Best Meal Kit Delivery Services to Try in 2019
If you’re a stressed-out parent looking to make better food at home or a single looking to hone your kitchen skills, home meal kit delivery can have you putting together delicious and unique home-cooked meals in no time.
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.
When looking for a meal delivery service, there are a few things to consider beyond just the price per meal. Most meal kit delivery services allow you to pick your meals from a selected group of recipes that changes each week. Make sure that the variety of meals is to your liking, and in particular if you have any dietary issues - such as a gluten sensitivity or if you’re a vegetarian - you’ll want to make sure that the company can provide enough options for it to be worth your time - and money. Also, life can be unpredictable, you’ll want to look for a company that will allow you to skip a week if you’d like, or that makes cancelling your membership painless and simple.
Our Top 5 Meal Kit Delivery Services
Most meal kit companies charge per meal, with the offerings typically hovering around $10 per meal. The prices are usually lower for special offers like dessert, snacks, and smoothies. It can also be somewhat cheaper per meal with a family plan or if you purchase vegetarian meals or breakfasts.
$9.99 per serving/$8.74 per serving for family plan
$9.95 per serving
$11.99 per serving/$9.99 per serving for family menu
$8.99-$12.50 per serving
Shipping is one of the main costs of signing up for a meal kit service, and if a company offers free or discounted shipping, it can make a huge difference.
$10 on orders less than $45. Free on orders over $45.
$6.99 per order, first week includes free delivery
Most companies only ship to the continental US. Within the lower 48, you may not be eligible for delivery if you live in a remote area, check with the company before ordering. Some companies also only agree to deliver to a private residence, not a workplace or commercial building.
All of the US except Alaska and Hawaii
98% of the US (search your zip code on company website)
All of the US except Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, and some of New Mexico
Delivers to 27 states in the US
All meal kit companies are great for people looking to improve their home cooking, but some have a more particular focus, for instance people who want quick, simple recipes, or who have dietary concerns and need gluten-free, soy-free, and other similar plans.
People looking for easy recipes
People who want to eat healthier with easy recipes
People cooking for families; vegetarian, gluten and dairy free options
People who want to eat tasty, gluten-free meals
This is one of the areas where meal kit companies can set themselves apart from the crowd. For customers, it can be a fun way to keep things fresh and interesting.
One breakfast option per week
Smoothies and fruit baskets, flexible servings
Customize the recipes you select in your basket each week
If you have special dietary needs, you'll need to check to make sure the company you sign up with can meet them. Certain companies have more options than others, but with most companies you should be able to accommodate your meal plan to your dietary needs.
Meals are marked dairy free, egg free, nut free where relevant.
Meals available include - vegetarian, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free
Paleo, lean and clean, gluten free, vegetarian, Mediterranean, vegan, and pescatarian
Meal kit companies put an emphasis on using sustainable, high-quality ingredients and are big supporters of the farm to table movement. Some companies have more organic options and certifications than others, but an emphasis on quality is nearly universal.
Ingredients come “fresh from the source.”
Food sourced from “top quality vendors”
Over 99% of the produce is organic, antibiotic and hormone free, and sustainable.
Quality, organic ingredients—always free of additives, chemicals, artificial ingredients, and refined sugars
Recipes per week
This is one of the main areas where companies can stick out from the crowd. With more weekly meal options, you're less likely to have repeat offerings.
8 in classic menu, 3 in veggie menu, 5 in family menu
12 dinners, 3x5-minute lunches
18 on classic menu, 6 on family menu
26 entrees and 7 breakfasts
Number of menus
Most meal kit companies keep it simple with a basic overall menu and a family menu - the latter usually having easier to make, more kid-friendly meals. With some services you also have an option for a veggie menu.
3 - classic, veggie, and family
One menu but you can see options up to 5 weeks in advance
2 - classic and family
4, 6, 9 or 12 meals per week
What’s in the box
The box comes with your orders for that week. You will have the recipes for each meal printed out clearly on easily to follow recipe cards, and the ingredients wrapped and marked. Usually the meat and fish will be at the bottom in vacuum-sealed packs with ice packs on both side. The boxes will also include insulation to keep the food from spoiling until you pick up. With most companies, all or at least most of the packaging is fully recyclable.
