Meal Kit Delivery Faceoff: Which is Best + Our Favorite Recipes

Meal Kit Delivery Service Face Off

The ads for meal kit delivery services are everywhere, promising to save time, increase variety, and deliver fresh ingredients to your doorstep, so you can enjoy scratch-cooked, chef-designed meals at home. Many of my friends and family members have jumped on the meal kit delivery service bandwagon, yet because I’ve been a diehard meal prepper for years, I admit I had never even considered this to be an option for my family. I am plenty capable of reading a recipe and gathering ingredients from my local grocery store or simply ordering groceries to pick up if I’m that crunched for time.

So, when I began to look into meal delivery services, I went in with a somewhat closed mind, but I was willing to “take one for the team,” so I could give my honest opinion on meal delivery services available.

I will get into each of the services themselves and the meals I tried in a minute, but for now, I will just say I’m left eating my words and will no longer give meal delivery services a bad rap.

Meal delivery services offer folks the chance to have fresh ingredients delivered to their doors in pre-packaged amounts, so you’re not wasting any ingredients, and you’re getting the opportunity to try things you may not have otherwise tried. I mean, how often do you stray from your “favorites” when you dine out at your favorite restaurant? Even if you try a new hot spot, do you typically order something outside of your comfort zone? If you are like most folks, you probably stick somewhat close to what you’re familiar with.

The meal kit delivery services offer you the experience of trying new recipes without having to buy an obscene amount of an ingredient you may never use again, just to make one recipe. Everything is carefully measured out for you for each recipe. This is a great idea for anyone who is tired of the same old, same old and doesn’t have time to look up recipes or make a trip to the store.

Meal delivery service is somewhat expensive after the initial trial period (or promo code) has been used but very reasonable when a promo code is used. Meal kit delivery service still has the consumer standing in the kitchen each night; however, if you are like me, the kids really got into the whole process because of the delivered box making it feel like Christmas morning (in March). They were pretty darn excited to participate, and my daughter even helped do some of the prep, so I consider that a HUGE win.

Without further ado, let’s get into my experience with three of the most popular meal kit delivery services available: Hello Fresh, Home Chef, and Blue Apron.

Meal Kit Delivery Service Review: Hello Fresh

If you want to take the guesswork out of “what’s for dinner” by having healthy ingredients delivered right to your doorstep with easy-to-read, step-by-step, 8X10 color recipe cards, then look no further. Hello Fresh delivers this and much more in their meal kit delivery service.

With 10 menu options to choose from each week, you can customize the meal preference and meal frequency to meet the needs of you and your family. The options for meal preference are classic, vegetarian, and family, and you may select the smallest plan which is three meals per week for two people, or the largest which is four meals per week for a family of four.

No matter what you choose, you will be supplied with all of the ingredients needed to prepare a healthy, delicious, well-balanced meal.

Being a single mom, I decided to try out the classic meal plan with three meals for two and scheduled my delivery for a Monday. My first box arrived complete with three recipe cards, three protein sources, and three bags complete with pre-measured ingredients for each recipe. Everything was packaged in a sturdy box with ice packs and labeled accordingly. The pricing for this option is $59.94, but they offer promo codes for first-time customers. The standard pricing equates to roughly $10.00 per meal per serving.

Below I have detailed each of these meals, along with the prep time, nutrition information, and my take on the meal itself. Since these meals were designed for two adult servings, they were perfect for one adult and two children.

Meal Kit Delivery Services

Carolina Barbecue Chicken with Quick Stovetop Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Green Beans

Meal Kit Contents:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • chives
  • green beans
  • cream cheese
  • white wine vinegar
  • Thai chili
  • gemelli pasta
  • cheddar cheese
  • barbecue sauce

Additional ingredients required for this meal:

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp oil

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 servings

  • Calories: 680
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Carbs: 56 g
  • Protein: 35 g

This meal took roughly five minutes to prepare the ingredients and a total of 20 minutes to cook the entire meal. Green beans are well…green beans. The macaroni and cheese was really delicious, and I think it was a fantastic idea to add in cream cheese to give it a little extra oomph. The combination of white wine vinegar and barbecue sauce along with the chili pepper was amazing.

