re you busy? Do you have time to cook? Want to learn how to cook? If you answer to any of these questions, then, meal kit service is for you. Learn the benefits of prepared meal delivery, the cheapest and best food subscription boxes, etc. You'll save money, time, and effort with these delivery services.
Believe it or not:
While the cost of eating out continues to climb, at-home staples—like milk, cheese, and cereal—are cheaper now than they were last year.
Meaning more than ever, cooking meals at home can be easy on your wallet and your waistline!
But for those of us who:
- hate grocery shopping,
- lack cooking skills,
- or have zero times to plan (let alone cook!) . . .
. . . traditional grocery hacks just won’t cut it.
I can feel your pain. My wife and I have been there several times, and it's not easy.
Luckily, there are a plethora of companies entering the meal prep services.
Want to learn more about cheap, easy meal plans on a budget? If your answer is yes, then, this post is for you. Click here for more thoughts to learn how to make a budget.
If you ready, read on!
How to choose the right meal kit service for you and your family
Meal kit services aren't all created equal. Some are expensive, some are cheap, some serve specific demographics, and some offer just about any diet plan.
Here are some of the things you need to consider when choosing the right meal planning service or food subscription boxes:
1. Consider your food preferences
- If you enjoy comfort foods, look for options that fit your taste.
- If you are on a budget, find one that has budget-friendly options you can choose from. You could even use some of the best shopping apps to save you a little bit more.
- If you want something surprising and or something different, pick a meal kit service that can cater to that need of yours.
Here are some of the meal service kits that offer specialized meal plans:
2. Consider add-on options
- If you are a wine-lover, find a meal kit that offers that option.
- If you like desserts, find one that caters to that taste. If you're looking for healthy desserts, find one that can satisfy that need of yours.
Here are some meal planning kits that offer add-ons:
3. Look for a meal kit with flexibility
- Variety of foods. Look for one that offers types of meals every week. You don't want to be boxed into choosing three meal options when there are a ton of other companies that provide more than that.
- Shipping. Find a service that would meet your schedule. Some services are flexible, and some are not.
- Delivery. Some meal kit delivery services deliver products every week, and some are on a different schedule. Find out which ones can find your specific needs.
- Easy cancellation. Of course, you would want one that you can easily cancel at a moment's notice. You don't want to be stuck in a contract and not like the service and be stuck with it. There are meal kit services that offer a month-to-month option.
- Other alternatives. You can also check out some online grocery delivery services to help you with meal planning or grocery shopping. This can be used to complement your meal planning efforts.
4. Find out your budget
- If you have a budget in mind, then, look for services that meet that budget.
- If you don't know how much your budget would be, look at your previous' months grocery bill and see how much you spent on food. From there, you can estimate and figure out what your budget amount should look like.
Here are some of the meal kit service or meal planning services for frugal-minded people:
5. Consider your special diet needs
When looking for a meal plan or kit, make sure to look for services that meet your diet needs. If you have allergy on specific foods, search for packages that meet that restriction(s).Some meal delivery services offer a wide range of options for specific diets, and some offer only a few.
Here are some of the meal service kits that meet special diet needs:
6. Decide if you want a kit that does everything for you
Do you want a meal that's ready to eat? Do you want a service that delivers you all the ingredients and you do all the cooking? Or something else.
- Some offer ready meal kits while others offer simple instructions for meals that even the beginner pseudo-chef can do.
- If you are looking for more fancy, intricate meals, few companies can provide you with such an offering.
Budget-Friendly Healthy Meal Planning Services
We’ve researched meal planning services to help you decide which one is perfect for your needs (and pockets).
On average, Americans spend $150 per week on food—that’s over $600 a month! Crazy.
Meal planning for the week can help you save hundreds of dollars each month. I’m able to feed a family of six on $150 a month by just planning.
One way we keep our grocery bill so low is by using a healthy meal planning service.
It’s a service that sends yummy, healthy meal plans and shopping lists each week. All the hard work is done for you so you can spend more quality time with family or do whatever else you’d instead be doing.For us, using a healthy meal planning service has made a significant impact on our food choices, food quality, and food savings. It could very well do the same for you!
Check out a few of our favorite meal kit services below:
1. $5 Meal Plan
The $5 Meal Plan is a practical saver’s dream. As its name suggests, for $5 a month, you’re sent printable recipes and shopping lists each week.
Also, the company’s owner (a busy mother of four hungry young boys) boasts that she’s able to make each meal for less than $5.
