The Scoop on Meal Delivery Services!

 

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. 

Have you ever wanted to try a meal delivery service but weren't sure if the food would be good or if it would really save you money? Well I have The Straight Scoop on Meal Delivery!

This is a Hello Fresh meal that I made myself.

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: 

The Scoop on Meal Delivery

A Sun Basket Meal I made myself.

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.

Get $30 off your Sun Basket order! Organic ingredients from the best West Coast farms and easy, healthy recipes delivered weekly.
Sun Basket

 

Hello Fresh!

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. 

Pinch some salt, not your wallet with HelloFresh! Get fresh ingredients & tasty recipes delivered – Click here! 

Skip the store lines & forget takeout. Get 2 free meals when you try HelloFresh! Eat fresh & healthy

 

Green Chef

The Scoop on Meal Delivery Services

An actual meal I made from Green Chef

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)

leaderboard_trailerboard

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 

72 thoughts on “The Scoop on Meal Delivery Services!

  1. Very interesting! I am always intrigued by the idea of real food meal delivery. It is way beyond our price range, though – even with organic, non-GMO, and pastured/grass fed ingredients we spend less than $10 a day for two people. But I bet these meal are much nicer than the basic ones we prepare!

    • When I factored in the cost of strips, the waste from foods and condiments that don’t get eaten, I’m finding that I’m spending less by far than I was. I just can’t buy and use enough fresh cilantro to make it worth my while. If you are spending $10.00/day for two, Hello Fresh is $70./week for 3 meals that include 10 to 12 oz of meat/serving. You might find its more affordable than you thought.

  2. Ugh. I keep telling my husband that we need to move to CA because here in FL there just aren’t options like this for fresh, organic goodness like this!
    Though, I love to cook and find the ingredients as well so I’m not sure if I would use a service like these, but they look really cool!

  3. I sent two plans to two post-college girls who were starting out on their own as gifts and they loved them. They tried foods that they normally wouldn’t cook and they saved the recipe cards they received so they can cook them again if they choose to. I didn’t think to try them for myself but you’re right; it would cut down on spending money on ‘extraneous’ things at the grocery store!

    • I was introduced to FreshRealm and have really enjoyed it! All of the ingredients come pre-chopped and portioned out so the recipes are quick and easy to follow. If you want to check it out, here is the website, freshrealm.co.

  4. I recently had surgery on my foot, leaving my husband to do the cooking. To make it easier for him, I tried several of the home delivery services, including the ones you have listed here, and found them to be just the perfect thing. The meals were relatively simple to prepare, (the pictures helped too) and both of us were well fed! I tend to eat a much smaller portion of food than he does, so the little extra from my side gave him just the perfect portion for him. I can’t say enough good things about these services. The food was fresh, the prep was easy and neither of us went hungry!

  5. I have been wanting to try one of these and was a bit concerned about the actual products. Thanks for being our tester and explaining each of the 3 companies. Now, to pick which would be the best fit for me. BTW miss your classes!

  6. Thank you for doing this! I’ve always wondered if a meal service was worth it. I’m sad to say that both SunBasket and GreenChef do not deliver to Largo, Fl 🙁 I love that both of these companys are organic and non-gmo. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they come to my area.

  7. 9 months after your blog and I’m using it and applying it now that we are ready. Thanks so much for your research and sharing your talents. Excited to eat better and stress less about doing so. Xo

  8. So between Green Chef & Sunbasket, which did you prefer since they are similar? Was doing Blue Apron & recently switched to Sunbasket but read some complaints that not all of the products were organic :/

  9. okay I was wonder about the GMO in it and the price of the product. Now I have to pick one, since I’m on a budget and want to make sure that I’m picking the right one. Please let me know which one is best for me

    • Hi Precious, Thanks for the comment. Which one is best for you would depend on what was important to you. If organic and non gmo is important then Sun Basket would be your choice if they deliver in your area. If it’s not available in your area then Hello Fresh would be your choice because they deliver nationwide, but they don’t have Paleo choices.If price is the most important criteria then you would have to check out current prices as I am sure they have changed since I posted. I wish I could pick it for you but it depends on what you want!

  10. I currently use hello-fresh and I really like them but I’m pretty sure they don’t have responsibly raised pork. They conveniently only tell you about their chickens and veggies on the website. I have been trying to get an answer from them for over a month to find out if their pigs are humanely raised and they won’t give me a good answer. I just chose to not get the pork options in my delivery now. About 95% of pigs are not raised humanely in the US so I understand why it’s so hard for them to do. I don’t appreciate the lack of transparency however

  11. I was curious, if you are working & not able to get home until later in the day, how long can the food sit in the boxes on your porch without going bad?

  12. I just tried Sunbasket and it really made me feel good to see how they go out of their way to recycle and reuse their packaging. I have tried the others, but I won’t go back to them unless they follow suit with Sunbasket’s efforts to waste not. The lining and ice packs can be used over and over again. Recycling is OK, but reusing is way better. Thank you Sunbasket for helping to save the planet and offering me awesome food.

