Unlike many products we test at Reviewed, a meal kit delivery service isn’t something you buy once and use for years; it’s a subscription service that asks you to make choices each week and changes how you cook.
Since the launch of Blue Apron in 2012, a seemingly endless number of competitors have emerged—from vegan and plant-based meals to comfort food to Martha Stewart-approved. So, choosing the right service can be complicated and confusing.
After several years of testing more than a dozen meal kits and cooking 50 different dinners during busy weeknights, our favorite meal delivery service is Home Chef, because it forgoes gimmick in favor of providing consistently excellent recipes, quality ingredients, and enough variety to satisfy most diets.
Top 5 Meal Kit Delivery Services—The Short Version
Just want to know which service you should order based on our testing? These are our top picks and why we chose them, abridged for easy reading. Or feel free to scroll down for full review of all of services that we tested.
The best meal kit subscription delivery service for you is probably Home Chef.
High-quality ingredients, well-written recipes, and fantastic flavors make the Home Chef experience one you’ll want to integrate into your weeknights—and the service’s organization makes it incredibly easy to do so. You may just impress yourself with how good your Home Chef meals turn out.
If you love the vibe of a home-cooked meal—but hate all the slicing and dicing—this is probably your dream meal kit. Gobble does all the prep work for you, so all that's left to do is combine your ingredients and let them cook. We especially love it for its super fast recipes, tasty flavors, and easy-to-follow guides.
While not an entirely vegetarian service, Sunbasket offers a huge variety of quick, flavorful plant-based meals that will satisfy vegetarians and omnivores alike. Their ingredients are largely organic, and their recipes are some of the fastest we tested.
Meal kit giant HelloFresh featured our very favorite recipe of the entire experience and earned high marks for flavor overall. While their recipes weren’t always quick to make, we always had fun in the process.
Cooking not your thing? Freshly is a pre-made delivery service that offers meals that taste as good as homemade, with none of the effort. When we tested Freshly meals, we found all the ingredients to taste fresh, high-quality, and packed with flavor.
Like its name suggests, Home Chef provides customers with the tools necessary to become true masters of the kitchen. From Home Chef’s fresh, high-quality ingredients to well-written recipes that break down intimidating cooking methods into digestible steps, everything about this service made me feel like I was preparing restaurant-worthy (or at least guest-worthy) meals without running around like a maniac.
Home Chef's fried chicken recipe came out great. I could hardly believe I did it myself.
Take Home Chef’s Farmhouse Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Green Onion Gravy, and Corn. While browsing for meals on the company’s website, I initially saw fried chicken and laughed. How could a food so many people find impossible to cook at home be executed well in the context of a meal kit? I was shocked—and thrilled!—to find that Home Chef’s recipe yielded wonderfully even, juicy chicken with nary an oil burn in sight. I could hardly believe I did it myself.
If the words “fried chicken” make you clutch your heart in health-related fear, don’t worry—Home Chef’s offerings are diverse enough to accommodate almost any diet, including vegetarians and vegans. It offers 16 dinner options per week, as well as a handful of lunch and snack choices as add-ons to its main menu. I was impressed by the depth of flavor in the Yang-Yang Beef with Shishito Peppers, a lighter alternative to traditional Chinese food, and loved the Hot Honey Salmon with Zucchini and Tomatoes for its summer simplicity. Vegetarian meals, like the Wild Rice and Brussels Sprouts Harvest Bowl, were on the table in less than 30 minutes.
At the heart of Home Chef’s success is its organization. Any experienced cook knows that preparation is half the battle, and this company knows it, too. Ingredients are divided per meal into labeled bags that easily slide into the fridge, recipe instructions are consistently clear, time estimates are largely accurate, and the website is easy to navigate, allowing you the freedom to choose meals and skip delivery weeks at will. This clarity and organization made for faster fridge-to-table times than a lot of the competition and saved me the stress of forgetting ingredients and re-reading recipes four times over.
Home Chef would be wise to incorporate more biodegradable packaging into their existing model, but I struggle to find any other criticism of this excellent service. We liked it so much, we've partnered with Home Chef to offer Reviewed readers $90 off their first three orders.
Cost: Visit Gobble.com for updated pricing. When we tested, meals were $11.99 per serving for two people, $11.99 per serving for four people, regardless of frequency. Different plans are available, including Classic, Vegetarian Only, and Lean & Clean.