This is a super simple meal that I could see myself making again the future, and it is one that will be easy to work into my weekly dinner rotation. The portion sizes for the chicken and green beans were perfect for two people; however, the macaroni and cheese was more like four servings.

Balsamic Onion Burgers with Crispy Cauliflower

Meal Kit Contents:

  • cauliflower florets
  • red onion
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • dried oregano
  • brioche buns
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • garlic
  • ground beef
  • mayonnaise

Additional ingredients required for this meal:

  • 4 tsp oil

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 servings

  • Calories: 780
  • Fat: 46 g
  • Carbs: 56 g
  • Protein: 35 g

The prep time for the ingredients was roughly five minutes, and the total cook time was about 30 minutes. The cauliflower was just the right texture of being crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Sweating out the onions with balsamic vinegar was something I had not tried before, and this one ingredient made the burger.

After creating a burger with just ground beef and oregano, it taught me that I don’t need to add a whole bunch of ingredients (e.g., egg, breadcrumbs, spices, sauces) to make a burger come to life. Allowing the meat to hold its own and add a great topping such as the sautéed balsamic onions and aioli on the toasted bun was all that it needed.

One Pan Hearty Pork Chili with Kidney Beans and Poblano Pepper

Meal Kit Contents:

  • scallions
  • poblano pepper
  • ground pork
  • chicken stock concentrate
  • cheddar cheese
  • garlic
  • kidney beans
  • Mexican spice blend
  • crushed tomatoes
  • sour cream

Additional ingredients required:

  • 2 tsp oil

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 servings

  • Calories: 770
  • Fat: 40 g
  • Carbs: 51 g
  • Protein: 50 g

The prep time for this meal was approximately 10 minutes, and I allowed the chili to simmer for a few extra minutes than the suggested time, so the cook time was around 35 minutes.

Everything about this dish was topnotch, and it could not have been easier to assemble. Chili is typically an easy meal for most folks as they just pop open a few cans and throw them in a crockpot with some browned meat. This meal was no different except it was created in one pan, which made for easy clean-up as well.

While there were various flavors and spices involved, if I am being totally honest, I would have loved a bit more heat. I added some of my favorite hot sauce to my portion, after giving it my initial taste test, and it did the trick. I have a feeling that simmering this dish for a longer period of time would have allowed for the flavors to marry a bit more and really pop; however, when crunched for time during the busy workweek, this wasn’t too shabby of a meal kit delivery meal.

Meal Kit Delivery Service Review: Home Chef

With one week of meal kit delivery service meals under my belt, it was no surprise I was eagerly anticipating my second delivery with a new company, Home Chef. I got a taste for how effortless you could create and plate healthy meals without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

Home Chef offers 11 meals to choose from, and you can opt to have two to six meals per week for between two and six people. The meal preferences are meat, seafood, or vegetable, and you can choose either low carb or low fat as a dietary preference. There are also additional selections you can make if you have a sensitivity or aversion to dairy, soy, or other potential allergens.

The pricing is pretty much in line with other meal kit delivery services with each serving roughly $10.00, and with first-time subscribers, there are several promotions offered to you at check out. Shipping is free if you meet their minimum requirements of $45.

Since each of the meals looked so delicious, I went with the customer favorites for my first box, and since Monday seemed like the best day to have it delivered—Monday it was.

Goat Cheese Crusted Chicken with Carrot Mash and Crispy Potatoes

Meal Kit Contents:

  • ¼ oz parsley
  • 5-oz can evaporated milk
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 oz goat cheese
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • .3 oz butter

Additional ingredients needed:

  • oil

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 servings

  • Calories: 833
  • Fat: 39 g
  • Carbs: 67 g
  • Protein: 52 g

This recipe took approximately 45 minutes to make, and this includes prep time of the ingredients. Having to peel potatoes and carrots prior to cooking added to the prep time, along with having to boil carrots to make the mash.

