Choosing the right meal delivery service for you: Home Chef, Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and more


Last March, I wrote a post comparing Hello Fresh to Home Chef, which you can read here. At that point, I was kind of a newbie to the "meal delivery service" game; those were the only two I had tried, and I started after a friend gave me a free Hello Fresh code to try back in January.

Fast-forward to almost a year later, and I'm definitely hooked. I love not having to go grocery shopping, and having gourmet meals for both dinners and then work lunches the next day, when I keep both portions for myself.

However, there are a ton of choices out there for meal services. I am now going to share what I've learned with you over the past year, and tell you which services are my favorites and least favorites.

My favorites:

Hello Fresh pork chops and couscous, with side salad
Hello Fresh pork chops and couscous, with side salad
1) Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh continues to impress me. They are the most generous of the services—I routinely get emails for $20 off my boxes, which definitely helps because I don't like to pay more than $30-40 for the week for the boxes (they generally run about $60 each). I love their packaging, as well: they separate by recipe, and all you have to separate in the actual boxes are the meats (which I then stick in the separate bags, by recipe).

Normal price: $60 per week
Reliability: 5/5 stars
Packaging: 5/5 stars
Taste: 4/5 stars, average
Customer Service: 5/5 stars
Overall: 5/5 stars

Click here to get $40 off your first box (your total price: $20).

Huli Huli Chicken Bowl, from Home Chef
Huli Huli Chicken Bowl, from Home Chef

2) Home Chef

Home Chef is right up there with Hello Fresh for me, but they unfortunately don't do deals very often—very occasionally, I'll get a spare $10 or $20 off from them. I did order them a few weeks ago, I believe I paid like $40 for the box, and everything was delicious. They tend to have more variety than Hello Fresh in recipes—I like to order Asian-inspired recipes from them as well as a lot of steaks.

Normal price: $60 per week
Reliability: 5/5 stars
Packaging: 5/5 stars
Taste: 4.5/5 stars, average
Customer Service: 5/5 stars
Overall: 5/5 stars

Click here to get $30 off your first box (your total price: $30).

Turkey chow fun recipe from Dinnerly
Turkey chow fun recipe from Dinnerly

3) Dinnerly

Dinnerly is the odd one out in this bunch because it's definitely for the more price-conscious consumer: they charge $38.95/week, rather than the $60/week that most of these charge. I have had a few times where they forgot an ingredient or (and this made me a little mad), the box showed up a day after it was supposed to show up. You also have to print your own recipe cards—they will send you a link to do this.

On the times when my box was a day late or ingredients were missing, I messaged customer service and they gave me $10 off my next box (well, one time was $7 off, which was kind of random, and the other time was $10 off).

Despite all this, their recipes are consistently interesting, and they recently upped the number of recipes from which you can choose from six to eight recipes.

Normal price: $38.95 per week
Reliability: 3/5 stars
Packaging: 4/5 stars
Taste: 4/5 stars, average
Customer Service: 4/5 stars
Overall: 4/5 stars

Click here to get your first box for $30 (free shipping/handling).

Sage chicken, from Blue Apron
Sage chicken, from Blue Apron
4) Blue Apron

I have a love/hate relationship with Blue Apron ... their recipes are consistently good. They were one of the first meal delivery services, too. However, they just throw all of their ingredients into the box, so it's up to you to sort it ... and for $60+ per week, I feel like they could copy Hello Fresh/Home Chef and at least TRY to separate things. I'll admit they sometimes have "Knick Knacks" bags where they will group together a few sauces or ingredients per meal, but other than that, you're stuck separating everything yourself.

I also have two accounts with them, and on one account, I pay $60/week (or I would, if I didn't constantly use discounts). On the other, it's $65.95/week. I've asked them why this is and couldn't get a straight answer from them ... and they always send me discounts to the $65.95/week account, LOL ...

Recently they sent me $30 off on that account, and $20 off my next three deliveries on my other account, if I reactivate. So I'll be ordering from them again soon.

Normal price: $60 to $65.95/week
Reliability: 5/5 stars
Packaging: 3.5/5 stars
Taste: 4/5 stars, average
Customer Service: 4/5 stars
Overall: 4/5 stars

Click here to get your first box for $29 on Groupon. (affiliate link)

Indian chicken burgers from Plated
Indian chicken burgers from Plated
5) Plated

I just tried Plated out last week, for the first time, and I liked it a lot—it's like Hello Fresh/Home Chef, in the way they package things, although they tend to roll things up in plastic vs. putting them in bags. I also really liked their app, as it was super easy to use.

They also have a TON of variety: 20 meals per week to choose from! Though I did notice that some repeat from week to week—for example, this week I had their chicken marsala, which was delicious, and that repeated two weeks later.

The con for Plated is that it's pricier: it's about $71.95/week, I believe.

