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Isn't it amazing how many ways we have to make our lives easier, from Instacart grocery deliveries to DoorDash dinners from our favorite restaurants? Meal delivery services fall in the middle of that spectrum: you save the time and hassle of planning a menu and buying the ingredients, while not spending tons of money on weekly (or nightly) take-out meals and the corresponding gratuities. These services include heat-and-eat meals that arrive either fresh or frozen, as well as kits that come with all the ingredients necessary to make a gourmet-style meal right at home.
You may have noticed that meal delivery recipe choices are abundant. From classic, hearty favorites like chicken parm and burgers to exotic dishes from around the world, there's something for everyone. Vegan? No problem. Following a special diet for health or medical reasons, like keto or diabetic-friendly? You've got possibilities!
Sunday, March 26th
Sunbasket is on a mission: "to empower people to live their healthiest lives, starting with what's on their forks" . This meal delivery service works closely with farmers, ranchers and fishermen who take good care of the animals and land under their stewardship. Sunbasket makes every effort to use 100% organic fresh produce in every meal and recyclable or compostable packaging on every delivery.
Meal kit or heat-and-eat - or both
Most meal delivery companies make you choose between kits that provide ingredients and recipes for you to prepare at home, or heat-and-eat meals that are super-convenient on those busy days. Sunbasket gives you both. Mix and match as needed: meal kits can be ready in 15-40 minutes, while all menu choices designated as Fresh & Ready come in a compostable tray that's microwave- and oven-safe, and ready to eat in as little as four minutes. We love that kind of flexibility.
Easy to filter for preferred diet or ingredients to avoid
That's just one of the things you'll specify as you set up your Sunbasket account. You'll also check the boxes if you follow any of these eating plans:
You'll always be able to shop from their full menu, but they'll never assign you a meal that doesn't fit your desired diet. We appreciate that Sunbasket takes it a step further and asks how you prefer to eat. You can indicate ingredients you'd like to avoid - dairy, soy, lamb, pork, beef, shellfish, fish, poultry - or if you'd like meals that are high in fiber and/or protein. Low carb, low calorie, low added sugar, and low sodium round out the rest of the available preferences here.
See all the menu selections upfront
Sunbasket meals can serve either two or four people, and your boxes can come with anywhere from 2-5 dinners per week. Even better, you get to pick your first week's meals before you enter your payment information, so it's practically guaranteed that you'll love everything you get, and you won't have any unpleasant surprises like we've seen with some Sunbasket rivals (customers enter payment information first, decide they don't like the selections after all, but still wind up getting a box of food they didn't want). And, it's really intuitive to use: look at the top to indicate the first week you think you'll want deliveries, so that you see the corresponding menu, and change any of the preferences you set earlier by clicking on the dropdowns beneath that.
Discounts are available
Watch for special offers too. When we visited the Sunbasket site recently, there was a promo we could activate at the top of the page to get $90 off, free shipping, and a free gift. That reflected a discount of $50 off our first order of $65 or more, then $15 off deliveries two and three, and $10 off delivery four.
Price varies by meal
Pricing is structured a little differently with this meal delivery service: just like at a restaurant, recipes with more ingredients (and higher-quality ones too) will come with a higher per-serving cost. You might get a heat-and-eat meal of creamy spaghetti carbonara with pancetta and sweet peas for just $9.99, or a spicy Thai green curry with shrimp, zucchini and jasmine rice for $17.99 per serving. The cost is clearly listed on every entree here.
Don't forget to change your meal choices
Once you've made your selections, you're subscribed just to those specific recipes and ready-made meals. You'll need to go in and make new choices for the next week if you don't want to get the same ones. Also, after you've set up your subscription, you can choose add-ons for snacks, breakfasts or lunches. You can preview everything that's available under the Menu heading, and it's almost like having an organic grocery store on hand: smoothies, loaves of bread, yogurt, you name it.
Happily, Sunbasket gets an "A-" rating from the Better Business Bureau, with a mere 14 complaints filed there over the last three years. Beyond the BBB, this meal delivery service receives lots of enthusiastic feedback from customers, most notably ones who have used it for years and wouldn't dream of switching to a different company. Delicious, organic, on time, and very client-centric: everything you want that can be so elusive with many of Sunbasket's rivals.
#1 meal delivery company
For all of these reasons, Sunbasket is our newest first-place winner among meal delivery companies. Although Sunbasket tends to be more expensive, we think it's definitely worth it. You just couldn't ask for more: healthy, organic ingredients combined to make delicious meals that you can either have fun cooking yourself or enjoy the simplicity of microwave-and-done, all backed by a fantastic customer support team that genuinely cares about your satisfaction. Put Sunbasket at the top of your list if you're looking for a meal delivery service that will exceed your expectations.
Top Chef Meals is a small meal delivery service with big flexibility. Unlike most prepared meal options that give you little say-so over what you receive, and that lock you into a subscription in order to get the lowest prices, Top Chef Meals puts the control in your hands. Prefer a different side with your roasted chicken breast than the one that comes standard? You got it. Want to buy five meals one week and 25 the next? You can do that too. That's a huge win, especially if you're trying to satisfy a picky eater (like yourself).
Extensive menu choices
You'd think with a lesser-known service, there'd be a much smaller menu to choose from. Not so here. We invite you to browse the menu options at Top Chef Meals and be impressed. In the main menu alone, we spotted seasonal specials like these:
We also saw everyday entrees (that could be filtered to show low sodium, diabetic, gluten free, dairy free, and/or low fat options) like Asian Sesame Salmon and Chicken Parm; and vegetarian specialties such as the Spinach and Garlic Ravioli Alfredo and Three-Bean Vegan Chili. Because each meal is made to order, you can customize it to have an extra portion of protein, extra sauce, a different starch or vegetable, and so forth.
Great kids' meals
Want to make your kids' lunchtime even easier? Check out Top Chef Meals' Kids' Menu. Most meals are priced at under $6/serving, and your kid won't get stuck with veggies she hates. They all come with a main course, a side dish, and a smoothie - so one day could be Mini Pizzas with Roasted Cauliflower and an Apple Smoothie, and maybe the next day you change up the vegetable for some tater tots and make it a peach smoothie instead.
Lots of options for special diets
Plus, if you're trying to accommodate a special diet and struggling to make it nutritious and palatable, Top Chef Meals can help. Again, everything is customizable, there are no minimum orders, and seniors can save 10% if they register on the site.
Try a sampler
Not sure where to start? We recommend choosing one of Top Chef Meals' "Get Started" packages. You can try their ten most popular meals, pick four that catch your eye, or go for the Comfort Foods 10-meal menu. Even in those packages, you can remove any meals that you'd rather not have and swap them for extra servings of ones you like (take out the Meatballs Marinara and get two Chicken Pot Pies instead of one).
Shipping rates are location-based
Because this is a smaller meal delivery company, your shipping details will depend on where you live. For those who live in the New York City area, courier delivery is free on 10 or more meals. East of the Mississippi, most customers will get free 1- or 2-day delivery, and the rest of the country will pay $19.95 for Priority Overnight. Click the Shipping link at the top of the site to view the delivery map if you're curious.
Small company, big praise from customers
We weren't able to find a Better Business Bureau listing for Top Chef Meals or its parent company, The Crystal Spoon. But, we were surprised to see that, despite being a smaller meal delivery service, this company has received more than 3700 five-star reviews in other places; almost 90% of their customers say that it's "great" or "excellent" . It's so encouraging to read review after review praising the flavor of the meals, the abundance of personalization options, and the company's genuine commitment to customer satisfaction.
