Recipes

In Search of the Perfect Food Meal Delivery Kit - A Comparison of 5 (and Counting!)

Meal kit delivery services

Since joining the Blazen Divaz, I find that most of my weeknights are filled with practices and little time for cooking.  So in order to save time, I wanted to try out a meal delivery service. Most of them claim to be ready to eat in 30 minutes.  I had no recommendations so I thought I would just try several to see which one we liked best.  One of the best things about trying the different services is that the first delivery is usually about half-price. 

So what is a Meal Kit Delivery service?  This shipped-to-your-door service is designed for busy people who don't want to eat out every night or grab high-calorie, additive laden fast foods.  They are not pre-made meals.  They are pre-measured and prepped (but chopping, mixing and marinading is required). The kits come with a recipe card and everything that you'll need to prepare that recipe (for two, four or even more), you choose. The only thing they don't include is salt, pepper, and oil.  Most of them list the items that you'll need to gather, such as medium pan, cooking spoon, etc. You can choose the number of meals that you'd like delivered each week. We chose three. All the ingredients for each recipe are in separate bags labeled with the recipe name.  The meats are separately packed.  Your weekly allotment of meals is delivered on the same day each week.

We have tested 6 Dinner kit services so far.  All of them were decent but some were better than others and some were just different.  

Overall Pros for Meal Kit Delivery Services

  • Convenience!
  • No wondering what to cook tonight (I can never think of anything good).
  • No trips to the store for missing ingredients
  • Can choose your own meals (but I like to be surprised).
  • You try new foods (because you don't want to toss them out).
  • Easy and quick recipes
  • Can skip a week whenever you choose
  • Shipping is included in the weekly price
  • You can try each service at almost half-price for the first week
  • All of the meal kits we tried allowed substitutions if the scheduled meals were not to your liking

Cons:

  • The packaging - a lot of plastic, boxes and a lot of packages of frozen ice (We might even list them on Craig's List)! Some of the services list ways to recycle on their websites.
  • Allergens could be a concern because no guarantees are made that items have not come into contact with other possible allergens
  • If you forget to cancel or skip a week, you may have an unexpected charge.

Below are my comparisons of the different services we tried.

 

Gobble

File Feb 03, 12 41 10 PM.jpeg

Gobble is a bit different in that it is designed for folks who want dinner ready within 15 minutes.  So this kit is great for those who want a quick meal.  But because of that, the sauces and spices are already mixed together (example: brown sugar spice rub).  

We tried Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups, Brown Sugar Crusted Salmon and Paneer & Cauliflower Tikka Masala with Garam Masala Basmati Rice.

Cost: $71.70 per week for 3 meals for 2 people

Pros:

  • Ready fast.
  • Easy to prepare
  • Calories per serving are listed
  • Wide variety of meals
  • Vegetarian option is available
  • They sent 2 frozen rounds of chocolate chip cookie dough with the meal kit :)

Cons

  • Recipe not given so it cannot be recreated
  • Does not have wine-pairing suggestions
  • Smaller recipe cards (5x7 ish) so the wording is smaller and more difficult to read
  • Packaging

Hello Fresh

hellofreshbag
 An example of how each meal is packaged in a separate bag

An example of how each meal is packaged in a separate bag

I might as well let you know right now that Hello Fresh was our favorite.  Their recipes are diverse and easy to prepare but usually take (me) longer than 30 minutes to make.  One of the things I like about ALL the meal kits is that I'm making meals that I normally wouldn't and finding out that I like foods that I thought I'd never eat.  

Hello Fresh seems to have a younger vibe. They say things like "Bust out a medium frying pan" or "2 tsp. hoison sauce (we sent more!)" One of the fun things about HelloFresh is that it provides a "Start Strong" hint with each recipe. One example: use a spoon with the back facing away to peel ginger. It will practically peel itself. It worked!

We've tried about 16 but our favorites (so far) are Pineapple Poblano Beef Tacos, Winner Winner Chicken Orzo Dinner, Balsalmic Onion Burger with crispy cauliflower and Thai-spiced Pork Meatballs. 

Pros
 

  • Provides a recipe for both 2 person and 4 person meals 
  • Recipe card is printer paper size so all recipes can fit in a binder for future reference
  • Provides an exact wine pairing (ex. "The Descent Cabernet, Reserva, 2015") Odds are great that you won't have this wine on hand or be able to buy it but a similar one will work.
  • Calorie information is listed on recipe card and a separate card with nutritional information for each recipe sent is included
  • Vegetarian and "fit" plans available

Cons

  • Packaging - although the meal bags are recycled paper
  • Their regular meals are fairly high in calories (600-800)
  • Their customer-service could use some revision
  • We've received repeated dishes too close together.

