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      November 13, 2018

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Magic Kitchen vs Martha & Marley Spoon

Best Prepared Meals

To help you find the Best Prepared Meals, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Magic Kitchen and Martha & Marley Spoon.

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Who has the best Prepared Meals? How many times have you come home after a long day and stared blankly at your refrigerator or pantry, trying to figure out what to eat? Or stopped at the drive-thru for fast food because the thought of coming up with something for dinner was just too much?

You're not alone. For people who'd like the convenience of fast food with the benefits of home cooking, Prepared Meals are the answer. For every imaginable palate and preference, there's a prepared meal service that can help. Several of today's most popular services send you high-quality, often organic ingredients - including fresh produce like shallots and herbs - saving you the hassle of planning your meals and going to the store.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2018

Prepared Meal Reviews

3 stars
Magic Kitchen

MAGIC KITCHEN Visit Site

Cost:

Average cost of $11.99/serving; discounts available

Shipping rates start at $18-$20 per order, based on weight and distance

For more than 15 years, Magic Kitchen has made it their goal to offer Prepared Meals for seniors and more. Especially for those who don't have access to pots, pans, or a full kitchen, their flash-frozen, TV dinner-style meals are convenient and come in a variety of menu plans for different dietary needs.

Looking at the options provided by Magic Kitchen under the "Dietary Interest" part of the site, you'll quickly see why this service is so useful for seniors. Menu options include:

  • Diabetic-Friendly
  • Portion Controlled
  • Dialysis-Friendly
  • Renal Diet (CKD 3&4)
  • Dairy-Free
  • Gluten-Free
  • Low-Fat
  • Low-Sodium
  • Low-Carb
  • Senior Diet
  • Vegetarian

No matter which one you choose, each Prepared Meal typically consists of two sides and an entree. Salmon Caponata with Orzo & Spinach, Eggplant Parmigiana with Polenta & Spinach, and Basil Chicken with Rice & Zucchini Sauté are some of the more popular entrees on the menu.

You'll find options for purchasing meals a la carte or as part of a package. If you'd like or order individual Prepared Meals, you'll find them categorized by Mains, Soups, Sides, Desserts, and Snacks. Some of those are listed as "family size", so if you need to have a cake big enough for visitors or want to serve a meal to guests from out of town, you'll be able to do all of your shopping in one place.

To get started with Magic Kitchen, you have to reach out to them by phone or email. While that's definitely less convenient than companies that let you sign up for Prepared Meals online, it's part of their process for getting you a customized package that perfectly meets your needs.

What will it cost? That depends on your unique plan, but here's the sample package offered for reference:

  • Low Sodium/Diabetic/Senior Complete Meal Program for 1 Person
  • 1 complete meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner): $75-$85 for 7 days
  • 2 complete meals (choose two from breakfast/lunch/dinner): $150-$165 for 7 days
  • 3 complete meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner): $225-$250 for 7 days

Signing up for the Magic Kitchen email newsletter could also be helpful. They give you information about special deals, and when we signed up we also got a 10% discount off our next purchase.

As with most Prepared Meals providers, there are no contracts or commitments with your plan. Deliveries can be shipped automatically on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. And, you can select the individual entrees in your plan or have them selected for you by Magic Kitchen staff according to the dietary parameters you've indicated.

All of your meals are prepared in and shipped from the Magic Kitchen warehouse in Kansas; they come packaged in dry ice in a recyclable, reusable Styrofoam container. Unfortunately, you have to pay at least $18 to $20 in shipping costs; your final cost is determined by the weight of your package and your zip code.

We appreciate the company's satisfaction guarantee. Should any of your meals arrive in bad condition or spoiled in any way, it will be replaced at no extra charge. And, if any of the Prepared Meals aren't 100% delicious, you can either ask that it be replaced in your next order or that you receive a store credit. Magic Kitchen aims for round-the-clock phone coverage for any questions or concerns, with primary business hours of 7:30A-11:30P Central every day.

Now, for the most important question: how do the Prepared Meals actually taste? Customer responses are a mixed bag. For some customers, especially within Magic Kitchen's primary audience (namely, senior citizens needing healthy meals that are simple to prepare), they and their caregivers say that it's been a good fit. But, others not in that particular group have complained that the meals get watery after being reheated, and that the unappetizing photos of the entrees are an accurate representation of how they taste. Plus, given that the meals have an average cost per serving of $12 or more, they're often disappointing for people wanting more than a reheat-and-eat Prepared Meal.

