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A Closer Look at the Top Meal Delivery Services

Convenience is a quality many of us look for when it comes to dinnertime. And with the explosion of meal delivery companies, the choice has become seemingly endless. Bridging the gap between home-cooked meals and restaurant takeout, meal delivery services offer something for everybody.

If you’re a busy mom looking for more variety to feed your family, a single guy hoping to sharpen your knife skills, or a hardworking professional lacking the time to cook altogether, there is a service perfectly suited to help mix up your dinner routine.

These meals are healthy, tasty, easy to make, and maybe best of all, you don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike and then battle the crowds at the grocery store. With home meal kits, you just go online and browse the latest recipe ideas, and they come straight to your door ready for you to put together.

So if you’re eager to establish a healthy dinnertime routine that works for your diet, palate and budget, but are overwhelmed by the growing field of competitors out there, we’re here to help you out.

Expert Tips:

1. Choose a service that offers enough flexibility for your lifestyle.

2. Understand the level of difficulty and time needed to complete recipes to avoid disappointment. Some services are easier than others.

3. Understand the kind of food a service provides before you sign up. If you’re into homey, comfort foods, some of the companies may be too exotic for you and vice versa.

We cooked and ate our way through 10 of the most popular meal delivery services so you can make an informed choice without having to try them all.

1. Diet To Go  

Convenient, calorie-controlled, prepared meals 

Whats in the box - 2-3 meals, 5 or 7 days per week

Special diets - Keto, diabetes, low carb, low calorie

Price - From $7.52

Read Full Review >>

If you’ve tried to lose weight in the past to no avail, Diet to Go is the right meal delivery service for you. Based on science and research, these meals are each designed to deliver the proper nutritional balance to keep your body healthy while promoting weight loss at the same time.

Diet to Go takes all the hard work out of meal prep, cooking, and dieting by providing you with meals that are already cooked and ready to eat. And since the plans are geared toward healthy eating and weight loss, you don’t even need to count calories or guestimate amounts. Each meal gives you just what you need. Losing weight and eating right has never been easier!

ProsCons
✔Portioned and calorie-calculated for weight lossxNot 100% organic
✔Absolutely no meal prep, just heat and eatxHigh shipping costs
✔Lots of variety within the menu and plans 

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2. Bistro MD  

Dieting made easy

Whats in the box - 10-21 servings per week

Special diets - Diabetic, menopause, heart-health and more

Price - $6.42 - $9.00 , per serving

Read Full Review >>

If you’re having a hard time staying on the path to healthy eating, BistroMD can really help you. By providing tried and tested meals developed by a team of doctors and chefs, the company makes it easy for you to stick to a diet plan without the hassle of worrying about poor food choices and portion control.

BistroMD offers 6 different programs: standard, vegetarian, gluten free, diabetic, heart healthy and menopause. There are 4 meal plans designed specifically for women and men: a 5-day plan, comprised of 5 breakfasts, lunches and dinners (15 meals in total); a 7-day plan, which includes 7 breakfasts and lunches, and 6 dinners, for a total of 20 meals, and 2 custom plans of only lunches and dinners.

For naturally healthy eaters, who enjoy fresh, wholesome foods, BistroMD is probably not the best choice. The meals arrive frozen and must be heated up in the microwave, a bit like airline food. But if you’re at a loss and struggling to shed pounds and need guidance, the service will take the guesswork out of dieting and help you stay the course to meet your weight loss goals.

ProsCons
✔Doctors and chefs collaborate on dishesxFood is not fresh
✔Customizable programsxCan’t order individual dishes
✔Affordable 

View Plans


How We Rated the Best Meal Delivery Services

 

To rate these meal delivery services and help you to decide which companies are worth your money and kitchen time, we dug in deep so you don’t have to. We ordered and tried out each of these meal kits to assess the user experience online, the flexibility of a subscription, the diversity and variety of meal plans, as well as the quality of the ingredients, recipe accuracy, difficulty level, time, and of course the most important aspect: taste.

Why Try a Meal Delivery Service?

With a meal kit service, you choose recipes each week, are shipped fresh, pre-portioned ingredients along with a step-by-step recipe card, and put it all together to cook up the meal when you’re ready.

This takes care of the hassle of grocery shopping—and of thinking of what to eat—leaving you only to cook up the food. It’s a fresh and convenient way to get familiar with different cooking techniques and seasonings.

Some of the main advantages of meal delivery services are:

1) Creativity and variety

One of the hardest parts of cooking at home is finding inspiration. By the time we get home after work, we put a premium on easy and fast, and even if we have the energy to cook, the lack of ideas can be a deal-breaker. With meal kits, there is virtually an endless variety of recipes that you can instantly work into your repertoire without waiting for inspiration to strike.

2) No shopping, no prep

With meal kits you don’t have to worry about heading out to the grocery store hungry (and coming back with all types of stuff you didn’t need) and wrangling with a long ingredients list. The recipes come broken down into their components for easy cooking and preparing.

3) Mix healthy and convenient

Meal kit delivery services have found a way to combine the speed and convenience of fast food, with the healthy, fresh ingredients of home cooking. You don’t have to be a Michelin-starred chef to whip up the recipes, and the prices are affordable, so you can start phasing out the fast food.

4) Dietary restrictions

If you have dietary specifications other than being vegan—like a gluten allergy, or you’re abiding by a low-carb diet—meal kits can be a great way to help you break the monotony. Most companies have special meal plans that are suited for specific diets, so you don’t need to feel so limited by your dietary limitations.

5) Weight loss and dieting

Most meal kit companies print the nutritional information online, so if you’re on a diet, it can be an easy way to track what you’re eating. Some companies will offer low-calorie dishes and low-carb dishes designed for dieters.

How to Choose the Right Meal Delivery Service for You

The question that stops most people in their tracks is, which meal delivery service is right for me? With so many options out there, placing that first order can be overwhelming. As with any decision, when picking a meal delivery service, you'll want to look at your particular needs and circumstances to narrow down the selection. We’ll take you through the top questions you should consider when choosing the right meal delivery service for your needs.

  • Are you tied to any dietary restrictions?
  • Are you looking to lose weight?
  • Are you cooking for kids?
  • Are you cooking for one?
  • Are you trying to save money?
  • Are you new to cooking or do you struggle with cooking?
  • How much does the environment factor into your daily decisions?

These types of questions will help lead you to the meal delivery service that will best suit you. Let’s take a look.

1) Are You Tied to Any Dietary Restrictions?

If you have an allergy to nuts, are staying away from gluten, or are vegetarian or vegan—you’ll need to make sure the meal delivery service you choose offers meal plans that suit your needs.

Some meal delivery providers like Sun Basket will let you select a meal plan tailored to your dietary preferences—be it paleo, diabetes-friendly or vegan. Services like Martha & Marley Spoon label dishes clearly so you’ll know what you can order and what to stay away from, and you select exactly which ingredients you like and don’t like so your meal options will be tailored according to your preferences.

Whether you prefer a specialty meal plan or want to pick dishes from a full list of options is entirely up to you.

2) Are You Looking to Lose Weight?

Another way to narrow down the options is if you are looking to lose weight. Fast and convenient generally translate to unhealthy, so you might be concerned with the ingredients and cooking methods of some meal delivery services.

Health-focused meal delivery services won’t just offer you better quality ingredients and recipes, but they’ll also offer you tools, instructions, and support to guide you in your weight loss journey. Pick from services that are focused on portion control, calorie reduction, and healthy menu planning.

3) Are You Cooking for Kids?

Ordering meals when there are kids in the house is a totally different ballgame. Not only will you require more food, but you'll also want kid-friendly options and lots of them.

Chances are you don’t want to be standing in the kitchen for 3 hours preparing a meal every day. If you’re concerned with time-management and kid-friendly recipes, choose from the best meal delivery services for families with kids

4) Are You Cooking for One?

What if it’s just you—you don’t have too many preferences, and you are pretty flexible with your food requirements? Well then, you can easily go with just about any meal delivery service with a good reputation that delivers to your area.

If you’re cooking dinner for one, keep in mind that most companies offer a 2-serving minimum per recipe. Of course, that allows you to invite a friend for dinner or save the tasty leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

5) Are You Trying to Save Money?

The idea of meal delivery sounds great, but to some people, all they'll hear is the cha-ching of the cash register. While some services charge an arm and a leg for choosing, preparing, and delivering your meals, there are still several options that will fit even the tightest budget.

Meal delivery companies like Dinnerly charge just $5 per portion for all meals. You can also opt for a higher priced service and take advantage of special offers to keep the price down.

