I Tried 7 Food Delivery Subscription Services, and This Was the Clear Winner

It’s official: We’re in the age of subscription services galore. Maybe we have Netflix to thank for the inception of this concept. Or, perhaps we only have ourselves to blame. But, love it or hate it, subscription services are flooding the market, and it’s only a matter of time before there’s no longer any need for storefronts (or human interaction, for that matter).

Given these subscriptions’ popularity, we were curious to learn whether such services — food, in particular — were really worth it. And so, our mission began. After testing out a wide variety of popular options, we found one food subscription that prevailed.

So, if you’ve also been curious as to which program would be best for you, stick with us as we count down to the No. 1 meal kit delivery service.

7. BistroMD

BistroMD delivery | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

  • Cost: $10.71 per meal if you buy the week-long plan, which includes seven lunches and seven dinners, for $149.95

Even though it’s a little different than the other companies on our list, we wanted to give BistroMD a shot because we all have different preferences, tastes, and needs when it comes to how we eat. With this service, customers receive a meal plans designed by doctors and nutritionists. To put it simply, BistroMD is a weight loss program delivering full meals to your doorstep.

My meals: I tried a wide array of meals, from a French toast breakfast to a pork tenderloin dinner.

BistroMD dinner meal | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company shined: The biggest thing to note with these food options is that they are all microwave meals — one microwavable dish for each meal you plan on eating in a given week. There are literally no frills or extra temptations if you are, in fact, trying to lose a few pounds with this program. Just pop your meals in the microwave, and you’re all set.

BistroMD meal | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company fell short: So, all of this comes with a grain of salt. Let’s keep in mind that this service, in particular, is geared toward those looking for a no-nonsense weight loss program they can stick to. That said, the meals leave a tad to be desired. However, the company does recommend that customers add their own seasoning for a bit more flavor when necessary.

BistroMD meals | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Is it worth it? For those who enjoy some degree of cooking or preparing their meals, not particularly. However, this is the service for you if you’re looking for a weight loss plan that hand delivers each and every meal to you. Plus, it eliminates the need to go to the grocery store and choose the healthiest options.

6. Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh delivery | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

  • Cost: $9.99 per serving for the Classic Plan, which includes two servings in each meal, three meals a week.

Hello Fresh is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the meal delivery services game. An exceptional marketing plan and a promise to make dinner easy yet fun for the whole family makes this program an enticing option. Customers have their pick of a handful of menu items each week, so options are aplenty for those who are picky eaters looking to incorporate — tamely — a little variety into their diet.

My meals: Italian Ciabatta Cheeseburgers, Southwestern Sweet Potato Hash, and Crispy Chicken Thighs

Italian Ciabatta Burger ingredients | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company shined: Hello Fresh delivers timely, complete meals. Every meal and ingredient is clearly labeled, so there’s little room for confusion. And if you’re worried about messing something up, don’t be. Each meal comes with a complete step-by-step guide that is so specific, it even tells you to plate the food once you’re finished cooking.

Hello Fresh burgers and salad | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company fell short: We understand that there are certain requirements and necessary methods to sending packaged food, but, boy, was it wasteful. Just about every item had its own, individual plastic wrap, but even that didn’t ensure every piece of produce was perfect. For instance, some lettuce I received was limp, an avocado was already browned, and the cilantro was brown in spots. Oh, and I got tilapia instead of chicken thighs for the “Crispy Chicken Thighs” meal, so there was that.

Hello Fresh accidentally sent Tilapia instead of chicken thighs. | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Naturally, you run the risk of food going bad anytime you have something shipped to you. But probably my biggest disappointment was the lack of taste. The meals weren’t anything memorable. However, I did enjoy the cooking aspect of it all.

Is it worth it? Sure. All in all, these were easy recipes that required little to no effort. If you’re looking to get more creative in the kitchen than just heating up a microwave meal, but you’re not dying to dive right into the cooking game, you should give this a shot.

5. Epicured

Epicured packaging | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

  • Cost: Dishes range from $9 to $25

Epicured delivers low-impact meals that are gluten-free and all-natural. It’s good, clean food with little prep required. With an emphasis on healthy eating, this meal delivery service follows a slightly different model than most others. You choose your meals, pay based on the meals you pick, and that weekly meal plan will automatically renew each week. Customers do, however, have the option of canceling or editing their orders at any time.

My meals: I tried several meals from Epicured, and my favorites were the Alambre with Beef, Pico de Gallo and Tortillas, Three-Spice Turkey Chili, and Vanilla Coconut Chia Seed Pudding

Epicured turkey chili ingredients | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company shined: Food prep was super easy for each meal, requiring minimal effort reheating whatever ingredients you’d need for a particular meal. The packaging was thoughtful, and seemed like it was among the least wasteful of the bunch. The food was great, and I felt like I was eating real, home-cooked meals.

Epicured’s Alambre meal on stove top | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company fell short: Unfortunately, for now, you can only get Epicured meals if you live in the New York Metropolitan area or in some parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. While the menu does change seasonally, the service doesn’t offer as wide a selection. Additionally, most reheating directions involved the microwave, which I’m not personally a huge fan of. Some dishes did have stove-top reheating instructions, though.

We highly recommend Epicured’s Alambre dish. | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Is it worth it? Depending on what you’re getting, yes. Given the fact that the pricing varies so much, you’ll have to decide whether the cost is worth it to you, based on the types of meals you prefer.

