“What’s for dinner?” This simple question may seem innocent enough, but I find myself cringing as I type those three little words.
Why, you ask?
Well, because as a parent, I have probably been asked this question upwards of 800 ba-jillion times.
So, not only am I sick of hearing it, but I am SO sick of trying to come up with creative answers to that question that aren’t met by moans and groans from my kids.
It was really only when I became a parent that I truly understood just how much planning and effort goes into preparing a healthy and delicious dinner for the whole family every single night.
Honestly, it’s exhausting.
Which is humorous for me to admit because I clearly remember listening to my own Mom complain about the whole dinnertime ordeal, “You kids have no idea how impossible it is to come up with meals that are healthy and fit everyone’s dietary needs and personal preferences, not to mention that none of you appreciate how much time and planning go into getting a delicious meal on the table every single night…” etc., etc., complain, complain.
I would simply roll my eyes at my Mom’s grumbling, think to myself that she was way too dramatic, and wait for dinner to magically appear on the table before me.
What a brat I was!
I really wish that my Mom was around today so that I could apologize for being so oblivious to her struggle and commiserate with her about my own dinnertime struggles.
And they really are struggles…planning a variety of nightly dinners that are nutritious, tasty, affordable, and don’t take hours to prepare is a no easy feat.
Throw in a full-time job (or even part-time), housework, helping with homework, carpool, afterschool activities (basically, LIFE)…and getting that healthy, delicious, affordable meal on the table each night can start to feel impossible.
Which is probably why meal kit delivery services have exploded in the past few years!
According to consumer research firm, Pentallect, they predict that “the $2.2 billion meal-kit business in the U.S. will grow 25 percent to 30 percent over the next five years.”
Many of these services can help take the stress and difficulty out of dinnertime by bringing wholesome and fresh ingredients right to your doorstep, conveniently allowing you to prepare a delicious meal for your family with far less effort and planning.
But with all of the meal delivery options out there, you might be wondering where to start and how to choose the right service for your family…
…and if you are, you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve tried several of the most popular meal delivery services to help you weigh your options and find a service that will best meet your family’s dinnertime needs!
A few quick notes:
- There are A LOT of meal delivery services out there and while I did not personally try ALL the meal delivery services out there, I did try ten different services and created this list of my top 6 choices based on the honest feedback (sometimes too honest) from my own kids about the meals that we tried and my personal evaluation of each service based on convenience, price, quality, and taste.
- We selected services that delivered nationally (many services are specific to local towns/cities and those were not included), were reasonably priced, and offered a variety of personalization options.
If you’re ready to stop living in fear of the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” question, then meal delivery kits might be the perfect solution for you!
So, let’s find out which meal delivery kits really deliver!!
Ideal for: Families with a variety of dietary restrictions (or everyone, because this is my all-time favorite service!!)
Cost: ($5.99 delivery charge weekly)
- Family Plan: $10.99/serving, serves 4 people
- Classic Plan: $11.99/serving, serves 2 or 4 people
- ALL organic and sustainable
- Antibiotic and hormone-free meats
- 2, 3, or 4 recipes per week
- Family Plan: Chef’s Choice or Vegetarian
- Classic Plan: Chef’s Choice, Lean & Clean, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Vegan, Diabetes-Friendly, Pescatarian
I thought we’d start with my favorite option first – Sun Basket! After taking all the factors into consideration, Sun Basket is the all-time favorite meal delivery service that my family tried – we still subscribe to this service and use it weekly!
A huge plus for me was the flexibility of being able to choose from 18 different recipes each week (with the Classic Plan). Meaning that, even though when I signed up, I selected Pescatarian, I was still able to choose a meat or chicken option if I felt like it. Very few other meal delivery services offer this kind of flexibility. I also loved the ease of using their app – it is simple, straightforward, and user-friendly and allows me to quickly select my meals for the week!
Another pro of Sun Basket was the ease of the recipes. They weren’t as simple as sticking something in the microwave and voila, you’re done – but, I found the prep time and effort to be 100% manageable. Most meals took no more than 30 minutes to prepare!
The taste and quality of the ingredients and meals that Sun Basket delivers is consistently awesome! My kids have liked almost every single meal that I have put together and I feel so good about being able to serve my kids organic and sustainable ingredients without a ton of hassle or expense. Plus, I have never received an ingredient that was old, rotten, or unusable – something that I can’t say about most of the other services.
While Sun Basket isn’t the cheapest service out there, it is certainly one of the more affordable ones.
And, I LOVE how Sun Basket sends you a magazine-type recipe book with ALL of the recipes for the week, even the ones that you didn’t order. They also include a fun little note with each recipe that suggests ways for kids to help in the preparation process!
For me and my family, Sun Basket is SO worth the cost because it allows us to eat healthfully, try delicious new recipes, and takes the stress out of dinnertime! And for those of you who are environmentally conscious, all packaging is 100% recyclable and compostable!!