Unlike Home Chef, which can require chopping, the ingredients in Gobble’s meal kits are almost entirely pre-prepped. This means your box will contain pre-made sauces and partially-cooked starches that require simple reheating, plus pre-sliced, -diced, and -minced veggies. We were pleasantly surprised by the freshness of the prepped ingredients, in particular the produce, and found that everything survived a day or two in the fridge before cooking.
Every Gobble recipe we tested came together in 15 minutes or less, as promised by the brand’s website. The recipe cards for each dish include fun facts about the dish, as well as supplies to gather, what’s included in your dinner kit, calorie information, and easy-to-follow cooking instructions. We appreciated how the ingredients are bolded within the instructions, so it’s easier to spot these at a glance if you’re reading whilst cooking.
Gobble’s packaging is almost entirely recyclable, which is amazing! But because Gobble preps most of the veggies for you, there's unnecessary (albeit recyclable) packaging for things like chopped onions, which means more stuff for you to dispose of.
We were impressed by how easily our Sunbasket dinners came together, relying on just a few key ingredients and spice blends to do most of the heavy lifting, which meant spending less time cooking and more time enjoying my food. Sunbasket now offers oven-ready and pre-prepped meals that we tested alongside other pre-made meals. We were extremely impressed with the high-quality ingredients in each dish, in particular the flavorful veggies and non-meat protein options, making Sunbasket perfect for people who avoid eating meat.
Sunbasket has improved its cancellation policy since we originally tested. Now, you can easily skip weeks, adjust delivery frequency, pause your account, or cancel your subscription entirely by easily navigating its website.
The biggest downside to this meal subscription as it stands is that the portions aren’t big enough to have leftovers for eating later, which is especially nice if you have a habit of eating leftovers for lunch.
Cost:Visit Freshly for updated pricing. When we tested, meals ranged from $7.99 each for 12 meals a week to $11.50 each for four meals per week. Each meal serves one person.
Freshly was the closest to a home-cooked meal that our editor, Meghan Kavanaugh, experienced while testing the best pre-made meal delivery services. Unlike the other services in this roundup, Freshly delivers fully prepared meals directly to your door, no cooking required.
Once the dinners were plated, Meghan wouldn’t have believed they were microwaved if she hadn’t done it herself. Other than some slightly bland broccoli that came with the chicken parm dish, she enjoyed every bite.
Most of the ingredients tasted fresh and high-quality. Meghan was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed Freshly’s Steak Peppercorn—having never cooked steak on her own, she would’ve been proud if she had whipped that up herself. There’s no getting around a sub-par steak.
And while the pork carnitas dish wasn’t the most appetizing to look at in the microwave, it was packed with flavor and tasted so good that she would jump at the chance to order it again. The same goes for the bolognese—she loved the fact that the cauliflower offered a carb-conscious alternative to the classic.
She most appreciated the portion sizes. With pre-made dinners, if you’re left hungry enough to need more food, it almost defeats the point. Freshly offered plenty of food to leave her feeling full, even after a workout.
She did find the cancellation process to be a bit cumbersome. She was taken through several steps on the Freshly website that included confirming on multiple pop-up boxes that she did indeed want to cancel. But with the quality of the food and the fact that skipping meals for weeks at a time was simple, hopefully it’s not something you’ll have to do once you join.
I’m Madison Trapkin, the Kitchen and Cooking Editor at Reviewed. I'm also a vegetarian. Like testers before me, I love digging into new recipes or dreaming up my own dishes, but sometimes I hit a creativity wall and I’d much prefer someone else to do the work for me. This is why I’m a huge fan of a well-curated meal kit with high-quality ingredients—plus, there's no need to grocery shop!
Former kitchen editor Cassidy Olsen was our original tester. She found that despite loving to cook, making a proper dinner for herself each night could be daunting. Sometimes she’d have bursts of motivation, but most of the time she didn't want to go food shopping and make dinner. Basically, she was the perfect candidate for testing and had the cooking and food knowledge to know what works. I’ve added to Cassidy’s original results by testing new services and retesting our top picks.
After testing the most popular meal kits on the market back in 2016, we decided our rankings needed an overhaul—in five-plus years, some services like Plated, Terra's Kitchen, Amazon, and Peach Dish—were discontinued, while many others had grown to cater to more diets, and new competition had emerged. So in 2020 and 2021, we re-tested all of the existing contenders along with some new entries that were growing in popularity, including celebrity chef-approved services Martha and Marley Spoon and Gobble.
