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Best Meal Delivery Service: Hello Fresh vs Blue Apron vs Plated vs Chef’d

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Best Value
Blue Apron logo
Best For Basics
Best For Adventurous Eaters
Plated logo
Biggest Selection & Most Options
Chef'd logo

Tired of serving your family out-of-the-box meals every evening? Frozen lasagna and mac ‘n cheese can get old after awhile and is definitely not the healthiest choice. But often there’s just not enough time to have fresh and healthy meals prepared on a regular basis. That’s where meal delivery services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated come in, to provide easy-to-prepare, healthy dishes for all kinds of tastes.

All of the meal delivery services we’ve reviewed are committed to providing locally sourced ingredients to benefit our U.S.-based economies and ecosystems. Plated and Chef’d even provide all-natural antibiotic free meats from humane, cage-free farms, as well as sustainable seafood. And all of these services use pre-measured (often hard to find or rarely used) ingredients and seasonings to reduce excessive food waste. Healthy, delicious and earth-friendly meals delivered to your door? Score!

How Do Meal Delivery Services Work?

Fresh meals delivered to your home sounds too good to be true, right? While there is some work to be done on your part with most home delivery meals, you will save time on shopping and meal planning. Typically you choose the number and types of meals and recipes you want each week; then all the pre-measured ingredients are delivered to your doorstep in a temperature controlled box with ice packs to prevent spoilage. Then you follow the detailed instructions (also delivered in the box) to do the preparation and cooking.

Although you’re not getting fully prepared meals delivered to your home, you’re still saving a ton of time that you’d otherwise be spending searching for a variety of recipes, putting ingredient lists together and grocery shopping. Measuring out all the ingredients can also take time. These services can be more expensive than buying all the ingredients on your own, but the time it saves may be worth it for busy people who wish to eat home-cooked meals.

What Can You Expect From Our Recommended Healthy Meal Delivery Services?

All the boxes we reviewed have the following:

  • Calories Per Meal: Each meal typically runs from 500-700 calories.
  • Meal Prep Time: Most services estimate their prep time at around 30 minutes.
  • Delivery & Packaging: All services we reviewed use refrigerated boxes that can last for hours on your doorstep and most packaging is recyclable or compostable.
  • Subscription Terms: None of the following services require a long-term subscription. You can skip weeks, as long as you meet their cut-off deadline. And you can cancel service at any time.

Note: Don’t sign up and expect to get your meals right away. Most companies require you to pick your menus seven days in advance, so they have enough produce to source and pack (without it going to waste). So, depending on what delivery day of the week you choose, you might end up waiting a week or two to get your first delivery.

Meal Delivery Video

Watch the following video to see how Blue Apron and their fellow meal delivery services work.

What Is the Best Meal Delivery Service?

Which you choose will really depend on your needs, your palate and your budget. Below we’ve reviewed some of the best meal delivery services and to provide recommendations for each category that will help you fill up your plate with convenience and deliciousness! Pick a category using the menu below or scroll down to read them all.

Best Value & For Families | Best for Basics | Best for Adventurous Eaters | Biggest Selection & Most Options

Best Value Meal Delivery Service: Blue Apron Review

Blue Apron ReviewVisit Website

Blue Apron is probably the best-known meal delivery service, and they’re popular for a good reason; Blue Apron stands out as the best value for the quality and variety of meals you get each week compared to all the other services we reviewed. And Blue Apron is one of few services that offers entire family meals delivered. Blue Apron never repeats its recipes during the year and offers specialty products that are hard to find elsewhere. And they source their ingredients from family-run farms and businesses. BlueApron even offers a monthly wine delivery program with six bottles paired for your upcoming meals! At $65.99 per month, the wine delivery program is a great deal!

Sample Recipes:

  • Za’atar Chicken & Farro Salad with Beet, Goat Cheese & Pistachios
  • Crispy Cod with Warm Cauliflower & Mustard Green Salad
  • Queso & Pepper Arepas with Kale-Avocado Salad & Chimichurri
  • Creamy Broccoli & Fennel Casserole with Mafalda Pasta & Fontina Cheese

Pros

Cons

  • Least expensive of all we reviewed
  • Good variety of creative recipes
  • They source their ingredients from family-run farms & businesses
  • Free delivery
  • Generous portion sizes
  • Customers report better than average tasting food
  • Offers a Family plan
  • Only 6 meal choices per week (but they don’t repeat recipes for an entire year)
  • No vegetarian family plan
  • Most recipes are cooked in oil
  • Some consumer complaints about spoiled or rotten produce

Pricing

Blue Apron provides free delivery to the entire contiguous U.S. for its meal program, but they do charge shipping for their wine program.

