best meal kits reviewed (Blue Apron, Sun Basket, Hello Fresh, Green Chef)
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After cooking 18 meals from six of the most popular meal kit delivery services in 2019, I’m well on my way of reaching my New Year’s resolution to cook more often. I know some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions (including mine) revolve around food. Whether you want to cook healthier, cook more often, and/or lose weight, the solution to all these resolutions is the same—meal kit delivery services. I’m sharing all of my learnings from this crazy experiment with you so you can figure out which kit is best for you and your family.

Overall, I think:

  • Plated is best for those with a discerning palate who also love dessert.
  • Home Chef is best for those who want extra portions.
  • Sun Basket is the best kit to get you out of your food rut.
  • Blue Apron is best for gourmet chefs.
  • Hello Fresh is the most crowd-pleasing option.
  • Green Chef is best for those following a specific diet plan.

Keep reading for details on each kit—plus in-depth reviews, from the unboxing process to sitting down to eat that first bite. While I don’t think any one kit is right for everyone, after testing all of these meal kits I am confident that there is a kit that’s right for you.


Plated: Best Kit for Those with Discerning Palates and a Sweet Tooth

Plated Meal Kit

Plated

Plated was my overall favorite meal kit I tested due to the great variety (20+ meal options per week—including both dessert and brunch like the Pain Perdu) and several elevated pescatarian and vegetarian options available. While a lot of the other meal kits contained heavier meal options with a lot of dairy (butter, cream, cheese, etc…) I think Plated was able to achieve flavorful menu options that were a bit lighter (and more like something I would typically eat).See It

Price/Subscription Sizes: $11.95 per serving for a two-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week; $9.95 per serving for a three-person or four-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week.


Home Chef: Best Kit for Those Who Are Really Hungry

Home Chef meal kit review

Home Chef

Home Chef boasts over 38 meal kits to choose from in any given week including the all-new grill packs and one pan dinners. Plus you can customize which makes this service stand out from the pack. For example, with some recipes you can order double the protein without doubling the overall portions. With other recipes you can choose to order antibiotic-free protein instead of the standard version it typically comes with. Meal kits are usually pretty standard in their offering (which is what keeps them efficient to the masses), so this is a way for Home Chef to stand out among the crowded marketplace.See It

Price/Subscription Sizes: $9.95 per serving for two or four servings per recipe, with additional premium recipes offered at market price.


Sun Basket: Best Kit to Get You Out of a Food Rut

Sun Basket meal kit review

Chowhound

I loved the variety of unique recipes offered from Sun Basket. I learned new recipes I probably otherwise wouldn’t have cooked, and while these recipes were new to me they were still easy to make due to the detailed cooking instructions.See It

Price/Subscription Sizes: $11.99 per serving for a two-person or four-person subscription at 3 meals/week; $10.99 per serving for a four-person “family-friendly” subscription at 2-4 meals/week


Blue Apron: Best Kit for Gourmet Chefs

Blue Apron meal kit review

Chowhound

I found the recipes in Blue Apron were most likely to be something I’d order in a restaurant. All of the recipes were still very approachable and easy for beginners to make, but I found these dishes tasted a little more elevated than some of the other meal kits I tried.See It

Price/Subscription Sizes: $9.99 per serving for a two-person subscription at 2-3 meals/week (same price per meal at both 2 and 3 meals per week); $8.99-$7.49 per serving for a four-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week respectively.


Hello Fresh: Best Kit to Please a Crowd

Hello Fresh meal kit review

Hello Fresh

While I personally wasn’t as inspired with the recipes in Hello Fresh, it seemed to be the most crowd-pleasing of them all. The basic, simple recipes seemed particularly family-friendly when compared to other (more exotic) recipes I tried by different companies.See It

Price/Subscription Sizes: $9.99-$8.99 per serving for a two-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week respectively; $7.87-$7.49 per serving for a four-person subscription at 2-3 meals/week respectively.


Green Chef: Best Kit for Someone Following a Specific Diet Plan

Green Chef meal kit review

Green Chef

I like Green Chef (owned by Hello Fresh) for its versatility in the different specific diet plans available. I tried the Paleo plan, but they also offer Keto, Pescatarian, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free options. So no matter which diet you’re following (for health or personal reasons) you’ll be able to find a plan that works for you.See It

Price/Subscription Sizes: $12.99-$11.99 per serving for a two-person subscription at 3 meals/week; $10.99 per serving for a four-person subscription at 2 meals/week.