Recipe cards and nutritional facts, each meal individually boxed inside the main box, ice packs, individually-wrapped produce and sealed meats.
Coupons, recipes, nutritional facts, insulation and ice packs, produce, meat and fish (individually vacuum-sealed). Seasoning and condiments.
Recipes with photos and nutritional facts, thick insulation, meals individually bagged, ice packs, meats individually vacuum-sealed, fruits, vegetables, spices.
Fresh, pre-made meals and packaging
Most companies keep their recipes easy enough for a novice to follow without getting bogged down. Factor in about 30 minutes for your recipe.
About 30 minutes
About 30 minutes
About 30 minutes
About 5 minutes
Meal kit companies keep things simple - that's a major reason for why they've been so popular.
From time to time, there may be a week where the menu offerings just aren't to your liking. Most meal kit companies will let you skip a week whenever you want to, and also won't make it difficult for you to cancel your membership.
Packaging is a major concern for many consumers, and with meal kits there is quite a bit of packaging. These companies are aware of how important this is to consumers, and that's why all or most of the packaging is recyclable.
Fully recyclable (except some winter liners)
Works with local food suppliers
All meal kit companies work with local food suppliers to varying degrees—so you can rest easy if this is an important issue for you.
$9.99 per meal with veggie and classic plans, $8.74 per meal for family plan
Everywhere in the US that isn’t Alaska or Hawaii
8 weekly meals on classic menu, 3 in veggie menu, 5 in family menu
Great food doesn’t need to be a hassle. HelloFresh gets this, and that’s why each of their recipes only take 6 steps or less and will have you sitting down to dig in within 30 minutes.
Now, there are only 8 menu items to choose from per week, but the ingredients are responsibly sourced and highly customizable. The menus feature a wide variety of meat, fish, poultry, pasta, produce and grains, so you should be able to find something that works for your palate.
And while there isn’t currently a dessert option, that company is one of the few that offers breakfast in addition to dinner, so you can start your day off right.
12 dinners, 3 five minute lunches, One smoothie, one fruit basket to pick from per week
Home Chef has put a personalized touch on the meal kit industry, letting customers build a “taste profile” which helps the company determine which meals will be the best match for them.
The meals are easy and straightforward, and you can find options for all type of dietary needs, including vegetarian, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free meals.
There are only about a dozen meals to choose from per week, though the recipes are interesting and easy enough to be all but foolproof. The company works hard to source ingredients locally and use only top-shelf providers.
$11.99 per meal on the classic menu, $9.99 per meal for family menu
Delivery across the US - except Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, and some of New Mexico
18 meals per week on classic menu, 6 on the family menu
Sun Basket combines variety and high-quality ingredients to create one of the best meal kit delivery options on the market.
The company’s mission is based around 3 core values - clean eating, flavorful meals, and sustainability. Over 99% of the produce the company supplies is organic, and Sun Basket always uses organic dairy and eggs, antibiotic and hormone free meat and poultry, and puts a real focus on using sustainable providers.
How’s that translate to your dinner table? With Sun Basket you can find options for paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian diets, and recipes ranging from mu shu pork to Vietnamese salad bowls. You can also pick and choose “lean and clean” healthy eating options.
The recipes are easy to make, and with organic, premium ingredients, you’ll be asking for seconds.
26 entrees and 7 breakfasts to choose from each week
If you’re looking for variety in a meal delivery service, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Freshly. Every week the company features more than 2 dozen entrees to pick from, in addition to 7 breakfasts, and all of it is pre-prepared and ready to eat.
Dining options range from high protein to vegetarian, paleo friendly and low calorie. If you have particular goals for your eating regimen, Freshly can probably find a plan that works for you. In addition, the company is certified 100% gluten-free.
Freshly’s menus are based on “a new standard of health,” with meals averaging 30 grams of protein and 500 calories.
At the moment, the company doesn’t offer desserts or snacks and is only available in 27 states. If it's available in your area though, you’ll have access to the sort of variety that would put most meal delivery companies to shame.
Why Try a Meal Delivery Service and How to Choose the Right One for You?
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.
With HelloFresh, for example, all packaging is fully recyclable—from the insulating liners to the ice packs and the meal separators.
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!