The wonderful world of meal delivery services. Also known as, the easiest way to whip up delicious meals in a short amount time, no grocery runs required. I’m sure you have heard of several different brands of dinner boxes, meal delivery services, whatever you want to call it [I prefer “those kits that magically appear on my front porch that taste really good and save me the dreaded time of walking through the aisles of the grocery store”] but you may not have either a) tried any of them b) tried one, or a couple, but are still curious about the others. And well, good news friends, we’re here to break seven of the most popular meal delivery services down for you!
There are definite pros and cons of using a dinner delivery service – the obvious pro is the time that it saves! No more meal-prep and planning for your nightly dinners and it also allows you to try a ton of new recipes that you would never have otherwise. All ingredients show up at your door and all you have to do is pour the wine and begin cooking! The con? Using a meal delivery service can be more expensive than traditional grocery shopping and meal planning. So, do the pros really outweigh the cons?
In typical LIY fashion, we took matters into our own hands – and kitchens – to bring you a full review of several of the top meal delivery subscriptions on the market! While several of us have been using and loving our services for years, others of us are brand-spankin’ new to the world of meal kits! Today, we’re sharing our honest feedback on seven popular meal subscription services. Let’s dig in!
The Services We Tried
- Green Chef [Approximately $108 for 4 meals for 2 people]
- Freshly [meals starting around $10 each, the more you buy, the more you save]
- HelloFresh [Approximately $110 for 3 meals for 4 people]
- Marley Spoon [Starting at $56 for 3 meals for 2 People]
- Dinnerly [Most affordable, from $4.99 per adult serving]
- Home Chef [approximately $70 for 3 meals for 2 people]
- Blue Apron [Approximately $102 (+ $9.99 shipping) for 3 meals for 4 people]
Approximately $70 for 3 meals for 2 people
Shawn and I have been using Home Chef for our nightly dinners for years – truly, years [proof in this blog post I wrote from 2020]. We had tried several different home delivery options over the years and stopped trying others once we had our first Home Chef.
One of my favorite things about Home Chef is the variety of offerings every single week – there are always more than 25 different options week to week of meals to choose from ranging from culinary collections [think delicious gourmet dinners you would get at a fancy restaurant] to my favorite, the easy oven-ready meal kits where you pour everything into the pan they send to you and into the oven it goes! On average, our typical meal takes 30 minutes to prepare! Most meals are $8.99 per serving while the culinary collection is $12.99 per serving, which is still considerably less than if we were eating out!
Out of the hundreds of meals we’ve tried, there have truly only been 1 or 2 that we didn’t care for. The ingredients are fresh, I love how each meal is packaged individually in its own bags to easily grab and prep, the instructions are easy to follow [even Shawn can cook now!], and how you can customize your meal to make it exactly how you’d like it [for example, maybe the offering is a pork rice bowl but you prefer chicken, simply swap your meat and you’re good to go]! You can sort meals by vegetarian, calorie conscious, or carb conscious depending on your dietary needs! I also appreciate how easy it is to skip weeks [just one click of a button] on weeks when you know you won’t need meals! Home Chef has definitely taught me how few ingredients it can take to make something absolutely delicious! I highly recommend this service to anybody!
Approximately $102 (+ $9.99 shipping) for 3 meals for 4 people
This was our first time trying a meal box and Blue Apron has us wondering if we need to do this more often! All the meals we tried were absolutely delicious. The recipes were super simple to follow making cooking time quick and seamless. Everything came nicely organized and the meats were still frozen. All the ingredients for each meal were clearly labeled and packaged together so there was no confusion on what ingredients went with what meal. From kid-friendly options to vegetarian options, Blue Apron makes it possible for many lifestyles to enjoy its services. You get to select your meals each week and I felt like they had a nice variety of options. They also give you add-on options which is wonderful if you have a sweet tooth like me. My only complaint was that one of the sauces had broken open in the packaging when it arrived and made a mess. Other than that I would order again and recommend to friends!
Approximately $108 for 4 meals for 2 people
OKAY YUM. “Green Chef offers premium, organic ingredients, and recipes for almost every lifestyle to help with your healthy lifestyle without losing your favorite flavors!” Meal Subscriptions I have tried in the past didn’t give options for gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, vegan, etc. and that is what I loved about this one! No matter what your eating preferences/lifestyle is you can choose your meals based on that. There’s something for everyone! I went with the gluten-free + keto options for my meals and they tasted amazing. Great ingredients, flavor, and easy-to-follow instructions. It is a little on the pricey side I think; around $100 for 2 people for 4 meals per week + $9.99 shipping, but you know you are getting quality ingredients and it’s great for meals without the prep geared toward your dietary needs!
Meals starting around $10 each [Buy More, Save More]
“Balanced meals for busy lives” – SOLD. Okay, it took a little more convincing, but I wanted to try a meal delivery service that didn’t actually take much [or any] preparation time. Freshly meals are what I would consider plug and play – throw them in the microwaves, move ’em to a plate, and voila! Dinner is done! There’s no chopping, dicing, or cooking with these, they’re healthy, balanced meals, that are ready to eat in a matter of minutes! My husband’s job requires him to travel very frequently, which leaves me solo many evenings with the kiddos! These were perfect for me. I tried 4 meals my first week and truly loved all four, AND loved that I could read and understand every single ingredient on the label! I’ll 100% be ordering Freshly again, and would recommend it to anyone else looking for a meal delivery service that’s heat and go!
