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The Best Meal Kit Delivery Services


We ordered and cooked recipes from Blue Apron, Dinnerly, HelloFresh and Martha & Marley Spoon, and HelloFresh stood out as the best meal-kit delivery-service subscription. HelloFresh recipes are very easy to execute thanks to the detailed step-by-step instructions, and the high-quality meats and produce help you cook delicious meals like a four-star chef. Our runner up is Martha & Marley Spoon, which also has excellent ingredients and fast delivery, but the recipes assume that you have kitchen skills, so this might not be ideal for a beginner cook.

Our Top Choices

Best for Beginner Cooks


HelloFresh

See Price at HelloFresh

Best for Experienced Cooks


Martha & Marley Spoon

See Price at Marley Spoon

We ordered and cooked recipes from Blue Apron, Dinnerly, HelloFresh and Martha & Marley Spoon, and HelloFresh stood out as the best meal-kit delivery-service subscription. HelloFresh recipes are very easy to execute thanks to the detailed step-by-step instructions, and the high-quality meats and produce help you cook delicious meals like a four-star chef. Our runner up is Martha & Marley Spoon, which also has excellent ingredients and fast delivery, but the recipes assume that you have kitchen skills, so this might not be ideal for a beginner cook.

Table of contents

Compare the best meal delivery services

ProductUser-Friendly WebsiteFood QualityEase of RecipesConvenienceValue
1. HelloFresh★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
2. Martha & Marley Spoon★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
3. Blue Apron★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
4. Dinnerly★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

1. HelloFresh review: Best for beginner cooks

Hellofresh box at a doorstep

If you’re a beginner cook, then HelloFresh’s wide variety of appetizing and easy-to-prepare recipes will make you feel like a restaurant chef. HelloFresh was the speediest of the other meal kit delivery subscriptions that we tested — even during the pandemic — delivering our first box in five days. Ordering meals is easy and fast, thanks to HelloFresh’s simple-to-navigate website. Click here to read our full review of HelloFresh.

Account setup & ordering

Like all of these subscription services, you first set up an account for the types of recipes you’d like to cook: Meat & Veggies, Veggie, Family Friendly and Low Calorie. Then you choose the number of weekly recipes for either two or four people. Then once your payment is processed, you can choose recipes from the 15 recipes that are offered each week.

At first, there seemed to be too many recipes with pasta, rice or potato, but we found other options that had more vegetables and were nutritionally balanced. The website does have an alert that because of the pandemic, some ingredients might not be available — a problem that plagues competitor Blue Apron (see below) — but HelloFresh will substitute a different ingredient. For example, in one of our recipes, a poblano chili was replaced with an Anaheim chili. (There was no real difference in taste.)

Our first box was delivered on time, and the non-perishable produce and seasonings for each of our three recipes were packaged in individual, labeled bags that we simply needed to put into the refrigerator. HelloFresh’s locally sourced meats were vacuum-sealed and sandwiched between two recyclable gel packs.

Recipes & cooking results

Hellofresh ingredients and cooked tostadas

Each recipe has a corresponding recipe card that is illustrated with glossy photos of the ingredients and the finished dish. The recipes have six steps, also illustrated, but in reality, each step has three or four “sub-sets,” each of which is easy, like chopping an onion or slicing lemon. HelloFresh is no different from its competitors in this regard; their recipe cards are laid out the same way.

When it was time to cook, we got the bag out of the fridge and laid out the ingredients. Salt, pepper and olive oil or butter are not included, but everything else was ready to go. Our recipes were Chimi Chicken & Yellow Rice Bowls, Cheesy Beef Tostadas and, our favorite, BBQ Pork & Apple Meatloaves. Each one took about 40 minutes to make, although 10 or 15 minutes of that time was the prep.