Overall, I was pretty darn satisfied with these recipes and was amazed at how these simple ingredients became such a creative and flavorful meal.

Adding the panko and goat cheese mixture to just the top of the chicken breast saved a ton of calories as I am used to breading chicken with eggs and flour and then a full coating of breading before baking. I was also surprised at the carrot mash and how easy this was to prepare, and even how seemingly plain the roasted potatoes appeared to be, yet they added just the right touch as a side dish.

Creamy Parmesan Steak Penne with Peppers and Onions

Meal Kit Contents:

  • 2 green onions
  • 5 oz penne pasta
  • yellow onion
  • red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 10 oz steak strip
  • 4 oz light cream
  • 1 oz grated parmesan
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Additional ingredients:

  • oil

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 servings

  • Calories: 789
  • Fat: 35 g
  • Carbs: 73 g
  • Protein: 46 g

This was an interesting recipe as it was basically a steak and cheese sub on top of pasta (without the sub roll). It had steak, cheese, onions, and peppers, and was tossed with some penne pasta.

While I enjoyed this, it was not something I would recommend or order a second time. It was just so-so in terms of flavor and taste, and I felt like it was missing some oomph.

Tex-Mex Turkey-Stuffed Peppers with Enchilada Sauce and Chihuahua Cheese

Meal Kit Contents:

  • ¼ oz cilantro
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • red onion
  • 12 oz ground turkey
  • 3 oz corn kernels
  • 1 ½ Tbsp chili and cumin rub
  • 3 oz shredded chihuahua cheese
  • 4 oz red enchilada sauce

Additional ingredients:

  • oil

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 servings

  • Calories: 620
  • Fat: 39 g
  • Carbs: 31 g
  • Protein: 42 g

This was a really simple recipe and was a bit like stuffed green peppers that I typically make with ground beef, tomatoes, and rice with a Tex-Mex twist as it was served in poblano peppers.

I liked the idea of having the peppers cut long ways and roasted beforehand, as it created more of a boat to hold the ingredients and softened the peppers to just the right texture.

The flavor combination was pretty much on point, although I could have done with a bit more heat, but that was an easy fix with a dash of hot sauce. I think by using turkey as opposed to another protein, it lightened this dish up a bit.

If I made this recipe again, I would opt for a different type of cheese, as this one did not melt enough for my liking. I would also add some of the sauce into the meat mixture to hold all of the ingredients together. It was somewhat crumbly as I took each bite, but I solved that by using a spoon.

Meal Kit Delivery Service: Blue Apron

My last and final meal kit delivery service was Blue Apron, and had I received this box first, I may have been more excited. I know what I am about to say is going to make me sound like a spoiled brat, but my anticipation immediately turned to anxiety when I opened the box.

This is how my items arrived:

This is how my grocery bags look when I get home from the store, and it is one of the things I dislike doing almost as much as folding laundry—putting the groceries away.

If you remember my boxes from Hello Fresh and Home Chef, they were grouped together into nice little bags and ready to grab when it came time to make each recipe. The Blue Apron company just kind of threw all the ingredients into the box, and I was left searching for each item as I read through the recipe cards. See, I told you, I sound spoiled. But those other companies spoiled me. ????

I think the issue I have with the way this was sent to me is that anyone can look up a recipe, visit the grocery store, or even have groceries delivered, and prepare a meal. Part of the appeal of a meal kit delivery service is that it is simple and easy to use.

With that venting out of the way… let’s get to the meals. They were a bit pricier than the other services, but they also included a bit more in the way of meals.

