Are Meal Delivery Services Worth It? My Green Chef Review
Green Chef specializes in organic, gluten-free and healthy meal kits, all delivered directly to your door. The service focuses on packing as many nutrients as possible into its dishes, and it’s becoming an increasingly popular choice with health-conscious Americans.
Green Chef puts plants and veggies center stage and offers up to four easy-to-cook meals for between two and six people per week. The service operates a weekly rotating menu that you can view up to three weeks in advance. You can choose one of the platform’s three meal plans where dishes will be auto-selected for you, or you can mix and match your favorites.
What is Green Chef?
Green Chef is an organic meal kit delivery service that was founded in Boulder, Colorado, in 2014. It was acquired by rival platform HelloFresh back in 2018, and users will recognize a lot of similarities between the two services. However, both remain quite distinct in terms of meals on offer. While the parent company is known for a diverse range of meals, Green Chef is very much more focused on specialist diets like keto and paleo and is 100% committed to an environmentally-friendly ethos.
Green Chef Pros & Cons
- 100% organic ingredients
- Environmentally friendly credentials
- Packed with nutritious vegetables
- High-quality ingredients
- Produce sourced using sustainable farming methods
- Great options for vegetarians
- Multiple dietary restrictions are covered
- Very expensive shipping costs on some packages
- More expensive than rival meal kit services
- The weekly menu isn’t very extensive
- No add-ons
Who is Green Chef Good For?
Vegetarians and vegans – Being a veg specialist, it’s no surprise that you’ll find some interesting and exciting dishes on the menu. The meals here are far more inventive than the bog-standard fare you might find at other meal kit services
Healthy eaters – Every dish comes jam-packed with vegetables and superfoods. Green Chef is simply one of the easiest way to get better nutrition in your diet
People that love to cook – While the meals aren’t complex, you’ll still need some basic kitchen skills to get the most out of your dishes. Meals can take up to 40 minutes to prepare and are ideal for those that love spending time in the kitchen
Specialist diets – Green Chef caters for paleo, keto, low-carb and gluten-free dieters and the meals are incredibly tasty
Bigger families – With plans that cover up to six people each week, you can get the whole family into healthy eating
Who Isn’t Green Chef Good For?
Big meat eaters – While there are a few meat-based meals on the menu each week, your choices are generally quite limited. There are better services out there if your primary source of protein is high-quality meats
People that need variety – Although the menu does rotate on a weekly basis, you’ll rarely find more than 20 menu items to choose from. Being such a specialized service means you’re limited on the variety front. You can of course keep hold of your recipe cards and cook up old favorites in your own time though
Families on a budget – Green Chef is more expensive than other platforms since you’re paying for very high-quality ingredients. With meals averaging around $11.49 per serving, the costs can quickly add up
How Green Chef Works?
Each week you have the choice to sign up for one of three meal plans, keto and paleo, balanced living or plant-powered. This will prompt Green Chef to auto-select the best meals for you that week. Or, you can choose freely from the menu if you wish. You can select three or four meals per week, for either two, four or six people.
Green Chef Website and App
The website has a very intuitive interface, and it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. Before you decide to commit to a plan you can freely scroll through all the menu items that are available over the next three weeks. Plus, Green Chef regularly runs introductory offers and you could get up to $90 off your first order, so keep an eye on the website.
Apps for both iOS and Android are available, but both are quite new, launching in early 2021. While perfectly serviceable, you might have to keep an eye out for any teething troubles such as login issues and bugs.
Creating an account / Sign-up
You can get signed up, choose your first delivery and have your payment processed in under 10 minutes. It’s an incredibly simple process that only requires a few personal details, like an email address and zip code, to get started.
Green Chef Meal Plans and Meal Selection Options
If you’re not quite sure what to try from the menu, you can sign up for one of Green Chef’s three meal plans, and they’ll choose for you:
Keto and Paleo – There’s hardly a carb to be seen on this plan which will appeal to those looking to bulk up on the protein. While you’ll find some meat selections, a large chunk of the protein comes from nutrient-packed plants. You should bear in mind that this plan is a little more expensive than the others, averaging at around $12.99 per serving
Balanced living – A good mix of all Green Chef has to offer with an impressive range of classics and international dishes
Plant-powered – A vegetarian’s dream, these dishes are surprisingly filling, delicious and inventive
Green Chef Meal Types
We’ve picked some of our favorites from each category from recent week’s menus below. You should note that when making your choices that some of the dishes can cross over into other categories too.
