Best Meal Delivery Service: Home Chef vs Hello Fresh vs Blue Apron vs Plated vs Sun Basket vs Green Chef

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Best for…
Basics
Families
Blue Apron logo
Adventurous Eaters
Plated logo
Organic
Cheapest
Dieting
Diet-to-Go 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 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. And all of these services use pre-measured (often hard to find or rarely used) ingredients and seasonings to reduce food waste.

Article Overview

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.

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.

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. Some recipes also call for exotic spices, sauces, or hard to find vegetables. They provide these less common ingredients, so you don’t have to search for them or keep each on hand, taking up valuable shelf space in your pantry.

Measuring out all the ingredients can also take time (not to mention can be wasteful because you have too much of an ingredient you don’t use). Meal delivery services can be seem 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 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 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.

What Is The Best Meal Delivery Service?

The best food delivery service really depends on your needs, your palate and your budget. We provide recommendations for each category that will help you fill up your plate with convenience and deliciousness!

Basics | Families | Adventurous Eaters | Organic | Cheapest | Dieting

Basics: Hello Fresh Review

Open Hello Fresh box Visit Website

Hello Fresh, an extremely popular meal delivery service, is a great choice for a couple or family who prefers more basic comfort food. Meal portions tend to be more generous than competitors, and it includes more nutritional information on the recipe cards than most.

Hello Fresh is also a good option for vegetarians as you can choose its Classic or Veggie boxes each week. Customers who like spicy food, or more experimenting, should look elsewhere.

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
  • 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)
  • Sourced ingredients from local farmers, butchers and more
  • Wine plans and 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
  • Shipping costs extra

Prices

  • Classic Menu starts at $8.99 per serving for 3 meals for 2 people
  • Veggie Menu starts at $8.99 per serving for 3 meals for 2 people
  • Family Menu starts at $7.87 per serving for 3 meals for 2 people
  • + $6.99 for shipping

Coupon Code

HelloFresh is currently offering $30 off your first and second boxes and $10 off your third and fourth. Plus free shipping on the first box! No code needed, use this link to get started.

Read Our In-Depth HelloFresh Review

Families: Blue Apron Review

Blue Apron box and contents on counter topVisit Website

Want to get the kids involved? Cooking can be fun for the whole family and Blue Apron is a great choice for families. They stand out as the best value for the quality and variety of meals you get each week compared to all the other services we reviewed. 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. It sources its ingredients from family-run farms and businesses.

Blue Apron also offers a monthly wine delivery program with six bottles paired for your upcoming meals. At $65.99 per month (includes shipping but tax will be added), the wine delivery program is a great deal. As of August 2019, Blue Apron has partnered up with the popular meatless brand Beyond Burger™ to offer plant-based burger patties as part of their Signature plan.

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

Pros

Cons

  • Great value
  • Good variety of creative recipes
  • It source its ingredients from family-run farms & businesses
  • Generous portion sizes
  • Customers report better than average tasting food
  • Offers a family plan
  • Only 8 meal choices per week (but it doesn’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
  • Charges extra for shipping for some plans

Prices

Signature, Freestyle and Vegetarian (2 serving)

  • $9.99 per serving (2 or 3 meals per week)
  • + $7.99 shipping for 2 meals per week (free shipping for 3 meals per week)

Signature for 4 (4 serving)

  • $7.49 to $8.99 per serving (2-4 meals per week)
  • Free shipping

Coupon Code

Ongoing: Get $25 Off Your First 2 Blue Apron Boxes ($50 total off) by using this link!

Read Our In-Depth Blue Apron Review

Adventurous Eaters: Plated Review

Plated box open on counterVisit Website

Are you a wanna-be chef? Or just enjoy trying new tastes? Plated may be the food delivery service for you — it has the most innovative and creative recipes compared to the other meal delivery services we reviewed and you can choose from up to 20 recipes (the most of any major meal subscription service). Not only does Plated flavor its dishes with unique ingredients, but it also gives you more room to explore new cooking techniques than other services.