Two-Person Plan

  • $9.99 per meal per person
  • $59.94 weekly total
  • Three meals per week

Family Plan (for 4 people)

  • Two meals per week: $8.74 per meal per person – $69.92 weekly total
  • Four meals per week: $8.74 per meal per person – $139.84 weekly total

Coupon Code

Get $30 off your first Blue Apron order by using this link!

Read our in-depth Blue Apron Review

Best for Basics: Hello Fresh Review

Hello Fresh ReviewVisit Website

Hello Fresh, another extremely popular meal delivery service, doesn’t get as adventurous with its flavors as Blue Apron or Plated (review for Plated is below), but it’s a great choice for a couple or family who prefers more basic comfort food. Meal portions tend to be more generous than competitors, and they include more nutritional information on their recipe cards than most. Hello Fresh is also a good option for vegetarians as you can choose their Classic Box or Veggie Box each week. Customers who like spicy food, or more experimenting, should look elsewhere! But if you like the basics, then say hello to HelloFresh.

Sample Recipes:

  • Pan-Seared Steak with Cipollini Onions, Roasted New Potatoes, and Tomato Pan-Sauce
  • Sole en Papillote with Mushrooms, Croutons, and Brown-Butter Caper Sauce
  • Chicken & Butter Bean Cassoulet with Crispy Parmesan Breadcrumbs
  • Autumn Risotto with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Pepitas

Pros

Cons

  • Moderately priced compared to competition
  • Vegetarians have their own meal plan to choose from (with slightly better pricing)
  • Free delivery
  • Sourced ingredients from local farmers, butchers and more
  • Family plan available
  • Fewer weekly meal choices (5 for classic; 3 for veggie)
  • Recipes can be pretty basic in terms of flavor
  • Some consumer complaints that the free meals promo is misleading

Pricing

CriteriaClassic MenuVeggie MenuFamily Menu
Servings Per Meal2 or 42 or 44
Recipes Per Week3-432-3
Total Servings6-166-128-12
Price Per Serving$9.99$9.99 $8.74
Total Weekly Price$59.94 for 3 meals for 2 people
$79.92 for 4 meals for 2 people
$99.90 for 5 meals for 2 people
$119.88 for 3 meals for 4 people
$59.94 for 2 people or
$119.88 for 4 people
$69.92 for 2 meals or
$139.84 for 4 meals
ShippingFreeFreeFree

Coupon Code

HelloFresh offers $15 off your first delivery when you sign up for their newsletter via this link.

Read our in-depth HelloFresh Review

Best for Adventurous Eaters: Plated Review

Plated ReviewVisit Website

Are you a wanna-be chef? Or just enjoy trying new tastes? Plated may be the food delivery service for you — they have the most innovative and creative recipes compared to the other meal delivery services we reviewed. Not only does Plated flavor its dishes with unique ingredients, but they also give you more room to explore new cooking techniques than other services. Plated is on the more expensive side mainly because they use meats raised with no antibiotics and sustainable seafood in their recipes. They also offer vegetarian and gluten-free meals, as well as specialty cuts of meat (for a bit more money). You also have a couple of dessert options each week for an extra $4 per plate. If you’re earth-conscious and careful about what you put into your body, give Plated a try.

Sample Recipes:

  • Curried Salmon Cakes with Spaghetti Squash
  • Creamy One-Pot Linguine with Fall Vegetables
  • Apple Cider Pork Chops with Creamy Butternut Squash Polenta
  • Cheesy Quinoa-Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Pros

Cons

  • Higher than average number of meal choices per week (9 meals)
  • Excellent flavors, spices and unique dishes
  • A good number of vegetarian and gluten-free meal choices
  • Antibiotic-free meats and produce sourced from family-run farms; sustainable seafood
  • Most customers rave about the quality of food and taste
  • On the pricier side
  • Shipping is only free for over $50 orders

Pricing

Plated provides shipping free over $50 per order. They charge per plate instead of having meal plans (minimum order is two plates). Here’s a sampling of what you’ll pay compared to other services:

  • $12 per person per meal
  • $48 (+$6 shipping) – Two meals per week for two people
  • $72 – Three meals per week for two people
  • $144 – Three meals per week for four people

Coupon Code

Get 2 Free Plates from Plated (when you purchase 4 plates) via this link.

