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      February 22, 2017

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Best

Prepared Meals

  1. Bistro MD
  2. Personal Chef To Go
  3. Veestro
  4. Diet To Go
  5. Hello Fresh
  6. Blue Apron
  7. Gourmet Station
  8. Magic Kitchen

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Prepared Meals Better Business Bureau Reliability Seal

Best Prepared Meals

Has life become too hectic for you to adequately prepare a home cooked meal? Maybe you're looking to lose weight, or you just don't enjoy cooking? Well then - prepared meals might be the answer you're looking for.

Prepared meals bring the convenience of a well cooked, tasty meal straight to your door. You simply order your favorite dishes, and within a few days the meals you selected appear for your dining pleasure. You can heat the food via microwave, stovetop, or oven as needed - and when you decide you're ready to eat.

Continue reading below reviews

2017

Prepared Meal Reviews

5 stars
Home Bistro

HOME BISTRO Visit Site

Cost:

From $13.99 to $53.99 and up

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Home bistro has over 1,000 meals to choose from - the largest variety of meals in our review. The meals arrive frozen and are easy to cook by microwave, oven, or stovetop - usually within ten minutes.

To make selecting your food easy, meals are organized into categories such as mix and match; holiday; signature dishes; meats; vegetarian; breakfast; and Italian. Meals can be purchased either individually, or as a pre-selected meal plan.

In addition to a large variety of traditional meals, Home bistro also offers a good selection of nutritional meals such as:

  • Low Sodium - seasoned with herbs instead of salt
  • Diabetic - meals are designed to help the body maintain healthy glucose levels
  • Weight Loss - calorie balanced meals
  • Low Carb - average 17 carbs per meal
  • Healthy - for those not on a diet, but wanting to maintain proper nutrition
  • Senior Meals - designed for a senior lifestyle

The meal plans that are available offer a $20-$30 discount along with bonus meals. With meal plans, the meals are pre-selected for you and are available in categories such as lunch and dinner; meat lovers; seafood; and best sellers.

If you sign up for the weekly newsletter, you will become eligible to receive a $100 gift certificate for Home Bistro. Certificates are given away each week, as well as a $500 gift certificate each quarter.

Home Bistro offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can receive a refund or exchange if you are not happy with your purchase for any reason. Delivery is available to every state in the USA and arrives within 3-5 days. Customers that consistently order meals each week may choose the auto ship option.

For home-delivered meals, Home Bistro sets the standard in the industry. They offer a huge selection of meals to choose from, which suit both individual and family needs. Even picky eaters and those with special dietary needs can find a wide variety of tasty options to choose from. You also have the choice to select your meals individually or choose a pre-selected meal plan. Combined with their customer satisfaction guarantee, Home Bistro earns our highest rating.

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4.5 stars
Bistro MD

BISTRO MD Visit Site

Cost:

From $129.95 to $179.95 per week

Bistro MD is a weight loss, gourmet meal delivery plan developed by Dr. Caroline Cederquist and a team of dieticians. Meals are designed to help customers lose weight, lower cholesterol, improve heart health and boost metabolism.

Bistro MD has 2 meal plans. The Work Week Plan is a full 5-day meal plan with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also the Full Week Plan which includes a 7 day meal plan with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One evening per week is "My Night", with no meal selected - this allows dieters a night to go out to eat with family or friends. There is also the option to add snacks to any meal plan for an additional cost. Bistro MD Program material also comes with your order providing you with additional guidance on weight loss.

A sample day with Bistro MD looks like this:

  • Breakfast - Protein bagel with cream cheese
  • Lunch - Whole Wheat Penne pasta with vegetables
  • Dinner - Chicken Cordon Blue with brown rice, vegetables, and haricots verts
  • Snack 1 - Pineapple Orange Shake
  • Snack 2 - BBQ Crunch O's

Menus with this plan are pre-selected and can only be changed for people with certain food allergies or religious preference. Each week the menu rotates so that you have a variety of different meals throughout each month. Plans are designed with an average of 1,200 calories per day, and range from 1,100 to 1,400 calories each day.

