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Home Chef vs Magic Kitchen

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HOME CHEF

Home Chef has one of the longest histories among businesses that provide customers with regular deliveries of fresh ingredients and simple-to-prepare recipes. They deliver over 10 million meals a year, definitely establishing Home Chef as a recognized service in the Prepared Meals marketplace - and with their growing relationship with the Kroger brand of families, you're likely to see even more of this company in the future.

Every delivery comes with fresh, already-portioned ingredients to be used in recipes that are ready for the table in 30 minutes or less. Feel free to browse their available entrees before signing up for the service; you'll find Creamy Parmesan Steak Penne, Wood-Fired BBQ Chicken Pizza, and Korean Fried Chicken among the customer favorites. You will have to enter your email address in order to see your specific choices for Prepared Meals packages.

As you begin that process, keep an eye out for pop-ups; we got an offer of a $30 discount on our first order if we gave them our email address, so you may get a similar promotion. Later, while we were getting our account set up, there was another "flash sale" discount of $10 on a future order.

To get started, you'll need to select how many Prepared Meals you'd like to cook each week, from 3-6. Home Chef is one of the only services that has options for larger families: each of your meals can serve 2, 4, or 6 people, depending on what you choose. Another convenient feature of Home Chef's Prepared Meals is that you can plan your selections as far as five weeks in advance, allowing you to sit down and figure out more than a month's meals in a short time.

Another part of customizing your Prepared Meals is choosing your menu style. Do you like to eat meat? Vegetables? Seafood? You can select any or all of them to be included in the entrees you receive. You'll also be able to specify if you're looking for low-carb or low-calorie options, or if you want certain ingredients to be avoided (like milk, soy, red meat, mushrooms, shellfish, wheat, or pork).

Finally, enter the address where you want your Prepared Meals to be delivered and select the day you prefer. Make sure not to miss that step, because it defaults to Tuesday if you don't choose another day of the week. In our area, available delivery days were Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.

In the past, Home Chef was criticized for not making their cancellation and refund policies abundantly clear - but comparing those policies with their competitors', Home Chef's are very similar. Weekly deliveries can be cancelled or paused anytime, with no long-term contracts. If you're not completely satisfied with their Prepared Meals, you can request a refund or credit. Be aware that if only part of your delivery had a problem - like a bruised apple or wilted basil - Home Chef may issue a replacement or a credit only for that part of your shipment, not for the entire package.

It seems that the Better Business Bureau also thinks that Home Chef is doing a good job in responding to customer complaints: at the time of this review, the BBB still rated Home Chef as an "A+". Looking at customer reviews presents a more mixed picture. Several of the more recent comments mentioned issues with the new delivery service chosen by Home Chef; packages were delivered late or to an incorrect address multiple times. Other customers had problems pausing or canceling the service, still receiving shipments even after submitting the request to put it on hold. Even customers who report being very satisfied with Home Chef sometimes mentioned missing ingredients - even essential ones like fish or chicken, and not just smaller components like cinnamon or garlic salt.

Home Chef continues to be a solid option if you like cooking but want the convenience of having ingredients and recipes delivered to your home. They're especially likely to be your Prepared Meals company of choice if you have a big family and don't want to order two packages just to feed everyone at your table. But, we recommend that you inspect every delivery carefully to make sure that all of your ingredients came in the box, and that you get in touch with Home Chef representatives right away if anything comes up short.

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MAGIC KITCHEN

For more than 15 years, Magic Kitchen has made it their goal to offer Prepared Meals for seniors and more. Especially for those who don't have access to pots, pans, or a full kitchen, their flash-frozen, TV dinner-style meals are convenient and come in a variety of menu plans for different dietary needs.

Looking at the options provided by Magic Kitchen under the "Dietary Interest" part of the site, you'll quickly see why this service is so useful for seniors. Menu options include:

  • Diabetic-Friendly
  • Portion Controlled
  • Dialysis-Friendly
  • Renal Diet (CKD 3&4)
  • Dairy-Free
  • Gluten-Free
  • Low-Fat
  • Low-Sodium
  • Low-Carb
  • Senior Diet
  • Vegetarian

No matter which one you choose, each Prepared Meal typically consists of two sides and an entree. Salmon Caponata with Orzo & Spinach, Eggplant Parmigiana with Polenta & Spinach, and Basil Chicken with Rice & Zucchini Saute are some of the more popular entrees on the menu.

You'll find options for purchasing meals a la carte or as part of a package. If you'd like or order individual Prepared Meals, you'll find them categorized by Mains, Soups, Sides, Desserts, and Snacks. Some of those are listed as "family size", so if you need to have a cake big enough for visitors or want to serve a meal to guests from out of town, you'll be able to do all of your shopping in one place.