In-Depth Meal Kit Reviews

Plated Meal Kit Review

My Top Pick for Discerning Palates who Love Dessert
Plated was my overall favorite meal kit I tested due to the great variety (20+ meal options per week—including both dessert and brunch like the Pain Perdu) and several elevated pescatarian and vegetarian options available. While a lot of the other meal kits contained heavier meals with a lot of dairy (butter, cream, cheese, etc…) I think Plated was able to achieve flavorful menu options that were a bit lighter (and more like something I would typically eat).

Plated Unboxing

This meal kit was packaged like most of the others (upon opening the large box, each meal was separated into an individual bag containing all of the grouped ingredients per recipe and all meat/seafood was on top of ice packs at the bottom of the box to ensure freshness).

Plated meal kit unboxing

Kristin Cassidy

Favorite Meal I Cooked

The Provençal Salmon Salad with Radish, Mint, and Goat Cheese was such a nice, light, fresh, and healthy tasting meal—but still felt a bit gourmet and special for a regular ol’ weeknight dinner. I liked that even though the recipe contained cheese, it was easy to pick around (versus being incorporated into the protein or sauce itself). My cheese-loving dining partner could enjoy both portions of cheese while I could forgo it altogether. And normally side salads are kind of blah, but this one was a lovely spring-produce-filled treat featuring snap peas, mint, and radish.

Plated meal kit review

Kristin Cassidy

Other Meals I Cooked

The Roasted Flounder with Rice Pilaf, Almonds, and Cilantro was another amazing dish and something I would definitely order out or cook at home regularly. The fish was flaky and the annatto added a slightly peppery flavor and exotic feel.

I am a BIG dessert girl, so I was very excited to see that Plated included a few dessert options. While I love to bake on my own, it was nice to have an easy, homemade sweet treat for the middle of the week. We had so much fun making the Crispy Chocolate Truffles with Toasted Hazelnuts. They were a chocolate lover’s dream—rich and creamy. One truffle was enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, and they lasted all week in the fridge so we could eat one nightly until they were gone.

Plated meal kit review test

Kristin Cassidy

Plated Details

Price/Subscription Sizes: $11.95 per serving for a two-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week; $9.95 per serving for a three-person or four-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week.

Meal choices per week: 20 + dessert options

Special diet plans available: Vegetarian and Gluten-free

Is it organic? Some ingredients are organic, but overall Plated is not an organic meal kit delivery service option.

$9.95/serving and up

See It

Home Chef Meal Kit Review

My Top Pick for Those Who Are Really Hungry

Home Chef has over 38 meal kits to choose from in any given week including grill packs and one pan dinners (both new!). What makes this meal kit stand out even more and give it our recommendation for the hungry, is that you can customize the portions of some of the ingredients in some of the recipes.

Home Chef Unboxing

Upon opening the large box, each meal was separated into an individual bag containing all of the grouped ingredients per recipe. This is how four of the five meal kits packaged the ingredients, so this seems to be the norm. While it kept everything organized, it did seem a bit wasteful environmentally. Also standard, all meat/seafood was on top of ice packs at the bottom of the box to ensure freshness. As an added bonus, they also included a binder where you can keep track of all of the recipe print-outs. And as mentioned above, you are able to customize some recipe ingredients in ways you can’t with other meal kits. For example, with some Home Chef recipes you can order double the protein without doubling the overall portions. With other recipes you can choose to order antibiotic-free protein instead of the standard version it typically comes with.

Home Chef meal kit review

Kristin Cassidy

Favorite Meal I Cooked

I will definitely be recreating the Jerk Chicken Thigh-Stuffed Poblanos with Pineapple and Pickled Red Onion. The chicken was extremely flavorful and tender. While I typically cook with chicken breast versus chicken thigh, this recipe had me convinced I should cook with chicken thigh more often. The brightness and sweetness of the pineapple complimented the smokiness of the jerk sauce perfectly—it was like a flavor equation that was equally balanced on all sides. This recipe called for pickling onions with lime juice, and honestly, I had never heard of pickling anything without using vinegar. The pickled onions turned out to be tart and had a nice bite to them. I’ll be trying this quick hack for pickling again in my kitchen soon. One recipe note—this calls for two teaspoons of olive oil to be drizzled over the poblanos before roasting but I would cut that down to almost half that amount, as the poblanos still had a lot of excess oil around them once roasted.