Talk about cheap meal plans!
Each plan includes a variety of recipes including six dinner meals, a breakfast, a lunch, a snack and a dessert and occasionally a side dish or other tasty treat.
What are people saying about $5 Meal Plan?:
“The recipes are easy to read and follow. The grocery list is well organized and user-friendly.” – Review on 5DollarMealPlan.com.
“The recipes are frugal, yet everything I have ever tried has tasted great and, most importantly, my family likes them.” – Review on 5DollarMealPlan.com.
Who is $5 Meal Plan best for?: Those who are looking for an online and inexpensive meal plan.
Dietary Accommodations: $5 Meal Plan offers a gluten-free plan.
Availability: $5 Meal Plan is an e-mail-based service, so it’s available almost anywhere!
Cost: $5 Meal Plan charges $5 a month. The price of $5 Meal Plan does not include food.
Click here to start your 14-day trial with $5 Meal Plan!
I can’t think of anything much better than having a back-up dinner in the freezer for those days when life throws you a curveball (or when you don’t feel like cooking!).
MyFreezEasy offers this and more with its budget-friendly recipes and tools and app that allow you to choose recipes based on the meal type that is on sale at your grocery store each week.
What are people saying about MyFreezEasy?:
“I needed to get some slow cooker meals in the freezer so I could have meals ready for my family…our total for two weeks of meals was under $125.” – Review on MyFreezEasy.com.
“I did the entire set of meals together, and it only took an hour and 15 minutes total to put up ten meals!” – Review on MyFreezEasy.com.
Who is MyFreezEasy best for?: Those who are looking for cheap meal plans for families as well as the freedom and flexibility offered by freezer meals.
Dietary Accommodations: MyFreezEasy offers gluten-free, paleo, and keto plans.
Availability: MyFreezEasy is an online-based service, so it’s available almost anywhere!
Cost: MyFreezEasy has a 1-month ($12), 3-month ($33), and 12-month ($120) membership options. The price of MyFreezEasy does not include food.
Start your MyFreezEasy journey today, and get a free sample meal plan!
What sets PlateJoy apart from the competitors or healthy meal planning services? Personalization.
When you sign up, PlateJoy has you take a 3-minute quiz that helps it design a meal plan customized for you.PlateJoy also helps you save money by tracking what’s in your pantry and pairing meals together that minimizes the number of ingredients on your grocery list!
One other cool perk that comes with PlateJoy is the ability to send your list to Instacart for grocery delivery.
What are people saying about PlateJoy?:
“PlateJoy allows loads of customization. We love that we can get meals based on our family size, so no food is wasted.” – Review on PlateJoy.com.
“PlateJoy has saved us hundreds (no, I'm serious, HUNDREDS) of dollars. We used to eat out for almost every dinner. Now we are enjoying healthy meals at home for a small fraction of what we used to spend.” – Review on PlateJoy.com.
Who is PlateJoy best for?: Those who are looking for on-demand meal plans and grocery lists for their unique lifestyle, tastes, nutritional needs, and dietary preferences.
Dietary Accommodations: PlateJoy uses over 50 data points to tailor each plan to your needs, goals, and lifestyles. Available plans include gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, low carb, pre-diabetes, and weight loss plans.
Availability: PlateJoy is an online-based service, so it’s available almost anywhere!
Cost: PlateJoy has a 6-month ($69) and a 12-month ($99) membership options. The price of PlateJoy does not include food.
Click here to start your 10-day trial with PlateJoy!
In my opinion, any good meal planning services that boast it could save you up to two hours a week is worth a try.
And eMeals won’t disappoint.
Each week, you will receive a list of meals that you can pick and choose from based on what fits your needs for the week.
A customized grocery list is created for you—and similar to PlateJoy—you can send your list directly to Instacart as well as Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, and Shipt.
What are people saying about eMeals?:
“I love eMeals, it helps me stay on target when grocery shopping.” – Review on eMeals.com.
“eMeals is a wonderful service for the busy, time-crunched mother! The numerous menu options and ease of use are beyond compare. They're easy to follow and delicious!!!” – Review on eMeals.com.
Who is eMeals best for?: Those who are looking for access to a range of healthy recipes crafted and curated by a professional food team and registered dietitians.
Dietary Accommodations: eMeals offers gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, low carb, low calorie, and diabetic plans.
Availability: eMeals is an online-based service, so it’s available almost anywhere!
