Best Meal Delivery Services

Updated August 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
125 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Choosing the best meal delivery services

Last Updated August 2020

Remember the days when delivered meals consisted mostly of pizza? Now, the term “meal delivery” is more closely associated with customized dietary plans that take your preferences and macronutrients into consideration and turn them into flavorful, satisfying dishes.

If you think the idea of meal delivery seems too posh and convenient to be affordable, think again. In fact, the services have become more cost-effective to broaden their horizons as well as customer base. No longer are they pigeonholed as weight management plans or concierge cooking. Rather, they’re tailored for individuals in all walks of life, from busy professionals and competitive athletes to diabetics and vegans, just to name a few. 

Wondering whether you should give a meal delivery service a try? Our team of experts weighs in on your options, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what’s out there. Keep reading to see which one is right for your lifestyle. 

Vegan and vegetarian plans aren’t one and the same, though sometimes they’re mistakenly used interchangeably. If you eat a plant-based diet, read the label to confirm the ingredients in your meal.

Who benefits from meal delivery services?

Meal delivery services are incredibly versatile, and most companies now offer a variety of options to accommodate virtually any customer. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a service that doesn’t have at least some dishes you enjoy. As such, we’re breaking down what you can expect from a meal delivery service plan based on your eating habits and lifestyle.

Those in weight management programs

Meal delivery services focused on weight management are often referred to as diet plans. The goal is typically weight loss, so the dishes are designed based on calorie counts and rounding out macronutrients. 

Unlike other meal delivery services, these programs usually cover three meals a day plus snacks. While most people utilize these services for weight loss, industry leaders like Nutrisystem and WW (formerly WeightWatchers) have plans designed for those with other dietary restrictions, such as diabetes. 

Those who don’t have time to cook

People who don’t have time to cook a nutritious meal subscribe to meal delivery services to maintain a healthy eating schedule. These types of subscriptions are typically used to cover one or two meals rather than an entire day’s worth of food. 

Some individuals subscribe to meals as a way to supplement their overall weekly food preparation. Knowing you have a fresh, ready-to-eat, energy-packed breakfast is a great way to save time in the morning, which means you only need to put effort into making lunch and dinner. 

Those who like to cook

Individuals who genuinely enjoy cooking gravitate toward meal delivery services that give you only the ingredients. This lets you remain hands-on in the kitchen without the hassle of grocery shopping. 

While it’s a pricier option, these services definitely provide a fun way to spend the evening. For the most part, you’ll choose a dish from the menu, which may be classified by level of difficulty. You’ll receive a package with the recipe card and all the ingredients for entrees, side dishes, and sometimes desserts. Keep in mind that you’ll need to tell the service the number of people who will be eating in order to receive the correct portions of food.

Competitive athletes

High-performance athletes need to fuel their body to make gains, which is why clean meal subscription plans are a solid choice. Many dishes are geared toward specific diets, such as keto, Whole30, or paleo. 

More than anything, macros are a deciding factor in how dishes are assembled. Some meals are specially designed based on the type of exercise, such as high-intensity interval (HIIT) training or weightlifting. This helps keep athletes on track by fueling them with the nutrients they need to support their activity level. 

Those with specialized diets

People with specialized diets, either due to lifestyle choices or food sensitivities, often utilize meal subscription services. Their programs include dishes geared toward vegetarians, vegans, and diabetics. They include kosher, gluten-free, organic, and seafood-free menus as well. 

Convenience reaches a new level because recipients can enjoy a meal without the added stress of examining the ingredients under a microscope. In the past, this is where many meal plans fell short, because their commercial kitchens weren’t prepared to cook for smaller groups of people with specialized diets. Now that meal delivery services are mainstream, companies have expanded their menus to meet the needs of a more diverse customer base.

DID YOU KNOW?

Meal delivery services don’t need to replace home cooking altogether. In fact, many individuals use them to supplement their meals. Those who enjoy cooking steak to their preference, for example, may enjoy vegetarian meals as side dishes.

Key considerations

Tailored meals

To choose your meals, simply log onto the service’s app or website. Most platforms are user-friendly and display a log of recent meals for easy reference to repeat in future deliveries. If you’d like to add new ones to your next delivery, you have a selection ranging from 50 to 250 dishes, depending on the service.

When it comes to tailoring meals, keep in mind that you’re only choosing menu items, not selecting custom orders. Very few meal delivery services can personalize every single meal. If that idea appeals to you, be prepared to spend higher than average restaurant prices for each dish.

Frozen vs. fresh foods

The vast majority of meal delivery services are available as either frozen or fresh dishes. Frozen dishes are popular if you intend to order several days’ worth of food at a time, though you’ll need to have the freezer space to store it. Fresh dishes are ideal if you like the idea of ready-to-eat food, but some sauces or ingredients may not freeze well. 

