Cooking three meals a day can be a job in itself. Between preparing the ingredients, cooking, and cleaning, it takes most people at least 90 minutes to prepare a home-cooked meal. To save time in the kitchen, some busy people order takeout, some look to devices like slow cookers and pressure cookers, and others try home-delivery meal services.
If you decide on the home-delivery route, you have to then decide which meal service to go with. With so many options now available, factors like price, delivery schedules, dietary needs, and, of course, taste, all come into play. To help give you a better understanding of what these meal-delivery services are all about, we compared two of the more popular options — Hello Fresh and Blue Apron.
Which meal service should you choose? The side-by-side comparison below provides an in-depth explanation of each service, as well as price comparisons, food and diet options, food quality, shipping, and taste.
If you’re looking to skip the subscription and grow your sustenance, check out our home and garden gift guide. Prepping and maintaining your garden has never been easier.
Pricing: Ranges from $8.74 to $10 per serving
Options for those who are gluten-free, or those with other dietary limitations: There is a vegetarian-only plan, where all of the meals are vegetarian-friendly. Hello Fresh also has some gluten free meal options available, but they do not have a plan that is specifically gluten-free. Hello Fresh does, however, let customers know which meals are gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free, and which contain ingredients like shellfish. You can also choose your recipes, so this allows you to pick which meals you like the best, or tailor your meal selection to your dietary needs.
Food selection, variety, and quality: Hello Fresh has a team of chefs and dietitians who create 15 new recipes each week. The meals are generally healthy and nutritionally balanced, and you can easily access the nutrition information for any of the meals. But, Hello Fresh is not a diet plan like Nutrisystem, so the focus is more on good food than it is on weight loss or dieting. Customers do have the option to customize the classic plan and choose a “fit preference,” which includes healthier meals that are typically around 650 calories. Customers can also choose preferences like shellfish-free, quick meals, or variety (where the meals feature new ingredients and cooking techniques).
The company says on its website that they focus on finding ingredients that look and taste the best, and they use regional suppliers to source many of their ingredients. Not all of their ingredients are organic, though.
Packaging and shipping: Hello Fresh assumes customers have salt, pepper, sugar, oil, and butter already on hand, so they don’t include those ingredients in the meal box. The company pre-portions and packs the ingredients for each meal in individual kits, and they pack the meat and dairy products in a cooling material. Each meal also includes a recipe card with very easy step-by-step instructions, nutritional information, and an ingredients list.
Hello Fresh does not charge for shipping and on your delivery day, your box will arrive within a 12-hour delivery window (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
Taste and meal preparation: The recipes we tried — figgy balsamic pork and beef rice noodle bowls — were both very tasty and very easy to prepare. It took 38 minutes to prepare the pork recipe and 32 minutes to prepare the noodle bowls (including reading the recipe and getting the kitchen prepared with all of the necessary pans and utensils).
Based on reviews from sites like Consumer Affairs and social media sites, the overall consensus from customers is that the meals taste very good and the preparation is pretty painless. Consumer Reports gives Hello Fresh an “excellent” overall score.
Hello Fresh Benefits
- Tasty foods
- Excellent packaging
- Variety of recipes
- Ability to customize for people with dietary limitations
- Excellent customer service and a strong focus on customer feedback
- Free shipping
- You can skip weeks
- Easy to cancel
Hello Fresh Negatives
- Long delivery time window
- Price is a bit steep considering some of the meals
- Not all ingredients are organic (for those who value that)