Best meal delivery service for picky eaters and families
Best meal delivery service for those with food allergies
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What’s the best meal kit service to try? I’m glad you asked, but the answer isn’t always as easy as that. While the original Blue Apron is still our favorite meal kit service after more than a decade in business, there are cheap meal kit services, gourmet meal delivery operations and plenty of meal kits for eating plant-based meals that might be a better fit.
If you’re wondering how a meal kit might benefit your life, consider this: Cooking dinner every day is a hassle, especially when you have to plan out all of your meals and buy the right ingredients. The best meal kit delivery services give you time and energy back by sending all the ingredients to churn out quick, easy and healthy meals a few nights per week. Signing up for one might just be the boost you need to make dinnertime enjoyable again.
With as many as 10 meal kit companies to choose from, you may be wondering which ones are the best meal kit services for 2023. We’ve tested all the top players in this booming category to find the very best meal kits for your dough, including the best budget meal kit service, the best healthy meal kits and the best meal kit for vegans and vegetarians.
How we picked and tested
The most important consideration we make when testing and evaluating meal kits is overall taste. As in, how do the recipes taste when completed? If they aren’t fresh and delicious, then why bother at all?
Nobody wants to eat the same thing every day, or even week. That’s why overall variety and the quality of recipes available each week is important in determining the best meal kits.
Cost and value are two extremely important factors in evaluating meal kits. But it’s not just the bottom line price, it’s also whether the price is aligned with the quality of the product and whether or not the meal kit service in question delivers value, no matter which price category it falls into.
How simple meals are to make is another consideration we take into account. Many people look for meal kits that are clearly outlined, simple to execute and don’t take much longer than 30 minutes.
Ease of use
How easy a service is to order, update, manage, pause and cancel will always come into play when deciding on the best meal kit services.
If you want to try before you buy, this sly hack lets you try them all for cheap, and these meal kit signup offers will bestow weeks’ worth of meals upon you for as little as $2 a serving. If you want to take our word for it, read on because we’ve done the legwork.
We’ve been personally cooking and eating (and then eating some more) to find the most delicious and best overall meal kit services in every category. If you’ve got a discerning palate or special criteria for your meal kit service — keto, vegetarian, organic, adventurous — this guide should help you find the best match for your dinnertime style.
Purple Carrot, for instance, is the best vegan or vegetarian meal kit we tried, since none of its weekly recipes contain meat or animal byproducts. Home Chef makes meal kits that are easily customizable, so if you’ve got kids or folks with finicky tastes to consider, this service would be a smart pick. There are also cheap meal kits in case the goal is to get dinner on the table without busting the budget. And if you’ve got special dietary concerns or are following an eating plan, there are keto, paleo and low-calorie meal kits to keep your specific nutrition goals intact.
And if cooking just isn’t your thing, check out our list of best prepared meal delivery services for 2023.
What are meal kits?
Meal kits are boxes of premeasured ingredients for completing full recipes that get sent to your home along with recipes and tips. From there, you make some of the easiest (and often most delicious) dinners without having to hit the grocery store. Meal kits can come as often as you want them and you can get recipes that will feed two, four or sometimes as many as six people. Even if you’re just looking for recipe inspiration and help with shopping and prep a couple of nights a week, a good meal kit delivery service can (ahem) take a load off your plate and keep you eating healthily.
What is the best meal kit delivery service?
That’s the million-dollar question, right? With seemingly endless options, how do you find the best meal kit service for your situation? Bright and colorful meal delivery boxes from the likes of Freshly, Home Chef, Sakara Life, Purple Carrot and Gobble are now a staple delivery for busy home cooks — take a peek at some of your neighbors’ doorsteps — but each has its own set of unique features along with strengths and weaknesses, often based on their target audience. While different boxes may offer a meal plan that falls into a niche (such as vegan, paleo or gluten-free), many source recipes and menus from chefs, culinary teams, nutritionists and grocery experts and curate them to be delivered into the kitchens and hands of home cooks everywhere with weekly menus with delicious ingredients.