Delivery frequency

Meal delivery services vary considerably when it comes to the frequency of delivery. Most offer tiered plans in which the more meals you sign up to receive, the cheaper your per-dish price. Depending on the service, you can receive meals weekly, biweekly, or monthly. 

Produce-driven services often deliver fresh fruits and vegetables up to three times a week, whereas diet plans may deliver only once a month. Biweekly deliveries are also popular, and with many services you can add deliveries to your existing schedule. As far as the price of delivery goes, it’s included in some subscriptions, but in others you’ll pay a flat rate for every delivery.

EXPERT TIP

Taste your meal and check the sodium content before adding salt. In some dishes, you might be surprised by how high it is. If it’s too high for you, consider trying some low-sodium dishes.


Staff  | BestReviews

Cost

Two main factors determine the cost of meal delivery services: the level of plan customization and the quality of the ingredients. We examined the per-dish breakdown to see what the dollars and cents really are. 

  • Meal delivery plans at the lowest end of the price range come in between $3 and $5 per meal. To save with these cost-effective options, go with a service that gives major discounts for monthly subscriptions.

  • More specialized meal delivery services featuring tailored plans that accommodate different allergies or lifestyles cost $6 to $10 per dish. These are made with better-quality ingredients, some of which are organic or non-GMO.

  • The most expensive meal delivery services cost $12 to $25 per meal. These consist of high-quality produce subscriptions, as well as chef-cooked meals prepared the same day and delivered hot. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Travelers staying in short-term rental accommodations may prefer using a meal delivery service because it cuts down on cooking and can be less expensive than going out to eat every night.

Common mistakes to avoid

Mistake #1: Not checking for allergy-friendly menu choices

If you have a food allergy or intolerance, make sure you review your options for dishes before signing up. Depending on your sensitivities, you might find yourself somewhat limited when it comes to certain meal delivery services. It’s also important to research how and where the service prepares or produces its food. If you have a tree nut allergy, for example, you may wish to speak to the corporate office regarding manufacturing equipment and cross-contamination concerns.

Mistake #2: Sticking to the same foods

Meal plans make it easy to simply reorder your favorites, but it’s worth going outside your comfort zone to explore new flavors and recipes. If you’re a competitive athlete or progressing in a weight management plan, alternating foods is especially important. You’ll need to adjust your macros periodically, plus introduce an abundance of certain nutrients as you enter the next stage of your journey. If you’re adding weight training to your exercise routine, you’ll need to add more protein to your diet.

Mistake #3: Staying subscribed when delivery or quality issues arise

A meal delivery service should make your life more convenient and enjoyable. While every product at one point has an occasional hiccup, if it becomes a regular issue, contact customer service. There may be delivery or production issues they’re unaware of, and by bringing it to their attention, they’re able to make right by you. On the other hand, if issues persist after several complaints to customer service, start shopping around for a new meal delivery service. There are plenty out there that are customer oriented and satisfaction driven. 

Tips

  • Inquire about contactless delivery. If you prefer contactless delivery, ask the company what their drop-off protocol is. Some companies will call you when they leave it on your porch, and others will require you to schedule contactless delivery by the hour.

  • Check for sign-up specials. To get you on board as a new customer, meal delivery services advertise sign-up offers. These are presented as flashy pop-ups when you visit their website. You can save as much as 50% on your first month using the service.

  • Find out how often their menu changes. Meal delivery services typically have a core collection of dishes and swap them out with seasonal favorites or new recipes. If you’re a big fan of certain dishes, share your feedback with the company, because they often update menus to include popular requests.

Some meal delivery services offer discounts for household members. If you and your partner or roommate want to save the most on meals, consider signing up together.

FAQ

Q. Do meal delivery services use recyclable or eco-friendly containers for their foods?
A. The containers used vary considerably and can range from single-use tins to BPA-free trays. Certain companies have adopted containers that are made from recycled plastics or biodegradable. In an attempt to minimize their carbon footprint another way, some companies forgo including condiment packets and disposable utensils because these are frequently thrown away without being used.
 

Q. Can I freeze my meal if I don’t want to eat it that day?
A. In most cases, food is packaged in such a way that it can be refrigerated or frozen. You’ll find certain containers are also stackable to optimize storage as well, especially when you receive several meals at a time. To defrost, follow the instructions on the packaging. Some dishes do better with reheating in the oven, while others can be thawed in the microwave.
 

Q. I signed up for a new dish for my next few deliveries, but I don’t like it at all. Am I stuck with it?
A. Unless you’ve received all of your meals in a single delivery, chances are it’s an easy fix with a quick call to customer service. Even then, most companies are willing to either issue credit or substitute the meal for a new one. When you speak to customer service, they’ll probably inquire why you didn’t like your meal. The question isn’t combative by any measure. The intention is to identify the reason for your dissatisfaction. If you’re not the first call they’ve received about the dish, they may consider pulling it from their menu.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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