For some home chefs, it’s an excuse to dig into the newest cookbooks or scroll on social media for inspiration. But for those who stress at the sight of the grocery store parking lot, don’t feel all that comfortable with their cooking skills, or have zero time to plan (let alone cook!), the question causes a fair bit of confusion and hanger, which can Take On a Life of Its Own. Enter the following national, healthy meal delivery services recommended by experts that will save your grumbling belly (and domestic partnership, etc. etc.)—especially when in a pinch.
Best healthy meal delivery services at a glance
- Best grocery-hybrid: Hungryroot
- Best for plant-based eaters: Sakara
- Best dietitian-designed: Factor
- Best for those who love to eat out: CookUnity
- Best organic: Green Chef
- Best for beginner cooks: HelloFresh
- Best for vegans: Purple Carrot
- Best for busy vegetarians: Veestro
- Best for fitness buffs: Trifecta
- Best for frozen vegetarian: Daily Harvest
- Best for chef-crafted meals: Sunbasket
- Best for aspiring chefs: Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon
- Best for a colorful plate: Thistle
- Best for simple recipes: Home Chef
- Best for experienced cooks: Blue Apron
- Best for paleo eaters: Pete's Paleo
How is a meal kit delivery service better than eating out?
One of the main advantages of eating out is that someone else is planning and cooking your meal (and, to be sure: cleaning afterward). But it can be a whole ordeal to go out, not to mention expensive. A solution? If you're looking for something casual to do at home that could be more cost-effective than eating out, more companies are entering the meal delivery business pioneered by Blue Apron (among others) to take a lot of work out of eating in.
From meal kits—complete with recipes and pre-portioned ingredients, which can help reduce food waste—to prepared meals and frozen smoothies, companies want to make home-cooked, healthy meals convenient and easy. They're each tailored to nearly every diet under the sun, including gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, allergy-friendly, pescatarian, and more. The appeal of having your ingredients delivered rather than dragging yourself to the grocery store is hard to argue!
What to look for in a healthy meal delivery service
With an increasing number of meal delivery options, it may be hard to decide which one is the best for you. Here are a few things to consider:
No matter how delicious a meal is, you don't want to feel like you've overpaid for it. Getting a good value "can come in the form of saved time, convenience, or simplicity with decision making around the age-old question, 'What’s for dinner tonight?'" says registered dietitian Cara Harbstreet, RD. And chances are, you'll be ticking off several of those boxes when it comes to many of these top-notch meal delivery companies.
Cooking style and preferences
Some people like to cook their meals, so delivery services with pre-measured ingredients help speed the process along. Others don't want to bother, and just want to heat and eat. "You can find options like Factor, Thistle, Mosaic Foods, or Methodology, which are single-serving microwaveable meals that don’t require any cooking at all, or intricate and chef-driven recipes for home cooks who have the time and interest to explore new cuisines," says Harbstreet. There are also services in between, like Purple Carrot, which has more simple flavors and cooking methods.
Wondering how to choose the best meal kit service for your dietary needs? Registered dietitian Maddie Pasquariello, RD says the most effective way to filter is to prioritize what you can and can't (or want/don't want) to eat first: any ingredient sensitivities, foods you're eliminating or avoiding, and your lifestyle preferences. Look at if services offer vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, kosher, and so on to meet your needs and preferences. Typically, many of these services offer simplified guides to find what works best for you.
Pasquariello says she tends to gravitate towards meal delivery services or kits that contain the greatest variety of whole foods. "I'll seek out services that are transparent about their ingredients and use as many fresh foods as possible. I will also look for organic meal delivery kits if I can, though this is by no means a must-do," she says. What matters most is that the meal makes your body feel good in the short and long term.
With any of these companies, it's important to take into account how they'll be delivered, and the amount of transportation involved to reach your home. "This might sound silly, but certain companies' meals end up being a little sludgy or have a tendency to arrive in rough shape if they get jostled at all during shipping," says Pasquariello. She looks for meals that are flash frozen, which helps ensure they arrive in good shape and can be put in the freezer until you're ready to eat them. When in doubt, reaching out to the brand's customer service department can help get a better picture of how the meals will be delivered and whether or not it's likely that the food will remain fresh and intact until it reaches your doorstep (and, more importantly, the dinner table).