Ideal for: Budget-conscious cooks
Cost: (Free Shipping)
- Family Plan: $8.99/serving, serves 4
- 2-Person: $9.99/serving, serves 2
- Hormone-free meat
- Sustainable seafood
- Family Plan: 2, 3, or 4 recipes/week
- 2-Person Plan: 2 or 3 recipes/week
- Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Wine Add-On option
Blue Apron was one of the first meal-delivery services I tried and subscribed to for almost a year, and they are a close second to Sun Basket.
One of the biggest pros with Blue Apron is the pricing – it is one of the most affordable options out there, which is a big bonus for families on a budget (and really, who isn’t on a budget these days!).
Another pro with Blue Apron was the taste and popularity of the finished meals. I found that I learned a lot of new cooking skills and tried a lot of ingredients that I never had used before – parsnips, fennel, Romanesco!
My biggest issue with Blue Apron was the flexibility with meal choices and dietary options. While the recipes are delicious, they are not terribly accommodating to special dietary needs like gluten-free or vegan. Plus, when I signed up, I selected no pork or beef, but when I wanted to randomly select a pork option for my kids (I knew I wouldn’t be eating that meal), I was not able to select items that didn’t align with my initial dietary choices.
Furthermore, over the year that I subscribed to Blue Apron, I received items that were smushed, wilted, or spoiled a handful of time. Now, this certainly wasn’t the norm, but it did happen more than once.
Overall, the difficulty of the recipes was pretty middle ground. I did find that some recipes were a bit too involved and took close to an hour to prep and cook everything. However, the actual recipes were always delicious and interesting. Plus, Blue Apron offers a wine option for those who want to imbibe a bit while cooking!
If you don’t have a lot of dietary restrictions and are on a tight budget, Blue Apron is for you!
Ideal for: The time-crunched cook
Cost: (Free shipping)
- Family Plan: $8.74/serving, serves 4
- Classic Plan: $9.99/serving, serves 2 or 4
- Website claims, “High-quality ingredients sourced straight from the farm.”
- Family Plan: 2 or 3 recipes per week
- Classic Plan: 2, 3, or 4 recipes per week
- Vegetarian, low-calorie
Compared to the other meal services, Hello Fresh is highly convenient for parents who are short on time thanks to the fact that many of the ingredients come chopped or pre-prepared and the recipes are fairly simple.
Another benefit of Hello Fresh is that the recipes are very well-explained and detailed. Meaning that if you are new to cooking or not very sure of yourself in the kitchen, you will have a hard time messing up these recipes. They are very straightforward and easy to understand.
The portions with Hello Fresh were surprisingly generous – more so than any other meal service I have tried – which can be a good thing if you have growing kids to feed but can be difficult if you are trying to lose weight or stick to a portion-controlled diet. For families, I would deem the generous portions as a bonus though!!
As far as taste and satisfaction with the ingredients and finished recipes, I would say Hello Fresh is acceptable, but not amazing. Many of the recipes were a bit on the simple side – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you have picky eaters or young kids. My kids tend to have adventurous palettes though, so, they found some of the recipes to be a bit bland and unexciting – especially when in direct comparison with meals from Blue Apron or Sun Basket. However, many of the recipes were very kid-friendly in the sense that they didn’t use a lot of foreign-sounding ingredients that kids will tend to turn their noses up at.
Overall, if you are an inexperienced chef who is pressed for time, Hello Fresh is a simple and straightforward meal delivery service that will fit your needs!
Ideal For: The health-conscious cook in a hurry
- 2-Person Plan: 1 box contains 3 dinners for 2 people (6 meals/servings total per box).
- Family Plan: 1 box contains 2 dinners for a family of four, served family-style for parents and kids (8 meals/servings total per box).
- Family Omnivore $11.99 per meal
- Family Carnivore $12.99 per meal
- Vegetarian $10.49 per meal
- Omnivore $11.99 per meal
- Vegan $11.99 per meal
- Carnivore $13.49 per meal
- Gluten-free $13.49 per meal
- Paleo $14.99 per meal
- USDA-certified and Gluten-free certified organic meal kit company
- Sustainable, non-GMO ingredients
- Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Omnivore, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Carnivore
Green Chef is ideal for health-conscious families die to its USDA organic certification and being the first delivery service to receive an official gluten-free certification.
The ingredients are fresh, healthy, and conveniently pre-prepped and pre-measured for the cook who doesn’t have time for prep-work.
Another huge bonus of Green Chef is the extensive dietary options that are offered – more than any other meal-delivery service I’ve seen. They even offer Keto meal options, a fairly newer diet that is super trendy right now!
I found the portions to be generous with Green Chef and I really loved how the Family Plan meals were served family style!! We definitely always left the table feeling full and satisfied after a Green Chef meal – no one ever went hungry!
