I love a good home-cooked meal. My mom’s Cajun seafood pasta. My homemade black bean burgers. UGH! My mouth is watering.
But anything good in life comes at a cost, and for many the price of a good meal is time. We can easily lose hours scrolling for recipes and wandering grocery store aisles, not to mention actually cooking. That’s why meal delivery services have grown popular in recent years.
Meal delivery kits can help you save time, eat healthier, try new cuisines, cut down on dining out, and more. If anything, the trouble is choosing one.
Learn how different meal kits compare and find out which one is right for you here.
Quickly Compare: Home Chef vs. EveryPlate vs. Blue Apron vs. Freshly vs. HelloFresh vs. Sunbasket
This skimmable table can help you spot your best meal delivery match.
|Home Chef||EveryPlate||Blue Apron||Freshly||HelloFresh||Sunbasket|
|Best For||Time management||Price||Variety||Convenience||Customizable options||Quality ingredients|
|Price per meal||$6.99+||$4.99+||$7.99+||$8.99+||$7.99+||$9.99+|
|Minimum order||2 meals / 2 plates||3 meals / 2 plates||2 meals / 2 plates||4-12 individual meals||2 meals / 2 plates||2 meals / 2 plates|
|Delivery Cost||Starts at $9.99||$9.99||$9.99||Starts at $9.99||$9.99||$9.99|
|Promotion||Try Home Chef - Get $90 off your first 3 orders!||Try Every Plate - Get $60 off your first three boxes!||Try Blue Apron - Get $80 off your first 4 boxes!||Try Freshly - Get $60 off your first 4 boxes! or Try FreshlyFIT - Save $40 off your first order!||Try HelloFresh - Get $96 off in total over your first 4 deliveries including free shipping on the first box!||Try Sunbasket - Get $90 off + a free gift and free shipping on your first box!|
How Meal Subscriptions Work
All of these meal delivery options are similar in many ways.
Their chefs create delicious, healthy recipes, and the service ships everything right to your door. All deliver to most US zip codes and use packaging that keeps ingredients fresh for up to 24 hours after delivery and between four and five days in the fridge.
With the exception of Freshly, which delivers four to 12 single-serving meals, each company offers plans that serve at least two meals to families of two or more every week. If your schedule changes or you go out of town, these subscriptions are easy to pause or cancel whenever you like.
One downside to consider with meal-kit deliveries, however, is the environmental impact of the packaging. While most of the packaging is recyclable, everything is individually wrapped (plastic containers for liquids and plastic/paper bags for dry ingredients), and all meals come surrounded by foam liners and/or sandwiched between gigantic ice packs. Be sure to check their websites for each company’s recommendations on recycling their packages.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each service.
Best for Time Management: Home Chef
If time management is important to you, Home Chef is an excellent service to try.
Home Chef arranges many of their dishes by the time it takes to make them, from 15-minute meals like their prosciutto and fig mini flatbreads to elaborate dinners in their Culinary Collection like the bacon jalapeno popper steak sandwich.
Fairly priced at $6.99+ per serving (plus shipping), Home Chef is attractive because they offer 20 or more meal choices each week, with a good variety to meet dietary needs. You can opt for the traditional Home Chef plan or their “Fresh and Easy” plan, which provides low- or no-prep meals.
Home Chef can also accommodate many common allergies and dietary preferences, including calorie- and carb-conscious meals, vegetarian dishes, soy- and gluten-free foods, and more. You can customize your protein too, such as swapping a dish with ground pork for ground turkey, and add a la carte items, including breakfasts and desserts.
Some Home Chef kits are even available for purchase at your local Kroger grocery store.
Best for Price: EveryPlate
If the cost of meal delivery kits gives you sticker shock, look at EveryPlate. This meal delivery service is a much cheaper alternative to most others, including its parent company HelloFresh.
EveryPlate meals cost between $4.99 and $5.89 per serving plus a flat rate of $9.99 for shipping. These meal kits are cheaper than takeout and often groceries, and half the price or less of other meal kit delivery services. To keep costs low, EveryPlate uses simpler ingredients, recipes, and packaging. You can order three, four, or five meals per week for two or four people.
