Being a working mom, I’m honestly not sure how I would function without my meal delivery services. Since I started a year and a half ago with Blue Apron, several other companies have popped up offering basically the same thing. So of course I had to try them all! Here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve learned and loved so far.
What you get: In your weekly box you typically get 3 meals for 2 or 4 people but there are some companies who also offer alternative options. When your box arrives, the ingredients for each of the meals will be identified somehow – by color, bag or box – along with the recipe cards. The meals are designed for novice to intermediate chefs but I will say that the “prep times” listed on the recipe cards are usually way off. I’m guessing this is because novice chefs don’t quite have the chopping skills needed to get everything done in 5 minutes. I certainly don’t. But thankfully I have found that some companies have less chopping than others, and at the end of a long work day, the less chopping I have to do the better.
What I Love: You can’t beat the convenience of having the ingredients for your meals delivered to your door. After a long work day, the last thing I want to do is go to the grocery store. I also love having a variety of types of meals. I’ve definitely tried things I never would have taken the time to research and cook myself so it’s been helpful in broadening my at-home dinner horizons. Also, the customer service at all of the companies has been superb. If your box is missing an ingredient or something explodes in shipping, which has happened to me just a few times, the customer services representative was happy to help and refund me for the meal.
What I Don’t Like: There isn’t a whole lot I don’t like about these services. One thing that was tricky for me in the beginning was that you have to sign up for recurring deliveries. If I forget to cancel one, it gets delivered and sits on my porch rotting. This has only happened once and thankfully I was able to tell a friend to grab it and enjoy. Also, since I juggle multiple companies, I’ve had a week where 2 boxes were delivered. Whoops! But at least I had a lot of meals for the week. Also, the prep. I am definitely not an expert chef so my chopping skills might not be that amazing, but the time the companies list as “prep time” is always way off for your average home cook.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular companies I’ve tried in my area, Southern California, and my brief opinion of them.
Sun Basket (mostly organic*): $12.49 per plate ($11.49 plus $5.99 shipping for the box. The added shipping is new on 6/23/16) *UPDATED 10/20/17 – Sun Basket added non-organic meats to their menu however they now offer an upgrade option to organic.
I’m loving Sun Basket at the moment. All of the meals from this company have been awesome and the I can definitely taste the difference in the quality of their meats. They also seem to have less chopping than Blue Apron and send you things like dressings and tapenades instead of having you make them. They make sure all of their packaging is eco-friendly and send a little background on a local source for one of the ingredients.
Green Chef (organic): from $10.49 to $14.99 per plate depending on what food option you choose (vegetarian, omnivore, vegan, carnivore, gluten-free, and paleo).
The meals from Green Chef also use organic and responsibly raised ingredients. I love the sauces and dressings they send with their meals but it tends to be on the pricier side for the “Carnivore” box ($13.49) which is comparable to what I get from the other companies.
Plated: $12 per plate
I love how many options Plated has every week. There’s definitely way more to choose from than the other services. It’s not organic but the ingredients are high quality. They also offer Chef’s Table meals for an upgraded price if you want a more gourmet meal for any reason. The only reason Plated isn’t at the top of the list is that it’s not organic and is more expensive than Sun Basket.
Hello Fresh: $11.50 per plate.
Like Plated, the only thing that keeps Hello Fresh from my top of the list is that it’s not organic and is almost the same price as Sun Basket. Still their meals are always yummy though tend to be a bit more standard. They don’t send as many dressings or marinades as the above services but meals are still well balanced and colorful. Hello Fresh does offer an app.
$20 off Referral code at HelloFresh.com: G5ASG3
Blue Apron: $9.99 per plate
This is definitely the least expensive option but it’s not my favorite. The ingredients are good but this is definitely the most chop-heavy company of the bunch. This is probably how they can keep their costs down. They do have an app which is nice.
Gobble: $11.95 per plate
I only tried Gobble for one week and then cancelled it. It’s advertised as having meals that are faster to prepare. In my opinion you sacrifice some freshness in the ingredients for the speed. For example, one dish had creamed corn that came in a plastic bag and you prepared it by sticking it in the microwave. It tasted fine but not as fresh as I’m used to from the other services. This would all be okay if the meals were really that quick to make. 2 of the 3 were actually pretty quick but one took me as long if not longer than the other meal services. That plus the inclusion of the microwave in the cooking process really turned me off to it. If I’m going to skip takeout and cook something, I want to actually cook it. But that’s just me! If you’re down to microwave this service might be great for you.
Have you had any experience with a meal delivery service? Share your story with me in the comments below!