Beef & Mushroom Stew with Roasted Potatoes

Meal Kit Contents:

  • 10 oz diced beef
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 2 scallions
  • ¾ lb potatoes
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 Tbsp soy glaze
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp southern spice blend

Additional items:

  • oil

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 servings

  • Calories: 490
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Carbs: 50 g
  • Protein: 39 g

Generally speaking, I do not like to buy pre-diced, sliced, or chopped beef. While I completely understand the logic behind sending pre-diced beef, I would prefer to see the entire piece of beef I am incorporating into my dish and cutting it into the pieces myself. While I am sure Blue Apron would only send the best quality ingredients, I can’t help but feel leery of small diced pieces of beef being sent for a recipe.

I did not get a photo of the ingredients before cooking. It took a few extra minutes searching through my refrigerator and pantry for the ingredients, so once I retrieved them all, I just started cooking.

The meal itself was very good, and the flavors were outstanding. I really liked the idea of roasting the sliced potatoes as opposed to adding to the stew itself, as this gave a nice little crunch to the meal instead of a big bowl of softened ingredients. I will definitely keep that in mind for future stew recipes.

The nutrition information wasn’t listed on the recipe card and instead came on a small folded piece of paper included with one of the ingredients. I had thrown this away with the packaging, but when I realized I had not received the nutrition information, I checked all of the pieces of paper and trash and located this. I would have preferred this to be included on the meal kit delivery recipe card, as now I have to keep track of two pieces of paper for each recipe. #spoiled

Italian-Style Shrimp & Peppers over Fregola Sarda Pasta

Meal Kit Contents:

  • 10 oz shrimp
  • 2/3 cup fregola sarda pasta
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 oz sweet peppers
  • 2 Tbsp verjus blanc
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Additional items:

  • Oil

I will admit that I did not know what fregola sarda or verjus blanc was, but once I googled it and discovered they were known ingredients, I felt more confident in how they would complement the dish.

The addition of a splash of red wine vinegar to the pasta was incredible. I would have never thought to do this, but it really made a huge difference. The shrimp and pepper mixture was a nice balance to the small, delicate noodles.

Everything was very fresh, and I will probably make a variation of this recipe again.

Mexican-Spiced Pork with Citrus Salsa & Collard Green Rice

Meal Kit Contents:

  • 1 pork roast
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 2 scallions
  • ½ cup jasmine rice
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 oz queso blanco
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican spice blend
  • 1 oz sliced pickled jalapeño pepper
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Nutrition Facts:
Yields 2 Servings

  • Calories: 760
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Carbs: 68 g
  • Protein: 57 g

This was yet another delicious meal. Everything was fresh, and the prep was fairly simple. The flavor combination was really good, and I would probably recreate this dish again in the future. I would have never thought to add orange to jalapeño pepper for the salsa, but it really accented the pork well.

Meal Kit Delivery Service: My Personal Favorite

Overall, meal kit delivery services offer more than just a solution for busy working folks to be able to eliminate the time-consuming steps of searching for recipes online and going grocery shopping. It offers people a chance to step outside of their culinary comfort zone and try new foods. For those who really love cooking but don’t know where to begin, this is where meal delivery services shine. If your alternative is going out to eat or calling in for delivery, the option of meal delivery services will even save you some money. Whether you’re a rookie in the kitchen or a seasoned chef, meal delivery services can be a great addition to your menu.

While all three of the meal kit delivery services included meals I will be making again, overall I found Hello Fresh to be the best option for a family, based on their selections and the superb way they cleaned up comfort foods to make them super easy to make, delicious, and healthy. Their customer service is top notch, and they are very responsive to emails and inquiries. The instructions were clear cut, even fool proof, so my children were able to follow the steps to help prepare the meals. The meals included a good balance of familiar ingredients with some new ones, so it satisfied everyone’s palate. Originally when I signed up, I did so for the sake of this article, but I have chosen to renew this subscription. So that, in and of itself, should tell you this one earned my vote.

Yet it’s worth noting that each of these services offer the option to suspend or cancel fairly easily, so you are able to try a few options before settling on the one you and your family decide reigns supreme.

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