Much effort goes into planning and preparing every tasty home-cooked meal. But if you’re one of the many people who can’t fit homemade dinners into the daily grind, you no longer have to settle for freezer meals.
Meal delivery companies are subscription services that do most of the prep work, so all that’s left is the cooking part. For a fraction of the time and effort, subscribers enjoy home-cooked meals and explore new recipes each week.
We tested 10 different companies and sampled four to five meals from each. Read below what our testers had to say, and find out which subscription boxes are our top picks for best meal delivery services.
Our Top Picks for Best Meal Delivery Services
- Blue Apron – Best meal delivery service for beginners
- HelloFresh – Best budget meal delivery service
- Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon – Best for families
- Green Chef – Best for celiac disease
- SunBasket – Best for weight loss
- Home Chef – Best for customization
- Purple Carrot – Best for vegans
Best Meal Delivery Services Reviews
Why we chose it: Blue Apron’s pared-down and curated meal selection make it a solid choice for first-time users who want to try out meal kits, improve their culinary skills and explore new recipes.
- Meal options for omnivores and vegetarians
- Diabetic-friendly recipes
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Wine bundles, pantry items and kitchen tool add-ons
- Ready-to-eat options
- Not suitable for vegans or other dietary restrictions
- You can only order up to four meals a week
Blue Apron offers four meal plans: Signature, Wellness, Vegetarian and Signature for Four.
The Signature plan has the most variety, with over 15 meal options. Additional search tags like “chef’s favorite,” “premium,” “family-friendly,” or “easy prep” help narrow your choices.
Our tester sampled the Signature plan and enjoyed all the recipes, stating that she’d order from Blue Apron again. The recipes are easy to follow, and the pictures included help speed up the cooking process.
One standout dish was the sheet pan cheesy mango chicken: “This dish was delicious and very filling. The combination of cheese and mango has both a sweet and savory taste that I rarely achieve when cooking on my own. It was also nice to do an easy sheet pan meal, although I did have to put them on separate sheets because it wouldn’t all fit on one. It was visually appealing, and I would definitely order it again.”
On the downside, subscribers can only order up to four meals per week, and the servings are capped at four. Larger households, or customers who want meals for the entire week, are best served by other companies on our list.
Why we chose it: With a starting price of just $8.99 per serving and a wide variety of additional discounts, Hello Fresh made our list as the best budget meal delivery service.
- Low calorie, pescatarian, vegetarian and quick-cook options
- Generous discount codes
- Snacks, dessert, breakfast and protein pack add-ons
- No specific dietary plans
- Not suitable for dietary restrictions
- Recipes may be too simple for experienced home cooks
Hello Fresh’s meal kits include pre-measured ingredients and recipe cards with easy-to-follow instructions. Most meals should take around 25 to 35 minutes to prepare, although a handful of “gourmet” recipes may take longer — up to 50 minutes.
Our tester sampled five different recipes and found most meals tasty, filling and easy to make. She also noted the ingredients allowed her to eat things she usually wouldn’t. About one of the meals, zucchini and mushroom bibimbap bowls, she says: “I always order bibimbap at Korean restaurants, but I'd never considered that I could handle making my own! I was impressed with every aspect of this recipe — it was filling, tasty and easy to customize.”
The white cheddar wonderburgers recipe was the only underwhelming meal in the kit. “The recipe didn't tell me to mix anything into the ground beef,” our reviewer says. “Therefore the patties were kind of flavorless. It could have used garlic powder, dry ranch seasoning!”
The package arrived on time in optimal condition, and the ingredients were fresh. The ingredients inside the box were divided by meal and labeled in individual brown paper bags. The cardboard delivery box and paper bags were recyclable, and veggies were placed in bags without individual packaging. However, ingredients such as cheese, spices and sauces were individually wrapped in plastic, resulting in unnecessary waste.
Why we chose it: We chose Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon as the best for families because it offers 45 different dishes each week, from comfort food staples like sausage and ricotta lasagna to gourmet items such as honey-glazed pork tenderloin.
