In the past decade or so, the whole meal kit delivery service industry has gone from nonexistent to producing booming companies like Home Chef and Freshly which craft menus that appeal to all kinds of eaters. Vegans, vegetarians, meat-lovers, and even pescatarians get a fair share of options, or “meal plans,” to choose from.
With that said, this is the complete and ultimate comparison of Home Chef vs Freshly. Both are subscription-based services that allow you to select the recipes you want to be delivered on a weekly basis. They, no doubt, entirely transform your at-home cooking experience!
What can you expect from both services? To name a few:
- Comfort food
- Familiar flavors
- Expert chef-crafted and nutritionist-approved dishes
- Top-quality and most times even organic ingredients
- Plant-based meals
- Sufficient variety for meeting special dietary requirements
No wonder it’s so confusing to pick between any two meal delivery services.
Thus, it’s time to pit one against the other and find out which one’s the right choice for you!
Are Meal Kits Worth It, Healthy, and Cost-Effective?
There’s not just meal prepping and cooking but grocery shopping as well. If you’re a parent or someone putting in most hours of your week at work – or both – then you certainly have very little time left to actually cook. This means there’s not much to expect in being able to prep and eat well-balanced, nutritious meals.
This is how it’s understandable why meal kit delivery services have been expanding over the past few years. Speaking of expanding, the meal plans available will also expand your palate and chances of eating healthier.
You will find that recipes on Home Chef and Freshly take no more than just 15-20 minutes to prepare – probably half (or less!) the time it normally takes to cook your home meals from scratch.
Fast food, junk food, takeout, and others are in no way healthy for your body, but what other choice do you have when you’re busy working or have no interest or energy for cooking? Well, you have plenty of other options when it comes to meal kit delivery services.
A restaurant meal is most likely going to contain as many as 1,500 calories per serving. Let’s not even talk about how much they drain your wallet! On the other hand, cost-friendly meal kits consist of recipes that have better quality and properly portioned ingredients. This means you don’t overeat and, at the same time, you can curb your hunger and cravings.
Meal services like Home Chef and Freshly also encourage those following certain diet plans, such as diabetes-friendly, keto, paleo, etc., to meet their weight loss and overall health-related goals.
However, if you’re still on the fence about meal kit delivery services, this might help. Not every brand has the same approach, but most of them do indeed share the following standards for their weekly meal packages:
- A huge discount on the first box you order.
- Seasonal recipes are often a part of the menu, but the most popular dishes or favorites are usually repeated.
- High-quality, fresh ingredients are delivered, and these are wrapped properly so the delivery can even sit outside your door all day until you get home.
- Meat ingredients are well-insulated with ice packs, and the dry ingredients are grouped inside bags over ice packs.
- You can even do cancellations after placing your orders. Canceling or postponing deliveries, skipping a box, pausing your subscription, etc. are available options in case you happen to change your mind or plans for the upcoming week.
- These types of meal kits are now also found in major food chains, supermarkets, and grocery stores. This means even lower prices since delivery has been eliminated.
- Many meal kit services include premade, oven-ready, or ready-to-eat dishes too. Convenience at its best indeed!
Home Chef vs Freshly – How Do These Meal Kits Work?
With Home Chef’s flexible, customizable meal plans, you don’t really have to worry about how it works. It’s one of the leading subscription-based meal kit delivery services. It’s accessible through a website where you’re free to choose how many meal kits you want to be delivered per week. Along with that, you also select the number of servings per meal – 2, 4, or 6.
Home Chef allows you to skip a whole week, but more on that later. You can also add extra servings per meal or meals per week for which you have to pay more.
Overall, the Home Chef meal plan selection and their ordering process are straightforward and intuitive. Meal kits reach your doorstep all neatly packaged with cooler boxes – more on packaging later.
With Freshly, meal plans are single-serve and for couples. The subscription package here can include as many as 12 meals and as little as 4 on a weekly basis. There’s a wide selection of recipes for lunch/dinner that accommodates specific dietary preferences. However, not a lot of plant-based dishes are available, so minus points for that.
Freshly meals are more traditional, yet they look very tempting and taste very, very delicious. Even on Freshly, you can cancel, pause, or adjust your orders easily (we’ll get to that in a bit!).
Home Chef vs Freshly – Which Meal Kit Is More Cost-Effective?
There’s no downplaying the fact that Home Chef is listed among the most affordable meal kit services in the market. The cost per serving is just $6.99, although there are more expensive dishes that are priced somewhere between $11 and $18.
