Prepared Meal Reviews
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Prepared Meal Reviews
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Freshly combines the best of both worlds when it comes to meal delivery: fresh ingredients that are never frozen, with 3-minutes-or-less prep time from package to table with just a reheat in the microwave when needed.
Of course, with all of your food delivered fresh, an important part of loving your Freshly service is keeping an eye on all of your deliveries "use by" dates. Most of them come with the expectation that you'll need to eat them within 3-4 days of reaching your doorstep. As you set up your meal delivery service, make sure you select a plan and delivery schedule that lines up with when you'll want to eat at home. Freshly's meal delivery availability depends on where you live, so some areas may only have Thursday through Saturday options - check out your area, especially if you're thinking of using Freshly for your work nights.
One of the most unique aspects of Freshly is that every item on their menu is 100% gluten- and peanut-free, so that there is zero risk of contamination in their food production facilities. For some customers, this is a literal lifesaver - to be able to trust that they or their loved ones won't have any chance of an allergic reaction to any of their meal deliveries. For others, however, it does limit the menu choices; you won't find any wheat-based pastas or breads among your available options.
However, you might not care about all that when you see the delicious meals on the menu. How about Three Bean Ancho Turkey Chili, or Shrimp & Andouille Paella? Those are just two of Freshly's top-rated menu items, with dozens for you to choose from each week. You just have to decide how many meals you'd like to receive - 4, 6, 9, or 12 - and then select which breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you like from the week's menu. If you'd rather not have to choose individual meal options, Freshly's Meal Planner tool gives you a pre-selected menu based on your dietary preferences and then, after you've been a customer for a while, your meal history as well.
All of Freshly's meal delivery plans include shipping, and the average meal costs between $8.99 and $12.50 per serving.
We love that Freshly lets you select your meals up to three weeks in advance; if you're a planner, you can get it all figured out at once instead of having to decide week by week. You can also customize your delivery in several ways. Maybe you need 6 meals this week, but 12 next week because your friend is coming for a visit - you can shift your plan as needed. Or, if you need to change your regular delivery date from Monday to Thursday, that's no problem either (assuming those days are available in your geographic area). Finally, if you'd like to have your Freshly meals follow you on vacation or your business trip, you can change your delivery address at any time.
Customers have great things to say about the taste of the food, the ease of customizing their meal delivery plan, and the friendly customer reps when any issues have come up. So, if you want to enjoy meals that are as convenient as a TV dinner while being much healthier and flavorful, Freshly is a terrific option. They are our first-place winner among the best meal delivery companies.
Developed in 2005 by Dr. Caroline Cederquist, bistroMD emerged from her experiences with patients at her medical weight loss clinic. She observed that even the most committed patients struggled when it came to knowing how to eat healthy at home. All of the meals created for bistroMD are designed to help customers reset their metabolism and lose weight by giving their bodies the right balance of macronutrients.
bistroMD offers four primary menu selections in their meal delivery program: Standard, Gluten-Free, Diabetic, and Menopause. From there, you'll choose how many days a week you'd like to eat their entrees - 5 or 7 - and whether you'd like the full program of breakfast/lunch/dinner or just lunch/dinner on each of those days. You can also take a look at the Silver Cuisine, Men's Program, and Women's program - with specific nutritional plans based on each respective group; those links are at the top of the page.
Once your order is placed, bistroMD's team of dietitians will put together a customized plan for your weekly delivery. You can always see in advance what your team has selected for you; if there's something that you don't like, you can remove it from the schedule and replace it with any one of the 150 meals that are available for delivery that week.
All of bistroMD's entrees are cooked from fresh ingredients, and then frozen in a vacuum-sealed pouch, to be shipped in a dry ice container to your doorstep. You'll have a nutritionally-balanced, delicious meal to eat after just a few minutes in the microwave.
There's no contract to sign, but we did see some customer reviews mentioning that they were billed for the second week of deliveries before they'd even gotten the first week's food, so watch for that.
bistroMD does have a satisfaction guarantee too: "we'll do our best to make it right or refund your money". We were pleased to see that their reps actively respond to customer complaints, resulting in a solid "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau. A few customers said that they were only offered a percentage of their price and not a full refund, but most were able to get a satisfactory response to the problems they had.
