With most of the country under stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of the coronavirus, even the most reluctant among us are becoming better acquainted with our kitchens. As you burn through your culinary repertoires (and continue to avoid trips to the market and/or find that grocery delivery services are running weeks behind), you may be looking for creative ways to add a little variety and excitement to your meals.
Just maybe, a meal kit delivery service is just the thing you need.
These services come in a variety of styles, price points, and skill levels. They are great for people who are just learning to cook, for people who are too busy to do their own meal planning, and for folks who just want to bust themselves out of a cooking rut. They are also an especially appealing option in these days of self isolation and social distancing because they deliver everything you need right to your home.
We read a lot of reviews on the various services and came up with our own list based on everything we heard. Turns out, there’s a perfect solution for just about everyone.
Best All-around: Blue Apron
Blue Apron is at the top of most expert’s lists because it’s one of the most well established companies and offers a wide range of recipes (including things kids will eat). Blue Apron meals are also some of the simplest to prepare, but still manage to offer an impressive level of flavor and style. You can customize your Blue Apron menu to suit your needs by choosing options from a variety of categories including different meats and fish, Beyond Meat, Weight Watchers approved, diabetes friendly, and vegetarian.
Approximate price per serving (2 or 4 people): $7.50 – 10.00
Menu options per week: 11
Average prep time: 25 – 35 minutes
Best for Those with Dietary Restrictions: Sun Basket
While Blue Apron offers an impressive range of meal options, Sun Basket really shines with the greatest range of menu choices suitable for people with different dietary restrictions. Their offering includes options for people who are vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, avoiding soy, or diabetic. Sun Basket is also one of only two meal kit services (the other being Green Chef) that is a USDA-certified organic handler. Sun Basket is another good choice for beginners since many of their kits include remade sauces that speed up prep.
Approximate price per serving (2 or 4 people): $11.00
Menu options per week: 22
Average prep time: 15 – 45 minutes
Best for Plant-based Diets: Purple Carrot
In addition to meal kit services that offer vegetarian options, there are also several companies that focus exclusively on providing plant-based meals. One of the best liked is Purple Carrot, which delivers fresh meals that are quick and easy to prepare and bursting with flavor. As a bonus, Purple Carrot also offers breakfast, lunch, and snack options. Other contenders in the all-vegetarian space include Hungryroot and Veestro.
Approximate price per serving (2 or 4 people): $12.00
Menu options per week: 8 dinner
Average prep time: minutes 5 – 40 minutes
Best Basic Option: Dinnerly
If affordability appeals to you, Dinnerly is a high-quality option that doesn’t make you trade taste for savings. Where they cut corners is on packaging and their own marketing budget. You still get a great selection of menu options made from fresh, flavorful ingredients.
Approximate price per serving (2 or 4 people): $4.50
Menu options per week: 16
Average prep time: 20 – 40 minutes
COVID-19 Updates – At the time of publication, Dinnerly did not have any posted updates, but they can be reached via email to answer any questions.
Best for Beginners: HelloFresh
Another brand that’s been leading the pack for a while, HelloFresh is geared toward people who fall on the rookie end of the cooking spectrum. But that doesn’t mean they are boring. Far from it. They do offer a variety of meal types including vegetarian, pescatarian, low-cal, and family friendly (for those fussy kids).
Approximate price per serving (2 or 4 people): $7.50 – 9.00
Menu options per week: 20
Average prep time: 20 – 50 minutes
Best for Larger Families: Home Chef
If you have a crowd to feed, Home Chef might be the service for you. Their plans include options for two, four, or six people. They also offer chef-friendly options like slow cooker and oven-ready meals as well as some 15-min meal options for those days when you just don’t have any time to spare.
Approximate price per serving (2 or 4 people): $10.00
Menu options per week: 21
Average prep time: 25 – 50 minutes
Best for More Advanced Cooks: Martha & Marley Spoon
This service is a partnership between a Berlin-based meal kit company, Marley Spoon, and Martha Stewart. Their recipes are a little more advanced in that they assume the chef already has a basic foundation of skills. They also sometimes assume that you will have certain basic ingredients on hand rather than including them in the kit. Reviewers consistently give this company high marks for flavor. They also liked the fact that you can order extra servings in case you’re having company (or just want leftovers).
Approximate price per serving (2 or 4 people): $8.00 – 15.00
Menu options per week: 22
Average prep time: 30 – 40 minutes
Ready to start your meal kit adventure?
With so many options to choose from, it might take a little experimenting to find the meal kit service you like best, but that’s half the fun. Because competition is fierce to be the one to put dinner on your table, most of these companies offer discounted trials and other kinds of coupons. Most also allow you to skip deliveries any time you like. So, even once you subscribe, you can pause or even cancel if you decide that particular service isn’t for you.
The best way to get started is to visit the websites of the brands that seem most appealing, and explore their recipes. Most feature mouth watering images that will give you an at-a-glance sense of what to expect. It probably won’t take you long to figure out where to start, and then you just have to wait for your first box to arrive, and you’ll be off to the races.
We wish you bon appétit!