- 45 recipes to choose from
- Add-ons include protein packs, breakfast and dessert items
- Low carb, low calorie, quick-cook, vegan and vegetarian options
- Keto-friendly options
- No dedicated dietary plans
- Not appropriate for severe gluten allergies
Marley Spoon offers 45 recipes each week, and every meal is tagged with labels such as “kid-friendly,” “dairy-free,” “meat” or “vegetarian.”
Our tester enjoyed Marley Spoon’s fresh ingredients and recipe ideas. The recipes were easy to follow, although she felt that the cooking times were “overly optimistic” — all but one recipe took longer than the estimated time.
The most popular meal with our tester’s family was the everything bagel salmon with creamy chive potatoes and green beans: “This was a big hit. The salmon pieces weren't that big, but they tasted good. The potatoes tasted good and were very filling. The green beans were not plentiful, but the flavor was nice.”
Some other recipes were hit or miss, but this was mainly due to each person's personal preference.
On the downside, the packaging was confusing because the ingredients were grouped per category instead of per meal, with all the veggies, meats and pantry items in separate containers. That said, Marley Spoon’s meal kit produces much less waste by packaging the items this way, rather than individually.
Why we chose it: We chose Green Chef as the best option for celiac disease because the company is certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group. This certification ensures that the available gluten-free meals and the facility where the meals are prepared meet strict gluten-free standards.
- Dedicated menus for keto, paleo, vegan and vegetarian diets
- Gluten-free certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group
- USDA Certified organic produce and eggs
- The "Fast & Fit" meal plan has fewer items
- Expensive at $12.99 per serving
Green Chef’s meal kits are sorted into Mediterranean, keto + paleo, Fast & Fit and gluten-free. Subscribers looking for gluten-free meals have over 10 weekly recipes available, most of which take 35 minutes or less to cook.
Green Chef is also certified organic by the USDA, meaning that all its produce and eggs are organic. That said, your box may still include non-certified ingredients if the company’s unable to source them organically.
Our tester sampled recipes from the keto + paleo meal plan, which included several gluten-free dishes, and enjoyed all the meals he tried. His favorite dish was the chicken and butternut squash hash: “The chicken cutlet was fresh, juicy and the seasoning was superb. The veggies tasted fresh. Overall, four out of five stars.”
The meals were easy to cook, and even though he was unfamiliar with the recipes, he said he would order from Green Chef again. However, the price would be a determining factor if he had to pick a meal kit over grocery shopping or eating out. Budget-conscious consumers may not be best served by Green Chef’s high price point.
Why we chose it: SunBasket’s weekly menu offers meal options for 10 different categories, including keto, low calorie, vegan and Mediterranean. Consumers with weight loss goals can choose from various nutritious meals, no matter their weight loss plan.
- Menu options for most dietary restrictions like keto, low calorie and vegan
- Produce is organically sourced whenever possible
- Ready-to-eat options
- Some produce ingredients arrived past their point of freshness
SunBasket uses USDA-certified organic produce whenever possible and offers menu items for the following diets: gluten-free, dairy-free, omnivore, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, diabetes-friendly and soy-free.
Meal kits may not be the best option if your goal is to lose weight. Pre-made meals aimed at weight loss have a well-earned reputation for often being bland, flavorless and not very filling. Furthermore, their effectiveness isn’t guaranteed, since each body is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan proven to help you shed pounds.
We decided to feature SunBasket for its focus on nutrient-rich, healthy meals that work for different dietary needs. Subscribers can select a SunBasket meal plan that best fits their weight loss goals, ideally in collaboration with a plan from a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Our tester sampled SunBasket’s gluten-free recipes, and she found the dishes both filling and satisfying. The kit had generous portion sizes — the kimchi fried rice with peas, bok choy and fried eggs in particular were enough for three servings.
One notable downside was that some ingredients arrived partially spoiled or wilted. The dishes were still tasty, but spoiled greens shouldn’t be the norm, especially from a company that promotes its use of fresh, high-quality ingredients.
