What is a Meal Delivery Service?
Firstly, people are more health conscious. We still eat takeaways and junk food but there’s been more of a shift in consciousness when it comes to healthy eating and wanting to live stronger and longer. Also, people are more interested in food and in particular food provenance. We want to know that we’re eating good quality ingredients. Lastly, we’re obsessed with food TV shows and can’t wait to see what the latest celebrity chefs are cooking up. We’ve basically all become foodies.
This is where meal delivery services come into play. Online meal delivery is quite unlike a takeaway, in that it’s generally healthier and the food isn’t cooked for you. With a meal kit delivery, you’ll get all the ingredients you will need for a delicious home-cooked meals along with a recipe card with simple instructions on how to prepare the meals yourself. Most meals take less than 30 minutes to cook and usually the ingredients will be weighed and individually packaged so preparing your restaurant-standard meal is easy.
|Brands||Starting Price||Availability||Special Offer|
|Home Chef||$9.99||Nationwide (except AK and HI)||$80 off your 1st order|
|Sun Basket||$10.99||48 States||Get up to $70 off your first 3 orders|
|Hello Fresh||$6.99||Nationwide (except AK and HI)||Get $80 off your first 4 boxes|
|Purple Carrot||$7.99||48 States||$20 USD off first order|
|Blue Apron||$8.99||Nationwide (except AK and HI)||$60 off over your first 2 boxes!|
|Freshly||$8.99||48 States||With $40 off your 1st order|
How Does a Meal Plan Work?
There are many meal prep delivery services operating at the moment and generally, the meal plans work the same. Firstly, you’ll need to find the best service for your needs – which is something we will cover more in depth in this meal delivery service review. You’ll need to consider how many days a week you would like to receive meal prep deliveries, how many people you would like to cook for, your dietary requirements (allergies, vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher etc) and your budget. If you do have severe food intolerances and allergies we do recommend at this stage, looking for a company that operates from a certified allergen-free environment so you can feel safe in the knowledge that your food is safe.
The next process will simply involve signing up to a service (many companies provide excellent first-time offers), browsing the meal plans, selecting which meals you would like to try and then choosing your delivery dates. The freshly prepared meal delivery box will then be delivered right to your doorstep, with corresponding step-by-step recipes to follow. We will look further into meal kit delivery comparison in this review, so you can choose which service may best suit your needs.
Why is a Meal Plan a Good Idea?
There are many reasons to try an online meal delivery service. It might feel like cheating, but having your food freshly prepped and ready to cook, saves valuable time for you and your family.
- Food Prep – This is often the most tedious task in cooking and sometimes the most complicated aspect too. People that work long hours, or simply want more time will find that a freshly prepared meal delivery kit can be an absolute game changer. There is no denying that meal delivery service offers a new, healthier type of convenience that is a far cry from greasy takeaways and expensive meals in restaurants.
- Grocery Shopping – With online meal delivery, you won’t have to worry about weekly grocery shopping anymore. Simply select the meals you wish to try and just sit back and wait for it to turn up at your door.
- Food Waste – There’s also another argument that suggests that a freshly prepared meal delivery can actually reduce the amount of food waste a family can make during the week, as all ingredients will be used up with each individual meal.
- Budgeting – Food delivery services certainly aren’t a budget option, but if you’re not running to the grocery store each week then you’ll definitely be saving on those “extra” food items that people often sneak into the trolley! You’ll also know how much money you’re spending each week.
- Variety – Another benefit of prepared meal delivery is that you’ll be able to sample a variety of different meals each week. The average family will rotate the same meals each week, which is not only boring but it also means that you won’t be getting the full spectrum of vitamins into your system.
- Diets – For those on restricted diets, this service is invaluable. Counting calories and carbs can be a nightmare and when you have food intolerances to this task becomes even more difficult. A food delivery service can provide tailored food choices that cater to your individual dietary requirements.
- Fancy Cooking – The most appealing aspect of a food delivery service is being able to cook meals that you might not otherwise have considered making before. These meal kits are a dream for wannabe chefs and foodies alike, who want to explore different ingredients and have a pretty plate of food after just 30 minutes.
What is the Best Meal Delivery Service?
For this meal kit delivery comparison, we reviewed five different meal delivery services in order to identify the best meal prep plans on the market. We looked at the type of meal plans that they offered as well as pricing, recipes, and aspects of the plan that made them stand out.
Here is our top list of meal kit delivery services:
#1 Home Chef –
COVID-19: Due to current events and higher than normal order volumes, Home Chef might experience delays in delivery.
Why We Like It: Simple recipes and a flexible meal plan.
