meal delivery service

Green Chef: Restaurant Quality Meals Delivered to Your Doorstep

As many of you probably recall, I recently decided to dive into the world of meal delivery services to see what all the fuss is about. So many people that I know have really gotten into these so I thought it would be a good little experiment to test out a couple and then write about the differences. FYI: In case you missed the post about my Blue Apron experience, find that here. The other service that I decided to try out is Green Chef, mostly because one of my friends sent me a code for four free meals, but also because I was intrigued by the mouthwatering photos on their website.

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About the Company

Green Chef is a Colorado-based meal delivery service that sources USDA certified organic ingredients and prides themselves on sustainability and green innovation. The first box I ordered came the week of August 21st. I purposely saved the first-time customer promotion to use after a weekend when I had company in town and knew it would be unlikely that I would get to the grocery store on Sunday (I received a box on Monday). I still stand by my statement that these services are the perfect solution to a post-vacation weekend. Not only do you solve the problem of not having time to go to the store, but the food is usually really nutrient-dense, feel-good-food which I appreciate after a few days in a row of eating out and drinking wine late into the night. 

Now if you’ve ever opened one of these boxes before, it’s kind of like Christmas morning for adults. Even though you know what meals you are receiving ahead of time (they send an email to give you a heads-up), I think it’s really exciting to see all of the brightly colored produce, seasonings, sauces and anything else you might be cooking with. Speaking of which, the first thing I noticed when I opened up this box was the amazing colors. Green Chef is really plant-heavy compared to Blue Apron and everything was so beautiful and fresh. I also noticed that there was a lot of stuff in there! I’ll get more into this in a bit, but Green Chef’s meals use insanely complex ingredient combinations and really layer on the flavor and garnishes. For this reason, the amount of food you get in each box is really impressive, which can help make you feel a little bit better about the price tag (not crazy expensive, but more then I would normally spend on a week's worth of dinners).

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The Meals

The three meals I cooked the first week were:

  • Caribbean Chicken with Collard-Strewn Coconut Rice & Pineapple Salsa
  • Cumin-Coriander Steak, Farro Tabbouleh with Green Beans & Carrots
  • Mediterranean Veggie Bowl, White Bean Patties, Feta, Quinoa, Cucumber, Mint (pictured above)

We really liked all three of these meals, although the vegetarian option was the clear winner for both me and Jacob (surprisingly, since he is a total carnivore). I love that a lot of Green Chef’s meals are bowls and this one had everything going for it – excellent texture, light and bright flavor, and the perfect amount of seasoning to bring everything together.

In addition to the actual meals, another detail I really appreciate is the color coded stickers on each of the ingredients. This makes for easy sorting in the refrigerator and even easier gathering when it’s time to start cooking. Each beautifully designed recipe card also explains which kitchen equipment you’ll need at the top, so you can get everything out in the beginning and it just streamlines the entire process. 

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The Cons

The only cons that I can think of (in addition to the typical qualm of excess packaging that comes with any of these services) is that someone who is new to cooking might not learn as much about technique as they would with some of the others on the market. I actually really like that most of the sauces are already made and most of the more complex chopping and dicing is already done for you (since it saves time and I already know how to do these things), but for someone who is trying to learn how to cook, this might be a negative. Also, this is a subscription service, which means that once you sign up, boxes are shipped weekly unless you “hold” or cancel your account. I set a reminder on my calendar so I don’t forget to go in and change my settings as needed, but if you have a difficult time remembering, this could be a nuisance for you. 

Spicing Up the Cooking Game

If you want to learn more about flavor combinations and branch out from your typical cuisine, Green Chef totally nails it on that front. In just six meals we’ve had everything from Thai-inspired curry to Mediterranean to Italian and even a classic steak dish, but nothing even remotely similar to a meal I had cooked before. 

I was so intrigued by my first box that I immediately scheduled my second one (for which I paid the full price), but again waited for an appropriate week. Since my parents were in town last weekend and stayed until Monday morning, I had a shipment scheduled the day they left so I would have a box of beautiful ingredients waiting for me when I got home from work. To spice things up, I went with the vegetarian plan this time around and was once again blown away by the complexity of the meals. To give further context on this, one of the dishes we made had coconut lime curry sauce that was used to simmer vegetables, which were then served over sticky rice and tamarind glazed tempeh. This, in itself, would have been unique and outside of my usual repertoire, but the recipe also included fresh cilantro, cashews and toasted coconut for finishing touches which just took the dish to another level.

