Best Meal Delivery Services

Take the planning out of cooking

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Photo composite of plated salads topped with grilled chicken

Simply Recipes / Designed by Amelia Manley

If you'd rather not cook or don't have the time to do so, meal delivery services have you covered. But with so many choices on the meal delivery market, selecting the best one for you can be a challenge.

The key is finding a service that fits your needs, whether you're seeking an option that caters to families, kitchen newbies, or dietary restrictions. We researched the best meal delivery services and ranked them accordingly.

Best Meal Delivery Services of 2021

Best Overall: Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon

Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon

 Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon

Why We Chose It: Appealing dinners that aren’t too complicated and plenty of weekly menu choices make this plan an all-around solid pick.

What We Like
Six-step meals ready in 30 minutes
Appealing recipes with a curated feel

What We Don’t Like
No add-ons

Like everything else in Martha Stewart's empire, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon has a curated feel that’s also approachable, with a broad appeal.

Beef bibimbap with shiitake mushrooms, cream chicken Florentine, and black bean burger with sweet potato fries are just a sampling of menu options. There’s a little bio for each recipe’s developer to give it a more personal feel. Step-by-step photos leave no guesswork in meal prep and assembly. 

You’ll find family-friendly, low-carb, low-calorie, and vegetarian options—but no heat-and-eat entrees or add-ons. An “ingredient hub” page makes it easy to scrutinize recipes for ingredients that are off-limits for you.

Serves: Two or four
Frequency: Two to six times per week 
Cost: $9.49 per person for two or $7.99 per person for four, plus a flat $8.99 shipping fee

Best for Basic Cooks: HelloFresh

HelloFresh

HelloFresh

Why We Chose It: HelloFresh is a classic standby in the meal delivery game. An impressive weekly variety of meals, none of which are too out there, take the uncertainty out of leaping into meal kits.

What We Like
Quick and easy recipe options
Plenty of weekly variety

What We Don’t Like
No add-ons

HelloFresh is like your trustworthy bestie, so it’s no surprise it recruited hang-worthy Mindy Kaling to be a spokesperson. Its 25 weekly recipe options offer something for everyone, especially cooks who only want to branch out a little. Its focus is on its array of meal kits, with no heat-and-eat options or other fripperies.

Bruschetta burgers, hoisin honey chicken, and black bean and poblano flautas are a few examples of choices. The average recipe takes 30 minutes to make, but you can select your preference for quick and easy meals (as well as calorie-smart, family-friendly, and veggie-heavy).

To make selecting easy, you can search recipes by difficulty, ingredient, cuisine, type, and diet. Offerings are only for dinner unless you like hearty lunches.

Serves: Two or four
Frequency: Three to five times per week
Cost: Starts at $8.99 per person, with an $8.99 weekly shipping fee

Best for Families: Dinnerly

Dinnerly

Dinnerly

Why We Chose It: This budget-friendly service keeps it simple with fewer steps, fewer ingredients, and lots of mainstream appeal.

What We Like
Lower cost than most services
Lunch and dessert add-ons
Family-pleasing recipes

What We Don’t Like
Not customizable
Not as many diet options

Dinnerly is the bare-bones sister of Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon: Everything, from the packaging to the recipes, is streamlined to keep costs and time investment down. It even skips recipe cards—the info is all on your phone or tablet. That’s good news for those who want hassle-free meal delivery, but it’s a possible drawback for people with special diets or those who crave variety, culinary novelty...and printed recipe cards.

Recipes are generally crowd-pleasing, but with some fun tweaks that shouldn't put off most picky eaters. Smash burgers and oven fries with special sauce, cheesy skillet pulled pork enchiladas, and shrimp alfredo are a few examples.

Each meal takes only five steps to make, and keeping the ingredient list short shaves off time, too. There’s a vegetarian option, but otherwise, there’s not as much choice here for those with special diets. It does have add-on egg bites, desserts, and protein packs of ground beef and chicken breasts.

Serves: Two or four
Frequency: Three to six times per week
Cost: Starts at $4.69 per person with a flat $8.99 weekly shipping fee

Best Organic: Sunbasket

Sunbasket

Sunbasket

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Why We Chose It: A commitment to sourcing high-quality ingredients and keeping flavors fresh makes Sunbasket stand out from the pack.

What We Like
Many choices for special diets
Both meal kit and heat-and-eat options
Lunch, breakfast, snack, and protein add-ons

What We Don’t Like
Price is on the higher end

If organic ingredients are important to you, Sunbasket’s right up your alley. The company is committed to using a minimum of 99 percent organic fresh produce, eggs, milk, and yogurt. And it will only use seafood deemed “best choice” or “good alternative” from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Meat is hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Sunbasket accommodates plenty of special diets, including vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, low-carb, and diabetes-friendly. Some menus include miso-glazed halibut, Catalan chicken with green romesco, and pineapple fried rice with tofu.