The Bistro MD website is loaded with great information for those wishing to learn more about losing weight. Nutritional articles written by Dr. Cederquist are available for free, plenty of testimonials and a great FAQ section are included on the website.

Customers have the option to order online or with a toll-free number. Meals are cooked fresh, then frozen in a vacuum-sealed pouch. Like many weight loss plans, customers will have meals automatically billed and shipped to them, but there is no long-term commitment that you are responsible for. You can contact customer service to cancel at anytime.

For those wishing to lose weight in a healthy way, Bistro MD is a fantastic option. This plan is not ideal for families, as each plan is only available for individuals and is solely focused on losing weight. We would also prefer an option that allows a customer to substitute meals that he or she does not enjoy. However, as a weight loss program with delicious meals, Bistro MD scores high.

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4.5 stars
Personal Chef To Go

PERSONAL CHEF TO GO Visit Site

Cost:

Starting from $89.95

Personal Chef To Go offers "Fresh Meal Delivery" for those looking for both convenient, healthy options at their dinner table. Shoppers will find meal plans for individuals, couples and families. The individual menu offers 8 single serving meals - 5 chef's choice dinners and 3 chef's choice salads. Couples On The Go meals will receive 10 dinner entrees (5 meals total). Family meals have 2 or 4 servings of each meal.

Personal Chef To Go provides a heart friendly, Mediterranean "inspired" diet using a low sodium, no preservative, no additive approach. Menus are pre-planned each week. Substitutions can be made for dietary or food allergies. Examples of meals include Pomodoro Shrimp, BBQ chicken, crab cakes, Cajun and Greek Penne Pasta. Meals are "family friendly" and many picky eaters will find something they like. We appreciate that the calorie and nutrition information was clearly listed on each meal option. The majority of dinners were in the 300 to 400 calorie range.

Personal Chef To Go delivers all food fresh and never frozen. The shipping containers are lined with oxygen free packaging to keep the food chilled and are shipped within a few hours of preparation. Despite using no preservatives, customers will find that their food is designed to last for up to 10 days. Meals may be heated in either the oven or microwave.

Shoppers must be mindful on the timing of their order. Due to the nature of fresh food delivery, Personal Chef To Go only ships out meals on Thursdays. To receive your meals on Saturday, your order must be placed by 11:59pm on the prior Monday. This could be a disadvantage for those that are less organized or have an ever changing schedule. Professional Chef to Go also offers auto ship for those that want meals delivered automatically every week. Customers will need to remember to cancel any meal delivery prior to the Monday night deadline.

For those wanting to pick and choose what food will arrive at their door step, they'll need to shop elsewhere. However, customers can expect a new, fresh tasty menu that doesn't repeat itself for 9 weeks. Unlike other companies which allow more picking and choosing but have a much smaller menu option. Personal Chef To Go has a strong reputation, has been in business since 2003, and at the time of review held an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. We find the fresh meal option intriguing over frozen alternatives, and Personal Chef To Go is a great option to consider.

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4 stars
Veestro

VEESTRO Visit Site

Cost:

Starting at $99 for a 12-meal pack

A la carte and many other options available

Do you believe that plants are "the greatest food on earth"? Are you a busy person who would still like to have it all, especially vegan meals that are "flavorful, healthy, easy, fast"? If you answered with a resounding "Yes", you'll want to check out what Veestro has to offer.

You can start by visiting the colorful, appealing Veestro site. You'll find your options clearly explained:

  • A la carte items - breakfast, entrees, soups, desserts, and juice
  • Meal packs - Starter Pack (12 meals + 1 juice), 21-day Kickstart, Protein Power (25 meals), Gluten-free (24 meals + 2 desserts), and Juice Cleanse (3- or 5-day)
  • Weight loss - Light-weight (18 meals, 6 juices), More to Please (30 meals), and All-Pleasing (42 meals)

Of course, your cost depends on what you order. For example, the two-week All-Pleasing plan costs $329, while a single-serving order of Cleansing Tonic is just $6.99.