Magic Kitchen is a good resource for seniors and people who have a specific dietary plan to follow, who want the convenience of TV dinner-style meals that are also healthy. But, their Prepared Meals are priced on the higher end of the spectrum, and they're probably not too appealing for younger customers who want fresh ingredients and new recipes to try in the kitchen.

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2.5 stars
Martha & Marley Spoon

MARTHA & MARLEY SPOON Visit Site

Cost:

Per-serving cost of $8.20 to $12

Free shipping

Award-winning recipes and fresh ingredients equal a delicious meal, according to Martha & Marley Spoon. This Prepared Meals service also says that they can help you do that for less than you'd usually pay at the supermarket. But, is that actually the case?

Starting with a database of more than 18,000 Martha Stewart recipes, they're off to a good start. All of their plans include pre-portioned ingredients, including fresh herbs and vegetables, and recipes that can be completed 6 steps at the most.

For your plan, you'll have some choices to make. First, are you serving dinner to 2 people or 3-4? Next, would you like to receive 2, 3, or 4 recipes and ingredients each week? Finally, do you prefer to receive meals that are prepared with strictly vegetarian options?

Once you've made those selections, you'll choose from 10 options in the weekly menu, with entrees like Chili-Lime Shrimp, Warm Tortelloni and Bean Salad, or Steak and Almond Romesco. And, if you like to plan in advance, Martha & Marley Spoon makes their 10-recipe weekly menus available as far out as four weeks ahead of time.

Your Prepared Meals will be delivered according to your geographic area;, in our region, we could choose between Monday and Tuesday. The company promises that your shipments will be usable for a minimum of 4 days after the delivery date; fish is the sole exception and should be cooked within 48 hours of delivery. You'll also need to have some pantry staples on hand, like sugar, salt, oil and eggs.

The moment of truth: does Martha & Marley spoon deliver what they advertise, especially in comparison with competitor providers of Prepared Meals? The answer is "not so much". We encountered so many complaints from customers who said that their orders came days after the promised delivery date - including ice packs that were completely melted, air temperature meats, and damaged shipping containers. The ideal response on the part of the business would be to offer a refund or replacement, or at minimum a store credit.

Unfortunately for them - and for you - there is no satisfaction guarantee or return policy to be found on the Martha & Marley Spoon site. Some customers said that they were offered a discount on a future order, but who'd order again from a company that dropped the ball so significantly the first time? It's good that their representatives were responsive to the complaints we found, but they'd do better to provide a solid, customer-friendly guarantee and return policy - like most of the competition already offer.

As much as we liked the idea of being able to cook like Martha Stewart, this Prepared Meals service just doesn't deliver. With few options to customize plans for dietary needs, late deliveries, and poor customer service policies, Martha & Marley Spoon will probably have you heading to the grocery store - or to a higher-ranked business in our review - for your meals.

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Continued from above

If you have a loved one that needs to start eating a special diet for diabetes or other medical issues, you can choose a prepared meals company that offers ready-to-reheat meals packaged similarly to a TV dinner and that have been carefully created by nutritionists specifically for that condition.

On the other hand, maybe you've been tasked with bringing a mind-blowing main course to an important company function, but your skills in the kitchen are limited to boiling water and burning toast. No problem: just choose a Prepared Meals service that focuses on gourmet-level, special occasion entrees like chicken cordon bleu or even surf-and-turf.

When deciding which company is a good fit for your delivery of Prepared Meals, you'll soon notice that there's a wide variety to choose from. How do you select the one that's best for you? Here are some things to consider as you look at each service:

  • Menu. What does the provider offer? Can you choose from many different plans, like Vegetarian or Mediterranean? If you're trying to meet a special dietary need, like gluten-free or keto-friendly, will there be options for you? Does the type of Prepared Meals they send - reheat-and-eat vs. some cooking required - work for your situation?
  • Price. What will it cost to get your Prepared Meals? Can you choose to buy specific entrees a la carte, or do you have to buy a package?
  • Amount of Food. If you have a large family, is there a plan that will satisfy everyone? Are the serving sizes enough to fill you up?
  • Customer Service and Reputation. What have other people said about the experience of buying Prepared Meals from this business? Are packages delivered on time, with ingredients that are still fresh and properly refrigerated? If not, does the company's customer service department respond appropriately with a refund or credit?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Prepared Meals Delivery Companies available today. We hope these reviews help you find the right company to deliver the kind of meals you want, directly to your doorstep!

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