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Dinnerly review: Why it's our No. 1 pick for best budget-friendly meal kit delivery service in 2024

We tried 9 different meal kit delivery services and over 30 recipes — and Dinnerly came out on top.

A delivered meal kit is a great way to make sure you're getting enough veggies and protein in your diet —and it allows you to skip grocery shopping, but it can get expensive. One of the most popular meal kit brands is Dinnerly, and if you've been wondering if it’s worth it, you'll want to keep reading to learn why the brand is our favorite budget-friendly meal kit delivery service for its foolproof and tasty options. I tested and reviewed all the major meal delivery kits and Dinnerly rated fairly high, with meals for as low as $5 to $8 per serving.

Let's learn more about this meal delivery kit's basic features, one of which is the very reasonable cost: Three meals per week that each serves four people costs $86 (including shipping), which is an impressive value proposition. Read on for more specifics about why we recommend Dinnerly as a top meal kit company.

Cost: $5 - $8 per serving, including shipping | Variety: 100+ recipes to choose from each week | Meal types: Kid-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Under 30 Minutes, Vegetarian, Low-carb

Dinnerly meal kits are ideal for even the most inexperienced home chef and anyone on a budget. With few ingredients, little prep work and simple instructions, the meals are easy to get on the table and feature familiar flavors. Most of these meals are ready in under 30 minutes. Though portions were on the smaller side, the recipes were easy to follow, and the price can’t be beat. Three meals per week for four people costs $86, including shipping.

Subscription: $7 per serving is the cost of three meals per week for four people. Three meals per week for four people will cost $86, including shipping.

Ease of use: Teenagers could probably prepare these meals. That’s how easy the recipes are to follow and execute, none with more than five steps. Most dishes came with only six ingredients, making even the greenest of cooks feel like chefs.

Menu choices: There were more than 100 meal options to try each week across categories like Kid-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Under 30 Minutes, Vegetarian and more. The weekly menus also include breakfast options, as well as party-friendly appetizers and desserts. You may order a maximum of four servings per meal and up to six meals per week.

Taste: 7/10

Packaging: Dinnerly does not include recipe cards but rather directs you to a digital recipe card for instructions. Most of the streamlined packaging is recyclable.

  • Very budget-friendly
  • Huge menu selection each week
  • Simple enough for teenagers to follow
  • Only digital recipe cards
  • Portions on the smaller side
$5.00 - $8.00 per serving at Dinnerly

A meal kit delivery service contains premeasured ingredients and an accompanying recipe, enabling you to create a fresh-cooked meal at home without having to run to the grocery store or measure your own ingredients.

Most meal kit delivery services offer a variety of meal plans that range both in size (from two to four servings per meal, two to five meals per week) and in food preferences, such as omnivore, vegetarian or plant-based, high-protein or reduced-calorie options.

The story behind Dinnerly

Launched in 2017, Dinnerly was designed to help address the everyday cooking challenges of adults ages 25 to 55, a demographic that represents a generation of Americans who earn less than their parents but work longer hours. The goal was to help customers enjoy cooking unfussy, satisfying dinners starting at $5 per serving, which is often far less expensive than the cost of the groceries one would have to buy to make the meal.

  • Subscription: $5 to $8 per serving if you order meals for four people. Three meals per week for four people costs $86, including shipping.

  • Ease of use: The instructions were easy to follow and execute. I was always able to prepare the meals in the time suggested. This kit is appropriate for cooks of all skill levels, especially beginners.

  • Menu choices: There are 100-plus weekly options that range from classics to plant-based to wellness and beyond. The weekly menus also include add-on items like breakfast kits, microwavable meals, à la carte proteins and desserts. You may order a maximum of four servings per meal and up to six meals per week.

  • Taste: 7/10. We found the proteins provided to be only average in quality and taste, and therefore some of the meals themselves were bland.

  • Packaging: Much of the Dinnerly packaging is recyclable, and its website provides easy-to-understand recycling instructions for specific components. However, I wished the packaging had featured allergen and ingredient labeling, rather than directing me to the website.

You can browse the Dinnerly website or download its app, for easy access to order and account information when you're on the go. Once you choose a plan, it's time to select a delivery date and browse the week’s menu for meal planning. When that scheduled delivery day comes, you'll receive a box filled with preportioned fresh ingredients (which helps eliminate food waste) and links on the web to step-by-step instructions for each meal.

With options such as low-calorie and low-carb dishes, Dinnerly meal kits offer a real value at $5 to $8 per serving, which explains why we also voted it Best Budget Healthy Meal Kit in our Best Healthy Meal Kit Delivery Services for 2023 review alongside services like HelloFresh, Home Chef, EveryPlate, GreenChef, Purple Carrot and Blue Apron. The Dinnerly kits were just what I needed for truly hectic weeknight dinners. Plus, I liked the variety of the weekly menu with 100+ choices, as well as the ability to customize proteins on many dishes, e.g., Teriyaki Beef with Coconut Rice could easily be changed to Teriyaki Chicken. In terms of flavor, I found these meals to be basic — one night it was pretty average steak with salad and ranch dressing. The clear winner for my family was a Greek kefta-inspired pork meatball dish served over salad with pita. I truly appreciated the easy and FEW recipe instructions — and that I was able to put dinner on the table reliably in 30 minutes or less.

