Sunbasket vs. Home Chef

A direct comparison between these two meal delivery services

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Home Chef salad on plate

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Sunbasket markets itself as a champion of sustainability and healthful, organic food. Home Chef is more domestic, comforting, and familiar.

Both are good services, and the one you prefer may depend on what you're looking for. What's your budget? How big is your family? Do you have any food preferences? We tried both services and break down our experience to help you decide for yourself which company is the best fit. Read on to learn about our findings.

Sunbasket Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Wide selection of proteins

  • Broad range of add-ons

  • 10 different meal plans

  • Simple and quick to prepare

  • Organic ingredients

Cons
  • Not flavorful enough

  • Extra charges for "premium" meals

  • No free shipping

Home Chef Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Has both kits and heat-and-serve meals

  • Good for large families

  • Most kits have multiple protein options

  • Weekly, biweekly, or monthly subscriptions

  • Reusable packaging

Cons
  • Very few vegetarian options

  • No options for special diets

  • No free shipping

  • Meals aren't especially creative

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Price

For meal kits, Sunbasket's minimum spend is around $66 per week. For that, you will get two, two-serving meal kits at $13.99 per serving. If you want the Fresh & Ready plan, which ships fully-prepped, single-serving meals, you'll pay a little less for the same number of servings—around $56. Both totals include a $9.99 shipping fee, which you'll pay regardless of how much you order.

Larger orders will reduce the meal prices, however. When you order three, two-serving meal kits per week, the price drops from $13.99 to $12.99 per serving. The discounts continue until you hit 10 servings per week. At that level, both meal kits and Fresh & Ready meals hit their lowest price per serving at $10.99 and $8.99, respectively.

Home Chef's minimum spend is $49.95 per week for two, two-serving kits at $8.99 per serving, plus $13.99 for shipping. Home Chef also offers fully-prepped, single-serving meals, although the selection is much smaller than Sunbasket's. These meals, dubbed "Fast & Fresh," cost $9.99 per serving. No matter how much you buy, Home Chef's price per serving stays the same, but the shipping fee drops until it reaches $7.99.

Both services offer premium meal kits with higher price tags, as well as add-ons like breakfast items and a la carte proteins. However, even with these categories, overall, you'll easily spend more with Sunbasket. There is one exception, though. If you look only at the Fresh & Ready/Fast & Fresh categories, Sunbasket is the better choice, both in terms of price and choice of meals. Otherwise, when it comes to price, Home Chef is the winner.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Meal Choices

Sunbasket packaging

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Sunbasket offers 20 weekly meal kit options and another 20 Fresh & Ready choices. The meal kits are divided into three categories: standard, speedy, and pre-prepped. The number of options in each category varies from week to week. All Sunbasket's kits serve two, but you can order up to eight of any one kit, for a total of 16 servings of any particular meal.

Sunbasket also has a vast collection of add-ons—everything from juices to snacks to fresh lobster ravioli. We tried several of Sunbasket's add-ons and enjoyed them all—sometimes more than the meal kits themselves.

Home Chef's meal kits are also divided into three categories: standard meal kits, 15-minute meal kits, and easy prep meal kits. Typically you'll be able to choose from among 13 standard kits, two, 15-minute kits, and nine easy prep kits, for a total of 20 meal kit options weekly. All the menu items are available in sizes of two, four, six, and eight servings. There's also a collection of 15 weekly extras, including things like dessert, breakfast and lunch items, salads, and assorted a la carte proteins.

With a whopping 10 meal plans, Sunbasket caters to more types of diets than Home Chef. Vegetarians, vegans, and followers of the paleo diet will have more luck with Sunbasket's menu. Both companies allow protein swaps in a majority of their kits, but Sunbasket consistently offers a broader selection of substitutions.

Both companies offer substantial variety within their weekly menus, with a broad selection of vegetables, proteins, and internationally inspired flavors. And both change their menus weekly, so you get plenty of variety across time. That said, given Sunbasket's larger selection of Fresh & Ready meals, add-ons, and protein substitutes, the company prevails when it comes to choice.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Creativity of Dishes

In terms of creativity, Sunbasket and Home Chef left us feeling equally unimpressed, but in slightly different ways. Home Chef's menu didn't set us up to expect a lot of creativity, so we weren't let down by simple dishes or average flavors. Conversely, we had high hopes for Sunbasket, and so we felt more disappointed by the relatively expensive yet boring food. In fact, a soup and a personal-size pizza from Sunbasket's collection of add-ons (which Sunbasket doesn't make) were more flavorful and memorable than most of the meal kits we tried.