Keto and Paleo
Pork with pineapple salsa with cauliflower rice
Cheesy Chimichurri turkey patties
Hoisin glazed salmon
Lemon butter tilapia
Morrocan carrots and rice
Cauliflower with mango salsa
Black bean and sweet potato tacos
Creamy tomato cavatappi
Choosing Green Chef Recipes
While we’d like to see a little more variety on offer, there’s no denying that the meals you do get are inventive and filling. Hopefully, Green Chef will start to add additional recipes to its app soon so customers will have a library of great dishes to choose from.
How Much Does Green Chef Cost?
While you’ll pay an average of $11.49 per serving, Green Chef actually has quite a complicated pricing policy based on your meal plan, the number of meals you choose, plus a shipping cost that scales up with your order. We’ve covered some average costing on the balanced plan below:
Servings and Recipes/Week
$10.45/serving ($0 total + FREE shipping = $0/week)
The fresh, organic ingredients here will certainly add some much-needed nutrition to your diet, and the service is a safe haven for vegetarians and vegans. However, it’s not recommended for those with allergies as the food is prepped in facilities that also process nuts, gluten, dairy, shellfish and soy products, so Green Chef can’t make any guarantees for allergen-free foods.
Each dish comes with a handy nutritional guide that includes calories, fat, sodium, carbs and protein, making the meal kits a useful tool if you’re trying to lose weight.
My Experience Using Green Chef
The ordering process for Green Chef was very simple and quick, taking no more than five to ten minutes to set up an account. Once on the home page, you can click ‘get started’ and complete the registration process in three steps. First, you pick your meal plan from their three dietary options – Keto/Paleo, Balanced Living, and Plant-Powered. Next you choose how many people you will be serving (2, 4, or 6) and how many meals you would like per week (3 or 4). This option isn’t perfect for single households because the smallest serving size option is 2 per meal, meaning you may have to save the second serving for lunch the next day. It is great for couples or small to medium sized families who want to incorporate some new meals into their weekly routines. The most amount of recipes you can receive per week is four, so this may not be the right option for those looking to make a new recipe every night of the week.
I went with the balanced living plan, because I am not vegetarian or keto/paleo and I really wanted to stay true to my normal diet. The website did not give the option to specify if I had any allergies or disliked certain ingredients, so it may not be the right service for picky or intolerant eaters. After choosing my plan, I was automatically offered a discount on my first box for being a new customer. The balanced living box with three meals a week, and two servings of each meal, would normally be $81.93, but with the first-box discount it was $35.97. I thought offering this discount to new customers is a great idea because it encourages people to try the product before they fully commit to paying the full price. After you select your meals and delivery preferences, you enter your email and address information and then select which day of the week you would like your meals to be delivered. You can also set specific delivery instructions for your box (i.e. where to leave it, address info etc).
The next step was the fun part, picking the meals! I chose to go with spicy mango chicken, lemon-basil pork salad, and bang-bang shrimp bowls. There were twelve meals to choose from, with a variety of different proteins, cuisine types, and flavors. From the recipe selection page you could see a brief description of the dish, how long it would take to prepare, and the dish characteristics. At the bottom of each dish there were banners stating if the dish was vegetarian, gluten-free, keto or paleo. I was pleasantly surprised about how many of the options were gluten-free! In order to see the list of ingredients and the calories you had to click on the dish to pull up the recipe card. I think it would have been better if Green Chef posted the calories next to the cook time on the recipe selection page so that you don’t have to open each recipe individually to check the nutrition information. There was no option to select ‘calorie conscious’ or ‘carb conscious’ on the website.
I scheduled my first delivery on Thursday, September 23rd. You could choose to schedule for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Tuesday. I thought it was interesting that Monday wasn’t an option, as most people would probably prefer to start their week with fresh meals. I received two tracking emails the days leading up to my box being delivered, but did not get an email when it was actually delivered, which I found a bit odd. However, I was home and my box was delivered on time so that I was able to make my first meal on Thursday night. The box was left in the mailroom of my apartment building just as I had specified in the special instructions for delivery.
I was very surprised at the quality of the food! Everything that was delivered was fresh and colorful. When delivered, all of the produce was perfect, however I waited to cook the shrimp bowl last and by the 3rd day the lettuce and green onions were a little wilted, so I would recommend being mindful of what you cook first based on the produce it contains. The chicken, pork and shrimp I received all were great quality, they were cleaned and trimmed down to the perfect cuts already, making preparation that much easier!
