Most people view meal delivery services as a luxury for the rich and potentially famous. The spike in popularity of ordering groceries right to your doorstep has led to affordable meal delivery services. There’s no doubt that they save you plenty of time and energy, too.
These meal delivery companies found the fine line between quality product and cheap delivery to make selecting groceries easier than ever — and buying them a thing of the past.
Chef’d recipes often require intermediate-level cooking skills. | Chef’d
Price: $25 to $30 per dinner. Fress shipping on orders over $40
Chef’d is convenient because, unlike most of the other options on the list, it doesn’t require a subscription. You can incorporate ordering from Chef’d into your weekly shopping schedule and choose what days you want to hit the store and what days you want to order.
However, most of the meals are complicated and are derived from recipes by famous chefs. Therefore, the majority of them take the average home cooker a bit longer to master than the basics you’re used to grabbing at the market. Keep in mind you’ll also need a kitchen stock-full of tools that transcend ‘basic’ and could be an investment in itself.
Next: You can customize these meals to any dietary need for a small fee.
6. Green Chef
Green Chef gets Consumer Reports’ thumbs up. | Green Chef
Price: $10.49 per meal (vegetarian), $11.99 per meal (omnivore), $13.49 (carnivore & gluten-free), $14.99 paleo
The entirely-organic Green Chef plan offers meals for vegetarians, Paleo-dieters, and gluten-free followers alike. Plus, it scored the highest in Consumer Reports’ taste test. “If your goal is to follow a certain diet style without sacrificing flavor, Green Chef is your answer,” the site claimed.
Consumer Reports called Green Chef the priciest meal they tested (they also reviewed Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Purple Carrot), partially because you pay $9 shipping regardless of how much you order. However, if you simply don’t have the time to make it to the store, this tasty alternative could be your best bet.
Next: This meal delivery service boasts a celebrity chef and basic choices.
Hello Fresh gets the endorsement of pro chef Jamie Oliver. | Hello Fresh
Price: $69 (three meals for two people) or $59 (three veggie meals for two people)
At $10 to $11.50 a meal for each person, HelloFresh presents a cheap and healthy opportunity to skip the grocery store lines. Pro-chef Jamie Oliver is a partner, which is just an added bonus.
The meal delivery service offers simple recipes that are easy to improvise if need be. You can always pick one of Oliver’s curated meals, which are a bit more complicated (and stylish!) than the basic HelloFresh choices. Either way, the meals are easy enough that you will save time on grocery shopping and won’t waste it on prep, either.
Next: Free shipping on high-priced orders, but at what cost for taste?
4. Home Chef
Customers love using Home Chef. | Home Chef
Price: $9.99 per meal, select for 2, 4, or 6 people. Free shipping on orders over $40
The meal delivery service offers options for every type of dietary restriction: nut allergies, low-carb dieters, or soy-haters will all find something to eat. However, the jury is still out on whether it actually tastes good or not. One reviewer called the food “piles of flavorless mush,” while another claimed it was “bursting with flavor,” and both “hearty and healthy.”
Next: They’re some of the cheapest — but are they some of the best?
3. Terra’s Kitchen
Terra’s Kitchen focuses on the freshest foods. | Terra’s Kitchen
Price: $3.99 to $9.99 (for one-serving meals) or $9.99 to 17.99 (for two-serving meals)
This meal service stands out among the rest for its unique packaging and easily adjustable menu. The reusable mini-fridge that arrives at your doorstep is not only adorable — it cuts out waste since you have to mail it back after use. The ingredients come pre-cut and pre-made for the most part, easily helping you shave out 5 to 20 minutes of prep time.
However, reviews claim the meals aren’t totally fresh and are easy to copy, so you may just be better off heading to the store. Either way, you can’t beat the $3.99 price tag for a single meal if you opt on the cheaper side.
Next: You’ll definitely save time at the store with this service.
2. Purple Carrot
Purple Carrot is endorsed by Tom Brady. | Purple Carrot
Price: $72 per week for 3 meals ($12 a plate) that serve 2 people
Purple Carrot is vegan, so while it’s not for everyone, it’s an incredibly cheap option for those who do keep a vegan lifestyle. The recipes are a bit more time consuming for the average person — they claim 30 – 45 minutes but can actually take an hour or two to complete.
One thing can be said for Purple Carrot: You’ll definitely save time at the grocery store if you’re attempting to search for the obscure ingredients they’ll send you. Unless you know where yu choy and rutabaga are off-hand at your local store, it’ll save you a few minutes of frustration and cost you nearly the same as it would at the market.
Next: One of the original delivery services is our winner
1. Blue Apron
Blue Apron has gotten incredibly popular. | Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Price: $59.94 (three meals for two people) or $139.84 (four meals for four people, the “family plan”)
Blue Apron was one of the first meal delivery services to make an impression on families who just wanted something easier. And it has proven time and time again that it delivers, no pun intended.
Blue Apron kits provide every ingredient you’ll need, recipes, and step-by-step pictures in case you aren’t sure what’s what. They have options for meat-eaters, pescetarians, and vegetarians alike. They also post their upcoming menu on their website a week in advance so you can decide if you want to order or opt for grocery shopping instead. The portions are generous and you definitely get your money’s worth, reviewers say.