Home Chef recipes shrimp pad thai

Kristin Cassidy

Other Meals I Cooked

The Shrimp Pad Thai with Carrots, Roasted Peanuts, and Cilantro was one of the quickest and easiest meals I made throughout this testing process. It was like painting-by-numbers but with cooking, which is one of the greatest benefits of making a recipe from a meal kit delivery service. Sometimes after a long day you don’t feel like experimenting or being creative in the kitchen and you just want dinner on the table ASAP. This Shrimp Pad Thai does the trick. One recipe note—this says to prepare the shrimp, noodles, and vegetable mixture in a medium non-stick pan, but I felt the pan was too small to comfortably hold all of the ingredients. Instead, try using a large non-stick pan or a wok if you have one.

The Barbacoa Steak Tacos with Queso Fresco and Pickled Vegetables were not my favorite meal, as I found the steak strips to have a bland taste and grainy texture to them. However, I admittedly don’t consume red meat very often, so if you’re a red meat fan you will probably like these tacos better than I did. One recipe note—I had a tough time thickening up the sauce with the beef mixture. Instead of adding the recommended 1/4 cup of water, I would start with 1/8 cup of water and add more water if you need to.

Home Chef Details

Price/Subscription Sizes: $9.95 per serving for two or four servings per recipe, with additional premium recipes offered at market price.

Meal choices per week: 16 with a two- or four-person subscription

Special diet plans available: Vegetarian options, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free

Is it organic? No

$9.95/serving and up

See It

Sun Basket Meal Kit Review

My Top Pick for Those Who Need to Get Out of a Food Rut

I loved the variety of unique recipes on Sun Basket and how easy they were due to the detailed cooking instructions. I even learned a few new recipes!

Sun Basket Unboxing

The unboxing process was like most of the other meal kits—each recipe was separated into individual paper bags within the overarching box and all meat/seafood was on top of ice packs at the bottom of the box to ensure freshness.

Sun Basket meal kit review

Kristin Cassidy

Favorite Meal I Cooked

While I don’t think the Tempeh “Bacon” Bowls with Sage-Roasted Vegetables tasted like bacon, it was still my favorite Sun Basket meal. I had eaten tempeh before but never cooked with it, so making this recipe felt like a fun experiment that broadened my cooking horizons. This meal is vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and while I don’t personally subscribe to any one of these specific diet plans, I appreciated how healthy this recipe felt. I also loved that this dish felt filling, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. As far as recipe details go, pickling the onions felt fancy and fun, and really added a huge flavor boost. The tart dried cranberries balanced out the smokiness of the tempeh “bacon” marinade.

Sun Basket recipe review

Kristin Cassidy

Other Meals I Cooked

I was immediately taken back to my fall vacation in Morocco by making this Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Artichokes, Tomato-Poached Eggs, and Couscous. It was probably the most exotic meal of the 12 I cooked, and really took me out of my comfort zone (in a good way). To me, this is one of the greatest benefits of doing a meal kit—discovering and trying something new. Poaching the eggs was a fun process, and it added a richness to the dish that paired well with the brightness of the tomato sauce and earthiness of the lamb. One note—this recipe calls for butter but the kit did not include it; instead, it refers to the butter as an item to include “from your pantry.” I noticed when some of the other meal kits had recipes that called for butter, they included it. Most people probably have butter on hand, so I don’t think it’s a huge deal, just a difference I noticed and thought worth mentioning.

The Shrimp Stir-Fry with Cambodian Tuk Trey Sauce and Jasmine Rice was easy to make and a cheaper version of a standard takeout dish I’d order. While it wasn’t super memorable compared to the other two recipes, there was nothing wrong with it.

Sun Basket recently launched organic five-minute salads that are designed to be a quick, easy, and healthy lunch solution. After trying them, I agree this is a fresh take on the traditional brown bag lunch (they even come in a brown bag). My favorite salad was the Organic Rainbow Asian Salad (for two). To be honest, at first glance this salad didn’t make me super excited. It contained spinach, scallions, cilantro, shredded carrots, shredded red cabbage, black sesame seeds, and cashews, with a tamarind-cashew dressing. However, once I started eating it I was quickly singing another tune. The dressing was tangy and had a good kick, and the cilantro and scallions added fresh flavor without adding calories. I ended up eating half of this salad for lunch, and eating the other half for a snack later in the afternoon.

Sun Basket salad review

Kristin Cassidy

The Organic Kale Caesar Salad (for two) was upgraded from a traditional Caesar salad with the addition of chickpeas and sunflower seeds. I also loved that the dressing was vegan (so hard to find in a Caesar dressing!). But I could have passed on the Organic Protein Crunch Salad (for two). The dried blueberries didn’t pair well with the other ingredients and felt out of place, and the raw riced cauliflower was a bit bitter.

