Order’s Up: Meal Kits for People Who Love Fast Food
What is the Best Prepared Meal Delivery Service?
If you’ve never experienced the pure joy that comes from opening a box full of customized, delicious, virtually ready-to-eat food, it’s time to get on board with meal delivery services. Because, seriously, is there anything better than receiving healthy, fully-cooked meals delivered right to your doorstep? We think not.
But which meal delivery services offer the best food, programs, and specialized meal plans? We’ve rounded up the top 5 prepared meal delivery services to help you narrow down your decision.
Best for: People who eat gluten-free diets, want to lose weight, or simply eat healthier meals
- Fresh, healthy meals delivered to your door
- Rotating menu of 30 meals per week
- All meals are gluten-free and peanut free
- Free shipping
- No desserts or snacks available
- Doesn’t offer paleo, keto, or other special meal plans
Freshly delivers protein-rich, gluten-free meals to your doorstep, with the option of ordering up to 3 meals per day and 12 meals per week. Freshly, as you may have guessed from the name, doesn’t include any frozen food—all meals are prepared using fresh, all natural ingredients (and thus, have a fridge shelf-life of about 4-5 days). Freshly also offers a rotating menu of 30 meals per week, so there’s little chance of you getting bored with your food.
What’s in Freshly Food?
Freshly meals are gluten-free, prepared in a peanut-free environment, and contain no refined sugars. If there are other foods that you don’t want in your meals, you can customize your plan and request meals that don’t contain dairy, eggs, pork, turkey, fish, soy, and more.
As for pricing, Freshly isn’t expensive, nor is it cheap. It’s simply fair. Especially when you order the 12 meals/week subscription, in which each meal comes out to $8.99. And remember, you’re getting chef-prepared, healthy food delivered to your doorstep. All you need to do is pop it in the oven or microwave. Yep, the pricing is pretty fair.
Plus, shipping is free, and you can choose your day of delivery and cancel your subscription at any time.
Favorite Meal: Korean-Style Veggie Bibimbap with Brown Rice
It’s gorgeous, it’s colorful, it’s packed with interesting flavors, and it’s plain delicious. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that it is vitamin-rich, loaded with protein from edamame and egg, and includes heart-healthy fats.
Fresh & Easy
Best for: People without the time for a sinkful of dishes
- Oven- and grill-ready dishes
- No cutting or prep work necessary
- New service from Home Chef
- Limited menu options
Fresh & Easy delivers all of the ingredients you need washed, cut, and portioned as well as the pots and pans you need to cook them in. A new service by meal-delivery veterans Home Chef, Fresh & Easy states its goal in its name: to make it even easier for people short on time but big on health to have access to fresh, home-cooked meals. Meals are delivered complete with oven- and grill-ready dishes so that you can enjoy the fruits of your own stove without having to deal with the aftermath of a dirty sink.
Fresh & Easy lets you choose between 2, 4, or 6 servings per meal and from anywhere between 2-6 meals per week. Though there’s no a la carte option, customers can skip deliveries, change the amount of servings they wish to have delivered in a box, or cancel their subscription altogether.
Home Chef just rolled out the new service, and the menu is still being developed. But a sample menu shows a promising selection of poultry and fish entrees as well as a variety of salads.
For 2 people:
|Meals per week||Price per box|
|3||$39.70 special price|
For 4 people:
|Meals per week||Price per box|
For 6 people:
|Meals per week||Price per box|
Favorite Meal: Chicken Parmesan Penne
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a panko breadcrumb coating are the centerpiece of this hearty Italian dish. Served with a side of penne noodles topped with mozzarella, rosee sauce, and sliced yellow onion. The before-and-after photos below show how the ingredients arrive cut, portioned, and served in oven-ready pans
Place all the ingredients in the included oven pan, heat for 50 minutes, and enjoy.
Best for: People who want to lose weight and eat healthy
- Meals are designed by a physician to enable weight loss
- Over 150 meal choices each week
- Specialty plans available, like gluten-free and diabetic-friendly
- Meal programs come with personalized weight loss plan
- Additional shipping costs
- 5-day/week minimum meal program
If you want to lose weight but don’t have time or energy to prepare nutritious meals, BistroMD might be just what you’re looking for. Designed by a physician, this meal delivery service is designed to assist weight loss and create healthy eating habits. And of course, it’s designed to be delicious as well. While the nutritional content is created by doctors, the food is prepared by professional chefs, and there are over 150 meals to choose from each week.
Since BistroMD is more of a comprehensive diet plan than plain meal delivery service, there are only 2 options for subscriptions: 5 days a week or 7 days a week, with 2 or 3 meals per day. While it might seem like a lot, losing weight wouldn’t be so possible if you only have 1 healthy meal per day.
Meal plans can be customized to suit different diets, including gluten-free plans and plans for menopausal women and diabetics. You can also request special dishes that are vegetarian, vegan, low carb, dairy free, heart healthy, and low in sodium.
The meals themselves are chef-crafted and prepared from fresh ingredients; they are, however, frozen before shipping and then shipped with dry ice to ensure that they don’t defrost. Cooking instructions (aka how long to microwave) come with each meal.
