There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal. But meal delivery kits can be a lifesaver if you don’t have the time to go out shopping and meal-prep healthy dishes for the whole week. Especially if you have dietary restrictions, or just prefer to eat a vegan, vegetarian, paleo diet, then there’s a subscription box out there for you.
But what if it’s late, and you don’t even have time to cook a full recipe from scratch? Or if you know your knife skills won’t leave you trying out for Top Chef anytime soon? The best prepared meal delivery services offer fast, ready-to-eat meals that are just as tasty (and nutritious) as a full-fledged meal kit. They eliminate the need for excessive prep work, trips to the store in advance, and some can also help you track specific macros and nutrients.
More from Rolling Stone
We’ve picked subscriptions that will ship pre-portioned, pre-cooked meals frozen (or fresh, with minimal cook time) straight to your door. Just pop one out of your fridge or freezer, warm it up, and you have a satisfying and healthy meal ready to go for lunch or dinner—all you’ll need is a microwave, or oven. Many meals are made right before they’re shipped to you, so they’re fresher than picking up a frozen TV dinner that’s been sitting in a freezer for months.
Whether you’re looking to have dinner ready in under 15 minutes, trying out to make going meatless a little easier, or looking for healthy options that are full of flavor, there’s nothing easier than stocking up on these ready-made meals. Here are our top picks for the best prepared meal delivery services to try right now.
1. Fresh n’ Lean
Did we say frozen? Well, Fresh n’ Lean leads the pack when it comes to their prepared meals, which ships fresh, never frozen, to preserve both the overall taste and integrity of the dishes. Each meal is ready in around three minutes, and comes in a well-insulated, vacuum-sealed package that can stay fresh for up to 10 days in the fridge (though you can always freeze them yourself).
What most impressed us was their thoughtfully-crafted menu, which was designed for folks with specific nutrition goals in mind (including athletes). Their variety of plans include keto, vegan (including an entire low-carb vegan menu), paleo, and high-protein menus. Unlike other, inflexible plans, modifying your meals here is super easy—Fresh n’ Lean gives you the option to exclude up to three ingredients from your plan, due to a dietary restriction, or just if you hate a specific ingredient.
There’s also an option to let them know if you have specific allergies (although all their meals are gluten-free and organic), and we like that you can add on extra protein and veggies in bulk. Get up to three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for 5 or 7 days, or pick specific meals from their a la carte section.
While you won’t get the culinary pizzaz or range of international cuisines like you might from get other subscriptions, the breakdown of their macros shows a commitment to nutrient-dense foods, and just simple, delicious flavors.
2. Home Chef
So let’s say you actually enjoy the process of cooking, and are just looking so have 30 minutes off your weeknight dinner routine. Say no more, because Home Chef has you covered with their selection of oven-ready meals that take (almost) all the work out of dinner, but still could technically be considered “home cooked.”
Their Fresh & Ready meals focus on low-prep or oven-ready options such as a cheesy taco bowl, where you can toss all the ingredients into their prepared pan, pop it in the oven, and serve it up in around 30 minutes. Plus, for the summer, you can also order grill-ready meals and lighter salads that require minimal prep work and cleanup.
While these meal kits eliminate precious prep time, that doesn’t exactly mean the meals will be done fast as a microwavable one (they do offer 15-minute meal options, though). These meals are designed for those who still enjoy the process of cooking, but want to cut down just one part of the process. With Home Chef’s delivery kit, you don’t need ridiculous knife skills or a culinary school degree to make a satisfying meal.
There aren’t a ton of choices for this category yet, but the kit comes down to under $10 a serving, and you can choose from between 6-12 servings a week.
If you’re looking to go plant-based, but don’t know how to get in enough nutrients, or don’t want to learn to start out cooking complicated vegan recipes, Veestro offers a wide range of meals that puts protein front and center.
For vegetarians and vegans alike, all their meals are plant-based, and include dishes like golden chickpea stew, portobello steak dinner, and chick’n shawarma. For those who are indecisive, Veestro offers almost four-dozen frozen meals, all of which come in single-serving compostable trays or plastic pouches, ready to be heated up. There’s also a dedicated Weight Loss plan that gives you three meals a day for either five or seven days, which provides you around 1,200 total calories a day.
But we love that their regular a la carte options are packed with plant-based proteins, from tofu, beans and legumes, to an “Impossible”-type faux chicken. It’s a great choice for those who want to ease into going meatless, or vegans and vegetarians looking for substitutes to popular comfort food dishes, like chicken nuggets, pizza, and baked mac and cheese. You won’t feel like you’re missing out on any of the flavor (or variety) compared to other services.
Veestro is more of stocking up on meals than planning just one week ahead, since you order as a one-time purchase of 10, 20, or 30 frozen meals. Your subscription can be changed or canceled at any time, though.
BEST FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Specially-designed by dietitians, there’s no better program that gives you ready-to-eat meals to help you kick off your weight loss journey than BistroMD. The meals are also made to accommodate specific dietary needs, with diabetic-friendly, gluten-free, and heart-healthy options.
But you don’t need to be in a specific stage of your life or necessarily looking to lose weight to reap the benefits of their well-balanced, nutritious meal options. The full program helps eliminate guesswork from any meal-prepping or planning process, giving you six days of dinner, and seven days of breakfast and lunches (though you can choose just five days of meals). The program can be adjusted based on taste preferences, and we like the flexibility that gives you from week to week.
Based on how your goals and needs change, you can approve or remove meals from the rotation at any time, so there’s real room for your input. BistroMD’s programs are best if you have a specific health-related goal in mind, anyways. Plus, they have more than 150 chef-prepared meals, all ready to eat in 5 minutes or less, if you tend to get bored or frustrated by the repetition of these kinds of subscriptions. You can also add on dietitian-approved snacks to your meals.
While it’s a lot of fun trying out new recipes with regular meal kits, sometimes after a stressful day you want something that’s quick and easy for a weeknight dinner. Enter: Sunbasket’s Fresh & Ready Meals, a rotating weekly menu of 14 ready-to-eat meals.
Whether you’re working from home and in need of a ready-to-heat lunch, or living alone and don’t want to waste extra groceries, these meals come in single-serve portions and require no cooking—simply heat them up in a microwave or oven, and they’re ready in as little as six minutes (mine took around four).
If you need a break from cooking or meal prepping, these are a solid option. The meals are still on the level of Sunbasket’s creative, chef-driven meal kits, so you’re not sacrificing nutrition or flavor for convenience. My favorite of the batch I tried was the Zesty Black Bean Quinoa Bowl, which was like a great substitution for a Chipotle bowl.
However, one downside is that they’re purposefully under-seasoned, specifically so that you can add salt and pepper to your own taste. But the variety and sheer “why didn’t I think of that?”-type meals to come out of this service makes it our favorite if you want to shake up your dinner routine.
Best of Rolling Stone