(WWLP) — There are so many different meal delivery services nowadays — but how do you know which one’s the right one for you?
Pricing, ingredients, and preparation requirements vary greatly between services, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) explains. Are you looking to up your kitchen game or to spend less time cooking overall? Do you have special dietary needs? There are tons of choices either way.
Some of the most popular meal delivery services in the U.S.:
- HelloFresh — The company says it offers “6-step wholesome recipes that take about 30 minutes to make and require minimal equipment.” HelloFresh says it offers 10 vegetarian meal options, including two vegan meals, weekly. Some organic ingredients are integrated in the menus, though not all ingredients are organic. Currently, HelloFresh does not offer gluten-free or nut-free meals. HelloFresh says its most popular plan size is three meals for two people per week (six total servings) with an estimated first box total of $70.93.
- Home Chef — This meal subscription service says it delivers customers “all the fresh ingredients you need to make restaurant quality recipes.” Home Chef says it offers at least three vegetarian options per week, in addition to several milk-free, wheat-free, nut-free, soy-free and low-carb/low-calorie options. Home Chef says its minimum weekly order value is $49.95.
- Purple Carrot — The company offers plant-based meals with a variety of kits and prepared meals, including gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, high protein, low-calorie options. Currently pricing for Purple Carrot is $54.50 for the first week for three two-serving meals. The regular weekly price for the same plan, according to Purple Carrot, is $79.50.
- Blue Apron — Blue Apron was one of the first major meal kit/delivery services to hit big in the U.S. and bills itself as “the original American meal kit.” The Currently, Blue Apron‘s only dietary-specific meal plan is its vegetarian option. The company offers several frequency options for both two people or four people, averaging between $47.96 + $9.99 shipping and $127.84 + $9.99 shipping.
- Green Chef — This company touts its USDA-certified organic reputation and sustainable sourcing, in addition to offering several specific dietary options like keto, paleo, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian. Green Chef currently offers six recipe preferences for between two and six people and between two and four meals per week. Prices per serving range in the $12.50-$13.50 area.
The previously popular Freshly meal delivery service recently announced it’s ceasing operations.
So how do you pick a meal delivery service that’s right for you? The BBB has a few tips.
- Research. Ask friends and family, and read reviews to learn about past customers’ experiences.
- Set a budget and check the fine print. Note that not all meal delivery services include shipping fees in their pricing.
- Know your skill level. Before committing to a plan, research what kind of cooking techniques you’ll need to know. If a company’s recipes require searing, roasting, and braising — do you know how? Or do you have the time/desire to learn?
- Consider ingredient quality. Not all companies offer organic, non-GMO, or free-range meal ingredients. If these are must-haves for your family, make sure to look closer into the ingredients list.
- Determine how much prep work you want. Some companies do more chopping and sauce-making than others. This seemingly small difference can make a big difference in how long each meal takes to make.
- How present is customer service? Make sure there are clear and easy ways to contact the company in case you ever need to. Read the company’s reviews and keep an eye out for any indication that customer service is lacking.
- Check the cancellation policy. Before making a decision to subscribe to meal delivery, understand the cancellation policy. Each company is different and some may have very strict policies.