Best service specializing in ready-made meals
Obviously if you're looking for a meal kit that lets you do your cooking at home, this isn't going to be your favorite delivery service. On the other hand, out of all of the companies in our evaluation that specialize in prepared meals, Top Chef Meals is our favorite.
If you're already familiar with HelloFresh as a meal delivery option, EveryPlate is going to ring a few bells. That's because EveryPlate was created by HelloFresh in 2018 as a lower-cost option within the meal delivery marketplace. How does this service accomplish that? By using much less packaging. That allows EveryPlate to provide meals at the lowest per-serving price in the industry: under $5. But, keep in mind that less packaging can often mean that your ingredients will arrive a little jumbled up in the box, so don't expect your tomatoes to be completely unbruised or to find everything neatly organized by recipe.
All dinners on the menu
There are four main meal plans available from EveryPlate (in other words, no breakfasts here). These dinner menus include:
You can always choose any meal from any menu, but setting your preference will put those first in your list. You will choose your box size to feed two or four people, and from 3-5 meals per week. You'll also be able to select your preferred weekday for delivery, and your first shipment could come as soon as five days.
Preview each week's 18 menu choices
Because you have to enter your payment before selecting the meals you want, we encourage you to look at the weekly menu before you start the sign-up process. There are 18 meals to choose from each week, and we like that each one shows you right away how long it will take to prepare - from 20 minutes for something like Sweet Chili Pork Tacos to 40 minutes for the Chicken Sausage Orzotto. You can also choose 1-2 premium meals each week, which gets upgraded with higher-quality ingredients (particularly the protein component). It costs an extra $3.99 per serving and gives you an option for a special occasion meal to make at home. For any meal you choose, you can see the full nutritional information, ingredients list, and preparation instructions - including any pantry items you'll need to have on hand (like kosher salt, cooking oil, or pepper).
First box can be as low as $1.49/meal
You might get a "spin to win" pop-up as you browse the EveryPlate site. In our case (and maybe everyone's), we got an offer to buy our first box for $1.49/meal. That's pretty tempting. All we had to do was enter our email address and it was applied to our order. At the top of the screen, we found that the deal was even better: our first box would be at that price, and our second and third boxes would be priced at $3.99/serving. But, we didn't love the 30-minute timer at the top of the page letting us know when the offer would expire. Why the pressure, EveryPlate?
BBB received hundreds of complaints
As far as the Better Business Bureau goes, they list HelloFresh and EveryPlate as the same company and offer an "A" rating. Across both businesses, there were almost 900 complaints filed with the BBB in the last three years, 400+ of which came from the most recent one-year span. You can scroll through and sometimes see which customer service team responds (to separate the HelloFresh complaints from the EveryPlate ones), but at least they all get a reply.
More than 10,000 five-star reviews elsewhere
More reassuring were the 10,000+ five-star reviews left specifically for EveryPlate in other places. In fact, 80% of people who choose this meal delivery option would rate it as "great" or "excellent" . True, you still get a few people disappointed by late deliveries, problems with ingredients spilling or arriving spoiled, but wouldn't you rather be let down on a $5 meal than a $15 one from another company?
May experience quality issues with summer deliveries
The one area of complaint that seems consistent - and that you'll often find with other meal delivery services - is delays during warmer months leading to unsafe package temperatures. From what we've seen, EveryPlate will only offer a credit and not a refund in these cases - unless you go to the lengths of registering a complaint somewhere, and then you might get a more satisfactory resolution.
All complaints aside, we give EveryPlate one of our higher rankings among meal delivery services - because you're not going to find many that are more affordably priced than this one. Getting a meal kit that serves four people with five different recipes for under $40 - our price with the discount on the initial box - is astounding, and it absolutely beats trying to grocery shop for those same five meals. While you may or may not want to continue your subscription after the first box, you've got every reason to try EveryPlate at least once.
Dinnerly is one of the most affordable meal kit services we've ever seen. They save money by using digital recipe cards (instead of the typical paper ones you'll probably throw out anyway), fewer ingredients per dish, simple packaging, and no big marketing campaigns. Depending on how many people you're serving and how many dinners you choose per week, you could pay as low as $4.57 per portion: good luck doing that with a trip to the grocery store and your own meal planning.
Easy to preview options - including breakfasts, sides, desserts
The easiest way to preview Dinnerly's meal kits is by looking at the Weekly Menus. Not only can you see the next three weeks' recipes, but they also let you see the week you're currently in for reference. You'll always have about 45 meals to choose from, though we noticed that some of them are a little light on the vegetables (like the Seared Steak with Scalloped Potatoes and the BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza). We like that Dinnerly's "meals" include breakfasts, sides, and desserts for additional variety: why not have some Toasted Coconut Chia Overnight Oats with Apricots and Almonds or some Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes?
Serves 2 or 4 people for 3-6 meals each week
When you're ready to get started, you'll indicate if you want to serve two or four people, and if you'd like 3-6 meals per week. There's a box to check if you'd like your whole shipment to be vegetarian. After entering your zip code and email address, you'll choose your preferred delivery day - in our area, it was Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday - and when you'd like your first meal kit to come, usually at least a week out or more.
DIY when it comes to avoiding allergens
Unfortunately, there's no way to sort out allergens here, either during the meal selection process or while browsing options. The good news is that you can preview all recipes well in advance, and the complete nutritional information and ingredients list is right on the site.
So, being relatively new to the meal kit marketplace, how is Dinnerly doing? The Better Business Bureau's "C" rating might make you raise your eyebrows a bit, but we're not overly worried: there were 84 complaints filed with the BBB in the last three years, and Dinnerly was able to resolve all but one. Compare that with other services with nearly 10 times that number of complaints and you'll see that it's not such a big deal. By the way, we worked out as we dug around that Dinnerly is the "affordable meal kit" offered by the same company as Marley Spoon (who you'll also find in our reviews).
Great feedback from subscribers
Otherwise, Dinnerly's track record is pretty positive, with over 1800 five-star reviews. Subscribers say that the recipes are truly as easy to prepare as promised, and that they love the variety of meals to choose from every week. Like many meal delivery companies, Dinnerly has had some issues with shipping in recent months (boxes come late at night - or just plain late) but they always demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction in their responses.
Affordable meal kits worth a look
Dinnerly ranks right up there with some of our favorite meal delivery options, given an even bigger boost for being so impressively affordable. Give it a try and see what you think.
Gobble is proud to tell you that they were voted as the #1 choice by Parents Magazine for 15-minute meal kits. While it might take you a little longer than that if you're something of a novice in the kitchen, this is a fantastic way to up your cooking skills and eat well.
6 meals for $36 - intro pricing
Your first step at Gobble should be to sign up for their email list. That will get you your first six meals for just $36 plus free shipping. You'll find that at the bottom of the site - no need to look for a special pop-up offer or promo.
Lean & Clean, Classic, or Vegetarian
While you'll always have access to all of the recipes on the Gobble weekly menu, you'll start by indicating a preference between the Classic and Lean & Clean plans. What's the difference?
Gobble doesn't show it on the dropdowns at the top of the site, but there's also a vegetarian-only selection you can indicate as you set up your subscription.
No problem indicating preferred protein types
From there, you'll get more specific with your preferences. On the Classic plan, you can indicate your preferred protein options and uncheck any that you'd like to avoid: poultry, beef, pork, lamb, fish, or shellfish. Next, indicate whether you're getting meals for two or four people, and how many nights of dinners you'd like each week (2-4 for Vegetarian/Lean & Clean, 2-5 for Classic).
Slightly more expensive than some
The per meal price here is more expensive than some of its rivals, starting at $11.99 and going up to $16.99: the more servings you include in your box, the lower the cost.
