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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.
Plated takes a slightly different approach to Prepared Meals. Like many services, they send you fresh ingredients and recipes to prepare, but their primary aim is to help you gain confidence in the kitchen by broadening your culinary horizons - and maybe your taste buds, too.
Weekly menu options include dishes like Salmon with Salsa Verde and Steak Gyros. There are also dessert choices, such as Fig Shortcakes and Napoleons. Each recipe can be made in an hour or less.
The main decisions you'll need to make are how many servings you'd like each meal to provide (2, 3, or 4) and how many meals you'd like to prepare each week (again, choosing from 2, 3, or 4). A two-serving, twice a week plan is regularly priced at $47.80. The largest plan, with four servings per meal, four times a week, costs $159.20. When we visited Plated, they were offering a 25% discount promotion on the first week's delivery, for all of their various plan configurations.
This service doesn't come with specific plans for people who want gluten-free entrees or vegan desserts - rather, you choose from 20 recipe options, including main courses and treats, from every weekly menu. However, you are able to customize your subscription in a few ways, like omnivore or seafood lover, so that you're only shown the choices among the 20 that meet those criteria.
Plated offers the most flexible delivery schedule we've found, with deliveries possible every day except Sunday. Your shipment is expected to maintain its refrigeration through midnight on delivery day, so you won't have to rush home to get your ingredients into the fridge.
Unfortunately, Plated also has one of the weakest customer satisfaction policies in the industry. If something is missing from your package, or if you're unhappy for any reason, Plated says that they may, at their sole discretion, issue you a credit. That would be fine if there were no issues with their deliveries, but with a significant number of customers receiving moldy or otherwise spoiled ingredients, the $12 credit that Plated offered them was nowhere near enough. In addition, many customers said that the recipes weren't anything to rave about, and that the ingredients received were commonly available at their local supermarket - not the high-quality items they expected from a premium Prepared Meals service.
Finally, we saw several complaints that referenced Plated's gift cards. In order to use a gift card, the recipient has to provide their own credit card information to the company - which inadvertently left some of them as subscribing customers to a service they didn't want. That isn't a good way to make gift-givers or recipients very happy.
In comparison with the competition, Plated does have a unique approach to delivering Prepared Meals. However, their reputation with their customers doesn't leave a good taste in our mouth - literally or figuratively - especially with such a lackluster approach to returns and refunds. Choose a higher-ranked service to get fresh ingredients and recipes you'll actually enjoy.
Best Prepared Meals
To help you find the Best Prepared Meals, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Home Chef and Plated.
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:
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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