Meal kits are undoubtedly a great addition to any busy schedule, but which one will give you the biggest bang for your buck? When they were first introduced, it was a novelty and everyone has an opinion on which is the best. Most of them boast three main things: the convenience, the menu variety, and the easy-to-prepare recipes. Our Editors narrowed down the three most popular to see how they held up against each other.
When prices are similar, what makes one box stand out while another leaves no lasting impression? It comes down to the quality of food, prep time, simplicity - and most importantly, the taste. With a wide variety of meals to choose from each week and a super simple ordering and cooking process, HelloFresh was the clear winner for us. It's no wonder their customers are totally hooked. Here's how they compare.
Details: HelloFresh is the perfect solution for those craving a home-cooked meal. There are three different plans to choose from--Classic, Family, and Veggie--and plans differ depending on the number of people and number of meals you select. Every week, you can pick your menu and decide between a variety of recipes available. The menu may not be as extensive as some other options, but more variety is coming soon. The meals don't require cooking experience and the instructions are easy-to-follow, with minimal prep required. Most recipes take about 30 minutes, while some only take 20. The boxes arrive neatly packaged with the exact amount of labeled ingredients needed for each dinner, so there's no confusion or time wasted. The produce is sourced from farmers and the meat is double wrapped in the refrigerated box to ensure quality when it arrives at your door.
Review: Most people find the food to be the same quality as the farmer's market. The meals are easy to make and taste really good. We couldn't find any online customer issues with the shipping, so that's a plus! In fact, the reviews are filled with 6x more 5-star ratings than other top meal kits, and filled with comments like "best meal delivery company by far", so others must agree with us. There are Family Friendly recipes for the picky eaters and Premium dinners for those who want to branch out (think: Lobster Ravioli with Chorizo and Rib-eye Steak over Truffled Mashed Potatoes).
Consumer Affairs Rating ★★★★☆
Details: Blue Apron, a well-known meal kit offers 2-person or 4-person recipes and a classic family and vegetarian plan. Each week, you can choose from 8 recipes created by their culinary team and they deliver fresh ingredients in pre-measured quantities. Most customers like Blue Apron for the flavor and their inventive dinners. If you consider yourself a foodie, you'll want to try Blue Apron. The quality of food and freshness compares with the best, and their dinners have a reputation for being advanced cooking.
Review: While Blue Apron strive to be perfect, it's this that gets them in trouble. Most reviews about Blue Apron complain about how long the dinners take to cook. Their customers spend too much time chopping vegetables and waste time completing tedious tasks like slicing and roasting almond to sprinkle on top of their meals as a garnish. Families have said that their kids won't eat the meals and the options are not friendly to picky eaters. While the quality of the food and freshness is comparable to the other top players, the general feeling is that it takes too long to cook the meals. And if you're not a top chef, the recipes are complicated and people end up with a not-so-great dinner that they worked hard for.
Consumer Affairs Rating ★★☆☆☆
Details: Home Chef offers 16 different meals each week and allows you to preview the menu up to five weeks in advance. You can select your menu or can opt for Home Chef to build a menu for you based on their recommendations and your order history. Plans range in price depending on the one you choose, and they have a plan for 2, 4, or 6 servings (good for those who require more servings for larger families). The recipes are made for all levels of cooking. Some recipes require a bit more skill, but all seem to be accessible for a beginner. They offer dietary varieties like vegetarian, low-carb, nut-free, gluten-free and soy-free recipes, and all recipes can be prepared in around 30 minutes.
Review: We read a bunch of online reviews, and some of the main complaints were shipping issues. It sounds like Home Chef used to be a fan favorite for many, but earlier this year they changed their delivery service and meal kit horror stories ensued. The pain points revolved around boxes arriving days after the delivery date which, in some cases, meant spoiled meat and rotting food arriving on the doorstep or even a box showing up with a "damaged" sticker and thawed ice packs inside. People complained that the customer service wasn't much help and simply advised they throw away the box without offering to send a new one. We have to hope these are just worst case scenarios, but it's not surprising that they were given a 2 star rating by Consumer Affairs.
Consumer Affairs Rating ★★☆☆☆
Editor's Final Takeaway:
HelloFresh was the clear winner for all of us. The entire process from menu selection to delivery and meal prep was straightforward and simple. The ingredients were fresh and top-quality, and most important of all, the meals were delicious.
The food quality and freshness may be as good as the rest, but if you're just looking for a quick, time-saving dinner, Blue Apron may not be for you. Blue Apron is a great option for those who learning new techniques and testing their cooking skills.
Based on the many negative reviews online, Home Chef has some work to do. The site offers a good variety of recipes, but getting started on the site is a little less intuitive than the other two kits, and could potentially hold people back from signing up.
Update: The folks at HelloFresh are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to get 8 meals free!