Get meals and extras like soups or desserts
Once you've entered your payment information, you're all subscribed. After that, you'll select the meals you want in your first box. That process is a lot of fun, and you can preview it before you sign up by clicking on the Upcoming Menus tab. Gobble goes above and beyond selection-wise: not only are there choices for dinners, but you can opt for salads, sides, soups, desserts, and even breakfasts.
Customize your proteins on many recipes
Another big plus here is being able to customize some recipes, indicated by a little sunshine icon with a number in the middle telling you how many different options you can choose from. For example, the Lemon Pepper Shrimp & Cavatappi Pasta with Garlic Pesto could be changed to include sliced chicken breast or your choice of sustainably-raised ocean shrimp or sustainably-sourced wild jumbo shrimp.
Refrigerate, then prepare within a week
We were impressed that we could get our first Gobble delivery in less than a week; most other services have a start date that's at least seven days out, and more often ten. When your Gobble meal box arrives, you should treat it like any other groceries: refrigerate (or freeze if you prefer, in the case of pasta, soup, sauce, or proteins, for up to 2-3 months) and prepare within seven days. We found a few comments from Gobble clients who recommended eating them within three days for maximum freshness, and the company also suggests preparing recipes with seafood or fragile herbs first for the same reason.
Hearty praise from Gobble customers
At the time of this review, Gobble had a "B+" rating from the Better Business Bureau for having 13 complaints over the last three years. That's hardly cause for concern, in our opinion, especially since each one had an appropriate, apologetic response from Gobble reps. Beyond that, we found more than 1200 five-star reviews for Gobble from very satisfied subscribers. The meals are described as flavorful and not overly complicated (though many people remarked that they're definitely not "just 15 minutes" to prepare, as often advertised), portion sizes are generous, and the customer service team is friendly and responsive whenever the occasional issue arises. It's also a good sign when numerous customers say "we've tried all of the meal kit services and this one is the best" .
A meal kit provider you're likely to enjoy
We can't quite give Gobble our highest rating because it's a little more expensive than many meal delivery services and it's not available in all 48 continental United States yet. But, we can definitely recommend this company otherwise. Great customer service, delicious meals that are easily customized to your tastes, and an easy way to simplify your life: all reasons why Gobble should be on your list of meal delivery options to consider if you do live within their service area.
Fresh N' Lean believes that eating well should be easy. Their fresh, never frozen prepared meals are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients and free range, certified-humane animal proteins (unless you choose a vegan plan, of course). Your meals will all have a "best by" date and need to be refrigerated within 24 hours of arrival (for up to 10 days), or you can pop them in the freezer for up to six weeks.
More menu options than before
Fresh N' Lean has vastly expanded its menu choices since our last review. You can now choose from Protein +, Keto, Paleo, Standard Vegan, Whole30-Approved, Low-Carb Vegan, Mediterranean Diet, and Bulk. You can also choose to subscribe to a weekly meal plan or order a la carte, whichever you prefer. Just be aware that only the a la carte option lets you pick specific meals; otherwise, the meals are chosen for you according to the preferences you specify.
Set your preferences
When you choose a meal plan, you let the company know which meals you'd like (breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner), up to 3 ingredients you'd like to exclude, any allergies you have, then add any extra meals or snacks you'd like to include, and that's it. By the way, all of Fresh N' Lean's menus are gluten free, and all but Keto are dairy-free as well.
Preview each week's meals
It's so easy to see exactly what meals are on offer every week: just click on Menu and then select the one you're interested in (Paleo, Vegan, and so on). You'll see exactly what each meal contains, the nutrition facts and ingredients, plus the heating instructions.
Available to residents of all 50 states
When you work your way through the ordering process, you'll be given a guaranteed deliver-by date. In our case, it was on a Saturday and about eight days after placing our order. But, right below that, it said that we could call or email to ask about an earlier delivery date if needed. Another big perk here that we'd like to highlight is that Fresh N' Lean offers meal delivery in all 50 states. Most rival services only serve the continental US, and some don't even cover all 48 of those states.
To get $20 off your first order, watch for the pop-up. All you'll need to do is enter your email address. That discount isn't quite as generous as some of Fresh N' Lean's competitors, who often offer $100 or more off the first few deliveries, but any savings is still a welcome thing.
Terrific feedback from happy customers
Fresh N' Lean gets a lot of positive feedback from its clients. That's evidenced by the company's "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau and more than 2,000 five-star reviews we found in several other places. We were glad to see that the food is consistently good - and the customer service is too. Many meal delivery services fall down with respect to one or the other (quality or support), but Fresh N' Lean doesn't. Our biggest thumbs up is for all of the cases where customers have reported meals that were delivered late or spoiled for any other reason, and this company responded with a prompt "we're so sorry!" and an offer to refund or replace them. Plus, the company has "support gurus and dietitians" standing by seven days a week from 7a-7p PST via email and toll-free number, if you need help choosing a plan or have any other questions.
Moving up in the rankings
We're happy to give Fresh N' Lean a bump in our rating since our last review, because the company has done a phenomenal job of expanding their menu choices to accommodate the needs of more customers. We're pleased to see how much attention is given to customer satisfaction as well. The one downside is that you can't pick and choose meals when subscribed to a meal plan - and buying a la carte can be much more expensive. Other than that, however, this is a meal delivery service to put on your list of ones to explore.
Home Chef got its start in 2013 to bring people together for a home-cooked meal without the trip to the grocery store. This meal kit service delivers over 10 million meals each year.
Take the quiz to get a recommendation
Not sure how Home Chef might fit into your routines and preferences? Try taking the quiz on the main page. It'll ask you four questions, like "Do you enjoy cooking?" and "What's your go-to weeknight dinner?" Home Chef will tell you your kitchen style - ours was "Convenient Chef" - and make a suitable recommendation between their two meal plans: Home Chef and Fresh and Easy. Of course, you can just jump in and start creating your account, and you'll always be able to select any recipe from the menu.
Check out the menus and the grocery store extras
You can explore six weeks of Home Chef Menus right on the site without having to start the subscription process. Use the filters to show options that take less than 30 minutes to prepare or that are calorie- or carb-conscious. As you scroll through the menu, you'll notice at the bottom that Home Chef also has a supermarket-like feature where you can add a bagged salad, breakfast croissants, smoothies or even cold brew coffee to your order.
Expand your options with customizations
You'll also notice that most of the recipes on the menu have "Customize It" options. For example:
You get the idea. These customizations really expand your menu options with Home Chef. As you set up your meal delivery subscription, you'll also have the option to indicate any foods you'd like to avoid. Those include pork, beef, poultry, fish, shellfish, mushrooms, tree nuts, and peanuts.
2, 4, or 6 servings per recipe
We're also happy to see that Home Chef has a 6-person serving size option. Most meal delivery companies only let you choose between two or four people, making this a great choice for bigger families. You can also get anywhere from 2-6 recipes per week. It's pretty impressive that for a box with a total of 36 servings (six people, six recipes), the total cost was just under $360 plus $9.99 shipping.
Discounts for students and "heroes"
If you're a student or a "hero" (doctor, nurse, teacher, first responder, hospital employee), don't miss the links at the bottom of the site that correspond to you. You'll need to verify your identity with ID.me on the payment page of your Home Chef account, and then your discount will be displayed. At the time of this review, it was 50% off the first box (up to $60) and 10% off all future orders.
Abundant delivery times
In our area, the available delivery days were Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It was nice to see that we could get our first box in less than a week - for example, placing our first order on Saturday, we could get it delivered as early as the following Thursday. It also let us schedule our first shipment for more than a month out: that's a super option if you know you've got a busy time coming up and you want to take care of that week's meals in advance.