Best meal kit delivery services of 2023
- Best overall meal kit for most people: Blue Apron
- Best meal delivery picky eaters and families: Home Chef
- Best cheap meal delivery service: EveryPlate
- Best meal delivery for fast meals: Gobble
- Best meal delivery those with food allergies: HelloFresh
- Best organic meal delivery service: Green Chef
- Best meal delivery for vegans and vegetarians: Purple Carrot
- Best splurge meal delivery: Sunbasket
Pricing Starting at $8/servingType Meal kitRegional Availability 32 US states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin and WyomingNumber of Meal Options per Week 50+Menu Options/ Diet Types Vegetarian, diabetes-friendly, wellness, family-friendly, fast and easy
Blue Apron is largely accepted to be the granddad of meal kit delivery programs in the US and the brand still manages to deliver excellent meals with easy-to-follow recipes all at a fair price. The eight weekly menu choices available range from simple pasta dishes to inventive global cuisine, with seafood and vegetarian options available, too. With even the most basic recipes, you might find an unfamiliar component or two on the recipe card, and the website often highlights these ingredients as an educational opportunity.
The website is easy to navigate and recipes are tagged with helpful keywords such as “customer favorite,” “quick and easy,” “great for grilling” and so on. Occasional promotions include a menu from guest celebrity chefs or recipes that highlight popular travel destinations. An optional wine pairing service is also offered and Blue Apron is constantly launching special menus to help you prepare a festive spread for big food holidays like the Super Bowl and Thanksgiving.
See how Blue Apron compares to HelloFresh in our head-to-head review of the two popular meal delivery services or see my full review of the original meal kit service and how it holds up in 2023.
Subscription: Blue Apron is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to cost. Price per serving ranges from $8 to $12, with options to prepare two to four recipes per week and two or four servings per recipe. While some services I tried such as Sunbasket and Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon might have slightly more interesting recipes each week, those services cost as much as $15 per serving.
Pricing Starting at $5/mealType Meal kitRegional Availability Contintental United StatesNumber of Meal Options per Week 20+Menu Options/ Diet Types Meat and veggie, veggie, family-friendly, quick and easy
At just $5 per serving — even cheaper with a sign-up offer — and an emphasis on delicious, hearty meal options and generous portion sizes, EveryPlate is the best cheap meal kit service I tried. EveryPlate keeps overhead costs low by offering just eight easy meal kit recipes to choose from weekly, which mostly excludes vegetarians and those on special diets, but the eight available meals are full of variety and flavor otherwise.
You can expect a lot of comfort food from this meal delivery service such as meatloaf, burgers and pasta dishes but everything I made was solid. Best of all, you can score meals for as low as $1.49, with free shipping on your first order. You’ll also have the ability to skip or cancel anytime. Check out this full review of EveryPlate to find out how much I liked the affordable meal kit service.
Subscription: Each serving is only $5. Each weekly box includes three recipes with either two or four servings apiece. Snag a sign-up offer and get meals starting at around $2 per serving.
Pricing Starting at $8/servingType Meal kit, pre-madeRegional Availability 98% of United StatesNumber of Meal Options per Week 30Menu Options/ Diet Types Calorie-conscious, carb-conscious
Home Chef boasts over 38 meal kits to choose from in any given week — more than any other service — including oven-ready meals and one-pan dinners. I tested Home Chef myself and loved how much customization you can do from week to week like swapping the protein in your meal choices from chicken to pork to fish or double the protein if you’re feeling especially carnivorous. You can even double the portion size of an entire meal if you’re planning on entertaining the following week or just want more leftovers for lunches and snacks.
These flexible features make Home Chef stand out from the pack. Other modifications from the meal delivery service include ordering antibiotic-free protein instead of the standard version or adding plant-based meats like Impossible Beef instead of regular meat. Meal kits, recipes and ingredients are pretty standard in their offering (which is what keeps Home Chef an efficient meal delivery kit for the masses). Examples include meal kit options such as Chipotle Chimichurri Mini Pork Meatloaves with Roasted Sweet Potato and Garlic Peppercorn Salmon Scampi with Garlic Cream Gemelli and Broccolini.
