(Pocket-lint) - Meal kits actually have quite a bit of tech behind them.
They are services you subscribe to using an app on your phone, after all. There's also all the backend stuff, which consumers never think about, from inventory and order management to delivery logistics. But, chances are, you don't care about any of that. You want to get home from work and have your groceries waiting for you in a frozen box outside your door so that you can quickly make and eat your meal and get to Netflixing.
Or, maybe you love to cook and want to hone your skills and try new foods. Either way, with meal kits, the hassle of grocery shopping is a thing of the past. They're all about ease and convenience. The hardest part is deciding which one to try. From Blue Apron to HelloFresh, there are numerous meal kit delivery services, with new ones popping up all the time. Here's a look at the top ones available in the US right now.
Best meal kit delivery services in the US
Blue Apron was one of the first meal kit delivery services and is among the most popular. It promises to deliver boxes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients in pre-measured quantities, so all you have to do is cook and enjoy. It offers four different plans, with the starter plan consisting of two or three recipes each week for two people. There's also a vegetarian version of this subscription plan and a four-person option.
You get to choose the meals you want. Using the Blue Apron app or website, you can view the recipes and select your meal kits for delivery each week. You can also skip or pause deliveries at any time. There are no hidden fees or delivery charges. And Blue Apron is available nationwide.
Blue Apron has a companion wine delivery service you should check out, too.
Gobble is unique in that, while it's nearly identical to Blue Apron, it claims to do all the prep work for you - like peeling, chopping, and marinating - so you can cook a homemade dinner in "just 15 minutes". If you're a parent who doesn't have a lot of time in the evening to whip up gourmet meals for your family, this may be the kit to try. There are two subscription plans available for either two people or four people.
The starter two-person plan includes six meals a week. Again, you can choose your meals from a weekly menu that also includes gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb, and vegetarian options. There's even a breakfast option. You can also skip weeks, change dishes, and cancel at any time. The primary downside is that you must do this using the website; there's no app. Gobble is available nationwide.
This is a no-frills, budget service, where you can choose a two-person box or a four-person box. There are few diet options, other than making your box vegetarian, and like most services, you get to pick your recipes for the week (16 different choices). It also advertises having fewer ingredients per dish, so there are fewer dishes to clean: "Because an hour of chopping and slicings and mixing is crazy."
The two-person box feeds a household of two adults, while the family box feeds four people. Both plans include three, four, or five recipes per week. You can swap your recipes out after checkout. You have up to six days before your delivery day to change the number of portions in your box, skip the order entirely, or update your delivery preferences.
Much like BlueApron and Gobble, with Hello Fresh, you’ll get a delivery each week consisting of fresh, pre-measured ingredients and simple step-by-step recipes. There are three weekly subscriptions available: a classic plan for two to four people and it includes up to four meals; a family plan for four people that offers up to three meals; and a veggie plan with three all-vegetarian recipes for up to four people.
You can use the app or website to change meals, skip a week, cancel, etc. And deliveries are available nationwide, using only recyclable materials.
Home Chef has standard meal kits for two servings or four servings. However, you can also order five-minute lunch kits for two servings. You can add a smoothie to your order, too, or a fruit basket, both of which have two servings. There are even so-called "premium meals" available at market price.
Home Chef kits are also sold in some Kroger stores, apparently, at different price points. See if there's a store near you using this tool. Each week, Home Chef offers 15 recipes, including vegetarian options. Simply choose what you want, and it'll come shipped in an insulated box with easy-to-follow recipe cards. You can skip weeks or cancel at any time using the app, like most services, and delivery is available nationwide.
Martha and Marley Spoon
If you're a Martha Stewart fan, consider this kit. The menu features 10 new recipes every week, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. The kits ship nationwide with ingredients from the "finest purveyors". You can expect things like grass-fed beef, Berkshire pork, American-caught shrimp, artisanal cheeses, and more. The recipes are easy to follow, though some testers say they require a little more cooking knowledge.
You can get two, three, or four meals a week for two to four people, with the option to add additional servings up to 12. Each week, you'll automatically receive your kit, but you can skip a week or pause your subscription, even change the number portions you'd like to receive, at any time via the app.
Peachdish has a Southern-style and has more ordering options than the competition. You can order kits as few as two servings and up to 24 for some recipes. There are flexible delivery days, too; you can order weeks ahead or "wait until Sunday". In terms of the food, there are vegetarian and omnivore selections, gluten-free and "superfood" menus, and a la carte items like desserts and meats for sale in the market.
The standard Peachdish delivery includes four servings of meals but, again, you can totally customise your order. The price of each meal and market item is listed in the description as you order online (sorry, no app).
Sun Basket is all about clean eating. It guarantees your kit will contain organic, non-GMO produce and responsibly sourced meats and seafood that are free of antibiotics and hormones. There are also "dietitian-approved" options for paleo, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and Mediterranean eaters. Using the app, choose any recipe from 18 weekly options. They'll come to your door in recyclable and compostable packaging, too.
There's a classic meal kit subscription plan that serves two to four people, three times a week. There's also a family subscription plan for up to four people and up to four recipes per week. The only thing you'll have to check is whether Sun Basket ships to your zip code. It supposedly serves most of the US, excluding Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, and New Mexico.
Compared to other meal kits out there, EveryPlate is pared-down and cost-effective. There's no add-ons to buy, locked recipes you can't access, overly complicated cooking skills required, or unusual meals that will turn kids away. Nevertheless, it offers a good mix of easy recipes. Critics say you may need to supply more of your own ingredients, like butter, flour, and milk.
EveryPlate has every-day dinners for every-day people. It offers up to eight meals to select from on a weekly basis. For two people, you can choose three, four, or five meals per week. But, for four people, you can only receive three meals per week.
This online-only meal kit service is for all the vegans out there. You can choose between the 30-minutes-or-less recipe plan, a high protein recipe plan, or a chef's choice recipe plan. Each week you'll get to pick three dinners, and each meal serves two. There are some extras you can get, too.
We even like that there are different diet options within each weekly menu, like high-protein, soy-free, and gluten-free.