Flawless rating from the BBB
Home Chef is one of very few meal delivery companies that receives both an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. Although there were just under 70 complaints filed there in the last three years, that rating means that Home Chef is doing a good job in responding every time.
Customer experience can be inconsistent
Subscribers don't always agree with that assessment, however. Approved refunds are often still missing after two weeks, and some customers have repeated issues with the meals: incorrect ingredients, wrong instructions, and spoilage after just a few days instead of staying usable for at least five days as promised.
Still a good option for meal kits
We still give Home Chef a 3.5-star rating, because we appreciate the lower-than-average pricing and customization options on meals, plus we don't want to completely overlook the 2,000+ five-star reviews they've received over the years. We suggest keeping a close eye on your deliveries and being proactive with contacting customer service if there's an issue in order to make the most out of your Home Chef subscription.
HelloFresh may very well be the most popular meal kit worldwide, with a whopping 1 billion meals delivered last year alone. It started in Germany in 2011, expanded to a few other countries in 2012, and hit the US in 2013 - acquiring several other services along the way (like EveryPlate, Factor, and Green Chef, who you will also find in our reviews).
Provide your email and mobile number if you want a discount
As you shop on the HelloFresh site, you might get a "reveal your deal" offer. Ours gave us 16 free meals across 7 boxes and free shipping on our first delivery, but we had to enter not only our email address but our phone number. Not our favorite marketing strategy, but no one said we had to provide our actual email and number... The promo was automatically updated at the top of the site, and there was a helpful scroll bar that showed us exactly how much each of the seven boxes would cost.
Excellent variety in recipe choices
Before you get too far into the ordering process, you should take a look at the menus posted to the site. We really like that HelloFresh lets customers see not only the current week's options but also more than a month in advance: no nasty surprises here. The variety is awesome: more than 50 recipes to choose from, across six different menu categories. These categories include:
Each recipe shows upfront how long it will take to make (usually 10-40 minutes), if it's spicy, and if it's a "Hall of Fame" recipe that was so popular they've brought it back across several weeks of menus.
Some recipes are premium - with a surcharge per serving
When you get to the stage of selecting your actual meals, watch out for "Premium Picks" . These recipes come with a per-serving surcharge because they are "top of the line recipes with the highest quality ingredients" . Sometimes these may be labeled as Taste of Summer (or another seasonal tagline), Cookout Collection, or Date Night.
No filters for unwanted ingredients (like allergens)
Another factor to keep in mind is that it's up to you to avoid any allergens. HelloFresh doesn't let you indicate any ingredients to filter out of your selected meals (shellfish or peanuts), so you'll need to go through each recipe and make sure not to choose any that might be problematic.
Most meals are about $8/serving
As you configure your HelloFresh boxes, you can indicate which recipes you'd like to see first in your list, from those menu categories we mentioned - but you're never limited to just those options and will always see the full list of available meals for any given week. You'll also select how many meals you'd like each week (from 2-6) and whether you want meals for two or four people. It's not always clear how much you're paying per serving, especially when you've got a discount applied, but expect that most meals work out to around $8/person.
"A" from the BBB - but 850+ complaints
With HelloFresh being one of the original meal kit delivery services, you might be curious how they measure up reputation-wise. As far as the Better Business Bureau goes, this company gets an "A" rating. We thought that was surprising, given that there were 400+ complaints filed there in the last year and a total of nearly 900 over the most recent three-year period. All of those issues received a response, but there's no way to tell the specifics because it's always a canned "We have reached out directly to the customer" message on the BBB complaints.
Numerous five-star reviews, but declining in recent months?
On a more positive note, almost 25,000 customers give HelloFresh a perfect five-star score, and over 85% of subscribers would describe the service as "great" or even "excellent" . We noticed that the more recent reviews tended to be negative, though, leaving us wondering if there's been a decline in service lately - similar to the trend of the BBB complaints. People often said that the first box was fine, but later deliveries started to have missing ingredients, veggies frozen solid, no recipes included, and other issues that led to disappointment.
Not really keeping up with the competition
We've dropped HelloFresh's rating by a half-star since our last review. The fact of the matter is, the meal delivery marketplace is full of competition, and more recent subscriber feedback gives the impression that maybe this service isn't quite holding up to the pressure of its rivals. In fact, HelloFresh even has a sister service (that you'll find under EveryPlate in our review) with a better track record - and much lower prices. You may want to give a different meal kit a go before committing to HelloFresh.
Freshly wants to help you eat healthy without the hassle. All of their ready-to-heat options include minimally-processed ingredients, more nutrients (through "simple swaps and sneaky veggies" ), and less sugar than the average meal. Another big plus for some customers is Freshly's certification as a gluten-free safe service (but be aware, if you've used Freshly in the past, that they are no longer peanut-free).
Refrigerate or freeze
Freshly's meals are never frozen, so you'll need to put them right into the refrigerator when you receive them. They'll keep for 3-5 days, and you're encouraged to eat certain items first (like seafood): those will be marked with a badge on the package. You can also put your meals in the freezer for longer storage; microwave it directly from the freezer and add a few minutes to the cooking time on the instructions.
Very flexible delivery options
To get started with Freshly's meal deliveries, you'll be asked to choose a delivery day after you enter your email address and zip code. In our area, the available delivery dates were Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and we could get our first package just five days after placing our order. The latest date you can schedule your initial shipment is just under three weeks, if you're trying to plan ahead (or avoid a time you won't be home).
Get 4-12 meals every week
Freshly meals are ordered by quantity: in other words, you'll choose from 4-12 meals per week, with a starting price of $8.99 each. That's good news for one-person households who don't want to be locked into the two-serving minimums often found with competitor delivery companies. While you'll have to order at least four meals every time, you'll save money the more you buy. For example, going from four to six meals saved us $10.80 (which is almost like a buy-five-get-one-free promo), seven meals equaled a $12.60 savings, and going all the way up to 12 netted a discount of $33.60. We're not thrilled that Freshly caps the order at 12 meals - after all, what if you've got a family of four and you'd like to stock the fridge with a week of easy dinners for everyone? - but it is what it is.
Helpful filters to sort through 45 meal choices
As you set up your choices, use the Sort & Filters options to focus the matching results as needed. You can opt for carb conscious, plant-based, and/or dairy-free diets; categories like FreshlyFit (lower calorie) and Signature Collection; or even sort by the macro that's most important to you (like protein, carbs, or sodium). There were about 45 meal options at the time of this review, with some slight shifts as we scrolled from one delivery week to another. Many of the meals were the same from week to week, so if you find something you love, chances are good you can get it again (instead of some meal delivery services that rotate all recipes every week).
It wasn't a pleasant discovery to see that Freshly has gone down to an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, for failing to respond to the most recent 11 complaints filed there. And we're not talking about a week delay - but months going by with no answer.
Very mixed feedback
Then again, complaints registered in other places received a response 100% of the time. We're really not sure what to make of that. Plus, we found more than 10,000 five-star reviews for Freshly from users around the world. We're not sure if the meal quality and delivery reliability is overly dependent on your location - do subscribers in the UK have a better or worse experience than the ones in the USA or Norway, for example? - but it was reassuring to see that, beyond the BBB troubles, there are still enough people getting Freshly meals and liking them to keep this company from falling to the bottom of the pile.
Might be worth it for some customers
For some people, Freshly would make a lot of sense - particularly those who want to simplify their lives with ready-to-heat meals they can have on hand anytime. We're still a little on the fence with the way the company responds to customers (or doesn't), especially since this used to be our first-place choice among meal delivery services, but if Freshly's approach interests you, it's not a huge risk to give it a try.