How wasteful are meal kits?
Meal delivery services tend to use a lot of packaging and materials. This can be somewhat unavoidable, says Pasquariello, but look for recyclable materials so not everything is ending up in landfill. In addition, some companies have sustainability initiatives. For example, Harbstreet says some companies, like Blue Apron, have made a commitment to increase the amount of recycled and recyclable materials in their packaging. "Another option is to look for a local meal kit, perhaps provided by a local co-op, CSA, or restaurant, to reduce the distance a kit has to travel to reach your home," she says.
Not sure which of the healthy meal delivery services is for you? Don’t worry. We did the legwork for you so you can find the exact right option for you and your budget.
Best Healthy Meal Delivery Services
For: The time-crunched wellness-minded cook.
Need-to-know: Hungryroot calls itself a “personalized grocery service,” and that’s exactly what it is. Each week, Hungryroot sends you the proteins (it has both plant- and animal-based options available), veggies (pre-chopped), grains, and sauces you need to have a healthy meal on the table in as little as 10 minutes (just how many meals depends on the plan size you choose). You can also choose to load your cart up with healthy snacks and pantry items—Hungryroot has over 100 products to pick from, many from emerging brands and cult-faves like Banza, Biena, and Beyond Meat.
Healthy factor: If you wanted, you could fill your entire order with fresh veggies (including kohlrabi noodles and cauliflower rice), wholesome grain blends, and lean proteins. But even their sauces—we’re talking avocado crema, lemon tahini, coconut curry, cashew cheddar queso, and more—are made with familiar ingredients and few additives. Each product is also clearly marked with its allergens; the garlicky herb chickpea duo (a favorite), for instance, is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free. Vegans and gluten-free eaters will never want for options here.
Delivery details: Hungryroot deliveries are shipped via one-day or two-day transit time, depending on your zip code, to ensure they pack and prepare its boxes so they can arrive fresh on the selected delivery day. You can also change your cart up until three days before your designated delivery day, and can skip a week (at no cost) whenever you like.
For: The plant-based eaters that appreciate the element of surprise and delight in their meals.
Need-to-know: Sakara wants to help you fill your plate with good-for-you, plant-rich whole foods that, yes, are incredibly Instagrammable. The organic healthy meal delivery service serves up creative salads jam packed with colorful veggies, trendy superfoods, and healthy grains, as well as unexpected sandwiches (like a red beet burger) on the seasonal weekly menu.
Healthy factor: The combination of plant-based protein, vegetables, and superfoods are designed to nourish you from the inside out. Meals are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, meal, and seafood, and ingredients are organic.
Delivery details: Delivery is available across the continental U.S., and your food will be delivered in two or three deliveries per week.
Cost: Choose from a weekly or one-time delivery of two, three, or five days’ worth of meals—including breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Prices depend on how much you order and for how long; a weekly subscription of five days’ worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner costs $84 a day, making this one of the more expensive options on this list.
For: Folks who want to spend as little time cooking as possible, yet still prefer healthy meals
Need-to-know: Factor offers fully-prepared meals take minutes to heat up, and they taste just as good as freshly cooked meals. That’s because each of them were designed by dietitians and prepared by gourmet chefs, and you get to pick from at least 27 meals each week.
Healthy factor: Depending on your dietary needs, you can choose from plant-based, low carb, and more (the official offerings are chef’s choice, keto, calorie smart, and vegan & veggie)—and there’s plenty of variety. Examples include shawarma spiced chicken with cauliflower rice and roasted veggies, mango salsa salmon with coconut lime rice and black beans, mujadara with tahini-roasted carrots, and much more. Factor’s goal is to be as transparent about nutrients as possible, so if you have any questions you can always call and be connected to one of the service’s dietitians.
Delivery details: Choose from six to 18 meals per week, and get them delivered weekly (you can skip weeks or pause if you’d like). Individual frozen meals come in a chilled box.
Cost: $10.99+ per serving
For: The plant-based eater who wants more colorful meals.
Need-to-know: Thistle’s plant-forward meals focus on whole foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals. You can choose between breakfast, lunch, and dinner with plant or meat protein, as well as juices, wellness shots, and snacks like energy balls and carrot muffins.
