In partnership with Green Chef.
For most of my early adulthood, I was a chronic user of takeout apps. Between roommates hogging the kitchen and my after-work desire to cook often at a perilous low, it always felt far easier to order in. But we all know how quickly those receipts add up, and the calories aren't far behind the dollar signs in that respect. Before long, it was time to rein in both my spending and my carbo-loading, and to find the joy in cooking nutritious meals for myself from scratch.
Yet believe it or not, you really can have the best of both worlds: a service that provides delicious, organic ingredients for easy from-scratch recipes, combining the nutrition of a home-cooked meal with the convenience of a DoorDash. Green Chef has revolutionized my weeknight cooking by providing me with just that: flexible meal plans built around a bevy of diet options. Whether you're plant-based, gluten-free, or trying to pack in your protein, Green Chef helps you hit your targets with constantly rotating options. As someone who was often sick of my own Wednesday night meal rotation, I'm having an absolute blast with each weekly menu rollout.
- The first meal kit to be certified by organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers organization
- Meals available for a wide range of dietary preferences, that still feel tasty and crave-able
- Customizable plans and rotating menus keep thing fresh and full of variety
We don't like
- Organic ingredients come with a higher price tag
- The lack of preservatives mean that some ingredients have a quick shelf life
MEAL KITS, UPGRADED
Founded by Michael Joseph in 2014, Green Chef was inspired by the rapid success of fellow meal kit service Blue Apron, but also positioned in response to BA's lack of organic ingredients. Within three years, his initial $1.5 million investment had skyrocketed to nearly $100 million in sales, as clear a testament as you can get that consumers were hungry for ethically sourced, high-quality ingredients for their families.
I'll admit, though, that when I first heard the name "Green Chef" I assumed it was 100% vegetarian and vegan, so I skimmed right past it in search of other options. Much to my surprise, once I eventually looked into it there were endless amounts of variety, not just in meat and seafood selection but also in number of meals per week and how many people they feed.
When creating your first box, you'll be asked to choose between eight lifestyle preferences: Mediterranean, Calorie Smart, Quick & Easy, Plant-Based, Protein Packed, Keto, Delicious Discoveries, and Gluten-Free. You can then specify whether you're ordering for two, four or six people, and if you'd rather have three or or four meals delivered per week.
The smallest plan – four meals for two people per week – comes in at a shockingly low $5.20 per meal for the first nine weeks, and only upgrades to $12.99 per meal from there. Even though that price jump sounded significant relative to the intro discount, all I had to do was ask myself when I'd ever eaten takeout (or left the grocery store for that matter) for less than $12.99. The answer, in a surprise to absolutely no one, was never.
DELICIOUS, NO MATTER THE DIET
The options only get more enticing when it's time to customize your first box. Since I'd heard for years how the Mediterranean diet (based mostly around fish, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil) was incredible for longevity, I started my Green Chef journey off in that umbrella. Meals like a Chef's Salad with Prosciutto & Herby Feta and Sockeye Salmon with Spicy Apricot Pan Sauce made eating whole foods still feel indulgent, and in no way like a restriction against my usual habits. Pesto Salmon over Creamy Kale & White Beans hit all the hallmarks of a Mediterranean-approved dish, but was filling enough that I had leftovers.
Then I started taking eating plant-based much more seriously, after reading about the serious impact it can have on the environment. Even that felt like an easy shift once I was eating Mushroom & Potato Breakfast Hash, and Chickpea & Kale Stuffed Peppers drizzled with my favorite new condiment, the spicy, herbaceous schug. Having the ability to build my box every week meant I could toggle back and forth between different preferences and priorities, as well as upgrade the amount of food I needed if I had family or friends visiting.
Speaking of additions, there's also a whole Add-Ons section that I highly recommend, where you can add on everything from their signature 10-Minute Lunches (Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad Wraps, anybody?) to On-the-Go breakfasts like oatmeal and egg bites. They make life especially easy for the Keto followers out there, with snacks like Keto-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies for when those cravings hit but you can't afford the net carbs.
HELP ALONG THE WAY
Where other meal kit services claim that their meals take half an hour to cook, but twenty minutes in you're still chopping onions and garlic, Green Chef makes things painless by pre-portioning the ingredients. This also goes a long way towards minimizing food waste, and reducing your environmental impact (as opposed to the unspeakable amount of veggies I used to let go bad after using what I needed for one dinner). If you're still not sure which meals to start with, the good news is they also offer 1:1 Nutrition Coaching, including a free 20-minute session to kick your meal plan off on the right note.
And that's not all – they also offer discounts for active military, veterans, nurses, teachers, first responders and medical providers; the same kind of community-minded bonus that's reflected in their partnerships with local farmers. Yet no matter your occupation or your nutritional goals, Green Chef is a shortcut to eating both healthier and easier, whether it's for every meal you cook or just to fill in some workday gaps.
As someone who was interested in diets like Gluten-Free and Paleo beforehand, but never quite took the dive because I assumed they'd be full-time jobs, Green Chef has given me the flexibility to adjust my dietary needs. To embark on new eating habits with the security blanket of someone else doing the shopping and planning for me. With post-COVID life officially back in full, hectic swing, that kind of ease and satisfaction is worth every penny spent.