Dinner

15 Best Meal Delivery Services for Off-Duty Weeknights

Because everyone needs a break from grocery runs.

October  2, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

I’m not the best cook. Nothing I make tastes bad, but I tend to cook a variation of the same dinner every night, aka, my weeknights are a recurring bowl of whole grains, vegetables, and lean meat like ground turkey.

This is the case for a few reasons. I like to eat a balanced meal on weekdays so that I can indulge on weekends. Plus, once I mastered this single easy, delicious meal, I decided to stick with it. It saves me time in the grocery store, and in the kitchen, because I know exactly what to buy—and how to make it.

You might think this sounds like a slightly bleak existence, and you may be right. However, there is respite—an entire industry aimed at people like me (ie, basic cooks). And it’s an industry that’s increasingly dominated by meal delivery services.

When it comes to meal deliveries, the services vary: Some companies send perfectly portioned ingredients with detailed cooking instructions that guarantee a tasty, homemade meal, while others send over prepared dishes from trained chefs. The common goal is to save the customer time by eliminating grocery shopping and making cooking more efficient, all the while offering meals that are flavorful and varied.

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Top Comment:
“I'm surprised that you didn't mention Plated. I've tried several of these services (Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Home Chef, and Sunbasket) and they were the best by far. ”
— Carrie M.
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Based on my hours of research, here are the 15 best services for you to try out (because everyone needs a night off from prepping and planning sometimes).


Cook it yourself

1. Blue Apron

Photo by Blue Apron

Perhaps the brand with the most name recognition in the industry, Blue Apron offers pre-measured, pre-cut ingredients along with a step-by-step recipe. The company has its signature menu plan, along with options for dietary restrictions. There are 11 signature recipe choices per week, at $47.95 per week for any two.

Sample dinner: Seared chicken and nectarine chutney with mashed potatoes and sautéed kale

2. Sun Basket

Focused on organic produce and wild-caught seafood, Sun Basket allows customers to personalize their menus ($39.96 per week) for a wide variety of dietary preferences including gluten-free, vegan, carb-conscious, and more. James Beard Award-winning chef Justine Kelly is behind the recipes, of which there are 18 per week.

Sample dinner: Italian sausages with spicy green harissa and vegetable skewers

3. Martha & Marley Spoon

Martha Stewart fans everywhere celebrate the fact that her clever, six-step recipes (complete with helpful photos) are now available on demand. The kit includes seasonal ingredients, as well as Martha’s custom spice blends. Customers can choose from 20 meals each week and recipes fall into at least one of five categories: health and diet, vegetarian and vegan, meat and fish, under-30 minutes, and family-friendly. Expect to pay $49.99 per week, for two recipes with two servings of each.

Sample dinner: Pork tenderloin with date-cilantro relish and quinoa

4. HelloFresh

Complete nutritional information is supplied for every HelloFresh recipe, each of which is tested a reported 45 times before it graces the menu. The company recommends specific recipes each week, but customers can swap them out from a list of twenty, at $17.98 per week.

Sample dinner: Pork carnitas tacos with pickled onion and Monterey Jack

5. Home Chef

Simplicity is the key tenet of Home Chef, along with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients when possible. With 26 weekly options, customers can upgrade, double-up, add, or swap protein on select meals. The recipes read like they could well belong on an American bistro menu, but at more affordable prices ($49.80 per week for four servings).

Sample dinner: Farmhouse fried chicken with mashed potatoes, green onion, gravy, and corn

6. Gobble

Photo by Gobble

If you’re tight on time, and by that I mean that all you have is 15 minutes, look no further than Gobble. All the prep work is done for you—ingredients come measured, peeled, chopped, and marinated, which means something like butter chicken with basmati rice and naan takes just 15 minutes from start to finish. Unlike other services, though, Gobble requires customers to order a minimum of three recipes at $71.94 per week.

Sample dinner: Artichoke and ricotta ravioli with sun-dried tomato cream sauce

7. EveryPlate

With a sharp focus on affordability, EveryPlate considers itself to be the country’s “best value meal kit.” There is also a deliberate skew towards protein-rich meals—most of which take around 30 minutes to make. EveryPlate also requires a minimum order of three recipes each week at $39.

Sample dinner: Sweet Sriracha chicken legs with potato wedges and garlicky green beans

8. Dinnerly

Dinnerly occupies roughly the same price point as EveryPlate. Its recipes (sent digitally to keep costs low, but also, hey, more eco-friendly) are simple, unfussy, and easy to cook. Expect to pay $38.93 a week, which includes two servings each of three recipes.

