This week, I’m reviewing Green Chef, another all-around meal-kit service that offers customers wholesome, clean, sustainable, and, you guessed it, green and organic ingredients prepared for easy at home cooking.
Similar to competitor meal-kits I’ve reviewed here, here, and here, the company offers the choice between weekly subscriptions of a 2 person plan with a box of 3 dinners, or a family plan that has ingredients to make 2 dinners for 4 people.
Green Chef distinguishes itself from other companies in the field by being the first USDA-certified organic delivery service. It also offers unparalleled flexibility and choice. You can choose between many plans: carnivore (more protein heavy), omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and even paleo and keto.
On top of that, Green Chef makes it easy to customize carnivore, omnivore, and family plans; You can opt out of receiving certain proteins (beef, pork, poultry, shellfish) depending on your preferences.
I really enjoyed this week’s box and am excited to share my notes with you. Keep reading below for my full review of Green Chef.
The food arrived in an oblong and labeled cardboard box and opened to a very earthy looking insulation layer keeping my food cool.
It actually seemed like a layer of fluffy cotton, so I searched their site and found out that the insulation is made of jute (same material twine is made of) and cotton. Jute is apparently “rapidly renewable” and the company sources it from recycled burlap bags.
After lifting off the top layer of ice, I was greeted by three paper bags, one for each meal this week a la HelloFresh style. This makes sense given that Green Chef was acquired by HelloFresh mid-2018.
I like it when meal-kits pre-sort the ingredients into paper bags (that, of course, can be recycled or composted). It’s a small touch that backs up the claim Green Chef makes in dedicating themselves to saving customers time. The pre-sorting made accounting for all of the ingredients a lot faster, especially around the chaos and time pressures of cooking around dinnertime.
Meats were kept on the bottom like other meal-kits, and frozen through after delivery. No concerns about soiled products here. Next up were the recipes:
Points here for page clarity. The menus organize all the information you need up front, including cooking time, serving size, calories, and whether or not the meal is gluten-free. They also mark the ingredients that are allergens or contain food that may lead to an allergic reaction. I personally don’t have food allergies, but I can see how this could be useful for some families.
Jumping ahead here, I felt that recipe flow was good compared to other meal-kits. I didn’t feel rushed, or that I was going back and forth between prep (which in my opinion should be entirely finished before even starting to cook) and whatever was on the stovetop.
Timing, as promised, was short as well. The menus average out to just over 36 minutes, and I noted that end-to-end cook time was just about that. No surprises here.
Of course, the real star(s) of the show are the actual ingredients and what they combine into. I think the pictures below speak volumes on their own, but the raw ingredients and produce for all three were fresh and organic. In general, this is a challenge for meal-kit services particularly keeping garnishings like cilantro, basil, scallion from drying out during processing and delivery.
Prep time was short, maybe 15 minutes per recipe. Whether or not this was just what each recipe called for, or a way to speed the process up, it was nice having some of the vegetables prepared ahead of time.
One small grievance in the process was creating the arepas (corn cakes). The recipe called for 2 tbsp of water which wasn’t close to enough, so I kept adding warm water until the corn powder started to stick together to the point it could be molded into patties.*
I’m personally comfortable using a chef’s knife (7-inch blade above) to quickly dice and chop but can imagine for more advanced menus that this could be slowed down for first-time chefs. This is a separate content ask, but perhaps companies can provide simple time-saving tips, or even basic kitchen skills to practice while cooking.
The tomato salsa with jalapeño and lime, with with the added salsa really made the dish. The steak strips weren’t seasoned with anything aside from olive oil, light salt and ground pepper which left space for other flavors.
Overall prep was easy, especially because some of the more difficult to cut vegetables were already partially chopped. Serving size for the steak strips and chicken salad lettuce wraps were just enough for two people, while the vegetable pad thai lasted me at least 2.5 meals. A welcome gift for a busy professional.
Again, only potential trouble I can foresee is the type of skill needed around the food, namely knife-work (finely chopping, shaving, dicing, removing core), which could slow the whole process down.
Pricing, of course, depends on the plan size, whether for two people or the family option and the food category you are ordering in. Here’s a snapshot from their page for reference, but I’ll break it down below:
Green Chef Two-Person Plans
Green Chef Family Plans for 4 people
There’s one important complaint I want to make about the service, and that is the challenge of canceling the subscription. I ordered one box to try and had to contact customer service to cancel (by phone), which was a friction point. Changing to an email based cancellation, or even better, an option from the website would be better.
Despite the amount of packaging included, Green Chef is a leader when it comes to recycling, compost, or disposal of the plastic.
Green Chef earns its namesake here. I think the company does a great job promoting their philosophy of efficient packaging, and using eco-friendly materials wherever possible. They have a page on their site dedicated to explaining what type of material is used in the box, the grade of plastics used, what can be disposed of and how. As far as my research shows, the company doesn’t have a ship-back program but has taken measures to offset 100 percent carbon footprint created through their ops and shipping.
On a personal note, I think there’s a baseline amount of waste created, regardless of how efficient a company packages its goods, so using materials that can mostly be recycled if washed, or composted is not only an important gesture but real step towards facing challenges that these businesses inherently face.
My experience with Green Chef has been largely positive, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the service to friends or family members looking for curated ingredients to cook high quality, organic meals at home. This is definitely a premium product. If we add up the price of 4 boxes in the course of a month, we come out to almost 300 dollars for dinner alone, not for someone on a budget. Overall though, across eco-friendliness, preparation time, quality of ingredients, taste, and packaging and recycling against competitors, Green Chef holds a top spot in organic but fast, healthy, and tasty meals.
by Insider Envy Staff