Extras can be added, of course, such as poultry, meat, or fish protein packs. Needless to say, you pay an additional price for those ranging between $60 and $75.
As for Home Chef’s shipping fee, that depends on which meal plan you pick. Let’s say you chose the 3-meal plan with 4 servings per meal. That would cost you around $120.
Lastly, Home Chef has many discounts and offers to attract new customers, much like any other such meal delivery services.
Moving on to Freshly’s pricing approach:
- For 4 to 5 meals per week, the cost is $11.79 per serving.
- For 6 to 7 meals per week, the cost is $9.99 per serving.
- For 8 to 9 meals per week, the cost is $9.49 per serving.
- For 10 to 11 meals per week, the cost is $9.29 per serving.
- For 12 meals per week, the cost is $8.99 per serving.
See how the total price per meal reduces as the number of meals per week increases? With the least number of meals per week (4), you pay $47.16, whereas the weekly plan of 12 meals is only $107.88.
Bulk protein portions cost extra and so do sides which you can replace regular meals with. In this case, the additional price per item is between $0.99 and $4.99.
How about delivery charges? Freshly’s shipping cost is between $9.99 and $11.99 based on the number of meals per week you order. More weekly meals equal to lower delivery fee for that box.
Home Chef vs Freshly – Meal Kit Menu
Home Chef Meal Plans
On the Home Chef menu, you’ll see both meal kits and oven-ready dishes. The meal-kit itself is further divided into the following tags or labels:
- Meal Kit
- Culinary Collection
- Family Meal
- 15-Minute Meal Kit
- Fast & Fresh
- Fast & Fresh Plus
- Fast & Fresh Family
In that sense, you can get partially prepared and preportioned ingredients, along with pre-cooked meals that you only heat and eat. The cost of both meal kits and premade meals is much the same, and both fit into special diet plans. The bottom line, is it’s about how much time you got to get your lunch/dinner ready.
Home Chef’s Dietary Options
When you look at their meal plans in terms of how accommodating they are of certain dietary needs and preferences, two options come into play:
- Calorie-conscious. This particular meal plan is best for those who want to keep their daily calorie consumption in check. A single serving here is below 625 calories per meal. For instance, this family-friendly recipe of One-Pan Chicken Fajitascontains 590 calories per serving.
- Carb-conscious. With the carb-conscious tag, you can narrow down recipes on the menu that have a carb content below 35 grams. Though not low enough for a keto diet, carb-conscious dishes are certainly perfect for glucose regulation. One such recipe is Alfredo Chicken with sweet and smoky arugula salad.
This is apart from “vegetarian” and “< 30 min.”
Irrespective of which meal plan you select, Home Chef meals are highly nutritious where the serving size and ingredients are well-portioned and not subjected to high processing or anything of the sort.
With Home Chef, those with common food allergies or specific dietary demands can stay away from the following:
- Tree nuts
One setback worth mentioning though is that Home Chef’s “vegetarian” menu is not very lengthy. Simply put, vegetarian and vegan options are quite limited, which may be disappointing for non-meat-eaters.
Freshly Meal Plans
On the Freshly menu, these are categories through which you can find what suits your diet and eating habits:
- Purely Plant
- Signature Collection
- Proteins & Sides
I’ll get into these in a bit. Before that, I would like to mention that even Freshly’s ingredients are real and fresh. Their recipes consist of a mix of top-quality proteins, whole grains, veggies packed with antioxidants, and more.
Most part of the Freshly menu is gluten-free. Speaking of which, dairy-free, low-carb, vegan, and soy-free options are available as well. The low-carb dishes can be found in the FreshlyFit category, while dairy-free is part of the Purely Plant menu.
Freshly’s Dietary Options
The weekly menu usually has around 40 meals, so it’s safe to say that there will be something for everyone.
Now, let’s get into the four different categories of the Freshly menu:
- Purely Plant. 100% vegetarian and dairy-free food is what Purely Plant is all about, with no preservatives, additives, and the like – only fresh, healthy plant-based recipes!
The protein here mostly comes from nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Since there aren’t a handful of “vegan” options, you’re compelled to have a look at the list of ingredients for each recipe to check if it contains egg or honey.
- Signature Collection. No gluten or wheat in Freshly meals means if you have gluten intolerance, you don’t need to think twice in this case. However, it’s important to note that all meals and ingredients are processed/packed in the same facility where major allergy-causing foods (eggs, milk, nuts, wheat, shellfish, etc.) are also handled. Freshly does have that gluten-free approval stamp on some of their dishes, but you have to check each recipe to make sure it’s surely got no gluten at all.