Sun Basket Details

Price/Subscription Sizes: $11.99 per serving for a two-person or four-person subscription at 3 meals/week; $10.99 per serving for a four-person “family-friendly” subscription at 2-4 meals/week

Meal choices per week: 18 with a two to four-person subscription and six with a four-person “family-friendly” subscription

Special diet plans available: Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian options, Vegan, Pescatarian, and Diabetes-Friendly

Is it organic? Yes.

$10.99/serving and up

See It

Blue Apron Meal Kit Review

My Top Pick for Gourmet Chefs

I found the recipes in Blue Apron were most likely to be something I’d order in a restaurant. All of the recipes were still very approachable and easy for beginners to make, but I found these dishes tasted a little more elevated than some of the other meal kits I tried.

Blue Apron Unboxing

Of the four meal kits I tested, Blue Apron was the only one that didn’t group together ingredients by recipe in individual paper bags within the large box. Instead, all ingredients were packaged loosely in the box. This makes Blue Apron the greenest option in my opinion, as it used the least amount of packaging compared to the other kits I tried. It was still very easy to group ingredients together by recipe, as the recipe cards included pictures of which ingredients went with each one. Like all of the other meal kits, any meat/seafood was on top of ice packs at the bottom of the box to ensure freshness.

Blue Apron review

Kristin Cassidy

Favorite Meal I Cooked

Out of all of the delicious meals I cooked throughout this test, my overall favorite was the Seared Cod & Saffron Rice with Lemon-Butter Pan Sauce. The night I cooked this meal I found myself with house guests and a fridge full of meal kit meals, so I ended up making this one for the group—and everyone loved it. The prep time and step-by-step instructions were accurate, the ingredients were very fresh, and the recipe was overall very flavorful. I ended up adding all of the optional red pepper flakes because I like things spicy, but feel free to leave them out if you prefer things on the milder side (or if you’re trying to appeal to a child’s tamer palate). I really enjoyed the addition of kale to the rice, and found the “weeknight hero spice blend” to complement the fish perfectly.

Blue Apron review

Kristin Cassidy

Other Meals I Cooked

I was impressed with the quality of the steak in the Steaks & Brown Butter Sauce With Mashed Potatoes & Fried Rosemary and felt the cooking instructions for the meat was spot-on. However, I ended up roasting the carrots for approximately five minutes longer than the called-for 16-18 minutes, but I do like my vegetables on the crispier side and chalk this one up to personal preference. For the fried rosemary section of the recipe, when I added the herbs to the hot oil as instructed, the rosemary immediately burned. In the future, I would tweak these instructions to heat the oil on low heat instead of medium-high heat. I also thought the potatoes were slightly dry, but did appreciate that they didn’t call for cream or butter.

The Kale & Monterey Jack Quesadillas with Spicy Radish Salsa & Fried Eggs is definitely a dish I’d find myself ordering at brunch. This recipe was super easy and quick to make, and I think it’d be a good one to have (eager) kids help with. The bite of the radishes paired nicely with the kick of the guajillo chile pepper sauce and the creamy queso blanco cheese. I wanted seconds of this one!

Blue Apron Details

Price/Subscription Sizes: $9.99 per serving for a two-person subscription at 2-3 meals/week (same price per meal at both 2 and 3 meals per week); $8.99-$7.49 per serving for a four-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week respectively.

Meal choices per week: Eight with a two-person subscription and five with a four-person subscription

Special diet plans available: Vegetarian options and Weight Watchers (Freestyle)

Is it organic? Some ingredients are organic, but overall Blue Apron is not an organic meal kit delivery service option.

$7.49/serving and up

See It

Hello Fresh Meal Kit Review

My Top Pick for Pleasing a Crowd

While I personally wasn’t as inspired with the recipes in Hello Fresh, it seemed to be the most crowd-pleasing of them all. The basic, simple recipes seemed particularly family-friendly when compared to other (more exotic) recipes I tried by different companies.

Hello Fresh Unboxing

This meal kit was packaged like most of the others (upon opening the large box, each meal was separated into an individual paper bag containing all of the grouped ingredients per recipe and all meat/seafood was on top of ice packs at the bottom of the box to ensure freshness). As an added perk, they included a Hello Fresh apron that I found to be a fun bonus.

Hello Fresh review

Kristin Cassidy

Favorite Meal I Cooked

The Figgy Balsamic Pork with Roasted Green Beans and Rosemary Potatoes was another meal I fed to my house guests (they happened to be visiting as I was having all of these meal kits delivered and I’m not one to be wasteful!), and it was another hit. Although I’m not typically a meat and potatoes kind of person, I actually loved this nostalgic meal with a twist. The figgy balsamic pan sauce was quite flavorful and the addition of rosemary to the roasted potatoes made them feel a little more upgraded than the potatoes I grew up with. The green beans were a crisp, fresh addition and rounded out the meal nicely. One recipe note—similar to the Lamb Tagine in Sun Basket, this recipe called for butter and did not include it, but rather asks you to provide it.