Approximately $110 for 3 meals for 4 people
Our family has been using HelloFresh for almost a year and have really enjoyed it! I love how quick and easy the meals are and how much my kids love them and actually eat them! You can customize what day meals are delivered, how often you receive them and how many you get a week! For our family of 4 we did 3 meals a week with a delivery of Friday and that worked well for us! Meals come individually packaged and labeled with all the ingredients you need for every meal and the meat is individually packaged for each meal making it easy to know what you need for that specific meal! The great thing about this service, was certain weeks that I knew we were busy as a family I would skip that weeks meals and just pick up where we left off. And there were always options to choose from outside of what they suggested. The only takeaways I didn’t care for was certain meals we chose and loved which show up more frequently then I would have liked. We prefer variety and not the same thing or almost the same thing every week! Overall based on the price and quality of the food, I’d order it again or suggest it to friends!
Approximately $56 for 3 Meals for 2 People
This was my first ever time trying a meal delivery service (Claire here!) and I have to say, I was impressed with Marley Spoon! If you’ve never heard of it, Marley Spoon is Martha Stewart’s meal box, so you already know it’s gotta be yummy! The prices were reasonable, starting at $56 for 3 meals a week for two people (we would typically spend WAY more than that on groceries or going out to eat!). They have a large selection of 45+ meals that update weekly, from basic kid-friendly options to more adventurous choices! You get to select your meals each week and can edit the selection at any time (as long as the box hasn’t been shipped yet, that is). You can also upgrade to premium meals for an additional cost, add on desserts and even breakfast options! The recipes are easy to follow on printed cards and typically only have 4-6 steps, taking between 20-40 minutes.
Our only complaints were that portion sizes seemed a bit small – we’re used to having leftovers, so if that’s something you prefer, be sure to double your servings. We also felt like the meat cuts were lower quality than expected, with a lot of fat that needed to be removed on multiple occasions. Not a total dealbreaker, but it took a little extra time and we ended up with less edible meat. On a personal note, I’m pretty picky about meat and prefer to select it myself at the grocery. All in all, we really enjoyed the convenience of Marley Spoon and I’ve continued to use the service since giving it a try!
From $11 to $13.25 per serving
Allow me to introduce you to Purple Carrot! Purple Carrot is an entirely plant-based meal delivery service. It provides a variety of recipes each week, along with the ingredients you need to prepare them at home. You can select from 8 dinner recipes and several lunches, breakfasts, and snacks to create your own custom menu. Both my husband and I are vegan and we had never tried a meal subscription service, let alone an entire vegan one! Purple Carrot offers Meal Kit boxes OR Prepped Meal Boxes [meaning you just have to warm it up!] From there, you can select between 1, 2 or 4 servings followed by 2 or 4 meals per week. We selected the Meal Kit Box, 2 servings, 3 meals per week. They have a large meal selection that is customizable, so you can choose the meals that look best to you! They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner options!
Once I received our first meals, I was so excited to get cooking. I loved how simple and streamlined the process was. Even though the meals are all plant-based, the recipes are easy to cook and taste AMAZING. One thing that I don’t love about meal subscriptions in general is the amount of plastic/waste they create. While it is so nice to have things measured out and prepped, using plastic containers and baggies for everything kind of pains me. Otherwise I loved the entire process. I felt that Purple Carrot introduced me to new recipes and just new ways of cooking. The only other complaint I have was price. For us, $13.25 per serving was just a little too costly, because in reality, I love to cook and have the time to do it at this point in my life. So for us, cooking on our own is just more cost efficient. That being said, I think I would definitely use Purple Carrot during busy times of the year, or when I am just needing to mix up my recipes a bit! If you are in a phase of life where you don’t have time to cook, or if you are interested in plant-based foods but don’t know where to start, then Purple Carrot is for you! They also provide Celebration Meal Kits which are amazing for the holidays! So if you’re looking to have a vegan Thanksgiving, look no further!
From $4.99 per adult serving
Dinnerly seems to be one of the most affordable meal box services out there, starting at $4.99 per adult portion! I haven’t been blown away by the flavors in the meals we’ve tried over the last few weeks – but I haven’t had any that I don’t like either. The meals are consistently good, and my kids really enjoy them – which is what I need at this stage of life!
“This is a great service for families and the budget conscious who want the convenience of not needing to meal plan.“
Recipes are easy to follow [accessed digitally through your account, no printed cards] and typically only have 3-4 steps, taking between 20-40 minutes. All ingredients arrive in the box together and do need to be separated. Each week I grab 3 grocery bags and spend less than 5 minutes dividing everything up before putting them away – no biggie! There are less staple ingredients included in the Dinnerly kit than I’ve experienced in other services, but it’s never been something I didn’t have on hand (butter, oil, milk, egg, etc.) and each week an e-mail is sent with a list of what you’ll need to have on hand that week before the box arrives. They really do make it easy to be prepared!
The one “negative” is that the cuts of steak have not been what I would typically purchase – BUT they do not up-charge for meals containing steak like other services do, so that’s understandable and I appreciate the lack of hidden costs!
Get Cookin’, Good Lookin’:
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