Some people consider home-delivery meal kits—aka pre-packaged ingredients that come with recipes to transform them into gourmet-style meals—to be a fad, but it’s increasingly clear that the companies creating them are only gaining steam. Though we may have been initially skeptical of the value proposition behind these kits, we now love them as an occasional supplement to our regularly scheduled meal planning and cooking, as chef training for novice cooks or as a cheat for dinner party hosting. Here is a breakdown of the top of the crop, so you can pick the best meal kit for your dining and entertaining needs.
What it is: Vegan meals, created by Vegan Before 6 author Mark Bittman.
Sample menu: Black Bean Burgers with Spiced Sweet Potato Fries; Aloo Paratha with Mustard Seed-Scented Eggplant; and Broccoli Pasta with Crisp Butter Beans.
What we like: Purple Carrot is great if you are vegan or simply want to incorporate more (interesting) plant-based meals into your diet; they're light and super healthy and are therefore, in our opinion, perfect for dinnertime. We also like that Purple Carrot is constantly refining their materials to maximize sustainability, as meal kits make for a lot of waste. All materials used are made from post-consumer waste and their plastics are free of BPA, latex, sulfur, BHT, & silicone and can be recycled or reused.
How much it costs: Meals range from $9.25 per person to $11.33 per person.
Logistics: With Purple Carrot, you can choose between 2 or 3 meals (for 2 people) per week, and you can cancel your plan or skip weeks at any time. Start your subscription here.
What it is: James Beard award-winning chef Justine Kelly-created recipes.
Sample menu: Toasted Rice and Turnip Soup with Parmesan Flatbread; Seared Pork Loin with Braised Radishes; and Coconut Rice Noodles with Lemongrass and Shrimp.
What we like: Produce is organic and non-GMO, protein is sustainably-sourced, and there are breakfast, paleo, gluten-free, and vegetarian options. Recipes are creative but take only 30 minutes to prepare. All packaging is recyclable, and they'll send you a return label to mail it back to them.
How much it costs: Meals are $11.49 per person.
Logistics: Recipes are chosen for you based on your package selection (e.g. Paleo vs. Rise and Shine). You can skip a week at any time. Start your subscription here.
What it is: Blue Apron is the best-known of all the meal kit services. They use farm-sourced produce, ethically raised animals and sustainably farmed seafood.
Sample menu: Spiced Pork Chops & Mashed Potatoes with Kale, English Peas, and Goat Cheese; Braised Tandoori Cauliflower with Spinach Rice & Cilantro Mint-Chutney; and Roasted Chicken with Mixed Mushrooms, Crispy Rosemary-Orange Salad, and Chipotle Pan Sauce.
What we like: The portion sizes are generous, and they offer the full recipes online if you want to repeat something you've ordered from them in the past on your own. They also have an assortment of how-to videos online if, like us, you need some help understanding basic cooking techniques such as mincing, chopping, or etcetera.
How much it costs: Meals range from $8.74 per person to $9.99 per person.
Logistics: With Blue Apron, you can choose your protein preferences, so if you eat chicken but not lamb or beef, those options will be excluded. They also have a vegetarian option. You can cancel your plan or skip weeks at any time. Start your subscription here.
What it is: Intermediate-level chef-designed recipes made from responsibly raised meat, sustainably farmed fish and fresh produce from local farms.
Sample menu: Red Thai Curry with Tilapia and Cauliflower; Cheesy Quinoa Casserole with Sweet Potatoes and Chard; and One-Pot Linguine with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Edamame.
What we like: Plated's recipes are really inventive, if a bit more complicated to execute than those of some of the other boxes. We also like that Plated posts nutritional information for each recipe on their website.
How much it costs: Meals are $12 per person.
Logistics: Choose from nine recipes per week, with the option to add on a dessert. You can be flexible in the number of meals you order per week, and you can cancel your plan six days before your scheduled delivery date. Start your subscription here.
What it is: Jamie Oliver-backed recipes made from fresh ingredients.
Sample menu: Shrimp and Paprika Paella with Smoked Paprika, Tomato, and Peas; Thai Pork Laarb Burger with Cucumber-Mint Salad; and Paprika-Rubbed Chicken with Barley, Tomato, and Avocado Salad.
What we like: Meals are simple and inexpensive, particularly if you're feeding more than two people per night. (Plus, you'll get $40 off your first order.) We also like that HelloFresh lists nutrition information on each of its recipes, and that with each box purchased, a donation is made to Jamie Oliver's Food Foundation.
How much it costs: Meals range from $8.75 per person to $9.90 per person.
Logistics: Choose from a family box, a classic box (for omnivores), and a veggie box. You can pause your subscription if done the Wednesday before the following week's delivery. Start your subscription here.
What it is: Southern-style recipes.
Sample menu: Virginia Willis' Smothered and Covered Chicken with Herb Grits and Celery Salad; Spicy Puttanesca, Orecchiette, with Olives & Pecorino; Fava Bean and Mushroom Risotto.
What we like: The menus from a lot of the other meal kits look similar to one another, but these recipes stand out for their Southern flavor. We also loved the condiment starter kit they sent.
How much it costs: A standard box includes two servings of two meals, for $50. There's a price break for higher quantities, however; for example, two meals for four people is $90. A minimum of four servings is required for delivery; maximum delivery is eight servings. Start your subscription here.
Logistics: PeachDish offers eight meals to choose from each week, and some are vegetarian. Opt in and out of a week's delivery as you see fit.
What it is: Pre-prepped meals made with USDA-certified organic ingredients.
Sample menu: Hummus-Crusted Chicken; Jamaican Barbecue Steak; and Artichoke Barigoule Pasta.
What we like: Try Green Chef if you have specific dietary restrictions as they offer Vegetarian plans, Omnivore plans, Gluten-Free plans, and Paleo plans. We also like that meal prep is faster with Green Chef than with some of its competitors, and that their packaging is made from recyclable, reusable, and/or compostable materials.
How much it costs: Pricing is as follows: Vegetarian, $10.49 per serving; Omnivore, $11.99 per serving; Carnivore, $13.49 per serving; Gluten-free, $13.49 per serving; Paleo, $14.99 per serving.
Logistics: You can skip a week at any time. Start your subscription here.