One new and unique offering from the meal delivery service is their oven-ready meals, which come with everything you’ll need to make the meal including the cooking tray (no messy kitchen and no dishes). See an example of an oven-ready meal from Home Chef here.
Subscription: Starting at $7 per serving with additional premium Home Chef recipes offered at market price.
Pricing Starting at $12/servingType Meal kitRegional Availability Most continental US states except MT. Limited availability in KS, NM, and NENumber of Meal Options per Week 15+Menu Options/ Diet Types Meat, fish, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free
Gobble takes the template from the old guard of meal delivery kits but speeds it up by prechopping and even precooking some of the components so that all recipes have a prep time of 15 minutes or less. Despite the “fast food” angle, each menu from this food kit delivery service has a sophisticated and worldly vibe.
Weekly recipe choices are cleverly categorized into From the Range, From the Ranch, From the Sea and From the Earth options. When I tested Gobble’s meal kits they were a little hit or miss but the hits were big including a fantastic tofu pad Thai and a very tasty and quick salmon with cilantro pesto. You can also make substitutions to your recipes like swapping fish or steak in for chicken or upgrading to organic meats — generally, at an added cost.
Subscription: Gobble meal kits are mostly $12 per serving and there are no complicated plans or pricing. You can select recipes for two to four servings of between two and five recipes each week but the difficult choices end there. It’s certainly not the cheapest meal kit service we tried but with all the prep Gobble does for you, it is a solid choice for someone who wants to spend less time cooking and more time eating.
Pricing Starting at $8/servingType Meal KitRegional Availability Continental United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, JapanNumber of Meal Options per Week 30+Menu Options/ Diet Types Meat and veggies, veggies, family-friendly, fit and wholesome, quick and easy, pescatarian, low carb, low calorie
HelloFresh is all about making the customer happy no matter how particular. While you won’t find high-end, gourmet food, it’s all very good and the brand makes it easy on folks with special diets by tagging each recipe accordingly. Whether you are allergic to (or avoiding) dairy, gluten, soy, nuts and so on you can sort recipes very easily with HelloFresh. It also makes sticking to a diet plan like keto or paleo a snap.
HelloFresh’s portion sizes are also generous, and it’s pretty affordable if you order meals for a family. A “dinner to lunch” element is a unique twist that provides the home cook a variation on tonight’s dinner to serve as a tasty portable lunch tomorrow. HelloFresh has a ton of recipes too so it should be easy to find something everyone will like. Plus, they’ll allow you to make substitutions. Learn more about the convenient and flexible meal kit service in this full review of HelloFresh.
Subscription: Options range from $8 to $12 per serving, with options for two to six recipes per week and two or four servings per recipe, customizable along with Classic, Veggie and Family plans.
Pricing Starting at $10/servingType Meal kit, pre-madeRegional Availability Most zip codes in United States except in AK, HI, MT, and parts of NMNumber of Meal Options per Week 20+Menu Options/ Diet Types Paleo, carb-conscious, gluten-free, diabetes-friendly, vegetarian, pescatarian, mediterranean, keto-friendly, fresh and ready
Sunbasket was previously our top-ranked meal kit service and the recipes are still excellent. But recently, the brand restructured its prices and most recipes now range in the $15 to $16 per serving range. That makes it the most expensive meal kit service and harder to recommend as the best meal kit for most people.
Beyond tasty, Sunbasket meal kits are also healthy and fresh with lots of organic, non-GMO, sustainably and responsibly raised ingredients. Basically, the box took the trip to the farmer’s market for you and the thoughtful meals are as delicious as they are interesting. In a test of all the leading meal kit services, Sunbasket came out on top.
Sunbasket’s recipes are developed by Justine Kelly, a San Francisco chef known for her work at the James Beard Award-winning Slanted Door restaurant and it shows. Many of Sunbasket’s easy and delicious meals made with organic ingredients are nutritionist-approved (500 to 800 calories per serving) and most meals take only 30 minutes to prepare.
Beyond the great meal kits, Sunbasket offers premade “Fresh and Ready” meals. There’s also a market of grocery items that can be added to your weekly order including cheese, snacks, breakfast foods and more.