Healthy factor: Thistle’s meals use locally sourced and organic ingredients when possible, and are designed to have 5-6 different vegetables to give you a rainbow-colored plate. You can expect to regularly eat superfoods like turmeric and ginger and healthy fats like seed butters and nut milks. In addition, the meals have no dairy, gluten, refined white sugars, dyes, additives, or artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
Delivery details: There’s no cooking required; all meals come fully-prepared and ready-to-eat. Thistle has local delivery in the morning along the West Coast, and shipping options in the evening to CA and parts of NV, AZ, ID, NV, OR, and WA
Cost: Meals start at $11.50 or $42/week.
For: The busy vegan
Need-to-know: If you drool over the brightly colored veggies at your local farmers’ market, you’ll love Purple Carrot. Every single meal is vegan. Some examples: potato malai kofta, gochujang peanut noodles, falafel bowl, and spinach artichoke grilled cheese. Most meals take 30 and 45 minutes to make, making them definitely friendly for a weeknight.
Healthy factor: Purple Carrot tracks down organic (whenever possible) and always non-GMO ingredients for their plant-based, whole food meals. When you open the box, you’re greeted by elegantly designed recipe cards, which provide directions, nutritional info, and a little background on each dish.
Delivery details: They deliver to most of the U.S.
Cost: You can choose to have three meals per week starting at $79.50/week or three meals per week starting at $106/week, for two. Shipping is free.
For: Anyone who wants to enjoy restaurant-quality food without leaving home.
Need-to-know: CookUnity is a chef-to-consumer service, where you get to enjoy hand-crafted, delicious meals without changing out of your sweatpants. Among the roster, you’ll find innovative and Michelin-starred chefs who create small batches of dishes delivered straight to your door.
Healthy factor: CookUnity prioritizes sustainably-sourced, organic, and seasonal ingredients, and there are options for low carb, dairy-free, plant-based, keto, paleo, and more.
Delivery details: Meals are delivered weekly on the day of your choice, fresh and chilled, so all you have to do is heat them up in the microwave or oven and dig in. You can pick from a constantly changing menu (varies by region) or set your preferences and have CookUnity choose for you. The meals have a shelf life of 4-7 days and also can be frozen in case you don’t have a chance to eat them right away, and each meal serves one.
Cost: You can choose a weekly subscription plan that includes 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 meals.
For: The new cook
Need-to-know: Think of HelloFresh as the cousin to Blue Apron and Plated. Straightforward, easy-to-follow, and also—and this is key—hard to mess up, the directions walk you through every step of preparing dishes, such as Bulgogi Chicken Tacos and Crunchy Curried Chickpea Bowls. Their recipe cards even tell you how difficult each dish is to make, in case you’re still very much on the “How do you sauté?” end of the cooking spectrum. Choose between their Classic plan (for two people) or their Family Plan (for four people) and adjust whether you want two, three, or four meals that week.
Healthy factor: Their on-staff registered dietitian evaluates every meal before it appears on the menu to make sure it’s balanced and healthy. Plus, they make nutrition labels available on their website, boxes, and recipe cards. Over 90 percent of HelloFresh’s ingredients are organic and the packaging is recyclable. However, while HelloFresh offers a vegetarian plan, it does not have plans for other diet types.
Delivery details: Not only does HelloFresh deliver nationally across the U.S., they deliver internationally too. Place your order by midnight at least five days before your next scheduled delivery to receive your box the following week (and there are daily shipping options).
Cost: Starting at $9.99 per serving, HelloFresh is one of the most affordable kits on the market. Currently, a Meat & Veggies box with three meals for two people will net you at $59.94 per week (plus shipping).
For: The organic foodie
Need-to-know: If you care about where your veggies come from, meet Green Chef. It’s the first USDA-certified organic meal kit (which covers synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs). Each box is jam-packed with all the fixings to make two to three meals for two to four people in roughly 30 minutes. For those who like a nice neat fridge, the ingredients come color-coded.
