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11 Best Meal Subscription Services to Make Dinnertime a Cinch

Updated: Jan. 11, 2024

We're breaking down the options to help you find the best meal subscription for you.

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10 Best Meal Subscription Services Ft Via MerchantRD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (4)

Meal subscription services have exploded in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. By delivering exactly the right amount of each ingredient, offering a wide range of tasty recipes and catering to all family sizes, they make it a cinch to get a delicious and nutritious home-cooked meal on the table with minimal food waste. You don’t even need to find time to grocery shop or meal plan! And it’s super easy to skip a week—like when you’re on that much-needed vacation.

That said, there are a few downsides to subscription services, namely the fact that everything comes in bags and boxes, and you won’t always be able to recycle the packaging material. Although some services are expensive, most meal subscription services offer a wide variety of price points along with the obvious convenience perks.

Keep reading for an overview of 11 of the best meal kits on the market.

The best meal subscription services

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Blueapron
Megan Mowery/RD.com

Best overall kit

Blue Apron

What makes Blue Apron stand apart from the sea of meal subscription services is its huge variety of weekly meal options, says Senior Shopping Editor Megan Mowery. Not only can users choose between standard dietary preferences like vegetarian and low-calorie options, but Blue Apron also offers family-friendly, extra-fast and chef-inspired meals, too. With over 70 options offered each week, don’t be surprised if you have a difficult time choosing.

“In contrast to other meal kits I’ve tried, Blue Apron’s ingredients aren’t packaged and separated by meal,” she says. “My box also came with an aluminum baking pan necessary for one of my meals, which was a thoughtful touch as I would’ve otherwise had to run to the store to buy one.”

She also says each ingredient in her vegetarian meals was fresh and high quality, and the meals struck a balance between healthy and still appealing. “Though I’ve been a HelloFresh customer for years, Blue Apron has my loyalty wavering!” she adds.

Pros

  • 70+ meal options every week
  • Quality ingredients
  • Options to choose between 2 or 4 servings and 2-5 meals per week
  • Blue Apron Market offers add-on products, including microwave meals and seasonal boxes

Cons

  • No keto, gluten- or dairy-free meal plans

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Meal Kit Ecomm Via Dinnerly.com
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Best value kit

Dinnerly

You simply can’t beat the price of Dinnerly, the self-proclaimed “affordable meal kit.” After creating a taste profile, you’ll pick from more than 100 recipes every week. No time to browse? Dinnerly will use your taste preferences to suggest recipes for you. Also key for busy weeks: Many recipes have just five easy steps and are designed for a speedy cleanup. (Translation: You’ll spend less time wiping down the kitchen and more time vegging in front of your favorite streaming TV service.)

Like other meal subscription options, Dinnerly prices kits based on the number of servings (two or four) and the number of meals per week (three to six). It starts at $4.99 per serving for six (four-serving) meals per week and can go up to $7.04 per serving for three (two-serving) meals per week. It’s great if you’re just starting to master your cooking skills (New Year’s resolution, anyone?).

Pros

  • The most affordable option
  • Family-friendly, vegetarian, fast and reduced-carb meals, among other options
  • 100s of weekly meals
  • Five-step recipes

Cons

  • You have to get the recipes digitally

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Home Page Top Banner Desktop V3
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Best for families

HelloFresh

Megan Mowery has subscribed to HelloFresh for more than three years—all of which adds up to a grand total of 154 meal delivery boxes. So she has a lot of experience to share here!

“While I’ve tried other meal kits over the years, HelloFresh is the one I keep going back to,” she explains. “That’s because of the variety of its meals—they tend to be healthy, but not so health-conscious they’re unappealing, like other kits I’ve tried—and its ease of use. HelloFresh’s cooking instructions are simple to follow, and its meals come conveniently packaged in paper bags so you can simply pull one out of the fridge and get cooking.”

Megan also loves that HelloFresh’s Market offers easy lunch options, fun treats, restaurant copycats and seasonal specialty foods for when she feels like mixing up her routine. While HelloFresh isn’t the cheapest option on the market, it’s worth the price due to its fresh ingredients, impressive array of meal options and consistency.

Pros

  • Dozens of meal options for a variety of dietary preferences
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Helpful customer support
  • Clear cooking instructions
  • Thoughtful packaging
  • Hello Fresh Market offers add-ons to your meal kits

Cons

  • Delivery can be inconsistent
  • Meal diversity has slightly decreased over the years

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Sunbasket
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Best for adventurous eaters

Sunbasket

Whether you follow a paleo, gluten-free, diabetes-friendly, Mediterranean or other diet, you’ll find plenty of ways to customize your menu with Sunbasket. With recipes pulled from different cultures from around the world, the meal kits will expand your palate as they make it easier to get a tasty dinner on the table. You can even add market items like lunches, breakfasts and snacks (similar to the way you can get groceries through Amazon Prime or Walmart Plus) to go along with the organic fresh produce in every box.

The price varies based on your meal choices, but meal kits start at $11.49 per serving. Heat-and-eat meals, or meals that are already prepared, start at $9.99 per serving. It’s one of the pricier meal subscriptions but still beats the cost of ordering takeout these days.

