Blue Apron vs. Home Chef
It turns out that much of the difference between Home Chef and Blue Apron can be discerned from branding alone. Blue Apron's name is a reference to French culinary tradition, conjuring a certain air of worldly sophistication. Home Chef sounds more domestic, comforting, and familiar. We tried both services, and this basic contrast was indeed borne out in our experience. Blue Apron left our tastebuds with a lasting impression, while Home Chef delivered a more workaday sort of satisfaction.
If you're on the fence, however, it's wise to look deeper than branding to see which service best fits your particular situation. What's your budget? How big is your family? Are you looking to eat certain foods and not others? We compared both services across these dimensions and more to help you make an informed decision. Read on to see what we found.
Blue Apron Pros and Cons
Good, eclectic flavors
Guest celebrity chefs
Lots of plastic packaging
Frequent use of added sugars and refined carbs
Limited dietary accommodations
Fewer options for 4-serving kits
Home Chef Pros and Cons
Has kits and heat-and-serve meals
Good for large families
Most kits have multiple protein options
Weekly, biweekly, and monthly subscriptions
Very few vegetarian options
No choice for paleo, keto, or other diets
No free shipping
Meals aren't especially creative
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Price
The minimum spend with Blue Apron is $47.95 per week. That will get you two, two-serving meal kits (excluding premium meals) at $9.99 per serving, plus $7.99 shipping ($8.99 for four-serving kits). The maximum you can order from Blue Apron is two boxes, each of which holds four, four-serving meal kits. At that level, you get the lowest price per serving ($7.49) and you get free shipping, which kicks in once you subscribe to three recipes per week, whether that's for two- or four-serving kits. The grand total for that order of 32 servings is $239.68.
The minimum spend with Home Chef is $49.95. For that, you receive a pair of two-serving kits, which, at $8.99 per serving, costs $35.96 plus $13.99 for shipping. In terms of the maximum, you can order a lot of food from Home Chef. Yet, no matter how much you buy, Home Chef's price per serving stays the same, and you will pay at least $7.99 for shipping. Thirty-two servings would cost $241.73. Blue Apron, therefore, wins on price, though not by much.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Meal Choices
Home Chef has three categories of meal kits: standard meal kits, 15-minute meal kits, and easy prep meal kits. Each week the company deploys a new menu with 13 standard kits, two 15-minute kits, and five easy prep kits, for a total of 20 weekly options. All the menu items are available in serving sizes of two, four, six, and eight. There's also a collection of 15 weekly extras, including things like dessert, breakfast and lunch items, salads, and assorted a la carte proteins.
Blue Apron also has three meal kit categories: two-serving kits, four-serving kits, and eight-serving meal prep bundles. Each week brings a new menu with 16, two-serving options, eight, four-serving choices, and two or three meal prep bundles. Blue Apron also has four butcher bundles, all with 12 servings of various proteins. The meal prep bundles don't change as frequently as the meal kits do, and the butcher bundles change even less. There are no breakfast items, but there are three add-on options each week—two sides and one dessert—of which you may choose two.
Since both services change their menus weekly, there's plenty of variety. However, with only a smattering of plant-based meals on both menus and not much dietary accommodation beyond that, the variety is mostly geared toward omnivores. That said, both companies allow protein swaps, which sometimes include plant-based choices.
Home Chef allows such swaps on almost every dish, while Blue Apron does so on only about a third of its meals. Both menus draw on a global palette of flavors, but Blue Apron tends to utilize more obscure and unique ingredients. For example, one of Blue Apron's recent menus included ingredients like salsa macha, red rice, ponzu, furikake, and Sichuan peppercorn sauce, ingredients that are less likely to show up on Home Chef's menu.
In our experience, Blue Apron's recipes were a bit more complex and/or labor-intensive than Home Chef's. While equipment and technical requirements were similar—you just need a pot, a pan, an oven, and basic tools—in light of the fact that Blue Apron has no "15-minute" or "Easy Prep" categories as Home Chef does, it's safe to say that Blue Apron requires a bit more effort overall.