Magic Kitchen is a meal delivery option focused on seniors and people with special dietary needs. You can buy complete meals or go a la carte for both mains and sides - or mix and match as you like. All meals are delivered frozen and can easily be reheated, typically in the microwave or oven, but you'll spot a few items that need to be reheated on the stove.
Special dietary needs welcome here
What are some of the special diets that Magic Kitchen happily accommodates? Click on Dietary Interest to get the full list, which includes diabetic-friendly, dialysis-friendly, all of the "lows" (low fat, low sodium, low carb), gluten free, dairy free, and more.
How about a trial pack?
There are lots of ways to set up your Magic Kitchen meal deliveries. Many people opt for the 15-Meal Trial Packs: there are four different sets that you can try for $120 each (with free shipping), two that are for a general diet, and one each for renal and dialysis diets. A typical meal might be Beef Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Carrots, or a Cheese Omelet with Peppers & Onions, Diced Red Potatoes, and Diced Pears. You can see every meal included in the pack, but there's no option to swap out choices when you do a trial set.
Order on demand or save with a Flex Subscription
If you decide you love Magic Kitchen's meals, you can continue to place one-off orders, no problem. But if you want to save some money, look at the details of their Flex Subscription. The higher your total and the longer the commitment, the more you save: for example, if your order is $200/month and you schedule deliveries for three months, you'll get free delivery and a 4% discount, while spending $400+ per month and subscribing for 9 months gets you 12% off (and free shipping too).
Extra ways to get discounts
But wait, there are even more ways to save. During our last visit to the Magic Kitchen site, there was a pop-up discount offer of 20% off. We were grateful that it was automatically applied to our cart: no email address (and annoying marketing subscription) required. You can also join the free Magic Moola loyalty program and earn points with every purchase, on your birthday and anniversary, and so on. The longer you're a Magic Kitchen customer, the more points you'll earn - and it only takes 2300 points to get a $50 gift certificate.
Wonderful reputation for quality and service
Magic Kitchen is a trustworthy company. They're "A+" rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau, with zero complaints filed there over the last three years. Better still, over 2300 customers have given this meal delivery service a perfect five-star rating, saying it's a fantastic option for people who have special dietary needs. Clients praise the customer service team for prompt responses (and refunds when appropriate) if there's anything that doesn't live up to expectations. One review even mentioned that they gave a 15-dinner trial pack to someone as a sympathy gift and that the recipient said it was the most considerate, helpful thing that anyone could have done.
Meals are good but not exceptional
But, there's nothing really to write home about with Magic Kitchen's meals in terms of taste and flavor. And honestly, would you really expect that from a meal delivery company that is committed to helping people with special diets and seniors, who often can't have the full panorama of ingredients that make meals unforgettable?
Highly recommended for a very particular customer base
This is a company we feel good about recommending - to anyone who isn't looking for new-and-fun recipes to make at home or exotic meals to experiment with. Magic Kitchen has a limited niche that they serve very well, and while we can't rank it up with our favorite meal delivery services (because its narrow focus makes it less appropriate for the general public), this is a wonderful option if you're trying to provide nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals for an older person or someone on a restricted diet.
Marley Spoon brings seasonal ingredients and six-step recipes designed by Martha Stewart right to your doorstep. Every week, you can choose from over 45 recipes in categories like Health & Diet, Vegetarian & Vegan, Meat & Fish, Under 30 Minutes, and Family-Friendly, and you can skip weeks any time you wish.
Start by setting your servings and number of weekly meals
To start a subscription, click on the green "Choose a meal kit" button. You'll be asked to choose either two or four people (servings), the number of meals you'd like to have delivered each week (2-6), and there's even a box to check if you want all of your selections to be vegetarian. Your per-portion cost will range from $8.69 (for six meals serving four people, or 24 portions in all) to $12.49 (two meals serving two people). No matter which plan you choose, delivery is just $9.99 per shipment.
Pick a delivery day and a first shipment date
On the next page, you'll enter your zip code - to make sure Marley Spoon deliveries are available in your area - and your email address. Then you'll be asked to specify a delivery day; in our area, we could choose Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday (which was a new addition since our last review), but we didn't have any option for the delivery time slot other than the generic 8a-9p for weekdays and 10a-8p on Saturday. Finally, you'll choose when you want your first delivery - usually no sooner than a week in the future, but up to 3+ weeks out.
Preview the menus before setting up your account
You'll have to pay for your meals before you get to choose the specifics, so we encourage you to spend some time browsing the Marley Spoon site before placing your order. Fortunately, you can see four weeks' menus right on the site, so there's no mystery as to what you might be able to choose after you pay. Some of the options we spotted include:
There were also some fun breakfast and dessert choices like Chocolate-Chip Coffee Cake with Cinnamon-Oat Streusel, Japanese Lemon Souffle Pancakes with Peaches and Whipped Mascarpone, and a Fruity Probiotic Smoothie Bowl with Apples and Honey-Glazed Walnuts.
Big savings might be available
Be on the lookout for special offers. At the time of our evaluation, we were able to take advantage of a promotion that included a 60% discount on our first order and 20% off the next three. That was a savings of $125.14.
Everything but the basic pantry staples
When your box comes, you'll want to get refrigerated items put away quickly. Marley Spoon guarantees that your ingredients will be fresh for at least four days after delivery - though any recipes with fish should be prepared within 48 hours. The box will have everything you need for each meal, with the exception of some pantry staples like sugar, oil, salt and pepper, and sometimes eggs.
Still some issues with customer satisfaction
Marley Spoon still comes up a little lacking in the reputation department. The company has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau because of nearly 100 complaints filed there, three of which were unresolved and one that had received no response at the time of this review. Customers said they were frustrated with Marley Spoon's support for only offering partial refunds when shipments arrived with spoiled ingredients - one person was told they should have "just washed off the sauce" from a packet that exploded all over the produce in the kit. And, in fact, product packaging woes seem to be the foundation of most negative feedback for this company; at the time of this review, Marley Spoon had stopped grouping the ingredients by recipe, and many customers said that it was resulting in damaged produce. Marley Spoon still doesn't have a clear-cut refund policy or satisfaction guarantee.
Some people love these meal kits
On a positive note, we found nearly 2,000 five-star reviews for this meal delivery service. It was rare to find anyone that complained about the recipes, the time it took to prepare them, or the finished product. It was encouraging to see comments from some subscribers who had tried most of the other services on the market (most of the ones in our review, even) and felt that Marley Spoon offered the best overall value.
Still some room to grow
We've given Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon's meal delivery service a half-star bump in our rating since the last time. Their overall customer feedback, despite the "F" from the BBB, has improved, their meals are affordable and flavorful, and many subscribers will appreciate being able to choose specific meals their family will like instead of getting a random assortment that matches a profile. The packaging is still a work in progress, though, so we encourage you to check out the higher-ranked meal delivery providers before you commit to Marley Spoon.
Factor is a meal delivery service for anyone pursuing a healthy lifestyle, especially on a keto, carb-conscious, or vegetarian/vegan diet. All of Factor's meals are delivered fresh and should last in your refrigerator for at least seven days (until your next box). Most meals require just a couple minutes in the microwave (or a little longer in the oven, if you prefer) and they're ready to enjoy.
Preview two weeks of menus
Go to the Current Menu tab for a sneak peek of the kinds of meals you can get through Factor. There are at least 29 "healthy, restaurant-quality" options every week, and you can see what's being shipped for the upcoming two-week period. Some of their top-rated choices include:
All recipes can be prescreened beforehand for allergens or other ingredients you'd rather not have, and full nutrition info per serving is always available too.
