RS Recommends: The Best Meal Delivery Kits, Prepared Meals and Meal Subscription Boxes

·10 min read
Blue Apron Meal Delivery Service Box - Credit: Blue Apron
Blue Apron Meal Delivery Service Box - Credit: Blue Apron

Meal delivery services are a great way to shake up your everyday dinner routine, and their convenience can’t be beat for busy families and working singles who don’t want to have to figure out how to use up half a bag of spinach at the end of the day. But it’s not just about pulling out a recipe card anymore — there’s been a whirlwind of new offerings from meal kits, with tailored vegans menus, three minute microwavable dinners, and everything in between. How can you possibly choose?

The best meal delivery kits let you refresh dinnertime (and even lunch and breakfast too, in some cases) with fresh ingredients, trendy menus, and easy-to-understand recipe instructions. If you’re not hosting dinner parties anytime soon, there are simple boxes that will help you get dinner on the table in less than an hour. You’re the kind of home cook that likes to think they could do better than contestants on Chopped? Chef-crafted menus are out there to expand your culinary horizons.

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We’ve tested out a lot of meal subscription boxes, and most provided a wide variety of dishes that satisfied everyone in my home (even with a missing ingredient or my own heinous knife skills). Bottom line: any of these kits below could give the grocery store a run for its money. But you’re the one putting on the chef’s hat for the night, so we’ve pitted these services together in a kitchen cook-off to give you the best meal delivery kits, according to your culinary preferences. Bon appetit!

What Are the Best Meal Delivery Services?

With new meal delivery kits popping up every day, there’s undoubtedly an option for everyone that will help streamline weekly meal prep, or reduce the amount of time you’re spending in the kitchen. But it can be challenging to parse through them all, so here’s how to find the best meal delivery service for you.

Type of Meals: When you think of the traditional meal delivery, you probably think of a box filled with pre-measured ingredients, whole produce, and provided recipe cards meant to help you try new dishes in the kitchen. But some services now offer fully-prepared meals, either frozen and quickly microwavable, or low/easy-prep meals that will only need a fraction of the time in the oven. If your weeknight schedule looks hectic, consider one of these options instead.

Dietary Preferences and Allergies: Have a food allergy or dietary restriction? There are plenty of meal subscriptions that provide vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, low-carb options and more — just check the menus and make sure you know what you’re signing up for. Some companies also produce all their good in gluten-free or allergen-free kitchens, or at the very least, let you opt out of certain meals for the week.

Level of Cooking Difficulty: Consider the time commitment the dishes are going to take when ordering. Some services will have “easy, medium, and hard” recipes on purpose for skilled chefs looking to try something new versus those who just want something made as quick as humanly possible. Some menus are also just more extensive than others, with international cuisine and fine-dining-like recipes, while some cater to comforting favorites. Check before ordering, or you might get stuck with a recipe too long to even be worth making at 8 PM on a work night.

Portion Size: Most meal delivery services offer varying portion sizes for the week, so you can easily find a subscription that works for any household. Feeding a big family? Make sure the box provides 4-6 servings per meal. If you live alone, it can be more convenient to check out prepared meals that are individually-portioned, although 2 serving meal kits can also be great for leftovers.

1. Blue Apron

Credit: Blue Apron
Credit: Blue Apron

Blue Apron

For self-proclaimed foodies, and novices in the kitchen that want a break from cup noodles, Blue Apron will help you learn how to make restaurant-level dishes at home that will impress. You’ll get chef-designed recipes delivered that include all the premium ingredients you’ll need to put together an amazing dish for $7.49/serving. Choose 2-4 servings a meal and two, three or four recipes per week.

For nicer dinners, sometimes online recipes will require expensive ingredients not found at your local supermarket, or take too long for an average weeknight. Almost all of Blue Apron’s recipes are ready in under 35 minutes, but they also offer “Easy Prep and Cleanup” recipes to streamline the cooking process, such as sheet pan and one-pot dinners. But their recipes all strike the perfect balance of convenience and “this looks like I went out and paid $30 for an entree”. Bonus: they also deliver wine!

Even for someone like me who almost went to culinary school, and you can actually learn new kitchen skills as well (their guide to searing and cutting steak really helped my NY Strip steaks shine). While the lack of customization leaves something to be desired in the current meal kit landscape, this is still a solid option if you already know your way around a kitchen.


Buy:
Blue Apron Meal Kit
at
$7.49+/serving

Honorable Mentions: Check out our guide to meal delivery services for home chefs here.

2. Sunbasket


Credit: Sunbasket
Credit: Sunbasket

Sunbasket

Forget “Meatless Mondays” — it’s never been easier to have a “meatless week” with Sunbasket’s vegetarian meal delivery options, which we’re big fans of. You can choose their meal kits with easy-to-follow recipes to cook yourself featuring pre-portioned ingredients, or a variety of Fresh & Ready meals, which can go from your oven to your table in as little as six minutes (no need to even spark up the stove).

For a veggie-centric box, the customization is unparalleled, with not just vegetarian plans, but low carb, paleo, pescatarian, or Mediterranean dietary meals. We also like to see a company committed to offering high-quality, sustainably sourced ingredients, including organic produce, but also wild-caught seafood and antibiotic and hormone-free meat.