Get 50% off your first order with Sun Basket

6) Are You New to Cooking or Do You Struggle with Cooking?

Okay, getting the ingredients is nice and all, but if you're the type who can burn water, meal prep can be intimidating. If this sounds like you, you may want to choose a meal delivery service that will walk you through every step of the cooking process—or better yet—do all the work for you!

Companies like Home Chef focus on offering tasty meals while keeping the prep work and difficulty level to a minimum. Most recipes will take less than 30 minutes to prepare, and the step-by-step recipe cards will walk you through it all.

If you’ve decided to cut out cooking altogether, services like Freshly or Balance MD will deliver ready-made meals to your door. All you’re left to do is heat and enjoy!

7) How Much Does the Environment Factor into Your Daily Decisions?

Do you care about your carbon imprint? Do you recycle your bottles, sort your papers, and collect the deposit on your cans? If sustainability and environmental awareness is a priority for you, you’ll want to go with a meal delivery service that shares these values.

Ordering a meal kit every week can mean a lot of waste. There’s the carton box, the plastic packaging, the ice packs, and everything else used to deliver your ingredients in a convenient and organized way. So, if your meal kit company doesn’t take recycling seriously, you’ll be asking for some green guilt.

Luckily, most meal delivery services have earth-conscious values that make it possible to enjoy their services without causing too much harm to the environment.

What Types of Meal Delivery Services Are There?

With the growth of the meal delivery market has come an increase in specialty purveyors focusing on anything from vegan to kid-friendly or gluten-free. No matter what your food preferences or allergies may be, there is a service that will meet your needs

Vegetarian Meal Services

While meat and fish still dominate, most companies now provide decent vegetarian options. And the variety of ingredients and recipes offered is pretty broad. From Asian inspired noodle or rice dishes to Indian vegetable curries, Mexican quesadillas or Mediterranean pasta dishes, many of the vegetarian options will leave even the most ardent of meat eaters satisfied.

Vegan Meal Services

Anybody living a plant-based life knows it’s not always easy. Choosing a meal delivery company that caters to vegans is therefore a smart choice. Recipes feature seasonal ingredients, innovative sauces and novel meat substitutes such as jackfruit, seitan or tempeh, keeping things interesting, environmentally sustainable and healthy.

Gluten-Free Meal Services

There is a growing number of companies delivering fresh or frozen gluten-free meals. While some follow stringent enough preparation practices to make them GFCO certified and safe for those suffering from celiac disease, others admit they’re aimed at consumers who choose to eliminate gluten. Be sure you know what you’re ordering.

Organic Meal Services

The benefits of organic living are plenty when it comes to healthfulness and reducing our impact on the environment. And if you want to increase your intake of organic homemade foods, meal delivery companies make it easier than ever to eat well without the hassle, offering organic produce and antibiotic and hormone free meats.

Weight Loss Meal Services

Just like anything else that’s inherently good for you, sticking to a healthy eating regime can be a challenge. That’s why weight loss focused meal deliveries can really work for you. Chefs and nutritionists collaborate to design a structured menu of meals that will help you stay the course to meet your health goals.

Paleo Meal Services

Eating like our Stone Age ancestors has become a firm part of the 21st century’s dieting landscape. But following paleo’s rigid rules can be difficult. That’s where paleo-focused meal delivery services have your back. They take the guesswork out of what is and isn’t allowed and make it easy and hassle free to stick to the regime.

Kid-friendly Meal Services

For time-crunched parents trying to put interesting new meals on the table every evening can quickly turn into a nightmare. Fortunately there are plenty of kid-friendly meal delivery services, with healthy recipes that are both interesting enough to appeal to grown ups and yummy enough so that little ones will gobble them up.

Diabetic Meal Services

Nearly 10% of Americans live with diabetes and if you’re among them, you know that it is vital to keep on top of your diet. A number of companies offer meal plan customization to meet American Diabetes Association (ADA) standards, helping you to manage your food and calorie intake and stick to a regular eating schedule.

Place Your Order

Of course, make sure the service you choose delivers to your area before getting too excited. Then pick the best service that offers the right combination of features and food for your lifestyle. There’s something for everyone, so get on the meal delivery service bandwagon, and find out what it’s like to eat healthier and easier today!

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*The information on this site is based on research, but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new diet plan, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Results may vary based on various health factors, individual weight loss plans and adherence to the meal plan.