Which Meal Subscription Service is Best for You
This post was NOT sponsored. It includes all my honest opinions. I have worked with Hello Fresh before, but this did not affect this post and its contents.
It feels kind of weird to be posting 2 research projects back to back, buuuuut it just kind of turned out that way. If you want to read my other recent project, I tried 5 different natural deodorants and told you which one was my favorite here. Anyway, I actually started this piece in May, too. Nick and I love food and we love to cook BUT during this time, we had just been so busy with the wine bar and everything, we had become eating out-aholics. You can find well made food eating out, but it just isn't the same as making it yourself or monitoring the nutrients. I wanted to order a food delivery service to help us out, but didn't know which one was best *light bulb* and I knew I had to test all the major ones and see which one was best! Side note, I had already tried Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, but went ahead and tried them again, just to refresh my memory.
When these meal kits first came out, I remember snubbing them. I was like "I know how to cook and what I want to make, so no thanks". Fast forward a couple of years and they totally helped me get in the habit of cooking again. One thing that has occurred since I have gotten busier is that dinner was an afterthought...it was much easier to grab dinner out or pick it up on the way home.
To set the stage, we ordered 2 servings a meal with 3 meals a week, so that's what these prices I mention are set for. This was my favorite amount of meals, because it made it easy to be flexible and still enjoy meals out if you wanted to. I'm going to review each one in paragraph form, then I'll throw it on a spreadsheet for easy reading, then give you my brief overview based on overall favorite, recipes, etc. These are constantly changing, so this was complete as of summer 2017. I don't think that there is one RIGHT one for everyone - I think it depends on your needs and wants, so here goes! I'll present them in alphabetical order. Bon appétit!
PAID: $29.94 (received a $30 off coupon, actual total was $59.94, so $9.99 per serving)
Taiwanese-Style Chicken with Jasmine Rice, Crispy Shallot, and Cilantro
Spiced Beef Pitas + Garlic Labneh with Arugala and Date Salad
Seared Cod + Crème Fraîche Sauce with with Potato, Cabbage, & Olive Hash
Blue Apron was the second one I ever EVER had. (but remember I re-tried it recently for this post!) There weren't as many options as there are now and the options that did exist didn't really overlap. Blue Apron was the first to pair wine with their options, though there are others who do it now. My main "issues" with BA were the same when I tried it again. I felt that the food took too long to cook, their delivery and packaging was weird, and there were too many stipulations. I feel like they want you to actually make stuff - like instead of sending you pickled peppers, they give you the ingredients to make them...which is FINE, but if I wanted to spend a ton of time doing that, I would have made my own extravagant dinner. In regard to their packaging, they just dump everything together in the box and you sort it out. When I say stipulations I mean that they don't let you pick any recipe you want - like if you click "shrimp and grits", it may grey out other options, meaning you can't pick those with the shrimp and grits for some reason...I think I remember reading something recently that they had changed that?? Not sure. It does have an app, if that's something you care about though! You get to choose from 6 recipes and from either a 2 person or 4 person plan. For the 2 person plan, you can have 3 or 4 meals a shipment. For the 4 person plan, you can have 2 or 3 meals a shipment. Overall, the recipes were yummy, so that's all that really matters;)
PAID: $30.94 (received a $50 off coupon, actual total was $71.94, PLUS a $9 delivery fee... meals range between $10.49-$14.99)
Nigerian Chicken Kebabs
Steak and Soba Salad
Summer Squash Gratin
This box was very...organic. They have a ton of options, though! You can choose from GF, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, and omnivore. Side note- the cheapest is the vegetarian option and the most expensive is the paleo option. Once you choose your option that I mentioned above, your recipes are picked. They cannot be chosen by you, only by the category you pick, which I thought was a little odd. Additionally, you can only have them deliver Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, which I thought was weird, because the beginning of the week is when I usually need the meals! To be honest, these were my least favorite meals...maybe because the recipes were a little out there? Or maybe because I didn't get to choose my recipes. I will say that this box does a good job of things for the people with restrictions- you know they actually give vegetarians vegetable, not just a bunch of pasta. I will give them points for that!
PAID: $29.94 (received a $30 off coupon, actual total was $59.94, so $9.99 per serving)
Chicken Parm Salad with baby spinach and creamy lemon dressing
Italian Ciabatta Cheeseburger with mozzarella, onion, and balsamic greens
Sweet apple pork tenderloin with cauliflower mash and snap peas
Hello Fresh was the first meal delivery service I ever tried and man did it set the tone! You get to choose from 8 recipes, for 2 or 4 people. If you choose meals for 2, you can have them for 3-5 days of the week, but if you choose meals for 4, you only get them for 3 days worth. They didn't originally have it, but HF does offer wine pairings now, too! Hello Fresh uses farm fresh ingredients andddd they have an app. BUT that's not my favorite part! HF neatly packs their food so everything is sorted and they only thing left out is the meat, which is stored at the bottom of the box with ice packs. They also make it super easy for you - like instead of having you make fresh pesto, they just send you the fresh pesto. And of course, they kill it on the recipes! If you are a vegetarian, I would just make sure you are getting your veggies- I know they used to just give you several pasta and flatbread type of dishes #carbcity, but hey they taste darn good!