With Home Chef you're paying for convenience more than creativity, so the simplicity is indeed a feature, not an error. Indeed, a couple of our simple dishes—beef kofta lettuce wraps, for instance, and steak with porcini mushroom sauce—were quite delicious.

Sunbasket, on the other hand, failed to deliver on creativity and flavor. Our salmon farro bowl with apricots sounded interesting on paper, but the apricots were flavorless and the green goddess dressing was pale and bland. Moreover, the premium "Chef's Table" meals turned out to be rather basic—just protein and sautéed veggies, or protein and pasta—and not flavorful enough to justify the extra cost.

While there's no big winner here, we'd rather you be pleasantly surprised than disappointed, so we'll give this one to Home Chef.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Flavor, Freshness, and Quality

Home Chef soup in bowl

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Overall, we found Home Chef to be more flavorful, and when a dish was a little on the bland side, it was easy to fix. None of the flavors were off or objectionable. More often the problem was that elements lacked flavor or they weren't anything more than the sum of the parts.

Sunbasket tends to let its sauces do the heavy lifting and sometimes they aren't up to the task. In addition to the bland green goddess dressing and the flavorless apricots, a spicy pineapple mayo in a coconut shrimp dish was similarly lackluster. However, a chipotle mustard vinaigrette that accompanied a steak dish was scrumptious.

Luckily, neither freshness nor quality was an issue. The vegetables were uniformly lively and the proteins—whether beef, poultry, or seafood—were fresh and of high quality.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Recipe Clarity/Difficulty

Neither company's recipes were difficult to execute. Beginners should be able to handle the technical requirements; the knife work is simple, the procedures straightforward, and the multitasking kept to a reasonable minimum. Slicing and dicing vegetables, searing proteins, and boiling pasta, grains, and so on make up the bulk of the kitchen work. As long as you don't get distracted and burn something, or neglect to season the food, your dishes should turn out well.

Both companies offer substantial variety within their weekly menus, with a broad selection of vegetables, proteins, and internationally inspired flavors.

You won't need a lot of special gear, either. A modest set of pots and pans, a sharp knife, citrus zester, strainer, sheet pan, and an oven will likely accomplish most tasks. And both companies ask that you supply only salt, pepper, and cooking oil.

This category is an honest-to-goodness tie. There's no meaningful difference here between the two companies.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Supporting Material

Sunbasket cooking process

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Both services supply you with printed recipes. Home Chef prints its recipes on 8 1/2 x 11 color glossy card stock, and each step in the recipe features an illustrative photo. The pictures are really helpful. Once you've prepared a few meal kits, reading instructions can become tedious, and sap some of the pleasure from the process. As a bonus, Home Chef's recipe cards are three-hole punched so you can organize them in a binder.

Sunbasket's recipe cards are relatively small, printed on approximately 4" x 6" folded glossy card stock. There are no pictures to illustrate the steps, only descriptive text and a photo of the finished dish. We preferred Home Chef's hard copies over Sunbasket's.

Both Home Chef and Sunbasket also offer mobile apps with digital versions of the recipes. Like its printed recipes, Sunbasket's app doesn't include step-by-step photos either. Home Chef's app has the same photos as the cards, plus a place to input notes in case you want to make the recipe again.

Note that both apps file all the recipes you've received into a recipe/cookbook section—very handy if you want to recreate any of the kits on your own. But Home Chef takes this one step further with a Shopping List feature. In the cookbook section of the Home Chef app, just tap "Add to Shopping List" under the recipe you want to recreate. For the Shopping List feature and the hole-punched recipe cards with step-by-step photos, the win in this category goes to Home Chef.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Types of Diets Served

Home Chef is not ideal for people following a special diet. The "Calorie Conscious" and "Carb Conscious" tags are about as far as the company goes. You can select a vegetarian plan, but the number of natively vegetarian dishes is quite small. Many dishes can be made vegetarian by swapping out the main protein. However, the only such alternative is Impossible Burger, which could get old fast.