Look for discounts to bring down the per-serving price
Watch for discount options as you browse the Factor site. We got an offer of $120 off if we provided our email address as a first-time subscriber. It was only when we started the subscription process that we got the clarification that it was a discount spread out over the first five deliveries (which wasn't nearly as impressive). Later, our offer was updated to $241 off the first five boxes, but we had to complete our order within 30 minutes. You'll want whatever discounts you can snag because Factor's regular price ranges from $11 to $15 per serving.
Use preferences to prioritize the meals you really want
If you decide you're ready to sign up, you'll first be asked to choose your menu preferences: Chef's Choice, Keto, Calorie Smart, Vegan & Veggie, and Protein Plus. You'll always be able to choose from every available Factor recipe, but your preferences will determine which ones show up first in your list. Next you'll indicate how many meals per week you'd like delivered: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, or 18. You'll select your specific meals after you enter your payment information.
Subscriptions renew automatically
Be sure to read the fine print, because when you click on "place order and select meals" , you're committing to a weekly auto-renewal price at the regular price (or the discounted one you got earlier). Cancellations can be done anytime, but you have to do it at least five days prior to your next delivery.
Add-ons are available
They don't promote it very heavily, but Factor also has add-ons you might like to give some variety to your day-to-day. You'll find that link at the bottom of the page. At the time of this evaluation, there was a summertime bundle for four that included a main, side, and dessert (but the availability dates were several weeks in the past), snacks like keto shakes and smoothies, plus savory and sweet options for sides and treats.
Complimentary dietitian consultation
One unique feature available with Factor is nutrition coaching. You can book a free 20-minute online consultation with a dietitian and/or sign up for a 1- or 3- month program of nutrition coaching that includes several consultations, unlimited support via messaging, food and lifestyle journals, and complimentary nutrition courses.
Decent listing with the BBB
How does Factor's reputation measure up? The company has an "A-" rating from the Better Business Bureau, with 36 complaints filed over the last three years. That's not a ton, but we were a little concerned that almost all of them were filed more recently (in the last 12 months).
Poor feedback in recent reviews
We had a similar reaction to customer feedback we found elsewhere: almost 15,000 five-star reviews (amazing) but almost no ratings other than "poor" or "bad" in the most recent comments. Subscribers often say that the food itself is decent, but the shipping leaves much to be desired: the gel packs leak and are hard to recycle or dispose of, and meals are often delivered so far off schedule that people are left running to the store last-minute because their order didn't come when expected. Those shipping delays may be outside of Factor's control, but a $5 credit on a late-and-now-spoiled $15 meal isn't buying them any goodwill with their clients.
Shouldn't be your go-to meal delivery service
Despite having so many five-star reviews, Factor fails to earn one of our highest ratings. Too many of those glowing comments were from months (if not years) ago, and the recent trend seems to be strictly negative. And, with the most common customer service response being "here's a $5 credit" , these relatively-expensive meals that often arrive late (or spoiled) just aren't our favorite. Keep Factor in reserve as a backup choice if you don't find what you need with a more reliable meal delivery service.
If you like the idea of getting your meal delivery service from a small business instead of a big company, Personal Chef To Go might appeal to you. Chef Gene and Chef Blair have been the driving force behind this provider for almost 20 years, and both of them have experience ranging from The Mirage in Las Vegas to the Virginia State Championship BBQ competition.
No subscription required
We appreciate that Personal Chef To Go lets customers choose between a subscription plan or a one-time order. We encourage you to try the service as a one-off purchase first: you can select 5, 10, 15 or 20 meals and see what you think. This is the most expensive option per serving at $13.50, but it lets you see if you like these reheat-and-eat meals well enough to make a longer commitment. We found it a little amusing that Personal Chef To Go proudly says that they offer free shipping, but in the same sentence they let you know that you'll pay a "small fee of $6.95" per order to help cover the costs of eco-friendly packaging. Okay then.
Limited weekly menu choices
Also, the more meals you select, the fewer options you have. That's because the menu typically only has about 24 choices - so if you only want a 10-meal subscription, there are still plenty you don't have to include, but if you're going for the 20-serving package, you'll need to double up on some menu items or just take most of what's offered. We also noticed that there aren't really any breakfast items on the menu, so if you're choosing the 20-meal plan so that all but one weekly meal is accounted for, you'd probably better be okay with having savory foods first thing in the morning.
Not enough information on each meal
What kinds of meals can you expect with Personal Chef To Go? They really don't give you a lot to go on when you click the menu options dropdown, other than a thumbnail image and the recipe title. For example, the Omega-Rich Pecan Salmon photo shows brussels sprouts and edamame (we think) and a lemon slice, and the Saute Chinese Beef shows what looks like rice in the background but no vegetables.
Few options for vegetarians
While the packages themselves come with the corresponding nutrition facts and ingredients label, this meal delivery service doesn't disclose that information anywhere we could find. That's a problem if you've got allergies or ingredients you just don't like and want to avoid. However, when you go through the sign-up process, you can indicate a few items that should be excluded: pork, shellfish, fin fish, gluten, dairy, soy, beef, or tree nuts. We're not entirely sure what would happen if you clicked on all of the options needed for a strictly vegetarian profile, because the Veggie Pasta Bake is the only menu item we saw that didn't have some kind of fish or meat.
Good reputation, though reviews are limited
How about reputation? Personal Chef To Go has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, with no complaints filed there. That's fantastic. We also found about 100 customer reviews, including those posted on the main page of the PCTG site, and the vast majority give the company a rating of four or five stars. Clients say that the food is healthy and fresh, the meals taste great, and they like that the menu changes over time.
Not a bad choice, but meal info needs to be more upfront
We're all about supporting small businesses, and we're glad to see that Personal Chef To Go has a long history and a satisfied clientele. However, compared with other meal delivery services, this one is much more limited: no breakfasts, no ingredients or nutritional info in advance, and no easy way that we could see to get vegetarian-only meal selections. There's nothing about this service to avoid, necessarily, but there are other options out there that offer a wider range of meals - and more details in advance.
Blue Apron puts a lot of thought into the sourcing of the ingredients in their meal kits and prepared meals. All seafood is sustainable and recommended by Seafood Watch, ingredients are non-GMO, and animal proteins come from livestock that hasn't been fed antibiotics or hormones. They invite you to become a part of building "a food system that's better for everyone" . Also, this is one of the only meal delivery services we found that offers something of a hybrid between recipes you prepare and meals you can just heat and eat. Maybe one day you feel like cooking and the next you only have time to throw something in the microwave. No problem here.
Discounts available - but may be challenging to get
At the time of this evaluation, there was a promotion at the top of the Blue Apron site offering $20 off each of our first four boxes. When we clicked to redeem, we got the predictable "sign up for our emails" requirement. Oddly enough, no matter which email address we tried (from our own to several made-up ones), we were told that it was already taken. Looks like Blue Apron isn't really about that discount after all. But, if you're a teacher, student, military/veteran, medical staff, senior, or first responder, you may have better luck with the discount links at the bottom of the page.
See a full month of menu options
You can preview a whole month's worth of Blue Apron's menus before you even place an order. It's easy to see at a glance which ones are designated as family-friendly or a chef favorite, how long they take to prepare, and even which ones are compatible with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) plans. Some of the choices that caught our attention were the Spicy Zucchini Quesadillas, Yuzu-Orange Glazed Salmon, and Calabrian Chile-Glazed Pork Meatloaf with Lemon-Caper Roasted Vegetables.