Cost: eMeals has a 3-month ($30) and a 12-month ($60) subscription options. The price of eMeals does not include food.
Try eMeal free for 14 days and see for yourself!
Meal Kit Delivery Services
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans spend on average 11 percent of their overall income on food. Yikes!
So, while the debate is still out on the exact amount you should spend on food, it’s certain that you can cut that percentage down significantly just by cooking at home.
And now with healthy meal service delivery, it’s easier than ever to create fresh, healthy and gourmet-quality food in the convenience of your home.
While meal kits are not always the cheapest meal delivery service, they’re less expensive than dining out and makes cooking a breeze with all the ingredients you need to cook dinner planned, portioned and delivered to your door.
Not sure which meal kit delivery service is for you? Don’t worry.
Here’s our list of meal kit delivery comparison I think are worth trying:
5. Blue Apron
If you’re looking for a delicious, chef-designed meal kit than Blue Apron is for you.
Each week, you choose recipes that fit your wants and needs (including top-rated customer favorites). Everything you need is delivered right to your door (freshness guaranteed!). So, all you have to do is follow these step-by-step instructions and plate.
What are people saying about Blue Apron?:
“We’ve been doing this for several weeks now, and the food is delicious and healthy! Feel like a kid on Christmas morning when we get a delivery.” – Review on BlueApron.com.
“Pretty cool side effect of Blue Apron is that I feel I’m slowly learning how to cook.” – Review on BlueApron.com.
Who is Blue Apron best for?: Those with little time to meal prep and looking to shake their cooking routine with easy to follow recipes.
Dietary Accommodations: Blue Apron offers a vegetarian plan.
Availability: Exclusive to the U.S. and available (for the most part) nationwide.
Cost: Blue Apron price varies on meals per week and plan. The 2-person plan starts at $47.95 per week for two recipes, while the family plan is $71.92 per week for two recipes. Delivery fees may apply.
Try Blue Apron today and get $60 off ($20 off each of your first three boxes)!
6. Hello Fresh
If you’re looking to introduce a popular meal kit delivery into your life, than say ‘Hello Fresh’!
Hello Fresh shops, plans and delivers step-by-step recipes and ingredients to your front door so you can relax and enjoy all your meals.
It’s one of the most vital meal kit services and has been in the game since 2011, so it is known as a leader in the space.
What are people saying about Hello Fresh?:
“Previously, dinner meant picking a restaurant on seamless and waiting for food to arrive. Now dinner means preparing fantastic meals that are healthy and fresh.” – Review on HelloFresh.com.
“The recipes are delicious and easy to follow. What I especially love about them is the fact they make me try ingredients and techniques I might not try otherwise . . .” – Review on HelloFresh.com.
Who is Hello Fresh best for?: Those who want to learn to cook or don’t have time to figure out meals for the week.
Dietary Accommodations: Hello Fresh offers a vegetarian plan. Each week, there is also a variety of meal choice you can choose from gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free.
Availability: Hello Fresh is available (for the most part) nationwide.
Cost: Hello Fresh recipes start at $6.99 per serving, with 2-person, 4-person, and 6-person plans available.
7. Home Chef
According to an independent third-party study, Home Chef has the highest rating of customer satisfaction among leading meal delivery services.
How’s that possible? Here are a few potential reasons:
- Flexibility: Allowed to skip any week.
- Variety: Offered 26 weekly choices.
- Value: Customers can spend less than $50 per week on their order.
Home Chef delivers everything you need to bring more delicious meals and moments to the table, including recipe cards and fresh, pre-portioned ingredients. Better yet? Meals can be effortlessly created and plated in just 30 minutes!
What are people saying about Home Chef?:
“Signed up for Home Chef because of 1. Life is stressful 2. I kept just buying snacks every time I went grocery shopping because of said stress.” – Review on HomeChef.com.
“Trying something new the next couple of days and tonight’s was HOLY YUM we are obsessing!!” – Review on HomeChef.com.
Who is Home Chef best for?: Those who want easy-to-follow recipes and a large selection of weekly meal options.
Dietary Accommodations: Home Chef does not offer specific meal plans catered to dietary restrictions. However, similar to Hello Fresh, there are meal choices each week that are gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free.
Availability: This food subscription box is available (for the most part) nationwide.
Cost: Home Chef meals start at $7.99 per serving. Shipping is free when you spend more than $45.
