10 Best Affordable/Value Meal Kits - 2018 Rankings
We're excited to announce the launch of our Meal Kit Delivery Services Rankings for 2018! Our Rankings are determined by a number of factors such as actual product tests in the No Recipe Required kitchen, comprehensive analysis of recipes, consumer feedback, cost and cleanup, and nutrition information, packaging, and quality of ingredients.
The companies on our list have met certain criteria in these areas, but to rank among the Best Most Affordable Meal Kit Delivery Services the company must be affordable. While customers on a budget might look at cost first, we understand that they also care about quality. This means that although a service is considered budget-friendly, it shouldn’t feel like it. An affordable service will offer the same high-quality ingredients, variety, and customer service as other meal kit providers that might cost more.
One of the services on our list offers a variety of rotating dishes and it is always 50% off—bringing the typical price per serving to less than $6. Others say they offer the highest quality ingredients, while limiting costs to less than $10 per serving.
While shipping isn’t always free for budget-friendly services, most of the services on our list have free shipping options based on frequency and other factors.
Below is our list of the Best Most Affordable Meal Kit Delivery Services for 2018.
Medifast as the name implies, positions itself squarely in the weight-loss category, and so they are not a perfect comparison with some of the other meal kit services on the market.
Medifast was founded in 1980 by William Vitale, a medical doctor. And the ties to the medical community seems to have persisted. Their website boosts, it's efficacy as medically proven and recommended by over 20,000 doctors since it's founding.
The company owns a few other brands, all centered round medication, fitness and weight-loss.
The Medifast brand itself offers dozens (if not hundreds) of food items designed to replace other options and help you lose weight. Many of their products are available "a la carte" but there are many packages and subscription options available for those looking to get "on a plan".
Founded in 2011 in Berlin, Germany, HelloFresh is an international food company with a presence in presence in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland. The company provides meal-kits that contain everything required for weeknight meals delivered to the subscribers’ door. Customers have the option to customize their delivery times to fit their schedules.
HelloFresh features 15 chef-curated weekly recipe options, with Classic, Veggie, and Family Plans. “The Capsule Menu By Lauren Conrad" is also available, which consists of meals from the reality star and fashion designers own recipe box. Sample meals include Figgy Balsamic Pork, Chicken Cheddar Fajitas, Mediterranean Baked Veggies, Southwestern Beef Tacos, and Scallops Over Truffled Mushroom Risotto.
All seafood is sustainably sourced and most meals are nut and egg-free. Each kit contains proteins and other ingredients sourced “straight” from the farm, easy-to-follow instructions, and fridge-friendly packaging. Meal plan costs are:
2 people, 2 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $7.99 shipping
2 people, 3 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $5.99 shipping
2 people, 4 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $5.99 shipping
4 people, 3 recipes per week, $7.49/serving + $5.99 shipping
2 people, 3 recipes per week, $8.99/serving + $5.99 shipping
4 people, 3 recipes per week, $6.99/serving + $5.99 shipping
4 people, 2 recipes per week, $7.87/serving + $5.99 shipping
4 people, 3 recipes per week, $7.49/serving + $5.99 shipping
Customers can skip any delivery week and they may cancel their subscription at any time.
3. TakeOut Kit
Takeout Kit is a global meal kit delivery service that caters to diners looking to explore international cuisines. Rachel Lake, founder of Takeout Kit, says she believes that “an appreciation of a country’s food cultivates curiosity in culture, which leads to traveling and learning, which leads to feeling more connected to a global community, and ultimately having a better life. Through Takeout Kit, Lake “hopes to bring that experience to every home in America.”
Each box features hard-to-find, exotic ingredients, authentic recipes, information about the culture and background of the dish, and easy-to-follow instructions. Music playlists and drink pairings are included to enhance the experience. Eighteen different types of cuisine are available ranging from African, Asian and European to Middle Eastern, Peruvian, and Vietnamese. Dietary preference categories include all natural, meat, natural ingredients, proteins, vegan, and vegetarian. Cook time options are under 30 minutes, 30-40 minutes and 45+ minutes and spice levels are mild, medium, and spicy.