If you maintain a special diet, Sunbasket is the better choice. The company accommodates the following: paleo, gluten-free, lean and clean, carb-conscious, vegetarian, Mediterranean, pescatarian, diabetes-friendly, and meals under 600 calories per serving. Whole30 is not explicitly supported, but many meals qualify, though perhaps with some minor modifications. Sunbasket also supports protein substitutions for many of its meals, and the selection is more diverse than Home Chef's.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Nutritional Value

Home Chef ingredients on counter

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

Sunbasket gets the win here for two reasons. First, as noted above, Sunbasket provides a much greater level of support for healthful diets. Roughly half of the weekly options fall into the under 600 calories category, and those dishes with more calories typically top out around 900. Added sugars are relatively rare. Second, when its meals include grains, Sunbasket is more apt to draw on whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread.

Home Chef's meals peak closer to 1,100 calories per serving and are more likely to include refined grains like white rice, white bread, and added sugars. Home Chef also provides less nutritional information than Sunbasket, leaving out metrics for cholesterol, saturated and unsaturated fats, fiber, and sugars, and sometimes withholding some ingredient information, like, for instance, what comprises a cream sauce base.

To illustrate the overall difference between the two companies' nutritional approaches, we compared one of Home Chef's higher-calorie meals with one of Sunbasket's more indulgent selections. The ciabatta steak sandwich with bacon aioli from Home Chef contains 994 calories, 86g of carbohydrates, 52g of fat, 47g of protein, and 1550mg of sodium. Sunbasket's black Angus rib-eye with horseradish mayo and Lyonnaise potatoes has 890 calories, 57g of carbohydrates, 50g total fat, 57g of protein, and 540mg of sodium. Sunbasket is the winner here.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Customer Service

Home Chef has an exhaustive FAQ that covers most basic questions about the service. If that fails, Home Chef has a contact form on its site, as well as a customer service call center that operates Monday through Saturday. There were no problems with our order, but we called customer service anyway to test it out. A friendly agent answered right away and helpfully answered a few simple questions.

Sunbasket provides customer service over the phone, as well as via text and email. There are also a number of self-serve features, including an FAQ; an automated web-based system for reporting issues; the "Ask An Expert" feature, which connects you to knowledgable longtime Sunbasket customers; and, finally, a chatbot.

The automated reporting system and the chatbot appear to be the same thing presented in different ways. You can report a damaged box, missing or incorrect items, and more, and sometimes resolve the issue without having to talk to a human. For instance, one of our boxes arrived damaged. We reported it, and the system automatically gave us a refund/credit.

To obtain general info, we also reached out to a Sunbasket agent via text and received a response about 40 minutes later. The agent answered all of our questions. However, the agent said we'd receive free shipping on an order over $90 which turned out to be incorrect. This error notwithstanding, we'll give this category to Sunbasket simply because it provides more avenues for service than Home Chef.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Making Changes and Canceling

Sunbasket burger and salad

Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer

The two companies are closely comparable in this area, allowing you to enter a temporary delivery address, change your delivery day, skip weeks, and cancel your service from within your account settings. Sunbasket allows you to cancel from its mobile app, but Home Chef only permits an indefinite pause.

Both services let you change your delivery day. Sunbasket delivers Monday through Thursday, and Home Chef delivers Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Both also permit weekly, biweekly, or monthly deliveries.

Home Chef's deadline for making changes gives you a bit more flexibility than Sunbasket's. Its menu closes at noon Central time the Friday before delivery, whereas Sunbasket's is noon Pacific the Wednesday before delivery. For this reason alone, we'll give the edge to Home Chef.

Sunbasket vs. Home Chef: Additional Features

Neither service has any full-blown features that we haven't covered, but we'll re-emphasize Sunbasket's huge selection of add-ons, which dwarfs Home Chef's small add-on collection. Sunbasket does not make these items, but rather curates its assortment, like a mini grocery store within the service. As mentioned, we enjoyed some of these products more than our meal kits. We tried broccoli lemon arugula soup, roasted mushroom pizzettas, a blood orange juice, and Honey Mama chocolate bars (incredible!) and thoroughly enjoyed them all. This feature is a big plus for Sunbasket.

Final Verdict

This was a close contest. For most people, Home Chef is probably the better choice because it offers more value, flavor, and superior supporting materials. However, if nutritional value, dietary accommodation, and selection are your priorities, Sunbasket might be a better fit.

Methodology

We spent numerous hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.

The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:

  • The ordering process
  • Meal selection
  • Packaging and support materials
  • Recyclability
  • The cooking process
  • The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
  • Nutritional information
  • Customer service
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