Pinterest is usually my main resource when it comes to getting creative in the kitchen, and of course a few food Instragrammers that share recipes. As of late, I have noticed, that I come home from work and I don’t have the energy to experiment with new recipes. I decided to try a few different meal service programs to try to mix things up and diversify my regular staple recipes. These meal prep companies send you the portioned out fresh ingredients to prepare yourself.
I just want to preface this by saying this is something I decided to do on my own, none of the product was given to me complimentary. I posted a few of my dinners on my Instagram stories and received some messages asking if they were sponsored post, so I want to be completely transparent. I do not have any bias to one over the other. This is all just my personal preference.
The three main companies that are available in my area are Fresh Prep, Chef’s Plate and Hello Fresh. I have a clear winner in my mind, but I though I would go through their own strengths and weaknesses.
Pricing Based on Three Meals a Week | 2 Servings per Meal
The promotional price is $40 for three meals. After using the promotion, it is $62 for three meals. This works out to just over $20 per meal with regular pricing.
Three meals for the week costs $65.70 which works out to $21.90 per meal.
The first time you order you get $40 off of three meals. After the regular price is $79.99, which works out to $26.66 per meal.
In terms of pricing, I would say they are all fairly reasonable. Not as inexpensive as if you cooked your own meal, but cheaper than eating at a nice restaurant.
What it Looks Like
|Ingredients for Eggplant Pappardelle|
What I Liked
I am the “cooker” in my home, so my significant other patiently waits for me to get home and prepare dinner. Across the board, the recipes are straightforward and easy to follow, I knew he couldn’t mess them up, if I forced him to make dinner.
Quick Prep Time
The cooking time is all within 30 minutes which is nice. I did find it a little bit annoying that most of the kits required the vegetables to be washed, (am I crazy to think they should be doing this?).
New Recipe Ideas
Some of the meals I tried, were so easy and I would definitely try to make them again on my own. For example, one of the meals I prepared has an oil vinaigrette that consist of lime, oil and honey. It was so simple and enjoyable.
What I Didn’t Like
Waste! So much Waste
Each meal prep kit came with instructions on how to recycle each item when you dispose of it. However It still felt like way too much packaging for me. As an avid spud user, I like that Spud has very minimal packaging and single use items. Fresh Prep comes in a nice reusable cooler bag, but Hello Fresh and Chef’s Plate arrive in cardboard boxes via regular postage service.
Not All Ingredients Were High Quality
When my Hello Fresh Box arrived, not only did they leave the box outside my building in the pouring rain, a lot of the ingredients had already turned. My arugula and chopped onions were already slimy and the sweet potato looked off. I ended up using vegetables I already had in my fridge. I found with Fresh Prep as well, the ingredients did not taste/look high quality.
If you partner is a big eater like mine, this is definitely not enough food for the two of you. One night I went out for dinner and my boyfriend ate the whole portion himself and was still hungry. He suggested that if we do order again, we make sure we get the family size instead.
Fresh Prep vs. Hello Fresh vs. Chef’s Plate
There is a clear winner in my eyes! Fresh Prep was the first one I tried and I really struggled with it. After we had our meal the first night, my boyfriend asked how many recipes do we have left. He asked if we could just go back to when I cook the meals, rather than finishing the meals I had ordered. I think it was due to the lack of flavour. There was very little spices include in the recipes we ordered. It seemed like the quantities were off. For the coconut curry I ordered it was way too runny. The beef tagine seemed to be missing ingredients. They provide you with a big can of tomato sauce and only a handful of butternut squash and beef. The recipe is basically like an unappetizing beef soup. Fresh Prep also uses way too many dishes. In this same recipe you have to use three different pots to prepare the meal, including a useless step of roasting your almonds.
Hello Fresh the recipes did seem good,they did have more flavour to them in comparison to Fresh Prep. My biggest disappointment with them was the quality of the produce. I usually contact a company if I am disappointed with the product before tweeting it out to the world. When I let them know that I was not impressed with what I received they said they would give me a discount on my next order. At that point I had decided, there will be no next order….I just bought food that has already gone bad.
Chef’s Plate is the clear winner,100 percent! They give you high quality ingredients and the recipes are so enjoyable. A lot of them suggest to use the same pot/pan again which I like, so there is minimal clean up.They were all fun to try because there were not items I wouldn’t normally try to make myself or buy the ingredients for. The most unforgettable meal, was the turkey manicotti. My boyfriend won’t stop talking about it, it even came with fresh pasta. He has requested that we just order Chef’s Plate again, just to receive that recipe. If I am ever feeling unimaginative, or uninspired, I will place another order.
Meal Prep Overall
I think meal prep is good for you if you are struggling to come up with new meal ideas or learning to cook. If you have a busy lifestyle I would personally prefer a meal delivery service with pre-made meals, pre-portioned out recipes.