For me, I love to cook. I love prepping the ingredients – the chopping, the mixing, the entire process. So, the fact that the Green Chef ingredients came ready and prepped for me took some of the fun out of the cooking process for me. However, for parents who don’t have time to be carefully dicing onions or mixing sauces, this aspect would be a huge bonus!!
Most meals took about 30-45 minutes and were completely do-able for every level of cooking experience.
Probably the biggest drawback of Green Chef is the price – it is definitely one of the more expensive options on this list, but, you are paying for top-quality, organic ingredients. And they certainly deliver on the quality – every item I received was fresh, delicious, and looked like it literally came right from the farm!!
The recipes were delicious, too – no complaints in that department!! Creative and inventive recipes that weren’t too ‘weird’ because my kids loved them!!
Ideal For: Eco-friendly families looking for lots of flexibility
Cost: (varies, see below)
- non-GMO, hormone-free and antibiotic-free
- sustainable seafood
- combine your meals any way you want and there are more than 50 to choose from
- paleo, gluten-free, low calorie, vegetarian and vegan
Terra’s Kitchen is different than any of the other meal services on this list in two major way – their clever packaging and their meal-options/plans.
My kids LOVED the cool way that Terra’s Kitchen solves the issue of so much added waste that most meal delivery services come with by shipping your ingredients in a reusable and refrigerated vessel. You simply remove your ingredients from the vessel, place the vessel in the box with the included shipping label, and the mail person picks it up the next day and sends it back to the company to be filled for your next delivery!
The meal plans that Terra’s Kitchen offers are also a bit different offering you a ton of flexibility with the only real constraint being the size of the shipping vessel. I liken the process to that of filling up an Amazon Prime Pantry box – you choose your meals individually and Terra’s Kitchen will tell you how much room you have left in your ‘vessel’ for the week.
You can select 2-person or 4-person meals that vary in price from $10-$18 per serving, making this one of the most expensive meal delivery services on the list. You are definitely paying for the convenient, eco-friendly packages, top quality ingredients, and pre-prepped ingredients – but, if you can afford it, it is very much worth it.
Most ingredients come washed, chopped, and ready to use making this a very convenient service for those parents without a lot of cooking time. Again, for me, it took some of the fun out of the entire cooking process but putting together these meals was extremely quick and easy.
And the meals were delicious!! There was not a single recipe that my entire family didn’t love – each and every meal was filling, hearty, bursting with flavor, and incredibly satisfying.
Plus, Terra’s Kitchen offers the option of adding regular grocery items to your vessel like meats, fruits, or sides and they offer snacks, desserts, and pre-made lunches!!
If money isn’t an issue when it comes to feeding your family and you are looking for high-quality recipes, lots of flexibility in meal choices, and eco-friendly packaging – Terra’s Kitchen is for you!
Yumble is a bit different than any of the meal delivery services mentioned on this list, but it is simply too awesome not to mention.
This service is designed specifically for kids, offering pre-made, healthy meals for kids – no cooking required.
For parents who like to prepare more ‘adult-only’ cuisine or tend to get home late from work with no time to cook, Yumble is the perfect solution.
They offer a combination of dinners, lunches, and snacks:
- 6 meals per week for 1 kid: $5.99/meal
- 12 meals per week for 1-2 kids: $5.62/meal
- 24 meals per week for 2-3 kids: $5.24/meal
Weekly deliveries of meals and snacks means that your fridge will always be stocked, and your kids will never go hungry!! But you can rest easy knowing that you aren’t feeding your kids frozen meals packed with all kinds of fillers and junk.
The meals are made with fresh ingredients, organic ‘where it counts’, no refined sugars, whole grains and super foods included, all-natural meats, and farm-fresh, seasonal produce!
They also offer plenty of choices each week that are gluten free, egg free, dairy free, and vegetarian.
Plus, each eco-friendly box comes with fun activity sheets, a star chart and little rewards, trivia cards, and your fully-cooked meals that will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to seven days!
My kids LOVED these meals and they loved the fact that they could pop them in the oven or microwave all by themselves whenever they were hungry.
While the choices for meal delivery services extend far beyond this list, these were my family’s favorites out of all of the services that we have tried. And while I don’t think that you can really go wrong with any of these options, it is important to ask yourself what exactly you are hoping to get out of a meal delivery service before choosing one. Are you looking for utter convenience? Exciting new recipes? Money-saving meal options?
Figuring out what your goal is in signing up for a meal delivery service will help you find the perfect service for you and your family! For me, Sun Basket offered just the right amount of flexibility, nutrition, convenience, and deliciousness and ended up being the service that I stuck with for the long-term, but there are lots of great options out there that can help take the headache out of dinnertime while keeping your family well-fed and healthy!