- FreshlyFit. Enriched with high-fiber whole grains, vegetables, and good quality protein, FreshlyFit prioritizes weight loss. It’s got recipes that have very little carbohydrates, which helps in keeping your diabetes levels under control.
Moreover, Freshly’s meals are not loaded with sodium. Isn’t that just what you need to boost heart health as well?
- Proteins & Sides. Although limited, the choices here do appeal to your health-conscious side. Your options include gluten-free, multi-serve portions of Mac & Cheese, Baked Turkey Meatballs, Grilled Chicken Breasts, and more.
Home Chef vs Freshly – Which Meal Kit Packaging Is Better?
Home Chef Packaging
Home Chef delivers your meals in a box lined with insulation, and the food’s freshness/quality is preserved using ice packs. Each recipe is packed separately where the proteins are wrapped using additional packaging and cooling packs. Everything is clearly labeled as Home Chef makes sure of that to keep it all organized even for you.
For the most part, Home Chef’s packaging is recyclable. They also have instructions on their website that explains in detail how to dispose of the packaging materials and box. You’re mostly dealing with recyclable cardboard.
However, plastic waste is inevitable since every ingredient is packed individually. It’s great in terms of convenience, though not the best as far as eco-friendliness is concerned.
If you want to know how to recycle Freshly’s packaging, there’s an article about it in their FAQs section. Hence, their packaging materials are environment-friendly.
Freshly uses atmospheric packaging, which increases the shelf life of the ingredients by 200%. To put it simply, this type of packaging keeps oxygen levels under control, and that means bacterial growth is prevented and food doesn’t go bad.
Recyclable cardboard boxes are used for deliveries with insulation made using recycled denim. Ice packs, nontoxic by the way, are kept in place, so the meals remain cool and fresh when they arrive at your doorstep and are sitting at the front door even for 12 hours.
The plastic containers are microwave-friendly plus they don’t release any amount of BPA chemical into your food during the heating process. All the plastic along with other materials like cardboard and paper are entirely recyclable. The gel packs are reusable, and denim insulation is 85% biodegradable.
Home Chef vs Freshly – How Easy and Quick Is the Cooking Process?
Home Chef’s meal kits don’t take a very long time to prepare – thanks to all the prepped, preportioned ingredients. Now, of course, there are lunch/dinner recipes that require a longer cooking time, maybe even 45 minutes or so.
It all depends on what kind of dishes you pick. After all, on the Home Chef menu, you do see options such as Oven-Ready, Fast & Fresh, 15 Minute Meal Kit, and the like.
The oven-ready-type meals, in particular, are the quickest and easiest to prepare – no prepping and chopping with this one. Just place them all on the provided baking tray, and pop the tray in your oven.
Now, it’s time to let you know about the whole Freshly meal prepping experience!
First of all, the bad news is that it’s better if you don’t use the more convenient microwave method to heat their meals. You can do so with dishes that come with potatoes, cauliflower, etc. but not when heating pasta, chicken bowls, stir-fry recipes, and other such food items.
Pork loins, steak, chicken, and others should be heated using a nonstick skillet, covered, and on set on low heat, which does take more time, effort, and equipment.
Home Chef Cooking Instructions
Every Home Chef recipe in the meal kit delivered to you is equipped with its own recipe cards – colorful with descriptive information about the step-by-step cooking/prepping instructions + visuals, any extra ingredients required (like salt, pepper, oil), utensils needed, and food safety guidelines.
Freshly Cooking Instructions
In the case of Freshly, the prepping bit is already done for you, so there’s no need for any recipe cards, cooking instructions, and all that jazz. The meal kits come with all the necessary information, such as the list of ingredients, reheating instructions, nutritional value, and allergens – that’s about it!
Home Chef vs Freshly – Do Both Have Their Own App?
You get the modern-age convenience of managing orders and your account both on the Home Chef and Freshly app. With Home Chef and Freshly, you can go further and do the following with your orders:
- Cancel your order
Even though both apps feature full website functionality, there are some complaints and issues with the design, features, and performance, which are not so sleek, quite limited, and buggy, respectively. Nonetheless, at least what needs to be done gets done, and that’s the most important thing to remember here.
Home Chef vs Freshly – How Is Their Customer Service/Support?
Home Chef has a full-blown FAQs and support page with everything neatly categorized, even the frequently asked questions. Just so you know, every Home Chef recipe page consists of every single helpful tip you might need to make the most of the ingredients added to that dish.