Home Chef has a reputation for being one of the simplest meal delivery services on the market. The website is easy to use and requires a quick sign-in before you can start selecting your meals. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be asked how many meals a week you require and how many people you plan to cook for. You will then select your food preferences: meat, seafood or vegetables, whether you require low-carb or low-calorie meals and finally you’ll be able to select the food you wish to avoid such as pork, soy, milk, mushrooms, gluten, red meat etc
The Home Chef meal delivery service menu is available up to five weeks in advance, so you can really plan your meals ahead of time. A nice touch here is that you can actually view the recipes in detail before you select them for your meal delivery plan. On this page, there are several photos of the recipe and simple step-by-step instructions on how to cook the meal. Here you’ll also find further information regarding additional ingredients you may need such as olive oil and salt & pepper, as well as a detailed description as to what’s included in the meal kit. You’ll also find information regarding which type of cooking equipment you will need. There is also an opportunity to add extra items to your meal plan which incur an additional cost. Premium meals are sometimes available for example and in-depth fruit baskets and smoothie ingredients which in our opinion are very overpriced.
One of the most appealing aspects of this meal delivery service is that the plan is pretty flexible. You can choose to skip certain days and can cancel your subscription at any time.
Pros: Simple, homely meals that will appeal to those with younger families as well as people looking to try meal delivery kits for the first time.
Cons: Not many vegan and vegetarian options. Could be problematic for those with severe allergies as Home Chef isn’t a certified allergen-free facility.
Cost: From $9.95 per serving
For more information on Home Chef, read our extensive Home Chef review.
#2 Sun Basket
COVID-19: Due to current events and higher than normal order volumes, Sun Basket might experience delays in delivery.
Why We Like It: Variety of menus that will cater to every lifestyle, diet, and taste
Put a stop to the bland taste left in your mouth every night at dinner with an exciting array of delicious and exotic recipes on offer from Sun Basket. Do you have special dietary needs? That’s OK, Sun Basket will surely cater to your needs with the choice of meal plans including Carb-Conscious, Paleo, Mediterranean, Lean & Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Quick & Easy, Vegetarian, Diabetes-Friendly, Pescatarian and Chef’s Choice meal plans on offer.
For those scared of receiving below-par produce at the door, fear no more. Sun Basket will deliver your meal box to your door with insulated packaging keeping your food fresh for up to eight hours. One of the highlights of this meal plan service is that the produce is strictly organic and meats are antibiotic and hormone-free. This is because Sun Basket works closely with American farmers, fishermen, and ranchers which means you get the freshest food around.
Recipes come with six easy-to-follow steps and cooking time usually takes around half an hour to an hour depending on the meal plan you’ve selected. The Classic Menu will leave you with a choice of 18 recipes per week while you can choose from six recipes with the Family Menu.
Recipe booklets will include all of the available dishes for that week, no matter if they belong to your meal plan or not. Additionally, there are tips on how to include the little ones in the kitchen and get them excited about cooking. On top of that, you can enjoy some extra tips on ingredients and how to get better in the kitchen yourself. For example, it will tell you how to know when your meat and fish are ready to serve.
Pros: You can order your box to be delivered on a Sunday, rather than a weekday.
Cons: Recipe booklets could have more images to make sure you stay on track.
Cost: From $10.99 per serving.
For more information on Sun Basket read our extensive Sun Basket review.
#3 Hello Fresh
COVID-19: Due to current events and higher than normal order volumes, Hello Fresh might experience delays in delivery.
Why We Like It: Best value for money meal delivery service.
One of the highlights of this meal delivery service is the fact that it won’t break the bank like its competitors. In fact, meals start from as little as $8.74. This is the best budget meal delivery plan with surprisingly high-quality meal options too. There are three plans to choose from Classic Plan, Veggie Plan and Family Plan.
The Classic Plan features a good variety of meal choices which have all been labeled adequately, so you can see if they suit your dietary requirements. The Family Plan offers heartier meal kit options that are perfect for a hungry family needing a healthy balanced meal. Unfortunately, there is a small selection of vegetarian meals to choose from in The Veggie Plan and little to no vegan meal options.
All recipes are easy to follow with simple step-by-step instructions.
As well as fresh meals, Hello Fresh also provides a wine club subscription where you can have selected bottles of wine delivered to your house each month. Your culinary experience can be greatly enhanced by taking up this offer, as the wines are professionally paired by a sommelier who matches the wine to each of your Hello Fresh meals. Eating in has never been so fun!
Another nice feature that Hello Fresh offers is 10% discount on subscription boxes for students.
Gone are the days where students have to eat cheap pasta.
Pros: Additional wine subscription available. Student discount.
Cons: Lack of choice for vegetarians and vegans.
Cost: from $8.74 per serving
For more information on Hello Fresh read our extensive Hello Fresh review.
Why We Like It: Exotic and exciting vegan recipes which are sure to please your palate.
If you cannot stand the thought of preparing one more boring pasta or salad dish in order to keep up with your vegan lifestyle then Purple Carrot is the meal plan for you.
Purple Carrot delivers two servings per recipe three times a week costing $11.99 per serving. Now, this might be a little more expensive than the competition, but these guys work solely on delivering you the best vegan dishes around. Also, remember that this price includes shipping which many meal plans don’t.