Sample dinner: Open-faced mushroom parm with green salad

9. Purple Carrot

Plant-based meals are the name of the game at Purple Carrot, which mines the world’s over-20,000 edible plants for its recipes. All the ingredients are vegan and sustainable, ending up in dishes like sticky apricot seitan with green beans and quinoa speckled rice. Expect to pay $71.94 a week, which includes two servings of three recipes.

Sample dinner: Lemon braised chickpeas with rosemary and scallion cashew cheese

10. Green Chef

Keto, paleo, balanced living, and plant-powered are the different plan options offered by Green Chef. Ingredients are certified organic, and meals take about 30 minutes to prepare. Plus, the brand offsets 100% of carbon emissions from operations, including shipping. Expect to pay $71.94 a week, which includes two servings of three recipes.

Sample dinner: Shrimp tinga tacos with cotija cheese, cabbage and carrot slaw, and long-grain rice


Ready to go!

11. Freshly

Chef-cooked meals ($49.99 a week, for four single-servings) delivered to your door are the specialty of Freshly, which focuses on “complex carbs, healthy fats, and quality proteins.” The recipes are also all gluten-free. Once they’re delivered, the meals need just three minutes of heat time and they're good to go.

Sample menu: Turkey and mushroom meatballs with butternut noodles

12. Sakara

Photo by Sakara

Sakara was founded on nine pillars: no calorie counting, plant protein, eat your water, greens, good fats, eat the rainbow, nutrient density, sulfur-rich veggies, and body intelligence. Its meal programs are designed to improve digestion, boost energy, and increase focus. The signature organic meal program features a set menu that changes weekly and will cost you $95 a week. Detox tea and daily probiotics are included in the package.

Sample menu: Cooling cashew vermicelli with kelp noodles, veggies, and pink spicy cashew dressing

13. Epicured

People looking for gluten-free and low FODMAP options will find Epicured helpful. The company services the Northeast, from D.C. to Boston. Another distinguishing factor is that the meals are fresh and chilled, not frozen. Each meal is priced individually.

Sample menu: Coconut shrimp laksa with basmati rice

14. Veestro

Plant-based and 100% organic, Veestro’s prepared frozen meal plans are a la carte, chef’s choice, and weight loss. A la carte plans allow you the greatest flexibility, and you can order up to 10 meals ($117), which can be delivered weekly, every two weeks, or every four weeks

Sample menu: Jackfruit pozole

15. Daily Harvest

Photo by Daily Harvest

At Daily Harvest, the spotlight is on overturning the notion that frozen foods are bad for you. Here, fruits and vegetables are frozen immediately after harvest so peak nutrients and flavor can be locked in. This is then delivered to your door in the form of cups ($69.75 for nine cups) of smoothies, harvest bowls, soups, and lattes, with superfoods like hemp protein and maca thrown in as well.

Sample menu: Brussels sprouts and lime pad thai and tomato and bell pepper gazpacho


What meal kit delivery services have you tried? Tell us in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lune
    Lune
  • Marci Von Furstenberg
    Marci Von Furstenberg
  • Bloodthirsty Vegan
    Bloodthirsty Vegan
  • Carrie M Wright
    Carrie M Wright
  • Casey
    Casey
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8 Comments

Lune October 3, 2019
Although they are not a "meal delivery service" I do enjoy my madness Misfit Market box every 2 weeks. It is a surprise and a challenge to make something with veggies and fruits I may not like (I see you beets! Beet pasta it is!). I feel good because it reduces food waste and it last longer because it is shipped quickly and properly. I have had lettuce that has stayed green and crisp for more than 2 weeks because it was so fresh! Yes my butternut squash is shaped more like a cylinder than pear shape. Do I mind? not really!
 
Marci V. October 3, 2019
I used Martha and Marley Spoon and found the veggies were exquisite! I cut into a carrot and the smell pulled me back to when I was a kid in the garden. There are so many meals to choose from and they come in environmentally friendly cold packaging. Highly recommend.
 
Bloodthirsty V. October 3, 2019
As a catastrophic burn survivor, organic foods have contributed greatly to my recovery. For nearly 4 years we have very rarely been less than thrilled with GreenChef's vegan offerings. It's a fulfilling activity, a good value and like my 40 year marriage, I'm not looking at anyone else.
 
Bloodthirsty V. October 3, 2019
We
 
Carrie M. October 2, 2019
I'm surprised that you didn't mention Plated. I've tried several of these services (Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Home Chef, and Sunbasket) and they were the best by far.
 
Casey October 2, 2019
Any information on what meal plan has the least amount of packing waste? That has been the big flag for me.
 
Maxwell S. October 2, 2019
Check out www.mamasezz.com — they give you a prepaid label to rerun everything to them to recycle or reuse. Their food is super healthy and tastes great — even the kids love it.
 
Casey October 3, 2019
Thank you!