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 like Blue Apron and Sunbasket have thrived in recent years (and thanks to the pandemic, of course).
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 deciding which of the many services out there is best for you.
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+||$7.49+||$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.
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.
If the cost of meal delivery kits gives you sticker shock, look at EveryPlate.
With prices starting at $4.99 a meal (plus shipping), you don’t have to compare this one to dining out. For many households, it will actually be cheaper than all the ingredients that go into a typical home-cooked meal. Those who prefer premium proteins and ingredients can upgrade to premium meals for an additional $3.99 per serving.
Each week, you choose from 17 meal options, including customer favorites like the Southwest pork flautas. EveryPlate has four plans to choose from, including veggie-forward dishes and family-friendly meals. To keep their prices low, however, they do not cater to special dietary needs, such as keto, gluten-free, paleo, or vegetarian. Nevertheless, customers can review the ingredients in each dish to make sure the meal accommodates their diet.
When asked why their meals are cheaper than competitors’, EveryPlate’s answer is simple: “less packaging and simple ingredients.” With this said, environmentally conscious customers will be pleased with EveryPlate’s recyclable packaging. Just break down the box, empty the ice packs, and toss the bags in the recycle bin when you’re finished cooking.
There’s a reason Blue Apron is popular. They’re pretty darn good and offer quite the variety to please their many customers.
At 50+ meals per week, Blue Apron has the widest selection of all the meal delivery services mentioned. To provide you with meals most suited to your lifestyle and dietary needs, Blue Apron asks for your preferences up front, such as “Family-Friendly,” “Fast & Easy,” or “Wellness.” You can also mention any foods you want to avoid, such as red meat or shellfish. Once they’ve learned a little about you, they’ll personalize your selection each week.
Another perk of Blue Apron’s service is the Meal Prep Plan. This option provides customers with eight servings you can prepare in under two hours on the weekend and enjoy throughout the week.
As for price, Blue Apron meals are a smidge more spendy than our aforementioned competitors, but still reasonable. Meals start at $7.49 per serving, and shipping is $9.99.
On top of a wider meal selection, Blue Apron also has a separate wine delivery service and an online market where customers can purchase kitchen tools and spice blends used by their very own chefs. The wine subscription comes with six 500ml bottles (two-thirds the size of a regular bottle) for a monthly fee of $69.99 (shipping included), and the market products include gift bundles, such as their “Everyday Spice Trio” and their “Perfect Pairing Wines” bundle.
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.
While HelloFresh does not offer specific meal plans for those with dietary restrictions — such as gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free meals — their wide selection can certainly accommodate some preferences.
For example, HelloFresh provides seven veggie dishes in the Classic Plan each week, many of which can be made vegan by excluding certain ingredients like cheese or yogurt. Folks who want low-calorie dishes can select the “Calorie Smart Preference” for meals featuring 650 calories or less, and those with little ones can click “Family Friendly” for foods made with kiddos in mind.
Additionally, HelloFresh’s new HelloCustom feature lets you customize dishes with your preferred protein and side. Would you rather have broccoli or crispy potatoes with your golden schnitzel chicken? For your roasted veggie kale salad, chicken or steak?
With prices starting at just $7.99 per meal, plus $9.99 for shipping, HelloFresh is an attractive option for those concerned about cost. As is the case with most meal-kit deliveries, however, fewer meals each week will cost more ($11.99 per serving for the two-person, two-meal plan).
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 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 within the first three months from account opening as well as 2x miles on every purchase.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® – Earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening (amounts to $1,000 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 60,000 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 beat, providing tasty dishes at $4.99 per serving.
No matter your preference, there’s likely a meal delivery service to suit your appetite.