SunBasket did its best to limit excessive packaging — the meals were packaged individually in brown paper bags with the corresponding ingredients. However, the vegetables were packaged in non-recyclable sealed plastic bags.
Why we chose it: We chose Home Chef as best for customization because you can pick from a variety of meals, including gourmet recipes, 15-minute meals and ready-to-eat recipes. You can customize many of these dishes by swapping out the protein as well.
- Offers meal kits and ready-to-eat dishes
- Subscribers can swap ingredients and customize recipes
- Easy-to-cook meals and ingredients
- Limited vegetarian options
- Some recipes require specific cooking utensils
- Not suitable for people on strict gluten-free or dairy-free diets
Home Chef’s meal plans are versatile in terms of their preparation style. You can find gourmet dishes in the Culinary Collection, standard meal kits, easy prep recipes (that take from 15 to 30 minutes of prep time) and oven-ready or grill-ready dishes. For protein, subscribers can choose between fish, poultry, beef or a meat substitute.
All the ingredients arrived fresh and in proper packaging. There weren’t any problems with quality or storage and everything kept well throughout the week.
Our tester enjoyed all of the meals and decided to switch out her current meal kit service for Home Chef. Here’s what she had to say about the first meal she tried, a chili-lime enchilada chicken: “SO GOOD. It also came with pre-chopped veggies, so it was just slightly more complicated to make than heating up a TV dinner.” She also mentioned that one of the recipes required a meat thermometer, something not many people have at home.
Home Chef’s packaging included non-recyclable plastic waste. The only recyclable items were the cardboard box and the ice packs used to keep the box cool while in transit.
Why we chose it: We chose Purple Carrot as best for vegans because it exclusively offers a diet fully free of animal products, using ingredients and spices from a variety of cuisines.
- Exclusively offers vegan meal kits and ready-to-eat dishes
- Extras include breakfast, lunch and vegan pantry items
- Gluten-free, nut-free and low-calorie options
- Some recipes require specific cooking utensils
- Only delivers 3-4 meals per week
- High price point at $11.99 per serving
Purple Carrot’s menu includes a curated list of vegan dishes inspired by a variety of flavor profiles, such as Thai or West African food. You can also find several gluten-free, high-protein, and calorie-conscious options.
We received positive feedback from our tester, who found the recipes easy to follow. He’d order from them again, mainly because he could sample new and interesting vegan dishes with minimal effort.
Here’s what he had to say about the tofu palak paneer with quinoa & mango chutney dish: “This was my favorite dish. The jalapeño and spinach blended into a vibrant green curry. The recipe warns that this dish is spicy. It was a tiny bit of a let down on that front: not spicy enough.”
One notable drawback was Purple Carrot’s excessive packaging. Each meal and individual ingredient arrived heavily wrapped in plastic, which works for some ingredients but not for others. Ginger root — a key ingredient in several meals — spoiled faster than expected and our tester was unable to use it. Unwrapped, ginger root tends to outlast most veggies but it seems that the plastic packaging trapped moisture and accelerated its spoilage.
Other companies we considered
Below, you’ll find brief reviews for some lesser-known meal kit delivery companies we were unable to test. You’ll also find reviews for services we sampled but were not one of our top picks due to packaging issues or the quality of meals.
- Suitable for most dietary requirements
- Highly customizable
- Grocery store and meal kit hybrid
- Deliveries start at $65
- Prices vary a lot
- No mobile app
- No designed meal plans
Hungryroot is a unique meal delivery service providing a combination of meal kits and grocery items. This makes for a very customizable service that can cater to most, if not all, dietary requirements.
To start, you’ll take a quiz to determine your dietary needs, recipe preferences and quantity of meals and groceries you’d like. Hungryroot then uses that information to create a plan with all the necessary ingredients and provide a list of recommended recipes, along with any additional grocery or pantry items you’ll need for the week.
Our team didn’t have the opportunity to sample Hungryroot, but we encourage you to try them out. The service is a one-stop-shop for meal kits and everything else you may need in your fridge or pantry.
