Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

Meal kit reviews: What I learned about cook-at-home kits

Cook-at-home kits taught me a few lessons I’ll continue to use even if I don’t continue to use the kits!

When my daughter first proposed trying cook-at-home kits a few months ago, I was certainly hesitant to give them a try. But now, after trying multiple meal kit services, I’m glad we did so! I wanted to wrap up the series with my overall thoughts, lessons learned and what we’ll do in the future.

(And, as a reminder, I have no affiliation with any of the meal kit service providers and am earning no commission from any of them. These are just my own opinions about DinnerlyHello FreshHome ChefEvery Plate and EMeals.)

One cook-at-home kit that didn’t work

Of all the cook-at-home kit services we tried, only one didn’t work out at all. Others I liked at varying degrees, but Blue Apron just wasn’t a fit for my family.

While we didn’t actually receive meals from Blue Apron, it wasn’t for lack of trying. In fact, when I saw Blue Apron offers a two meal plan a week, I decided to try them. I looked at the menu and found it iffy. But I decided to take the plunge and sign up anyway.

I discovered that some of the menu items I saw before signing up that looked good were only offered in two-person portions. And I couldn’t change portion sizes within the same box. All of them had to be the 4-serving selections. There were only eight recipe options I got to pick from by eliminating fish, lamb and shellfish.

Its website was the most cumbersome of the ones I used and not very user friendly overall. I couldn’t find meals that worked for my family. The prices seemed higher to me for what I was getting as well. Once I was clear that Blue Apron wouldn’t work for us, I wanted to cancel my subscription. I found that in order to do so, I have to email Blue Apron’s customer service. I did so, but I find that to be quite annoying. All the other cook-at-home meal kit services had options for me to click in my account to cancel or indefinitely pause my service.

The features I liked

Cook-at-home kit services definitely have likeable features. For the most part, food shows up at your door in the right portion sizes and is ready for you to cook. Some of the services made this easier than others. Overall, my favorite cook-at-home meal kit service was Home Chef. It gets props from me in that it allowed me to pick only two meals a week (best for my family), adjust the portion sizes for all selections I made and had the easiest to cook recipes of all the services that delivered food to my door.

I didn’t know these things would be a draw going in, but I quickly learned they made a big difference after I tried a few other services. Your family may not care as much if you three meals a week is the smallest amount offered or if all meals come in the same portion sizes. But, for our family it really made a difference and fit our needs the very best.

Assessing the cost

Along with concerns about whether we’d find enough foods we like in cook-at-home kit services, my other biggest concern was the cost. For each service I tried, I listed the cost in detail in the individual review posts (see links in the second paragraph or at the end.) Almost all of them offered discounts for new subscribers, but the discounts were distributed over multiple weeks, so they were much smaller on a weekly basis.

Because Home Chef was my favorite, I contemplated whether to continue with it once we were done with the cook-at-home meal kit service reviews. I even found that I could opt to get a delivery every other week or once a month. Being allowed to skip deliveries, it could be even further in between, I suppose. But what I ended up with was a box with two meals for my family (one of which was only two portions because half my family wouldn’t eat it and would need other food prepared for them) that cost around $67. I could take my family of four out to dinner twice a week for the same amount. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me in the end. So, I have indefinitely paused my service.

I know part of the fee for the cook-at-home kits is paying for the ingredients and the convenience. For my family, though, I can get the ingredient locally for less and don’t mind picking them up with my regular weekly grocery order anyway. The cook-at-home kits aren’t made to replace our entire grocery shopping for the week, so they weren’t saving me a trip to the grocery store either.

The one service I’m keeping — at least for now

While I’m not keeping any of the meal kit delivery services, I am keeping EMeals — at least for now. That’s in part because when I subscribed to the service, I had to pay for three months at a time and that time hasn’t ended, yet! But, I am thinking I will continue to use EMeals even after that and renew my plan.

I like that EMeals is cheaper and has way more food options that work for my family. It also uses more convenience items that make getting dinner on the table on weeknights much easier for me. When I first tried EMeals, I didn’t think I’d stay with it. Pinterest and other websites basically do the same thing for free. But, I found that EMeals makes finding new recipes and figuring out what ingredients I need much faster and easier. I don’t get bogged down by too many recipes like can sometimes happen to me online.

EMeals helps me stay creative and out of a rut, which I like. And it fits much better in my budget at $30 for three months. (It does offer an option to pay $60 for a year, which I will do if we continue to like and use it as much as we have been these last couple of months!)

The lessons I’ve learned from cook-at-home kits

I don’t regret trying the cook-at-home kits at all. This experience has changed the way I cook and meal plan — both for the better! We are trying new recipes on a weekly basis now (usually two new recipes a week). I have gotten outside of my comfort zone for cooking and made all kinds of foods and recipes I hadn’t made before. The cook-at-home kits taught me some kitchen skills I hadn’t used before.