Plated is on the more expensive side mainly because it uses meat from animals raised with no antibiotics and sustainable seafood in its recipes. It also offers vegetarian and gluten-free meals, as well as specialty cuts of meat (for a bit more money).

Plated offers 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.

Our Personal Review

Plated has been used a few times over the years by various member of our team.

The biggest plus for Plated, in our opinion, is the creativity of the menu options. You will get at least one meal every week that you never imagined you would be able to make and it will be a success.

Sample Recipes

  • Curried Salmon Cakes with Spaghetti Squash
  • 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 (20 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
  • Flexible plans with option to change servings, nights and schedule at any time
  • Most customers rave about the quality of food and taste
  • Can skip weeks or cancel anytime
  • Offers dessert
  • Doesn’t cater to vegan diets
  • Not all ingredients are organic
  • Shipping is only free for over $60 orders
  • Several customer complaints about rotten or moldy food (but most say customer support remedied by giving meal credits)

Prices

Plated provides shipping free over $60 per order. It charges per plate instead of having meal plans (minimum order is two plates). Here’s a sampling of what you’ll pay:

  • 2 servings per night $11.95 per serving (2-4 nights per week)
  • 3-4 servings per night $9.95 per serving (2-4 nights per week)
  • Free shipping

Coupon Code

Get $25 off your first two Plated orders via this link.

Read Our In-Depth Plated Review

Organic Meals: Sun Basket Review

Sun Basket box on counterVisit Website

Sun Basket is one of only two USDA-certified organic companies and has quickly established itself as a leader in organic and non-GMO meal kit delivery service menus (note: Green Chef is the other USDA-Organic service we review).

It offers straightforward pricing and a variety of menu options, including Chef’s Choice, Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescatarian, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Lean & Clean and Mediterranean.

It differentiates itself with its sustainability practices that include packaging materials that are all recyclable or compostable and products that are responsibly raised and contain no GMO’s.

Most meals take about 30 minutes to prepare and are about 500-800 calories per serving. We like that each meal is contained in one big paper bag so you can easily grab what you need to get started and then recycle the bag when you are done.

Sun Basket also has a wine club. Each monthly shipment comes with 3 bottles of wine from biodynamic, organic or sustainably farmed grapes.

Our Personal Review

A few members of our team use Sun Basket regularly.

We were impressed with the wide variety of meals offered and the ability to 100% choose your menu, including whether you want 2 or 3 different meals for the week.

Sample Meals

  • Fish Tacos with Avocado, Baja Cucumber Salad and Mint Yogurt Sauce
  • Ginger Sesame Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas and Red Rice
  • Curried Black Lentils and Potatoes with Swiss Chard and Naan

Pros

Cons

  • Can choose which recipes you prefer for the week from 15+ different options
  • Each recipe comes in its own paper bag so everything is sorted for convenience
  • Various diet options including Vegetarian, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, Diabetes-Friendly and more
  • USDA-certified organic
  • Clear instructions in every box on how to dispose of the packaging and shipping materials (100% recycle or compost)
  • Can adjust the frequency to weekly, every other week or once a month
  • No step-by-step photos on the recipe cards (if that’s something that’s important to you)
  • Fewer diet options for the Family Plan
  • Does not ship to AK, HI and parts of MT, NM and ND

Prices

Sun Basket offers 2 plans with lots of diet types for each (e.g., Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Lean & Clean (weight management), Pescatarian).

  • Classic Menu – choose pick 2 (or 3 or 4 for an additional cost) from 15+ weekly options for 2 people.
  • Family Menu – pick 2 (or 3 or 4 for an additional cost) recipes per week and each recipe serves 4 people.

Prices start at:

  • $11.99 per serving for Classic Menu plan ($71.94 total for 3 meals that serve 2 people each; $143.88 total for 3 meals that serve 4 people each)
  • $10.99 per serving for Family Menus ($87.92 for 2 Family Menus that serve 4 people each; $131.88 for 3 Family Menus; $175.84 for 4 Family Menus)
  • + $6.99 Shipping

Coupon

Get $35 Off Your First Sun Basket Purchase when you use this link!