  13. I am currently using Green Chef and we have been pleased with the quality of ingredients and the fact that some produce is already prepared. But I just read on Facebook that people have trouble canceling their sunscription. I would like to do that since Sun Basket in finally available to us. Has anyone experienced this issue?
    On a side note, excellent review. Thank you!

  14. Thank you so much for putting this together! I have been wondering about the food delivery services and if they’re really as good as they say they are, so it’s great to hear a first-hand experience with a few different ones. I’m super impressed that they can do what they do for so little (and it makes me wonder if they’re cutting corners somewhere we aren’t seeing??) but if not, then I’m all for it! I’ll have to give one a try myself sometime!

  15. Question: these meals are mainly prepared for two people. Which is fine and good. What if there is only one person? This could be a great thing for single people, or seniors, for only one person to eat great planned, partially prepared and sent to our doors meals !! I would be a player !!
    Thank you for the service!

  16. I am interested in Chef’D. What can you tell me about them regarding organic, non GMO, wild caught fish and grass fed responsibly raised beef?

  17. We are an empty nester couple and we eat organic, gluten free and paleo, and LOVE sunbasket and green chef. We have 3 meals a week delivered from each and it is rare to have a meal we don’t like. Highly recommend both, and the best part is, my husband and I cook together now, and it is easy, and we don’t have to shop. It just shows up. Really inexpensive for what it is, and a huge time saver.

  18. Thanks for the I formation. However, I have a few questions:

    Which of the three services would you rate as best and why?

    Did any of these allow you to order whenever desired, rather than on an automatic basis?

    Which one shipped with the least amount of plastic and non-recyclables? And can one return the packing and containers?

    Last of all, which was easiest to cancel?

    I have used two of these services and enjoyed them a lot, but found the afgoremrntioned issues problematic.

    • Hi Janice, all three are super easy to cancel. You would need to check the policies of each company about delivery options, I do know they allow you to scheduled and unschedule as needed. I think each company is doing their best to use the recycable materials in their packaging.

  19. Just a note to say, all Green Chef ingredients are color coded per recipe card. This makes it super easy to sort! I didn’t notice this for my first box and it took awhile to sort before I put it in the recregerator. Then a friend pointed out the colors! The next box sorted lickety split! Super delicious meals. Could be more eco-friendly on the packaging.

  20. We are empty nesters and I find that this is both convenient and cost effective for all of the reasons mentioned previously. However, the one thing you don’t mention is the fact that Hello Fresh gives you several meals to choose between rather than just sending you what they choose. Since my husband has several vegetables he will not eat and there are certain fish I will not eat. This makes Hello Fresh very attractive for us. They also allow you to tell them what things you do not wish to receive ie. pork, shell fish etc. and they make allowances for allergies. If it were organic, non-GMO etc it would be perfect.

    • Thanks Diane, so convenient, I agree! But actually all the services mentioned offer several options to choose from each week. None of the services send what they choose, they all send what you choose, which is so great! 🙂

  21. We’ve tried every meal service except sunbasket and I was trying to find the difference between green chef and sunbasket. You answered my questions and helped me to reconfirm how much I love green chef. It’s more expensive than others but my household is vegan and I love the meals green chef thinks up. They are far more creative than the other meal services we tried that always seem to have too pasta dishes (i.e. Hello fresh and purple carrot). With GC we often have 2 meals per week that are gluten free, because they tend to focus on the ancient grains! One more big perk is that they are now starting to recycle their packaging which is wonderful. You didn’t mention though, that while everything came in one box that they color code the recipes which makes it easy enough to separate the ingredients for each meal. We set them in the fridge together by color when we unbox and everything easy when we are ready to cook dinner. I am sad that my east coast friends can’t enjoy the pleasures of greenchef!

  22. I joined Sunbasket due to blogs like this one, saying their beef was grass fed. Well it is not! I am quite disappointed. In fact, they will occasionally offer it at an upgraded price but I have not seen this happen yet. I will still get their food, but just not the beef. They do have options for upgrading to organic poultry but that is also an up-charge. I just think all of this should be covered in these blogs so that people like me are not disappointed. I will get my beef from butcherbox.

    • At the time I wrote the post (over two years ago, probably closer to three) both grass fed and organic were offered at no up charge. If that has changed I am unaware of it. I will look into it. I also love Butcher Box. Great product!

  23. Thanks so much for your research. I just used “Hello Fresh” and could not have been happier with the entire set up and the food was to “die for”! However, after the 3rd meal, I began to notice my body acting strange….a chemical strange, hard to explain. Anyway, i researched the “Non GMO” factor and was disappointed to learn that they aren’t! Oh well, I hate to fault such a wonderful experience and great tasting food, but I don’t want to die at Monsanto’s hand, any longer!!!! Blessings

  24. I was interested in joining Sunbasket. I called them and asked if all their products were free-ranged, and they said she, but I wasn’t 100% convinced by the person I talked to on the phone. I was trying to get this answer for a while from them, but according to them their meat was free-range.

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