Save time cooking for your family with meal kit deliveries. This honest un-sponsored review provides the pros and cons of Hello Fresh vs. Good Food vs. Chef’s Plate to help you find the right fit.
After the rush of the holidays and between year-end accounting, working from home with a toddler and getting back to normal life, I was looking for ways to simplify. I decided to try a meal kit delivery service to free up time and diversify our dinners.
There are many different meal kit delivery services available. If you’ve been seeing ads and wondered what they are all about, how they work and which one is the best, here is a summary of my honest un-sponsored experience using HelloFresh, Chef’s Plate and Goodfood.
What Are Meal Kit Delivery Services?
Meal Kit Delivery companies combine the convenience of a meal planner and personal grocery shopper in one handy service. When you order, you get to select a plan and/or specific meals. Then all of the ingredients along with a recipe are delivered to your house.
With HelloFresh, there is a minimum order of 2 meals per week and maximum of 5. Chef’s Plate has a minimum order requirement of 2 meals per week, with a maximum of 4 meals per week. The Goodfood meal delivery service has no minimum or maximum amount of meals.
Each week, you receive an insulated cardboard box with ice packs and all of the necessary ingredients for the meals you chose. The ingredients for each recipe are kept separately in their own bag. In your meal kit you will also get detailed preparation instructions (with easy-to-follow pictures) as well as the recipes.
For the most part, the ingredients are meant to stay fresh for up to one week. Some ingredients like seafood will expire sooner with “best before” dates that you should adhere to. Everything you need to make the meals will be inside with the exception of basic ingredients like salt/pepper/butter etc.
What I Liked/Disliked About Meal Kit Delivery
Convenient & Time Saving
- Each meal kit includes all of the necessary ingredients pre-proportioned for you. You do have to wash and cut some ingredients. Some meal delivery services including Goodfood offer pre-cut ingredients at a slightly higher cost. I didn’t find this pre-cut option to be necessary since there were only a few items that needed cutting.
- I saved time because I didn’t have to plan meals each week. However, the cooking process took more time than usual because I was following new recipes.
- Each meal has the specified number of servings and there were rarely leftovers. While I appreciated that there was no food waste, I am a big fan of batch cooking and freezing the leftovers for future meals. (Some of the easy batch-cooking recipes: Crockpot Chicken Pho & Easy Tomato Beef on Rice.)
- I loved how these meal delivery kits introduced us to new flavors at dinnertime without having me look up new recipes and shop for the ingredients. There were some recipes we enjoyed that I might never have tried on my own.
- I saved time at the grocery store because I only had to shop for breakfast and lunch foods and a few essentials.
- It was so nice to have the meal kits delivered to the door each week
- There are many different options to choose from between these three meal delivery services including family friendly, pescatarian, meat and veggies, vegetarian, low-carb , calorie smart, quick and easy, easy prep, family and classic.
- If you usually eat out or buy pre-packaged convenience food, these meal delivery services will most likely save you money and provide healthier options.
- As someone who normally prepares food from scratch, meal delivery was convenient but not especially money saving. The meals typically range in price from $8.99 (vegetarian) to $16 (low-carb) per person/per serving without shipping costs. This isn’t as expensive as takeout but is definitely more expensive than buying the ingredients on your own, even if you prefer organic.
- If you have a tendency to overspend on groceries that don’t get prepared or go to waste, a meal delivery service might be an excellent fit.
- Each company provides a generous trial period which usually includes discounts or free meals with your first order. Googling them around special holidays usually results in the most aggressive offers.
- One aspect of meal delivery services that appealed to me was the exposure to new recipes. However, after a few weeks I started to realize that there were many variations of a few key recipes. This was most obvious with Chef’s Plate and HelloFresh. I’m guessing that their lower price point includes cost constraints for ingredients, resulting in less adventurous meal choices.
- Besides their basic recipes, each company offers premium dishes for an added cost of between $2-$6 a meal. This increases the cost of the meal delivery service but it can make the choices more interesting. I tried a lightly seared ahi-tuna steak from Goodfood and Steak and Shrimp from Chef’s Plate. I appreciated not having to pick out these proteins myself at the grocery store. They included a cut that was perfect for the provided recipe.