Each week, you choose from a menu of 18 different dishes, which includes about five vegetarian meals. The meal plan options are Meat & Veggie, Family-Friendly, Veggie, and Quick & Easy. You can customize many meals for free or a modest fee by swapping the protein or side.
EveryPlate meals are fuss-free and familiar, not fancy. If you want to kick your dinners up a notch, you can pay extra for premium meals. This will cost you between $4.99 and $6.99 more per serving for ingredients like seafood and steak and slightly more sophisticated dishes.
I tried EveryPlate for myself and found the meal kits to be practical and delicious. The recipes were easy to follow and most of the ingredients looked and tasted good. I did have issues with the quality of some of my produce, but not enough that I wouldn’t consider ordering again. And while the meal options are more limited than other services, there are still plenty of tasty dishes on the menu, especially if you love comfort food and classic flavors.
This is a great meal kit for anyone looking to save money on dinner, whether you’re single or cooking for a family. EveryPlate is also a good choice if you don’t like to cook or just don’t have much time for it, since all recipes are just six steps or less and are beginner-friendly.
If you’re looking for strictly healthy meals, you’re following a certain diet or you have dietary restrictions, or you like a lot of variety in your dinners, this might not be the right meal kit service for you.
Best for Variety: Blue Apron
Blue Apron is the second most popular meal delivery service. This company is known for unique dishes that often feel more elevated than other meal kits.
Blue Apron offers about 19 different meals per week including (usually) 14 meal kits, three prepared meals, and two ready-to-cook meals that you just put in the oven. The meal plans are Chef Favorites, Wellness, Family Friendly, and Fast & Easy. Compared to other meal kit services, Blue Apron’s menu features a lot more international flavors and outside-the-box combinations.
Compared to the price of other meal kit services, Blue Apron is on the higher end of average. The cost per meal ranges from $7.99 to $11.99. When setting up your account, you choose two, three, or four meals per week at two or four servings each. You can add optional wine pairings to your box for $11 per bottle or market items like breakfast, side dishes, and dessert.
When I tried Blue Apron, I was impressed by the variety. There were so many different globally-inspired, gourmet, and nutritious meals to choose from. The quality of ingredients was excellent and the food was restaurant-quality fantastic. Overall, this meal kit service made me feel like a pro and saved me a lot of time. I didn’t love the amount of plastic packaging Blue Apron uses and thought the recipes could be clearer, but I would order again.
If you’re looking for meals that are varied and interesting every week, this is the best meal delivery service for you. Blue Apron would be one of my first choices for people watching their weight too since so many meals are WeightWatchers approved and under 600 calories. This meal kit delivery service is also great for people who want quick prep or prepared meals.
Blue Apron might not be right for you if you have picky eaters in your family, are on a tight grocery budget as it is, or don’t have a lot of time to cook (but don’t want prepared meals). Also, it helps if you have more experience in the kitchen because the recipes can be a little vague, which beginners might find frustrating.
Best for Convenience: Freshly
If you want balanced meals delivered each week without the hassle of cooking, check out Freshly.
Freshly ships single-serving meals that are healthy, tasty, and convenient. So convenient, in fact, that you just stick ’em in the microwave for about three minutes.
Unlike their competitors, Freshly doesn’t offer plan options designed for families of two, three, or four. Instead, you can order four to 12 individual meals, like their sausage baked penne or unwrapped salsa verde burrito, for lunches and dinners throughout the week. And since Freshly’s meals are single-serving, they can accommodate a number of dietary preferences, including gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, plant-based, low-calorie, and carb-conscious.
For the singles, the workaholics, and the oven-averse, Freshly can’t be beat. If anything, their downside is the price. At $8.99 or more per meal, plus $9.99 or more for shipping, Freshly is one of the more expensive meal delivery services out there. While that may seem steep for a fancy microwave meal, you’re paying more to skip the prep time, cook time, and cleanup.
Best for Beginners: HelloFresh
One of the first meal kit delivery services ever and the most popular still today, HelloFresh has meal kits figured out. Fun recipes that are easy and educational make this the best meal delivery service for beginners.
HelloFresh offers six different meal plans to choose from, including a vegetarian option, a family-friendly option, and a pescatarian option. Each recipe includes a Climate Score, a difficulty rating, and nutrition facts. Including custom combinations like swapping your protein or side, the rotating menu features over 30 recipes.