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If any of the above sounds interesting to you, I would highly recommend giving Green Chef a try. They offer plenty of options for a variety of eating styles (including omnivore, carnivore, paleo and more) which makes it easy to find something that will work for you. If you want to sign up and get four free meals, you can use this link (if you sign up with this and then order a second box, I do get a little bit of a kick-back). This post is not sponsored in any way, I just really like the service!

On a related note, I wanted to let you know that if you’re on Instagram, use the hashtag #SpiceUpYourCookingGame for a chance to be featured on my feed. In honor of my upcoming e-course launch I’m going to be posting some tips for making healthful food and cooking more interesting for the next several weeks and I would love to hear from you as well! If you aren’t already following me, hop over to my account @LeanneRayRDN for all things food and cooking inspired. 

I Finally Tried a Meal Delivery Service

Have you ever tried a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Plated? I’ve mentioned on my Facebook page a few times that meal delivery services are great for someone who is just getting started with cooking and needs some inspiration for what to cook, along with really clear instructions on how to prepare a meal from start to finish. It seems like just about everyone has tried at least one of these - they have totally blown up in the past few years. I think they can also be helpful for the person who has zero interest in spending time meal planning or grocery shopping but still wants to learn to cook or eat home-cooked food as much as possible. Interestingly enough, I actually hadn’t tried one until last week. I wanted to give a little recap of my experience for anyone who might be considering trying it.

This whole thing started when my friend sent me an offer for the company called Green Chef. The deal was that I could get four free meals my first week which basically equated to three dinners for two people all for around $25. At the very least, it saved me some money on my grocery bill. Best case scenario, I would love the food and be introduced to some new vegetables and fun ingredients along the way.  After signing up for GC and realizing my first delivery wasn’t coming for a couple of weeks, I decided to sign up for Blue Apron and get their first time customer discount too. I got a similar deal with them and have been reading reviews about their meals forever, so figured it was time to give it a go. 

My first Blue Apron box arrived on a Tuesday during the day and I wasn’t able to open the box until 7:00pm. As the website stated, everything was still cold and fresh inside which I was really impressed with. Supposedly this is true until 10:00pm on the day your box is delivered, by the way.

The Menu

The three meals that I had on the menu for the week included:

  • Spicy Lemongrass Salmon with Herbed Rice and Green Beans
  • Chilled Hiyashi Chuka Ramen
  • Fairytale Eggplant and Mozzarella Pizza

I wasn’t initially wowed by the menu selections and it took me awhile to settle on these three (FYI: you have the option to switch things around and choose between eight different meals each week) but once I saw all of the ingredients in my box I got a little bit more excited.

First up was the salmon. Jacob and I tag-teamed this one and it took about 30 minutes from start to finish. We both agreed that this meal was good, but nothing special and that our favorite go-to salmon "recipes" are better. The green bean side was also a little weird – it had green bell pepper mixed in and the sauce kind-of went everywhere on the plate making for a so-so presentation. I will say that it was fun to cook with lemongrass since I’ve never done that before, nor did I know what it looked like or how to prepare it. It was obvious that the salmon was really great quality, and Blue Apron notes that they take steps to source sustainable seafood (and other great quality ingredients) so that was a also a plus.

The next night we both had things going on after work and I got home around 7:30 with plans to make the ramen dish. Unfortunately when I started getting the ingredients out, I realized that they had sent quinoa instead of the ramen noodles. #fail

I was borderline hangry at this point so instead of trying to get creative, I made egg tacos instead and called it good. In response to my email, Blue Apron apologized and graciously credited my account with some money towards a future box. In all of the reviews I’ve read by other bloggers, I have never heard of this happening so I am assuming this was a really rare occurrence. Either way, it was a bummer because I really wanted to try that ramen!

We purposely saved the eggplant pizza meal for Friday since we were having friends over for appetizers and figured it would make a perfect little finger food. This was totally delicious and both Jacob and I commented several times that we really liked it. Plus it was something I would never normally gravitate toward (i.e. I never buy eggplant). The pizza is pictured below, right next to the broccoli salad. 

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In the end I thought the experience of receiving all of the food was fun, and I also really liked trying a couple of new ingredients. I actually enjoy meal planning and recipe searching though so I don’t think I would pay full price for this on a routine basis unless I was in a pinch for time on a particular week. The nice thing is that you can skip any week that you would not receive a box (and of course you aren't charged). Then if you run into a busier week, you can leave that one on schedule. My Green Chef delivery is coming next week so I’ll be sure to report back on my thoughts about that one after we work our way through the meals!

p.s. this post isn't sponsored, I paid for the service with my own money and wrote about it because I wanted to! Just wanted to clarify that because a lot of bloggers have partnerships with these companies and I didn't want that to be confusing.