8. Amazon Meal Kits
Most meal kit companies require you to subscribe to their service, but not with Amazon!
With Amazon Meal Kits – one of the best meal delivery services -, you can order al-la-carte meals that are delivered two days after ordering. Huge game-changer.
What are people saying about Amazon Meal Kits?:
“Wow! This is the second Amazon prep meal, my husband and I have made, and once again it has exceeded our expectations! The instructions were incredibly clear, the proportions were perfect, and the food was extremely fresh! You cannot beat the quality, price, and convenience of these meals. .We are definitely hooked!” – Review on Amazon.com.
“I love meal kits and have tried quite a few of them (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Home Chef, Sun Basket), so I was excited to see Amazon’s spin on these. This was the first one I tried, and I will definitely be working my way through the recipes. Great packaging and recipe card. . . Faster and cheaper than a delivery option, and delicious as well. Highly recommend.” – Review on Amazon.com.
Who is Amazon Meal Kits best for?: Those who want the convenience of healthy meal kit delivery, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of having a subscription.
Dietary Accommodations: This meal subscription box offers vegetarian meal options.
Availability: Amazon Meals Kits are only available in select cities across the U.S.
Cost: Amazon Meals Kits start at $8.99 per serving. Delivery fees may apply.
9. Terra's Kitchen
There are many meal prep delivery services out there, but none are quite like Terra’s Kitchen.
From packing to food, Terra’s Kitchen is focused on sustainability and sourcing clean ingredients for its meal prep delivery.
For example, instead of using packing that’s just immediately thrown away, Terra’s Kitchen uses vessels that are returned and used up to 100 times!
On the food front, Terra’s Kitchen focuses on products that are antibiotic- and hormone-free, as well as non-GMO and organic, when possible.
What are people saying about Terra’s Kitchen?:
“I love that the quality of food, which is already portioned out, is packaged in such a safe and wonderful way. The meals are healthy, nutritious, and delicious. I do not have to come up with a menu, grocery list, or go shopping for the items I need. I’m absolutely thrilled and sold on the whole process.” – Review on Terra’sKitchen.com.
Who is Terra’s Kitchen best for?: This healthy food subscription box is designed for those who want fresh, cleaning sourced and sustainable ingredients delivered to your door.
Dietary Accommodations: Terra’s Kitchen offers a vegetarian meal plan. Each week there are also gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, low calorie, and pescatarian meal options.
Availability: Terra’s Kitchen is only available in select cities across the U.S.
Cost: Terra’s Kitchen meal plans start at $72 per week. Your first weekly delivery is free, and after that orders of $100 or more qualify for free delivery. Delivery is only $6.99 for orders under $100.
Join Terra’s Kitchen’s email list today to get $35 off your first delivery!
Meal kits solve a big problem for busy people—dinner.
But Gobble takes that a step further and is one of the best-prepared meal delivery services out there: Already peeled vegetables and minimal-to-no chopping so you can go from pan to plate in 15 minutes.
Plus, Gobble provides an array of specialty menu options like gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb, and vegetarian. They even offer kid-friendly options for families.
What are people saying about Gobble?:
“Meeting ran late. Traffic was bad. But with Gobble, I still had an amazing dinner on the table in 15 minutes.” – Review on Gobble.com.
Who is Gobble best for?: Those who want a meal kit that makes dinner possible in just 15 minutes.
Dietary Restrictions: Gobble offers specialty menu options like gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb, and vegetarian.
Availability: Gobble is available (for the most part) nationwide
Cost: Gobble prices vary based on meals per week and plan. The 2-person plan starts at $71.94 per week for three dinner kits, while the family plan is $143.88 per week for three dinner kits. Delivery is only $6.99 per order.
Click here to try Gobble today and get six meals for $36!
11. Sun Basket
A lot of people like to eat healthy and fresh meals, and a lot of companies are listening now.
Sun Basket offers that plus more. It offers organic, non-GMO products and ingredients and packages its products in recyclable materials, making the company an eco-friendly one.
Sun Basket's meal line-up is top-notch. The recipes are developed by Justin Kelly, a chef known for her work at the James Beard Award-winning Slanted Door restaurant.
All of the meals with organic ingredients are all nutritionist-approved. Plus, they only take 30 minutes or less to make.
Who is Sun Basket best for?: It's designed for organic lovers
Dietary Accommodations: It offers vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian meal options
Availability: Available in 36 states and shipments arrive on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 8 am and 9 pm.
