Maybe you’re looking to pick up some cooking skills that don’t include “add Ramen seasoning to boiling water.” Maybe you’re looking to avoid food waste. Maybe you just want to expand your palate. In any case, meal delivery services can be incredible—provided that you select the right one.
With these services, you select a meal plan and recipes that interest you. The ingredients show up in a big refrigerated box, and you cook them according to the included instructions. Sounds simple enough, right?
All five of the services we chose to review allow their users to skip a week or multiple weeks without penalty. We also listed the prices for each service’s plan for two people eating three meals per week. Note that prices can vary depending on dietary preferences, number of servings, and other factors.
Perhaps the most famous meal delivery service around, Blue Apron has introduced a few significant changes in recent months. Most notably, users can now select from a much wider variety of recipe options. While the service hasn’t jumped on the gluten-free train just yet, it offers plenty of choices for vegetarians. The service’s website notes that many recipes can be adjusted with simple at-home substitutions to meet special dietary needs.
If you want to upgrade your slicing and dicing skills, Blue Apron shines. The service’s instructional videos are simple, straightforward, and intuitive, so they’re extremely helpful if you’re not a regular cook. The ingredients are spectacular, with frequent selections from small, sustainable farms.
The bottom line: In pretty much every conceivable area, Blue Apron is still the service to beat. If you’re looking to learn some basic cooking skills while expanding your palate, it’s the best choice, although if you have a restricted diet, you’ll want to keep reading.
Find out more on Blue Apron’s website.
Plated offers options for families (or roommates, as the case may be), and you can choose between two, three, or four servings per week. You can also add on desserts for $4 per person, which helps to elevate the service over some of its competitors.
Users can also upgrade to the “Chef’s Table” option, which includes specialty meats and seafoods, for an additional cost. That brings us to the biggest problem with Plated: While the meals are wonderful, the bill can quickly add up. Still, you’re saving on what you’d spend at a restaurant.
The bottom line: If you value versatility and add-ons, Plated is a fine choice, but it’s not the best option if you’re on a budget.
Find out more on Plated’s website.
Similar to Blue Apron in a number of ways, HelloFresh offers a wider variety of weekly plans. The service offers a capable set of instructional materials, including an Android and iOS app, but with simpler information than what you’d find with Blue Apron.
Users can also select “fit” and “quick” options from the recipe selector. That’s helpful if you’re looking into using a meal delivery service to lose weight or save time. HelloFresh also offers many dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free options, which are clearly labeled on its website.
The bottom line: HelloFresh is a great choice if you’re looking to save time or build a healthier diet. It’s also one of the least expensive services, and it’s a bargain given the quality of the ingredients.
Find out more on HelloFresh’s website.
Home Chef’s meals aren’t too adventurous, but if you’re looking for simpler meals, that might be a good thing. If you’re looking to impress a date, you’re probably better off with one of the other services.
Additionally, some of the recipes can be slightly tricky, as Home Chef doesn’t include as many instructional materials as some of the other services. Still, the food tastes great, and at the end of the day, that’s the most important factor to consider.
The bottom line: If you’re looking to pick up recipes that you can re-use, this might be the best choice—you can find many of the basic ingredients at your local grocery store.
Find out more on Home Chef’s website.
Sun Basket focuses on using organic, non-GMO ingredients. The service offers paleo, vegetarian, and gluten-free options on its weekly menus, displayed with large, clear identifiers so that you won’t make any mistakes. The recipes are delicious and adventurous, and all of the shipping materials are recyclable (the same is true of HelloFresh and Blue Apron).
The only real downside we could find is that Sun Basket is more expensive than most of the other options, since you’ll pay a nominal shipping fee. Hey, you get what you pay for—the sustainably sourced foods are absolutely delicious, and the service offers a money-back guarantee to make the cost easier to stomach (pardon the pun).
The bottom line: If you have a restricted diet or if you’re looking for a sustainable option that isn’t too hard on the environment, Sun Basket is the best choice.
In fact, we’d recommend giving it a try even if you don’t have dietary restrictions—the recipes are amazing, and some people will certainly prefer Sun Basket to Blue Apron.
Find out more on Sun Basket’s website.
Regardless of which service you choose, make sure that you’ve properly stocked your kitchen.
Here’s some essentials that you might need:
Assuming that you’re just getting into cooking for the first time, you probably don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on stainless-steel cookware just yet. That’s completely fine. This non-stick set costs $62.76 on Amazon, and the heavy-gauge aluminum transfers heat well.
Here’s another superior cookware set with a manageable price tag. Faberware’s 17-piece cookware set should give you everything you need to start cooking for yourself, and at about $60, it’s not a huge investment.
This 24-piece set gives you just about everything you need to conquer your kitchen. It’s made with BPA-free silicone, nylon, and plastic.
You need knives to cook, and while this budget set won’t last for years, it’ll at least help you take that next step in your culinary education. For less than $55, you’re not going to find a better knife set, and the attractive block makes this a no-brainer.
Have a small kitchen? This nesting mixing bowl and measuring set won’t take up much room, but it’ll give you plenty of tools for everyday cooking.
This is ideal in small kitchens. It’s a cutting board with a built-in strainer, perfect for rinsing vegetables while you continue to prep.
Have leftovers? Check out these great storage containers.
These dishwasher-safe, BPA-free food containers aren’t fancy, but they do the trick. Every house should have a set.