Choosing the winner of this category is a tough decision. Blue Apron's menu holds more appeal for us than Home Chef's; but given Home Chef's larger selection of protein options, serving sizes, prep levels, and add-ons, it's clear that the company offers more to customers in this area.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Creativity of Dishes
Although it was a close contest in this area, Blue Apron wins on creativity. Every Blue Apron dish we tried was more interesting than every Home Chef meal we prepared. All of our Home Chef meals were good, but none was great or surprising or something we could not have created on our own.
Even simple dishes from Blue Apron, like the Veracruz-style shrimp with lemon quinoa and sautéed vegetables and the mango curry scallops with mustard seed rice, were remarkably flavorful and unique, without being too complicated to prepare. In contrast, Home Chef's Tuscan-style scallop and potato stew, and crispy Buffalo-style shrimp salad, though both tasty, fell short of our expectations.
Blue Apron is likely better for more adventurous eaters and people who consider themselves foodies. Families with young children, on the other hand, and people who know what they like and tend to stick to it may prefer Home Chef.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Flavor, Freshness, and Quality
With perky vegetables and vital proteins, both companies performed well with respect to freshness and quality. Blue Apron, however, has the edge when it comes to flavor. Every dish we had from the company was brimming with style and character. Home Chef was mostly good, but never exceptional or particularly memorable. The Tuscan scallop stew we mentioned above needed a dash of truffle salt for depth. Our Home Chef ciabatta steak sandwich with bacon aioli likewise tasted a little flat.
Our tasting panel's favorite Home Chef dishes—beef kefta lettuce wraps and steak with porcini white wine sauce—inspired us to make our own versions of those dishes rather than continue as Home Chef customers. Blue Apron, however, left our panel satisfied and eager to see what the company might deliver next.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Recipe Clarity/Difficulty
Both companies do a good job creating easy-to-follow recipes aimed at cooks possessing a basic level of skill. These recipes aren't fundamentally about technique; there's no fancy knife work, complex procedures, or tricky multitasking required to execute them. As long as you don't make any careless errors, success really comes down to the quality and combination of ingredients.
You need only basic equipment—a couple of pots and pans, an oven, a sharp knife, and simple tools like a zester, whisk, strainer, and the like. And you'll need just a few ingredients—salt, pepper, and cooking oil—from your pantry.
Recipe information is easy to access. Both companies do a good job here, but Blue Apron goes the extra mile, with simple skill demonstration videos and well-formatted cook-along slides. The cook-along slides are particularly handy in Blue Apron's app, turning your smartphone into a cookbook that helps you focus on each step as you progress through the recipe.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Supporting Material
Both services include printed 8.5- by 11-inch color glossy recipe cards in the box. Home Chef's are even three-hole punched for those who like to keep hard copies organized in a binder. Both companies' recipe cards give you pictures of each step in the process, as well as a photo of the finished plated dish.
As discussed, there are digital versions of all this material as well. It's all easy to find. Home Chef saves your recipes in its "Cookbook" section, and your Blue Apron recipes can be found either in the "Current" tab or your Delivery History.
Home Chef even makes it easy for you to recreate its dishes on your own with a Shopping List feature. Just click "Add to Grocery List" on the recipe you want to make and Home Chef will add all the ingredients to your shopping list. For that feature and the hole-punched recipe cards, we'll give the win in this category to Home Chef.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Types of Diets Served
Neither Home Chef nor Blue Apron offers plans that are ideal for those with dietary restrictions. Sure, you can set up a vegetarian plan on both services, but that will dramatically narrow your range of options. Only about four of Blue Apron's 16 weekly choices are vegetarian. Home Chef allows more protein swaps, so you can make more of its meals vegetarian, but you'll find yourself eating an Impossible Burger at nearly every meal.
Both companies offer a handful of healthier options. Home Chef has "Calorie Conscious" and "Carb Conscious" tags, while Blue Apron offers "Wellness" and "WW Approved" meals. That's about the extent of dietary accommodation.
In terms of the maximum, you can order a lot of food from Home Chef. Yet, no matter how much you buy, Home Chef's price per serving stays the same.
The truth is you'll get the most out of both services if you're an omnivore. But if we had to pick a winner, Home Chef would prevail, simply by virtue of having more plant-based menu items.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Nutritional Value
Nutritionally, Home Chef and Blue Apron are very similar. Blue Apron's meals typically range from around 500 to 1,200 calories per serving. Home Chef is perhaps slightly less indulgent, maxing out closer to 1,100 calories per serving.