4. Delivery Italiano

Delivery Italiano | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

  • Cost: $7.50 per serving when you buy a three month prepaid subscription for a Chef’s Select Box

Featuring eight to 10 curated, authentic Italian items in each Chef’s Select Box, this service guarantees a little taste of Italy delivered right to your doorstep. More specifically, you’ll get two kinds of pasta, two antipasti items, salami and cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and a dessert or pastry in each box. And not only does Delivery Italiano talk to the talk, but they walk the walk — literally. Most of the company’s chefs travel Italy to test new products and learn about potential production partners.

My meals: While the box came with all the fixings for an authentic Italian dinner, it’s up to you how you’d like to consume it. You can either follow one of the recipes created by MasterChef winner Luca Manfe, or you can whip up a super simple dinner of pasta and one of the delicious sauces.

Delivery Italiano | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company shined: As soon as you open the box, you know Delivery Italiano isn’t skimping on quality ingredients. Most foods come from family-owned businesses in Italy, and you can tell. This certainly isn’t your basic box of store-brand pasta.

Where the company fell short: There’s not much to report in the way of negatives on this one. You know what you’re getting, and quite frankly, it’s pretty tough to mess up pasta. The only reason this may not be for you is if you’re not really a huge fan of eating carbs.

Is it worth it? If you need to feed a family, this is a great option. You’ll receive a wide array of high-quality Italian products that will last until you’re ready to use them. And at less than eight bucks a serving, it’s a tough deal to beat.

3. Real Eats

Real Eats | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

  • Cost: $15 per serving for the Singles Plan, which includes one serving in each meal, three meals a week

If you’ve not yet heard of Real Eats, it’s time you become familiar with the company. The real claim to fame here comes in the form of a rotating roster of top chefs. One of these chefs, for instance, is Chopped champion Silvia Baldini. Furthermore, the major differentiating factor is that all meals are shipped to the customer in vacuum sealed bags. From there, all you need to do is pop the bagged meal into a pot of boiling water, and let it heat up for less than 10 minutes.

My meals: Each meal sent to me contained a protein, and two sides. At the time, I was unsure as to what exactly the meals were (you can’t tell just by looking at the bag prior to heating it up). Luckily, I soon realized that every customer receives the same menu each week, which you can find right on the website. So, in hindsight, the company doesn’t waste any unnecessary paper with the shipment, and that’s a major plus in my book.

Real Eats dinner | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company shined: My dinners were delicious. They literally required nothing more than boiling water and heating up the vacuum sealed bags of food for less than 10 minutes. Plus, you can keep the meals for seven days before eating, and even still, the meals are super flavorful.

Where the company fell short: While the company is committed to delivering fresh, local, organic ingredients when possible, customers aren’t able to choose their meals. There is a set menu each week, and three meals arrive at your doorstep every Tuesday. That said, there are no vegetarian or vegan options, and if you have any food allergies, this program probably won’t work for you.

Is it worth it? Real Eats is a great option for busy parents or working professionals looking to get the nutrients we all need without spending hours at the store and in the kitchen. Anyone who knows what it’s like to come home after a long day at work and have to put dinner on the table should give this service a try.

2. ButcherBox

ButcherBox delivery | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

  • Cost: Starting at $6.00 per meal ($129/month for 8–11 pounds of meat, enough for 20 individual meals).

This company thrives on a “Back to Nature” mentality. ButcherBox delivers high-quality meat products that have been responsibly raised and are good for you. Furthermore, the founders started the company on three principles: Make 100% grass-fed beef available to everyone in the U.S., provide convenience for the customer, and align Americans back with nature.

My meals: The box I received came with a whole heap of meats, including two 10-ounce New York Strips, two pounds of ground beef, three bounds of chicken breast, four 8-ounce pork chops, four 6-ounce pieces of top sirloin, and a package of bacon. Yes — it came with all that.

ButcherBox had the best shipping vessel by far. | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company shined: Aside from the fact that the packaging was impeccable (the meat came inside a cooler bag) my order also came with recipe ideas. Essentially, there were no frills, just 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, and humanely raised pork.

ButcherBox delivery | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company fell short: There’s pretty much nothing wrong with what ButcherBox has to offer. I loved every cut of meat and was thankful for the less-than-I’d-pay-at-the-grocery-store pricing. While this isn’t for anyone who’s afraid to get their hands dirty preparing and cooking their own meat, it’s perfect for any meat-lover who cares about where their meat comes from, and how it was raised.

Meats, meats, and more meats | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Is it worth it? If you eat meat, absolutely.

1. Plated

Mediterranean Chicken ingredients | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Most folks have heard of Plated. It’s one of the heavy hitters in the meal kit delivery service game, and, in our opinion, the company has earned the top spot for good reason. With a rotating menu and super simple, step-by-step recipes, Plated is a great option for those looking for a full-service dinner delivery option.

My meals: I tried two dinners from Plated: Grilled Summer Vegetable Panzanella and Mediterranean Chicken with Corn, Zucchini, and Tzatziki Sauce. The latter, especially, was phenomenal, complete with fresh, fluffy naan bread, delicious chicken, and flavorful yogurt sauce.

Dinner was delicious. | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Where the company shined: With 18 different menu options to choose from each week, Plated has no shortage of variety. On top of that, the portions are very generous. In fact, I was able to re-purpose both of the meals I tried the following night. Now that’s a deal.

Where the company fell short: The only complaint here would be packaging. But, to be fair, that was a fairly common issue for each service. And, as mentioned before, food packaging requirements are unavoidable.

There’s lots and lots of plastic wrap here, folks. | Julie Peirano/The Cheat Sheet

Is it worth it? Considering we ranked Plated the No. 1 product here, we’d definitely say yes, it’s worth it. While any subscription service has its pros and cons, Plated is the best option for those who are looking for good meals that are easy to prepare. Most importantly, the price of one serving was well worth it for the amount and quality of food we got.

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