Sample dishes include German Spatzle, Korean Tofu Stew, Italian Truffle Risotto, Moroccan Baked Eggs, and Peruvian Creamy Yellow Pepper Chicken. Meals serve four and prices are either $30 and under or $30-$40 for single kits. A subscription is not required, but for those who prefer a plan options include:
• Month-to-Month - 1 kit/month, $32.99; 2 kits/month, $65.99; 3 kits/month, $92.99
• 3-Month, $94.99 - 1 new global cooking adventure each month
• 6 Month, $179.99 - 1 new global cooking adventure each month
Takeout Kits have a two-month shelf life and shipping is free.
EveryPlate is a budget-friendly meal-kit delivery service that offers pre-measured ingredients and filling recipes for just $4.99 per serving. Customers choose from a rotating menu of five chef-curated dishes, with easy-to-follow recipe cards and ingredients delivered to your door each week. Customers choose the delivery time.
Flexible weekly menus are designed primarily for meat lovers and meals take around 30 minutes to complete. Sample dishes include Gravy Lover’s Meatballs with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli, Hoisin Chicken and Bell Pepper Stir-Fry over Lime Rice, Sriracha Pork Meatballs with Sesame Cucumber Salad and Jasmine Rice, Sizzlin’ Steak Fajitas, and Skillet Apple Pork Chops over Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans.
Two plans are available including Dinner for 2 and Dinner for 4.
- Dinner for 2 is designed for couples and includes three recipes per week, with two servings per recipe
- Dinner for 4 is designed for families and includes three recipes per week, with four servings per recipe
In addition to $4.99 per serving ($9.98 for two, $19.96 for four), customers pay $8.99 for shipping per order.
EveryPlate meals come shipped in recyclable, climate-smart packaging to ensure that food arrives fresh and ready to cook. Customers can skip weeks, swap recipes, and cancel any time. There is no commitment.
Launched in 2017, Dinnerly is a meal-kit delivery service created by Marley Spoon that promises the lowest prices per serving than any other brand. Entirely separate from the company’s premium brand “Martha & Marley Spoon,” (a partnership between Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon), Dinnerly promotes itself as “the meal kit that’s always 50% off,” making it the “most affordable meal kit around.”
The company says that it uses the same quality ingredients as other kits, but it keeps costs low by taking a simpler approach: digital recipe cards instead of paper, fewer ingredients per dish (which means less chopping and cleaning), simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns.
Customers have their choice of low-calorie, vegetarian, kid-friendly, meat or poultry-lovers, and other recipes that have just six ingredients per dish. The price for 30-minute meals such as Black Bean & Cheese Tostadas, Crispy Pan-Fried Gnocchi, and Ginger Caramel Chicken is $4.99 per person. Shipping is not included.
Meals are sold in “boxes” as follows:
Two-Person Box. 2 Portions per recipe, 3 recipes per week, $4.99 per portion + $8.99 shipping. Total per week: $38.93.
Family Box. 4 Portions per recipe, 3 recipes per week, $4.99 per portion + $8.99 shipping. Total per week: $68.87.
Dinnerly meals are delivered in insulated boxes on weekdays and the company said there is no commitment. Dinnerly’s meal plan is designed to allow customers to choose exactly when they do (or don’t) want a box, so customers can skip weeks (with notice) whenever they like.
6. Blue Apron
Established in 2012, Blue Apron is one of the nation’s first meal-kit delivery services. Headquartered in New York City, with fulfillment centers in California, Texas, and New Jersey, the company serves roughly 750,000 subscribers across the U.S. In May 2018, Blue Apron began selling its meal kits at Costco stores in the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco Bay Area, marking the company’s entrance into the physical retail market. Customers interested in trying Blue Apron without a subscription will pay $24.99 for a kit that feeds four people.
Blue Apron subscribers choose meals from dozens of chef-designed recipes including Asian, Mediterranean, and Mexican-inspired cuisine. Vegetarian, gluten-free and quick one-pan meal options are also available and each kit is packed in recyclable packaging (including recyclable ice), to ensure that ingredients remain fresh until you’re ready to cook. Plan options include:
“Family Plan” for four with free shipping. Two recipes per week at $71.92/week, three at $95.88/week, and four at $119.84/week.
“Classic Plan” for two. Two recipes per week at $47.95/week (includes $7.99 for shipping) and three recipes per week at $59.94/week with free shipping.
“Vegetarian Plan,” for two. Two recipes per week at $47.95/week (includes $7.99 for shipping) and three recipes per week at $59.94/week with free shipping.