- Most of the recipes from all 3 companies were Western cuisine and my husband started missing my Asian home cooking. I took breaks from the delivery so I could make him some of the dishes he liked.
- For recipes and choices, I think Goodfood is the winner. They offer a wider variety of recipes at different price points. Some meals can run as much as $16 per person. If pure convenience is what you’re after, then it’s probably just as good to get take out at that price. They also offer different items like brunch, sheet pan recipes, slow cooker meals, pizzas, soups, chilis, drinks, and desserts. (You do need to be signed in as a member to see these extras.)
Healthier Than Take Out
- Most of these plans cost around $13-$16 a person. As mentioned above, it’s not a huge savings compared to typical takeout but it does provide healthier choices. You can also control the amount of salt/seasoning used in your meals.
- Take out meals are notoriously over processed. The healthiest choice will be to prepare a meal with fresh ingredients instead of processed shelf stable ingredients found in take out.
- These recipes always include a vegetable and will give you more exposure to nutritious food.
- If you have your child help you prepare food from your meal delivery kit, it might encourage them to eat different/healthier foods.
- Cooking at home instead of eating out will set a good example of healthy habits for your children.
- The quantity of food provided in some meals was a little sparse without any rich ingredients or starch. We are small eaters and found some meals were quite lean even for us.
- You need to be prepared to add a soup or salad to some recipes
- Out of all three companies, Goodfood offers the most protein.
- I liked the freshness of the ingredients. They lasted the entire week even when I was not able to cook them right away.
- None of the companies offered organic ingredients. If you usually buy organic food, a meal delivery service will shift your costs from organic to convenience. It’s a tradeoff.
- Some of the HelloFresh proteins are raised without antibiotics but the other two companies make no such claim.
- I was disappointed by the amount of plastic and extra packaging for the ingredients. The worst offender for this was Goodfood with a high amount of (recyclable) plastic packaging in each kit. Goodfood and HelloFresh use paper bags for each kit and HelloFresh is moving towards using paper packaging for individual ingredients.
- Ice packs are another troubling component of meal delivery kits. They are made of a salt/water gel combo that never fully flushed down the drain as instructed. I have a garbage disposal and it clogged up the drain for a few minutes which was concerning. I received several ice packs from HelloFresh which were just salt and water. Those washed away with no problems.
Meal kit delivery services serve the gap between home cooking and takeout. I love that they are convenient, save time meal planning and grocery shopping, increase our exposure to new recipes and come with fresh, pre-proportioned ingredients.
I found Chef’s Plate to be quite similar to HelloFresh in every way (lower price point, basic recipes with staple ingredients) but with less weekly recipe choices and delivery dates. This made Chef’s Plate overall less desirable. Personally, I found there is no competitive advantage over HelloFresh, making HelloFresh the better choice of the two.
I kept my subscription for HelloFresh because they are a good overall choice with a wider range of recipes, reasonable pricing and progressive delivery times (7 days a week). On weeks when Goodfood doesn’t have a menu that interests me, I can order meals from HelloFresh. I appreciate that HelloFresh is making an effort to be more sustainable. HelloFresh is the industry leader for delivery kits which means they’re always innovating and creating more convenient options for their customers.
If I only had to choose one company out of the three, I would pick Goodfood. I love their greater number of menu choices and free delivery. I also enjoy that they have options for all meals including breakfast, snacks and dinner time. If for any reason you need to hunker down at home, Goodfood can conveniently deliver pre-chosen groceries for all of your meals.
I recently ordered Goodfood’s slow cooker meal kits which serve up to 6 people. I think this will help save even more time since I have always liked batch cooking to make convenient freezer meals.
If you are considering a meal kit delivery service I recommend trying Goodfood or HelloFresh. Whether you are trying to save time or reduce the amount you eat out, meal kit delivery services are a wonderful and helpful option for busy families.