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, tasty meals takes up a lot more time each day than we might realize. Sure, you could pick up some microwavable meals 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. We’ve rounded up some of the best meal delivery services on the market.
The well-balanced and flexible option: HelloFresh
Why you should buy this: HelloFresh places an emphasis on well-balanced meals.
Who it’s for: Busy professionals, singles, or anyone who appreciates eating tasty, balanced meals.
How much it’ll cost: Meals start at $9 to $10 per person per meal.
Why we picked HelloFresh: Each HelloFresh meal comes with a main entree, a side dish, 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. When you sign up, you choose between a meat-and-veggies focus, a veggie focus, a family-friendly focus (meals that kids will like and that are generally faster to prepare), and a low-calorie focus (under 650 calories for a serving). You then customize the number of people and the recipes you want per week. Finally, you curate and build your menu every week from 20 different rotating recipes. The company has famously said it tests every recipe 45 times to make sure it’s worth including.
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: $72/week for 3 meals for 2 people; $76/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 interested in learning more about vegan cuisine and want to create some delicious vegan meals, this will be your go-to meal kit delivery plan.
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: $13 per serving for 4 meals for 2 people; $12 per serving for 4 meals for 4 people.
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.
The best customization for food connoisseurs: Blue Apron
Why you should buy this: You’ll get delicious, well-balanced meals with the option to add, swap, or upgrade ingredients anytime.
Who it’s for: People who love to cook — or don’t — and don’t have the time to prepare a gourmet meal.
How much it’ll cost: New customers get $110 off their first five boxes with free shipping for the first box.
Why we picked Blue Apron: While it is the original meal-kit delivery service, we’re most excited about the options provided by Blue Apron. You’ll get access to more than 50 meal options each week, with an ever-evolving list of premium recipes. But the best part is that you can customize some of the meals by adding, swapping, or upgrading ingredients to make each meal a better fit for you and your taste buds! Meals are easy to prepare and almost all take just 35 minutes, and it’s super easy to skip weeks when you need to — you can change your plan, adjust servings, and edit recipes whenever you want. The hardest steps of meal planning and meal prep are already done for you, which is perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle. What’s more, you can include rare and specialty sauces, as well as ingredients from boutique brands, that you wouldn’t be able to source locally or make on your own.
The most affordable option: Dinnerly
Why you should buy this: Dinnerly offers good meals at an affordable price.
Who it’s for: Dinnerly was created for people who like to cook at home, but don’t like overpaying.
How much it’ll cost: Meals start at $4.69 per serving per person.
Why we picked Dinnerly: Dinnerly uses the same quality ingredients as the other kits but takes a simpler approach, which allows the company to charge less. For example, instead of paper recipe cards, Dinnerly provides digital recipe cards. Dinnerly also sends fewer ingredients per dish, which means less chopping and cleaning for you. It also means slightly more simplistic meals, which can be great for kids or picky eaters.
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.
- HelloFresh vs. Blue Apron
- Meal service Chef’d puts a fork in itself, rattling investors
- HelloFresh and Green Chef join forces, and now, meal kits are in stores
- Amazon could be making a meal-kit service to rival Blue Apron
- HelloFresh now takes wine orders, because what’s dinner without a drink?