Sunbasket proves that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen just to eat well, as meals start at $8.99 a serving for read-to-heat options, and $10.99 a serving for meal kit recipes. Choose from 2-4 dinners per week, which can serve between 2-4 people, although they also offer add-ons like snacks, juices, and breakfast items.


Buy:
Sunbasket
at
$8.99+/serving

Honorable Mentions: Check our guide to the best meal delivery services for vegetarians here.

3. Purple Carrot


Credit: Purple Carrot
Credit: Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot

You do not need to be strictly vegan to enjoy Purple Carrot’s wildly creative plant-based dishes like Kimchi Quesadillas, Almond Butter Tofu, and Grape Leaf Pilaf — but they might just make you a believer that plants can pack big flavor.

They offer a rotating menu of veggie-centric ingredients delivered straight to your door, with a focus on organic produce. Even with a produce-heavy box, there’s still a lot of customization based on your lifestyle, from High Protein, Gluten-Free, to Quick & Easy meal plans. Because they adapt to season ingredients, Purple Carrot switches up the menu weekly, so there’ll be something new every time you order.

Select 2-4 recipes with 2-4 servings each per week, with meals costing between $9.99 and $11.99 per serving depending on the plan. Breakfast and lunch can be added on to keep you full of plant-based protein all day long.


Buy:
Purple Carrot
at
$9.99+/serving

Honorable Mentions: Our guide to delivery services for vegetarians will also give you tips on boxes with vegan options.

4. Fresh n’ Lean


Credit: Fresh N' Lean
Credit: Fresh N' Lean

Fresh N' Lean

Fresh N’ Lean ditches the frozen offerings when it comes to their prepared meals, which they always ship fresh to preserve tate. Even still, you can heat up their meals in three minutes, and each is individually-portioned in insulated, vacuum-sealed packages that can stay fresh for up to 10 days in the fridge.

Their menu is designed for folks with specific nutrition goals in mind (including athletes), and you can choose from keto, vegan (including an entire low-carb vegan menu), paleo, and high-protein menus. They’re also extremely flexible, letting you modify your meals to exclude up to three ingredients from your plan (due to a dietary restriction, or just if you hate a specific ingredient).

You can also let them know if you have specific allergies (although all their meals are gluten-free and organic). Feel like some meal kits skimp on the protein? 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 five or seven days, or pick specific meals a la carte.

Fresh N’ Lean’s menus aren’t revolutionary, cuisine-wise, but the company breaks down their macros, gives you nutrient-dense foods, and lets the simple, easy-to-prepare meals speak for themselves.


Buy:
Fresh n' Lean
at
$7.83+/serving

Honorable Mentions: Check out our guide to prepared meal delivery services here.

5. Territory Foods


Credit: Territory
Credit: Territory

Territory

Territory Foods’ offerings check all our boxes, not just for being Keto, but prepared, fresh, and easily heated up in a microwave or oven. We cannot emphasize enough that this is one of the freshest meal deliveries we’ve tasted, thanks to their independent chefs that prep all the food out of local commercial kitchens.

There are 10 different menus, but several “Keto” options, with menus that rotate weekly your specific menu varying depending on the time of year and where you’re located. They know their stuff, catering to a multitude of dietary needs, including vegan, vegetarian, and low-carb plans besides keto-specific options.

Territory Foods have excellent, diverse menus that expand into different international cuisines while still keeping your Keto macro requirements in check. Simply adjust your macros and calories with the slider while building your plan, or choose from any flavorful Keto option. Think more “Mushroom Asado Bowl” and less bland, baked chicken on mashed cauliflower.

You can get six, 12, or 18 meals delivered per week, with over 35+ meal options per week. If you’re just starting keto, Territory Foods will show you what flavorful possibilities lie ahead.


Buy:
Territory Foods
at
$9.99+/serving

Honorable Mentions: Check out our guide to keto meal delivery services here.

6. Hello Fresh

Courtesy Hello Fresh - Credit: Hello Fresh
Courtesy Hello Fresh - Credit: Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh, the self-proclaimed “America’s Most Popular Meal Kit”, deserves every bit of their popularity for being truly the definition of “crowd-pleasing”. Not only to they cater to a range of dietary needs, they also make use of seasonal vegetables and fresh produce for their many vegetarian-options, and also off “Gourmet Plus” fine-dining meals, “Takeout Favorites”, and multicultural “Taste Tours.”

There’s a little something for everyone, with 50+ recipes and market items (like breakfast bites and desserts) to choose from each week. You can personalize your order to cater to a variety of dietary restrictions, as well as the number of people in your household (two to four). Recipes change frequently, but it’s simple to choose more adventurous bites, all-upscale favorites if you’re feeling a little fancy, or veggie-specific options from the weekly menu.

Regular meals start at $7.49 per serving, and there’s no pressure of commitment so you can skip a week at any time.

Honorable Mentions: Learn more about other meal delivery services for home chefs here.


Buy:
Hello Fresh
at
$7.49+/serving

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