We Tested and Reviewed the Best Meal Kit Delivery Services for Right Now
As the coronavirus continues to spread, Americans are encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing as much as possible. For many of us, that means finding alternate ways to feed ourselves and our families. One option: meal kit delivery.
There are a lot of different companies out there — and I’ve tried most of them over these last few months (before the coronavirus was an issue). All in all, I’ve tested 15 different kits that seemed the most unique and had the biggest reach in terms of national availability.
How I Evaluated the Meal Kits
For each company, I ordered three meals that served four people. I aimed for a range of dishes, from simple and kid-friendly to something more adventurous in flavor and I always chose at least one vegetarian option. I evaluated the kits on a range of criteria: flavor; freshness of the ingredients; efficiency of the packaging; ease of the ordering process; and quality of the recipes.
For the most part, all the companies did a pretty good job, and, ultimately, pretty much every meal kit will help you get dinner on the table, which is pretty key these days. There were a few I probably wouldn’t use again: I didn’t love Blue Apron’s excessive packaging, and I found both Purple Carrot and Martha & Marley Spoon to be a bit boring. But there were a handful that I really loved.
Here are my top choices for meal-kit delivery companies. I recommend trying them any time — and especially right now.
But First, Are Meal Kits Safe to Order During the Coronavirus Crisis?
How Meal Kit Companies Are Adapting
Meal kit companies already have to abide by strict sanitation and food handling procedures, but they’re also stepping up their sanitation frequency and keeping an eye on their supply chain and distribution channels. “We are closely monitoring the developing situation around COVID-19, and are following best practices set in place by the CDC, WHO, FDA, and local authorities,” a spokesperson for Sun Basket told me. “We are reinforcing strict adherence to our existing standard operating procedures and increasing sanitization frequency in our offices and distribution centers.” A spokesperson for HelloFresh, which also owns Green Chef and EveryPlate says, “We have implemented additional safety measures such as more frequent handwashing and sanitation of our facilities along with limited access to our production site.”
In addition to taking safety precautions within the facilities, these companies are also working working closely with distributors to make sure that ingredients are handled properly before they arrive in said facilities. And they’re doing as much as possible to make sure that customer deliveries remain reliable and consistent— even as grocery stores empty out or close altogether.
What the World Health Organization & FDA Are Saying About Meal Kits and Meal Delivery
Again, meal kit companies already have to stick to very strict sanitation and food handling procedures. And according to the Food & Drug Administration, there is no evidence that food can transmit COVID-19.
If you’re worried that the packages might get contaminated during shipping, rest assured that it’s not likely. “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low,” according to a statement on the WHO website. That’s because the virus isn’t likely to survive on surfaces after days of traveling through a variety of temperatures.
So, if you’re thinking about ordering meal kits, now is a pretty good time to give one a try. Here are the ones I liked the most during my intensive testing period. They’re all still making things work, despite what’s going on in the world, and taking precautions to keep everyone safe.
The Best Overall Meal Kit: Home Chef
The meals I tried were all delicious, the ingredients fresh, and the service is super- flexible. You can swap out, upgrade, or even double the proteins. You can get meals that serve up to six people (most companies cap out at four) and you can order as many as 8 meals a week. The recipes range from super-fast, pre-prepped dishes that can be on the table in 15 minutes, to more traditional 30-minute meals. Click here for a more detailed review of Home Chef.
Sign up for Home Chef here.
The Best Vegetarian Meal Kit: Sun Basket
Sun Basket goes heavy on vegetables, not just cheese and carbs, for its vegetarian meals. (Actually it goes heavy on veg for its omnivore meals, too.) The ingredients are all organic and the sauces and dressings were really, truly delicious. These pre-made components were restaurant-worthy and made the meals pop. Read our full review of Sun Basket here.
Sign up for Sun Basket here.
The Best Smaller Meal Kits for Singles and Couples: HelloFresh
HelloFresh and its main competitor, Blue Apron, both seem aimed at singles and couples, with their two-serving, two-meal plans and wine club add-ons. Although Blue Apron doesn’t charge for shipping, HelloFresh offers much tastier meals and a wider array of choices. And college students always get a 15% discount and free shipping. Click here for our full review of HelloFresh.
Sign up for HelloFresh here.
The Best Meal Kit for Families with Little Kids: One Potato
When you have little kids, meal kits that serve two people aren’t enough, while those that serve four are too much. One Potato solves this problem by offering meals that take half servings into account. The meals come with most of the ingredients already chopped, so prep time takes only about 5 minutes, and the recipe cards offer tips for how to get kids in on the kitchen action. The meals I tried were delicious, and I loved how they were globally inspired and not dumbed down. Plus, you get free cookie dough in every box.
Sign up for One Potato here.
The Best Meal Kit for Tight Budgets: EveryPlate or Dinnerly
Most meal kits cost an average $9 per serving, although those with organic ingredients or more pre-chopped ingredients often cost a few dollars more. But EveryPlate and Dinnerly cost just $5 per serving (plus $8.99 shipping), so it’s possible to get three meals for two people for less than $40. For people with limited time and a limited budget, who don’t want to resort to fast food, these companies are a boon. The downside is the meals I tried from each tended to be a bit boring. If you feel comfortable getting a little creative, though, it would only take a few additions from your pantry (things like olives, feta, harissa, and fish sauce can go a long way) to make them pretty tasty.
Sign up for EveryPlate or Dinnerly here!
Do you have a favorite meal kit? Tell us about it in the comments below!