One of the most appealing aspects of bistroMD's meal delivery program is the price. At the time of our review, there was a promotion offering an attractive 25% discount on the first week's food; even without the savings, their prices tend to be more affordable than many other services, without sacrificing any quality in the food. For example, the standard program that includes 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 6 dinners (with one night, called "My Night", left as a do-it-yourself option for eating out or practicing your own healthy habits), is regularly priced at $179.95. When we reviewed the site, the promotion brought that down to just $134.96. Compared with all of the other services in our review, which are typically cost at least $9 per serving, bistroMD is a bargain.
Another perk is having access to dietitian support. Individual and group sessions are available with your meal delivery plan at no extra charge. You'll also get weekly wellness updates from their team of doctors, dietitians, trainers and even the "resident foodie".
Of course, bistroMD isn't going to be your ideal meal delivery service if you want a box of fresh ingredients to assemble and cook, or if weight loss is not your primary goal. However, if the idea of getting balanced, tasty meals delivered to your home interests you, and you're hoping to drop a few - or many - pounds, consider partnering with bistroMD to make it happen.
If you agree with Veestro that plants are "the greatest food on earth", or you're looking for vegan meals that aren't just good for you but taste great too, this is the meal delivery service for you.
Bright colors and clear navigation is a highlight of the Veestro site. Whether you're looking for a meal plan or want to fill your delivery box with a selection of a la carte items, you'll find it easily, with thumbnails and average customer reviews on every product.
When it comes to meal plans, Veestro started with a great selection that has only expanded and improved over the years. They've got something for people experimenting with a vegetarian lifestyle or for those who already know that being vegan is the way to go; available meal packs include the following:
You can also find a Weight Loss plan that has 3-, 5, and 7-day options. All plans include approximately 1,200 calories per day, and prices range from $209 to $369 per week for both regular and gluten-free menu plans.
Veestro's final package is the Juice Cleanse; choose between 3- and 5-day plans that both include 100% organic fruit and vegetable juices. We recommend that you also take a look at their Juice Cleanse Success Plan before deciding if this is the right package for you.
Or, if you'd prefer to hand-select only the foods that appeal to you, Veestro makes it very easy to order a la carte. You can quickly sort the possibilities by What's New, Breakfast, Entrees, Soups, Desserts or Juice, or make yourself hungry by browsing All Products.
You're not likely to find anyone that says that living an organic, vegan lifestyle is inexpensive, so we love that Veestro tries to make it as affordable as possible. We suggest that you look at their rewards program that gives you points on every order, along with perks on your birthday and for any referrals you send their way. Those points can then be exchanged for discounts on future orders. Also, you can save 10% off any a la carte order when you sign up for the Veestro newsletter.
Shipping rates at Veestro can be hefty or heavenly, depending on the size of your order. For orders over $199, you'll get free delivery. If your order is between $99 and $198, expect to pay $19. Or, if it's less than $98, you'll pay a whopping $35 - so you may want to go big on your order. Alternately, if you live in CA, you'll pay a flat rate of $12 for orders under $198 (lucky you). Orders ship on Monday or Tuesday and are delivered on Wednesday through Friday, depending on where you live.
Veestro customers are happy campers. Look at the individual menu choices and you'll see customer compliments and suggested tweaks for making recipes even more flavorful or more filling. There's an impressive number of Veestro options that have five-star ratings from their customers, including the Breakfast Burrito and Chick'N Nuggets.
The only issue with Veestro is their limited target market: vegans. We love that this meal delivery service meets the needs of an often overlooked (and under-appreciated) audience, and that they do it so well. But, for people who don't mind having some eggs and dairy products in their meals, who are picky eaters in general, or who just don't have a problem with eating meat, Veestro isn't going to be their top choice.
Of course, for those who are vegan - or striving to be - Veestro may be the only company to consider for meal delivery.
Home Chef is one of the original services to help busy people create meals at home with convenient delivery of fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes. With more than 10 million meals delivered in a year, this company has definitely made an impact on people's ability to enjoy a home-cooked meal without the stress of planning or shopping. And, with an upcoming partnership with the Kroger family of companies, Home Chef's reach continues to expand.