Subscription: Meals start at $10 per serving, and you can get between two and five dinners per week for either two or four people. There is also a $6 shipping fee.
Pricing Starting at $12/servingType Meal kitRegional Availability Continental United StatesNumber of Meal Options per Week 30Menu Options/ Diet Types Keto and paleo, gluten-free, fast and fit, mediterranean, vegan, and vegetarian
While it may be one of the pricier options, we like Green Chef for its versatility in the different specific diet plans available. The healthy meal kit service also boasts the most organic ingredients of any meal kit service including produce, meats and fish. Green Chef also offers paleo, keto, pescatarian, vegan and vegetarian meals as well as gluten-free meal kit recipes and meals. No matter which diet you’re following (for health or personal reasons) you’ll be able to find a Green Chef plan that works for you, especially if eating organic food is important.
Because it offers so many different diet plan choices, this also makes Green Chef one of the most versatile meal kit delivery services since you get a plethora of different tasty menu options per week. I tried a week’s worth of Green Chef meals and while some recipes were better than others, you could definitely taste the higher caliber of organic ingredients.
Subscription: $13.49 per serving for a two-person Green Chef subscription at three meals per week; $13 per serving for a four-person Green Chef subscription at two meals per week.
Pricing Starting at $11/servingType Meal kit, pre-madeRegional Availability Continental United StatesNumber of Meal Options per Week Around 8 to 10Menu Options/ Diet Types 100% plant-based
Considering Purple Carrot’s meal kits are all 100% plant-based, it’s no surprise they took the top spot for vegans and vegetarians looking for easy meal kits.
Purple Carrot takes its plant-based recipes pretty seriously and the goal is to help you create tasty and nourishing dinners the old-fashioned way, using fresh vegetables, grains, legumes and other whole foods. If you’re new to veganism and looking for only some plant-based or faux meat products like Impossible Beef that imitates the real thing, you might be better off with a service like HelloFresh.
There are about eight recipes to choose from each week. I tested a full week’s worth of meals — which you can read about in my full Purple Carrot review here — and enjoyed everything I had. Out of all the vegan meal kits I’ve tried, Purple Carrot’s provided me with the best knowledge of and practice for cooking vegan cuisine and its ingredient mainstays like lentils and grains. Purple Carrot also introduced me to some really interesting sauces and condiments like cashew cream and other nut-based “dairy” products.
A Sample menu might include Lemon-braised chickpeas with rosemary and cashew cheese, green curry lentils with brown rice and vegetables and broccoli and cheddar soup with miso garlic croutons. There are also breakfast meal kit add-ons starting at $6 per serving.
Subscription: Purple Carrot offers breakfasts starting at $4.49 per serving, lunches starting at $9 per serving and dinners starting at $11 per serving. A box of three meals per week for two people usually costs about $72. Shipping is free.
Meal kits compared
|Service||Recipes per week||Diets good for||Avg. price per serving||Shipping||CNET rating (out of 10)|
|Sunbasket||21||Vegetarian, organic, keto, paleo, gluten-free, diabetic, pescetarian, Mediterranean||$15||$8.00||9|
|Home Chef||28||Keto, low-calorie, gluten-free, pescetarian||$9||Free on boxes over $40||8|
|Blue Apron||16||Vegetarian, low-calorie, gluten-free, pescetarian||$10||$10||8.2|
|Gobble||17||Vegetarian, keto, paleo, gluten-free, diabetic, pescetarian||$13||$7||7.8|
|HelloFresh||50+||Vegetarian, keto, paleo, gluten-free, diabetic, pescetarian||$9||$9||8|
|Green Chef||30||Vegan, vegetarian, organic, keto, paleo, gluten-free, diabetic, pescetarian, Mediterranean||$13||$10||7.6|
|Purple Carrot||8||Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free||$12||Free||8.6|
How we test meal kits
Testing meal kits for CNET means rolling up our sleeves and cooking at least a week’s worth of meals from each service, often more. We also consider the website and how easy it is to navigate along with determining how easy it is to pause, cancel or change your order at any given time. if you hope to learn more, we have an in-depth look at how we test meal kits at CNET.