The flavors for these meals were definitely on point, I loved incorporating flavors and ingredients that I don’t usually cook with. My favorite dish was the spicy mango chicken. The spicy, tangy sauce on top of the chicken was delicious and came together quickly, however the star of the show was the rice! It was packed with a delicious and rich flavor due to the coconut milk and the kale mixed in was the perfect way to add color and depth. My second favorite was the lemon-basil pork salad. I didn’t know that a salad could pack that much flavor but the dressing they supplied was very tangy, citrusy and rich! I also don’t usually love pork because I feel it is a bit dry but I loved it on the salad, it was super moist because it was smothered in the dressing. The parmesan crisps on top were the perfect salty crunch. Lastly, was the bang-bang shrimp bowl. While I thought this meal was good, it was definitely not my favorite and had the least amount of flavor. I thought the shrimp with the bang-bang sauce was delicious, but there was not enough sauce for the two-servings, making the complete dish a little bland. I wish they would have supplied a dressing for the lettuce so that the dish was more flavorful and cohesive.
All of the ingredients tasted fresh and delicious. The produce and proteins were both exceptional! If you are not going to cook a dish for a few days, I would recommend putting that sealed protein in the freezer until the day you are ready to cook it for optimal freshness.
As I previously mentioned, the box included recipe cards that had step-by-step instructions on how to execute the dish. Green Chef also has an app and a website that post the recipe steps as well if you would prefer to use those. The recipe cards even had pictures of each step, so that you could ensure you are doing everything right along the way.
The cooking process was very straight-forward and easy. All of the steps were laid out clearly on the recipe cards, and I felt that they were in a logical order that was most efficient for the dish. I really loved how the recipes that included diced onions and ginger were already sent to me pre-chopped, as it is such a pain to dice these types of items! I had all of the required equipment to prepare the dishes, and for the most part the estimated cook times for the recipes were accurate, I did go slightly over the indicated time for the chicken though.
The box was delivered intact and without any obvious damage. When I opened the box, the recipe cards were right on top so that they wouldn’t get crushed or damaged. Below the recipes were the three individual brown bags, clearly labeled with the ingredients for each meal inside. Below the bags were two large ice packs with the packaged proteins in between to keep them cold and fresh. When opening up the brown bags for each meal, the ingredients were very clearly labeled and packaged, making it nearly impossible to mess up or get confused when cooking. Another thing that I really loved about the packaging was that each item had a sticker with the recycling information, and even information with Green Chef recycling facilities close by.
There are no extras here and you’ll only be able to sign up for the basic meal packages. Some customers might find this somewhat limiting when compared to other platforms that offer an extensive range of extras and total freedom of choice.
Green Chef Customer Service
Green Chef has basic FAQs available on the website that cover some common troubleshooting issues, but you’ll need to get in touch in person if you have a more complex query. The helpline is open between 6 am and 11 pm, ET Monday through Friday, and between 7 am and 7 pm EST on weekends. An email option is available too, but you may not always get the fastest response.
Green Chef Cancellation Policy
You can amend your order, decide to skip weeks, or cancel at any time via your online account. You’re under no long-term commitments, and as long as you give enough notice, you won’t be charged for your following week’s delivery. If you do decide to leave, Green Chef will ask that you complete a short survey in order to find out the reasons so service can be improved in the future
Green Chef Alternatives
If you like the sound of the tasty meals here but are a little put off by the price and lack of variety, you might want to consider some of these competitor brands.
Price / Serving
With such inventive meals on offer, personal preference definitely plays a big part in your decision to subscribe to Green Chef. For us, we can’t sing the praises of the dishes enough and would definitely eat them again. We’d recommend them for anyone looking to get healthy or try out a specialist diet too.
The only downsides are that the service is just a little too expensive for a lot of people to get on board with, and there simply isn’t enough variety in the meals each week. If you can sign up while Green Chef is offering discounts, or you can get a hold of a coupon, it’s definitely worth giving it a try
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does Green Chef Support Sustainable and Artisanal Suppliers?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, supporting local farmers and craft economies is at the very core of Green Chef’s ethos. In just one box it’s possible to get ingredients sourced from dozens of independent smallholders and producers.
How Long does the Food Stay Fresh?
As an organic supplier a lot of Green Chef’s ingredients are seasonal, and, generally, don’t have a long shelf life. The provider recommends that any recipe with seafood be consumed within three days, while all others will stay fresh for five days.
Do I Need to Buy Additional Ingredients Myself?
Yes, you’ll need seasonings like salt, pepper, and olive oil on hand at home. You’re free to add additional herbs and spices to your recipe as you see fit too. Why not experiment?
Do I Need to Be at Home to Receive My Box?
No, Green Chef doesn’t require a signature on delivery and the insulated packaging will keep your food chilled until you get home. You might want to consider asking a neighbor to take your delivery if you’ll be out or leave instructions for the driver to leave it in a safe spot.
Where Does Green Chef Deliver?
Most of the United States is covered, apart from certain locations in Louisiana. Plus, no deliveries can be made to either Alaska or Hawaii.