Jacqui Wedewer/The Daily Meal
Meal kit services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh have been available for years, but the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people interact with food — increasing the need for easy, low-risk ways to receive food. Meal kits are a readily available alternative to enduring crowds and long lines at grocery stores and restaurants. These boxes merge together the intrigue of trying something new with the comfort of cooking at home.
Despite their convenience, it can be daunting to decide which meal kit service suits your specific needs the most. To help make this decision easier for you and your loved ones, I tried nine different meal kits that cater to different types of home chefs. Throughout the sampling period, I kept a few key things in mind: pricing options, ease of use, variation in meal plan options, quality of ingredients and time to table. These are some important things to keep in mind before choosing a plan.
I started out with the classics like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, which are great for beginner cooks. Sun Basket and Green Chef have a little bit of everything, from paleo options to gluten-free specific plans. I also tried the plant-based meal kit, Purple Carrot, as well as some lesser-known options like Dinnerly, HomeChef and EveryPlate. Read on to learn more about each option.
As one of the better-known meal kit delivery services, Blue Apron's meal kits start at $47.95. That price includes shipping and two recipes per week, and each recipe serves two people. But the service also has kits that come with three or four recipes per week and has a meal kit option that can serve a family of four.
If you’re someone who has specific dietary needs, Blue Apron offers vegetarian, pescatarian, diabetes-friendly and Weight Watchers-approved meals. But keep in mind that you choose from a selection of about 10 recipes per week, so there might only be one or two dietary specific options on the menu at a time. It’s also important to note that the vegetarian options can only serve two people, not four.
Home Chef prides itself on keeping things simple — that’s literally the company’s slogan. The service’s meal kits start at $49.95, which includes shipping and two recipes per week, each of which serves two people. But Home Chef also has kits that come with up to six recipes and has some meals that can serve up to six people.
Although Home Chef doesn’t have specific meal plans for people with different dietary needs, the site does give customers the option to list their preferences before signing up. Customers can specify if they’re vegetarian, or if they want to avoid certain foods, limit their carb or calorie intake and more. There are 13 recipes to choose from each week, and several of them are typically vegetarian. HomeChef also has “easy prep meal kits” that require minimal preparation.
Green Chef’s meal kit prices vary depending on which of the three plans you choose: Keto + Paleo, Balanced Living or Plant-Powered. No matter what you choose, every kit contains 100% organic ingredients that have no GMOs or pesticides.
Keto + Paleo is the most expensive kit. It’s catered to people who are gluten free, watching their carb intake or avoiding grains. For two people receiving three recipes per week, the kit costs $92.93, including shipping. With meat, seafood and vegetarian options, the Balanced Living kit has the most diverse menu. It’s the same price as the Plant-Powered plan, which strictly offers vegetarian and vegan recipes. For two people receiving three recipes per week, these kits cost $86.93 each, including shipping.
Customers choose from a menu of about eight or nine recipes per week, but the number of recipes varies depending on which plan you choose. All of the meal plans offered through Green Chef have a four-serving option.
HelloFresh is another well-known meal kit delivery service. The company’s kits start at $62.93, and that price includes shipping and three recipes per week, with each recipe serving two people. But the service also has kits that come with four or five recipes, and all of the kits can serve up to four people.
When signing up for HelloFresh, customers can choose between a few different meal plans: Meat & Veggies, Veggie, Pescatarian, Family Friendly, Calorie Smart and Quick and Easy. The Family Friendly meal plan consists of kid-approved, easy-to-make meals, and the Quick and Easy plan is designed to limit prep, cook and cleanup time. Customers choose from a menu of 23 recipes each week that is equipped with a few options for every meal plan.
Sunbasket touts its organic, fresh and healthy ingredients. Its meal kit prices start at $59.95, which includes shipping and two recipes that serve two people. However, the price per serving decreases when you add more recipes and servings to your order, which is beneficial for families.
If you have a restrictive diet, Sunbasket is a great meal kit to start with. The service offers a variety of meal plan options including vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, carb conscious, pescatarian, diabetes friendly and more. Customers can choose a specific meal plan or mix and match any of Sunbasket’s weekly recipes, regardless of what meal plan they select during signup.
Dinnerly advertises itself as the go-to meal kit delivery service for affordable, fuss-free weeknight meals. The zero-commitment service is one of the most affordable meal kit options available. Kits start at $38.93 per week, which includes shipping and three meals that serve two people. The service also provides a family meal plan option that serves four people. Customers can opt to receive up to six recipes per week.
Customers choose from a selection of 18 new recipes each week. Sometimes the menu even has recipes for breakfast and dessert. Dinnerly offers a few vegetarian options per week but doesn’t have specific meal plans for restricted diets.
Like Dinnerly, EveryPlate prides itself on its affordability. By using less packaging and simple ingredients, the service starts its meal kit prices at $38.92. That price includes shipping and three recipes that serve two people each week. Customers can also choose to receive as many as five recipes and each plan has a four-person serving size.
Customers choose from a selection of about 14 to 16 recipes each week. Anecdotally, about three of those options are vegetarian but EveryPlate doesn’t have specific meal plans for different diets or lifestyles.
Purple Carrot is known for its plant-based menu. The service’s meal kits start at $71.94. That price includes shipping and three recipes that serve two people each week. Customers can also opt to receive three or four recipes per week for the two-servings plan. The four-serving option comes with your choice of two or three recipes per week.
Customers choose from a selection of eight dinner recipes per week. Purple Carrot also offers a couple breakfast and lunch options. Because Purple Carrot is catered toward people who live or are interested in living a plant-based diet, it doesn’t offer different meal plans for specific diets beyond that. But the service does let you filter its menus by dietary concerns.
More from The Daily Meal: