** This post is not sponsored, all boxes were purchased with my own money and not given to me.
I’ve enjoyed cooking ever since I got married. I finally had a real job and could afford more than ramen and had another person to cook for. When I first started out, Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals were my jam. As my skills improved and our tastes expanded, I would add new recipes into the mix. But by the time we had two kids, it was increasingly difficult to meal prep and plan, especially when one of my children refuses anything that isn’t cheese or carbs. When a friend told me about Blue Apron, I tried it and loved it. After doing this plan for a few months, I set out to try its competing meal delivery services – read this review before you try! All boxes are for two people at three meals per week.
I was initially very impressed. The ingredients were fresh, high quality and the recipes were interesting and unique. You can usually try your box for free, after that it’s $60/week.
Pros: Restaurant quality, unique ingredients, good flavors, you can choose which meats you get
Cons: More prep time, ingredients come loose in one big box, produce doesn’t stay fresh past a few days
They just rolled out more options for customization. However, if you’re vegetarian, the meals involve lots of carbs. Even for the meat plans, I always felt the need to add more veggies. Over time, their meals weren’t impressing me as much.
The packaging was the first thing I noticed here. Each meal comes in a bag, so there’s no guessing. With Blue Apron, I often would use the wrong pack of green onions or confuse squash/zucchini because it was separate. This eliminates that problem and makes unpacking and storing way easier. If someone you know subscribes, they can send you a free box. Or head to the site for 1/2 off your first box, regularly $59.94/week.
Pros: Veggie plan available, food stays fresher in packaging, meals took less prep, good variety
Cons: You can’t pick and choose meats
Overall, I really like this one. Ingredients are further prepped (garlic ready to go), and there’s a nice balance of proteins, grains and veggies.
I found this one to be on the higher end in terms of creativity, taking quinoa and veggies to level I wouldn’t have thought of. The ingredients are packaged similar to Hello Fresh, but they don’t seem to stay quite a fresh for as long. This plan had the most meals we really liked. Like the others, you can get a free box if a friend subscribes or an online coupon for a discount on the $71/week.
Pros: better variety, restaurant quality, good portions, customizable
Cons: Plastic bags they store the meals in don’t keep them fresh as long, more expensive
I heard the least about this one, but I tried it based on a Facebook ad for $30 off a box. The quality was good and was really pleased with the portion sizes. The salmon poke bowl was probably my favorite meal. You can earn a free box like its competitors, or snag a coupon from a Facebook ad. This one is $59/week.
Pros: Comes with a binder to store all your recipes, many take 30 minutes or less, easy to unpack and store, some of the best recipes I’ve tried
Cons: less customizable
My two favs are Hello Fresh and Home Chef. Plated was good, but it’s not worth an extra $10 a week. If you have a lot of dietary restrictions, all of these would be challenging. There are great vegetarian options and you can even make most work for vegan. However, if you’re gluten free or Paleo, these meals may not work for you. I did receive a coupon for a service called Sun Basket, which advertises Paleo and GF options-but I didn’t try that one. You probably get the most bang for your buck if you’re a meat eater, as the prices don’t change for veggie meals. But you can change your selection each week, so varying it up is totally feasible. If you enjoy variety and cooking, at $10/serving is worth it for us. I’d love to meal prep and plan all the time but this just works better for us every other week or so.