients, Home Chef also offers quick preparation times, with some dishes taking less than 20 minutes to whip up.

Potential Home Chef subscribers can sign up online or on the company app. That's followed by a short quiz to establish which plan best fits your needs, as well as any ingredients to be avoided due to diet, allergies, or other reasons. In the end, though, the subscriber decides how many recipes they receive each week, as well as how many portions per recipe, which ranges from two to six family members.

How much does a Home Chef subscription cost?

Once a subscriber's preferences have been established, Home Chef meals are delivered once per week in an insulated box containing the ingredients that are already pre-portioned for you. You don't need to use the ingredients immediately, but it's recommended to make the meals within a few days of arrival. That's because some of the ingredients aren't suitable for freezing.

Okay, so the million-dollar question is how much does Home Chef cost? Standard meals are $9.99 per portion, however, certain minimum weekly order thresholds may apply. Potential Home Chef subscribers should also note the meal-kit provider charges for shipping. Very small orders are subject to a $13.99 shipping charge, while higher-value orders are billed $10.99. Reportedly, free shipping is also available on larger orders, though it's worth mentioning that subscribers notice shipping costs and promotions do change periodically. Therefore, these shipping guidelines aren't set in stone.

Finally, meals from Home Chef's Culinary Collection and some meals with premium proteins like salmon or high-end beef have an upcharge of $3 to $4 per portion. Even at the standard price of ~$10 per meal, Home Chef is slightly pricier than its competitors, and so are the shipping charges. If you want to evaluate Home Chef without a lot of upfront cost, keep an eye out for promotional offers aimed at attracting new customers.

Home Chef isn't as cheap as from-scratch meals

According to the well-being platform wellio, as reported by Forbes, the average price of a home-cooked meal is $4.32 per portion while the average cost of a meal kit is $12.53 per portion — nearly triple the cost of shopping and prepping your own ingredients. Indeed, the $12.53 meal-kit average seems quite accurate based on Home Chef's pricing schedule, once delivery and/or the occasional premium meal is factored in.

Without a doubt, meal-kit users are paying for the convenience of not having to shop or do time-consuming preparation. However, it's still considerably cheaper than having a meal delivered from a restaurant, which has an average cost of $20.37 per serving. Meanwhile, even fast food has gotten expensive for consumers. (Here's how much Americans spend on fast food each year.)

As well, meal kits like those from Home Chef can teach aspiring chefs how to cook from scratch. Therefore, these kits can be viewed as a kind of stepping stone to cooking fresh meals with store-bought ingredients, rather than a permanent solution to every meal — though you'll want to avoid these sneaky tricks grocery stores play to get you to spend more. On that note, Home Chef explains that subscribers can modify, pause, or cancel their subscription at any time; they can also skip a delivery.