Chef’d, a meal kit delivery service like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, has launched a meal plan for college students. Chef’d is a little different than the more popular meal kit services because it allows you to purchase individual meals for one-time delivery from a select menu as well as meal plans that they’ve put together with the help of brands like The New York Times, Weight Watchers, and the American Diabetic Association. I have gotten two Chef’d boxes as a part of the Spoon University meal plan, and I haven’t noticed very many unsponsored reviews for this service, so I decided to take a break from travel writing to review these meal kits for college students.
Spoon University Meal Plan basics: The base cost of this meal plan is $49, and it includes some snacks, 5 servings of fruit, 5 “grab and go” meals, and delivery. You can add meals onto this for $13 each, or $6.50 per serving. The boxes are delivered weekly, but you can skip weeks as much as you want. The boxes are delivered on the day of your choice (I chose Wednesday). The grab and go options and meals are totally customizable, so you can choose what meals you want!
The delivery: Receiving my first box was a bit of an ordeal because it was supposed to come on the day of a big snowstorm. Since FedEx couldn’t get to my apartment, my box wasn’t delivered on time. I contacted customer service and they were really nice and said that because the boxes are so well insulated, the food would be fine if it was a day late. They also gave me $15 off my next order for the inconvenience. The next day was still a snowy mess, so the box couldn’t be delivered again. After notifying customer service, they issued a credit in the full amount, which I put towards a new box. When my first box arrived, I was surprised to find the items still cold and ice packs still frozen despite being in transit for 5 days at that point. I salvaged all dry items and anything I thought was safe to eat and used those. My second box came with no issues at all.
The food: For my first box, I ordered a salmon faro dish, but because it came late, I made this recipe with shrimp I had on hand. This meal was just okay, but I’m not sure if that was because of my substitution, so I’m holding off judgment on this recipe. The fruit in the box was okay- the grapefruit and orange were ripe and the pear and apple were okay, but the mango was very bruised. The grab and go’s were also pretty good! I liked the overnight oatmeal and the chicken pesto wrap the best. The snacks, on the other hand, were great, and included things like an organic energy drink and Rx bars! Here are the photos from the meal from first box (sorry for the low quality):
My second box was much better. I got the Thai shrimp noodles, and my boyfriend and I LOVED them. I will probably be ordering this meal again because it was tasty, came with lots of veggies, and had huge portions. I got the chocolate peanut butter overnight oats in this box, and it was SO good. I also loved the couscous salad, but I hated the kale salad because the kale was a little too kale-y for me (if you like kale, you might like this!). The wraps were fine, but something about them is a little off-putting to me. I recommend just trying one in your first box and seeing if you like it before ordering more. I also tried the KNOW muffins, and I did not like them at all because they were grainy and didn’t have a lot of flavor. The fruit was okay again in this box, and the snacks were excellent, with lots of name brand snacks that would be expensive at the grocery store.
Why I would purchase again: After Chef’d reduced the price from $99 to $49 plus meals (making my normal order of 1 meal+the box about $62), this box became one of the most affordable meal subscription boxes on the market. I think the quality of the ingredients and the nice snacks combined with the convenience make this box worth the price. Each box comes with a lot of food, and I found that I had ingredients left over to make even more food with after I had made all the included recipes. For example, every time I ordered overnight oats, they sent a whole mini canister of Quaker oats, so I’ve been able to make a lot of oatmeal since then. The customer service has also been terrific, so I know if anything else goes wrong, they will fix it for me.
Things to be cautious of: Sometimes the food isn’t in the ripest condition when it is delivered. I found that out of every box, there were about 2 ingredients that were unusable or inedible. In my second box (which is my main reference because it was delivered on time), the cucumber for my couscous salad was too squishy to use, and the apple way too bruised to eat. I think the variety of meals offered could be improved as well. However, the overall quality of the box outweighs these cons for me.
Have you tried this (or another) meal delivery service for college students? What did you think? A lot of people say this is like blue apron for college students, and while I haven’t tried that box, I really liked Chef’d!