Blue Apron Tests One-Hour Meal-Kit Delivery

The Best Meal Kit Food Delivery Services of 2021

Blue Apron Tests One-Hour Meal-Kit Delivery

  • Home Chef

  • Gobble

  • Sun Basket

  • Freshly

  • Compare Meal Delivery Services

  • How We Tested

  • What You Should Know About Meal Kits

  • Other Meal Kit Services We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Credit: Home Chef / Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Home Chef has great flavors, the best recipes, and tons of options.

Credit: Reviewed / Madison Trapkin

Paneer Tikka Masala was our favorite dish we tested from Gobble, our pick for best pre-prepped meal kit.

Credit: Sun Basket / Reviewed / Madison Trapkin

Sun Basket has a large menu, easy recipes, and organic ingredients.

Credit: Freshly

Freshly is the best pre-made meal delivery kit we tested.

Price / serving (2 people)$9.95$11.99$8.99$10.25
Price / serving (4 people)$9.95$10.99$7.49$8.90
Gluten-free options*
Vegetarian options*
Vegan options*
Nut-free options*
Dairy-free options*
Meals offered / week18242020
Time to table45404650

* NOTE: The service offers at least two options of this dietary preference each week.

The Tester

I’m Madison Trapkin, the Kitchen & Cooking Editor at Reviewed and the resident vegetarian.

testers before me, I love digging into new recipes or dreaming up my own dishes, but sometimes I hit a creativity wall and I’d much prefer someone else to do the work for me.

This is why I’m a huge fan of a well-curated meal kit with high-quality ingredients—plus, no need to grocery shop! I’ve added to Cassidy’s original results by testing new services and retesting our top picks.

Former editor Cassidy Olsen was our original meal kit subscription tester. She found that despite loving to cook, making a proper dinner for herself each night could be daunting.

Sometimes she’d have bursts of motivation and bookmark 10 different New York Times Cooking recipes for herself, but most of the time she didn’t have the creative energy (or regular energy) to go shopping for new meals and actually make them.

Basically, she was the perfect candidate for testing the best meal kit delivery services because she had the cooking and food knowledge to know what works, but the attitude of a very tired person who craves convenience and simplicity.

Managing Editor Meghan Kavanaugh also tested five of the best pre-made meal kits, our favorite of which, Freshly, is included in this roundup.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

I made over 40 dinners from 11 different meal kit delivery services—and have the recipe cards to prove it.

The Tests

After testing the most popular meal kit delivery services on the market back in 2016, we decided our rankings might need an overhaul—in five years, many services have grown to cater to more diets, prices have largely fallen, and new competition has emerged. So in 2020 and 2021, we re-tested all of the existing contenders along with some new entries that were growing in popularity, including celebrity chef-approved services Martha and Marley Spoon and Gobble.

During our testing, Chef’d was acquired by True Food Innovation and rolled into its True Chef meal kit service—and since True Chef doesn’t deliver nationally, we left it our final ranking. That same reason is why we omitted new services AmazonFresh that are still in beta or only deliver to certain markets.

We ended up separately testing five of the best pre-made meal kits in 2020.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

I tested meal kits across three months in three different kitchens, all with my own cookware.

For each service, we ordered one box of three, two-serving meals through each service's website, choosing a diverse variety of meals when available. We prepared each meal on a weeknight for ourselves and our partners and evaluated for quality of ingredients, recipe accuracy and variety, difficulty, speed, cleanup, taste, and more.

We also considered cost, how eco-friendly and user-friendly the kit’s packaging was, and how easy (or difficult) it was to cancel the service after we were done testing. We scored and compared each meal and kept detailed notes true food nerds.

Why Should I Use a Meal Kit Delivery Service?

Meal prepping and grocery shopping can feel overwhelming whether you’re a parent or log 60 hours per week at your law firm (or both). Meal kits are a great way to expand your tastes and eat healthier, bringing you through the cooking process one step at a time and slicing the time it takes to prepare your food in half.

If you’re overworked and grabbing fast food meals after late nights at the office frequently, a meal kit service may be for you. High levels of sodium, fat, and calories are to be found in the most popular takeout meals and the portion sizes are often grossly proportion.

One study found that popular restaurant meals can have a whopping 1,500 calories on average per serving.

Using a meal kit service can help you to better manage your portions and ingredients for a healthier lifestyle.

A meal kit delivery service can also be a good way to go if you’re interested in trying a new type of diet (such as keto or pescatarian) and makes for an easier transition overall.

What Your First Box Will Include

Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

There's some things you should know about meal kits before choosing one for you.

Even if you’ve already decided which meal kit delivery service is right for you, chances are you’re still confused about what your first box actually entails. While each service has different approaches to ordering, packaging, and delivery, we’ve found that most services have some baseline similarities.

  1. You’ll get a discount on your first box. Almost every service we tried offers a large discount on the first box. While this is an awesome benefit for new customers, don’t let it fool you into thinking one service is much cheaper than the others. Our price breakdown for each service reflects the price you’ll be regularly paying per meal, disregarding initial discounts.

  2. Your box is good to sit on your doorstep until the end of the day.

    Because delivery windows for these services are as broad as a full day, they package ingredients to last outside your actual refrigerator until the end of the day (i.e.

    when you get home from work and errands). Most often, produce and dry ingredients will be grouped in bags above ice packs, and any meat will be fully insulated below ice packs.