To get started with Magic Kitchen, you have to reach out to them by phone or email. While that's definitely less convenient than companies that let you sign up for Prepared Meals online, it's part of their process for getting you a customized package that perfectly meets your needs.

What will it cost? That depends on your unique plan, but here's the sample package offered for reference:

  • Low Sodium/Diabetic/Senior Complete Meal Program for 1 Person
  • 1 complete meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner): $75-$85 for 7 days
  • 2 complete meals (choose two from breakfast/lunch/dinner): $150-$165 for 7 days
  • 3 complete meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner): $225-$250 for 7 days

Signing up for the Magic Kitchen email newsletter could also be helpful. They give you information about special deals, and when we signed up we also got a 10% discount off our next purchase.

As with most Prepared Meals providers, there are no contracts or commitments with your plan. Deliveries can be shipped automatically on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. And, you can select the individual entrees in your plan or have them selected for you by Magic Kitchen staff according to the dietary parameters you've indicated.

All of your meals are prepared in and shipped from the Magic Kitchen warehouse in Kansas; they come packaged in dry ice in a recyclable, reusable Styrofoam container. Unfortunately, you have to pay at least $18 to $20 in shipping costs; your final cost is determined by the weight of your package and your zip code.

We appreciate the company's satisfaction guarantee. Should any of your meals arrive in bad condition or spoiled in any way, it will be replaced at no extra charge. And, if any of the Prepared Meals aren't 100% delicious, you can either ask that it be replaced in your next order or that you receive a store credit. Magic Kitchen aims for round-the-clock phone coverage for any questions or concerns, with primary business hours of 7:30A-11:30P Central every day.

Now, for the most important question: how do the Prepared Meals actually taste? Customer responses are a mixed bag. For some customers, especially within Magic Kitchen's primary audience (namely, senior citizens needing healthy meals that are simple to prepare), they and their caregivers say that it's been a good fit. But, others not in that particular group have complained that the meals get watery after being reheated, and that the unappetizing photos of the entrees are an accurate representation of how they taste. Plus, given that the meals have an average cost per serving of $12 or more, they're often disappointing for people wanting more than a reheat-and-eat Prepared Meal.

Magic Kitchen is a good resource for seniors and people who have a specific dietary plan to follow, who want the convenience of TV dinner-style meals that are also healthy. But, their Prepared Meals are priced on the higher end of the spectrum, and they're probably not too appealing for younger customers who want fresh ingredients and new recipes to try in the kitchen.

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Best Prepared Meals

To help you find the Best Prepared Meals, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Home Chef and Magic Kitchen.

Who has the best Prepared Meals? How many times have you come home after a long day and stared blankly at your refrigerator or pantry, trying to figure out what to eat? Or stopped at the drive-thru for fast food because the thought of coming up with something for dinner was just too much?

You're not alone. For people who'd like the convenience of fast food with the benefits of home cooking, Prepared Meals are the answer. For every imaginable palate and preference, there's a prepared meal service that can help. Several of today's most popular services send you high-quality, often organic ingredients - including fresh produce like shallots and herbs - saving you the hassle of planning your meals and going to the store.

If you have a loved one that needs to start eating a special diet for diabetes or other medical issues, you can choose a prepared meals company that offers ready-to-reheat meals packaged similarly to a TV dinner and that have been carefully created by nutritionists specifically for that condition.

On the other hand, maybe you've been tasked with bringing a mind-blowing main course to an important company function, but your skills in the kitchen are limited to boiling water and burning toast. No problem: just choose a Prepared Meals service that focuses on gourmet-level, special occasion entrees like chicken cordon bleu or even surf-and-turf.

When deciding which company is a good fit for your delivery of Prepared Meals, you'll soon notice that there's a wide variety to choose from. How do you select the one that's best for you? Here are some things to consider as you look at each service:

  • Menu. What does the provider offer? Can you choose from many different plans, like Vegetarian or Mediterranean? If you're trying to meet a special dietary need, like gluten-free or keto-friendly, will there be options for you? Does the type of Prepared Meals they send - reheat-and-eat vs. some cooking required - work for your situation?
  • Price. What will it cost to get your Prepared Meals? Can you choose to buy specific entrees a la carte, or do you have to buy a package?
  • Amount of Food. If you have a large family, is there a plan that will satisfy everyone? Are the serving sizes enough to fill you up?
  • Customer Service and Reputation. What have other people said about the experience of buying Prepared Meals from this business? Are packages delivered on time, with ingredients that are still fresh and properly refrigerated? If not, does the company's customer service department respond appropriately with a refund or credit?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Prepared Meals Delivery Companies available today. We hope these reviews help you find the right company to deliver the kind of meals you want, directly to your doorstep!



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