To rate these best meal delivery services and help you to decide which companies are worth your money and kitchen time, we dug in deep so you don’t have to. We ordered and tried out each of these meal kits to assess the following:
User experience online
Flexibility of a subscription
Diversity and variety of meal plans
Quality of the ingredients
Why Try a Meal Delivery Service?
With a meal kit service, you choose recipes each week that are shipped fresh to your door with pre-portioned ingredients and a step-by-step recipe card. These easy-to-prepare meal kits allow you to cook up a tasty, healthy meal without having to travel to the grocery store and spend hours preparing.
Besides being healthy and convenient, meal kits are a great way to get familiar with different cooking techniques and seasonings and even get your spouse and kids involved.
How much do meal delivery services cost?
Meal delivery service prices vary from one company to the next, and is often based on how many meals you order per week. Since companies offer different pricing structures that can appear complex, the best way to compare prices is to look at how much each serving (meal) costs.
EveryPlate is one of the more affordable meal delivery service companies, charging $4.99 per serving across the board. From there, the prices can go up depending on the type of cuisine, the quality of ingredients, and other factors. HelloFresh, one of the best-rated meal delivery services out there, charges $7.99-$8.99 per serving and offers a wide variety of recipes and high quality ingredients. At the higher end of the spectrum is Green Chef, whose meals range between $10.99 and $12.99 but feature USDA-certified organic ingredients and plenty of healthy, tasty recipes.
Most meal kit companies today offer special family meal plans. There are often fewer family recipe options per week, and they are a little less adventurous than the recipes for couples and singles. The focus is usually on hearty, kid-friendly meals that can be cooked in a single pot—and leave some leftovers for later.
Is shipping included with meal delivery?
One factor that can really make a difference when choosing a meal kit company is the shipping cost. The shipping costs range from around $6.99 to $9.99 or more per order, basically the same price as a meal serving.
With many companies, the shipping cost is waived if your overall order is above a certain total. For instance, with Plated, shipping costs $7.95 per order, but is free if you order more than $60. With Home Chef the shipping is free if your order exceeds $45.
With HelloFresh on the other hand, all shipping is free - no matter how much you order. While with Sun Basket, the shipping isn’t waived with a minimum order amount.
If you’re ordering for yourself, it may be difficult to hit that order minimum, but by doing so, the savings on shipping could offset your delivery costs.
If you’re ordering for a family of four, you should be able to exceed the minimum order no problem.
Does meal delivery save time?
Yes. One of the major draws of meal delivery services is the time factor. People from all walks of life have been turning to meal delivery services to save time.
Parents, busy professionals, and even college students have seen major changes in their schedules after signing up for meal delivery services. For one thing, they save you the trip to the grocery store. With everything you need delivered straight to your doorstep, you have more time to spend on what matters, be it work, kids, or other errands.
Meal delivery kits are also easy to make and can save you time searching for recipes and then chopping, grating, and preparing ingredients. With all the ingredients delivered portioned and ready to cook, you’ll be able to drastically minimize the time you spend in the kitchen--and that includes doing dishes afterwards.
Are meal kits good for losing weight?
Yes, and many current customers use meal-kits for just that. Meal kits are a great way to lose weight for many reasons ranging from portion control and healthy ingredients to diet-specific companies that offer tailored meals, weight-loss tips, and other resources designed specifically to help those who are trying to shed pounds.
Most meal kit companies print the nutritional information online, so if you’re on a diet, it can be an easy way to track what you’re eating. Some companies will offer low-calorie dishes and low-carb dishes designed for dieters.
And then there are weight-loss meal kit companies such as Diet to Go and Bistro MD targeted specifically to those trying to lose weight. These companies create meals and meal plans with weight-loss in mind, staffing nutritionists, dieticians, and chefs who prepare meals that focus specifically on calorie-count and portion control.
Are meal kits good if you have dietary restrictions?
If you have dietary specifications like gluten allergies, food sensitivities, or if you’re abiding by a low-carb diet—meal kits can be a great way to help you break the monotony.
Most companies have special meal plans that are suited for specific diets, so you don’t need to feel so limited by your dietary limitations. Others let you substitute ingredients when you’re ordering meals so that you can leave out problematic ingredients. And since all of them list the ingredients on the menu, you’ll have no problem finding meals that meet your dietary needs.
Are meal kits sustainable and good for the environment?
From ditching the plastic straws to carpooling to work and bringing your own bags to the grocery store, the importance of conservation is something we should all be able to agree on. Meal kit companies can help by supporting sustainable providers and making sure that you have exactly the amount of food you need so you’re not over-purchasing and throwing out food.
