These meal delivery plans offer something for even the pickiest of eaters

Let’s face it. On some days, the last thing you want to do after a long day at work or school is stand over a pot of spaghetti boiling on the stove. Cooking can be exhausting, and creating healthy, well-balanced, and tasty meals takes up a lot more time every day than we might realize. Sure, you could pop some instant mac-and-cheese into the microwave or order a pizza for delivery, but long-term consumption of processed and fast foods likely won’t do any favors for your health. So how do you eat healthy, homemade meals without spending several hours a week on meal preparation, cooking, and clean-up? Meal delivery plans have taken off in popularity, and for good reason. They save customers tons of time by sending recipes and ingredients straight to your doorstep. Simply follow the instructions, toss the ingredients together, and voilà — dinner is served. Here we’ve rounded up some of the best meal kit delivery services on the market.

The best training ground for amateurs — Plated

Why you should buy this: Meals from Plated are sophisticated and impressive without breaking the bank.

Who it’s for: Interested in learning how to cook more complex meals? This is your ticket.

How much it’ll cost: $48/week for 2 dinners for 2 people; $72/week for 3 dinners for 2 people

Why we picked Plated: Plated meals are culinarily more complex, and you’ll find yourself doing more chopping and searing than you might do with other meal delivery services. For amateur chefs who are looking to up their game, Plated is the perfect way to practice putting together more sophisticated meals and mastering the art of meal preparation. It could also be a great option for a date night at home or a special occasion meal with the family. It’s worth noting that all the prepping and roasting may be too much to handle for working parents or busy students. But if you can spare the time, the meals are always fresh and tasty, and you’re bound to add some valuable skills to your cooking knowledge arsenal.

Cook with Plated

The well-balanced option — PeachDish

Why you should buy this: PeachDish places an emphasis on well-balanced meals.

Who it’s for: Busy professionals, singles, or anyone who appreciates eating balanced meals without having to cook separate dishes.

How much it’ll cost: Meals start at $12.50 per person per meal.

Why we picked PeachDish: Each PeachDish meal comes with a main entrée, a side, and a vegetable, meaning you’re getting a balanced meal with a variety of nutrients. Other meal kit delivery services tend to focus on one-dish meals, many of which don’t prioritize vegetables. With PeachDish, you get multiple food groups in a single dish without having to separately whip each of them up, thus saving you effort and time. That’s what makes this service a great choice for busy singles who only have to cook for themselves — one dish is all you need! The dishes are simple but creative, so you’ll get tons of flavor without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

Cook with PeachDish

The most sustainable option — Terra’s Kitchen

Why you should buy this: Terra’s Kitchen provides a clever solution to the problem of packaging waste.

Who it’s for: Those who crave convenience and simplicity will love Terra.

How much it’ll cost: Meals start at $9.99 per person.

Why we picked Terra’s Kitchen: Meal kit delivery services may be awesome, but one downside is that there tends to be a lot of packaging waste, what with all the bags and boxes holding the various ingredients of your meal. Terra came up with a nifty solution by shipping meals to customers in a “vessel” that is similar to a plastic miniature refrigerator. Simply pop open the lock to reveal your ingredients, and when you’re done unloading, lock it back up and leave it on your doorstep for the shipper to pick up the next day. Terra also gets extra points for its simplicity. Vegetables come already chopped, and sauces are ready to use. If you love the fun of preparing a meal by yourself, complete with dicing and roasting and sautéing, Terra may be too lazy and simple of an option for you. But if convenience and ease are what you crave, then Terra will have you covered.

Cook with Terra’s Kitchen

The best option for vegans — Purple Carrot

Why you should buy this: Purple Carrot offers delicious meals that cater to vegan diets.

Who it’s for: Vegans will love how many delicious meal options are available with Purple Carrot.

How much it’ll cost: $68/week for 3 meals for 2 people; $74/week for 2 meals for 4 people

Why we picked Purple Carrot: Purple Carrot offers delicious vegan recipes that will teach you something new every time you cook. Prepare to work with ingredients you may not have used in the kitchen before, like chayote and jackfruit. The recipes all turn out impressive dishes, which is not surprising, considering the fact that they are created by Mark Bittman, food columnist for The New York Times. Keep in mind that Purple Carrot will better suit the lifestyle of those who want to learn more about cooking and have the time to spare every day. Dishes can take 45 minutes or longer to prepare, and recipes include several steps that can get complicated for amateur home cooks. But if you’re interesting in learning more about vegan cuisine and want to create some delicious vegan meals, this will be your go-to meal kit delivery plan.

Cook with Purple Carrot

The one-stop-shop option — Green Chef

Why you should buy this: Whatever diets your family members adhere to, Green Chef has meals for them.

Who it’s for: Vegetarians, omnivores, Paleo dieters, gluten-free eaters, vegans, and pretty much everyone else.

How much it’ll cost: Meals start at $11.99 per person.

Why we picked Green Chef: Every single dish offered by Green Chef is 100 percent organic, right down to the sauces and dressings that you sprinkle over your home-cooked meals. The variety of dishes is also impressive, with meals catering to nearly every diet preference, from gluten-free to Paleo to vegan. No matter what kind of diets your loved ones follow, you’ll find meals catering to them at Green Chef. This makes it easy to feed any family member or dinner guest. The recipes can get complex, but many ingredients come ready-made, and most of the work involves chopping, sautéing, and finishing up the recipe. Portions are well-sized, so even the biggest appetites in your house should feel full after a Green Chef meal.

Cook with Green Chef

How we test

There are many meal kit delivery services on the market nowadays, all of which are a little different from their competitors. In rounding up our favorite services, we looked for plans that consistently offer tasty, healthy meals at cost-effective prices. We included services that we could see becoming go-to dinner options on busy days when cooking is the last thing customers want to do.

For some people, the best meals are the ones that are the easiest and quickest to put together. For others, the art of meal preparation is a skill they’d like to learn more about through meal kit deliveries. We made sure to include a variety of options on this list, so that there’s something for just about everyone.