Read Our In-Depth Sun Basket Review

Cheapest: Dinnerly Review

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Dinnerly boxDinnerly aims to be the most affordable meal service with aggressively low prices per plate (only $4.99, which is almost half that of other subscriptions). It has lowered the cost to consumers by limiting the menu with no menu choice — you only get three super simple recipes with fewer ingredients per dish and digital recipe cards (which cuts down on waste too).

Because there isn’t the option to select your recipes, this isn’t the best choice for picky eaters, but it’s perfect for younger chefs on a budget or if you are looking to get a taste for meal delivery services.

Sample Meals

  • Chicken Broccoli Pan Roast with Creamy Mustard Sauce
  • Grass-Fed Cheeseburger with Macaroni Salad
  • Vegetarian Fried Rice with Edamame

Pros

Cons

  • Least expensive meals per plate
  • Skip any week at any time
  • Digital cards and less packaging waste than other boxes
  • Backed by Marley Spoon’s team of chefs (including Martha Stewart)
  • Phone and email support
  • Fewest options to choose from and not dietary restriction-friendly
  • Shipping costs extra
  • Only 3 recipes per week offered (2 or 4 person plans)

Prices

  • $38.93 for Two-Person Box (2 portions per recipes, 3 recipes per week) $4.99 per portion
  • $68.87 for Family Box (4 portions per recipe, 4 recipes per week) $4.99 per portion
  • + $8.99 shipping per box

Coupon

Get 50% off your first Dinnerly order via this link.

Dieting: Diet-to-Go Review

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Diet-to-Go inside boxDiet-to-Go helps you stay on track with your dieting goals. Your choices include: (a) meals for either 5 or 7 days per week, and (b) 2 or 3 meals per day. Unlike others in this article, Diet-to-Go offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with sides.

You select from their weekly meal options, and they’re delivered to your door. No prep or cooking is necessary. All you have to do is heat it up, so there’s no excuse to not stay on track with this diet since it comes ready to heat and eat.

There are four meal plans to choose from:

  • Balance is the most popular and doesn’t include red meat or pork to help with weight loss and control your caloric intake
  • Balance-D is for those who have type 2 diabetes or are on the cusp of it
  • Keto-Carb30 is for those on the keto diet and restricts fruit, yogurt and bread
  • Vegetarian is for, you guessed it, vegetarians

You can also opt for no seafood or specify the types of seafood you prefer.

Sample Meals

  • Balance: coconut parfait, turkey meatloaf, Italian chicken
  • Balance-D: cinnamon walnut cereal, aztec quinoa salad, blackened salmon
  • Keto-Carb30: scrambled eggs, chicken fontina, roasted half of chicken
  • Vegetarian: ratatouille omelet, mushroom ravioli, black bean chili

Pros

Cons

  • Can get all of your meals for the week
  • No prep or cooking
  • Vegetarian and keto options
  • Option to change meal plan
  • Can skip weeks or cancel anytime
  • Expensive
  • No family meals
  • Doesn’t cater to vegan or gluten-free diets
  • Shipping costs extra

Prices

Pricing varies based on the plan you select, the number of days you want meals and the number of meals you want each day. Below are some pricing examples.

  • Balance, original, men’s calories, 7 days per week, 3 meals per day: $198.99/week ($9.48/meal)
  • Balance-D, 5 days per week, 2 meals per day: $121.99/week ($12.20/meal)
  • Keto-Carb30, original, 5 days per week, 3 meals per day: $163.99/week ($10.93/meal)
  • Vegetarian, 7 days per week, 2 meals per day: $162.99/week ($11.64/meal)
  • + $19.98 shipping per box

Other Meal Delivery Services And Our First-Hand Experience

While the boxes above were our top picks, it’s worth discussing the following companies too, especially since we had the opportunity to personally try some out and confirm their yumminess! Plus, we added a bonus eco-friendly food delivery option for your beloved dog.