I’m now pretty dang good at peeling garlic, cooking chicken and roasting vegetables. I’ve figured out how to meal plan entire meals rather than just main dishes. And my family learned that making two separate meals once a week isn’t so difficult. My husband and son are more particular eaters. Cook-at-home kits got me in the mode of making one meal a week that I knew the guys wouldn’t like for just my daughter and me. I put in a frozen pizza or make something very easy for the boys on those nights. Everybody is happy.

I have also learned that cooking from scratch is tasty, but it isn’t always practical for my family. Some of the cook-at-home kits took me at least an hour at prepare. On weeknights, especially, that’s just too much for it to be on a regular basis. I don’t want to use all convenience, prepackaged food, but I’ve found a happy medium.

Finally, using the meal kits also helped my family eat at home more and enjoy what we’re eating even more. They certainly got us out of a dinner rut. And that’s always a good thing!

What have been your experiences with cook-at-home kits? I’d love to hear from you!

Other posts from this series:

Meal kit reviews: Meal planning on my own

A series of unsponsored meal kit reviews and comparisons

A few months ago, my daughter made a case for us to try meal kits. I wasn’t so sure at first; meal planning on my own worked. Whenever I had checked into them previously, they seemed expensive and didn’t have a lot of recipes we would actually like. I have two particular eaters in my household, and we’re pretty plain eating folks. But, I decided to check into it again and found there were many more options, so I decided we’d give meal kits a try. I started with one company, but I was anxious to do a meal kit comparison and see what we’d like most.

So after about five meal kit boxes from one provider, I paused my account and changed to another. I just wanted to see the difference. At the same time, there was a third one I was curious about as well. I figured all this trying would end up being a great meal kit comparison to share!

Before ordering, I tried looking at meal kit comparisons, but most of them seemed to include affiliate links or sponsorships with the companies. I am not affiliated with or sponsored by any of these meal kit companies. When I started writing this meal kit comparison, in fact, I had no idea which service I’d end up liking the most — if any of them. I didn’t even intend to make it a blog post!

Then, once I decided to make it a blog post, I thought it’d be just one post. Pretty quickly, I realized that I needed more than one post to include all the information to make a helpful comparison. Over a few weeks, I’m posting our experiences with DinnerlyHello FreshHome ChefEvery Plate and EMeals.

Meal planning on my own

I realized to truly be fair and give an accurate review and comparison that I needed to also include meal planning on my own. So, I wanted to include that as well. This is what intentional meal planning and looking for new recipes to try on a weekly basis on my own looks like.

To keep organized, I have been doing some easy meal planning. Using weekly meal planning sheets that I can edit digitally and print are incredibly helpful! (Use the code FWGFAN to get this easy-to-use printable and editable meal planner for 10% off!)

Menu choices

The menu choices were virtually unlimited. I had the entire internet at my disposable, including Pinterest, the great mecca of recipes! The biggest challenge in meal planning on my own, in fact, was that I have so many different recipes available to me. I have a variety of meals saved on my personal Pinterest board and browsed through it. I got a couple of ideas that way, but it was hard to narrow them down.

I found that I did better by having an idea of what kind of dinner I was looking for; otherwise the options were just too many. So, for example, my daughter mentioned she’d love to have BLT pizza. My husband didn’t think that sounded as great. My daughter likes the crescent roll crust most, so I searched for recipes using a crescent roll crust and found a Mexican one that I could easily modify for our family of four.

Thanks to the meal kit services, I did better with planning entire meals rather than just a main dish. I did discover one of my favorite new recipes this way. I made this Ritz cracker chicken in the oven and added mashed potatoes and roasted green beans. My daughter, parents and I loved it!


One bonus to meal planning myself meant that I could also go with things I already had on hand. This helped keep the cost a bit lower as a result. For example, I knew I had a box of spaghetti noodles in the pantry, so looked for recipes using spaghetti noodles that were outside of a jar of sauce. I could also meal plan based on what was on sale at the local grocery store the same week. That I didn’t actually do this time around, but I have in the past.


Shipping wasn’t an issue for meal planning on my own. I do utilize grocery pick-up service, so I did that. Easy peasy!


As mentioned with the cost, I could use ingredients that I had on hand. Otherwise, I went with recipes that had ingredients I knew my grocery store would have as well.

Cooking the meals

Meal planning on my own meant that I could pick recipes based on what we liked and how involved they were to make. So cooking the meals was as easy as I wanted it to be. I didn’t have any issues with any of the recipes I picked not turning out well or having complicated instructions.

Portion sizes

Again, this depended on the recipe I chose. The Ritz cracker chicken, for example, called for six chicken breasts to serve six people. Since I only needed enough for four, I used only four chicken breasts instead. Had it been just my daughter and me, I’d have used only two.

Overall rating

Overall, I would say meal planning on my own is about 4 out of 5 stars. I realized that having some help with recipe ideas for the week did make my life easier. I can also get stuck in a bit of a rut if I don’t have ideas of what I want to make or don’t have time to search out new recipes.

Honestly, that’s not the result I expected going into this whole thing!

Other posts from this series:

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