Best Meal Delivery
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Blue Apron vs Magic Kitchen
Who is the best Meal Delivery company? Are you looking for a way to simplify dinner after a long day at work? Using a meal delivery service has become an easy way of getting nourishing, flavorful food on the table without the hassle of grocery shopping.
Of course, the most popular reason for using a meal delivery company is the convenience. Customers love being able to order their favorite entrees, side dishes, or even appetizers and desserts, and to choose how much cooking they'd like to do. Some meal delivery services are reheat-and-eat, while others provide you with all of the ingredients you need to create a restaurant-quality meal in your own kitchen.
With headquarters in New York City, Blue Apron aims "to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone." Their approach to meal delivery is quite different from the reheat-at-home, precooked foods you might see with competitor services. Instead, Blue Apron ships refrigerated boxes of fresh-from-the-farm ingredients so that aspiring home cooks can not only bring healthier, more flavorful food to the table, but also add more recipes and skills to their own repertoires. Given that Blue Apron sends out more than 8 million meals per month, across the nation, they're definitely doing something right.
Right from the start, you'll be able to indicate your dietary preference. Omnivore? Pescatarian? Vegetarian? No problem. All of the meals in your delivery will fit those criteria. You also have the ability to specify if there's a particular meat - lamb, pork, poultry, beef, shellfish, or fish - that you don't want included in your recipes. You'll never get the same recipe twice in a calendar year, and all of Blue Apron's ingredients come to you pre-measured, from the spices to the shallots. This service does focus on lunch- or dinner-type entrees, so you won't find breakfasts, desserts, or sides.
You can go to the Upcoiming Page in order to view the recipes that you're scheduled to receive. If you don't want to receive a certain meal that they've preselected for you, no problem! You can replace that recipe by selecting a different meal preference and choosing a different recipie. Just make sure that you make all meal plan changes before the "Changeable Before" date.
One thing to note, all of Blue Apron's plans consist of either 2- or 4-serving configurations. You could wind up with a lot of leftovers if your family is small - or not enough to go around if yours is large.
One of the most common complaints about Blue Apron used to be their prices - so we were happy to see that, over the past year, they've worked hard to make their meals more affordable:
You may also find savings offered via pop-ups; when we visited the Blue Apron site and browsed for a while, we eventually got a discount offer of "$50 off, spread over [our] next two orders, if we ordered within the next 30 minutes.
All of Blue Apron's meal delivery plans are commitment-free: skip any weeks you choose (like when you go on vacation) and cancel your plan at any time. You can also choose the delivery date that works best for you; with all shipping boxes coming with cold packs, you don't even need to be home when your delivery comes.
Blue Apron has some definite positives. When we received our meal delivery, we were impressed with the quality of the ingredients - absolutely nothing generic or cut-rate, from the fresh vegetables to the canned beans. This company emphasizes recipes that use in-season ingredients, making for a fresher, healthier eating experience. Every recipe we received was simple to prepare, with clearly-labeled ingredients and well-written instructions. And, the final products were all winners; we wanted to keep every recipe for future use.
For customers who are looking for premade convenience or who don't have access to a traditional kitchen, Blue Apron isn't the right fit. It's definitely a service for people who want to cook, but need some help in the inspiration department without the hassle of shopping for the ingredients. For those customers, Blue Apron is a strong contender worthy of consideration.
Created in 2005 with a focus on providing restaurant-quality, healthy meals for seniors and others, Magic Kitchen strives to cover a wide variety of dietary needs. All meals are prepared, flash-frozen, and ready to be reheated. You won't need any extra dishes, pots and pans, or kitchen tools - making this a convenient option for people who don't like to cook or who don't have access to a full kitchen.
Each meal usually has an entree with two sides. Some of their more popular selections include Basil Chicken with Rice & Zucchini Saute, Eggplant Parmigiana with Polenta & Spinach, and Salmon Caponata with Orzo & Spinach.
We were impressed with the wide range of dietary needs that Magic Kitchen addresses. You can find them listed under the "Dietary Interest" section:
Depending on your needs, you can choose to order a la carte or through a meal program. A la carte options are broken down by Mains, Soups, Sides, Desserts and Snacks. While most of these choices come in either complete meal packages or in two-serving sizes, you can find some options designated as "family size" - ideal for those times when Grandma might be having company over for a meal or when friends stop by for dessert.
In order to sign up for a meal program, you'll have to contact Magic Kitchen via phone or email - you can't place your order online. While that is less convenient than most of the meal delivery services in our review, it gives you the opportunity to custom-design the exact package that meets your needs. Your cost will depend on the specific plan you create, but Magic Kitchen offers an example program for your reference:
These programs don't require you to sign a contract or make any other long-term commitments; you can have them shipped automatically and have meals sent weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. You can choose your own meals, or have the Magic Kitchen staff select for you within the parameters you select.
If you sign up for Magic Kitchen's email newsletter, you may be able to save money: we got a pop-up offering a discount of 10% off our next purchase. Those newsletters give you access to inside deals, so it's definitely worth it if you plan on being a long-term customer.
We like Magic Kitchen's 100% satisfaction guarantee. If anything arrives in damaged or spoiled condition, they will replace it at no cost to you. Similarly, if any of the foods you try don't meet your satisfaction, Magic Kitchen will either replace it in your next order or give you a credit. The company strives to have 24/7 phone coverage, with core hours of operation from 7:30A-11:30P Central, 7 days a week.
All orders are shipped from Magic Kitchen's warehouse in Kansas City, KS, using dry ice in a reusable, recyclable Styrofoam container. Expect to pay a minimum of $18-$20 for delivery; costs depend on the actual weight of your order and the shipping distance.
So, how do the actual meals measure up? On the one hand, many of the customers who match Magic Kitchen's targeted audience - senior citizens looking for healthy, easy to prepare/reheat meal options - say that it's been a great choice. We were glad to see some caregivers and loved ones saying that their 80-something mother is a picky eater that actually loved what she got with no exceptions. On the other hand, what they have to offer may not be a great fit for most people looking for meal delivery. Some reviews said that the food was watery after being reheated, and even the photos of the entree-plus-two-sides meals were unappetizing in a lot of cases. And, with an average serving cost of $12 and up for most foods, we think many customers will be looking for more than just a TV dinner-style meal delivery plan.
Magic Kitchen does a good job of giving options for seniors and others with strict dietary needs who might only have access to a microwave. But, their pricing is expensive, and their options might not appeal to younger customers who don't mind spending a little time in the kitchen to create a more restaurant-quality meal.
As these services have grown in popularity, the types of meals and plans has expanded as well. Has your doctor recently put you on a special diet, and you're not sure how to incorporate it into your lifestyle? Whether you're adapting to a diet that's low in carbs, diabetic-friendly, or even gluten-free, you'll find a meal delivery program that can help.
Are you interested in becoming a vegetarian but unfamiliar with how to create a balanced meal? Once again, there's a meal delivery service for that - use it for a few weeks to get ideas of lunches and dinners that you can recreate, or for as long as you like as you adapt to your clean, green way of eating.
As you consider which meal delivery service is best for you, you'll quickly see that they vary greatly when it comes to price, preparation, and types of food offered. Keep these criteria in mind as you decide which company fits your needs:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best meal delivery services available today. We hope these reviews help you find the service that puts the food that you're craving on the table right away!
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