Meal delivery services over the past several years have gained enormous popularity, because time is scarce in our modern lives. Green Chef is a company with an admirable approach: take meal delivery to a healthy, environmentally conscious place, so the customer gets all the convenience, nutrition and tastiness of home-cooked meals and can also feel good knowing that the ingredients are organic and sustainably sourced.
Our testers thoroughly explored Green Chef to find out how it stacks up to the competition in terms of price, tastiness, convenience and other factors. Find out if it’s the right fit for you!
- Meal plans for many dietary goals and needs (keto, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, omnivorous).
- Green Chef is 100% organic and non-GMO.
- The company is dedicated to sustainably sourced ingredients.
- Green Chef chooses partners committed to environmental sustainability.
- User-friendly interface and easy to adjust deliveries.
- Offering our visitors an $80 discount to try Green Chef.
- Green Chef doesn’t deliver to Alaska, Hawaii and some parts of Louisiana.
- Not the cheapest meal service.
- Would be even better with more crossover meal options between menus (for instance, more of the veggie options available in the ‘balanced’ plan).
Green Chef is a solid and recommendable choice for those who want the convenience of a meal delivery service but also the peace of mind that comes with Green Chef’s commitment to organic, sustainable products and dedication to eco-friendly practices. Not only that, but their menus can cater to people with a multitude of dietary needs, which is fantastic. They offer nutritious and tasty meals and remove the hassles of shopping and lots of prep work. However, Green Chef isn’t the most affordable service, and they could serve their customers better by reducing the rigidity of their plans and letting us select meals from different plans as we desire.
Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
We extensively test, experience and order from each meal service we review. Our review of Green Chef is no different. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest nutritional standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Meal delivery services appeal to a growing segment of our society. We’re busy people and we often lack the time to do all of the shopping and meal planning that we’d like to do. In that atmosphere, nothing could be more convenient than getting everything you need delivered straight to your doorstep.
Meal delivery services also appeal to people who want to learn how to cook and eat healthier, but are intimidated by all of the shopping and measuring.
For all of these different people, Green Chef offers to deliver meals to your door – on either a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly schedule – based on your menu choices and dietary needs. When your meals arrive, ingredients will essentially be pre-measured and organized for you – chopped vegetables, pre-made and measured sauces and seasonings (which we found very yummy), you name it. The sous chef work has been done for you.
Green Chef has been in operation since 2014 and was more recently acquired by HelloFresh. Green Chef offers itself as the ethical option in the meal delivery landscape – committed to sustainable sourcing, organic ingredients and the most eco-friendly packaging possible.
Their commitment is laudable.
- Ice packs are reusable. If you don’t want to reuse, drain the non-toxic gel into the trash and rinse and recycle the plastic case.
- Boxes are made from 40% recycled material and can be recycled.
- Insulation is recyclable along with your paper and cardboard.
- All plastics are recyclable, and the website is transparent about types of plastic used, so that you know if you can recycle it curbside or not, in your area.
- Paper bags are all 100% recycled material and can be recycled (or composted if they’re dirty or wet).
- Green Chef offsets all of their carbon emissions.
Because their packaging requires the use of recyclable plastics, the company establishes relationships with partners to more than offset their plastic use, thereby working to reduce the overall proliferation of plastics in our environment.
Tradeoff -- not the cheapest possible plan
Now, in our testing, it’s also true that the admirable adherence to the green ethos, along with Green Chef’s decision to offer a multitude of menu options, results in a slightly higher price than the most budget-friendly meal delivery services like EveryPlate for example. But Green Chef keeps pricing competitive, on par with many of the top names in the industry. Overall, our testers are impressed by the value.
Even as they operate with a green approach favoring sustainability and organic ingredients, the company offers menu options that cater to a wide variety of dietary needs and goals, including:
- An omnivorous balance
Browsing and selecting your meals is easy because they transparently include all information about ingredients, nutrition and adherence to various dietary needs. One other nice thing? Green Chef’s meals tend to be pretty darn nutritious and low in saturated fats.
On the negative side, if you’ve chosen the “Balanced Living” menu for your plan, you won’t be able to select from other menus (Paleo, Keto, Plant-Powered) except for the menu options that are available as crossovers.
We feel Green Chef compares well to the competition in terms of menu variety and the diversity of needs that the company accommodates through its menu. However, the service would be even better if Green Chef could increase the overlap between different menus and the meals they offer on a weekly basis.
Our testers report that the best part of the assignment – not surprisingly – was cooking and eating the meals. They tested menu items across the spectrum of dietary goals and needs. Compared to other meal services, we found Green Chef’s recipes to be quite tasty and fun.
Foolproof, or made for the aspiring chef?
Our testers range from experienced cook to complete novice, and also from tech-savvy to tech-challenged. They found Green Chef’s recipes to be relatively easy to follow, whether the tester was experienced or a cooking novice. In our experience, the meals required about a half hour to whip up from start to finish – give or take five or ten minutes, depending on cooking experience – which is basically what the Green Chef website says to expect.