Meal prices are usually around $7.99/serving
It can be tricky to determine what you'll pay, though. Across the site, it says that Blue Apron meals start at $7.99 per serving, but when we went to order our first box it showed a $6.99 promotional price, discounted from a regular price of $11.99. Then, as we played around with the settings (choosing between two or four servings and then 2-4 meals each week), we saw an even lower price of $6.74. Let's just say that your price may vary, and you'll always pay $9.99 for shipping.
Wide range of delivery days, guaranteed delivery by 8PM
Although we had some issues getting Blue Apron to finally accept our email address, we were excited to see that our account had gone through - and that we could literally choose any day of the week as our regular delivery option in our area. The first available delivery date was just a week away. This is also the only service we've seen that guarantees your box will arrive by 8PM on the given delivery date.
Mediocre listing with the BBB
Blue Apron had earned a "B-" from the Better Business Bureau at the time of this review, with 26 complaints over the last year and just under 90 over three years. That's not a ton, but five of them got no response at all from Blue Apron, which is surprising for a bigger meal delivery service like this one - and they were all in the six months prior to this evaluation.
Recent customer comments are disappointing
That's in line with customer comments we found in other places that said this service has become a hassle. It was particularly frustrating to see so many regular customers describing a decline in service, with problems almost on a weekly basis that get no help from Blue Apron support representatives - or who only offer a credit instead of a refund. One person said that their boxes arrived and all of the ingredients were at room temperature or higher - for five weeks in a row - and instead of offering a solution, Blue Apron canceled the account with no credit or refund in sight. That's just not acceptable, and it's a big reason why this meal delivery company isn't even in the top half of our rankings anymore.
The original - but not the best
Blue Apron starts out strong in theory but falls down quickly in practice. It's remarkable that they've shipped over 465 million meals, but this "original American meal kit" has a lot of competition now - and it looks like many of their customers are turning to more reliable meal delivery options.
It won't surprise you that Diet To Go is a prepared meal option focused on weight loss. The company has been around for more than three decades, on a mission to make healthy eating easy to do. All of their meals are nutritionally balanced and delivered frozen, so you can eat them at your convenience.
Pricing isn't provided upfront
As we shopped around on the Diet To Go site, we got an offer of 50% off our first order if we provided our email address. They upped the ante to 55% off if we also allowed them to send us marketing texts (and hey, no one said we had to give them the correct phone number, right?). Unfortunately, this offer didn't come with any discounts on shipping, which is $19.98 per order. Also, we don't like that Diet To Go makes you go through so much of the sign-up process to see what you'll pay for your meals; expect at least $200/week or more, based on what we saw.
Glitches on the website
When you're ready to get started, you'll enter your height and weight, gender, age, and activity level. It started to take us to a screen that showed our BMI (which looked inaccurate for the short time it showed up), but that disappeared before we could read all of the information.
Several options for menu preferences
Next, you'll enter your zip code so that Diet To Go can verify that you're within their delivery area. Choosing your meal plan is next - and you have 4 plans to choose from:
If you select the Balance or Keto options, you'll also be asked if you'd prefer the original meals or the "no seafood" set. Then, you can choose between the men's and women's plan, but the only real difference is the calorie amount: 1200 for women and up to 1600 for men. Finally, you'll indicate if you want enough meals for five days a week or seven, and if that should just be lunch and dinner or if you'd like breakfast too.
Swap meals if needed
After you've entered your payment information and finalized your order, you can start customizing your Diet To Go meal plan. Each menu option goes through a five-week rotation, and you can see those meals on the site even before you sign up. You can swap any meals you'd rather not have with others that are currently being offered through Diet To Go's menu management feature, online or on the app.
Not much positive, recent commentary from clients
We're pleased to report that Diet To Go still has an excellent reputation with the Better Business Bureau: an "A+" rating and only one complaint over the last three years. You'll find the listing under the name of the parent company, New Century Food Corp. However, that doesn't really explain why we found so many negative reviews in other places. Complaints mention poor packaging (and environmentally-unfriendly styrofoam too), poor food quality, and having difficulties reaching anyone in Diet To Go's customer service department to get help with problems. To top that off, many of the reviews we found were several years old, with very few from more recent months. No wonder the BBB doesn't have much to say.
Not our first choice for weight loss meals
There are lots of ways to lose weight, and you could use Diet To Go if you really need to make your meals as much of a no-brainer as possible. But will you enjoy the process as you rely on these frozen, prepared meals? Maybe not. We recommend that you spend some time looking at other options instead of choosing Diet To Go as your first pick.
bistroMD offers meal delivery that is focused on helping you lose weight. Whether you choose a 20-meal program (with one dinner each week for you to eat as you prefer), 5-day program (with weekends on your own), or a fully-customizable plan, it's up to you.
Choose a menu and total meals per week
You'll begin by choosing the plan you'd like to follow, which could include a heart-healthy menu, keto-focused meals, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, or menopause support. Next, specify if you want meals for five or seven days each week (weekdays or every day), and then if you want just lunches and dinners or breakfasts too. Meals at bistroMD start at $8.24/serving, but that price will vary based on the program you select and how many meals you're having delivered.
Male or female?
Be aware that you'll be asked to specify your gender while creating your account, and the only options are "male" or "female" . Presumably this is to determine the total calories in each meal, so choose accordingly regardless of your gender (and our apologies to any nonbinary or gender non-conforming customers).
Do you want snacks?
During signup, you'll be asked if you want to include bistroMD's snack program of two-a-day selections. These are typically processed, packaged items like chips and crisps; maybe it would be better to have some fresh veggies or fruits instead? Finally, once you've entered your payment information, you can see which meals have been selected for you - and swap out any that aren't to your liking. You'll have to contact customer service directly if you're a vegetarian, so that they can remove chicken, pork, and beef meals from your lineup before any meals are shipped; there are only a few strictly vegan meals offered here.
Expensive shipping, and you don't select the delivery date
If you sign up for bistroMD's email list, you can get a discount of 25% on your first order, along with free shipping. Just watch for the pop-up offer as you browse the site. You'll want something like that, because shipping is regularly $19.95: a lot more expensive than many of the meal delivery companies we've evaluated. And, for what it's worth, you can't specify a delivery date here either: your meals will come when they come, and that's it.
Reputation has gone way down
We weren't thrilled to see that bistroMD's rating with the Better Business Bureau had dropped from a praiseworthy "A" to a rock-bottom "F" since our last evaluation. The BBB cited 13 complaints filed, three of which hadn't received a response, over the last three years. Ordinarily that wouldn't be an issue, but we read equally disappointing customer reviews in other places. Almost 30% of bistroMD's clients rated the service as "average" , "poor" , or "bad" , describing the meals as being similar to "cheap hospital food" , "bland, watery and slimy" , and so on.
The customer is not always right here
Beyond that, many people have had problems with this company's customer service team. Their response to problems is frequently unsatisfactory, to the point of being rude, even when the issue is on the company's side (like shipping the wrong items).
Disappointing meal delivery company
It's hard to find a compelling reason to choose bistroMD, unless you're only concerned about losing weight and don't care about actually enjoying your meals along the way. There are other meal delivery services that offer better food that can still help you slim down - and that will provide friendly, appropriate responses if problems arise. We suggest you look at bistroMD's rivals instead.
Home Bistro offers restaurant-quality meals, many of which come from recipes created from today's most popular chefs - Ayesha Curry, Richard Blais, Cat Cora, and more. All of the meals offered by Home Bistro are ready-made. All you have to do is reheat (up to two minutes in the microwave or 12-14 minutes in the oven, typically).
You could get a discount - or not
As you browse the Home Bistro site, watch for pop-ups. At the time of this review, we got an offer of 10% off our first order if we joined their email list. There was also a promo at the top of the site featuring a storewide sale of $15 on all meals and a $20 flat shipping rate. Unfortunately, the promo had expired three days earlier and hadn't been updated or removed yet. Then, as we continued browsing the site, that promo changed to say that all Home Bistro meals are now $19 and under. Confusing, to say the least.