- No cooking required
- Meals arrive refrigerated, not frozen
- Meals are developed by a team of chefs and nutritionists
- Servings start at $8.99
- Single servings only
- No breakfast, snack or dessert add-ons
Freshly is one of the most affordable ready-to-eat meal delivery services. With over 40 items listed, it offers an extensive menu with options for most dietary needs — vegan, low calorie, gluten-free and dairy free diets.
Consumers with severe gluten allergies can safely order from Freshly, since it’s certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group. This certification guarantees that gluten-free meals are prepared in a gluten-free kitchen, safe from any cross contamination.
We didn't include Freshly in our top picks because it technically isn't a meal kit service. That said, those that prefer the convenience of ready-to-eat meals may enjoy Freshly's service. The company has favorable online reviews, and it's currently one of the most popular meal delivery companies.
- Ready-to-eat, non-frozen meals (lunch, dinner, dessert and snacks)
- Keto, vegetarian, vegan and low calorie options
- Nutrition coaching available
- No gluten-free alternatives
- Single-servings only
- Few menu items for vegan and vegetarians
Factor 75 is a popular option for health-conscious consumers who want ready-to-eat meals, especially those following a ketogenic diet. Registered dietitians design weekly menus, and the meals are prepared in-house near your delivery date. This makes a big difference in freshness, as the meals arrive refrigerated, not frozen.
We didn’t get a chance to sample Factor 75, so we can’t attest to its taste. Online reviewers mention that while certain dishes are hit or miss, they have received tasty meals and many would keep using the service.
- Ready-to-eat meals
- Uses organic and non-GMO ingredients
- 100% recyclable packaging
- Meals are frozen
- Single servings only
Veestro offers ready-to-eat vegan meals exclusively. Meal plans are split into A La Carte and Weight Loss and you can filter the dishes by additional dietary preferences, such as high-protein, gluten-free and low-calorie.
The menu is extensive, with over 40 options for lunch and dinner and a smaller selection of breakfast meals. We didn’t get a chance to sample this service, but we suggest you try it if you’re looking for healthy, ready-to-eat alternatives to vegan meal kits like Purple Carrot. That said, Veestro’s high cost — meals start at $11.03 for a single serving — can be a turn-off for budget-conscious consumers.
- Vegan and quick-cook meals
- Promotes sustainable farming practices through its partnership with the American Farmland Trust (AFT) and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)
- The recipes could've been more flavorful
- All frozen ingredients
Daily Harvest offers a variety of plant-based frozen items — flatbreads, bakes, chia bowls, grain bowls and soups — that are cooked either in the microwave, stovetop or oven. There are also ready-to-blend soups, smoothies, dessert, breakfast and snack items.
Subscribers pick their preferred box size (6, 9, 14 or 24 items per box) and select menu items from all categories up to the box limit. They can also filter items by dietary needs, like keto, gluten-free, high protein, low carb, low calorie and vegan. In practice, filters like “keto” returned a minimal selection of meals at Daily Harvest, while gluten-free had more variety.
Daily Harvest didn’t make it into our top picks because our tester found that the meals left a lot to be desired in the flavor department, even though they were filling and nutritious. Customers should also note that on June 2022, Daily Harvest issued a recall on its lentil and leeks crumble dish after multiple customer complained on social media about a range of stomach issues.
- Affordable – $4.69 per serving
- Includes vegetarian, dairy free, low carb and low cal options
- Breakfast, dessert, sides and protein pack add-ons
- Not suitable for gluten-free diets
- Required additional ingredients, such as flour, milk, vinegar and garlic
- Packaging arrived broken and some ingredients were damaged
Dinnerly is Marley Spoon’s meal kit alternative for budget-conscious consumers. Most of the meals our tester sampled were tasty, except for a Thai coconut curry chicken recipe, which “unfortunately, lacked much flavor.” She also found that the portions were too small for a two-person household.
Dinnerly didn’t make it to our final picks due to packaging issues. The package broke in transit (bread, peas and chicken were unusable), and the tester couldn’t make two dishes. The kit also required additional pantry items such as flour, milk, vinegar and garlic on top of the standard oil, salt and pepper.