Besides being the only strictly vegan prepared meals provider we reviewed, there were several other things we noticed about Veestro that we love. First, if you find there's a meal in the plan that you order that just isn't up your alley, you can contact Veestro and request a substitution for your next order. Many of their competitors do not offer this kind of flexibility. Also, Veestro has a free rewards program (look for the green box in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen): earn points with every order, on your birthday, with customer referrals, and more, and exchange those points for discounts of up to 30% or even a coupon for $25 off your next order.

Across the board, Veestro's customers are happy: check out any of the available items and you'll see ample reviews, compliments, and even suggestions for tweaking recipes to make them more filling, lighter, and so forth. From the Country Fried Chik'n to the Raspberry Cheezcake, we couldn't believe how many flavorful, five-star foods Veestro has to offer.

The only reason we give Veestro a 4-star rating instead of 5 is because of their limited appeal. While we appreciate the vegan lifestyle and think that Veestro fills a niche that often goes unmet by other companies that offer prepared meals, we have a hard time imagining that Veestro will satisfy a large variety of customers (e.g. picky eaters, meat-and-potatoes aficionados, and people who just plain like to eat meat and dairy products). Veestro is also on the spendy side, but, as we all know, buying organic/vegan can be more expensive overall.

We think that vegan customers - or even those who are looking to reduce the amount of meat they consume regularly - will be very impressed by the variety and flavor of what Veestro has to offer, and by the convenience of having gourmet-quality foods delivered right to their doorstep.

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4 stars
Diet To Go

DIET TO GO Visit Site

Cost:

From $96.99 and up

Diet to Go is a weight meal plan designed to help it's customers lose 2-3 pounds per week. Plans are divided up into 5 day full meals, 7 day full meals, 14 meals or 21 meals.

Diet to Go has 3 menus plans to choose from:

  • Low Fat - follows the nutritional guidelines of the American Cancer Associate and the American Diabetics Association. Daily calories under this menu are between 1,200-1,600 per day
  • Low Fat Vegetarian - features two calorie levels 1,200 or 1,600 per day
  • Low Carbohydrates - menu has only 30 net carbohydrates per day
  • Snacks - available for additional purchase with each meal plan

A sample day under the low-fat option features Blueberry Pancakes with maple syrup and turkey sausage; Tuna melt over with a citrus fruit cup; and Chicken Pizza Broccoli with angel food cake and strawberry cream sauce. Menus are pre-selected and are on a 5-week cycle. For a small fee, customers may select another meal in place of a menu item they do not enjoy.

Diet to Go offers local service for DC, Virginia, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and San Francisco areas. Food tastings are available if you live or are visiting these areas. Items packaged on dry ice and are shipped anywhere in the USA. Orders are shipped the Monday or Tuesday after the order is placed. Diet to Go's website has additional information about dieting including a blog which features articles about losing weight.

Featuring only 3 meal plans, Diet to Go does not have as many choices as our higher rated weight-loss meal options. It is also not as strict or regulated by a doctor. Too much flexibility may interfere with weight loss results. We do like the flexibility to either purchase a certain number of meals or a full weeks worth of meals.

This is the only company featured in our reviews that offers free samples of their food if you live near their kitchens. Although prices are slightly lower than other companies, Diet-To-Go does not have the best variety and is not convenient for non-dieters, couples or families.

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3.5 stars
Hello Fresh

HELLO FRESH Visit Site

Cost:

From $59 to $69 per week

Hello Fresh offers boxed meals delivered to your front door, and promises nutritious foods using only farm-fresh ingredients. The Hello Fresh system includes detailed recipes with each box including tips on cooking each meal, and contains ingredients pre-measured to the exact amount necessary for each meal to reduce food waste.