  3. The packaging is going to be bulky and cumbersome.

    As much as certain services pride themselves on eco-friendly boxes, there’s no way around the massive amounts of packaging that go into meal kit delivery.

    Disposing of the large, insulated cardboard boxes and ice packs can be a hassle, and you need to stay on top of them lest you develop a small mountain in some corner of your home.

  4. Recipes are usually seasonal, but favorites are often repeated. Every meal kit service has a different approach to repeating meals, but most try to make recipes as seasonal as possible to keep you from getting bored and to guarantee fresh, sustainable produce.

    That being said, most companies make note of the most popular meals and offer them many weeks a year, regardless of season.

    If you really love one of your meals, hold onto the recipe card for future reference so you can request it again—or make it yourself using store-bought ingredients.

  5. Cook your meals soon after receiving them. Meal kit ingredients are typically fresh and high-quality, but there’s nothing special preserving them—they’re just what you buy from the grocery store.

    Because of transit times, they might actually be older than what you buy from the store! That’s why it’s important to give them priority in your fridge and cook them as soon as possible.

    Use common sense when approaching certain dishes—seafood, fresh greens, and chicken should be prepared first, while red meat, pork, and harder produce can last a few more days. Freeze any meat you won’t be eating in the first few days after receiving your box.

  6. Cancel at least one full week before you want your last box.

    Most meal kit companies have solid customer service and flexible cancellation policies, but it’s important to consider the long-term logistics that go into assembling your box.

    If you’re interested in canceling your subscription service, make sure to do it at least one full week before you want your last box. If you want to skip a week or take a break from deliveries, most services allow you to make those selections, too.

  7. Many meal kits are now offered in grocery stores. To combat the high operational costs of delivery-only services, many meal kit companies have partnered with (or been acquired by) major food stores and are now offering its kits in the grocery aisles.

    While we only tested delivery services, many of the recipes we tried are also available in stores for equal or lower prices.

    If you’re curious to try a meal before you subscribe to a service, or you’re willing to regularly visit the grocery store for your meal kits, these are good options at your local chains Stop & Shop, Safeway, and Kroger.

  8. Some meal kit companies now offer pre-prepared and heat-and-eat meals.

    We've noticed a recent trend toward speed and convenience in the meal kit world, both with traditional companies the ones we've tested in this roundup and with frozen and ready-to-eat brands.

    Home Chef now offers at least two oven-ready meals per menu every week, and Sun Basket has introduced both oven-ready and pre-prepped options. We separately tested five of the best pre-made meal delivery services that might interest you if you don't have time to cook.

Before you order, you’ll also want to make sure you have some essential cooking tools at the ready. Here are our recommendations:

We also recommend having a good cast iron pan or a Dutch oven handy. If you’re entirely new to cooking and meal kits are just your gateway into the kitchen, these tools will be all you need to prepare amazing meals for many years to come.

What Meal Kit Delivery Service is Best for Families?

While a meal kit can easily work for one, many consumers wonder if a delivery service will be able to accommodate their entire family. When you’re cooking for an entire family, a meal kit can take a lot of stress your meal.

The challenge is that kids can be picky eaters, but there are family-friendly meals and family plans available.

Most meal kits we tested have the option to select a plan with more servings per recipe, which would easily accommodate a family.

Other Meal Kit Services We Tested

Though we feel that our top picks should satisfy most people, the competition has some benefits, too. Here are our reviews of the other meal kit delivery services that we tested.

Credit: HelloFresh / Reviewed / Cassidy Olsen

HelloFresh has great flavors and fun recipes that are easy to learn.

Credit: EveryPlate / Reviewed / Cassidy Olsen

EveryPlate meals are super affordable, although their menu is limited.

Credit: Martha and Marley Spoon / Reviewed / Cassidy Olsen

Marley Spoon is eco-friendly and unique, but portions are small.

Credit: Blue Apron / Reviewed / Cassidy Olsen

Blue Apron has very easy recipes, but they lack flavor and depth.

Credit: Green Chef / Reviewed / Cassidy Olsen

Green Chef's menus are healthy, but oddly restrictive.

Credit: Purple Carrot / Reviewed / Cassidy Olsen

Purple Carrot's recipes are often inaccurate and bland in flavor.

Cassidy Olsen

Editor, Kitchen & Cooking

@olsencassidy

Cassidy covered all things cooking as the kitchen editor for Reviewed from 2018 to 2020. An experimental home chef with a healthy distrust of recipes, Cassidy lives by the “Ratatouille” philosophy that, with a few techniques and key tools, anyone can cook. She's produced in-depth reviews and guides on everything from meal kits to stand mixers and the right way to cook an egg.

See all of Cassidy Olsen's reviews

Madison Trapkin

Kitchen & Cooking Editor

Madison Trapkin is the kitchen & cooking editor at Reviewed. Formerly the editor-in-chief of Culture Magazine, Madison is the founder of GRLSQUASH, a women's food, art, and culture journal. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Cherrybombe, Gather Journal, and more. She is passionate about pizza, aesthetic countertop appliances, and regularly watering her houseplants.

She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and a Master's of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy from Boston University.

See all of Madison Trapkin's reviews

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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Источник: https://www.reviewed.com/cooking/best-right-now/the-best-meal-kit-delivery-services

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