Healthy factor: About 95 percent of Green Chef’s ingredients are organic, and they vet their suppliers to ensure they maintain ethical and sustainable practices. They also offer a variety of meals for different eating plans, including keto, Paleo, and vegetarian/vegan. Plus, the majority of their packaging is eco-friendly and sustainable; any plastic they use is offset thanks to their collaboration with the organization Plastic Bank.
Delivery details: Throughout the United States except Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of Louisiana.
Cost: It’s a subscription service, with meals ranging in price from $12.99 to $13.49 per meal. Choose from the two-person plan, which provides three or four meals for two (plus shipping), or the family plan, which provides two, three, or four meals for four or six people (plus shipping).
For: The smoothie- and soup-obsessed (but time-crunched) crowd.
Need-to-know: While Daily Harvest has moved beyond their original concept of ready-to-blend smoothies and now offers harvest bowls, soups, and flatbreads, they’re still the very best at breakfast. Besides their green adaptogen-filled smoothie blends, you can also add adaptogenic lattes to your meal plan. Oh, and oat bowls and chia bowls, too!
Healthy factor: While everything is healthy and vegan, there aren’t special subscriptions for various types of eaters. Unlike other services, you pick your exact order and assortment of cups while shopping, so that you can optimize your delivery.
Delivery details: Daily Harvest delivers almost everywhere in the United States (they claim to cover 95 percent) with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska. When checking out, you’ll be asked to pick a delivery date and your package will be delivered on dry ice so that your cups stay nice and frozen.
Cost: Pricing ranges from $5.99 to $11.99 per item, and the more you order, the more you save.
For: The expert chef
Need-to-know: If you actually like to cook, this is the one for you. While the chore of grocery shopping and deciding what to make is eliminated, Blue Apron (aka the OG of healthy meal delivery services) lets you do most of the work yourself—chopping all your veggies and mixing the sauces. Most meals often include some wildcard ingredients, like cumquats or fennel pollen, giving users the chance to cook with something new. However, the recipes are more of a weekend activity than a weeknight dinner solution, as the meals can take over 40 minutes to make. But you get tons of flavor and variety, with recipes like Za’atar cauliflower and fregola sarda, or spicy shrimp and vegetable curry.
Healthy factor: While Blue Apron does offer a vegetarian meal plan (as well as specific meals designed for diabetics or WW members), it doesn’t have subscriptions for keto, Paleo, Whole30, or vegan eaters. However, all of the ingredients are organic and everything is recyclable.
Delivery details: Shipping is an additional $10.99 per week; they deliver any day of the week and serve all locations in the continental U.S. (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii).
Cost: Like HelloFresh, Blue Apron starts at $7.99 per serving. Choose between a Signature plan that makes two or three meals for two people per week (starting at $60.95 per week) or the Signature for 4 plan, which makes two, three or meals for four people per week (starting at $90.91 per week).
For: The over-scheduled plant-eater
Need-to-know: Veestro cooks up plant-based, whole food meals, freezes them, and then delivers their fully-cooked meals to your door. So: no washing, prepping, cooking, or cleaning up for you! It was created by a brother-sister duo who had a hard time eating healthy, given their over scheduled lives. (Sound familiar?)
Healthy factor: All of Veestro’s meals are 100 percent plant-based and made with organic, non-GMO ingredients—and free of preservatives. While some foodies may turn up their noses at frozen food, the meals are frozen when fresh so they arrive ready to reheat.
Delivery details: Veestro ships nationally except for Alaska and Hawaii. Speed of delivery depends on where you live; in southern California and New York, your food will arrive one or two days after placing your order; in the Midwest, you can expect a three-day delivery turnaround.
Cost: You can choose 10 meals a week at $13.75 per meal.
For: The chef who doesn’t have time to shop for their gluten-free, dairy-free ingredients.
Need-to-know: Vegan, vegetarian, Mediterranean, low-carb, Paleo…whatever your healthy eating plan of choice is, Sunbasket can accommodate. Everything is organic, and you can even tack a five-minute salad onto any meal. You can get meals such as curried tempeh stir-fry with black rice, chard rolls with ground beef and rice, and smoky white bean burgers with lemon green beans.