Here are two similar, middle-of-the-road examples: Blue Apron's mango curry tilapia with mustard seed rice and sugar snap peas and Home Chef's basil pesto salmon with orzo, grape tomatoes, and goat cheese. The tilapia has 710 calories, 34g of fat, 27g of protein, 72g of total carbohydrates, and 1,320mg of sodium. The salmon has 815 calories, 45g of fat, 49g of protein, 54g of total carbohydrates, and 1,403mg of sodium.
As you can see, neither company shies away from salt. Both include plenty of vegetables, but relatively few servings of whole grains. Basically, both offer a reasonably balanced and healthful version of a typical Western diet. There's ample protein, grains are generally refined to some degree, sodium is abundant, and occasionally you'll get some added sugars. Is it as healthful as it could possibly be? No. Is it unhealthy? Not especially.
While all the above information is equally accessible between the two services, Blue Apron provides a lot more information by giving you the full Nutrition Facts label, including vitamin and mineral content as well as the complete list of ingredients. Home Chef just gives you macronutrients, sodium, and allergens, while its ingredient lists don't drill down into each component. Want to know what's in the "cream sauce base?" You'll have to contact support. Winner: Blue Apron.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Customer Service
You can access Blue Apron's customer service in several ways. The FAQs are the first line of assistance, further backed up by a contact form, email, phone, and chat—both on the site and in the app. We reached out through the chat and were almost immediately connected to a live rep. We asked some basic questions, like "What is the maximum amount we can order?" and "How do we cancel?" This chat feature is open Monday through Saturday, and phone support is available seven days a week.
Likewise, Home Chef has a comprehensive FAQ section with answers to most of the basic questions about the service. If you can't find help there, you can use Home Chef's contact form or call customer service Monday through Saturday. We had no issues with our order but we phoned customer service just to test out the system and were connected with a friendly agent right away.
Because we find live chat to be such a convenient and low-key customer service channel, Blue Apron is the winner of this category.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Making Changes and Canceling
All meal delivery services have cutoff dates, after which you will no longer be able to alter your order. For Home Chef, that date and time is noon CT the Friday before delivery. For Blue Apron, the date is six days prior to your delivery date, but the company provides conflicting information about the exact time. Our account settings say the cutoff is 4 p.m., but in our Upcoming tab, the deadline is 9 a.m. For that reason and because Home Chef gives you a fixed date, irrespective of your delivery day, Home Chef prevails on this point.
Both services allow you to skip weeks or change your delivery day and/or delivery address for individual deliveries, so you can easily integrate your service into out-of-town trips or put it on hold until you get back. Blue Apron delivers every day of the week, but Home Chef only delivers Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. With Home Chef you can make your deliveries biweekly or even monthly. Blue Apron only offers weekly deliveries; if you want them less frequently, you'll have to manually customize by skipping weeks. Since we think being able to get meals delivered any day of the week is more valuable than automatic biweekly or monthly deliveries, Blue Apron wins the flexibility contest by a hair.
Blue Apron buries its account cancelation button. To see the word "Cancel," you've got to go to Account Settings, click on Account Info, click the Edit button, then click "Manage Status." Home Chef's cancelation process is much more straightforward. It's right there in your Account Settings. That's another point for Home Chef, which takes this section, 2 to 1.
Blue Apron vs. Home Chef: Additional Features
Blue Apron has a wine subscription that pairs 500ml bottles with your meal kits, as well as a Market section filled with wine, kitchen tools, and spice blends. Home Chef sells some of its products through the Kroger grocery distribution network, but this feature doesn't seem to integrate into the meal delivery service in any meaningful way. Blue Apron gets the nod for additional features.
It was a close contest, but, in our view, Blue Apron retains its place at the top of the meal delivery service list, offering slight advantages on price, creativity, flavor, supporting materials, customer service, and access to full nutritional information. Yet, with more mainstream flavors, bigger serving sizes, and more protein flexibility, Home Chef is definitely better for larger families, people with conservative palates, and possibly vegetarians (as long as they like the Impossible Burger).
We spent numerous hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.
The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:
- The ordering process
- Meal selection
- Packaging and support materials
- The cooking process
- The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
- Nutritional information
- Customer service