Hellofresh's BBQ meatloaf

Portions of the meats and vegetables were satisfying, though the potatoes and rice could have easily fed three people. These were not low-calorie, low-carb meals however; the beef tostadas weighed in at 950 calories per serving, which is three tostadas. We were full after eating one, so we had plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunch. All of the elements of the tostada were tasty, but this recipe didn’t have enough vegetables to really make it a well-rounded meal. The Chimi Chicken and the Pork Meatloaves, though, we would order again.

Value

Price-wise, HelloFresh is comparable to other meal kit delivery subscriptions.

Weekly OrderPrice Per PortionShippingTotal WeeklyPrice Per Portion With Shipping
2 people/3 meals$8.99$7.99$61.93$10.32
2 people/4 meals$8.99$7.99$79.91$9.98
2 people/5 meals$8.99$7.99$97.89$9.78
4 people/2 meals$8.99$7.99$79.91$9.98
4 people/3 meals$7.49$7.99$97.87$8.15

You can pause, cancel or skip a delivery week if you don’t have time to cook. The majority of HelloFresh’s recipes look delicious; our only complaint is that there are too many carb-packed items in the revolving repertoire. We signed up for the Meat & Veggies category, but the Low-Calorie category does have recipes that are lower-calorie, lower-carb. If you’re unable to shop for groceries, then HelloFresh is a terrific time-saver, and the high quality of their product, delivered conveniently to your front door, makes Hello Fresh the best meal-kit delivery subscription available.

Great for Beginner Cooks: HelloFresh

HelloFresh’s well-designed recipes are easy to follow, and you’ll make restaurant-worthy dishes at home from the high-quality meats and fresh vegetables.

Key takeaways:

  • HelloFresh’s website makes it easy to order a wide variety of menus for every week.
  • Although some of the recipes are a bit carb-heavy, the recipes we tested were delicious and portion size was large.
  • HelloFresh is comparable in price to its competitors; the more meals you order, the cost per portion (between $8.15-$10.32) decreases.

2. Martha & Marley Spoon review: Best for experienced cooks

Martha & Marley Spoon box at a doorstep

Martha Stewart and her former Living Food editor teamed up with meal-kit company Marley Spoon in 2016, and after a bit of a bumpy road, the company has thrived, thanks to its high-end, chef-inspired recipes of their meal kit delivery subscription, Martha & Marley Spoon. You can click here to read our full review of Martha & Marley Spoon.

Account setup & ordering

Like HelloFresh, Marley Spoon has an attractive website that’s easy to navigate (once you’ve paid) and lets you build a taste profile of proteins and preferred cuisines. Marley Spoon — and its more-affordable subsidiary, Dinnerly — offer the most choices that we’ve seen from other meal-kit delivery subscriptions. However, many of the recipes are carb-heavy, so you do need to be careful about which ones you choose (unless, of course, you want to eat a lot of spuds and pasta).

Marley Spoon’s first delivery is usually five days after ordering, but because of delays caused by COVID-19, it’s now up to ten days. Packaging is very similar to HelloFresh with each recipe individually bagged and labeled. Produce is also sealed in plastic bags, and though there was a bit too much plastic used in the packaging, the vegetables we received were pristine, crunchy and very fresh. Marley Spoon has its one locally sourced meat distribution called Land & Sky, and the large portions of vacuum-sealed meats couldn’t have been better.

Recipes & cooking results

As you might expect, the recipe cards are beautiful with gorgeous photos of the completed dish. Turn the card over, however, and this is where things get a little dicey. There are six steps to the instructions, each with several sub-steps, illustrated with photos. The photos are pretty useless because they don’t really demonstrate each step.

In both recipes we cooked, there was either an omission or dead-wrong instructions. So if you don’t have some culinary knowledge, there’s a chance that the recipes won’t turn out as well.

Chicken Francese ingredients and final results

For example, in the Chicken Francese, the breaded chicken is deep-fried in oil, and then a sauce is made in the same frying pan. It’s a time-saver, but there is no instruction to pour off most of the oil, which, had we not done so, would have made the sauce inedible. For the Hoisin-Glazed Tenderloin, the recipe card instructed us to “boil rice (like pasta),” which would have resulted in a sticky, burnt mess. Fortunately, we’ve cooked enough to know what not to do with these two recipes.