Healthy factor: Sunbasket’s chief dedication is to organic, non-GMO, sustainable produce and responsibly raised meats and poultry. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and Paleo diets are all supported and can even be mixed and matched (in case your partner or roommate is not on the same eating plan as you are).
Delivery details: Deliveries are dropped off Mondays through Thursdays depending on where you live. Your meals come in specially engineered packages that will keep your food fresh even if you can’t get to them for a few hours. Everything is organic and the materials are all recyclable.
Cost: You can select two or more dinners from their weekly menu, which are available in two or four servings each. Meals start at $9.99 per serving.
For: The fitness buff (literally) who wants to make fueling their bodies for optimal performance easier.
Need-to-know: Trifecta caters to nearly every type of eater. With five different diet-focused meal plans, pretty much every healthy diet and lifestyle is covered. Trifecta also has an expansive a la carte menu, with everything from portobello mushrooms to venison.
Healthy factor: Regardless of what meal plan you pick or your dietary restrictions, all of the ingredients used in Trifecta meals are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and non-GMO, as well as high-protein and low in sugar.
Delivery details: Shipping is free across the country and the meals are delivered in a refrigerated box.
Cost: Depending on your dietary choice (Paleo, vegan, clean, etc.) and whether you add breakfasts, a meal plan is between $110.99 to $310.99 a week.
For: The home chef who loves aspires to be a little more like Martha Stewart in the kitchen.
Need-to-know: How better to try out new recipes than with Martha Stewart herself? Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon sends you a box with a recipe of your choice, curated ingredients, and Martha’s favorite spice blends. There are 40 different recipes to choose from each week, and all of them only require six steps, so you can enjoy chef-quality meals without a ton of work.
Healthy factor: Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon works with an in-house nutritionist to create healthy meals. You can filter recipes if you want something vegan or vegetarian, dairy-free, no added gluten, low carb, low calorie, and more.
Delivery details: You can pick your delivery date ahead of time, and the box is insulated and comes with ice packs to preserve your ingredients so you don’t have to stress out if you’re not home when it arrives. Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon guarantees you’ll be able to use the ingredients for at least four days after you receive them (except for fish, which has to be cooked within 48 hours, because who wants to eat old fish?). They deliver to most of the contiguous US states (you can check your zip code for more details). The box is made of paper sourced from sustainably managed forests and is recyclable, and the ingredient packaging is recyclable, too.
Cost: You can choose meal plans for two people starting at $6.29/portion, or for four people starting at $4.99/portion, plus shipping.
For: Budding home chefs looking for more simple recipes.
Need-to-know: Home Chef provides simple recipes that you can customize by upgrading, swapping, or doubling up on the protein. Options include meal kits (30 minutes), 15-minute meal kids, oven-ready, grill-ready, fast & fresh, and culinary collection (premium meals).
Healthy factor: Home Chef partners with chefs for its recipes, preservatives. You can pick from recipes that are vegetarian, nut-free, soy-free, wheat-free, milk-free, carb conscious, and more.
Delivery details: Recipes and pre-portioned ingredients are shipped to your door in chilled, insulated boxes, or you can also pick up boxes at select Kroger stores around the country. Home Chef currently delivers to 98 percent of the U.S.
Cost: Meals start at $9.99 and vary depending on the meal type, and the minimum weekly order value is $50.95.
For: The Paleo eater
Need-to-know: Maybe you can’t find high-quality, Paleo-friendly ingredients. Or you’ve had the same steak and roasted veggie combo on repeat for weeks. Or maybe you just can’t imagine cooking dinner after a crushing a WOD. Whatever it is, Pete’s Paleo will take care of you. The San Diego-based company plans, shops, cooks, and delivers meals from its weekly seasonal menu right to your door. All you have to do is reheat and serve (setting the table: optional).
Healthy factor: Since it’s Paleo, you know your meals will be full of grass-fed and pastured protein and in-season produce, as well as free of gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, and sweeteners. Plus, the delivery service has developed relationships with local suppliers and farmers from whom they source ingredients.
Delivery details: Pete’s Paleo delivers nationally, and meals are delivered weekly or bi-weekly. They arrive vacuum-sealed in BPS-free bags and stay cool thanks to ice packs.
Cost: Purchase a set of five, 10, or 14 meals, starting at $70 per week.
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