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Monday, December 5th
A restaurant-quality meal you can microwave? That's the idea behind Home Bistro's prepared meals, which in recent years have expanded to include recipes by Ayesha Curry, Cat Cora, Richard Blais, and other top chefs. Heat them in the microwave for two minutes or 12-14 minutes in the oven and you're good to go.
Strange site issues
We were glad to get a pop-up discount as we browsed the Home Bistro site, giving us 10^% off on our first order if we provided our email address. At the top of the page, we initially saw a promo sale of $15 meals storewide and $20 for shipping - but the date on the sale was three days earlier (and thus shouldn't have been visible). Then, after we were shopping for a while, the promo switched to announce that all Home Bistro meals were now priced at $19, all the time. It didn't really give us much confidence in the professional nature of this prepared meal provider.
Not an intuitive customer experience
That impression continued as we tried to sign up to order meals here. There's not a lot of direction offered to help you know how to shop. Should you start with a chef? What if you don't know any of them? What's the difference between a SUPERBowl and Chef's Choice? Even when you choose one of those (maybe at random?), you're not given any options for sorting them by ingredients (like allergens you can't have), preferences for meat vs. seafood vs. vegetarian, and so on.
Best Sellers package is an easy starting point
One way to avoid all the confusion and just get started with Home Bistro's prepared meals is by choosing the Best Sellers package of 10 meals for $166. This gets you one serving each of the following:
Click on any meal to read the nutrition facts and ingredients list, check the heating instructions, or see any available customer comments on the meal.
A la carte is also an option
If you'd rather just try a few meals at a time, Home Bistro lets you buy them a la carte. You'll pay more that way, but if the new banner was accurate, it'll never be more than $19. As we went to check out, we were also invited to add desserts to our order at a 10% discount.
Shipping is expensive and depends on your order
You won't know how much you're paying for shipping until you go to check out - and it's not likely to be cheap. For that 10-meal sampler we described earlier, we were quoted a delivery fee of $24.89 for Priority Overnight via FedEx. Your costs may be different.
What do customers really think?
If you look just at the "verified buyer" ratings on Home Bistro's website, they're all four- and five-star scores. Hmmm, filtered, maybe? Who knows, maybe that switch to celebrity recipes really has boosted the food quality of these prepared meals? We had a hard time finding any recent comments outside of the HB site, however. The BBB lists Home Bistro as out of business, and its parent company DineWise is simply listed as "Not Rated" .
Is "all sales final" how you really want to go?
Up until this point, we might have still given Home Bistro a tentative recommendation. But, since their approach to customer satisfaction is still "all sales are final" , we just can't. Yes, you can add "Route package protection" to your purchase, but most reputable companies will automatically help you if your order is lost, damaged or stolen en route. Why should you have to pay extra for that? We're equally unimpressed that Home Bistro tells you that you only have 24 hours from the delivery date to report a problem. What if you go to eat a meal two days later and find that it's spoiled? "All sales final" ? That's a huge negative compared with rival providers of prepared meals who want you to feel like your business matters - and who work with you until you're satisfied when there's an issue.
Difficult to reach Home Bistro support
And, to top it off, you're going to have to hope that your message to Home Bistro through Facebook, Instagram, or the online form on their website actually gets somewhere - because they don't provide a customer service phone number. Good luck if you have a serious food safety issue. You can always try the contact email that's somewhat hidden in Home Bistro's FAQ, but...
Avoid these prepared meals
It should be obvious why Home Bistro is our lowest-ranked provider of prepared meals. They're one of the most expensive companies we evaluated, and they don't offer the customer reassurance and support we'd expect for a $19 meal. Don't waste your time or money here.
We've all got so many tools at our disposal these days when it comes to mealtime: the traditional drive-thru run on our way home, getting our groceries delivered by Instacart, or even having our favorite take-out brought right to our house by DoorDash or UberEats. But, let's face it: many of those options are unhealthy, expensive, or both. And even with getting our shopping done online and our supermarket hauls delivered, we still have to do the cooking. Ugh!
Fortunately, prepared meal companies can help you eat healthy at the end of a hectic day (or even on the job). These aren't your average grocery store TV dinners, either. Sure, you can opt for frozen meals if you prefer, particularly for longer-term storage, but you've also got the option of having freshly-made, refrigerated meals that only need to be heated for a few minutes in the microwave.
Prepared meals are especially useful if you're trying to follow a special diet. Getting used to "going keto" , managing diabetes-friendly foods, or knowing what to eat on a renal diet can be frustrating and time-consuming. When you choose a prepared meal company, it relieves some of that burden from your shoulders - until you feel confident doing it on your own, or for as long as you like.
Some customers order prepared meals to help out in a time of need. For families of seniors who are struggling to get adequate nutrition - because they can't get to the store, their mobility or cognition is impaired, or they've got other challenges - these services offer them the peace of mind that their loved ones are consistently getting meals that are well-balanced and easy to prepare.
How does it work? Many companies require you to sign up for a recurring subscription: you choose the number of meals per week and the servings per meal, and they'll be delivered regularly unless you pause the plan, skip a particular delivery, or cancel the service. Others allow you to place orders as needed, but you'll often pay a higher per-serving cost for a la carte prepared meals.
Not sure which provider to pick? Don't worry. Here are a several criteria you can use to narrow down the options for prepared meals:
TopConsumerReviews.com has made it easier for you to find the right prepared meal company for your needs, by evaluating and ranking today's most popular services. We hope that this information will help you spot the perfect menu and take advantage of this fantastic time-saver. Let's eat!
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