Your order will include fresh, pre-portioned ingredients for recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less. One convenient part of Home Chef's service is the ability to plan your meals up to five weeks in advance. You can take a look at the available entrees without having to sign up for their service; some of their client favorites are Korean Fried Chicken, Wood-Fired BBQ Chicken Pizza, and Creamy Parmesan Steak Penne.
To be able to look at Home Chef's options for your meal delivery, you'll need to enter your email address (which we don't love having to do). You may also get offers as you start the process. We got a pop-up offering a savings of $30 on our first order if we entered our email address, so keep an eye out for any extra discounts that might come your way as you browse the site. Just a step or two later as we were setting up our account, we got another "flash sale" discount of $10 to apply to a future order.
As you set up your plan, you'll need to make a few selections, like how many meals you'd like to prepare each week, anywhere from 3-6. One plus of Home Chef's meal delivery options is the ability to order for a larger family. You can choose plans for 2, 4, or 6 people - and, of course, if yours consists of 3 or 5, you can pick a plan that might leave you with some leftovers.
Next, you'll need to select if you prefer to eat meat, seafood, or vegetables; you can select all 3 if you wish. Then, you specify if you want options like low-calorie or low-carb meals, or if you'd like to avoid certain ingredients (for example pork, soy, wheat, milk, nuts, mushrooms, shellfish, soy, or red meat).
From there, you're taken to the delivery address screen. Be sure not to miss the requested delivery date drop-down on that page as well, otherwise you'll get the default of Tuesday. Delivery options are Tuesday through Friday (at least in our area).
Home Chef had received some criticism in the past for not making customers amply aware of their cancellation and refund policies; but, compared with their competitors, Home Chef's approach seems fairly standard. You can cancel or pause your weekly deliveries at any time, and they'll give you a refund or credit if you're not 100% satisfied with your delivery. If only part of your meal shipment is a problem - maybe the cilantro was too wilted to use or a can was dented- Home Chef reserves the right to decide whether they'll issue a credit or a replacement for just that portion of your order.
Evidently, the BBB agrees that Home Chef is responding appropriately to customer concerns, because at the time of our review they had given the meal delivery service a rating of A+. Actual customer experiences are more of a mixed bag. More recent reviews tend to mention poor delivery service, because at least in some areas Home Chef switched from a big-name shipping company to a smaller one that hasn't been as reliable. We also saw continued complaints about pausing or canceling service through the website; some customers kept getting deliveries even after trying to put it on hold or stop the service altogether. Even some of the most positive reviews mention getting a delivery that was missing part of the meal - including main components like salmon or chicken, not just smaller items like spices.
Home Chef is a fantastic choice for people who want to cook and just need the convenience of pre-planned recipes and easy delivery of ingredients. This meal delivery service is likely to be a winner for larger families that might not find options with other services. Just be sure to keep a close watch on your orders, to ensure that everything arrives as expected; don't hesitate to contact Home Chef's customer service to request that they fix anything isn't as it should be.
Where else but California would you expect to find the headquarters of a company that has "sun" in the name and focuses on healthy eating? Sun Basket features nutrient-dense produce, whole grains, high-quality protein and "good fats", with as little added sugar and processed ingredients as possible in their meal delivery programs.
As with some of the services we reviewed, Sun Basket assumes that you would like to spend a little time in the kitchen; their deliveries all come with ingredients and recipes for you to prepare, not a TV dinner-type reheat-and-eat meal. They also expect that your kitchen has the following:
Sun Basket breaks their meal delivery plans down into two main choices: the best value Family Menu, or the Classic Menu with more choices. Sun Basket is one of the few services that offers a menu plan geared towards kid-friendly favorites that include the children in the meal-making process. And, if your little ones are vegetarian, there's a plan for them too.
But, if you want more meal choices, the most robust menu is the Classic. Sun Basket does an incredible job of offering variety, with these plans:
With the Classic Plan, you can mix and match recipes across cuisines - so if two of you are gluten-free and the rest of the family goes paleo, your delivery can include meals that meet all of those preferences.
