Fresh Food Delivery: 6 Budget-Friendly Meal Kits to Save Time and Money
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The demand for fresh food delivery is on the rise.
I mean, who wouldn’t want delicious, pre-portioned meal kits delivered to their doorstep a few times a week?
Even if you love to cook, between work, kids, spending time with family, and the million other things that demand our attention day to day, it can be tough to find the time to sleep, let alone cook healthy homemade meals.
As we’ve all experienced, the busier life gets, the more likely you are to eat out. Not only is all that eating out bad for your health — it can also be a serious drain on your budget.
That’s where meal kit delivery services come in.
These meal delivery services send pre-portioned recipes straight to your home on demand. No searching through Pinterest trying to decide what to cook or waiting in line at the grocery store.
Order online, follow the recipes, and you can have a delicious home-cooked meal in 30 minutes or less.
With options as low as $4.99 per serving, you’re sure to find a healthy meal kit service on this list that will liberate your time and save you money.
Quick Meal Kit Comparison
|Dinnerly||Plated||HelloFresh||Sun Basket||Home Chef||Blue Apron|
|Price / Portion||$4.99||$9.95 – $11.95||$6.99 – $9.99||$10.99 – $11.99||$7.99 – $19.95+||$7.49 – $9.99|
|Portions / Week||6 – 12||4 – 16||6 – 12||6 – 16||2 – 16||4 -16|
|Shipping||$8.99||Free for orders of $60+. Otherwise, $7.95.||Free for your first purchase, then $5.99.||Free for your first purchase, then $6.99.||Free on orders $45+. Otherwise, $10.||Free on all but the smallest plan, which is $7.99.|
|Best For||Busy cooks looking for affordable home-cooked meals||Health-conscious eaters who prefer flexibility||Beginner cooks who value convenience||Health-conscious cooks who adhere to a specialty diet (Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, etc.)||Beginner cooks who value convenience||Beginner cooks who value convenience|
|Deal||“Always 50% off”||$50 off your first 2 boxes||$80 off ($20 off your first 4 deliveries)||$80 off ($20 off your first 4 deliveries)||$30 off your first order OR 50% off for students||First two boxes for $50|
Top Meal Kit Services That Provide Fresh Food Delivery
As I read about these services, I noticed common themes worth sharing as a primer:
- Nearly every meal kit delivery service offers a discount for new customers.
- Most allow you to skip deliveries as needed.
- Most allow cancellation for any reason, at any time, without penalty.
- Free shipping is included with most services routinely.
Here are the best fresh food delivery services on the market right now.
1. Dinnerly: One of the Cheapest Meal Delivery Services
At nearly half the cost of other kits in this list, Dinnerly comes in at the lowest price per meal. They claim to use ingredients comparable to their competitors.
However, they’re able to offer healthy food delivery at a lower price point by using less flashy marketing, simple packaging, and fewer ingredients per recipe.
With that said, the Thai Curry Chicken Soup I found on their site sounds delicious and a bit outside my comfort zone (which I like about this service).
Vegetarian dishes are limited, so if you’re on a plant-based diet, other meal kit plans in this list may be a better fit.
Dinnerly is the least expensive of all the meal kits in this list (and possibly on the entire market). They also limit meals to six ingredients and 30 minutes each. This makes meal time simple and easy for even the most beginner of cooks.
- Per Meal: $4.99
- Shipping: $8.99
Because of its already affordable prices, Dinnerly refers to themselves as “The meal kit that’s always 50% off.” However, coupons are periodically available for another 50% off per order!
2. Plated: Healthy Home Meals
This meal kit service was acquired by the grocery store Albertson’s in 2017 (more on that below).
Plated offers a variety of chef-designed recipes from all across the world. Each week, you get a menu with 20 recipes to choose from. The menu is outstanding. My pick would be the Roasted Cauliflower Bibimbap with Crispy Rice and Pickled Cucumbers.
This meal delivery service also offers maximum flexibility. You can change your delivery days from week to week and even skip meals as late as 6 days before delivery if your schedule changes.
Flexibility is definitely a perk of dining with Plated. The convenience of being able to pick and choose your dates without committing to a rigid schedule is a feature some meal delivery services lack.
Another characteristic that sets Plated apart is that it’s one of the more healthy meal delivery options on the market. Their meats are raised without antibiotics or hormones, they use fresh, seasonal ingredients, and they offer organic produce when available.
In addition to their flexibility, ingredient quality, and an extensive list of 20 recipe options, Plated is one of few meal kit delivery services currently available in store.
- Meals: $9.95 – $11.95
- Shipping: Free on orders over $60
Right now the deal is $50 off your first two boxes.
3. HelloFresh: Classic Fresh Food Delivery
HelloFresh offers three meal plan types: classic, vegetarian, and family. While their classic menu comes with 15 recipe choices per week and the family plan includes 6, the vegetarian plan only offers 3 (at least this week).
However, the menus rotate weekly so you always have fresh options to choose from. Recipes average 30-45 minutes of prep and cooking time in total.
Many recipes on HelloFresh are American style and relatively low in preparation complexity, with dishes like Carolina BBQ Chicken and Balsamic Onion Burgers.
Like other meal kit services on this list, you can cancel or skip meals any time, just make sure to do it at least 5 days before your next scheduled delivery.
HelloFresh prides themselves on having easy-to-follow recipes, making this a great prepared meal delivery option for novice cooks. They also offer the flexibility to change or cancel your deliveries up to 5 days in advance.