In addition to meal delivery to your doorstep, BistroMD also offers each customer a personalized weight loss plan designed by weight loss experts, along with diet analysis and support.
BistroMD is surprisingly affordable, especially when you consider that you get a personalized diet plan and prepared meals delivered right to your door.
|5 days/week||7 days/week|
Meals are shipped via FedEx ground and shipping costs $19.95.
Best for: Vegans, vegetarians, paleo dieters, people who want to lose weight
- Over 50 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to choose from
- All meals are plant-based, making it a great vegan and paleo option
- Free shipping for meal plans
- One-time order option is expensive
No poultry, meat, or dairy Veestro is the ultimate meal delivery service for vegans, people who want to embrace clean eating and paleo, or people who want to add more plant-based foods to their diets. Veestro specializes in creating delicious meals that are organic and plant-based (non-GMO plants), and there are over 50 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to choose from.
Veestro offers 3 meal plans: A La Carte, which allows you to handpick every meal in your basket, Chef’s Choice, in which the chef chooses the meals to send based on your food preferences, and Weight Loss, which offers 3 meals a day totaling approximately 1200 calories. If you opt for Chef’s Choice, you can tick off special food preferences like high protein or gluten-free.
What’s in Veestro Meals?
Your meals are created with fresh, organic ingredients, and then frozen using the latest technology. Your meals are packed with dry ice to keep them frozen, and they can be stored in the freezer for up to 8 weeks. When you’re ready to eat, just pop it into the microwave and enjoy!
Veestro offers competitive pricing, especially considering how specialized its meals are. A La Carte and Chef’s Choice have a similar pricing structure, while Weight Loss is set up a bit differently (and it’s also more costly).
A La Carte also offers the option of a one-time order (as opposed to recurring). Be aware though that the one-time order is significantly more expensive, and you have to pay $11 in shipping per meal. When you set up a recurring order, shipping is free, and you can pause, change your plan, or cancel at any time (before the next billing cycle).
|10 meals||20 meals||30 meals|
|A La Carte & Chef's Choice||$117||$216||$297|
|5 day plan||7 day plan|
|Weight Loss||$175.50 + free shipping||$226.80 + free shipping|
Favorite Meal: Carrot Osso Bucco
We love this for the sheer creativity of it—osso bucco from carrots? Crazy! And even though it doesn’t really taste like meat, it’s still delicious, probably something to do with the crimini mushrooms and delicious red wine sauce.
Best for: People who have specific dietary needs, people who enjoy hearty, delicious food but don’t have time to cook
- Options for single servings, full meals, and full meal programs
- Healthy meals with no preservatives, made from USA-sourced ingredients
- Huge variety of food options, including specialty meal plans
- Shipping isn’t free
- No set prices; the cost is determined based on the meals you choose
There is something rather magical about receiving healthy food delivered to your doorstep, especially when the meals come from MagicKitchen. This food delivery service prides itself on using USA-sourced ingredients, cooking without preservatives, and creating healthy choices for different audiences. MagicKitchen meals are prepared in small batches, then flash-frozen to preserve freshness.
MagicKitchen is one of the rare food delivery services that offers both food programs and the option of purchasing one order at at time.
There are 2 meal plans to choose from: A La Carte and Complete Meals. A La Carte allows you to choose your meals and mix and match entrees, sides, soups, and desserts, whereas Complete Meals offers prepackaged meals of 1 entree and 1-2 sides.
You can also order special meals that cater to your needs. Options include: Senior diet, portion control, diabetic-friendly, low sodium, low carb, low fat, renal diet, dialysis-friendly, gluten-free, and vegetarian.
The cost of MagicKitchen meals depends on what you order. You can order complete meals, single items (entree, soup, etc.), meal bundles, which typically include 7 portions of the same meal, or you can sign up to an auto-ship meal program, which is the standard option that most other food delivery services offer.
There are no set prices for the auto-ship program; once you set your food preferences and how many meals you want, you’ll be shown the total cost. Meals ordered in bulk are typically discounted, and shipping is calculated based on the weight of the box and distance it needs to be shipped.
Here’s sample pricing for low sodium, diabetic, and senior meal programs:
|1 complete meal||$75-$85|
|2 complete meals||$150-$165|
|3 complete meals||$225-$250|
Favorite Meal: Eggplant Parmigiana and Polenta with Spinach & Roasted Peppers
One of MagicKitchen’s best sellers, and it’s easy to see why. Okay, it’s not that easy to see, since MagicKitchen’s food photography leaves something to be desired—so just imagine rich and saucy eggplant and cheese paired with hearty, Italian-style polenta. And don’t be surprised when your mouth starts to water.
Choosing the Prepared Meal Delivery Service
That’s Best for You With so many similar meal delivery services to choose from, it can be hard to sit down and figure out which one is right for you. Especially since many of the top 5 offer customized options, like paleo, gluten-free, and keto, you might find yourself torn between all the good choices!
The good news is, all of these meal delivery services allow you to cancel at any time, and as long as you do so before the next billing cycle, you’ll only be charged once. Which means you have the luxury of trying one out; if you’re not a fan, just cancel and move on. If you love it, even better! The most important thing is that you get the peace of mind and body that comes from receiving healthy, nutritious meals delivered to your home.