Cost: $59.00 per week for 3 meals for 2 people

 Thai-spiced Pork Meatballs. 

Thai-spiced Pork Meatballs. 

Martha and Marley Spoon

I have always loved Martha Stewart.  I have the first edition of her magazine (signed) and almost all of her books.  So I was really looking forward to trying her meal kits. 

 Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup from Martha and Marley Spoon

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup from Martha and Marley Spoon

I was disappointed.  While the meals were tasty, they were also too simple and too ordinary. Potatoes or Rice accompanied almost every meal. I would have expected more variety in the vegetables.  The meal kits we tried: Apricot-Mustard Glazed Pork, Roast Chicken and Potatoes, Sesame-Ginger Steak, Shrimp and Snow Peas, Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup, Spicy Beef and Leaks.

Pros
 

  • Generally good
  • Recipe included so that it can be recreated (but for either 2 or 4 depending on your meal plan)
  • Calories and a bit of nutritional information is included
  • They choose grass-fed beef and organic ingredients
  • Vegetarian options are available 
  • Printer paper sized recipe cards can fit into a binder
  • They have an affiliate program

 

Cons

  • The recipes are a bit confusing - ex. 12 oz of Yukon Potatoes, 2 pats butter
  •  The directions are not quite clear and sometimes the images don't match the directions (example: "Put steak on baking sheet" but the image shows steak in a frying pan).
  • Packaging
  • No wine pairings

    Cost: $61.50 per week for 3 meals for 2 people

Blue Apron

 Ginger-Marinated Grassfed Steaks from Blue Apron

Ginger-Marinated Grassfed Steaks from Blue Apron

Blue Apron was my second favorite.  

They use farm-fresh seasonal ingredients, meats with no added hormones (often grass fed), and sustainably-sourced seafood. One of my favorite things about them is that you can choose Whole 30 compliant meals or meals that can be made in just 30 minutes.

We tried Ginger-marinaqted Grassfed Steaks, Seared Chicken and Mashed Potatoes, and Mexican-Spiced Barramundi with Kale, Sweet Potato and Avocado Salad (the salad was great!), 

Pros:

  • Good recipes
  • Whole 30 compliant recipe choices
  • A "How to Recycle" section on the website
  • Other recipes are also available on the website
  • Recipes are printer-paper sized so fit in binder

Cons:

  • Packaging (but How to Recycle instructions on website)
  • There is a suggested wine pairing but it's coded to only wines you purchase from them
  • No nutritional information listed on recipe cards

Cost: $59.94/week for 3 meals for 2 people

Home Chef

 Example of recipe card from Home Chef

Example of recipe card from Home Chef

 Instructions Side

Instructions Side

I found Home Chef's recipes to be a little boring and low on vegetables.  We tried Barbacoa Steak Tacos, Ponzu Noodles and Charred Green Beans, and Pork Chop with Parsley-Garlic Butter.  

Pros:

  • Decent variety of recipes
  • They have 10% cash back if you're on eBates
  • Categories of recipes include vegetarian, "without nuts", poultry, "without soy", without wheat", carb-conscious, calorie-conscious, customer favorites, "without milk" and breakfast.
  • Printer-paper sized recipe cards and the holes are already punched
  • They include a "how to recycle" section on their website
  • Nutrition info is on recipe card in small writing
  • Can choose recipe difficulty level

Cons:

  • Recipes somewhat boring
  • No wine pairings
  • packaging
  • No additional recipes on website (that I found)
  • No pricing info until you have gone through sign-up process

    Cost: 

All-in-all, I love the service.  I never have to wonder what to cook for dinner or worry that I have what I need on hand. Less food is getting thrown out and we have little reason to grab fast food.

We still have two more scheduled meal kit delivery services to try so check back in a couple of weeks to learn more.

Sun Basket

Sun Basket has one of the most extensive selections of meal plans available. You can choose between Classic, Paleo, Lean and Clean, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Vegan, Pescatarian and Chef's Choice.
For our first delivery, we chose Mediterranean.  Our meals included Honey-walnut tempura shrimp with broccoli and charred romaine, Sesame-crusted salmon with orange and roasted carrot salad, and Spanish "tortilla" with roasted fennel-citrus salad and Marconia almonds.

 

Pros:

  • Amazing variety of recipes
  • Packaging is the most recyclable of all services thus far
  • Recipe booklet with additional recipes and tips included - some would argue that this is not a benefit and might make meal prep more time-consuming because you have to hunt for your recipe.
  • Good recipes
  • Nutritional information is included

Cons:

  • A little more expensive than the others.
  • They charge a shipping fee
  • Cannot keep all recipes in a binder with others
  • No wine pairings

Cost: $78.93/week for 3 meals for 2 people

 

Next up: Greenchef