Biggest Selection & Most Options: Chef’d Review

Chef'd ReviewVisit Website

Chef’d is a different approach to meal delivery, with much more flexible ordering options, and their recipes come from more than 25 nationally known chefs, including Robert Irvine, Scott Conant and Simon Majumdar. There are no meal plans; you just pay per meal, which is typically either for two or four people. And they have nearly 200 meals to choose from, as well as seasonal menus (i.e. Game Day menu gives you options to purchase bulk wings, pulled pork tacos, etc.) With great search features, you can easily find vegan (they have partnered with Beyond Meat), vegetarian, kids meals and more. Chef’d also has a separate plan that delivers Weight Watchers-approved Points Plus meals. The meals can be a little pricey, but customers rave about the quality of the food.

Sample Meals:

  • Chicken Marsala with Linguine and Roasted Broccoli with Goat Cheese
  • Fish Tacos with Chipotle Crema
  • Steak Au Poivre with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Green Beans
  • Portobello and Asparagus Farfalle with Basil Pesto

Pros

Cons

  • Excellent meal choices per week (200 meals to choose from)
  • Great variety of flavors from comfort food to more exotic meals
  • A good number of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meal choices
  • Locally sourced produce, organic herbs, all-natural meats and sustainable seafood
  • Customer reviews about food taste are mixed but are more positive than negative
  • No subscription or commitment
  • Most expensive per plate compared to others we reviewed
  • Shipping is only free over $40

Pricing

Chef’d provides free shipping for orders over $40. Their pricing is by meal, which is either priced for two or four people.

Prices start at:

  • $12.50 per person per plate
  • $6.00 per kid per plate (for their children’s meal options)

Weight Watchers Points Plus Meal Plans (monthly plan)

  • Three dinners per week
  • $69 per week for two people – $276 monthly total
  • $99 per week for four people – $396 monthly total

Coupon Code

There are not any Chef'd coupons at this time.

Other Meal Delivery Services and Our First-Hand Experience

While the boxes above were our top picks, it’s worth discussing the following two companies too, especially since we had the opportunity to personally try them out and confirm their yumminess!

Green Chef Home Chef

Green Chef Review

Green Chef boxVisit Website

Green Chef stands out for catering to more unique diets including vegan, gluten-free and paleo. However, they also have vegetarian, pescatarian, omnivore and carnivore options too. All of their ingredients are responsibly sourced, and Green Chef uses recycled (and biodegradable) jute to pad their box contents (which you can compost) instead of wasteful bubble wrap. We also appreciate how their containers are clear and reusable. The items are color coded with stickers so you can easily identify what you need when it’s time to cook. If you want healthy meals packed with nutrients and flavor, GreenChef is sure to be a winner.

Sample Meals:

  • Italian Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Tomato Jam, Broccoli Slaw and Spinach Pistou
  • Maple-Roasted Tempeh with Potatoes, Carrot, Braised Apple, Cabbage and Aioli

Pros

Cons

  • Eco-Friendly packaging (with compostable jute)
  • Vegetarian, vegan, paleo and gluten-free options
  • Large variety of healthy, unique recipes
  • Ingredients do not contain any synthetic pesticides, GMOs, artificial ingredients, hormones or antibiotics, and are 95% certified organic
  • Color-coded items in box with easy to follow instructions and photos
  • Sauces and condiments are pre-made (and thus less easy to recreate. But, recipes are available on website.)
  • Expensive
  • Some items come pre-chopped (could be a pro, but that ruins some of the fun!)
  • No special diet meals for families
  • Meals are pre-selected based on your dietary needs (no meal choice)

Pricing

The pricing is based on the type of meal you select and includes 3 meals per week for 2 people or 2 meals for 4 people (plus an additional $9 shipping and handling per box).