Martha & Marley's Hoisin tenderloin ingredients and final cooking results

Both recipes were easy to prepare, and though the chicken’s texture could have been crunchier, it was still delicious, especially with the addition of the Caesar Salad and Homemade Croutons. The pork tenderloin was tender, and we really enjoyed its Pineapple Fried Rice side dish. Calories for the pork tenderloin was 670 per serving with 19 grams of fat — not terrible. But the Chicken Francese had 870 calories with a whopping 47 grams of fat.

Value

Weekly OrderPrice Per PortionShippingTotal WeeklyPrice Per Portion With Shipping
2 people/2 meals$10.25$8.99$49.99$12.49
2 people/3 meals$8.99$8.99$62.93$10.48
2 people/4 meals$8.49$8.99$76.91$9.61
2 people/5 meals$8.29$8.99$91.89$9.18
2 people/6 meals$7.89$8.99$103.67$8.63
4 people/2 meals$8.49$8.99$79.91$9.98
4 people/3 meals$7.49$8.99$97.87$8.15
4 people/4 meals$6.99$8.99$120.83$7.55
4 people/5 meals$6.79$8.99$144.79$7.23
4 people/6 meals$6.39$8.99$162.34$6.76

The two-person box is Marley Spoon’s most popular subscription, but if you factor in the $8.99 shipping fee, it averages out to $12.49 per portion, one of the most expensive among its competitors. However, the more recipes you order, the more the price per portion decreases.

Overall, Martha & Marley Spoon is one of the better meal kit delivery subscriptions. But because of the sometimes inaccurate recipe instructions, you would need to be an experienced cook to get the recipes to turn out as intended.

Best for Experienced Cooks: Martha & Marley Spoon

You’ll get beautiful and fresh meats and produce in your weekly box, but the recipes do require that you have some experience in the kitchen.

Key takeaways:

  • Martha & Marley Spoon has the most choices of weekly recipes.
  • Their fresh and beautiful meats and produce are locally sourced.
  • You’ll need to have some culinary knowledge or be an experienced cook to make sure the sometimes inaccurate recipes will turn out right.

3. Blue Apron

Blue Apron box at a doorstep

Blue Apron is one of the most recognized and popular of the meal-kit-delivery subscriptions. They have delicious, high-quality food that’s relatively easy to prepare. But their tricky website, poor customer service and glacially paced delivery schedule make Blue Apron not as convenient as HelloFresh or Martha & Marley Spoon. See our full Blue Apron review here.

Account setup & ordering

Blue Apron is the only subscription that we found that had a great introductory offer: $30 off the first box, which is approximately a 50% discount. They have a fuss-free website with simple graphics, and once you’ve paid, you can choose the types of cuisine you prefer. Based on your responses, three recipes are recommended. If you don’t like them, you can choose from their nine other recipes.

And that’s where the problems begin. Of the 12 recipes, four were sold out or discontinued because Blue Apron couldn’t get the ingredients. (We questioned why these options were even still on the website.) Next, when we chose the suggested delivery date, the website kept canceling the order, until finally, we were assigned a delivery date a month away. We contacted customer service and were told that we weren’t allowed to do what the website automatically did. Thereafter, we received no further communication from Blue Apron until the day before our delivery.

haphazardly packaged ingredients from Blue Apron

The box arrived as promised, four weeks after ordering it, and we were surprised that its packaging was haphazard. Seasonings were packed in individual cellophane bags, but produce was piled on top. So we had to take considerable time to consult the recipe cards and organize the ingredients for the recipes ourselves.

Blue Apron has its own meat and fish distribution companies, and we had no complaints with the salmon and chicken we received. Vegetables were also fresh, although a few had bruises, perhaps from the way they had been packed.