Pros

  • Recipes inspired by cultures across the globe
  • Meal kits and ready-to-heat options available
  • Very easy to personalize based on your tastes, dietary needs and preferences
  • Features organic produce, sustainably sourced seafood and meat raised without antibiotics or hormones
  • Sustainability initiatives include recyclable packaging

Cons

  • Meal kits are designed for two people, so if you’re cooking for more, you’ll receive more than one of the same kit as opposed to one larger box

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Meals Ecomm Via Purplecarrot.com
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Best vegan kit

Purple Carrot

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, interested in becoming vegan or simply looking to add more healthy plant-based meals to your diet, Purple Carrot is a great pick. All the meals, which include breakfasts, lunches and dinners, feature nourishing plant-based ingredients like vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and tofu—you know, the stuff that’s proven to lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, reduce Type 2 diabetes risk and otherwise boost your health.

Like most meal subscriptions, Purple Carrot covers all the ingredients and seasonings. You’re just responsible for the utensils and kitchen staples, such as oil, salt, pepper or milk. This subscription also makes a great eco-friendly gift!

Pros

  • Delivers plant-based, vegan recipes only
  • Meal kits and ready-to-heat options available
  • Inventive uses for healthy ingredients cooked with creative methods
  • Eating plants is more sustainable than eating animal products

Cons

  • One of the more expensive options
  • Not as much variety as meat-based subscriptions

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Factor 75
Stephanie Hope/RD.com

Best prepared meals

Factor 75

Shopping Editor Stephanie Hope and her husband both have incredibly busy lifestyles. With work, sports, social outings and exercise, it’s hard to find time to cook or meal plan. She’s been ordering Factor 75 for over six months now and it’s by far one of her favorite meal services she’s ever used. Every week you get to choose from a handful of meals, like Smoky BBQ Chicken Breast or Chuck Pot Roast. Each meal is already cooked fresh for you and the box arrives with sufficient refrigeration.

“I love that I can just keep these in the fridge and pop them in the microwave when I’m ready to eat,” she says. Choose meals based on your preferences, like high protein, keto, vegetarian and more. The selection ranges from up to 36 meals per week and each meal averages around $10 to $13 each. “We have eight meals delivered weekly and it’s such a helpful way to get a healthy, balanced meal in when we just don’t have the time to cook,” she adds.

Pros

  • Cheaper than the competitors
  • Macros are well-balanced
  • Meals are freshly cooked, never frozen
  • Large variety of options to choose from weekly
  • Breakfast, drinks and dessert items available

Cons

  • Meals will preselect if you forget to choose them
  • Some vegetables in the meals can be repetitive (like green beans)

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Chicken Rigatoni Ecomm Via Marleyspoon.com
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Best for streamlined recipes

Marley Spoon

A meal subscription service that offers Martha Stewart’s best recipes, all ready in under 30 minutes and in just six steps? Sign us up! Martha Stewart’s Marley Spoon kits come with Stewart’s favorite spice blends, like Chorizo Chili and Italian seasoning, plus fresh, tasty ingredients that deliver big-time flavor for minimal effort.

Browse more than 100 weekly recipes, sorting them by the categories most important to you, like kid-friendly, dairy-free, no-added-gluten or one-pot meals. Meal kits can range up to $12.99 per serving, but it’s a great way to explore recipes from a culinary pro.

Pros

  • Six-step recipes yield some of the easiest meals
  • Recipe instructions come with helpful photos
  • Budget-friendly price for larger families
  • Kid-friendly, dairy-free, vegetarian and other food preferences available

Cons

  • No heat-and-eat options
  • No vegan options

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Green Chef
Stephanie Hope/RD.com

Best organic kit

Green Chef

With Stephanie Hope’s busy schedule, it’s incredibly difficult to take the time to figure out what to make for dinner, head to the store and buy all the ingredients, and then come home and cook it all. When she’s not eating Factor’s prepared meals, she relies on Green Chef, a convenient subscription service that brings the recipe and ingredients straight to her door.

“I love cooking and having everything already chosen for me just makes it that much more enjoyable,” she says. “I love how simple the recipes are despite the final result looking like something I’d buy from a restaurant.”

They offer 80 menu and market options that change every week to keep things exciting. All ingredients are pre-measured and prepped—just follow the instructions that conveniently include photos. No kitchen gadgets needed! “I love trying new flavors while knowing I’m eating clean, healthy foods every week,” she adds.

Pros

  • Healthy recipes
  • Ingredients pre-measured and prepped
  • Easy-to-follow instructions
  • Lots of variety of recipes to choose from

Cons

  • Portion sizes may be small for some
  • Some recipes take longer than listed

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Home chef
Andrea Carrillo/RD.com

Best for beginner cooks

Home Chef

I’m not great in the kitchen nor do I claim to be. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, I keep sweaters in my stove. So when I was presented with Home Chef, I was happy for the opportunity to dust off my skills. The minimum for a weekly Home Chef subscription is $50 ($82 for a Family Plan). I received three meals for the week of varying difficulty, ranging from easy to expert. They came wrapped in plastic and foam, which admittedly isn’t the most sustainable option.

