Meal delivery services seem to be all the rage. And I get it. Many people simply don’t have time to cook, or don’t want to. Believe me, as a food blogger I hear this ALL THE TIME! So instead of cooking, people eat out…a lot. But dining out is expensive, and often leads to over eating, and more importantly you don’t know what is in the food or how it is raised! So meal delivery services seem to be a really great option. They provide the healthy meals, you know exactly what you are eating and you save time because you don’t need to shop as often and most of the prep work is done for you so cooking is a snap…supposedly. I say ‘supposedly’ because quite frankly even though several of my neighbors were using meal delivery services and were very happy with them, I was skeptical. I just couldn’t see how this could be done and done well, especially for the price.
So I decided to do a little investigating. I searched out the best and brightest meal services and they each sent me a box with three nights of dinners to try. Thanks Sun Basket, Hello Fresh, and Green Chef! Wondering how it went? I will break it all down for you and let you know what I think.
What The Services Have in Common
Each of the three services I am featuring in this post deliver weekly to your door, fresh pre-measured ingredients for three meals for two people with recipe instructions in ‘eco friendly’ refrigerated boxes. You just pull out the ingredients, transfer them to your fridge and cook them when ready. This saves time at the grocery store and time in preparation. Each recipe usually takes about 25-35 minutes to make, start to finish, and for two people can cost less than what you would pay for ingredients at the store, I honestly don’t know how they do it! Shipping is included in the pricing. The recipe instructions include ingredient and nutritional information. The differences between the services will be broken down below. So let’s get going and see what’s cooking in the world of meal delivery services! I chose the order of presentation by by price point. (This post contains affiliate links)
Sun Basket offers hand-selected, seasonal food from the Pacific Coast’s best farms. Recipes are created by Chef Justine Kelly and can be personalized with Chef’s Choice, Paleo-Friendly, Gluten-Free and Vegetarian options. Sun Basket uses organic produce, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, and responsibly raised animals. $9.99 per meal no matter which option you choose.
What I Thought: The food from Sun Basket was delicious and the fact that the food is certified organic, sustainably raised and GMO free was a huge plus for me. Kudos to Sun Basket! The recipes were very creative, super easy to follow, and I loved the flavor combinations. The portions were perfect! It took exactly the amount of time to prep and cook the meals as stated (about 25 minutes, so easy!). The herbs were fresh and besides receiving a slightly underripe cantaloupe, everything was pretty great. That happens when I pick my own cantaloupe too BTW. The food arrives in one big box at your door but Sun Basket separates each meal into separate brown paper bags so you don’t have to figure out what ingredients go with which meal. Additional time saver! The meals each came with a recipe card with a photo of the finished meal but not step by step photo instructions. Bonus points: Sun Basket also offers free return shipping on packaging so they can recycle/reuse for you! Sun Basket delivers to AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, VA, WA, WV, VT, & parts of AR.
Hello Fresh creates delicious recipes from a variety of cuisines. Each one is reviewed by Rebecca, an in-house dietician to ensure it is balanced and nutritious. The menus are seasonal, fresh, and quite gourmet. Hello Fresh builds close relationships with purveyors, small farmers, butchers, fish mongers and fellow culinary enthusiasts to ensure quality control. Hello Fresh also has an app you can download on your phone. Love that! Pricing per meal: from $9.08 for vegetarian boxes to $10.75 for omnivores. Hello Fresh delivers everywhere in the continental US.
What I thought: I loved every single meal we made from Hello Fresh. I felt like I was eating at a really good cafe every night. Great variety! I was also very pleased with the way Hello Fresh was packaged. They didn’t use a lot of plastic and the ingredients for each meal came in a small box that could easily be stacked and slid into the fridge, taking up very little space. When I was ready to cook I just pulled out the little box and all the ingredients were right there. I also liked their recipe booklet which included step by step instructions with photos of each step. Very handy, especially for the beginner chef. All the recipe portions were generous and while Hello Fresh offers a vegetarian menu it does not offer Paleo or Gluten free options as of yet (coming soon). Meals usually took 35-40 minutes to make. No artificial ingredients but not 100% organic or GMO free.
Vegetarian? Paleo? Gluten‑Free? No problem. Green chef has a menu to suit your style. Fresh, organic ingredients and diverse recipes. Green Chef offers produce certified organic by CCOF, Wild-caught salmon, grass fed beef, all ingredients are fresh and sustainably sourced. No synthetic pesticides, no genetically modified organisms, no artificial ingredients, no growth hormones or antibiotics. Balanced meals with 450-750 calories per serving. Vegetarian starts at $10.49, Omnivore $11.99, Paleo $13.49 a meal.
What I thought: I was really happy with each meal and the fact that Green Chef meals are organic and GMO free, again, my hat is off to Green Chef! Everything was fresh, tasty, and flavorful, as promised. Green Chef goes the extra mile and even chops and slices some of the veggies for you. And since time saving is one of the perks of meal delivery I really enjoyed that little extra! The food came together in one big box instead of being separated by meal, so I had to go through the food to figure out which items went with which recipes. Green Chef portions were generous (which made my husband very happy) and I thought the Green Chef recipe cards were perfect for the beginner chef, showing step by step instructions with photos, taking all the guess work out of it. Meals took between 25-30 minutes to make. Green Chef delivers throughout most of western and central US, but delivery is not yet available on the East Coast. And look…they are offering Organic Kitchen followers four meals free! Just click the banner below and then click the 4 meals free banner! (first time users only)
The Experience Overall:
Signing up and ordering from each service was a breeze. Each service has the menu for the next week posted on their website ahead of time so you can change menus if something doesn’t suit you or skip a week if you are going out of town. Really, the simplicity and convenience of these services was amazing. Overall I really enjoyed the experience and the food.
I Actually Did Save Money and Time…
So yes, the meals did actually cost less (for two of us) than what I spend for sustainably raised, organic, non GMO foods at the grocery store but the biggest savings came from less trips to the store! You know how that works, the more often you go the more money you spend. I also saved a ton of time. Actually between less trips to the store, food prep and wandering around the store wondering what to make (yes I do that too) I saved about three hours.
A Surprise Perk:
Something I learned and really appreciated from having these meals that are designed by professional chefs was this: even if you are a great cook, you still develop favorites and habits, you know… the things you make all the time and the herbs and spices you use all the time.… I loved being exposed to ingredients, spices and flavor combinations I had never used before. It broadened my horizons and will make me a better and more adventurous cook!
So yea…or nay?
I am glad to report I can say “Yea”. Trying out the services and seeing how the whole thing worked completely dissolved my skepticism.
Who Would Benefit From These Services?
I would say that food delivery services are great for a variety of people: newly weds, empty nesters, people living in a roommate situation, working couples that love to cook but don’t have the time to figure out the menus and shop, or anyone that wants to step away from a processed food diet but doesn’t know where to start! If you want to eat better but just don’t have the knowledge or skills I think this is a great place to learn. If you decide to choose a service, which service you choose would depend on your personal preferences, location and budget.
Thanks for stopping in and if you think your friends would enjoy a meal delivery service I hope you will share this post with them ~ Linda Spiker