In terms of how to get in touch with Home Chef customer service, the live chat feature on the website is right there. You can also contact them by phone at this number – 1-872-225-2433 (between Monday and Friday, 9 am to 6 pm CST, and Saturday between 10 am and 2 pm CST).
Freshly, much the same way, provides its customers with several options to reach them. There’s the 24/7 chat function. Freshly’s customer support team can be reached via calling 1-844-373-7459 on weekdays only between 8 am and 4 pm PT.
There’s the Freshly FAQs section as well in case you want to resolve some minor or major concern with regard to your order, account, delivery/shipping, and more.
Home Chef vs Freshly – Do They Have a Vegetarian/Vegan Menu?
Home Chef has a “vegetarian” tag that you can use to filter every weekly menu of theirs. However, the vegetarian meal options per week are very limited. In that case, if you’re a vegetarian, you may not find enough veggie-based recipes and zero vegan options.
On the other hand, what I do like about Home Chef is that you can easily switch from steak or chicken to veg protein – all because of Home Chef’s exclusive “Customize It” feature.
Even though you’re not completely satisfied with the vegetarian menu of Home Chef, the few that are a part of the menu are full of delightful flavors, for example, Spaghetti with Roasted Pepper Cream.
On the Freshly menu, there’s an entire category called “Purely Plant” that’s dedicated to those who don’t consume meat or even those who do but would like to include some super nutritious veggie-based meal into their weekly order.
The Purely Plant menu on Freshly, even without any vegan dishes, is a lot better than Home Chef’s vegetarian menu. The former offers slightly more lunch/dinner meals. Likewise, these meals look way more enjoyable, filling, and healthier than the options on Home Chef.
If you don’t believe me, simply check out their Unwrapped Salsa Verde Burrito or Creamy Marinara Lentil Pasta recipes.
Home Chef vs Freshly – How Much Protein and Other Nutritional Value Are Available?
If you’re a high-protein consumption kind of person, then you won’t be disappointed with either Home Chef or Freshly. Low-carb, high-protein meals are a part of both menus.
As far as the quality and nutritional value of the ingredients are concerned, Freshly has a more all-natural flavor, while meals on Home Chef do contain processed sauces and more preservatives. Lastly, both companies make sure their meals don’t have high sodium content!
Now, let’s get to comparing the meals side by side from each category, for the purpose of which I’ve selected recipes randomly from the extensive menus. These are not the only options available, of course. There are many more that you’ll find on both Home Chef and Freshly!
On one hand, we have Home Chef’s Gnocchi and Red Pepper Cream with Parmesan cheese and garlic bread meal kit with its 21 grams of protein, 99 grams of carbs, and a total of 780 calories. The cooking time is between 25 and 35 minutes – totally worth it since gnocchi is a low-cholesterol food with lots of vitamin C.
On the other hand, there’s Freshly’s Indian-Spiced Chickpea Curry Bowl. The recipe is gluten-free with only 360 calories. Plus, you can never undermine the high dietary fiber strength of chickpeas!
From the “Culinary Collection” of Home Chef comes the Chicken Cordon Bleu and Chive Crema with wild rice and roasted butternut squash. You may have to spend up to 60 minutes to prepare this one, but all that effort seems to pay off in the form of protein-rich nutrition – 50 grams of protein per serving with 850 calories. How healthier can it get?
You can also pick the more subtle, meaning easier and quicker to prepare, meal kit recipe of Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich with roasted potatoes and sesame slaw. Even here, you get high protein content – 49 grams of protein with a total calorie count of 960!
What about Freshly? I really liked these two options: Savory-Sweet Chicken Teriyaki Bowl and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Both are gluten-free – one with 480 calories and the other with 710 calories.
Here’s a couple of choices from Home Chef:
- Home Chef Meal Kit. Chili Cheese Beef Stuffed Peppers with sour cream and crispy tortillas, 40 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrates, and a total of 620 calories.
- Home Chef Oven-Ready. Chipotle BBQ Beef Meatloaf with cheddar broccoli and potatoes, 39 grams of protein, 55 grams of carbohydrates, and a total of 730 calories.
- Home Chef Family Meal. One-Pan Beef Shepherd’s Pie with parmesan, 29 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrates, and a total of 500 calories.
Then there’s Freshly with its just one beef-based recipe – a single-serve and gluten-free Cauliflower Shell Beef Bolognese. All we know about the dish is that it’s got 490 calories.