Hello Fresh recipe review

Kristin Cassidy

Other Meals I Cooked

At 1120 calories per serving, the Aioli-Topped Crab Cakes with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and a Cranberry Walnut Salad are definitely a calorie bomb. But crab cakes tend to be a crowd-pleaser, and these were no exception. The light, lemony salad balanced out the creamy crab cakes which were (understandably) quite rich, and the accompanying sweet potatoes were simple and healthy.

The recipe for Vietnamese Chicken Bowls with Sriracha Mayo and Jasmine Rice was another one that seemed like an at-home version of something I’d normally pick up from take-out on the way home. So if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to cook more, then this is a great option for you—the recipe uses fresh ingredients, has accurate cooking instructions, was easy to put together, and makes large portions. My favorite part was the garlicky pan sauce drizzled over the chicken. I found the Sriracha mayo to be less exciting.

Hello Fresh Details

Price/Subscription Sizes: $9.99-$8.99 per serving for a two-person subscription at 2-4 meals/week respectively; $7.87-$7.49 per serving for a four-person subscription at 2-3 meals/week respectively.

Meal choices per week: 15 with a two-person subscription and six with a four-person subscription

Special diet plans available: Vegetarian options

Is it organic? Hello Fresh is not an organic meal kit delivery service option.

$7.49/serving and up

See It

Green Chef Meal Kit Review

My Top Pick for Those Following a Specific Diet Plan

I like Green Chef (owned by Hello Fresh) for its versatility in the different specific diet plans available. I tried the Paleo plan, but they also offer Keto, Pescatarian, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free options, so you’ll be able to find one that works for you.

Green Chef Unboxing

The unboxing process was like most of the other meal kits—each recipe was separated into individual paper bags within the overarching box and all meat/seafood was on top of ice packs at the bottom of the box to ensure freshness. The package did include two free VitaCup coffee pods, which felt a little wasteful because I’m not a K-cup person and therefore had no use for them.

Favorite Meal I Cooked

If boyfriends could vote for their favorite recipe of the 12 I cooked, I’m told this Maple Balsamic BBQ Meatloaf with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, and Cranberries would be it. While I do personally tend to cook a lot of Paleo/Pescatarian meals, I’ve never actually cooked meatloaf before. This is another good example of how meal kits can help you expand your typical repertoire of the 5-ish recipes you probably continually cook over and over again. The portion of tangy barbecue sauce was generous and helped keep the meatloaf moist and tender, and I was pleased to see such a large portion of bright and fresh vegetables included (even though it only came with one carrot instead of the stated two carrots on the recipe card). This ended up being a recipe I will try to recreate.

Green Chef review

Kristin Cassidy

Other Meals I Cooked

The Chicken Al Pastor Wraps with Bell Pepper, Pickled Onions, Cabbage, and Carrot Slaw was a light meal—at 390 calories per serving, this was one of the lower calorie meals I tested. However, I still found this recipe satisfying. I loved the bright sweetness of the pineapple and the pickled onions—both gave great flavor to a pretty standard dish. The romaine lettuce was crisp and fresh, and the chicken seemed to be of good quality.

The Sausages with Braised Apple and Pan-Seared Acorn Fritters wasn’t a particularly standout dish, but I did think the squash fritters were a nice touch. They were kind of like savory Paleo pancakes.

Green Chef Details

Price/Subscription Sizes: $12.99-$11.99 per serving for a two-person subscription at 3 meals/week; $10.99 per serving for a four-person subscription at 2 meals/week.

Meal choices per week: Three to five (depending on diet plan) with a two-person subscription and two with a four-person subscription

Special diet plans available: Paleo, Keto, Pescatarian, Vegan, Vegetarian options, and Gluten-Free

Is it organic? Yes.

$10.99/serving and up

See It

While these are the only meal kits I’ve tested so far, check out CNET’s Meal Kit Delivery Services Guide for even more options—plus, a round-up of The Best Healthy Meal Kits to Try in 2019. And see my review of prepared meal delivery service Sakara (which focuses on superfoods that are vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free).

Kristin is Director of Special Projects at Chowhound. A few of the things she's currently daydreaming about include tacos, decorating her new apartment, her next vacation (most recently=Marrakech), and adding to her record collection.
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