Cost: For three meals per week, you're looking at $74.93 for a two-person meal plan or $11.99/serving and $143.87 for a four-person plan or $10.99/serving. Shipping cost is $5.99.
EveryPlate is designed for budget-conscious individuals who want the affordability and delicious, heart-healthy meals at the same time.
The recipes are limited to eight recipes per week and mostly don't include meals for people with special diets or are vegetarians.
Who is EveryPlate best for?: This meal subscription box is designed budget-restricted individuals who want affordable, yummy meals
Dietary Accommodations: Mostly exclude vegetarians and people with special diets
Availability: Available by shipping at any time. You also have the option to skip or cancel the orders anytime.
Cost: 18 meals for $3.33 each + free shipping on your first order.
Dinnerly is another meal delivery kit service that caters to the budget-conscious people.
With a cost per serving of just $5, people who are on a tight budget will find this service worth enough to try.
The recipes that come with Dinnerly are easy to understand and fairly easy to execute that you can make a meal in 30 minutes or less.
Who is Dinnerly best for?: It's designed budget-restricted individuals who want affordable, yummy meals
Dietary Accommodations: Includes, but not limited to, kids-friendly, one-pot, low-calorie, dairy-free meals, and others.
Availability: Available by shipping at any time.
Cost: $4.49 per serving
What To Look For In A Meal Kit Service
There are so many meal kit services out there.
For a fact, it is so easy to get confused about what they offer or don't offer. To make it easy for you to decide which service is best for you, here are some of the things you might want to consider:
You need to find a meal service kit that can offer you options.
You don't want to be stuck with a plan that offers clean-eating all the time when you want to have some comfort foods to try.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of kits out there that cater to a wide variety of options.
The best meal kit services offer about nine to twelve options a week. That's plenty enough that can help you decide which option you want to choose in a given week.
2. Quick and easy
A lot of us are busy or don't have time to cook. That's why a lot of us look for meals that can be done quickly and are easy to make.
Most meal kits have instructions that you can follow. But make sure you pick the ones that are within your level.You don't want to cook a meal that only skilled people can do.
One note is not to measure the degree of difficulty of making a meal on the number of steps. Some companies will lump all the steps into one step but with a ton of paragraphs in it.
You would want to read through the texts to make sure it fits your skill level.
Most importantly, you would want to look at meal planning kit or meal prep delivery service that fits your price.
There are cheap ones that offer great options and can satisfy your needs, and there are those expensive ones that can do the same.
Of course, as with any other meals, don't expect to get a meal kit that cost $5 and eat risotto. That said, a lot of meal kit services offer bulk discounts, promotions, and sales. So, you may find you get deals even from those high-end meal kit delivery services.
4. Dietary Needs
Not all meal kit services can fit your diet needs. That's why it's pertinent to research and look through the different diet plans and narrow down to a few services that can deliver your needs.
From there, look through the first three items mentioned just above to further narrow down your selection to a few or one.You may also want to look for a plan that offers more than the diet plan you want.
You may want to change your diet sooner or later, and it would be good to have that option instead of looking for another meal prep delivery company to get that option.
Are meal subscriptions worth it?
When it comes to figuring out the overall value of food subscription boxes, you need to answer the questions based on the following categories:
The most significant benefit of a meal subscription box is convenience. If you're tired after work and don't have time to go out and buy the ingredients, a meal delivery kit may be best for you.
Everything is delivered in front of your door. All you need to do is cook the meal, and that's it.
The thought of figuring out what to eat, what to buy, etc., are off your shoulder.
The next benefit is that you've got all the ingredients you need to cook. That's been taken care of by the meal kit delivery company. All you need to do is prepare and cook.
Lastly, you introduced yourself to new meals or recipes without having to search for them. You don't need to spend hours looking through online cookbooks, Pinterest, etc. to see the next recipe you want to try.
I admit these meal subscription boxes can be super beneficial for busy people who may not have time to cook. That said, they come with a price.
You may find that some meal boxes charge high compared with the cost of the items when you buy them at stores.
At times, though you're making home-cooked meals, the cost of these meals can be compared to dine-out meals.
Meal Kit Services: Conclusion
Some may think that good food equates to a good chunk of your budget. Trust me; I’ve been down that road before.
However, whether you want to save money or time, meal prep services, or meal planning can help. And who couldn’t use a few more bucks and some more time with the family?
What options have you already tried or willing to try? Which meal prep delivery do you think will work for you?