Once again, Home Chef makes a splash with a variety of pork recipes containing high protein levels:
- Vietnamese-Style Pork Fajitas (meal kit) – 45 g
- Sweet Chili Pork Lettuce Wraps (15-minute meal kit) – 30 g
- BBQ Pulled Pork Enchiladas (oven-ready) – 34 g
It’s not so surprising anymore since we’ve established that Freshly lacks variety when it comes to their beef and, now, pork dishes too. There’s only one: Pork Carnitas – gluten-free, single-serve, and which contains 480 calories.
Home Chef’s seafood-based proteins are all about salmon and shrimp. More specifically, there’s Salmon and Hot Honey Butter and Crispy Sweet Chili Shrimp Rice Bowl.
Flaky, tender salmon with a hint of sweetness is what you get on the outside, whereas the inside is loaded with as much as 49 grams of protein and only 33 grams of carbs. The sweet, sublime, subtle flavors of the shrimp recipe consist of 27 grams of protein, but the carb content is higher at 91 grams.
Moving on to Freshly, there are fewer choices indeed. For instance, the only shrimp dish is Cuban Mojo Shrimp, and the only fish meal is Wild-Caught Fish Cake. Both are gluten-free and under 600 calories!
Do Home Chef and Freshly Prioritize Food Allergies or Special Diet Plans?
Actually, finding a meal kit delivery service that accommodates your eating habits, food allergies, or diet plans is not that easy. In that context, Home Chef and Freshly score only average marks, so there are a few drawbacks in that department in the case of both.
With Freshly, you cannot customize your meals to tailor them to fit your personal preferences. However, the recipes are gluten- and peanut-free. They are also low-calorie in comparison to Home Chef.
The menu categories on Freshlycan be used to narrow down your options. These are the following:
- Purely Plant
- Signature Collection
- Proteins & Sides
For example, FreshlyFit is all about low-carb, high-protein nutrition, which is perfect for athletes, gym enthusiasts, and the like.
The other side of the experience is customizable indeed, that is, with Home Chef. There’s a “Customize It” feature on many Home Chef recipes to swap proteins that you don’t eat or don’t like to eat with the ones you do.
No doubt, there are carb and calorie-conscious meals to be found on Home Chef, but no specific allergy-accommodating diet plan or category exists. Also, both Home Chef and Freshly use the same facility for handling allergy-causing and safe ingredients.
It means that in the same kitchen where eggs, milk, nuts, soy, shellfish, etc. are produced/processed, everything else is also handled and packaged. Thus, the chances of cross-contamination are heightened.
However, the ingredients are separately wrapped if that counts. Also, both Home Chef and Freshly label their recipes for potential allergens, so you get that safety window to choose your meals carefully.
Can You Make Changes to or Cancel Orders with Home Chef and Freshly?
Changing the delivery date, modifying meals, and even canceling your order – all can be done on Home Chef. Just be sure to process it done before the deadline, which is the Friday that comes before your delivery week at 12 pm CST.
Pause, skip, or even cancel before this cutoff time; otherwise, call customer support at 1-872-225-2433. Here’s Home Chef’s Placing + Editing Orders page.
As for Freshly, even these guys allow you to update orders, skip deliveries, and cancel subscriptions altogether, but the deadline here is not fixed like Home Chef. Rather, it depends on your location and delivery date. Nevertheless, you do get around 5-6 days before the scheduled delivery day to make those changes you like.
Freshly too is quite helpful and informative when it comes to letting you know how to manage your orders. You can also call them at 1-844-373-7459.
Summing Up Home Chef
Home Chef Pros
- A very affordable meal delivery service
- “Customize It” option to swap proteins
- Quick and easy, family-friendly, oven-ready meals
Home Chef Cons
- Less menu variety in comparison to Freshly and others.
- Very limited meals for those with food allergies.
- Plant-based and vegan recipes are scarce.
Summing Up Freshly
- Wide-ranging menu on a weekly basis
- More suitable for singles and couples
- Gluten- and peanut-free recipes
- Not many options for vegetarians/vegans
- Relatively smaller portion sizes
- No room for making meal modifications
Home Chef is the more popular of the two – and for obvious reasons. After all, it is a more cost-effective meal kit delivery service with more customization options and greater flexibility in terms of serving sizes.
Then there’s Freshly, which is also on the list of top contenders for its larger menu diversity.
Both, as a whole, are perfect for you if you’re considering switching to meal kits for your home-cooking sessions. I have discussed all the important details, including the good and bad, of Home Chef and Freshly, and compared their recipes side by side to give you a clearer picture of how they work and what they have to offer in terms of nutrition and convenience.
Now, it’s your decision to make. Which of the meal two meal kit delivery services are you going to choose?