2 Person Plans:

  • Vegetarian $10.49 per meal
  • Omnivore $11.99 per meal (includes veggie, meat and seafood options that can be customized for your dietary preferences)
  • Vegan $11.99 per meal
  • Carnivore $13.49 per meal (includes meat and seafood options)
  • Gluten Free $13.49 per meal (includes veggie, meat and seafood options)
  • Paleo $14.99 per meal

Family Plans (up to 4 people):

  • Omnivore $11.99 per meal (includes veggie, meat and seafood options)
  • Carnivore $11.99 per meal (includes veggie, meat and seafood options)

Home Chef Review

Home Chef box
Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

Visit Website

Started in 2013, Home Chef has served over 1 million meals (in 2015 alone) and staffs over 300 employees. They offer straightforward pricing and a variety of menu options from which to choose. They are on the more affordable side, and the shipping fee is included. HomeChef also has the option to add on ingredients for smoothies or fresh produce with your delivery. They deliver to about 90% of the country and work with quality suppliers who utilize sustainable food production practices.

Sample Meals:

  • Mushroom Parmesan Penne Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes and Toasted Baguette
  • Summer Risotto with Roasted Corn, Pesto, Tomato Vinaigrette and Burrata
  • Goat Cheese Crusted Chicken with Carrot Mash and Crispy Potatoes

Pros

Cons

  • Holiday specials (which sometimes includes dessert)
  • Set your preferences in your profile for meal suggestions
  • Free shipping on orders over $45 (otherwise $10)
  • Notebook to store recipes included with first shipment
  • Marketplace to buy recommended cooking tools
  • Optional add-ons including seasonal fruit, breakfast and smoothies
  • Directions were out of order and not easy to follow
  • Meals were not especially flavorful, and portion sizes on the smaller side
  • Not as many options for gluten-free or vegetarian (although menus point out any allergens or special dietary features)

Pricing

Home Chef offers 2 plan options: Standard Menu (11 weekly options for 2 people) or Family Plan (6 menu options that serve up to 5 people)

Prices start at:

  • $9.96 per serving for family plan ($59.70* total for 3 meals)
  • $49.80 to $199.62 (for all 6 meals in the family plan)*

*Price includes shipping

Are Healthy Meal Delivery Services Worth the Extra Cost?

Without a doubt, healthy and eco-friendly meals delivered to your home can run you some extra cash. But considering how much you spend on groceries already, at the end of a busy work day with the kids hungry and wanting a good home-cooked meal fast, it’s worth it if you can work it into your budget. The average cost of feeding healthy meals for a family of four runs $146 to $289 per week. But these figures don’t take into account the time you’ll spend planning, searching, shopping and prepping for meals, nor does it account for gasoline costs for running up and down the road. Still, meal delivery services are expensive, but if you can afford it, it may be an excellent option to add more meal variety on the table.

What home meal delivery services would you recommend and why?

Sally is a huge fan of fresh, organic food. One of her favorite hobbies is cooking with as many fresh herbs, spices and veggies as possible. And she's devoted to her all-natural skin products and cosmetics. It's saved her and her daughter from the curse of skin allergies. When she's not writing and researching (and being a Mom), you can find Sally getting down to earth in her home garden.
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4 Comments on "Best Meal Delivery Service: Hello Fresh vs Blue Apron vs Plated vs Chef’d"

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ICanCookNow
ICanCookNow

I just signed up for Hello Fresh and I absolutely LOVE it! I’m actually cooking at home most nights now instead of paying to go out for unhealthy prepared meals! I would recommend it for sure. Happy cooking to all!
Clare

Annie Nonymous
Annie Nonymous

DO NOT USE HOME CHEF. I had cancelled my account and they continued to charge my bank account post cancel. Management was rude, refused to refund my money. SCAM SCAM SCAM

Valn17
Valn17
We have tried them all- Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Etc. We found Home Chef 11 months ago. We order from Home Chef the most because we can choose from over 14 different meals each week, we can see and choose the menus up to 3 weeks in advance and it has more “meat and potato” meals that my husband prefers, but it also has many veggie meals too so we can do both. There are at least 3 gluten free meals each week. Gluten free, nut free, etc is noted on the recipe card. They also offer special occasion meals,… Read more »
Sadie Cornelius
Admin
Sadie Cornelius

Valn, thanks for sharing your personal experience and glad to hear you’ve enjoyed Home Chef! We’ll definitely consider including them in our review in the next audit on this article.

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