The pricing is straightforward: you'll pay $10.99 per serving with the Family Menu; you decide if you want 2, 3, or 4 recipes each week, and all recipes make a total of four adult-sized portions. Otherwise, you'll pay $11.99 on the Classic plan, which gives you 3 recipes per week and your choice of 2 or 4 servings per recipe.
Although all Sun Basket meals are carefully packaged to ensure freshness after delivery, you'll want to get them into the refrigerator as soon as you take them out of the box. They recommend that you eat any meals with seafood or shellfish within 3 days, and meat/poultry/delicate greens/mushrooms within 5 days of delivery. Sun Basket does not deliver to Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, and some parts of New Mexico.
When it comes to customer experiences, Sun Basket's reviews are a mixed bag. We found praise from long-term clients who say that 95% of what they've gotten has been an absolute hit, and that the customer representatives were very responsive with getting replacements for any less-than-awesome ingredients or recipes. That's in line with Sun Basket's 100% guarantee, with a no-questions-asked refund if you're not completely satisfied. But, we also found customers who didn't have an easy time getting a replacement, credit, or refund when ingredients were wilted or spoiled. Also, some customers said that, in comparison with other meal delivery services they tried, Sun Basket was more money for smaller servings.
We give Sun Basket high marks for having such a wide variety of menu options, and for including kids in their meal plans. Just be prepared to spend time in the kitchen actually making the recipes and know that you might come away not feeling completely full (which could be an advantage, if weight loss through healthy eating is your goal!).
HelloFresh belongs to the meal delivery category that is best suited for people who enjoy cooking. Each shipment includes step-by-step instructions for taking the farm-fresh ingredients in the box and turning them into a delicious, healthy meal: no grocery shopping required.
When creating your meal delivery program, you'll first need to select from HelloFresh's 3 plans: Classic, Veggie, and Family. The Classic plan has the widest variety of recipes to choose from, the Veggie focuses on - you guessed it - meat-free meals, and the Family plan features recipes designed to keep picky younger eaters at the table.
Next, you need to decide the size of your HelloFresh delivery and how often you'd like to cook: options include serving sizes of 2 or 4 people, and number of meals ranges from 2-4 per week. HelloFresh's dietitians and chefs create 15 new recipes each week; depending on the plan you choose, you can select which ones are included with your delivery, or you can just let HelloFresh decide based on your indicated food preferences. This is a big improvement over previous versions of this meal delivery service, which didn't allow customers to have any way of selecting specific recipes for their weekly meals.
HelloFresh's prices are comparable with other meal delivery businesses, with an average price per serving of less than $10.
As with most meal delivery services, HelloFresh lets you put your shipments on hold whenever you like, so there's no worry that you'll have a box of rotting food on your doorstep when you get home from vacation. There's also no long-term commitments, so you can cancel the service at any time.
While HelloFresh doesn't have a clearly-stated satisfaction guarantee, we saw a number of places on the site that offered to help if anything wasn't right - and, better, yet, numerous customer compliments that said that HelloFresh representatives were very quick to replace or issue credits for any shipments that were damaged or had ingredients that were less-than-edible for any reason.
The meals included in HelloFresh's plans seem to be exactly what you'd hope for: healthy, flavorful, and easy to prepare. Most customers are pleased with the serving sizes, even to the point of having leftovers when they didn't expect them, and overall people like the recipes they receive.
If you like the idea of adding variety to your menu and don't mind spending a half-hour in the kitchen, HelloFresh can easily deliver the ingredients and recipes to your doorstep.
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.
There are two less-than-customizable aspects to Blue Apron's meal delivery: the recipes and the number of servings. Unlike most of their competitors, this service does not allow you to select what recipes you'll receive, so whether you absolutely love or hate a particular meal, you may or may not see it in your delivery. Also, since 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.
But, 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 selecting recipes and shopping for the ingredients.
Diet-to-Go wants to help you lose weight while still enjoying your food. All of their ready-to-eat meals are created by a team of chefs and dietitians "to make losing weight taste great". As a part of their meal delivery service, you get complimentary access to a team of health professionals, such as a Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian, and a Certified Health Coach who can help you meet your goals. You'll also have the opportunity to participate in the Diet-to-Go community, which offers resources and programs to keep you inspired and motivated on your weight loss journey.