Who are meal kits good for?
- Anyone looking to save time shopping and trying to decide what to make. Meal kit delivery service helps you avoid the nightly debate about what you’re going to make for dinner and save a trip to the grocery store if you’re missing breadcrumbs or flour. Instead, you have a foolproof meal plan with preportioned ingredients: Whatever meal comes in the box is the meal you make (and the meal selection is extensive). For any indecisive folks, this is a serious perk.
- Experienced chefs looking to hone their skills but also those new to cooking. Meal kits run the gamut with some such as Sunbasket, Martha & Marley Spoon, Green Chef and Purple Carrot that offer more complicated meal kit projects. Others, such as Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Home Chef have dozens of easy meal kit options targeting new home cooks or those looking to learn.
- Those trying to eat healthy since it’s easy to keep track of what you’re eating. Meal kit services all offer in-depth nutritional information, including carbs, calories, sugar, sodium, protein and more. Many meal kit services even offer specific diet plans that filter out foods that don’t fit a dietary preference or restriction, like gluten-free, diabetes-friendly, keto or carb-conscious, paleo, low-sugar meals, plant-based recipes and more.
What to look for when choosing a meal kit delivery service
- First, you’ll want to decide on a budget. Meal kits cost anywhere from $5 or $6 a serving all the way up to $14 or $15 for the pricier services. EveryPlate and Dinnerly are the cheapest meal kit delivery services but the recipes are more basic and include fewer premium meats and organic ingredients.
- Choosing a meal kit with recipes that fit your cooking level is also key. Some services such as Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon, Green Che or Purple Carrot have slightly more complex recipes. Others, including HelloFresh and Home Chef have recipes that are quick and very simple to execute.
- If you have specific dietary restrictions or picky eaters in your crew, you’ll want to take into account how flexible the services are. Some meal kit companies allow you to make changes and swaps and offer family-friendly meals. Others encourage you to stick to the original recipe.
Meal kit FAQs
How much do meal kits cost?
If you score one of the cheaper, budget-friendly meal kits you can get meals as low as $5 per serving. Most run in the $10 a serving range while the more premium services including Green Chef and Martha & Marley Spoon cost more like $12 or $13 per serving. Nab a cheaper one and it might even save you some money on cooking from scratch, and definitely if you’re subbing them in for regular takeout or delivery.
You’ll also often find promotional offers for new customers that make a meal kit super cheap to try and with features like being able to skip weeks and cancel anytime there is little risk in trying a meal kit.
Which are the cheapest meal delivery services in 2023?
Meal delivery can be had for very little money. In fact, some of the cheapest meal kit services have plans that will net you servings as low as $5 per serving. EveryPlate and Dinnerly are the two cheapest meal kit services, with plans down around $5 per serving. Those are followed by HelloFresh, Blue Apron and Home Chef, which all cost about $9 or $10 per serving. The most expensive meal kit services are Sunbasket, Green Chef and Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon, which can cost anywhere from $11 to $15 per serving, depending on your plan.
Which meal delivery service is best for diet and weight loss?
Certain meal delivery services are better than others if you’re looking to lose weight, cut carbs or keep to a specific diet. Home Chef is the meal kit service with the most options to follow specific diets and substitute out foods that don’t adhere to your nutrition plan. HelloFresh also has lots of keto and paleo options. If you’re on Weight Watchers, Blue Apron has the WW point system integrated to make it easy to keep to your goals.
What is the difference between meal kits and meal delivery?
Meal kit services like Blue Apron and Sunbasket will send all the ingredients to make healthy easy meals, but you still have to cook them. All you’ll need to do is follow the included recipes, so no trips to the grocery store or searching for recipes online. Usually, the ingredients arrive premeasured, and certain recipes can take as little as 20 minutes to complete from start to finish. Meal kits generally have to be cooked within a few days of arriving or the food will start to spoil. Meal delivery services such as Freshly, Fresh N Lean and Mosaic Foods send actual meals that are all ready to heat and eat — no cooking involved. Meals often arrive frozen and can be stored in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for a few weeks or even months.