HelloFresh is better than many meal services at catering to different dietary needs. While most meals aren’t allergy-friendly, there are a lot of options to change ingredients so you can make recipes work for you (often for free).
You can order anywhere from two to six recipes per week — way more options than other meal delivery services — for two or four people each. The cost per serving is between $7.99 and $11.99 plus $9.99 shipping, comparable to Blue Apron.
I tried three meals from HelloFresh, and I loved the whole experience. My favorite things about this company were the packaging and the recipe cards. HelloFresh boxes contain surprisingly little plastic and the meals are separated into individual paper bags, which was way more convenient than sorting through a box full of ingredients. The recipes, another huge strength, included large pictures of each step and helpful tips.
I’d recommend HelloFresh for beginners, people who want to reduce their waste, and families who need meals both children and adults will love. The recipes are easy to follow and there are several kid-friendly dishes on the menu. Plus, HelloFresh lets you customize to your liking.
If it’s healthy meals you’re after, you’re probably going to want to choose a different meal delivery service. HelloFresh has some balanced meals, but a lot of recipes are high in fat and calories. This also isn’t the most affordable meal kit. HelloFresh will save you time grocery shopping but might not save you money or might cost more than you spend on dinner now.
Best for Quality Ingredients: Sunbasket
Sunbasket is a meal delivery service that caters to people valuing sustainable business practices and healthy, organic ingredients.
This service prioritizes quality, first and foremost. They work with select ranchers and fisherman who respect and care for their animals, as well as farmers who provide 100% organic produce.
Sunbasket has a variety of meals for those who are paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more. You can also select preferences like “High Protein,” “Low Calorie,” and even “Diabetes-Friendly.” For families, Sunbasket has kid-friendly dishes, which feature recipe instructions that include suggestions for how kids can help.
In addition to their many creative dishes — like the Moroccan-spiced salmon with jeweled couscous and lemon yogurt or the triple-mushroom quinoa with watercress, scallions, and peas — Sunbasket has an online market, similar to Blue Apron, where you can purchase everything from breakfasts to snacks, to quick lunches and even specialty meats.
The catch with Sunbasket is the price tag. For $9.99 per serving (plus shipping), you’ll receive a pre-made meal, ready in under four minutes. However, if you prefer a meal kit with fresh ingredients you can cook yourself, Sunbasket’s prices are a little steeper at $11.49 per serving.
How to Earn Cash Back and Travel Rewards on Meal Delivery Kits
Meal delivery kits can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to cut costs and earn cash back on your purchases.
For instance, AMEX cardholders can earn up to 8,000 Membership Rewards® points when they purchase Home Chef boxes (four total, 2,000 points per box) with their card.
Additionally, there are a number of excellent credit cards you can use to earn cash back and travel rewards with your meal delivery purchases. For most credit cards, meal-kit deliveries do not count towards grocery purchases, but there are some exceptions. For instance, Chase Bank includes meal-kit deliveries in their “Online Grocery” category.
Here are some other notable cards to consider:
- American Express® Gold – Earn 75,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first six months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture – Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening as well as 2x miles on every purchase.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® – Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening (amounts to $750 toward travel, when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® – Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases when you spend up to $20,000 within the first year from account opening – worth up to $300 cash back.
- Chase Freedom FlexSM – Earn a $200 bonus when you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening as well as 5% cash back on their quarterly bonus category (may include “Online Grocery” for meal-kit deliveries).
- Citi Premier® – Earn 80,000 points when you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.
If you want to eat well, but don’t have the time to plan and shop for every dinner, meal subscription services offer a solution. You’ll pay a hefty premium over doing your own shopping, but these services will likely save you money (and be better for you) than take-out.
While all these companies offer delicious, healthy dishes, think about your unique priorities before you subscribe. Need something quick and low maintenance? Freshly meals come ready to devour in just three minutes or less.
If you like the convenience of Freshly but would prefer higher quality ingredients, Sunbasket may be a better fit. They offer fresh and organic premade meals you can heat up in minutes, as well as meal-kits you can cook yourself.
If cost is your primary concern, EveryPlate can’t be beaten, providing tasty dishes at $4.99 per serving.
No matter your preference, there’s likely a meal delivery service to suit your appetite.