You may be surprised at how tasty your delivered meals are: Diet-to-Go actually earned a first-place rating for taste from Epicurious, beating out several other well-known names in the weight-loss food industry. The service offers four main meal plans, with recipes typically served in a five-week rotation. Some meals that got high marks from customers are the Eggplant Parmesan, Blackened Salmon, and Chicken Marsala. Diet-to-Go does allow you to swap out meals in your delivery if there's something you don't like.
You'll need to go through all of Diet-to-Go's plan options in order to determine your weekly pricing:
The lowest priced plan we could find was the Balance 2 meals per day, 5 days per week plan for women (or anyone else who wants a 1200 calorie per day limit): $122 per week, plus $19.98 for shipping. If you happen to live in the areas of Washington DC (including suburban Maryland and northern Virginia), Baltimore, New Jersey, or the greater Los Angeles Area, you can opt to pick up your orders and eliminate the shipping costs.
You'll want to refrigerate or freeze your meals after delivery, since they are flash-frozen, packed on dry ice, and shipped in large styrofoam coolers. Any items that don't need to be refrigerated will be in a box that is shipped along with the cooler. All of the meals in your delivery have a shelf life of 7 days in the fridge; you can safely freeze them for up to 30 days after that, or when you receive them - your choice.
If you think that Diet-to-Go might be the plan, you might be able to save money by looking for a pop-up offer. We were given a discount of 15% by subscribing to their email newsletter.
You'll find the same commitment to customer satisfaction at Diet-to-Go that you'd see with our highest-ranked meal delivery services: place your plan on hold anytime you like, cancel whenever you want, and get a replacement, credit, or refund if you're unhappy with your order or their service for any reason. We were glad to see so many customers praising the reps at Diet-to-Go for quick responses to any issues that arose. People have great things to say about the quality of the food also; even though they're microwave-reheated, the meals retain their flavor and don't tend to get watery after being warmed up.
Diet-to-Go isn't going to be the first choice of people who want to get a box of ingredients and recipes that they can make at home, or who aren't looking for a calorie-restricted meal plan. On the other hand, for those who want to lose weight and not feel like they're starving because they're eating appetizing, filling, healthy meals, this meal delivery service won't disappoint.
Gourmet Station has been offering meal delivery since 1999, with more than 100,000 customers in their two decades on the market. Many of their choices are focused on gift-giving, providing upscale dinner options that can be used for employee rewards and incentives and client gifting or for holidays and other events. Of course, all of their selections are available as a personal indulgence for special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays.
The easiest way to shop the Gourmet Station website is by category: Dinner Gifts, Occasion Dinners, Meal Plans, Gift Certificates, Monthly Clubs, or Soup & Appetizers.
Dinner Gift options are impressive:
Other selections in the Dinner Gift category include Wagyu (Kobe) Steaks and Steak Dinner Gifts and Dinner of the Month. This last option can also be found in Gourmet Station's Monthly Clubs: if you want a regularly-scheduled meal delivery for yourself or for a lucky gift recipient, the possibilities range from Soup or Dessert of the Month to full 2-, 3-, and 4-course dinners.
On the other hand, if you're specifically looking for meal delivery services that help you with dinners during the week, you'll want to look at Gourmet Station's Meal Plans. These are packaged for one person, for five meals a week. You'll be able to select from Tuscan, Parisian, Cajun, Americana, and International menus. For $144.99, you'll choose five entrees from the categories of Pasta, Beef, Pork, Seafood, and Poultry. Each entree comes with a side vegetable, but you don't get to choose which one you get; depending on the menu you select for the entree, you may get Oven-Roasted Tuscan Veggies, Creamy Spinach & Artichokes, and so on.
All entrees come deep-chilled and should be refrigerated on the day they're delivered. You should eat your entrees within 3 days; otherwise, you can freeze your entree and reheat at a later time. Gourmet Station's meals need to be reheated in an oven, not a microwave. This allows the full flavors and textures of the gourmet meals to be retained, but might be less convenient for people who want to be able to heat up their food more quickly or who don't have a full kitchen.
