Overall Score: Excellent

If your goal is to follow a certain diet style without sacrificing flavor, Green Chef is your answer. This service had the widest range of diet-specific kits available of the five services in our testing, including vegetarian, carnivore, Paleo, and gluten-free options. We reviewed their omnivore plan.

For all of the plans, the ingredients are organic and organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs and the meat and poultry must be from animals raised without antibiotics or synthetic hormones. You have the option of ordering three meals a week for two, four, or six people. The prices per serving were: Vegetarian, $10.49; Omnivore, $11.99; Carnivore, $13.49; Gluten-free, $13.49; and Paleo, $14.99. Each week there are 6 recipes to choose from, plus two more for the Paleo plan. This was the priciest kit we tested, in part because you pay a $9 per box shipping fee on top of your meal costs no matter how many meals you order. However, when we compared the price of a sample meal from each service with what it would cost to buy the ingredients at the store, Green Chef had the smallest differential, although still the priciest DIY tab.

Green Chef’s dishes earned some of the best taste scores in our tests. Our tasters and chefs especially appreciated the custom, pre-made sauces and dressings that accompanied many of the meals, such as creamy hemp herb dressing or tomatillo salsa; they’re a time saver and they distinguish Green Chef from the other services. Two recipes—the Steak Tapenade and Veggie Fajita Polenta—received “excellent” scores (only one other service, Plated, had a meal rated excellent among the week’s worth of meals we reviewed). The steak dish had an “interesting combination of flavors,” “tender, flavorful slices of steak” and Italian seasoning breading (on squash) made with almond flour. The polenta had a spicy, salsa verde-style sauce that added “flavor and heat.” Tasters said it was a “nice combination of flavors, textures and temperatures” and “unique.” They were less impressed with the Primavera Mac and Cheese, describing it as “fine” and noting the sauce had a texture that was a “bit too thick” with a “non-descript” cheese flavor.

Green Chef’s recipes were easy to prepare. All of the ingredients are color coded to match to the corresponding color of the recipe card. Sorting ingredients for all the kits is pretty easy, but this touch made it even more so. The estimated prep and cook times were pretty close—in our tests four recipes took five minutes longer than the estimate, but one took five minutes less. However, unlike the other meal kit services in our tests, Green Chef’s recipe cards didn’t list the amount of each ingredient used. While you can find that information online, it seems like an unnecessary extra step to make users take if they want to recreate the dish using their own ingredients.

Along with HelloFresh, Green Chef had more recipes that came close to matching our nutritional criteria for a third of a day’s nutritional intake for a 2,000 calorie diet (at or below 667 calories, 22 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 770 mg of sodium) than the other services. It also had the most vegetables per serving—2 ½ to 4 ½ cups (before cooking). One of the only cons for this service was the sodium content. Meals we tested averaged 873 milligrams, which is on the high side, and two recipes exceeded 1,100 mg. If you opt for Green Chef, go easy on the salt-shaker during prep to cut out some of the sodium. Although recipes were generally lower in fat, one meal—Primavera Mac and Cheese—contained 20 grams of saturated fat.  

How We Tested

Consumer Reports evaluated five meal kit services that deliver nationally: Blue Apron, Green Chef, HelloFresh, Plated, and Purple Carrot. Using our secret shoppers, we ordered every meal (except for one from Green Chef) available in each service’s two-person plan during a week in May, for a total of 27 meals. The weeks were chosen randomly and the type and quality of offerings were assumed to be reflective the service overall. Ingredients were examined upon arrival and weighed to compare what was received with the ingredient amounts listed in the recipe. Our food-testing team then prepared the recipes in our test kitchen without using any special equipment. A panel of professional tasters sampled every dish. Our dietitians scrutinized the nutritional content for the dishes and reviewed the available nutritional information for a month’s worth of each service’s meal options. Meals that were at or below 670 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 770 mg of sodium were considered to be healthier based on one-third of a day’s nutrition for a 2,000-calorie diet. To further assess the healthfulness of the meals, we considered portion size, whether they contained healthful ingredients such as legumes and whole grains, and roughly estimated the amount of vegetables per serving to assess the healthfulness of the meal. Overall scores are based on nutrition, taste, ease of preparation, time it takes to get the meal on the table, price, variety, and ingredient freshness.

Nutrition information is from Green Chef and is based on one portion of a recipe.