During our testing, Chef’d was acquired by True Food Innovation and rolled into its True Chef meal kit service—and since True Chef doesn’t deliver nationally, we left it out of our final ranking. That same reason is why we omitted new services like AmazonFresh that are still in beta or only deliver to certain markets.
For each service, we ordered one box of three, two-serving meals through each service's website just like a regular customer, choosing a diverse variety of meals when available. We prepared the food on a weeknight for ourselves and our partners and evaluated for quality of ingredients, recipe accuracy and variety, difficulty, speed, cleanup, taste, and more.
We also considered cost, how eco-friendly and user-friendly the kit’s packaging was, and how easy (or difficult) it was to cancel the service after we were done testing. We scored and compared each meal and kept detailed notes like true food nerds.
We also considered cost, how eco-friendly and user-friendly the kit’s packaging was, and how easy (or difficult) it was to cancel the service after we were done testing. We scored and compared each meal in a large spreadsheet and kept detailed notes in an accompanying document like a true food nerd. I also re-tested our winner, Home Chef, to make sure they were still deserving of the title.
Are Meal Kits Worth It?
Meal prepping and grocery shopping can feel overwhelming whether you’re a parent or log 60 hours per week at your law firm (or both). Meal kits are a great way to expand your tastes and eat healthier, bringing you through the cooking process one step at a time and slicing the time it takes to prepare your food in half. We found many recipes that only took 15 or 20 minutes, and oftentimes less!
If you’re overworked and grabbing fast food after late nights at the office frequently, a meal kit service may be for you. High levels of sodium, fat, and calories are to be found in the most popular takeout options and the portion sizes are often grossly out of proportion.
One study found that popular restaurant meals can have a whopping 1,500 calories on average per serving. Using a meal kit service can help you to better manage your portions and ingredients for a healthier lifestyle. A meal kit can also be a good way to go if you’re following a new eating style, like keto, pescatarian, or a diabetes-friendly diet.
What Your First Box Will Include
Even if you’ve already decided which service is right for you, chances are you’re still confused about what your first box actually entails. While each service has different approaches to ordering, packaging, and delivery, we’ve found that most services have some baseline similarities.
You’ll get a discount on your first box. Almost every service we tried offers a large discount on the first box. While this is an awesome benefit for new customers, don’t let it fool you into thinking one service is much cheaper than the others. Our price breakdown for each service reflects the price you’ll be regularly paying per meal, disregarding initial discounts.
Your box is good to sit on your doorstep until the end of the day. Because delivery windows for these services are as broad as a full day, they package ingredients to last outside your actual refrigerator until the end of the day. Most often, produce and dry ingredients will be grouped in bags above ice packs, and any meat will be fully insulated below ice packs.
The packaging is going to be bulky and cumbersome. As much as certain services pride themselves on eco-friendly boxes, there’s no way around the massive amounts of packaging.
Recipes are usually seasonal, but favorites are often repeated. Every meal kit service has a different approach to repetition, but most try to make recipes as seasonal as possible to keep you from getting bored and to guarantee fresh, sustainable produce. That being said, most companies make note of the most popular dishes and offer them many weeks a year, regardless of the season. If you really love one of your meals, hold onto the recipe card for future reference so you can request it again—or make it yourself using store-bought ingredients.
Cook your meals soon after receiving them. Meal kit ingredients are typically fresh and high-quality, but there’s nothing special preserving them—they’re just like what you buy from the grocery store. Because of transit times, they might actually be older than what you buy from the store. Use common sense when approaching certain dishes—seafood, fresh greens, and chicken should be prepared first, while red meat, pork, and harder produce can last a few more days. Freeze any meat you won’t be eating in the first few days after receiving your box.
Cancel at least one full week before you want your last box. Most meal kit companies have solid customer service and flexible cancellation policies, but it’s important to consider the long-term logistics that go into assembling your box. If you’re interested in canceling your subscription service, make sure to do it at least one full week before you want your last box. If you want to skip a week or take a break from deliveries, most services allow you to make those selections, too.
Many meal kits are now offered in grocery stores. To combat the high operational costs of delivery-only services, many companies have partnered with (or been acquired by) major food stores and are now offering its kits in the grocery aisles. While we only tested delivery services, many of the recipes we tried are also available in stores for equal or lower prices.