Recipes & cooking results

cooked Blue Apron recipes

The recipes were easy to follow, and we liked their recipe cards the best because instructions are set up like checklists, so you can mark off where you are in the recipe. The Crispy Curry-Roasted Salmon with roasted sweet potatoes and snap peas was delicious. The Garlic Caper Chicken with sauteed zucchini was also big in flavor and easy to prepare, but the orzo that went with the dish was bland. The portions for the salmon and chicken were decent for two people, but the chicken for the Tahini-Balsamic Chicken Bowls was paltry. The recipe relied too heavily on filling you up with the bland barley side dish.

Value

Weekly OrderPrice Per PortionShippingTotal WeeklyPrice Per Portion With Shipping
2 people/2 meals$9.99$7.99$47.95$11.98
2 people/3 meals$9.99Free$59.94$9.99
4 people/2 meals$8.99Free$71.92$8.99
4 people/3 meals$7.99Free$95.88$7.99
4 people/4 meals$7.49Free$119.84$7.49

You can cancel the subscription at any time; however, Blue Apron makes you go through the additional step of requesting a “how-to-cancel” email rather than letting you do so manually on their website. This is the only meal-kit-delivery subscription that does this, and considering how bad their customer service was from the start, it was frustrating and annoying to have to wait for their reply.

4. Dinnerly

Dinnerly box at a doorstep

Dinnerly is the low-cost subsidiary of Marley Spoon and is marketed to budget-conscious couples and families. It’s a great concept, particularly since per-portion prices range from $4.66-$6.48, including shipping. But in providing inexpensive meals, Dinnerly eliminates convenience and, more importantly, nutrition in their recipes. See more details in our full Dinnerly review.

Account setup & ordering

Their website is focused to be family-friendly, and the majority of their recipes are geared for kids’ tastes. Among their 16 weekly offerings, there are a lot of pasta dishes and sugar-glazed meats (like Caramel Chicken Stir Fry) and sugary treats, which is unclear whether these are add-ons or actually count as a weekly recipe.

Delivery was timely, but when we opened the box, everything had been piled in helter-skelter. Like Blue Apron, we had to take considerable time sorting through the ingredients and organizing them into three recipes. Dinnerly also saves money by not providing recipe cards; they’re available online, and though this cost-saving measure can be admired for being ecologically sound, it was inconvenient to refer to the website while we were unpacking the box and cooking the meals.

Recipes & cooking results

Dinnerly recipe cooking results

Meats and produce come from Marley Spoon’s distributors, so quality was similar. What was noticeable is how much smaller were the portions of meats and vegetables and how much larger were the portions of potatoes and pasta.

The Everything Bagel-Spiced Chicken was easy and delicious, as were the scallion and cream cheese mashed potatoes, but 4 ounces of broccoli for two people was paltry. The Pollo Asada Tacos can best be described as bare bones. The black bean salsa consisted of a can of black beans mixed with a little onion, garlic, oil and vinegar. The provided chicken was enough for two tacos, yet the suggested per portion serving was six tortillas, meaning we had 12 tortillas; we had plenty of beans though. The Beef Bulgogi Stir Fry had a minuscule portion of beef strips with two ounces of broccoli and a potful of cellophane noodles to make up for the lack of protein and vegetables.

Value

Weekly OrderPrice Per PortionShippingTotal WeeklyPrice Per Portion With Shipping
2 people/3 meals$4.99$8.99$38.93$6.48
2 people/4 meals$4.89$8.99$48.11$6.01
2 people/5 meals$4.79$8.99$56.89$5.68
2 people/6 meals$4.59$8.99$64.07$5.33
4 people/3 meals$4.99$8.99$68.87$5.73
4 people/4 meals$4.69$8.99$84.03$5.25
4 people/5 meals$4.49$8.99$98.79$4.93
4 people/6 meals$4.29$8.99$111.95$4.66

All of the recipes were missing an ingredient that was expected you would provide to make the meals better and more nutritious. So how much time are you really saving by sorting and organizing the ingredients and then go grocery shopping anyway? In the end, Dinnerly is not as convenient or cost-saving as its competitors.

