The Best and Cheapest Meal Delivery Service

article by Nicky Hoseck
September 11, 2019
If you're living on take-outs, tins, and cereal because of time and money restrictions, it’s time to start thinking inside the meal delivery box.  Find those home-delivered healthy, tasty meals at a price that often comes in under what you’d pay for the same ingredients in your local supermarket.

Cheapest Meal Delivery Services March 2020

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What is the Best and Cheapest Meal Delivery Service?

The best and cheapest meal delivery services all charge much the same for their meals, whether they’re pre-prepared or designed for you to create at home. What makes the best meal delivery services stand out from the crowd is a combination of affordability, quality, taste, flexibility, and convenience. When we compare meal delivery services, we look for the following elements:

  • Value for Money

As we mentioned earlier, you can, quite literally, spend a fortune on a meal delivery service like Sakara Life, but is that money well spent? Ok, so you’ll get breakfast, lunch, and dinner all delivered to your door and all made up top-shelf organic ingredients. You’ll also get a range of detox teas to, apparently, “support digestion”, as well as supplements and dietary guidance. That’s all well and good if you don’t mind shelling out nearly $30 per meal but, to my mind, Home Chef and Hello Fresh offer much better value for money.

Admittedly, even the best and cheapest meal delivery services don’t guarantee all their ingredients will be organic, but they do try to source the best fresh produce, buying organic where they can, and supporting local and sustainable suppliers. You won’t be getting any detox teas or supplements in your Home Chef meal delivery box,  but do you really want them? Given the hammering they’ve been getting in the news recently, there’s little reason to jump on that bandwagon especially if you’re eating healthy, balanced meals from Home Chef. Your body should be quite capable of digesting a nutritious meal without the added assistance of either detox teas or supplements so, by including them in a meal plan, meal delivery services are, in my mind, effectively leaving you out of pocket.

The cheapest meal kit delivery services simply deliver the ingredients you need to create a meal, without any added extras, giving you the best value for money

  • Recipe Requirements

A meal delivery service that requires you to have a fully equipped kitchen containing everything from lemon zesters to banana slicers isn’t ideal if you’ve only got a small galley kitchen with limited storage space. Before you decide on the best meal kit delivery service for you, check out what’s included in the box and what additional items you’ll need to complete your meal preparation.

Home Chef give details of every utensil and additional ingredient you’ll need in their summary of each meal and, for the most part, these are standard kitchen utensils, like non-stick pans, mixing bowls and baking sheets. Plated offer similar insights but sometimes say you require equipment that, in my 40-odd years in a kitchen, I’ve never owned nor needed. I guess meat mallets have their place in the world, but I’ve always found a rolling pin does just as well. Of course, not everyone has rolling pins either, which is wine bottles come in so very handy!

  • Ease of Use

If you started wondering “what is the cheapest meal delivery service?” because you found you really didn’t have the time or energy for grocery shopping, then a meal prep service with a complex and time-consuming ordering process is not going to appeal. Many of the cheapest meal kit delivery services have introduced apps that are compatible with your smartphone, making ordering, canceling and adjusting your meal plan easier than ever.

It goes without saying that you need a meal delivery service that actually operates in your area. Some of the smaller companies don’t deliver nationwide while others may only deliver to a central collection point in your area, meaning you have to go and collect. Similarly, some companies charge for deliveries under a certain value while others may deliver for free. To find out more details about each service and exactly what they offer, check out our full reviews of each of the best meal delivery services.

  • Allergies and Ingredients

If you’ve opted for a vegetarian diet, some of the cheapest home meal delivery services will prove distinctly uninspiring. Similarly, if you want to experiment with a paleo diet for a week or so using a meal delivery service, you’ll need to do your research beforehand (or just read our guide to the best paleo meal delivery plans). While some companies pride themselves on variety, others focus on weight-loss plans or specific diets and you need to take that into consideration before committing.

Similarly, some of the best meal delivery services like Freshly, prepare all their meals in a gluten-free environment making it perfect for someone with a serious gluten intolerance. Others, like Home Chef, don’t and therefore might not be suitable for someone who’s very sensitive to gluten. On a slightly less serious note, some meal delivery services like to incorporate unusual flavors and ingredients into their dishes so if you’re not particularly experimental when it comes to your diet, you need to choose a company that shares your love of the traditional. Plated, for example, tends to appeal to those with a more adventurous palate, whereas Home Chef offers plenty of classic American dishes for the more conservative.

  • Nutrition

Our nutritional needs vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as lifestyle, age, and gender. The older we get, the fewer calories we require, while those of us stuck at a computer all day naturally burn fewer calories than a yoga instructor, for example. Fortunately, the best and cheapest meal delivery services give detailed information about each meal’s nutritional value so customers can make an informed decision.

Home Chef offer low carb and low-calorie meals which are easily identified by the heart and chef hat graphics shown at the bottom of each meal card. Similarly, Hello Fresh marks selected meals as being “calorie smart” so you know it will be better for your waistline.

For the most part, meal delivery services provide well-balanced, healthy meals that fall into an acceptable spectrum when it comes to carbohydrates and other components. If you need a particularly high-calorie intake each day or have other specific nutritional requirements, you may need to spend a little more time familiarizing yourself with each recipe before ordering.

Home Chef and other leading meal delivery services offer a full spectrum of meals most of which fall on the lean side of the calorie count, making them ideal for those looking to embrace a more healthy lifestyle and give fattening take-outs the slip.

Conclusion

If you’ve never tried a meal delivery service because you were concerned about the expense, it’s time to reevaluate. The best and cheapest meal delivery services source top-quality ingredients which they deliver to your door so it’s little wonder many of us expect them to be way beyond our budgets. Surprisingly enough, however, meals delivered by the likes of Home Chef and Freshly, often work out cheaper than sourcing all the raw ingredients from the local store.

It’s worth bearing in mind that, for most us, a trip to the supermarket involved driving around four miles and parking. With the standard cost of business travel now 54.5 cents per mile, that’s already just over a dollar you’ll have saved ordering from the cheapest meal delivery service. Parking for an hour will usually set you back another few dollars, or even more depending on where you live, making meal delivery services suddenly look a whole lot more affordable.

If you’re not yet convinced this is the way forward, just consider the joy of coming home to a box packed with fresh ingredients all ready for you to conjure up a feast in under 30 minutes. You don’t have to shop, so you’ve suddenly gained another hour or so for yourself, and the temptations of unhealthy take-outs have been diminished by the memory of the Chicken Livorno you ordered from Freshly.

The best and cheapest meal delivery services have a lot more to offer than just their affordability so, even if you’re not yet sold on the idea, why not give it a whirl and see if you can live without it once you’ve given it a trial run? It’s time to think inside the delivery box!