But what about the packaging? The waste created with every food kit order, even if it is the best meal delivery service, is something of a turnoff for many customers, but here are 2 ways meal kits can be good for the environment:
Sustainability. Packaging aside, one of the ways that meal kit companies do better by the environment is by supporting sustainable, organic—and when possible—local providers. Sun Basket has made its 99% organic menu items a major selling point, and for Blue Apron, “building a better food system” is central to the company’s vision. The Blue Apron approach includes working with partners to create a distribution system that provides high-quality products and supports local growers. Like other meal kit companies, Blue Apron also provides Non-GMO ingredients, meat that isn’t fed antibiotics or hormones, and sustainable seafood that has been recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Sun Basket, for their part, provide meats that are antibiotic and hormone free, as well as pasture-raised lamb and turkey, and organic milk, yogurt, and eggs.
Cutting down on waste. A convenient aspect of meal kits when it comes to conservation is the fact that they include precisely measured ingredients. You won’t need to buy an entire 750ml bottle of hoisin sauce for the tablespoon your recipe requires, nor will you end up throwing out rotten potatoes after you completely overestimated what you’d need for that side of scalloped potatoes. The difference can be significant. According to a study commissioned by Blue Apron in 2016, the company wastes 5.5 percent of its food, as opposed to 10.5 percent for grocery stores. The study also found that while grocery store shoppers toss almost 24 percent of the food they buy, Blue Apron users only chuck 7.6 percent of their ingredients.
What Types of Meal Delivery Services Are There?
With the growth of the meal delivery market has come an increase in specialty purveyors focusing on anything from vegan to kid-friendly or gluten-free. No matter what your food preferences or allergies may be, there is a service that will meet your needs.
Vegetarian Meal Services
While meat and fish still dominate, most companies now provide decent vegetarian options. And the variety of ingredients and recipes offered is pretty broad. From Asian inspired noodle or rice dishes to Indian vegetable curries, Mexican quesadillas or Mediterranean pasta dishes, many of the vegetarian options will leave even the most ardent of meat eaters satisfied.
Vegan Meal Services
Anybody living a plant-based life knows it’s not always easy. Choosing a meal delivery company that caters to vegans is therefore a smart choice. Recipes feature seasonal ingredients, innovative sauces and novel meat substitutes such as jackfruit, seitan or tempeh, keeping things interesting, environmentally sustainable and healthy.
Gluten-Free Meal Services
There is a growing number of companies delivering fresh or frozen gluten-free meals. While some follow stringent enough preparation practices to make them GFCO certified and safe for those suffering from celiac disease, others admit they’re aimed at consumers who choose to eliminate gluten. Be sure you know what you’re ordering.
Organic Meal Services
The benefits of organic living are plenty when it comes to healthfulness and reducing our impact on the environment. And if you want to increase your intake of organic homemade foods, meal delivery companies make it easier than ever to eat well without the hassle, offering organic produce and antibiotic and hormone free meats.
Weight Loss Meal Services
Just like anything else that’s inherently good for you, sticking to a healthy eating regime can be a challenge. That’s why weight loss focused meal deliveries can really work for you. Chefs and nutritionists collaborate to design a structured menu of meals that will help you stay the course to meet your health goals.
Paleo Meal Services
Eating like our Stone Age ancestors has become a firm part of the 21st century’s dieting landscape. But following paleo’s rigid rules can be difficult. That’s where paleo-focused meal delivery services have your back. They take the guesswork out of what is and isn’t allowed and make it easy and hassle free to stick to the regime.
Kid-friendly Meal Services
For time-crunched parents trying to put interesting new meals on the table every evening can quickly turn into a nightmare. Fortunately there are plenty of kid-friendly meal delivery services, with healthy recipes that are both interesting enough to appeal to grown ups and yummy enough so that little ones will gobble them up.
Diabetic Meal Services
Nearly 10% of Americans live with diabetes and if you’re among them, you know that it is vital to keep on top of your diet. A number of companies offer meal plan customization to meet American Diabetes Association (ADA) standards, helping you to manage your food and calorie intake and stick to a regular eating schedule.
Place Your Order
Of course, make sure the service you choose delivers to your area before getting too excited. Then pick the best service that offers the right combination of features and food for your lifestyle. There’s something for everyone, so get on the meal delivery service bandwagon, and find out what it’s like to eat healthier and easier today!