How we tested

Depending on what each subscription offered, we ordered two-to-three recipes for two people. Except for Blue Apron, we were able to schedule the other three plans over a two-week period, three to four days apart. We rated each subscription using the following criteria.

Website and ordering meals: The websites for all of the subscriptions were attractive and easy to navigate once payment was made. HelloFresh and Martha & Marley Spoon were the most user-friendly and allowed us to change the week’s recommended recipes without any hassle. Both had appealing recipes, and we selected recipes that didn’t require a lot of skill.

Dinnerly had an odd system for changing recipes; we needed to change the number of meals of the recommended recipes to 0 before we could add a new recipe. Blue Apron had the least workable website, and we struggled to choose recipes that had not been discontinued or sold out. As noted earlier, the website kept canceling our delivery date before we could finally secure a date for four weeks later.

Packaging: All of the subscriptions come in large recyclable cardboard boxes. All of the meats were sandwiched between two recyclable gel packs. Some of the produce was sealed in plastic bags. HelloFresh and Martha & Marley Spoon had the ingredients for each recipe in separate paper bags; Dinnerly and Blue Apron did not. We had to sort through the ingredients and separate themselves, a process that was less than convenient.

Recipe results: We followed the recipe instructions precisely as written and timed how long it took to prepare each one, comparing the actual time to the recipe’s estimated time. We noted if we needed to make any changes to the recipe for steps that weren’t included. For example, in Blue Apron’s recipe for the Tahini-Balsamic Chicken Bowls, a green pear needed to be sliced. This was one of the first steps in the recipe, and by the time it came to combine the sliced pear with the barley, it had turned brown. Either this step should come near the end of the recipe, or the pear could have been spritzed with lemon juice to prevent it from turning brown.

We also attempted to plate each finished recipe as suggested by its photo. If we had problems with the recipe instructions, the most important thing was whether the meal tasted good. All of the subscriptions had top-quality meats and vegetables, but they all had a lot of carbs. Even though most of the recipes were delicious, the combination of high calories and high carbs made us think twice about ordering the recipes again.

The bottom line

The best meal-kit delivery subscriptions give you the opportunity to cook chef-quality meals at home with pre-proportioned ingredients, fresh meats and produce and easy-to-follow recipes, all delivered to your doorstep. These services are relatively new and have caught on because they’re convenient and save time since you don’t have to shop as often for groceries.

Of the four meal kits we tested, HelloFresh stood out as the best. Their user-friendly website lets you order and change recipes easily, and the excellent quality of their ingredients and simple recipes will help you turn out delicious meals, even if you’re a beginner cook.

Martha & Marley Spoon is another very good subscription. As might be expected from a Martha-Stewart product, the ingredients are high quality. The recipes, though, are really more geared for the home cook who has some culinary experience. But if you know your way around the kitchen, then Martha & Marley Spoon is the one to try.

The success of HelloFresh and Blue Apron launched other meal-kit delivery services. We researched many of them, and although they didn’t make it to our list of services to test, they’re definitely worth trying.

Home Chef offers a big selection of interesting restaurant-style meals in calorie- and carb-conscious categories; Gobble has recipes with everything prepped and chopped so that meals can be cooked in as little as 15 minutes; Green Chef is one of the few services that designs organic recipes for the Keto and Paleo diets; and if you don’t feel like cooking, Freshly has pre-cooked, complete meals that just need to be heated up.

Best Meal-Kit Delivery Subscription: HelloFresh

If you’re a beginner or advanced cook, HelloFresh’s easy recipes and fresh ingredients, delivered to your doorstep, is a convenient, time-saving and economical way to cook restaurant-quality meals at home.

Gene Gerrard, Writer

Gene Gerrard was recently voted as one of the top five personal chefs in Los Angeles. He created About.com's Meat and Wild Game Cooking website and published hundreds of recipes, interviews, cookbook reviews and blog posts about food trends. Gene is also a professional magician, and when he's not writing for Your Best Digs, he's performing at the World Famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.

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