Green Chef | Home Chef | Martha & Marley Spoon | Purple Carrot | The Farmer’s Dog (for pups)

Chef’d was previously in this article but it shut down it program in June 2018.

Green Chef Review

Green Chef boxVisit Website

Green Chef stands out for catering to organic eaters who eat more unique diets including vegan, gluten-free, keto and paleo. However, it also has power plant, pescatarian and omnivore options too.

All of its ingredients are responsibly sourced, and Green Chef uses recycled (and biodegradable) jute to pad its box contents (which you can compost) instead of wasteful bubble wrap. The items are color coded and placed into a meal-specific paper bag so you can easily identify what you need when it’s time to cook.

Our Personal Review

Green Chef is used consistently by several members of our team because it offers a good variety of special dietary options.

With two vegans, two pescatarians and two gluten-free eaters on our team, this service makes it easy to select your dietary type and forget about it, with appropriate, varied and delicious meals every week.

Sample Meals

  • Curried Pork Chops with Quinoa, Raisins & Almonds and Garlic-Chard Naan
  • 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, keto, heart healthy 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
  • Option to change meal plan (vegetarian, paleo, etc.) from week to week, based on recipes offered
  • Each meal’s ingredients arrive pre-sorted in paper bags along with easy to follow instructions and photos
  • USDA-Certified Organic
  • Sauces and condiments are pre-made (and thus less easy to recreate)
  • Expensive
  • Meals are pre-selected based on your dietary needs (but you can login to choose 3 from the 5 options for several diets)
  • Shipping costs extra

Prices

The pricing is based on the type of meal you select and the number of meals and servings you choose per week. Shipping is an extra charge and varies depending on the amount of food ordered.

  • Keto $14.99/serving (low-carb, no dairy or gluten)
  • Paleo $14.99/serving
  • Balanced Living (omnivore or pescatarian) $11.99/serving
  • Plant-Powered (vegetarian and vegan) $11.99/serving
  • Family Carnivore (meat and seafood with veggies) $12.99/serving
  • Family Omnivore (meat, seafood and vegetarian) $12.99/serving
  • + shipping (price varies)

Coupon

Get 4 Free Meals with Green Chef via this link!

Check Out Our Vegan Meal Delivery Service Reviews

Home Chef Review

Home Chef box
Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

Visit Website

Home Chef offers straightforward pricing and a variety of menu options from which to choose. It is on the more affordable side, and the shipping fee is included on qualifying orders.

HomeChef also has the option to add on ingredients for smoothies or fresh produce with your delivery. It delivers to about 90% of the country and works 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)

Prices

  • Meals start at $7.99 per serving
  • Shipping is free for $45+ or $10 if less than $45

Martha & Marley Spoon Review

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Martha & Marley Spoon Box in kitchen
The queen of the kitchen and home entertaining Martha Stewart now has her own meal delivery service to add to her empire. Marley Spoon and Martha Stewart teamed up to prepare seasonal recipes made with the Martha seal of approval.

Similar to Sun Basket, the meals come pre-organized in brown paper bags for easy sorting out of the box. As with many other boxes they have photo step-by-step instructions and recyclable packaging. Its meals are simple, straightforward and make being a domestic diva look easy.

Sample Meals

  • Beef and White Bean Chili with Whole Wheat Couscous
  • Shrimp & Rice Congee with Ginger-Scallion Chili Oil
  • Spicy Eggplant Banh Mi with Pickled Carrots and Crunchy Slaw

Pros

Cons

  • Flexible menus and 10 options to chose from each week
  • Sustainability sourced ingredients from local farms
  • iOS and Google Play App
  • Straight forward pricing and flexible plans
  • Customer favorites are repeated on menu if you want to make something again
  • Available in other countries
  • Customer service hotline
  • Relatively newer to the meal delivery industry
  • Not friendly for specialty diets

Prices

  • 2 people $9.50-$12.00 per serving for (2-4 meals per week)
  • 4 people $8.20-$9.50 per serving (2-4 meals per week)
  • Free shipping

Coupon Code

Get $30 off your first Marley Spoon order when you sign up using this link!