Standard delivery means that your meals will arrive via UPS on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, with the exception of major holidays. You can schedule special-occasion deliveries even months in advance, but you'll still be limited to those three days of the week due to UPS' scheduling.
Gourmet Station meal delivery is a good choice for people looking for restaurant-quality food, either for a special occasion or for those weeknights where no one wants to cook. But, for customers on a special diet or a limited budget, this service probably won't be the ideal fit.
Have you ever been invited to a work party, community potluck, or even hosted an event where making an impression matters? Did you draw a blank on what you could bring, or even feel some anxiety over what recipe in your repertoire could live up to the expectations? The next time you find yourself in that predicament, you should consider letting Harry & David do the work.
You may already know of this business because of their long reputation for helping people with their gift-giving needs: gourmet foods, gift baskets, chocolates and more. Harry & David also has good selection of reheat (if necessary) and serve, delectable appetizers, entrees, and other choices, whether you want to be the hero of your office party or just take the stress out of planning a special-occasion dinner in your own home.
Although their selection isn't as broad as some of the meal delivery services we reviewed - just under 40 selections to choose from - you can still find a good assortment that ranges from appetizers like an Antipasto Wine Pairing Collection to mouth-watering main courses like Salmon Wellington or a Steak and Lobster Feast. Most of the choices for meal delivery have customer reviews in their descriptions, to help you know what to expect when your food comes. Harry & David's best-seller, with more than five dozen reviews and a 4.5/5-star average, is the Sliced Ham and Turkey, priced at $64.99.
Harry & David has a superb reputation for customer satisfaction. Should you get a meal delivery that doesn't meet your expectations (or your party guests'), you should have no problem getting a refund or replacement. Another reason customers like using Harry & David is their Celebrations Passport membership. For an annual fee of $29.99, you get a year of free shipping across a group of brands that includes Simply Chocolate, The Popcorn Factory, and 1-800-Flowers. Even if you only plan on ordering a few times within a year, the savings could be significant; shipping costs on a single item at Harry & David's can be as much as $11.99, so the Passport would pay for itself quickly over two or three gift-giving or dining occasions.
If you need a special-occasion meal for yourself or for an event, Harry & David is a solid choice. But, for many people who are looking for meal delivery services, this provider's options are pretty limited to once-in-a-while treats, not every day reheat-and-eat dinners or fresh-and-healthy meals to nourish them at the end of the working day.
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.
Personal Chef to Go has been a part of the meal delivery marketplace for over 15 years. Their goal is to bring healthy meals to your home that only require three minutes in the microwave, with no need to spend any time shopping, cooking or planning menus.
This company seems to have limited their options over the past few years. Originally, they offered menus for individuals, couples, and families. At the time of our most recent review, this meal delivery service only offered the following options:
The per-serving costs of these plans are much higher than almost all of the meal delivery services we reviewed.
For most addresses east of the Mississippi, delivery is free. Meals ship on Thursday and arrive on Friday or Saturday; there's no opportunity to change your delivery schedule.
All meals are delivered fresh, but Personal Chef to Go says that they'll stay fresh in your refrigerator for 10-12 days.
We don't love that Personal Chef to Go makes prospective customers give them their email address and zip code to find out more about their meal plans and pricing. Once you've done that, you have to decide if you want the Chef's Choice, where they pick their most popular meals for you each week, or Your Choice, which lets you pick which meals match your taste preferences. Those preferences are set using the filter, allowing you to eliminate meals that have fish, gluten, pork, shellfish, beef, soy, dairy, or tree nuts. Each week's menu only has 12 options, so if you are looking for 10 meals a week but you don't eat shellfish or fish, you may not have very much to choose from.
We also were less than impressed with the experience of using the Personal Chef to Go site. The photos of the various meals weren't appetizing, and none of the meals had customer reviews to see what real people have thought of them after they got them home and on their plate. One plus is that each recipe has very clear nutritional information, from calories and sodium to a detailed ingredient list.
The one very positive thing we found about Personal Chef to Go's meal delivery service is that customers like it. Although there aren't hundreds of reviews available, the ones we did find were almost entirely satisfied - with the food quality, with the delivery, and with the convenience of having meals delivered to the home or office.