The bonus at Dinnerly is the ability to shop its Market for pantry staples, ready-to-heat meals, desserts, portions of protein such as salmon and chicken and more, rendering at least one of my several weekly trips to the grocery store unnecessary.

For this review, I tried all Dinnerly meal kits at dinner with my family. I’ve been eating for a living for many years now, have a degree from the French Culinary Institute and have worked for various food publications. I’m also a mom with an active teen and tween, whom I cook for daily.

I evaluated Dinnerly based on the following criteria:

  • Subscription price, because everyone has different budgets.

  • Ease of use, because you’re getting a meal kit to make your life easier, so you don’t want anything too complicated or time-consuming.

  • Menu choices, because you want a good number of meals, a variety of recipes and quality ingredients.

  • Taste, because above all, you want a delicious meal!

  • Packaging: Is there too much? Too little? Is it putting out excess waste into the world? We factored sustainability into our reviews.

In making the selections, I also considered feedback from other on-staff meal kit testers for a variety of opinions (we got reviews from a family of five, a family with both an infant and a tween, and a family of three with vegetarians and vegans). I also weighed information from Facebook Groups devoted to discussing meal kits that include both calorie-smart members and picky eaters, plus expert advice from Jaclyn London, a New York City registered dietician.

Every one of the best meal delivery services has different strengths and weaknesses. Some are very easy, others offer frequent new recipes and more variety. Some are great for families and others are geared toward vegetarian options (and omnivores who love veggies).

Let’s learn a little more about meal kits and answer some commonly asked questions.

Cooking dinner is enjoyable and not stressful. With each delivery of preportioned ingredients and recipes that may feed two or four, you won’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, and you can easily follow recipes. There are options to suit some dietary needs. You can filter meals by dietary restriction or preference (dairy-free, low-calorie, vegetarian, no added gluten, etc.) and servings desired. You can usually choose your delivery day and even add on extras like portions of protein, veggies, groceries, breakfast foods, microwavable meals and desserts.

Dinnerly Pork and feta meatballs
This Greek-inspired dish of pork and feta meatballs over salad was a big hit with our family and so quick and easy.

The meals I made included Low-Carb Garlic Steak with Creamy Ranch Wedge, Low-Cal Pork and Feta Meatballs with Crispy Romaine and Pita Salad and Turkey Enchilada Taco Bowl.

The chicken dish was slightly more successful for my family for a few reasons. This meal consisted of sautéed chicken breast, roasted vegetables (delicata squash, red grapes, red onions and green beans), cooked farro with a pan sauce, and a separate goat cheese sauce for the whole dish. The many components ultimately contributed to layers of flavor and a more complex dish than I expected. Having said that, my kids did not go for the farro. I ate some with dinner and the rest with lunches later in the week and enjoyed the change of pace.

As far as the salmon goes, we all enjoyed the fish itself, but my daughter immediately swiped off the pistachio crust and everyone declared the roasted vegetables (grape tomatoes, mushrooms and onions) a bit weird. We are used to eating more green vegetables and none of us were thrilled with the idea of roasted tomatoes. The rice was fine, though I opted out of making it with lemon, capers and mayo, as I suspected the kids would prefer it plain. In short, I felt like this meal was actually counterproductive to our trying new things and getting out of our dinner rut.

If you're always drawing a blank about what to cook on busy weeknights and you want super-easy, budget-conscious meals that feature familiar flavors, try Dinnerly. And if you're concerned about food waste, meal kits offer you a way to use ingredients in small quantities that may languish and spoil if purchased in their usual quantities. Do you need just a teaspoon of sesame seeds? No need to buy a full container of them when you're cooking from a meal kit.

People who are looking for a kit to stretch their skills or elevate their meals. These are simple and straightforward recipes but not likely ones that will broaden your culinary horizons.

Dinnerly offers major discounts to first-time customers, making it very affordable to try your first box before you commit (or don’t) to any one plan. All you have to do is take advantage of any one of these offers and then mark your calendar with an alert for the date by which you must cancel the subscription.

You can use the Dinnerly app or website to skip a week, pause your membership or cancel anytime if your needs change.

On the website, you can view each meal kit's nutritional and allergen information, including ingredients, calorie count, fat, protein and carbohydrates.

All ingredients arrive in a Dinnerly box with insulation and ice packs, so your food stays cool and fresh until you get home.

Yes! Dinnerly provides all the information you may want to know about recycling its different forms of packaging.

I was a tad overwhelmed by the 100+ options to choose from each week, but it's always nice to be able to customize chicken vs. steak vs. pork when choosing some dishes. The protein and overall portions were adequate but not generous. I would definitely try Dinnerly again, if I knew I was in for a particularly stressful week and just wanted to get a budget-conscious, family-friendly meal on the table quickly.

Cost: $5 - $8 per serving, including shipping | Variety: 100+ recipes to choose from each week | Meal types: Kid-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Under 30 Minutes, Vegetarian, Low-carb

$5.00 - $8.00 per serving at Dinnerly

We received complimentary samples of some meal delivery services and purchased others ourselves and reviewed all with the same criteria.