Blue Apron meal kits include responsibly sourced ingredients such as produce, sustainable seafood, and exclusive spice blends. Meals are perfectly portioned to avoid waste, and easy, step-by-step instructions help customers re-create restaurant-quality meals at home. There’s no commitment and subscribers can skip meals or cancel at any time.
Founded in 2012, Plated is one of the meal-kit industry’s most successful companies. Since its inception, Plated has appeared on Shark Tank, Beyond the Tank, and NBC’s Today, and it has been featured in major publications such as Vogue and The Wall Street Journal. Located in New York’s Flatiron District, Plated was also recently acquired by grocery store giant Albertson’s, making its meal kits more accessible to all. This “anytime you want” option sets Plated apart from other meal-kit companies that are subscription only.
Plated’s subscription service has become much more flexible over the years, however, with plans to fit just about any table. Customers can choose from 20 weekly recipes (vegetarian or non-vegetarian, Italian, Asian, gluten-free), plus dessert, in any combination, and they can adjust their plan options and delivery day from week-to-week. Plans include:
“2 Servings Per Night” with two, three and four nights per week options at $47.80 for two nights, $71.70 for three nights, and $95.60 for four nights. This plan is suitable for one adult + two kids or two adults.
“3 Servings Per Night,” for two adults + two kids or three adults at $59.70 for two nights, $89.55 for three nights, and $119.40 for four nights.
“4 Servings Per Night” for families (two adults + two teens) at $79.60 for two nights, $119.40 for three nights, and $159.20 for four nights.
Plated meals are super-healthy and perfectly portioned and there are no strings attached, meaning customers may skip weeks or cancel their subscription at any time.
Founded in 2014, Marley Spoon is a Berlin, Germany-based company that began its expansion into to the U.S. and Australian markets beginning in early 2015. In 2016, Marley Spoon partnered with household name Martha Stewart and Sequential Brands Group, Inc. to launch Martha & Marley Spoon, a meal kit delivery service featuring Martha Stewart’s “award-winning recipes” and “smart cooking techniques.” The company has been featured in Fortune, The New York Times, Epicurious and on the Today Show
Martha & Marley Spoon customers choose recipes for two to four people from a new menu each week. Ten recipe options are available from an archive of more than 18,000 Martha Stewart recipes. Martha & Marley Spoon has recipes for carnivores, vegetarians, and seafood lovers as well as individuals seeking gluten-free or kid-friendly meals.
Meals are pre-portioned to prevent waste and each kit includes six simple steps with photos that “take the guesswork out of cooking.” Sample dishes include Beef-Mushroom Yaki Udon, Curried Lentil & Arugula Salad, and Shrimp Fajitas.
Plans for two include:
- $48/week, $12/serving for two meals per week
- $61.50/week, $10.25/serving for three meals per week
- $76/week, $9.50/serving for four meals per week
Plans for three to four include:
- $76/week, $9.50/serving for two meals per week
- $106.80/week, $8.90/serving for three meals per week
- $131.20/week, $8.20/serving for four meals per week
With the exception of seafood, which must be cooked within 48 hours, food stays fresh for four days after delivery, customers can skip any week until five days before delivery, and delivery is free.
10. Home Chef
Founded in 2013, Home Chef is a Chicago-based meal kit company that Inc. 5000 ranks as the third-fastest growing private company in the country. This “fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service” has been featured in USA Today and The New York Times, and on ABC, FOX, and WGN. In May, Kroger Co., the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. and parent company of Mariano’s, announced that it would pay $700 million to acquire Home Chef. The move will make the company’s meal kits available to a wider audience.
Home Chef says its customers have direct access to some of the nation’s highest quality food suppliers with recipes created by seasoned chefs. To get started, customers can sign up for the delivery service online and begin browsing through 15 fresh recipes featuring chicken, fish, pork, steak, vegetarian and more. Low-calorie and low-carb options are available as well as options for those with food sensitivities to soy, shellfish, milk, nuts, and wheat. Each kit contains easy-to-follow recipe cards and pre-portioned ingredients, packaged in insulated Home Chef boxes with ice packs. Meals are delivered each week, directly to the customer’s door.
Meals are priced at $9.95 per serving. Customers can choose meals in pairs of two, four, or six servings. A lunch option, sold at $7.99 per serving, is featured each week. Specially featured premium dishes are sold at market price. Shipping is free on orders over $45. For orders less than $45, the shipping cost is $10.