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I Retested Green Chef Meal Kits. It Went Much Better This Time
The healthy, organic, meal kit delivery service has made a few major improvements since the last time I tried it.
David WatskySenior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's logged more than a decade writing about all things edible, including meal kits and meal delivery subscriptions, cooking, kitchen gear and commerce. Since earning a BA in English from Northeastern in Boston, he's toiled in nearly every aspect of the eats business from slicing and dicing as a sous-chef in Rhode Island to leading complex marketing campaigns for major food brands in Manhattan. These days, he's likely somewhere trying the latest this or tasting the latest that - and reporting back, of course. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
ExpertiseKitchen tech, cookware, small appliances, food innovation, meal delivery and meal kits.
When I first tried Green Chef in 2021, it wasn't my favorite. I found the recipes overly complicated, a bit random and some even difficult to execute. The price per serving was also high and the resulting meals just weren't good enough to justify the cost. While it's still one of the more expensive meal delivery options, Green Chef has made significant changes to its menu and pricing structure since then.
After this latest round of testing, I found Green Chef to be a much better value and a solid healthy meal kit pick in 2023, especially for those looking to eat wholesome, organic meals and cut out some of the cumbersome steps that come with cooking from scratch.
With simple recipes that highlight Green Chef's healthy, organic ingredients and excite the diner (that's us), Green Chef has earned recognition as a CNET Editors' Choice -- an honor we grant to our top picks in each category -- and clawed its way onto our best meal kits list for 2023 as well. Green Chef also proves to be a practical option for those eating gluten-free, paleo, keto and vegetarian diets. In short: Green Chef is just about the best healthy meal kit service available in 2023.
Here's how the subscription service works and my full review of the Green Chef meal kits in 2023.
How Green Chef works
Green Chef is a meal kit subscription, meaning it sends ingredients to you along with recipes for healthy, mostly organic meals. When signing up, the service offers six main nutrition plans such as Plant-Powered and Calorie Conscious to guide your selections, but you'll still have access to Green Chef's full menu of over 50 meals per week.
After choosing a meal plan type, you'll then choose how many meal kits per week you want to receive -- three or four -- and also how many servings per meal --two, four or six.
After plugging in your payment info, you'll select meals from your plan and delivery date for the following week. Each week you'll select your meal and a box arrives on the doorstep on the day of your choosing in insulated packaging. Green Chef ships to nearly every US zip code except for Alaska, Hawaii and some parts of Louisiana. Though it wasn't an issue for me, a critique I found in other Green Chef reviews was shipping delays -- albeit usually no more than a day or two.
Green Chef pricing
Recipes per week
Meals for 2
Meals for 4
Meals for 6
*Prices per serving
What are Green Chef meals like?
Green Chef meals are healthy with plenty of options for special diets including keto, paleo, vegan and gluten-free. Expect lots of organic vegetables and lean meats with lighter sauces and seasonings. There is the scattered "cheat meal," such as truffle linguine with chicken and mushrooms or Salisbury steak and potatoes, but most of the dishes have high nutritional value with very few heavy cream-based sauces, cheese toppings or excess empty carbs.
There's a fair variety of fish and seafood options plans including salmon, tilapia and shrimp recipes. Some seafood recipes are included with a standard meal plan, while others are considered premium and cost as much as $9 more per serving.
Green Chef flavors will be familiar to most American eaters, and I'd say the company plays it safer than rivals such as Sunbasket or Blue Apron. I noticed a good deal of heat and punchy elements such as chimichurri, lime, peppers and Mexican spice. In a previous round of testing, I found some recipes to be odd, random and unappealing, but not so much in this latest round.
Green Chef support materials
Green Chef's recipe cards can be sent in printed form or found online. I found them to be clear and concise, with some helpful footnotes for beginners, such as a brief explanation of what a roux is, for example. There's also an app that allows you to order or change meals and find recipes, too.
Add-ons have become a popular feature for meal kit services to pad your weekly order. Luckily, they're convenient and can knock a few items from your weekly shopping list. Green Chef has partnered with meat purveyor Good Chop to offer meat add-ons, including chicken parts, beef packs and selections of seafood. You can also tack on some sous vide egg bits or oatmeal for an easy breakfast. Prices vary but tend to skew a little higher than you'd find at a grocery store.
How easy are Green Chef meal kits?