On the whole, however, Personal Chef to Go gives you fewer options at a higher price. You're likely to find one of our higher-ranked services a better fit for your budget and for your tastes.
If you could have delicious meal ingredients delivered, complete with award-winning recipes, for less money than you'd spend at the grocery store, would you do it? That's the question Martha & Marley Spoon wants you to answer, because they claim they can make that happen.
Your options with Martha & Marley Spoon are straightforward: do you want dinners for two or for three to four people? How many meals would you like to receive per week: 2, 3, or 4? And would you like your delivery box to only contain vegetarian meals? If you can answer those questions, you're well on your way to getting meals that come from the 18,000 recipe archive of Martha Stewart herself.
Whichever plan you pick, every meal delivery box from Martha & Marley Spoon comes with fresh, pre-portioned ingredients and the 6-steps-or-less recipes you select from the 10 options on each weekly menu. Menus are available up to four weeks in advance; typical entrees include Steak and Almond Romesco, Warm Tortelloni and Bean Salad, and Chili-Lime Shrimp.
Your delivery date depends on where you live; in our area, we could select between Mondays and Tuesdays. Your deliveries are guaranteed to be usable for at least 4 days after delivery (with the exception of fish; you'll need to cook that within 48 hours of arrival). You should also plan on having some pantry basics like sugar, eggs, oil, and salt on hand.
How does Martha & Marley Spoon stack up against similar services? Unfortunately, the answer is "not very well". We found a significant number of customers complaining that orders were delivered days later than expected - with melted ice packs, completely thawed meats, and damaged containers. Where most of the competition would immediately offer a refund or replacement, customer reviews seem to indicate that this company only offers a discount on a future shipment. Martha & Marley Spoon has no refund policy or satisfaction guarantee on their site that says otherwise. We're glad to see that their customer service department responded to the complaints we saw, but we'd like to see a better approach to keeping customers happy - one that their competitors already provide.
We also weren't impressed with the meal delivery plans: with only 10 recipes to choose from each week, and no ability to customize according to dietary needs, Martha & Marley Spoon just doesn't measure up to other services that we reviewed. So, in the end, they might be able to deliver ingredients for meals to your doorstep for less than you'd spend at the store, but your end result could be disappointing.
Plated isn't your average meal delivery service. While they definitely can save you time and bring healthy meals to your table, their main goal is helping you become a more confident cook by expanding your culinary knowledge and maybe even your palate too. Every weekly menu includes choices like Steak Gyros, Salmon with Salsa Verde, or even desserts like Napoleons or Fig Shortcakes - all with fresh ingredients and simple instructions that lead to a finished product in an hour or less.
To get started, you'll need to decide how many servings you want per meal (2, 3, or 4), and how many nights per week (2, 3, or 4) you'd like to have a Plated entree on your menu. For a family of two that only wants two meals delivered each week, the price is usually $47.80. On the larger end of the spectrum, getting four 4-serving meals per week is typically priced at $159.20. At the time of our review, there was a promotion offering a 25% discount on the first week of meal delivery.
Plated doesn't give you a specific plan for your service - in other words, you won't find options for a menu that includes just vegetarian options, or gluten-free foods, and so forth. Instead, you'll choose among 20 different recipes (including dessert) from each week's menus. But, you can tailor your subscription to show you choices that meet your preferences (such as dessert-seeker, seafood lover, omnivore, and so on) from those 20 possibilities.
Plated has one of the widest delivery day ranges we've seen: every day but Sunday. Your box should stay cold until midnight on your selected day of the week, so there's no need to rush home from work to stick things in the fridge. As with comparable services of this type, your delivery includes everything you need to create your selected meal or dessert choices, including seasonal produce and specialty items that you might not even have at your local supermarket.
On the other hand, Plated has one of the most disappointing customer satisfaction policies we've seen with a meal delivery service: if you are dissatisfied or something is missing from your delivery, Plated "may, at [their] sole discretion, issue a credit." We found more than a few customers ranting how their delivery included moldy food, and Plated's answer was to give them a credit for just $12. Plus, many reviews of the Plated service said that the recipes were "just okay" and the ingredients weren't nearly as premium as they'd expect from a meal delivery company.