- Classic and Veggie Plan: $8.99 per serving
- Family Plan: $7.87 per serving
- Shipping: Free for first order, then $5.99
Sign up today to get $80 off your first three boxes.
4. Sun Basket: Organic, Healthy Meals Delivered
Sun Basket sends you the raw ingredients and yummy recipes you need to support your healthy lifestyle. Their weekly meal plans include Paleo, Lean & Clean, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Vegan, Pescatarian, Diabetes-Friendly, and Quick & Easy.
They offer organic seasonal produce, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats, sustainably sourced fish, dietician-approved meal plans, and 100% recyclable and compostable packaging.
Sun Basket meal plans come in two options: classic and family. The Classic Menu comes with 18 recipe choices each week and the Family option offers 6.
If you’ve yet to give clean eating a go, the value of this meal kit is a perfect reason to look into it more closely. I have my eye on the Root Vegetable Panzanella with Black Beans and Cremini Mushrooms.
Sun Basket meal kits offer socially-conscious, convenient meals at a fantastic price point. They’re the only fresh food delivery service on this list that is a certified organic handler.
They also offer the most diverse array of meal plans for healthy eaters. If you follow a clean, specialty diet, then this is the healthy food delivery service for you.
- Family Menu: $10.99 per serving
- Classic Menu: $11.99 per serving
- Shipping: Free for the first week and $6.99 each week after
Currently offering $80 off ($20 off each of your first 4 deliveries).
5. Home Chef: Simple, Easy Meal Kits
This fresh food delivery service prides itself in offering restaurant-quality meals in under 30 minutes. Home Chef’s menus rotate weekly and include 15 recipes to choose from with occasional upgrade offers, such as Filet Mignon for $19.95 per serving.
Their chef-curated meals are delicious and easy to follow. Whether you’re an experienced at-home chef or first-timer, you shouldn’t have any problems following their step-by-step recipes. I have my heart set on the Salmon Tacos.
Home Chef allows you to plan up to 5 weeks ahead. This makes it easy to take a break from the weekly brain drain of meal planning and do it once a month instead. They also offer smoothie and fruit basket add-ons at just $4.95 each.
On top of that, Home Chef uses sustainable packaging. Each box is lined with compostable, recycled, biodegradable fibers to help cut down on waste.
- Regular Meals: $7.99+ per serving
- Premium Meals: $19.95+ per serving
- Smoothies and Fruit Basket Add-Ons: $4.95 each
- Shipping: Free on orders $45 and over
6. Blue Apron: A Classic Meal Kit Delivery Option
Blue Apron offers fresh ingredients and recipes for chefs of all levels. Meal options range from easy 20-minute recipes to more challenging dishes (for when you’re feeling adventurous).
This meal kit service gives you the choice of a 2-Person or Family plan. The 2-Person Plan includes 8 recipe options to choose from each week. Place your order and get 2 or 3 perfectly portioned recipes delivered weekly. The Family Plan is designed for 4 and offers 2, 3, or 4 recipes delivered per week.
There are no commitments with Blue Apron. If you decide this meal delivery service isn’t for you, you’re free to cancel or skip orders at no additional charge.
Blue Apron offers a solid mix of easy, comfortable meals and more robust options. If you’re feeling adventurous or have a little extra time on your hands, then you can choose a more challenging dish. For weeks where time is tight, you can stick with what you know.
- 2-Person Plan: $9.99 per serving
- Family Plan: $7.49 to $8.99 per serving
- Shipping: $7.99 for the 2-Person/2 Meal plan; Free on all others
Right now, you can get your first two Blue Apron boxes for $50.
Bonus: Meal Kits at Grocery Stores
With many grocery stores now offering home delivery, you may be wondering where to snag a local deal.
By some estimates, meal kit sales may be a $1.5 billion market. So, while only a few big stores are in the in-store market currently, you’ll be seeing a lot more chopped, washed, pre-prepped, and take-and-go meals in the near future.
Kroger entered the prepared meal kit game in the spring of 2017 but didn’t really roll it out into stores until the fall. This put them a heartbeat ahead of the curve compared to other retailers. Kroger is based in Cincinnati, OH and it’s common for them to test new ideas and products in the Louisville, KY market (which is where I happen to live).
At $6-8 per serving, the price point is lower than average ($8-12 per serving from national delivery providers), so this is worth checking out if you’re within the test and early-adopter markets. Their Chimichurri recipe sounds heavenly.
Albertson’s, the giant grocery retailer, also got into the game in 2017 when they purchased Plated (featured in the list above) for nearly a quarter billion dollars.
Deals vary for each location. Be sure to check your local store for meal kit delivery options.
3. Whole Foods
Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017, making a big splash in the headlines. Whole Foods was already working with The Purple Carrot to offer meal kits. In addition to offering in-store meal kits, it appears they plan to capitalize on Whole Foods’ infrastructure and loyal customers by delivering to Amazon Prime customers.
The roll-out of the Amazon-Whole Foods meal kit service has been quiet thus far, but expect to hear more about it soon.
Just as Whole Foods partnered with a meal kit prep company, Walmart has, too. Home Chef and Takeout Kit currently service Walmart’s meal kit offerings. There are some surprisingly adventurous recipe choices under the Takeout Kit menu on their site.
The Home Chef offerings change each week and range from $7.50-$10 per serving in kits designed to feed 4.
Fresh Food Delivery Services are All the Rage
And for good reason.
The six meal kit services above offer great value for the convenience, quality, and price. If you’re new to cooking, some of these services could be great training wheels for learning more techniques. They could also just be sanity-savers for anyone who low on time.