Purple Carrot Review

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Purple Carrot box
Each Purple Carrot box is 100% vegan with sustainably-sourced vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, as well as healthy fats and lean proteins. We love that Purple Carrot thinks “outside the box” with its recipes and have found them to be fun, filling and flavorful.

The packaging is made from post-consumer waste and is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable or compostable. Purple Carrot provides free shipping, with delivery on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

Purple Carrot offers three meal plan options: Quick & Easy (30 minutes or less), High Protein and Chef’s Choice (gourmet). Purple Carrot has also partnered with NFL quarterback and vegan Tom Brady to offer another meal option called the TB12 Performance Plan. It is specifically for athletes and people with an active lifestyle in mind.

Sample Meals

  • Toasted Quinoa Stir-Fry with Crispy Sesame Shiitakes & Chinese Chives
  • Beluga Lentil Taco with Quick Guacamole & Sun Sprout Slaw
  • Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo with Warm Broccolini Radicchio Salad

Pros

Cons

  • All menu items are 100% plant-based
  • Sustainably sourced, fresh ingredients
  • Easy to follow recipes (under 40 min. prep time)
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • High-performance meal plan available for athletically inclined vegans
  • Free delivery
  • Skip weeks or cancel auto-shipping anytime
  • Can’t choose individual meals
  • Not 100% organic
  • Doesn’t ship to entire U.S. (30 states in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and West Coast regions; some regions in the South)

Prices

  • $12/plate ($72/week) for 3 dinners that serve 2 people
  • TB12: $13/plate ($78/week) for 3 dinners that serve 2 people
  • Free shipping

Coupon Code

We are not aware of any Purple Carrot coupons at this time.

Best Eco-Friendly Dog Food Delivery: The Farmer’s Dog

The Farmer's Dog box of food with dogVisit Website

Don’t forget about your furry family members! Fresh dog food delivery is a great way to get Fido’s food delivered to your doorstep regularly. It’s a healthy alternative to kibble and a terrific way to guarantee you won’t run out of canine chow.

There are several brands on the market, but our top pick for eco-friendly practices paired with high food quality is The Farmer’s Dog. Simply fill out a brief questionnaire about your pup, then they’ll customize your dog food’s ingredients and portion sizes. There are three recipes to pick from, and all contain fruits, vegetables, lentils, fish oil and a blend of vitamins and minerals.

Each shipment comes with a reusable and biodegradable container for serving and storage. You can easily clean and recycle the individual plastic pouches that contain the food (BPA-free and non-toxic). The shipping insulation is made of corn starch, excellent for composting or you can just run water over it, and the material will dissolve away completely!

Pros

Cons

  • Choose from three healthy recipes (developed by board-certified ACVN veterinarian nutritionists)
  • No preservatives or fillers
  • Food delivered within days of cooking (never deep frozen)
  • Plans can be customized and meals pre-portioned to best meet your unique needs
  • Auto-shipping and you can adjust shipping frequency and pause or cancel anytime
  • Free shipping with ability to ship more food at one time to reduce delivery frequency and environmental impact
  • Made in the USA
 
  • Since the food is so fresh, you may need to freeze it before it’s used up

Price

The Farmer’s Dog bases its pricing on your dog’s age, weight, and other factors. Smaller dogs start at less than $3/day.

  • $29.78/week (based on mixed-breed male, 7 years old, 24 pounds, healthy size, no health problems or allergies)
  • Free shipping
  • See all options

Myth vs Facts: What Is The Environmental Impact Of Meal Kits?

Given our commitment to preserving the ecosystem and passion for protecting the plant, we at Earth’s Friends were curious about the ecological costs that go into at-home meal kits. So we reached out to the Director of Sustainability at Green Chef to get some insights on this topic.