Another frequently-mentioned issue with Plated is their gift cards. Unfortunately, gift card recipients have to enter their credit card information to use their gift credit - and some of them then found themselves subscribed as a paying customer to a service they never wanted. That's not a great way to keep gift-givers happy.
Compared with other meal delivery services, Plated has a few unique features. But, their track record is definitely less-than-impressive, especially when looking at their refund policy (or lack of it). You'll probably find a meal delivery plan that's better to you and for you by selecting a service with a higher rating.
Home Bistro offers delivery of freshly-prepared, frozen meals. They have a good variety of options, including Meal Combos, SUPERBowls, Individual Meals, and Chef's Choice selections. All meals are designed to be boiled in their bags, but easy microwave instructions are included so that your food will be ready in 10 minutes or less.
Pricing varies depending on the plan you select. For example, you can get 10 meals in the Chef's Choice plan for $134.99, 20 meals in the Table for Two collection for $259.99, or individual meals starting at $16.29. Examples of Home Bistro's meals are Artichoke-Lemon Steak with Vegetables, Mediterranean Tapenade Salmon, and Roasted Harissa Shrimp with Gratin.
Although they don't make it easy to find, the filter function lets you sort available choices by dietary preference, such as paleo, diabetic-friendly, or gluten-free. Look for the "Filter" dropdown towards the top left once you've selected your category, like Meal Combos or Individual Meals.
What's Home Bistro's refund policy? There is none. "Home Bistro has a strict no-refund policy due to the nature of shipping perishable meals." That's a far cry from their competitors, who state emphatically that they want their customers to be satisfied, no matter what, and who offer to replace or refund anything that is less than excellent. Home Bistro's approach is to tell customers that they can email their support address within 24 hours if they have any issues. That's not an acceptable way to handle customer problems.
And, you can expect problems with Home Bistro. When nearly 100% of the reviews say things like "poor customer service", "horrible quality food", and "disappointing in every way", it's no wonder that the company hides behind a policy of "all sales are final".
When we looked at Home Bistro's contact page, we found that they have an alternate name: Dinewise. Dinewise's reputation across the web was equally disappointing.
Although Home Bistro has been around for a while, their reputation is lacking, especially when it comes to how their food tastes. We're confident that you'll have a better experience with a meal delivery service that is committed to their customers' satisfaction.
Best Meal Delivery
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.
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!
Meal Delivery In The News
On a typical evening at online grocer FreshDirect LLC's highly-automated distribution center in New York City, workers fillet, wrap and label individual orders of harpoon-caught swordfish and then pus...
Published: Wed, 18 Jul 2018 02:37:00 GMT
Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind Email the Funbag. Today, we're talking about poop, antiques, Superman, and more. Your letters: Eric: What is the line b...
Published: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 11:13:00 GMT
Yet another service for having food delivered from Capital Region restaurants launches today: DoorDash, which operates in more than 100 cities and metro areas nationwide. Generally available from 11 a ...
Published: Wed, 18 Jul 2018 07:00:00 GMT
Ele.me, the food delivery platform acquired by Alibaba Group, is looking for $2 billion in new financing to help it take on rival Meituan Dianping. According to Bloomberg, Ele.me wants to expand a bus...
Published: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 07:11:00 GMT
Amazon's Alexa has changed the way consumers order products online, and is now even making it easier for them to have food delivered to their house. While last year Amazon and foodora released an Alex...
Published: Wed, 18 Jul 2018 03:10:00 GMT
IHOP has launched a new delivery service at more than 300 U.S. locations through a partnership with on-demand delivery app DoorDash, the Glendale-based restaurant chain announced Tuesday. The partners...
Published: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 15:31:00 GMT
After discovering that skipping breakfast was a common trend among college students, Christophe Gerlach '20 and Pedro Bobrow '20 co-founded Suna Breakfast, with the hope that their start-up will encou...
Published: Sun, 15 Jul 2018 12:37:00 GMT
I have two words for you: IHOP. delivery. You can officially add pancakes to your rotation of Things You Order When You're Too Lazy To Cook Or Haven't Been To The Store. IHOP has partnered with food d...
Published: Tue, 17 Jul 2018 09:58:00 GMT
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