- Affordable at $4.99 per serving
- Easy-to-follow recipes
- Packaging broke in transit, making some ingredients unusable
- May not be suitable for people that want high-fiber, nutritionally-rich diets
Similar to Dinnerly, EveryPlate’s selling point is affordability, with prices at under $5 per serving. The Turkish chicken and rice bowl was our tester’s favorite dish. The rest of the dishes didn’t meet her nutritional preferences — she found some of them too rich (high in sugar and fats) and lacking vegetables. She also encountered problems with the packaging and had to throw out a handful of potatoes because the chicken package had leaked — a potential health risk that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Meal Delivery Services Guide
What is a meal delivery service?
A meal delivery service is a subscription-based service that mails pre-selected meals to your door. When you subscribe to the service, you’ll first choose a meal plan based on your nutritional needs and how many meals and servings you’d like per week. Then you choose the recipes you’d like to try. Many companies focus on specific dietary preferences, such as vegan, vegetarian, low calorie or organic.
We split meal delivery services into two categories:
Meal kit delivery services send out a box of portioned, prepped ingredients with recipe cards. The company takes care of the planning, shopping and ingredients prep, and delivers everything to your home once a week. You only need to follow the recipes and cook each meal as instructed. The kits will provide everything you need, save for standard pantry items — salt, pepper, oil or butter — and cooking tools such as pans, pots, knives, bowls and cutting boards.
Ready-to-eat meals are frozen or refrigerated meals that only require heating. Just like with meal kits, subscribers choose dishes from an online menu according to dietary preferences. This may sound similar to the TV dinners you’d get in the freezer aisle, but ready-to-eat meals are often fresher and of higher quality. The meals are prepared on-site near the delivery date and then sent to you in a refrigerated box, without any preservatives or high amounts of sodium.
How meal kit delivery services work
Meal kit delivery services work as online subscriptions. Users sign up, pay and manage their plans online or with a mobile app. We subscribed to over 10 meal kit delivery services in order to test them out.
Here’s a breakdown of how the services work:
Sign up — Choose a meal plan according to how many meals you want delivered in a week and how many servings you need in each meal. From there, you can view the menu and all the dietary options available.
Meal plan — Select the number of meals per week and the serving amount of each meal. For example, you can order meals for five days and servings for two to six people. Note that few companies allow you to choose only one serving, so if you live alone, you’ll have to order for at least two people.
Cost — The starting price for a week of meals ranges from $40 to $120, depending on the company and the number of meals and number of servings you order. Most companies periodically offer discount codes, so it’s a good idea to do a quick Google search for coupons before checkout. Shipping costs are fixed and included in the total amount.
Payment — Once you’ve selected the meal plan and servings, you’ll need a credit card or PayPal account to set up the subscription. You don’t have to commit to the service for any length of time and you can cancel at any time, provided it’s before the cut-off date for weekly orders.
Managing your subscriptions — Subscribers can pause the subscription, change their meal plan or skip deliveries as needed, without penalties. However, there is a cutoff date for any modifications — usually four to six days before the next scheduled delivery. Any changes or cancellations made after that won’t apply to the upcoming delivery.
Pausing or cancelling your subscription — This proved to be a bit tricky. Some companies had the pause/skip option visible and accessible, while others made us dig around the website to find it. A few companies only displayed a cancel option on the web, not on mobile, and others required that you send an email or call customer service.
Even after cancelling the subscription, we could still log in and view our personal and payment information on some websites. If this is something that concerns you, it’s best to contact the company directly and request to have your information removed.
What's a food delivery app?
A food delivery app refers to services such as Grubhub, Doordash and UberEats.
With a food delivery app, consumers order take-out for delivery from a network of participating restaurants and fast-food establishments. At checkout, the company charges an additional fee to have a driver pick up the order and deliver it to your home.
In contrast, a meal delivery service is a subscription service that gathers the ingredients, designs a meal plan, sorts and preps the food, cooks the meals (if applicable) and delivers the kit to your door in a refrigerated and insulated package.