Some examples of menu items:
- Buttermilk-brined chicken (gluten-free).
- Malaysian-spiced pork patties (keto, gluten-free).
- Moroccan cauliflower with chickpeas and smoky quinoa (vegan).
- Creamy parmesan linguine (vegetarian).
- Jamaican sweet potato bowl (gluten-free, vegan).
- Sage pesto baked cod (paleo, pescatarian).
- Caribbean shrimp with coconut rice (vegan, pescatarian).
With Green Chef, you can tailor the service so that it suits your needs and family size. The plans are structured around:
- Size – 2-person vs. family (which essentially means 4-person)
- Delivery frequency – weekly, every other week, or once per month.
The 2-person plan will result in shipments of 3 dinners for two people, all in one box. This means six meals total per box. For a family plan, you’ll receive a box with ingredients for 2 dinners for four people (a total of 8 meals).
Pricing varies a bit depending on the menu you choose and the size you need.
Prices for 2-person plans (price totals includes flat shipping fee):
- Keto and Paleo: $12.99 per meal = $84.93 total per box
- Balanced Living (omnivores) or Plant-Powered (vegetarian): $11.99 per meal = $78.93 total per box.
- Vegetarian 2-3 boxes per week: $9.99 per meal = $66.93 total per box.
For a family-size plan, the price is $10.99 per meal, which equates to $94.91 total per box.
Getting started is very straightforward and the website interface is intuitive, even for those with less web comfort. After creating your new account, here’s what happens:
- Specify how many boxes you need.
- Choose your delivery date.
- Choose shipping frequency - weekly, every other week, or monthly.
- Choose your menu – Keto, Paleo, Balanced Living, or Family. Family will have meat and seafood meals with veggie sides. Balanced Living gives you the additional option of Omnivore, Pescatarian or No Preference.
Once you have done this, you’ll be presented with your meal options for your first delivery. Green Chef will use your specified payment method and your mailing address in order to fulfill your first order.
While the setup is intuitive, if you’ve never tried meal delivery services you might be startled that you have to select one menu and stick with it until formally changing your menu selection (which you can do at any time before your weekly deadline – more on that in the logistics section). This seems a little restrictive. But from our testing, the fact that the menu options change weekly helps to prevent monotony and make the experience a positive one. Nonetheless, of course it’s hard to see other items on other menus and not wish for ultimate flexibility in choosing from whichever menu you want in the moment.
Like every meal delivery service, the ability to make changes involves certain deadlines that are based on your shipping and delivery cadence. It’s best to understand all of this information at the outset so that you can use the service with the most enjoyment and convenience in your life.
A “Delivery Week”, in Green Chef parlance, means Monday through Sunday, though boxes will never be delivered on Sunday.
When you begin service, you can specify which day of the week you’d like your delivery to happen (but note: in some cases, based on geographic location, your delivery day options may be reduced).
You can change this day for a future week if needed. But unless you make that specification to change the day, your meal shipment will always arrive on the same day of the week as your first shipment. No matter what day you receive your shipments, they should arrive between 8am and 9pm local time and Green Chef will make sure they’re packaged sufficiently to keep all ingredients fresh and safe that day, if for instance you can’t retrieve your box until the evening.
Green Chef can only deliver in the contiguous United States right now (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii…) and they cannot deliver in parts of Louisiana.
Shipping isn’t free; regardless where you live, you’ll pay a flat rate of $8 for shipping.
Canceling, pausing delivery or changing meal preferences
You can cancel or pause service, or change your meal choices. If you do any of these things by the weekly deadline, your changes will apply to the next delivery. Your weekly deadline depends on your own delivery day of the week, but it will always be by midnight (Eastern time) 7 days before your next delivery day.
So for instance, let’s say your next upcoming delivery day is Friday of next week, and it’s currently Thursday of the prior week. In this case, you have until 11:59 Eastern time tomorrow (Friday of this current week) in order for your change to take effect before your delivery the following Friday.
Renewing your subscription
Your subscription auto-renews each week; at the weekly deadline, your credit card will be billed for the next shipment. So if you want to keep receiving meals, the only thing you’ll need to do is specify which meals you want delivered before the deadlines, based on your delivery plan.
At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the service. For Green Chef and other meal services, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations:
Variety of meal options: How well does the meal service accommodate people with different dietary goals and tastes? It’s important that we can eat what we like to eat.
Nutritional value: Does the meal service operate with a firm grasp of nutritional needs of its customers?
Flavor: Do the meals taste good? Simple question, but if the answer is no, then nothing else matters!
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?
Customer support: How well does the company help you make the service ideal for you, with your unique dietary needs and lifestyle/routine considerations? How easy is it to plan and receive the meals delivered to your home?