PAID: $29.70 (received a $30 off coupon, actual total was $59.70, so $9.95 per serving)
Steak au Poivre with Cauliflower Gratin and Green Beans
Swiss Fondue Burger with Onion Jam and Parsley Fries
Roasted Chicken with Patatas Bravas and Smoky Tomato Sauce and Green Beans
I think my initial thought about this was "my money is paying for this??", because they send you a binder to put recipe cards in. I guess if you had a picky eater who really liked a recipe, it would be nice to look back on, but I'm not making these to find treasured recipes...I'm making it for the sheer act of time saving. Everything was packaged together nicely, except for meat. They did put it in a ziploc bag which I was happy about, since it leaked. They do pair wine at $7, which is super cheap! I didn't pair it, but am kind of interested to see how great the quality was. You get to choose from a lot of options, including premium offerings, breakfast and fruit / snacks! You have 13 meals to choose from (2/13 are snacks) and can pick between 2, 4, or 6 servings per meal, 3 times a week...so big families rejoice! Overall I thought the recipes were good, but 2/3 took a long time to make.
PAID: $31.50 (received a $30 off coupon, actual total was $61.50, so $10.25 per serving)
Beef and White Bean Chili with Whole Wheat Couscous
Tortilla Skillet Pie with Poblano, Corn, and Pinto Beans
Creamy Goat Cheese Penne with Zucchini and Mushrooms
If I had to classify this box, I'd say "comfort food in a box". It's very Martha Stewart in the sense that these weren't the healthiest of recipes if you know what I mean. They were super tasty, but definitely didn't target the same demographic as the other ones I reviewed thus far. You get to choose from 10 recipes -either a 2 person box or family box which is 2 adults and 2 kids. Once you pick that, you get to decide between 2 or 3 meals per week. (side note- it's cheaper the more meals you buy). I felt like this box is a good starting point for people who are used to southern meals, but trying to be a bit healthier and cook more themselves -not eat out or prepare something from a packaged box. I will say my chives arrived a little bad, but i was able to salvage some. I hadn't had any problems with food going bad prior to this, so that was the only disappointing thing. A simple thing I liked was that it was super easy to cancel!
PAID: $63.50 (received a $10 off coupon, actual total was $73.50, so $12.25 per meal)
- choose the meals you want, priced per meal, no discount code.You can search for a $10 off code for first time users.
Steak Salad with Mint, Lime & Cilantro Rice
Tomato Pie with Vidalia Onion & Herbed Chicken Breast
Balsamic Glazed Chicken with Bacon, Lettuce & Fingerling Potatoes
The main thing to take away from this option is that you can choose the meal you, get it when you want it, and everything is priced per meal - so get as much or little as you wish! That being said, be prepared to pay the price. You can get what you want, when you want it, but this is the most consistently expensive per meal there is.
PAID: $47.80 (received a $30 off coupon, actual total was $71.70, so $11.95 a serving)
Fontina Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Spring Vegetables
Lamb Kebabs with Papas Bravas and Mint Chimichurri
Salmon Burgers with Chive Aioli and Mâche
My favorite part about plated was that it stated cool things about each meal, like GF, low carb, stovetop only, etc. You can choose up to 4 servings per meal and up to 4 nights a week. Pick from 13 recipes AND send free boxes to friends after you order a certain amount of meals. (I think HF does this too, but I've never gotten it). Side note- the price is cheaper the more servings you buy. The food is good and I can't complain about it! Oh, and it's super easy to cancel the service, which wins brownie points.
PAID: $34.47 (actual total $69.94, received a $30 off coupon, so $11.49 a serving)
$34.47 instead of $68.94, $11.49 a serving
Fregola Risotto with Soft-Cooked Eggs, Zucchini, and Tomatoes
Seared Salmon with Pearl Couscous and Salsa Fresca
Steak Fajita Lettuce Wraps with Guacamole
This is another organic option for you! You can choose between vegetarian, paleo, chefs choice, or family plan. (2 kids/2 adults). Get 2 or 4 servings 3 times a week or with the family plan, get 4 servings 2 or 4 times w/kid friendly options. Your family plan is chosen, but with the others, choose between 10 recipes! You are also able to upgrade your meat and seafood in select recipes! Breakfast options are available too. The food was good, but I didn't there was enough of a meal for some? For example, with the lettuce wraps, i was like "where is my side?!". I also had a ton left over from the meals. They send the recipes in this cute little stapled book...which I don't need. I just want to pay for my food if you know what I mean. I love that you can donate your meal if you want to skip that week and want to do some good. I did not like how hard it was to cancel...I had to call and was on hold for 5 minutes right after they opened and then it took them 15 minutes to cancel my subscription. But again... food was good!
FAVORITE PLAN: Hello Fresh! I love their pricing, packaging, and recipes.
BEST PLAN FOR HEALTH: I'd say Sun Basket judging strictly by the organic ingredients, because I liked their recipes more than Green Chef Organic; however, GCO has a couple more "obscure" options you won't find other places!
BEST PLAN FOR FAMILIES: This was kind of an issue, because not a lot of them offer more than 4 servings. Sun Basket and Marley Spoon have kid friendly meals and portions, but Home Chef gets you up to 6 servings per meal! There is peach dish, but it's the most expensive as a whole.
PLAN FOR BEST COST: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef are all pretty close in cost per meal.
PICKY EATER/MORE OPTIONS: As of right now, Plated has the most recipes to choose from. The great thing about these is that you know what you are getting and if you/your family will enjoy the food. With that visability, you really can't go wrong...unless there is someone who never liked anything;)
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