Are meal kit delivery services worth it?
Simply put, it depends on what you’re looking for. Subscribing to a meal kit service means paying for time and convenience. These services take care of grocery shopping, planning and prepping, so that you can redirect your energy towards other priorities.
Here are some pros and cons to consider:
- Convenience — no need to shop, plan or prep meals
- Healthier alternative to takeout or TV dinners
- Reduced food waste — you receive exactly what you need for each meal
- Options for all sorts of diets and nutritional preferences
- Expensive – the price per serving is high, compared to doing it yourself
- Packaging and insulating materials generate a lot of waste
- May not satisfy experienced cooks
If meal kit delivery services don’t work for you, there are other ways to simplify your at-home meal prep:
- Pressure cookers are great to make all sorts of one-pot meals. An Instant Pot or similar gadget allows you to set a timer and walk away. You get a bit of time back and find a fully cooked meal by the time you return, with minimal supervision.
- A food processor goes a very long way in meal prep. You can chop or grate veggies in bulk, make hummus and other dips and even shortcrust pastry. It’s an incredibly useful appliance, although admittedly tedious to clean. To speed up the process for foods like mashed potatoes, jams and jellies, you can also use a food mill. It simultaneously mashes and filters out the seeds and skins, saving you the effort of labor-intensive foods like homemade applesauce or tomato sauce.
- Immersion blenders allow you to purée, emulsify and mix just about anything on the stovetop — no need to use a separate blender.
How do you choose the best meal kit delivery service for you?
The right meal kit will fit your budget, nutritional needs and household size. It should also taste good and deliver on its promise of convenience.
Cost of meal kits range anywhere from $5 to $25 per serving. Think about your dietary needs and how much you spend on groceries and take-out, and go from there. Even if you can’t afford a full week of meals, you can still enjoy a meal kit’s convenience within your budget by ordering just one or two dishes per delivery.
Your nutritional needs can be anything from eating healthier to following a gluten-free or vegan diet. Fortunately, there’s a meal kit for everyone, and companies are very transparent with the nutritional profile of their products. You can view detailed nutritional information of every dish, even without an active subscription.
Note that those who follow more restrictive diets, such as vegan and gluten-free, have fewer companies to choose from compared to vegetarians and omnivores. The same can be said for diabetics. Some companies tagged recipes as “diabetes-friendly,” but in most cases, it’s up to the consumer to read the nutritional information of each dish.
The companies that best accommodate restrictive diets feature:
- Dedicated meal plans with pre-selected dishes
- Menu search filters like “gluten-free,””carb conscious,” “dairy-free” and “diabetes-friendly”
- Options to substitute protein for plant-based meat alternatives
Think about how much time you can spare for cooking the meal kits. The kits take care of the prep, but if you prefer not to cook at all, ready-to-eat meal delivery services are a better option. You can also look for meal kit companies that offer fast and easy-to-cook dishes, such as skillet or oven-ready meals.
The meal kit companies reviewed offered servings for at least two people. Those who live alone will have leftovers, which can be a good thing if you plan on splitting the meals into lunch and dinner.
If you’d rather have a single serving, companies that sell ready-to-eat meals may serve you best. Families and large households should look for companies that offer more servings and a varied menu that includes kid-friendly meals.
Meal Delivery Services FAQ
How much do meal kit delivery services cost?
What is the cheapest meal delivery service?
Which meal delivery service is the easiest?
Ready-to-eat meal delivery services are arguably the easiest, since there's no cooking involved. You just heat and eat. Popular companies in this category include Freshly, Factor75, Fresh n' Lean and Veestro.
Meal kits require a bit more effort, since you have to put the ingredients together and cook them. That said, our testers — who had varying degrees of cooking experience — found the meal kits very convenient and easy to put together.
How We Chose The Best Meal Delivery Services
To pick the best meal delivery services, we sampled 10 of the most popular meal kit delivery services on the market. Our testers sampled multiple meals from their assigned company, and then answered survey questions regarding taste, packaging, nutrition, freshness and ease of use.