TRAVEL HERE: AND THE WINNERS ARE…
We give up. Perhaps the perfect meal kit service doesn’t exist, but we’ve identified some dogs. He likes Hello Fresh for this and that, but if Home Chef is going to continue to delight me with dishes like Yorkshire Pudding, well I want it, too. Blue Apron, finally fell off the wagon for a variety of reasons. So for now, I’ll be juggling two services and hopefully I’ll figure out a system to insure that we don’t end up with two boxes of food for any particular week as I did a few weeks ago. Perhaps someday down the road, one of the services will pull ahead of the others, but for now, I’ll just claim variety is the spice of life.
Why Not Blue Apron?
This journey began with several months of Blue Apron. I’d done my research and read from several sources they were the best value – not the cheapest, but the one who provided the best product for the greatest value. I loved it so much. It wasn’t perfect, but it beat my own meal planning and food management, for a while. Then Bill demanded a change of pace and did he ever get it! He’s dizzy from the carousel of meal kit services.
As we sat down to discuss who would win the brass ring, I recounted all the reasons I used to love Blue Apron:
- Interesting gourmet touches with every meal and lots of variety
- Unique ingredients never available at the local grocery store
- Usually the highest quality in meats, fish and vegetables – with some uneveness in the beef department and the occasional vegetable fail
- Clever packaging that was fun to open and unload
- Cute knick knack bags for their special ingredients
- Great recipe cards with easy to follow instructions, helpful upscale photos of the cooking process and finally the best pictures of the plated meals
- They’d made me feel like an accomplished chef
Even with all these pluses, I had to admit they couldn’t be THE meal kit service, because quite frankly, for the last few months, every time we used them all we had were problems and the food wasn’t as good as it used to be. All the great recipe cards in the world can’t make up for food we don’t want to eat.
Why Hello Fresh?
Can you say Chicken Under a Zucchini Blanket? Of all the meals we had from any service, this was Bill’s favorite meal – and I have to admit it was a winner. Their other strengths were:
- Not a single packaging or quality issue in six meals (something that no other besides Blue Apron can claim)
- User friendly recipe cards that did the job (if not as well as Blue Apron)
- Ingredients that were as least as good as what I would pick out for myself at the store
- Good healthy food that Bill and I both enjoyed (but nothing in the least exotic)
I didn’t want them to be THE meal kit service because:
- Unpacking my meal was just not as much fun
- I don’t like the big brown bag per meal or their graphics
- A little too main-stream-all-the-time for my palate
- They said Parmesan Crusted Fish and it turned out to be tilapia
- While the recipe cards did their job, they were less than excellent
- less than pristine utensils used in cooking photos
- a downgrade in overall ambiance
- instructions were good, but not a s good as others
- finished plate photos are not inspiring
Why Home Chef?
They had me at Yorkshire Pudding! Not merely the fact that they offered Yorkshire Pudding, but because the dish was easy to make from scratch and it turned out perfect. Their other two dishes for the week were quite tasty. Here’s the other reasons they made the cut:
- While not as adventurous as my friends at Blue Apron, Home Chef does get creative and almost exotic.
- None of the ingredients were particularly unusual, but they came up with some unique dishes nonetheless
- Great quality and no ooops yet
- Clear plastic bags hold most of the ingredients together for each meal. While this is not as exciting as obsessing over all the separate items in a Blue Apron Box, it beat the big brown grocery bags from Hello Fresh
- The recipe cards are great. They actually offer a few items of information not provided by Blue Apron, but no points for plated dish inspiration. They use the same distressed wood table for each shot and the same boring white plate. (YAWN!)
- I feel more like a chef with Home Chef than I do with Hello Fresh.
Some day they may actually pull ahead and be THE meal kit service, but till then, I’ll keep juggling.
And there you have it. Wondering what I’ll come up with next week? Come back and find out!