Green Chef meal kits require some skill and are ideal for intermediate home cooks. Most are simple to prepare, often taking less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
As with many other meal kit services, Green Chef has a few more involved meal kits that may take 45 minutes or more, but you won't find many overly complicated recipes as you might with a service such as Martha & Marley Spoon or Sunbasket, and you don't need extensive cooking experience. That said, the average Green Chef recipe is slightly more complex than those from a beginner service like HelloFresh, Home Chef or Dinnerly.
I did notice that the project time to cook each recipe was a little off. The pan-roasted chicken with basil pesto took about 5 to 7 minutes longer than the card indicated, for instance. Another, the simple pork and apple meatloaves, took about 10 fewer minutes than Green Chef predicted.
What I cooked and how it went
BBQ pork and apple meatloaves with green beans and slaw: This meal was fantastic and one I plan to make again, with or without help from a meal kit. The apple added so much to both the meatloaf mixture and the slaw. It was also very simple, taking less time and effort than I anticipated. I would say the portion size was on the small side and might not be enough for a big eater.
Pecan-crusted trout with lemon caper sauce: This is a fail-proof flavor combination for me. I thought the dish was good, although the premade sauce was a little bland. The fish was fresh and the dish as a whole was light, but also satisfying.
Salmon with spicy mango salsa and potato hash: A perfect summer salmon with bright and bold flavors. This one was very filling.
Mushroom and black bean enchiladas with chimichurri sauce: I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss having some chicken or pork in my enchiladas, but the flavors for this dish all worked well and the chimichurri was a big hit.
Pan-roasted chicken with basil pistou, Swiss chard and rice: This recipe features surprising elements including sweet diced dates and punchy artichokes. Everything worked in perfect harmony to create an excellent dish. My only beef is that the recipe took me a little longer than expected.
Acho-lime sweet potato bowls: One of the better plant-based meal kit recipes I've made. Absolutely loved the addition of lime zest to the white rice and have added that trick to my normal rice-cooking routine.
Caribbean shrimp with coconut rice, mangos and chard-cabbage slaw: Coconut rice is one of my favorite side dishes in the world so my expectations are high. This was solid, but another one that didn't blow me away. I thought the rice needed something else to punch up the flavor.
Who should try Green Chef?
Green Chef is one of the best meal kit options for those looking to eat organic food and want simple, healthy meals. It's also a solid choice for vegetarians since the plant-based menu includes nine hearty vegetarian meal kit selections per week, like orange miso tofu or artichoke "crab" cakes. Green Chef recipes feature interesting ingredient combinations, making it a good choice for adventurous eaters. It's also good for eating gluten-free, keto or paleo.
Who shouldn't try Green Chef?
Because it starts at $12 a serving, Green Chef probably isn't a great pick for someone on a tight budget. (See our list of the best cheap meal delivery services for that.) I also found portion sizes small, so big eaters may not find the recipes to be enough.
Pricing for Green Chef meals lands between $12 and $13.49 a serving depending on the number of servings ordered. Green Chef now offers variable pricing, whereas it used to be one per-serving price no matter which plan you chose. You can order as few as six servings per week (the most expensive cost per serving) or as many as 24 (the cheapest per serving). There's also a $10 flat-rate shipping fee for each box.
All of this still adds up to Green Chef being on the more expensive end of the meal kit category -- not entirely surprising, considering these meal kits feature mostly organic produce and meats. That said, with the improved quality of recipes, the higher-than-average prices didn't bother me as much as the last time I tested it.
Packaging and environmental friendliness
Green Chef claims to be the No. 1 most sustainable meal kit company, but those are fuzzy stats, and I found there to be a good deal of plastic waste. That said, the box, coolers and ice packs are all recyclable and the recipes all come in paper bags, unlike the plastic large plastic bags used by Home Chef.
The final verdict on Green Chef
When I first tested Green Chef meal kits in 2021, I wasn't entirely impressed, but the service has since made a few small changes that add up to a major overall improvement. With simpler recipes that feature high-quality and mostly organic ingredients, I found the 2023 version of Green Chef to be well worth the price (it's still pricier than most services) and a good pick for those looking to eat healthy, interesting food made at home.
In the recipes I tackled, the meats and produce were fresh and arrived in good shape. I enjoyed some bold flavors such as apple and pork meatloaves and bright sauces, many of which had a homemade quality. Green Chef also deftly caters to niche eating plans such as gluten-free, keto and Mediterranean Diet, which is perfect for a gluten-intolerant person such as myself.
With cheaper per-serving prices and options for steak and seafood on the standard meal plan, Blue Apron is still my pick for the best meal kit service in 2023. But if you're interested in cooking mostly organic meals that don't skimp on taste, Green Chef is your best option.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.