The food is not precooked like some other box delivery food services we have reviewed, nor is it flash frozen. The food comes delivered in sealed plastic, divided into the correct portions for each recipe, and packed in a cooler with ice packs to keep it fresh for delivery. This is a great system for anyone who likes the idea of having their food delivered fresh instead of precooked or flash frozen, but eventually the ice packs do melt so you wouldn't want to leave the delivery box on your door step for more than a day. Fortunately the subscription plans at Hello Fresh are flexible and allow you to shut a subscription down for a week, in the case of a vacation for example.

The process is very simple; just order a meal plan and the boxed food comes to your door on a weekly basis, complete with the recipe card and all the food necessary to cook each meal. The recipes themselves are varied and rotate on a weekly basis. There are a lot of recipes, but we didn't love the fact that you can't pick and choose which recipes are sent each week. With Hello Fresh, you get what you get as the program dictates. This could be great for anyone looking to try all sorts of new meals, but perhaps could be a problem for the pickier eater who would rather choose exactly which meals they want each week. The only choice really is to pick from the standard box subscription plan or the vegetarian box plan.

The cost is about the same as some of the other home delivery meal plans we have seen. The vegetarian box is $59 a week for 2 people and includes 3 meals a week. The standard box is $69 per week for the same terms. Here again we would have liked to see some additional choices. There is no option for 4 or 5 meals per week, and you can only choose between plans that serve 2 people or 4 people. This would make it difficult to tailor the plan to a family of 5, for example, who wanted 4 meals a week delivered.

Overall Hello Fresh has quality food with a large variety of recipes and a commitment to freshness and nutrition, however we would have liked to see more choices with regards to the meal plans and the recipes delivered each week.

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3.5 stars
Blue Apron

BLUE APRON Visit Site

Cost:

From $59.94 to $139.94

Blue Apron's mission is "to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone". Unlike prepared meal programs that provide you with pre-cooked foods that you reheat at home, this New York City-based company sends refrigerated boxes of farm-fresh ingredients to home chefs - more than 8 million meals each month, nationwide - to expand their abilities in the kitchen and bring them healthy, flavorful meals.

When setting up your account, you will be able to check a box to indicate whether or not you're a vegetarian, pescatarian, or omnivore; you can also indicate if there are any meats you prefer not to eat (beef, poultry, lamb, fish, pork, fish, and shellfish). Every set of recipes and ingredients that is sent will be in accordance with your dietary preference selections - though you can't choose from individual recipes. Recipes are never repeated in the same calendar year, and ingredients are pre-measured to help eliminate waste. Each serving consists of 500-800 calories.

Blue Apron has two basic plans to choose from. The 2-Person Plan includes 3 two-serving recipes each week for $59.94; the Family Plan includes either 2 or 4 four-serving recipes each week for $69.82 and $139.84, respectively. Those prices are in line with their competitors.

Shipping is always free, and there's no long-term commitment involved: cancel anytime, and skip any weeks you like. Customers can also choose the delivery date that best meets their needs, and because the shipping boxes are refrigerated, there's no need to be home to receive the package.

One downside to these plans is that there is no ability to customize them for families of different sizes. If you're single or if you have a large family, you may wind up with more, or less, food than you actually need for a meal. Additionally, most of the recipes featured on the site appear to be dinners; you're not likely to find a great breakfast selection, for example.

We like Blue Apron's commitment to responsible farming and ranching, through direct relationships with farmers and other providers, and their emphasis on seasonal eating (in other words, taking advantage of what is naturally available at different times of the year).

Overall, if you want the easy way out - premade dinners at your doorstep - you may want to consider other retailers of prepared meals in our review. On the other hand, if you've been hoping to learn new culinary skills, try ingredients you've been afraid to use (or didn't even know existed!), and get step-by-step recipes with helpful how-to videos, Blue Apron is a terrific choice.

