*The information on this site is based on research, but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new diet plan, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Results may vary based on various health factors, individual weight loss plans and adherence to the meal plan.
There’s nothing quite like a delicious, healthy home-cooked meal, but sometimes the hassle of grocery shopping and following complicated recipes can leave you heading for the drive-thru for another fast food dinner. Luckily for you, help is on the way.
With meal kit delivery services, you receive pre-packaged meals that are broken down into their individual ingredients and come with easy to follow recipes. Even if you’re a stranger to the kitchen, you can throw together fantastic meals that’ll have you forgetting about those pizza delivery magnets on the fridge.
Check out our mini-reviews of the top meal kit services.
Best for convenience
HelloFresh is one of the easiest and most convenient meal kit delivery services. With straightforward recipes and pre-portioned ingredients, all of its meals are done and dusted in 6 steps or less, allowing you to sit down and enjoy your dinner within 30 minutes. What’s more is that the convenience doesn’t end with the meals: HelloFresh’s website is extremely user-friendly, and modifying, cancelling or reactivating a subscription is as easy as pie.
There are 3 different meal plans: the Classic Box, Family Box and Veggie Box, with 17 recipes overall but a somewhat limited choice for the vegetarian option. However, if you’re an omnivore, there is plenty of variety, with an array of proteins, fresh produce and grains. Dishes range from zucchini flatbread to lobster ravioli and Korean beef Bibimbap, offering something to suit everyone’s tastes. Plus there’s a recommended wine pairing with each recipe, which we felt was a nice touch.
The diversity of meal plans may not be as great as other meal kit delivery services but the quality, ease and convenience of HelloFresh is second to none
Value and Convenience
Home Chef lets its customers set up a "taste profile” to help it to determine the meals best suited to them. Each week there is a selection of 18 different dishes to choose from, including quick, 5-minute lunches and entrées, and there are also add-ons such as smoothies. Plus there are options for all types of dietary specifications, including nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. The recipes are simple and easy to prepare, and some of the ingredients even arrive pre-cooked, which is a huge time saver.
As the name suggests Home Chef’s meals do have a homey feel to them, meaning they’re not overly exotic or ambitious, which may put off some of the more adventurous home cooks. That said Home Chef certainly delivers on its promise to save you time, reduce food waste and bring people together around the dinner table.
Organic, clean eating
If you’re looking for innovative, healthy, tasty and sustainable meals, then Sun Basket is undoubtedly the service for you. The company caters to a variety of diets, including vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free and pescatarian, with 18 different recipes to choose from each week for all of its special plans.
Developed by award-winning San Francisco chef Justine Kelly, Sun Basket’s menus showcase ingredients and flavors from around the world. You may be eating Okinawa flaked tuna and egg stir-fry with arugula-mango salad one night, and Tex-Mex chicken fajitas with sweet-pepper tomato salsa the next. But while seductive and exotic, the recipes are neither gimmicky nor overly complex, but rather they are simple to follow and easy to prepare.
The variety of meal plans and dishes as well as the high-quality of ingredients and focus on sustainability sets Sun Basket apart from many of its competitors. There is a higher price tag for this premium product, but when it comes to interesting, easy-to-make meals and clean, organic eating, Sun Basket won’t let you down.
Meal kits combine fresh, organic, and even locally-sourced produce which is sent directly to your door, saving you the trouble of trying to find a store with the premium produce you need.
Most meal kit delivery companies offer fairly extensive vegetarian meal options. These tend to cost the same or less than the meat meal plans, and can provide you with new and interesting ways to make tasty vegetarian meals. Some companies have more extensive options than others, for instance HelloFresh, which has a veggie plan as one of the 3 meal plans offered.
When ordering from a meal kit delivery company, check if it has specifically vegan meal plans, and if not, read the fine print and see if you can get enough mileage out of the vegetarian options. As a vegan, it can at times be hard to find out new recipes to stretch your no-animal products diet - meal kits can help.
Gluten-free menu options are a feature offered by most meal kit companies, which know how important it is to many consumers today, especially those with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten. A number of companies also specially-wrap their products in order to prevent gluten cross-contamination.
If you’re trying to cut gluten out of your diet and are a bit stumped about how to fill that gap left by bread and pasta, meal kits are a great way to find new recipe ideas that can keep dinner-time interesting.
The meal kit delivery industry has its finger on the pulse when it comes to organic food. Most companies tout their investment in finding sustainable, organic food, and this has become a major selling point for these companies.
Sun Basket, for instance, is a USDA-certified organic handler with over 99% organic produce, while Freshly has a list of 85 banned ingredients (like corn syrup and preservatives). Blue Apron is one of a number of companies that have partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to make sure their seafood offerings are sustainable.
Meal kits help you plan out meals ahead of time with interesting, healthy ingredients. In time, you will learn new recipes and cooking techniques that you can then integrate into your daily life. This can help you eat healthy at home more often, which can be a great way to lose weight, even without a rigid diet.
If you’re looking for a strict diet meal plan, there are a number of companies like NutriSystem or BistroMD that can provide you with dietitian planned meals sent to your door which are specifically designed to help you eat healthier and lose.
For the most part, the paleo diet focuses on meat, fruits and vegetables, and cuts out breads, dairy and sugars. A number of meal delivery companies offer menu items which are suited to the paleo diet. SunBasket takes it farther, offering more than 120 Paleo meals that feature high-quality lean meats.
Even if a recipe doesn’t specifically say it’s paleo, you can look closely at the ingredients when placing an order to see how it matches up to your requirements.
In a wider sense, all of the meal kit delivery industry is kid friendly. After all, these companies get you in the kitchen making home-cooked meals for your dinner table, and we all know that’s where the magic happens when you have a family.
More specifically, many companies feature family meal plans, as well as “kid-friendly” recipes. Kid-friendly recipes are dishes your kids may recognize and are typically not spicy. The family meal plans typically include meals that are designed for 4 people and are easier to make. The family plans often have a lower cost per serving as well.
With Marley Spoon, for example, you can order 2-person or 4-person “family boxes,” and you can filter the menu options specifically for ones that are “kid-friendly.” SunBasket offers a family plan and family menu, which features 6 “family-friendly” recipes per week.
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For diabetics focusing on weight loss, dietitian-designed meal plans like South Beach Diet may be the right fit for you. Many companies have meal plans specifically for diabetics, while others will help customers design their own diabetes-friendly meal plan through consultation with a dietician.
If you’re going with the big name meal kit delivery companies like Blue Apron, you can speak to customer service to get assistance planning a diabetic-friendly plan, and also always remember to look closely at the menu list to make sure the offerings aren’t high in sodium, fat, and sugar.