***** (5 stars)
During the pandemic rather than visit restaurants I subscribed to five different meal preparation kits. Here is how they compare.
Home Chef offers the most flexibility in swapping ingredients. Nearly every meal allows substantial customization of the proteins, including upgrades in quality, change from beef, to chicken, to vegetarian, etc. When fish is part of a recipe it is impressive how fresh it is. We had a bento box that included raw tuna, and it was as good as at any sushi place. Instructions are clear, and the recipes are interesting and varied enough to avoid repetitiveness. They also have options you can simply heat up, although we never tried these. Packaging is very good, with the ingredients in separate bags. Shipments always arrived with the ice packs still frozen. For overall quality, this is my favorite of the five plans.
Purple Carrot is a vegan meal kit. It has the most ambitious recipes, excellent ethnic options, and a lot of variety. Because a lot of the recipes involve tofu or seitan, neither of which are my favorites, I stuck with the vegetable only recipes. I really like that instead of instruction cards each week includes a very professionally produced booklet with all of the recipes. This is the most expensive of the five plans.
Blue Apron is the first kit we tried. Limited customization of meals is available, but there is a lot of variety in the recipes. There are some good ethic selections. Packaging is very good, with the ingredients in separate bags. Shipments always arrived with the ice packs still frozen. My only nit is that sometimes condensation had soaked the instruction cards. This is an excellent choice, and a moderate price.
Hello Fresh offers by far the most different meals each week, and has an excellent selection of vegetarian choices in addition to meat based ones. Limited customization of meals is available. I really like their recipes. Packaging is very good, with the ingredients in separate bags. Shipments always arrived with the ice packs still frozen. This is my top pick in terms of value for the variety.
Every Plate is by far the least expensive of all the meal kits. The downside is that the recipes are quite repetitive. If there are three possible proteins, three possible sauces, three possible carbs, and three possible vegetables, then there are 81 possible combinations, and you tend to see them, over and over. True, there are also some other varients, but it just seemed too mundane. Instructions tend to be very simple. Shipments always arrived with the ice packs still frozen. This is a good pick if price is your most important consideration.
Overall, my choices are:
Most Customizable – Home Chef
Best Selection plus great Vegetarian options – Hello Fresh
Cheap – Every Plate
5370 S Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60638