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3.5 stars
Gourmet Station

GOURMET STATION Visit Site

Cost:

From $99.95 and up

5-day meal plans are available for purchase in categories such as Americana, Cajun, Fusion, Parisian, and Tuscan. Gourmet Station offers holiday dinners and occasional dinners such as anniversary, congratulations, and romance. When ordering a meal plan, customers can select any 5 meals within the meal category. There are typically 8 or more meals to select from. Lamb Top Sirloin and Clear Springs Trout are some examples from the Americana Meal Plan.

Gourmet Station seems to be designed to use sporadically - either for holidays, parties, busy weeks or for those that desire a special gourmet meal at home once in a while. Dinner of the Month Clubs are perfect for this. You can purchase one 4-course meal for 3 (or more) months. These also make great gifts. Meals are pre-selected based upon the month. Customers will know what meals they will be receiving prior to ordering. There are also Soup and Dessert of the Month Clubs.

Meals arrive deep chilled by and need to be refrigerated within a few hours of arrival. Meals have a 3 day shelf life, but may be frozen once. The meals can be heated in the oven and served within 30 minutes. The packaging is made from recycled materials and can be reused or recycled. We really like the commitment to being Green.

We find that Gourmet Station is best for special occasion meals or gifts because of the quality of food. Most people do not want a full course gourmet meal every evening. They specialize in gourmet and international cuisine. We also find it unique that meals are not frozen, but chilled when they arrive. Unfortunately they do take the longest amount of time to heat and require the use of an oven. Some customers may prefer the taste of a refrigerated meal over a frozen meal. Gourmet Station is not for every day of the week. However, it is an good option for a one-of-a-kind meal.

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3 stars
Magic Kitchen

MAGIC KITCHEN Visit Site

Cost:

From $128 and up

Magic Kitchen offers different meal packages to fit a variety of lifestyles. Meal Plans or Meal Bundles are available for purchase. Meal plans are available for individuals, couples or families. Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo and Hickory Ham with a Vegetable Pilaf are a two of the many meals featured in one of Magic Kitchen's meal plans. The meal bundles offer only a few meals that are similar and are packaged together or a full meal with multiple courses. Both Meal Bundles and Plans come with individual, 2 or 4 servings.

Meals are chef prepared, fully cooked without preservatives and flash frozen. To prepare meals simply defrost and heat. Each meal can be cooked in the packaging it arrives in so that no extra dishes are required. The packaging can be recycled. Magic Kitchen also has meals for special diets. The first is the Healthy Choice option which features foods that are low fat and promote heart health. There are also low carbohydrate, dairy free, gluten free, low sodium and vegetarian options. 42 meals are low sodium and diabetic friendly. Nutritional info is also available on their website.

The website is not as easy to manage as some of our higher rated products and there are some grammatical errors and misspellings, making the website appear less professional. You can place your order online or through a toll-free number. First time customers can receive a 10% discount off their order. There is also a $10 discount for seniors.

Magic Kitchen's packaging of the food stands out. We really like that no additional pots or pans are required and the packaging is designed to be recycled. We also liked the senior citizen discount. There are plenty of meals to choose from with multiple servings, but we were disappointed with the lack of items available for an individual. This was unfortunate since the target customers seem to be senior citizens. We did not find the meals as appetizing and unique as others in our review.

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Continued from above

As you can imagine, however, not all prepared meals companies are the same. Some companies serve tastier and better quality meals than others. Some provide diet-controlled meals for those customers who have special dietary needs. And of course, the cost for prepared meals varies across the board.

Before you search the internet looking for prepared meals that suit your needs, be sure to include these important aspects in your decision:

  • Variety and taste.  Are you going to find meals that you actually enjoy.
  • Cost.  How much will one or several meals cost as compared to competitors?
  • Return policy.  If you aren't satisfied with the meal delivery will you get your money back?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best prepared meal providers available today. We hope these reviews help you find the home-delivered meals that you're looking for!

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