Meal kit recipes are ready for the table in 15-40 minutes. Sunbasket also offers Fresh & Ready heat-and-eat entrees for times when you'd rather not cook. If having only organic ingredients is a must, be aware that not all of Sunbasket’s offerings are organic.

Serves: Two or four
Frequency: Two to four times per week
Cost: Meal kits start at $10.99 per person, Fresh & Ready entrees start at $8.99 per meal. Shipping is $7.99 per week.

Best Vegan: Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot

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Why We Chose It: For longtime vegans or those just trying it out, Purple Carrot offers colorful meals packed with whole foods and big flavors.

What We Like
100 percent plant-based offerings
Breakfast, lunch, and snack add-ons

What We Don’t Like
Not as many recipe options per week as other services

Purple Carrot is not for picky eaters or people who like to eat more basic things. It provides nourishing food for the plant-based set in search of vibrant meals.

Fake meat shows up occasionally, but usually, the ingredients speak for themselves; see the company's lemon braised chickpeas and peanut vegetable buddha bowls recipes.

There are gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, low-carb, and high-protein options with cook time averaging 30 minutes. Add lunch and breakfast kits or ready-made snacks to your order, if you like.

Serves: Two or four
Frequency: Two servings three to four nights per week or four servings two to three nights per week
Cost: $11.99 per serving for two people, $9.99/serving for four people. Shipping is free initially.

Best for Adventurous New Cooks: Blue Apron

Blue Apron

Blue Apron

Why We Chose It: Blue Apron is a smart go-to for fledgling cooks who want to try out new ingredients and flavors with ease and comfort.

What We Like
Longevity (operating since 2012)
Variety of meals and options for special diets
Quality add-ons, including kitchen gear

What We Don’t Like
Packaging intensive
Not good for picky eaters

Blue Apron has been in the game a long time and has made its business a one-stop depot for foodies who love to eat but feel intimidated by cooking.

Choose from 12 dinners each week, many with an international flair: see mushroom mazemen, togarashi tilapia, and shawarma turkey skillet. Meals for special diets include vegetarian, diabetic, and Weight Watchers-friendly recipes. Most recipes require 20 minutes of active time, but some go up to 50 minutes. Recipes include clear step-by-step photos.

The marketplace really distinguishes Blue Apron. Not only can you get wine, but you can stock your kitchen with brand-name kitchen gear, from skillets to forged Japanese knives to...yes, blue aprons.

Serves: Two or four
Frequency: Two to four times per week
Cost: Starts at $8.99 per person, with a flat $7.99 weekly shipping fee

Final Verdict

The primary advantage of meal delivery services is saving subscribers shopping time and meal planning. They may also allay guilt about food waste. Drawbacks include lots of packaging, menu repetition, and inability to suit all special diets.

People use meal kits and delivery for various reasons, from help during a busy time to assistance learning the ropes of cooking meals at home. It’s unlikely one meal service will suit every person’s needs exactly, but there are enough options to find one to suit your needs. Note: All of the services on our list deliver to most parts of the continental United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Services That Deliver Three Portions?

All of the services we researched only have plans for two or four portions and Green Chef has plans for six as well. The exceptions are services with only heat-and-eat meals, which you order by the meal itself.


Is It Easy to Cancel or Pause a Meal Delivery Service?

Every company we looked into has very clear policies allowing you to cancel when you want. However, some do need advance notice so they can stop before your next shipment goes out.

Likewise, pausing a meal delivery service for a few weeks isn’t a problem. Companies can even send deliveries to other addresses for a period (like a vacation house).

Do Meal Kits Really Cut Food Waste?

If you’re looking at post-consumer food waste (food people buy to cook at home but never do), they do cut down on it. However, there are other resources the kits use, such as fuel needed for delivery and kit packaging. But bottom line: Studies suggest meal kits have a smaller carbon footprint than regular grocery shopping.


Can You Recycle Meal Kit Packaging?

People who use meal kits often criticize the volume of packaging they use. Almost every service we considered had a page of directions for recycling packaging on their website, and some had good ideas for re-using. However, a lot of recycling programs only take certain plastics, and frozen gel-packs need to be thrown in the trash.


How We Chose the Best Meal Delivery Services

We looked at 18 services and narrowed them down based on service coverage area, customer satisfaction, quality of ingredients, variety and appeal of meals, price, and ease of ordering. We also took into account options for different diets, company practices, and the flexibility of plans.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.