I’m going to be honest: I love to cook, but dinner is a drag. I’m totally capable of scanning Pinterest for recipes. I know my way around the stove, but after figuring out what to eat, picking up ingredients I may never use again and having to put it all together, I lose my mojo. I’m guilty of throwing up my hands and ordering takeout in lieu of making my own meal.
Still, I was skeptical of meal kits: How much time could it really save? Isn’t it kind of expensive?
Well, call me converted. Beyond the fact that I no longer agonize over finding the best grain bowl recipe possible, the meal kits have also had another benefit: My husband cooks most nights now. Their no-brainer recipe directions have given him a new hobby and taken a load off my responsibility list.
Along the way, we’ve tried several different meal kits and found that each of them has pros and cons. If you’re just getting started, it can be hard to see which one is right for you, so I did the dirty work and broke it down.
Here are the top kits — all available nationwide — and the most important things to know before you choose one (or more!) to try.
Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. HelloFresh and Factor 75 are SheKnows sponsors, however, all products in this article were independently selected by our editors. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.
Price: $11+ per serving
Best for: Prep-free healthy eating
Benefits: Don’t want to heat up the oven? Opt for Factor 75’s healthy, ready-to-eat meals so you barely have to lift a finger. You can choose from 29+ freshly prepared meals—like Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken and Keto Turkey Chili & Brussel Sprouts—and select anywhere from four to 18 meals delivered weekly, straight to your door. All you have to do is pop them in the fridge when they arrive (they’ll stay fresh for up to seven days) and heat them up when it’s time to eat. Factor 75 also offers something for every lifestyle from Keto to Veggie, so it’s never been easier to stick to your goals— and while staying on budget. Best of all, you can pause, cancel or change your plan at any time.
Drawbacks: This is an all-around top choice, but the only downside we can possibly think of is that you can’t customize your meals as much since they’re already made.
Price: $7.99+ per serving
Best for: Time-strapped parents
Benefits: HelloFresh offers fresh-from-the-farm pre-portioned ingredients that’ll help you get a gourmet dinner on the table in no time. There are specific options available for families, vegetarians and even pescatarians. Each box is filled with quality meats and seasonal veggies to bring you the best flavors year-round—no pro chef skills required. We love that HelloFresh is super flexible by allowing you to skip, swap or cancel meals as needed.
Drawbacks: Honestly, other than the higher price point, it’s difficult to find many drawbacks. Like Blue Apron, some of the meal options may be tougher than others to get kids excited about but there are so many options to choose from that this should rarely be a problem.
Price: $4.99 to $7.49 per serving depending on your plan
Benefits: Blue Apron easily landed the number one spot on our list. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Blue Apron‘s restaurant-quality meals that introduce you to new ingredients, flavors and cooking techniques. They’re made with high-quality ingredients that are often organic and sustainable. You can order up to four recipes a week for two to four people. Blue Apron also offers a vegetarian subscription and a WW™-approved subscription option, and you can even fill out your table with a side, dessert or appetizer through its weekly add-ons. There’s also an option to have wine delivered separately once a month with your kit, designed to pair perfectly with your meals. Best of all, through May 31 new customers save $100 off across your first 5 boxes.
Drawbacks: If you have a house full of picky eaters, some of Blue Apron’s more exotic flavors may be a tough sell for kids with a more discerning palate but it can also be a great way to introduce them to new flavors they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience.
Price: $6 to $8.40 per meal depending on your plan
Best for: Healthy eaters
Benefits: If you’re looking for healthy, junk-free meals but haven’t found a meal kit that caters to your dietary needs, you’ve just found the answers to your deepest wishes. RealEats offers fully cooked, chef-prepared meals that are vacuum-sealed for freshness. Each meal includes the nutritional info so you know exactly what you’re eating.
Drawbacks: If you’re short on fridge space, these meals might take up more space than you’d like.
Best for: Adults short on time
Benefits: Hungryroot sends you groceries based on your preferences each week and easy 10-minute recipe ideas to make with them. If you don’t like spending tons of time in the kitchen — or using the oven and stove — you’ll actually like cooking with these simple ingredients and recipes.
Drawbacks: These meals tend to be on the lighter side, so you might want to supplement with some items if you like heavier meals.
Price: $10 per meal
Best for: Families or simple recipe folks
Benefits: Families will likely love Home Chef. With a few options to choose from each week, many of them kid-approved, and the option to order between two and three meals a week for two or four people, you’ve got a variety of reliable, usually quick, meals to cook.
Drawbacks: Although they occasionally have some adventurous dishes, the food tends to keep ingredients and flavors pretty simple.
Price: $11 or $12 per plate depending on your plan
Best for: Organic eaters who need diet-specific meals
Benefits: If you’re concerned about having all-organic produce, sustainable seafood or antibiotic- and hormone-free meat and pasteurized organic eggs, Sunbasket has you covered. Their recipes focus on clean meats and vegetables, and you can choose from paleo, lean (550 calories per serving), gluten-free, Mediterranean, pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan meal plans.
Drawbacks: It’s one of the more expensive options, and only the family sizes (four people) allow you to choose between two, three or four meals per week.
Price: $12 per plate depending on your plan
Best for: People who need dinner made quickly
Benefits: Gobble does all of the prep work for you. Lots of starches like mashed potatoes come premade and everything is already washed, chopped and ready to be cooked.
Drawbacks: Convenience doesn’t come cheap. This is one of the more pricey options but it’s still a lot more affordable than ordering takeout.
Price: $12 per plate
Best for: Plant-based foodies
Benefits: Whether you’re full vegan, dabbling vegetarian or someone who would like to have more plant-based meals in their life, Purple Carrot offers plentiful variety and goes way beyond pasta, for Instagram-worthy meals that will light up your taste buds.
Drawbacks: Currently, the only options are for two portions three times a week.
Price: $13+ per meal depending on your plan
Best for: Soup and smoothie lovers
Benefits: Splendid Spoon offers breakfast and lunch options only. They have a wide variety of soup, smoothie and bowl options to keep your lunch routine from getting dull. Everything is pretty healthy so if that’s a priority, this is a great option.
Drawbacks: $13 for a breakfast smoothie is definitely more than most people prefer to spend. But if you’re willing to splurge on the convenience, all of their selections are delicious!
Price: $4.99+ per plate
Best for: Families, budget-conscious people
Benefits: Every Plate is by far the cheapest option which makes it great for large families. There is also a wide selection of menu options. Most services only offer 4-6 menu options but Every Plate offers 11 every week which is great if you have picky eaters in your family.
Drawbacks: The menu isn’t quite as diverse as some of the other options. This is more meat-and-potatoes meals with a side of veggies so don’t expect to see any fancy or exotic ingredients, but if you want great-tasting homestyle cooking at an affordable price, this is your best option.
Most kits offer some kind of discount as an introductory offer, so trying them out is even cheaper. If you’re ready to make recipe stress a thing of the past, give a meal kit a chance.
A version of this article was originally published May 2018.
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