  • At-home meal kits require packaging to keep them fresh in transit. In most cases, each item within the kit is individually wrapped too. All this can seem wasteful. However, these preservation methods may be doing more good than harm to the earth. The packaging extends the shelf life of each ingredient, thus reducing or eliminating the chances of wasted food. In addition, most of the materials are reusable if not biodegradable or recyclable.
  • The carbon footprint of the materials manufactured is far less than the emissions, water consumption, energy use and labor associated with producing food itself. So tossing out that unused apple or spoiled onion might seem like no big deal, but you’re actually discounting all the costs and resources that went into that ingredient getting to you before you throw it in the trash.
  • An estimated 30-40% of edible food in the U.S. is wasted. Also, the annual emissions associated with producing that wasted food is the equivalent of 33 million vehicles driven for that same year. Therefore, one of the many benefits of at-home meal kits is they portion out the exact amount of each ingredient, so there’s limited waste of each.
  • At Green Chef, they aim to re-structure the food value chain to make it “work better.” For instance, if they chop vegetables ahead of time, they’ll capture small “trim & scrap” ends and handle it more responsibly than home chefs, restaurants or commercial kitchens who can’t or don’t compost.

If you’re still not convinced that at-home meal kits are less wasteful than other alternatives, consider this figure from the State of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality which compares greenhouse gas emissions throughout the lifecycle of food semi-prepared meals (i.e., meal delivery kits), ready-to-eat meals and cooking at home with your own recipe, shopping, etc.

Chart comparing ready to eat meals with semi prepared and fresh ingredients at home

How To Recycle At-Home Meal Kits

Green Chef’s Director of Sustainability shows you how to break down and recycle the plastic components of a home meal delivery box. All paper carton containers (including the box) is also recycable.

Are Healthy Meal Delivery Services Worth The Extra Cost?

Without a doubt, healthy and eco-friendly meals delivered to your home can be a little pricey. 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 can be worth it if you can work it into your budget.

They’re fun for the whole family and get you to experiment with new recipes you would have never otherwise tried or thought of. If you want to learn more about other types of subscriptions services, we’ve also reviewed the best vegan meal delivery boxes and snack boxes too.

What home meal delivery services would you recommend and why?

About The Author:

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.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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Sangria
Thank you for such a detailed review! First time trying a meal kit service and now I feel confident in making a decision on which service to try and which to skip based on what will work for me and my family.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Sangria, so glad to hear we could help, hope you enjoy your meal kits as much as we do!
mleonar
I have tried Hello Fresh we enjoyed the meals, different foods, increased the use of vegetables and herbs. Couple times the vegetables were not fresh, recipes good. Twice the meat package open up and made a mess. 4th week know trying Home Chef, family loves the food, feel portions are larger. Preparing and cooking time more accurate, quality of food is better. Did set up an account with Blue Apron never got the shipment, did get refunded. I was told there was a shipping issue. Canceled the subscription with them immediately, when you think you have meals coming and nothing disappointing.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Thanks for sharing your experience with us!
Jeanne M
I’ll tell you well you what else is totally rocking about Sun Basket – they have a “Kids Can!“ section that delineates the steps that are easy for kids to do, so my whole family partakes (even our dogs – the cleanup crew lol). It’s great, my kids now help with random kitchen tasks that they didn’t before and it gives me more time with them 🙂
Rylee
Love this, I’m a Green Chef girl too! Don’t have kids but that’s such a clever idea to have a kid-friendly section for little helpers!
Sara E
I’ve personally tried almost all the major meal delivery services. From my experience, they all more or less offer the same features (printed menus with nutritional information, biodegradable/recyclable packaging material, the ability to skip weeks and select your recipes each week) however there are differentiators for each that make each box unique. For instance, Green Chef color codes their ingredients to make it easier to find in the fridge and Sun Basket groups each meal’s items in an individual brown paper bag. Blue Apron is a great value (and starter box), but their quality of meals is hit or miss. Green Chef and Sun Basket are my two favorites and their flavorful recipes have never disappointed once. However, I tend to lean more towards Sun Basket because they are more simple to do (use less utensils/appliances and thus mess to clean up) and I like how everything is pre-sorted for you. Plus Green Chef has random ingredients already “prepared” for you (i.e. chopped onions) which takes the fun out of the process and come with pre-made sauces which makes it feel like “cheating” and not as easy to re-create in the future.
Max
Great topic! I’m a fan of Green Chef. Without much previous experience, I am now cooking delicious, healthy meals for the family in about 45 minutes. Meals with this variety of ingredients and sauces would take hours without Green Chef. It’s worth every penny to me; no searching for recipes, shopping, dealing with left-overs or extra ingredients. It’s always tasty and much healthier than I’d ever manage on my own.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Max, glad to hear you are enjoying Green Chef, thanks for sharing!
Leslie
Thanks for the great article and discussions! We’ve only compared Sun Basket and Green Chef and are devoted to Green Chef. The dishes are amazingly creative and tasty. Except for once, we have always enjoyed the meals. It is easy to eat healthily with Green Chef! The portions are often big enough for more than one meal (more generous than Sun Basket’s) and the packaging and directions are clever and simple. I only wish it were easier to give feed back. There have been quite a few meals we would like to see again…
Alex Schenker (Admin)
That’s great Leslie thanks for the feedback! We typically save the recipe cards for Green Chef and make the meals again. If there’s any you’re struggling with let us know and we’ll do our best to help out 🙂
Alice H
I agree with Sarah, Sun Gasket is the best! We’ve tried Green Chef, Plated, Blue Apron, Purple Carrot, and I can’t remember what else. The SunBasket packaging is the easiest to environmentally dispose of, the meals come in individual bags for easy storage, the portions are large, the meals are delicious, and the ingredients are fairly consistently high quality. But my favorite part is that you can individually select meals for each order (including multiples of the same one, which sometimes we’ll do for our favorites). My only gripe is that the shipping days are fixed to Wednesdays here in NC. It would be nice to be able to customize that.

And they constantly seem to be working on their product/service. For example, this summer they’re featuring the Great American Road Trip, with cuisine selections from San Diego, Santa Fe, New Orleans, North Carolina, Buffalo, and Seattle. How cool is that?!

Sarah K
I’ve tried all of these and Sun Basket was by FAR my favorite! Best food taste, love that they come in bags for easy sorting and nothing gets mixed up in the fridge, an awesome recipe book including all the recipes you didn’t pick (bonus) and best selection (especially for picky eaters like me, gluten free and veggie options). Not to mention, the portions are HUGEEEEE – we both could have easily had for dinner and then lunch leftovers. And my husband agrees! Only downside is they don’t give options on delivery dates – it would be ideal to get on Monday or Tuesday (right now Wednesday is the only option for DC). I can’t recommend Sun Basket enough!
R12
Great article. I just signed up for Weight Watchers Fresh by FreshRealm. Note: The FreshRealm site is different than the WeightWatchers Fresh meal service. Weight Watchers is selling a voucher, I don’t know if that will change. The program is fairly new. But it’s affordable and tasty. Everything is ready to go. Heat in microwave or pull the top off and enjoy. It has the smart points already figured out. Prices for breakfast are 6$, Lunches $7, Dinners $8 and Snacks $5. Salads, pastas, pork, salmon etc. It’s delivered to your door in those refrigerator boxes. So far, so good. I have also tried another local (San Francisco) food delivery service called Lean on Wheels.They’re pretty good too, especially if you are looking to do paleo. You choose a protein and the oz, a carb and vegetable..or any combination. It will price accordingly and also show you the calories/fat/carbs.
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
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
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, smoothies, fruit baskets and breakfast. They recently expanded their service to 90% of the U.S.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
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.