Busy mom knows that you don’t always have time for buying produce and food for dinner. And when you do so, you still need to figure out what to cook.
Here’s where meal kit delivery services come in.
You’ve probably noticed some of your neighbors receiving boxes from Blue Apron or Plated. These boxes are filled with all the things you need to make dinner at home. They save you the time of planning your meal, making sure it suits your nutritional and dietary needs and going grocery shopping for all the ingredients.
Meal kits come with everything ready. So, all you need to is open the box and start cooking. Not only does it save time, it also saves you from extra work.
Best of all you get to pick the dishes you want which are professionally prepared and crafted.
So, among the many meal kit delivery services, which one is best for you? We break down five of the most popular companies so you know which to subscribe to.
Blue Apron is one of the most popular meal kit delivery services around. It is one of the pioneers of the industry that continues to stay strong.
Their concept is simple, you choose whether you prefer their 2 person meal plan, or their family plan if your plan to feed more than 2 people.
Additionally, you get the option of choosing how many recipes you want to receive on a weekly basis, somewhere between 2 and 4 recipes depending on the plan you get.
Each week Blue Apron creates 8 new recipes you can choose from. They also accommodate special diets, but you do need to inform them. But, the only standard special diet they show is the vegetarian option.
Once you make your choices, all you need to do is pick the dates you want to receive the recipes in the online calendar. Than wait for the food to arrive on those dates.
In general, they’re the best option for beginners. They also work well for anyone that isn’t on a special diet and likes enjoying a delicious casual meal.
It is very affordable at $9.99 per serving, which comes out to around $60 for 3 recipes weekly serving a family of two. The price goes down to $8.99 per serving for the family plan.
Most of their plans come with free shipping except for the two person plan for 2 recipes a week.
- You get everything in the package. This includes all measured ingredients and a photo instruction sheet you can easily follow.
- You’ll still need to know how to cook.
- When cooked correctly, the dishes are delicious.
- Be ready to spend some time in the kitchen. The recipes aren’t dishes you can whip up in 5 minutes.
- Besides vegetarian, special diets can be a bit trickier.
- Some recipes are fairly simple, which means you may be better off buying the grocery yourself and cooking it.
Plated is our top choice for foodies. That is, if you like being in control of your meals, this is what we recommend.
Unlike Blue Apron which has fixed recipes to choose from, Plated allows you to more overall flexibility. You’ll be able to mix and match from 20 different recipes and 2 dessert options weekly. Plus, you can adjust your plan and delivery dates on a week by week basis.
Plated also offers higher end dishes. Heading this group is Elana Karp who is the VP of Culinary and a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef. So, you get more sophisticate options compared to some of the other meal kit delivery services.
You can choose from to 2 to 4 servings per night and also 2 to 4 recipes weekly. Prices range from $11.95 per serving for a group of 2 and goes down to $9.95 per serving for groups of 3 and 4.
- Delicious meals that most home cooks won’t think of themselves
- Lots of recipe options
- A variety of special diet options, including vegetarian, low calorie, low carb and gluten free
- You can mix and swap recipes as you need
- You’ll be able to skip weeks if you want and adjust delivery dates as needed
- The $11.95 per serving meal plan is a bit costly, especially as it adds up during the week.
- There are a lot of packaging and insulation used. While necessary for cooling and safety, you will end up throwing them out after your meal is done.
HelloFresh is our top pick for people with food restrictions. They offer a variety of options allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal while avoiding triggering any allergies.
That’s because HelloFresh lets you get gluten, dairy, soy and nut free choices. So, you can enjoy your dinner without having to worry about irritation later.
Compared to Blue Apron and Plated, HelloFresh is also cheaper. Their meals cost between $7.49 to $8.99 per serving. The more people you order for and the more recipes you order, the lower the price per serving goes.
But, be aware that all plans come with a $5.99 shipping fee. Compared to Blue Apron, where most of the plans come with free shipping, this ups your per serving cost. Plated also offers free shipping for weekly orders of over $60, which can save you a few bucks.
- Simple recipes that are easy to follow and faster to make
- Many options can be cooked in one pan which makes clean up more convenient
- Cost per serving is cheaper. But, do note the shipping fees.
- Perfect for busy individuals who don’t want to take a lot of time cooking
- Meals are simpler compared to Blue Apron and Plated
- Don’t expect top chef quality dishes, they focus more on easy and quick meals
If you’re healthy conscious, like organic produce and ingredients that are responsibly sourced, Sun Basket is your best choice.
It is also what we recommend if you have specific dietary restrictions.
Their meal delivery service is focused on letting you eat the way you want. Thus, you’ll be able to enjoy recipes that are gluten free, vegan, paleo friendly or for lean and clean eating.
Here’s a look at the meal plan options they offer.
- Chef’s choice: The chef gets to choose which uses seasonal produce and their own sauces.
- Paleo: Perfect for those on the Paleo diet. No gluten, dairy, grains or soy.
- Lean & Clean: About 550 calories per serving, it is ideal if you’re watching your weight or want to stay lean.
- Gluten Free: No ingredients have gluten.
- Vegetarian: No meat but includes organic eggs and dairy.
- Mediterranean: Adheres to the Mediterranean diet. Uses healthy oils, whole grains, less meats, more seafood and herbs for flavoring.
- Vegan: No meat, eggs or diary.
- Pescatarian: Vegetarian option with some seafood.
- Diabetic Friendly: Quick and easy: Simpler recipes so you spend less time in the kitchen.
Additionally, they also meticulously pick out their ingredients, making sure these are organic and non-GMO. Their seafood is caught in the wild, sustainably sourced. Meats on the other hand are free of hormones and antibiotics.
As far as meal plans go, you can pick between the following menus.
- Classic Menu which comes with 18 weekly recipe choices, serving 3 recipes per week at $11.99 per serving.
- Family Menu which delivers 4 servings per recipe, 2 to 4 times a week costing $10.99 per serving. But, it only offers 6 recipe options.
- Best variety for people following certain diets
- Is a good choice if you’re eating healthy and want to know where your ingredients come from
- Ideal for environmentally conscious eaters
- They provide very detailed nutritional information for each recipe
- Costs more per serving. Although you get your money’s worth with quality
- Most ingredients are already chopped up, so you have to use them quickly
Terra’s kitchen is similar, yet somewhat different from the other meal kit delivery services above. As with the others, it does serve its own niche.
For the most part, it works well for people who:
- Want to save time. All the ingredients are chopped up and ready to go. This reduces both time and effort in the kitchen. Additionally, you can filter recipes by cooking time so you know how long they take even before ordering.
- Have food restrictions. They offer dishes that are dairy, egg, gluten, peanut, soy seafood and shellfish free. This lets you get very specific about your meals.
- Want to be able to specifically choose your meals.
- Like more variety in meals. In addition to dinner, they also offer lunch, salads, snacks, desserts and beverages to choose from.
- Looking to lose weight. Each of the recipes come with calorie counts and other nutritional information to let you eat healthy.
This makes it a good choice for people who are health conscious, trying to lose weight, don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and follow a specific diet.
- You spend less time chopping and slicing since that’s already been done for you. Expect to spend between 15 to 30 minutes at most.
- Lots of dietary options, including vegan, paleo as well as other restrictions.
- A good choice if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Healthy ingredients. Meats are hormone and GMO free, seafood are sustainably sourced.
- You can choose specific meals you want
- Options besides dinner, including snacks, salads, smoothies and others.
- Delivery package reusable up to 100 times, so you don’t waste it after making your meal.
- Highest cost per dish among the five delivery services here. Each meal has its own price tag.