Normal price: $71.95/week
Reliability: 5/5 stars
Packaging: 4.5/5 stars
Taste: 4/5 stars, average
Customer Service: haven't dealt with, yet
Overall: 4.5/5 stars

I'll occasionally order these, but they aren't favorites:


EveryPlate sausage and pasta skillet
EveryPlate sausage and pasta skillet
1) EveryPlate

I have ordered EveryPlate twice now: one with a discount code, I believe, and once through Groupon, because it was only like $12.50 using Groupon's 20% off deal that day plus ebates (great deal!). The second time was only a few weeks ago, and things showed up missing ingredients. I did contact customer service and they gave me like $17 off my next box, which is a random amount, but that's almost half off, so I'll be ordering from them again sometime.

EveryPlate is comparable to Dinnerly, price-wise, but they do give you recipe cards (no need to print them like with Dinnerly). However, they are half-sized as compared to HF/HC/BA/Plated's.

Packaging is similar to Blue Apron's and Dinnerly's, as in, no organization whatsoever.

From the meals I've received from EveryPlate, I've liked about 90% of them. They are definitely simpler than Hello Fresh's and Home Chef's. My big complaint is lack of variety: they only have five choices per week, and the 5th choice is usually a steak dish which is an upcharge.

Normal price: $38.95/week
Reliability: 4/5 stars
Packaging: 3.5/5 stars
Taste: 4/5 stars, average
Customer Service: 5/5 stars
Overall: 4/5 stars

Click here to get your first box for $18.95 ($20 discount).



2) (Martha &) Marley Spoon

What's funny about Marley Spoon is that I love Dinnerly, and it's Dinnerly's parent company ... but for some reason, am not a huge fan of Marley Spoon. I've tried them a few times because they have an $18 deal (two meals aka four portions for $18) but can't really recall any meals I've made from them, except a steak meal because the garlic bread came out burnt once I cooked it. :(

This is also Martha Stewart's meal plan, so you'll see her a lot on their website.

Normal price: $71/week, I believe?
Reliability: 5/5 stars
Packaging: 5/5 stars
Taste: 4/5 stars, average
Customer Service: haven't used
Overall: 4/5 stars

Click here to get your first two meals (four servings) for $18.

I ordered these once and haven't been back:


Sunbasket bags

1) Sunbasket

The major reason I'm probably not ever ordering Sunbasket or the below, Gobble, again, it that it was super hard to cancel. Usually on the other sites, there is a button (albeit hidden, sometimes) that asks if you want to cancel or pause your subscription. With Sunbasket, there was a phone number to call—but I'm a millennial and hate making phone calls—so I ended up sending them a DM (Direct Message) on Twitter. A few days later, they FINALLY responded, and canceled mine for me.

I remember the chicken banh mi sandwich here being good, but the other two meals were just okay. Sunbasket is supposed to be the "healthier" meal service, and they did have some low-cal options, I believe. Instead of doing meal cards, you receive a booklet with all 20 or so of that week's recipes, and all 3 of your meals are in it.

The packaging was nice and similar to Hello Fresh's.

Normal price: $71/week, I believe?
Reliability: 5/5 stars
Packaging: 5/5 stars
Taste: 3/5 stars, average
Customer Service: 3/5 stars
Overall: 3/5 stars

Gobble pasta
Gobble pasta
2) Gobble

I had a discount code from Gobble from a friend, which is why I tried it the first time—they actually sent me one in the mail recently too, but I threw it out.

What I didn't like about Gobble was that a lot of the sauces were pre-made; therefore, if you're trying to replicate a recipe later, it's really hard to do.

The meals were fine but nothing special, if I recall. To cancel, I believe you had to call them, though I could be wrong about that.

Normal price: $71/week, I believe?
Reliability: 5/5 stars
Packaging: 4/5 stars
Taste: 3/5 stars, average
Customer Service: 4/5 stars
Overall: 3/5 stars

*prices listed are for 3 meals for 2 people per week, aka 6 servings total.


Tips and tricks for ordering:
  • Hop around. I routinely hop between Hello Fresh, Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Dinnerly. Why wouldn't you want more variety in your life? As much as I like HF, sometimes I can't find three meals that appeal to me in a given week. 
  • Deactivate your account once you receive your box. Unless you plan on ordering again the next week, of course, but I've found that Hello Fresh and others will send you discount codes once you cancel or "pause" your account, since they want your business back. 
  • Make sure to cook everything within 5-7 days of receiving it. Otherwise veggies and sometimes meats can go bad. Some like Home Chef even tell you how many days you have to cook each recipe (they usually vary between 5 to 6 days). 
  • Make multiple accounts. Probably not the most ethical, but I have more than one email address, and I'll admit that I have a few accounts on some of these services ... except Home Chef, which figured it out and shut down all of mine except one (grr!). 
  • Ask friends if they have any referral links! Hello Fresh has been the most generous with this, giving me free box codes like they're candy, although EveryPlate has a $20 link I can give people (see above) so that their first box will only be $18.95.


Which are your favorite meal services, and which of these are ones you have been wanting to try?

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