Some meal kit companies now offer pre-prepared and heat-and-eat meals. We've noticed a recent trend toward speed and convenience in the meal kit world, both with traditional companies like the ones we've tested in this roundup and with frozen and ready-to-eat brands. Home Chef now offers at least two oven-ready dishes per menu every week, and Sunbasket has introduced both oven-ready and pre-prepped options. We separately tested nine of the best pre-made meal delivery services that might interest you if you don't have time to cook.
Before you order, you’ll also want to make sure you have some essential cooking tools at the ready. Here are our recommendations:
While a meal kit can easily work for one, many consumers wonder if a delivery service will be able to accommodate their entire family. When you’re cooking for a lot of people, a meal kit can take a lot of stress out of dinnertime. The challenge is that kids can be picky eaters, but there are family-friendly meals and plans available. Most meal kits we tested—including Home Chef, HelloFresh, Gobble, and more—have the option to select a plan with four or more servings per recipe, which would easily accommodate a family.
Other Meal Kit Services We Tested
Though we feel that our top picks should satisfy most people, the competition has some benefits, too. Here are our reviews of the other meal kit delivery services that we tested.
Cost: Visit HelloFresh.com for updated pricing. When tested, meals were $8.99 per serving for two people ordering at least three meals a week, $7.49 per serving for three or more people ordering at least three meals a week. Different plans are available.
The wallet-friendly HelloFresh is the market’s biggest name after Blue Apron, and it’s easy to see why—big portions, affordable prices, and straightforward recipes make the service incredibly approachable. Although we found that HelloFresh dishes were rarely on the table in the 30 or so minutes the recipe cards promised, we were consistently impressed by the flavor. Its Bánh Mi Burger, which puts an American twist on the classic Vietnamese sandwich with lightly pickled veggies and sriracha mayo, is absolutely out of this world.
While HelloFresh offers more variety in its dishes than it did when we first tested, it still doesn’t have consistent vegan offerings. Its website struggles when it comes to clarity and ease-of-use—we accidentally selected a “premium meal” of Balsamic Nectarine Duck Breasts and were surprised to find a second invoice for the price difference in our inbox.
However, HelloFresh does offer a variety of meal options for other specialty diets like vegetarians and pescatarians. Its packaging is some of the most sustainable on this list in that its largely recyclable, which is also a plus.
If you’re looking to dive into meal kits for the first time or just take a break from your usual dinner routine, EveryPlate is a solid option—especially if cost is your primary concern. Other companies can become prohibitively expensive, and EveryPlate’s affordable, no-frills approach is certainly refreshing.
The HelloFresh-owned brand offers meals priced at just $4.99 per serving. Those are remarkably low prices—most other services in this roundup cost anywhere from $7.99 to $11.99 per serving for two people.
However, EveryPlate is focused on affordability and not specific diet plans, which means its recipes may not suit everyone. Its weekly menu has just 12 rotating options to choose from, with one or two “premium” options included, and limited vegetarian options. In testing, we also found that EveryPlate’s portion sizes are too small for people who need more than the average calorie intake. But if you're looking to subscribe to a meal kit on a budget, EveryPlate just might do. Read our full EveryPlate review.
Cost: Visit MarleySpoon.com for updated pricing. When tested, meals were $10.25 per serving for 2 people ordering 3 meals a week, $8.89 per serving for 4 people ordering at least 3 meals a week. Different plans are available.
Favorite meal: Chipotle-Spiced Steak with Potato Salad and Charred Snap Peas
The oddly named Martha and Marley Spoon is actually a partnership between German meal kit company Marley Spoon and lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart—and her influence over the brand is evident. Meals like Chipotle-Spiced Steak with Potato Salad and Charred Snap Peas and Garlicky Chicken with Dilly Beans and Corn on the Cob are simple, sophisticated, and downright American, just like the homemaking queen.
While I was consistently impressed by the flavor and inventiveness of Martha and Marley Spoon’s side dishes, I found less to celebrate in the mains, which were typically plain animal proteins. The service is also far from ideal for those with dietary restrictions—in typical American fashion, every recipe revolves around an animal protein or heavy carbs. To keep calories from spinning out of control, most Martha and Marley Spoon meals have smaller portions than those from other services. Oddly, this service is one of the only ones we tested that doesn’t publicly archive their recipes online to access at any time.