Not the easiest website to use
It's not the most intuitive experience, finding meals on the Home Bistro site. You can shop by chef if there's one you know you like or you want to try. Or, you can shop by meals: Best Sellers, Meal Combos, Individual Meals, SUPERBowls, or Chef's Choice. But, for the first-time customer, there's not a lot of guidance. And, even when you select one of those categories, there's no way to filter by ingredients (if you have allergies), vegetarian vs. meat, and so forth.
Consider starting with the Best Sellers package
Let's say you take the easy route and choose the 10 Meals - Best Sellers package for $166. What will you get? This package includes one serving each of the following:
You can click on each meal to see the nutrition facts, ingredients list, and instructions for heating. This is also where you can read customer feedback on each recipe.
Buy a la carte if you prefer
Meals can also be purchased a la carte and not as part of a package. They'll cost a little more, but nothing will be more than $19. Also, during checkout, we got an offer of desserts we could add to our cart at a 10% discount.
Shipping costs are expensive and may vary by order
Speaking of checkout, that's where you'll find out how much your shipping costs will be. On that 10-meal package, we were charged $24.89 for FedEx Priority Overnight (two business days). Your costs may vary based on your order and your delivery area.
Not sure what customers really think now
What do customers say about their Home Bistro meals? That depends on where you look. There are lots of "verified buyer" reviews on the HB site itself - but are you surprised that they're all 4- and 5-star ratings? Maybe the food quality has really improved here over the years, and that's why they're so positive. Beyond the Home Bistro site, though, sentiment is more tepid. There's not a ton of recent feedback, so most of the complaints are from the time prior to the big menu changes. Looking at the BBB listings for Home Bistro and parent company DineWise isn't helpful either: it shows the URL for Home Bistro as linked to an out-of-business company, and DineWise is simply "Not Rated" .
"All sales final" is the wrong approach
We might have been more willing to give this meal delivery service a try, but Home Bistro hasn't made any improvements to their refund policy since our last evaluation. They still have a "strict no refund policy" , though you can contact them within 24 hours of your delivery if you notice a problem right away (like leaking bags or clearly spoiled food). That doesn't do you much good if you, like most people, aren't eating all of your meals within that 24-hour period. And even then, we're not sure Home Bistro will offer you any kind of solution if you don't add on the "Route package protection" option during checkout (to cover "lost, damaged, or stolen items" ). In an industry where most rivals bend over backwards to make sure customers are happy with their meal deliveries, Home Bistro's "all sales final" approach is really disappointing.
Company is hard to reach
Plus, the only way to contact Home Bistro is through an online form, Facebook or Instagram: there's no toll-free number or direct contact email provided (though we did find a contact email in the FAQ, if you need it).
Not close to competing with rival services
For all of these reasons, Home Bistro still winds up towards the bottom of our rankings. Even with the upgraded top-chef menu items and the $19-or-less pricing, it's still a lot to pay for a meal that's not guaranteed to arrive in good condition. This meal delivery service needs to work on being more customer-centric if it wants to compete with its more affordable, approachable rivals.
Green Chef is a USDA-certified organic company that works with farmers to provide meal kits with delicious-and-sustainable ingredients in eco-friendly packaging. Each week offers two dozen new recipes to choose from, so that you can make healthy meals without a trip to the store.
Lots of ways you could get a discount
You might spot an offer popping up when you first visit the Green Chef site. Ours invited us to pick a bowl to reveal a discount; we got $100 off across four boxes if we provided our email address. We also saw that shipping was usually $9.99, but our meal selection page said we'd gotten it free. We're not sure if that would continue to apply for future orders. Also, when we went to browse away from the site without completing our offer, we got an upgraded offer of $140 off five boxes- might be worth a try for you too. Plus, if you're a teacher, first responder, medical provider or member of the military, be sure to click that link at the bottom of the Green Chef site for your always-available discount.
Plenty of menu options
From there, you'll be invited to choose your meal type. You have 6 types to choose from:
You'll always have access to Green Chef's full menu, but the meal type(s) you select will be shown first in your available recipes. Note - you can choose more than one. Next, you'll indicate how many people you'd like each meal to serve (2, 4, or 6) and how many meals you'd like each week (3 or 4). You'll pay the same price no matter which meals you select (usually from $6.49 to $13.49/serving, depending on your promo discount), but be aware that some recipes are indicated as "Chef Select" (premium) and will come with an upcharge. For example, the weekly menu at the time of this review had options like Chicken with Cilantro Mojo Sauce and Kale & Bean Stuffed Peppers, and the Pecan-Crusted Sockeye Salmon was the only Chef Select choice.
Go to Weekly Meals to preview menu
Next, enter your email address, delivery info, and choose your preferred delivery day of the week (no weekends). We were less than thrilled that we had to submit our payment information before selecting the meals we wanted for our first delivery; we suggest you click the Weekly Meals button at the top of the site and preview the meals for the week you're starting your service before you get to this stage of the order process. (For what it's worth, we really like that you can see exactly what will be sent for each recipe and the nutrition facts, well in advance.)
"A-" from the BBB... for now?
Green Chef had an "A-" rating from the Better Business Bureau at the time of this review, for having 45 closed complaints in the most recent three-year period, 18 of which were from the last 12 months. We're wondering if that rating will change in the near future, however: when we tried to click on individual reviews and complaints on the BBB site, they were unavailable - and that usually means a re-evaluation is on the horizon.
Pattern of poor customer service
That doesn't surprise us, given the quantity of recent negative reviews we found elsewhere. Time after time, customers say that Green Chef is a disappointment, especially when trying to get help from the company's support reps. Moldy food? No refund. Meal that the customer indicated should be skipped but Green Chef delivered anyway? No refund. Missing ingredients, AWOL deliveries, and unfriendly customer service reps are the issues we discovered, with very few compliments in between.
Don't provide your payment info
We also want to warn you away from providing any of your payment information to Green Chef, even for a half-price new customer trial. Too many consumers report doing that - maybe even deciding halfway through the sign-up process that they're not interested after all - and winding up with multiple, costly deliveries they didn't want. And, skipping shipments or canceling altogether can be a nightmare, according to some Green Chef subscribers.
Worst meal delivery service in our rankings
Meal delivery services are plentiful, and it's easy to get a company that's truly committed to helping you eat the way you want to. Green Chef is not one of them. The meals themselves are nothing to get excited about, and the customer service (or lack thereof) is disappointing at best. It doesn't take long to see why this is the lowest-ranked meal delivery company in our review.
Many of these services are subscription-based: you choose the types of meals you prefer (or pick specific entrees), how many servings in each one, and how many meals you'd like in a week, and your deliveries will come like clockwork unless you pause your membership, skip a shipment, or cancel altogether. If that's not your preference, there are some meal delivery companies that let you place your orders whenever you like, with no ongoing commitment.
With almost every meal delivery service, you'll get big discounts on your first order (and sometimes several ones thereafter) - you could pay less than $2 per meal at the start. Just be aware that the regular pricing is higher, typically ranging from $6 to $20 per serving; you'll pay more for premium options with higher-quality proteins and ingredients (maybe for a special occasion?).
It's easy to get overwhelmed as you try to figure out which service to pick. Want some help? Here are a few factors to guide your decision:
To help you simplify your life with regular meal deliveries, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the most popular services available today. We're confident that this will make it a breeze to choose the one that's right for you. Bon appetit!
Select any 2 Meal Delivery Companies to compare them head to head
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