All of the ingredients come pre-packaged, and the instructions even have pictures. I carefully followed the recipe for the Sweet Chili Pork Lettuce Wraps and was thrilled with how easy it was, leading me to jump into the Guacamole Crema Chicken recipe the next day. The ingredients were fresh, the recipes were customizable and it’s an overall great value subscription. I also love that the recipe cards come hole-punched for binder storage. With this easy meal subscription, I might just have to use my stove more often!

Pros

  • Dozens of weekly recipes of varying difficulty
  • Orders are customizable
  • Ships on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday
  • Recipes are very clear and easy to follow
  • Great way to learn your way around a kitchen
  • Vegetarian and calorie-friendly options

Cons

  • It takes some trial and error to perfectly make a recipe
  • Food can go bad if not used in a certain amount of days, leading to waste
  • No vegan options

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Evolve Chef
VIA MERCHANT

Best ready-to-eat kits

Evolve Chef

Not the best cook in the kitchen? No problem! With Evolve Chef, you get healthy, balanced meals delivered to your door. Evolve Chef provides fresh, never-frozen meals for a variety of taste buds. The meals are already prepped and cooked, so all you have to do is heat them. The service prices your weekly order by meal, rather than per serving like other subscriptions. Choose from seven, 10 or 21 single meal boxes in your order, ranging from $12.99 to $11.99 to $9.99 per meal, respectively.

Evolve Chef is a great option if you’re feeding a family or kids, and the time saved in the kitchen working over a hot stove just can’t be beat.

Pros

  • Ready-to-eat kits
  • More than 30 weekly recipes to choose from
  • The menu rotates to allow for fresh recipes
  • Price is based per meal, rather than per serving

Cons

  • Smaller pool of meal choices than other subscriptions
  • No vegetarian or vegan options

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Beanbox
Megan Mowery/RD.com

Best for coffee

Beanbox

Morning coffee is a constant in Megan Mowery’s house. While she tends to gravitate toward the cheapest local bag of beans in the grocery store, she can still be picky about quality and taste! “My boyfriend, on the other hand, is a bit of a coffee connoisseur, so I put his discerning taste to the test with a Bean Box delivery,” she says.

“We were both impressed with the information you can find on each Bean Box bag: the coffee’s origin, roast level, flavor notes and tips for getting the most out of each particular brew. And the beans genuinely did make a great cup of coffee, each one winning the approval of both testers.”

Megan loves that the month’s beans arrive conveniently at your door, so no more emergency coffee runs when you’ve unexpectedly hit empty on your current bag. Plus, Bean Box takes personal preferences into account when determining the specific coffees to fill your box, so it’s easy to receive the perfect brew for your tastes month after month. It’s one of the best coffee subscriptions on the market.

Pros

  • Convenient delivery
  • Takes individual coffee preferences into account
  • Thoughtful packaging
  • Multiple shipping frequency options

Cons

  • Some brews are slightly underwhelming for a drinker with a highly developed coffee palate

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How we found the best meal subscription boxes

At Reader’s Digest, we love to help our readers sift through the noise. Or, in this case, decide what to make for dinner. We researched and tested dozens of meal subscription services to narrow it down to the 11 that best fit the bill. Looking at factors like price, menu, customization options, dietary restrictions and more, we found options for all types of eaters. Our editors were rigorous with their eating, er, testing, so you know these are the tastiest. If you’re interested in more subscription services to make your life easier, check out these clothing subscriptions and subscriptions for men.

FAQ

Do you still have questions about whether a meal subscription is right for you? Read on for more information about these services.

How do meal subscription services work?

Most of the meal subscription options on this list generally work the same way. First, you sign up for a subscription, indicating the serving size and the number of meals you want to receive per week. If it’s just you and your partner at home, you’ll sign up for two servings. Larger families may want more servings—say, four in each box.

Each week, you have the option to select which recipes you want from those that are available. This usually has to happen by a certain date; otherwise, the service will select recipes for you. You can also skip a week or more when needed, but you need to indicate this by a given deadline to make sure the shipment doesn’t go out.

Will I save money using a meal subscription service?

That depends. According to the USDA’s most recently published food plan, which looked at the cost of food at home, a family of four at a moderate spending level can expect to shell out around $320 per week on food, or about $15 per meal, depending on the ages of the children. Dinnerly, our budget pick, would be around $94 for four full dinners for that family, or $23 per meal. Sunbasket, one of the pricier options, is around $184, or $46 per meal, for the same number of meals.

Of course, those are just suppers, and you’ll still need to buy food for breakfast, lunch and snacks for your family. If you can budget those accordingly, assuming that ingredients for those other meals may be cheaper than ingredients for dinner, you may be able to save some money using a meal subscription service. But that’s a big if. Chances are, you’ll need to trade cost for convenience when signing up for one of the best meal subscription boxes.

Now that you know all about meal subscriptions, get the skinny on clothing rental services.

Source:

With additional reporting by Alyssa Sybertz.