The service did score points with me for its eco-friendly packaging, made almost entirely from biodegradable materials. Most of its recipes were also easy to follow for new cooks. If you’re looking for meals with classic American flavors and high-quality ingredients, Martha and Marley Spoon might be a good option for you. Want to learn more? Read my full review of Martha and Marley Spoon.
Despite the success of its competition, the original meal kit service still has some fight left in them. Time and experience has allowed Blue Apron to keep prices low, perfect time estimates on recipes, and offer fun wine-pairing and gift options.
Unfortunately, it seems like some of that time would be better spent on diversifying its menu and making recipes taste better. In our testing, we had consistent problems with flavors and ratios being off—oregano overpowered orecchiette, jalapeño overwhelmed peach salsa, and my polenta was in desperate need of salt, spice, or anything to make it more than a bland mush. Our favorite of the bunch was a simple quesadilla that really didn’t require a recipe.
We appreciate how easy and quick our Blue Apron meals were to make, but disorganized packaging, limited menus, and recipes riddled with problems are preventing us from awarding the classic service a higher ranking. That said, the company recently announced that it's in the process of overhauling its existing packaging to make it more sustainable and streamlined. We plan to retest and update this guide as soon as these goals have been implemented.
Cost: Visit GreenChef.com for updated pricing. When tested, meals were $10.49 to $14.99 per serving, depending on your plan.
Favorite meal: Red-Miso Steak Stir-Fry with Udon Noodles, Carrots, Edamame, Pickled Ginger and Carrots
Green Chef was our former top pick after our first round of testing, and even though they've fallen a bit in ranking, we still confidently recommend them for certain eaters. Like Sunbasket, Green Chef promises organic ingredients and a variety of different diet-based meal plans (think keto, paleo, and vegan) at different price points, with about eight options to choose from per week.
What sets Green Chef apart from other services is its commitment to organic and ethically sourced ingredients. They’re a USDA-certified organic company, meaning that customers are buying certified ingredients from suppliers that undergo annual compliance inspections, maintain a strict list of approved ingredients, require documentation of organic practices, and provide guidelines for protecting the soil ecology and water quality.
While Green Chef occasionally swaps in non-organic ingredients when necessary, this is about as close as you can get to 100% organic with a meal kit. Its certification helps explain the company’s more limited weekly menus and higher prices. You can learn more about how they source its ingredients on the Green Chef website.
When we tore open our bags for dishes like Red-Miso Steak Stir-Fry and Chicken with Harissa Apricot Sauce, we were surprised to see that many of the ingredients were pre-prepped. The carrots and cabbage were already chopped, the miso sauce was already prepared, and there was a baggie of finely minced garlic and ginger that was almost a paste.
All these pre-prepped ingredients made preparing our food very speedy and simple. Most were plated and ready to eat in 30 minutes, and we only dirtied a handful of prep bowls, one pan, one pot, and a cutting board.
However, convenience has its drawbacks. Many of the pre-chopped veggies were brown or wilting by the time we went to cook with them. This, of course, is what happens when ingredients (especially organic ingredients) are chopped well before they’re prepared. But otherwise, we quite enjoyed Green Chef.
The chilaquiles—the recipe for which instructed us to blend hot, raw onion and tomato puree in a hand blender—was difficult to make and nearly inedible in the end thanks to its overpowering onion flavor and soggy tortillas. The redeeming meal of the bunch, a Japanese Bento Box with Miso-Glazed Tofu and Yu Choy, severely lacked texture, as well as one of its central ingredients, yu choy, which was unceremoniously replaced with broccoli in our box.
These meals actually felt like what a carnivore imagines vegan eating to be like—mushy, bland, and calorie-deficient. Vegan meals can (and should!) have more flavor and texture than any of these dishes did.
Cassidy covered all things cooking as the kitchen editor for Reviewed from 2018 to 2020. An experimental home chef with a healthy distrust of recipes, Cassidy lives by the "Ratatouille" philosophy that, with a few techniques and key tools, anyone can cook. She's produced in-depth reviews and guides on everything from meal kits to stand mixers and the right way to cook an egg.
Madison covered all things cooking as the kitchen editor for Reviewed in 2021. Formerly the editor-in-chief of Culture Magazine, Madison is the founder of GRLSQUASH, a women's food, art, and culture journal. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Cherrybombe, Gather Journal, and more. She is passionate about pizza, aesthetic countertop appliances, and regularly watering her houseplants.
She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and a Master's of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy from Boston University.
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