Green Chef review: Healthy meal kit delivery built for an organic lifestyle

Judith J. Mercado
ancho-bowl-before

All the ingredients for ancho chili and sweet potato bowls.

When the meal kit craze hit it was only a matter of time before the niche versions started popping up to join the party. For those seeking a boost with weekday dinners by way of, easy, healthy, organic meal kits that can accommodate designer diet plans, Green Chef has officially entered the conversation.

Green Chefoperates like most other meal kit services, sending preportioned ingredients, ready to be made into an easy lunch or dinner, only with a strong emphasis on quality, organic produce, meats and other ingredients where possible. You might say that organic food is Green Chef’s key selling point and for a lot of people trying to eat better, eating organic is an easy way to filter out a lot of not-so-healthy foods. 

Green Chef also bills itself as one of the best meal kit services for keeping to a keto diet, offering meal delivery plans tailored towards that low-carb lifestyle and hoping to attract the burgeoning keto, paleo and fitness crowds. The popular meal kit company is also after the vegetarian set with one of the most robust plant-based meal kit programs in the ever-growing category.

Like

  • Organic ingredients and healthy recipes
  • Easy to prepare
  • Tasty sauces

Don’t Like

  • Some recipes were bland and uninspired
  • Expensive for what it is
  • Not able to choose meals from other plans
  • Pricing is odd

But with a crowded field of healthy meal kit services such as Sunbasket, which also touts some organic meal kit credentials, and vegan meal kit-specialist Purple Carrot, Green Chef has to do a little more than just keep things healthy and organic — there’s also taste and some other factors to consider. I wanted to see for myself how Green Chef grub held up and so I took the subscription service for a test drive over the course of a few weeks to bring you an honest-to-goodness and completely organic (get it?) review of Green Chef. 

green-chef-box

Green Chef claims to be the most sustainable meal kit company.


CNET / David Watsky

How Green Chef works

Green Chef offers three main meal kit plans: Plant-Powered, Balanced Living and Carb Easy (which is keto and paleo-friendly). Where most companies keep the price per serving the same no matter which plan you choose, Green Chef has different pricing for the three plans (which, honestly, I found a bit strange) but the difference is not more than a dollar here and there. After choosing one, you then choose how many meals per week (two, three or four) and 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 at a glance

Meal Plan Price per serving
Plant-Powerd $10-$12
Balanced Living $12
Keto + Paleo $13

What are Green Chef

Green Chef meals are healthy. They contain lots of organic vegetables and lean meats with lighter sauces and seasonings. There is the scattered “cheat meal” like truffle linguine with chicken and mushrooms or Salisbury steak and potatoes, but most of the dishes have high nutritional value with no rich cream sauces or excess empty carbs. There’s also a good variety of fish and seafood options in the Balanced and Paleo plans including salmon, tilapia and shrimp recipes. 

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 — perhaps to its detriment. While many of the meals looked tasty to me, some also sounded strange or incoherent, like kidney bean patties with broccoli or Cajun fried cheese. I noticed a good deal of heat and Latin flavors in these meal kits, such as chimichurri, lime, peppers and Mexican spice.

No matter which meal plan you choose, you’ll have about nine menu options per week. One thing to note is that you’re limited to the meals within your plan — so if you choose plant-powered, you’re getting plant-powered. That said, there are vegetarian recipe options within both the keto and balanced plans so you’re not forced to choose only meat recipes each week. (Other meal kit companies allow you to toggle about and pluck meals from the other plans, usually without a charge.)

green-chef-inside-box

Three Green Chef meal kits ready for action.


CNET / David Watsky

Are Green Chef meal kits easy to prepare?

Green Chef meal kits are mostly 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 overly complicated recipes as you might with a service like Martha & Marley Spoon or Blue Apron and you don’t need extensive cooking experience.

enchiladas-before-2

Vegan enchiladas ready to go. Let’s do this.


CNET / David Watsky

What I cooked and how it went

  • Pecan-crusted trout with lemon caper sauce: For me, these are failproof flavors. I thought this dish was pretty good, although the premade sauce wasn’t packed with flavor so I added some dried herbs and fresh pepper. The fish was fresh and the dish as a whole was light but also satisfying and worked well. 
  • 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 great.
  • Acho-lime sweet potato bowls: One of the better plant-based meal kits 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.
  • Roasted chicken with lemon crema, butternut squash and brussels sprouts: I liked this one less. The cubed butternut squash pieces seemed dried out and I found the sauce just a little boring. The chicken was moist, so it wasn’t a total miss.
  • Caribbean shrimp with coconut rice, mangos and chard-cabbage slaw: Coconut rice is one of my favorite things in the world so my standards are undoubtedly high. This was solid but another one that didn’t blow me away. I thought the rice needed something else such as chicken stock as the flavor was a little one-dimensional, but the Caribbean spice was fun.
enchiladas

Mushroom and black bean enchiladas with lots of sauce.


CNET / David Watsky

What makes Green Chef different?

Other than a high volume of organic meats and produce, there isn’t a lot that separates Green Chef from other healthy meal kit services. The recipes are standard and it doesn’t offer a ton of tailored plans, add-ons or customization options. 

Who Green Chef meal kits good for

Green Chef is one of the best meal kit options for those who enjoy organic food and 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 support materials

Green Chef’s recipe cards were fine. I found them clear and concise with some helpful footnotes for beginners like a brief explanation of what roux is, for example. There’s also an app that allows you to order or change meals and find recipes too.

Green Chef support materials

Green Chef’s recipe cards were perfectly fine. I found them clear and concise with some helpful footnotes for beginners like a brief explanation of what roux is, for example. There’s also an app that allows you to order or change meals and find recipes too.

green-chef-recipes

A few of my recipe cards.


CNET / David Watsky

How much do Green Chef meal kits cost?

Pricing for Green Chef meals is between $11 to $13 a serving depending on your plan. Balanced Living and Plant-Powered are both $12 a serving while the keto and paleo option is $13, plus a $7 flat rate shipping fee for each box. Unlike other services, the price for each serving doesn’t drop if you order more meals in a week or servings per meal. The only exception is if you order four or six servings of Plant-Based meals in a week, it’ll drop from $11 to $9 per serving. Go figure.

All of this adds up to Green Chef being on the more expensive end of the meal kit category. That’s not wholly surprising considering these meal kits feature mostly organic produce and meats. 

Green Chef packaging and environmental friendliness

Green Chef claims to be the No. 1 most sustainable meal kit company and it seems to deliver on the promise. While there is some single-use plastic, as usual, the box, coolers and ice packs are all recyclable and there isn’t an excess of needless plastic like with Home Chef. Read more about Green Chef’s sustainability practices.

ancho-bowl

My very tasty ancho chili and sweet potato bowl over zesty lime-infused rice.


CNET / David Watsky

Changing, skipping or canceling a Green Chef order

You can add or change meals and easily through the app or website. You can also skip a week’s delivery or cancel anytime. Any changes must happen prior to the weekly cut-off, which is 9 p.m. one full week before the delivery date.

The final verdict on Green Chef

I found Green Chef meal kits to be tasty and consistent even though none of them totally blew me away. The meats and produce were fresh, generally speaking, and there were some bold flavors and bright sauces I liked, including a healthy dose of heat. For my money, Sunbasket is still the healthiest meal kit service for several reasons, which I outlined in my recent Sunbasket review. But if you’re concerned with getting as much organic food as possible from your weekly meal kits, Green Chef is a solid pick. 

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.

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