There are several meal options to choose from including Quick & Easy, High Protein, and Chef’s Choice. Quick and Easy is the meal plan for people who have a busy lifestyle and cannot spend forever making their dinner. That is why a Quick and Easy dish will take no longer than half an hour to prepare. If you lead an active lifestyle and need to stay energized throughout the day, Purple Carrot’s High Protein plan is the one for you.
Chef’s Choice will allow you to hone your craft in the vegan kitchen. This plant-based diet can be pretty challenging, especially when it comes to making the food delicious and exciting at the same time. You will spend a little longer preparing these meals, but the outcome will be worthy of a five-star restaurant. If you don’t have hours every week to spend on grocery shopping, making the drive over to the shops as well as prepping the food for the week in advance, this is a perfect option for you.
Meals are packed in separate bags, so as soon as the box arrives at your door, you can throw them all in the fridge. Taking them out in the evening after work is not an issue because they’re packed separately. Recycling the packaging is no problem either, just head over to the Purple Carrot website and find out how to limit your impact on the environment and recycle the box, liners, cooling packs, jars, bottles, and plastic bags on their website.
Pros: Cancel or pause your prescription any time in your account settings. Beautiful recipes targeted at vegans.
Cons: Does not ship to Hawaii or Alaska
Cost: $11.99 per serving
For more information on Purple Carrot read our extensive Purple Carrot review.
#5 Blue Apron
Why We Like It: Additional wine pairing service available.
One of the most well-known meal delivery services on the market, Blue Apron is still up there as everyone’s favorite. Perfect for beginners and people looking for simple yet creative meals, the meal plans available are big on flavor but easy on technique.
Those looking for healthy meal delivery services will be happy with the fresh ingredients and balanced, Mediterranean meal plans that are available with Blue Apron. The recipes have all been designed by chefs who have taken into consideration flavor, food prep and ease of cooking. Many of the dishes can actually be cooked in one pan.
Another reason we like Blue Apron is because you don’t have to commit to the meal delivery kit. Should you wish to sample the menus for a week and then cancel this is easy to do. You can also skip meals in your subscription if you don’t wish to commit to the entire week or month. The meal delivery plan is simple to manage online or using the specific Blue Apron app.
What makes this meal delivery service stand out is the wine pairing service. Not only will you learn how to prepare fresh meals from scratch, but you can also learn which wines go with the flavors of your meals and for an additional cost you will be able to order the wine to go with your meal – what more can you ask for? Blue Apron produces its own wine and therefore can offer top-quality bottles at affordable prices.
Pros: Insulated box so you won’t have to be at home when it is delivered.
Cons: Blue Apron isn’t so great for those that have dietary restrictions. This is no paleo meal delivery service! Blue Apron meals are healthy and balanced however, and there is a vegetarian option for those who do not eat meat.
Cost: From $7.49 to $9.99 per serving
For more information on Blue Apron read our extensive Blue Apron review.
Why We Like It: No cooking needed!
This meal delivery service is different from the others in that absolutely no cooking is required! The difference between this service and the others on our list is that this isn’t a meal delivery kit as such, this is a home-cooked meal. Remove any ideas of takeaway from your mind, as this is on a different level. These nutritionally-balanced and freshly made meals have been created by a professional team of chefs and are delivered right to your door. All you have to do is heat and eat. This service is for those who don’t have time to cook.
For customers who work long hours and want to avoid grocery shopping and meal prep, this service frees up plenty of time and is the most convenient plan for this meal kit delivery comparison. This is also recommended for people who simply don’t like cooking! This takes the stress away from planning weekly meals and adds variety and flavor straight to your doorstep.
Delivery is between Sun-Sat but delivery days can be limited due to location. So, bear this in mind if you choose this option.
The meal delivery plan is also fully flexible with you being able to skip meals and cancel if you notify the company before the weekly deadline.
There’s a real hearty selection of meals included in the plan. Examples of meals available are Jamaican-style chicken, slow-cooked pork with roasted carrots and black bean & sweet potato patties. Amazingly, all the meals are 100% gluten-free and they operate from a gluten-free facility. You can also sort for meals by dietary requirement, this is where you will find vegan, paleo, kosher, and low-carb meals.
Pros: Pre-cooked meals. Good value for money.
Cons: Limited delivery days.
Cost: from $8.99 per serving
For more information on Freshly read our extensive Freshly review.
Which is Your Perfect Meal Delivery Service?
There should be no pressure when it comes to choosing the best online meal delivery service to suit your needs. Whether it’s a Kosher meal delivery, diabetic meal plan delivery, senior meal delivery or just a healthy and balanced home cooked meal, you will find your perfect meal delivery kit out there! Most companies provide a flexible meal plan and some even provide a trial special offer. Test before you commit to a plan and leave it at least a week to test delivery times, meal quality and customer service.
Whether you are a vegan, a dieter or a senior, most companies will be able to tailor the meals to match your requirements. With a meal delivery service, you’ll be saving valuable time, exploring new flavors and learning invaluable cooking skills.