March 19, 2021
By Clean Plates
Sometimes you want a break from the endless loop of meal planning and grocery shopping and cooking the same recipes over and over again. You want a chance to break out of your cooking rut and try something new — without worrying it’ll be a flop (and that you’ll end up ordering takeout anyway). You just want someone to hand you a recipe and the ingredients and say “Cook this. It’s easy and you’ll love it.”
In other words, sometimes you want a meal kit.
Meal kits introduce you to a rotating cast of chef-driven recipes designed to get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes start to finish. They take planning and shopping out of the equation by sending you everything you need right to your door. Whether you subscribe weekly, bi-weekly or once a month, meal kits mean you don’t have to panic about what’s for dinner.
These days there are dozens of meal kit companies on the market, which is great (options!), but also overwhelming. That’s why we tested several of the most popular meal kits, evaluating each based on several key factors: variety of recipes, quality of ingredients, ease of cooking and, of course, taste. Those that offer affordable prices and great customer service scored even higher.
So which meal kit rose to the top?
Best Meal Kit Overall: Blue Apron
With more than 30 recipe options each week that accommodate a variety of dietary preferences (including carb-conscious, vegetarian, wellness, even WW approved), Blue Apron’s wide-ranging lineup always keeps things interesting. Many of the dishes even feature specialty ingredients and global influences like fregola sarda (a toasted Sardinian pasta similar to Israeli couscous) and togarashi (a flavor-packed Japanese spice mix) — perfect for those looking to try new ingredients and flavors.
The recipes all come with an estimated completion time, which we found to be spot-on, and almost all are ready in under 35 minutes with minimal prep required and few dishes to clean up. The recipe cards feature step-by-step photos and clear, easy instructions that even a beginner can follow with success. In fact, the recipes are a great way to learn to cook and get more comfortable in the kitchen.
We appreciated that the ingredients are responsibly sourced and non-GMO, with a priority on organic ingredients whenever possible. It felt good knowing we were cooking with ingredients we’d buy ourselves. Packaging was minimal and most was recyclable. And the dishes turned out consistently delicious — no surprise, really, considering Blue Apron is one of the original meal kit delivery companies, launching way back in 2012. They’ve had a lot of time to get things right and it shows.
Customers can choose two or four servings per meal — perfect for families— and two, three or four meals per week. As low as $7.49 per serving, it’s far cheaper than takeout, and shipping is free when you order at least three meals. Act now and get $80 off across your first 4 boxes of meal kit deliveries.
4 More Meal Kits We Tried
What we liked: Following a vegan diet can be challenging, especially for those who aren’t used to cooking. Purple Carrot’s vegan meal kits take the guesswork out of following a plant-based diet.
What we didn’t: The dishes were hit-and-miss, sometimes tasting lackluster.
2. Home Chef
What we liked: Home Chef excels at customization, allowing customers to add extra proteins or swap out, say, shrimp for chicken. It’s great for big eaters and picky eaters alike.
What we didn’t: All too often the recipe lineup was unadventurous with dishes that simply tasted middle of the road.
What we liked: Sunbasket wowed us with its healthful, chef-driven dishes built with organic ingredients from independent producers. The sauces were some of our favorites and really made the meals pop.
What we didn’t: With most meals hovering around $11.50 and no free shipping, the price can be hard to swallow.
4. One Potato
What we liked: With a weekly menu of kid-friendly dishes that aren’t dumbed down and are sized for smaller appetites, this is a great option for parents of small children.
What we didn’t: The recipe selection is pretty limited compared to most services. Plus, they don’t ship to every state.