For those who don’t have time to cook this new trend of meal delivery services seem like a God send. But are they worth the money? I’ve compared four of the top programs.
I have been intrigued by these new trendy meal delivery kits for a while. I’ve put them to the test to see if they’re worth the hype. I’ve given a detail description of each one in ranking order of my opinion of them. As well as my favorite choice for packaging, portion size, ease of operation, and taste which is found at the bottom of this page.
4th Sun Basket
Sun Basket was the least successful of the meal plans in my book. I’m going to start with the positive though. I loved that many ingredients came in reusable containers, they always come in handy and it made the meal kits seem less wasteful. Also they focus on trying to feature organic ingredients. However, when it came to the food itself I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the recipes.
We had the steak fajitas the first night. I’m not sure what cut of meat it was, but it was extremely chewy. We ended up having to cut everything into bite sized pieces. I swapped my tortillas out for gluten free ones which was easy enough, but with the chewy meat I ended up having to eat the whole thing with a fork and knife. Not the fajita eating experience I was expecting.
Next I tried the mango chicken salad, which was the most disappointing the meals. The mango was so under ripe that is was extremely bitter and rock hard. Since the mango was supposed to be the main component is really ruined the whole dish for me. The last dish was the Cajun Pasta, I was excited to see they have a gluten free pasta option, that’s a definite plus. The flavor combo was a little strange, it wasn’t bad, just not my taste. I skipped the hard boil egg that was supposed to go on top, because that would have made it a three pan dinner and I did not want to have that much clean up.
Overall, I just wasn’t very impressed with the Sun Basket experience. I don’t think I could ever justify the cost of this plan. I wasn’t impressed with any of the meals, and lots of them involved lots of dishes. I spent more time cooking these meals than I do a typical night. If you’re extremely passionate about organic then maybe they’ll be worth a try. But if your main goal is tasty easy meals I’d try another option.
3rd Blue Apron
Blue Apron is hardest for me to review. While the food was all tasty, there was just a lot of hassle involved in each plan. Upon opening the box the food was scattered throughout, small “knick knacks” were separated for each meal but everything else was just combined together. I was given a head of garlic, two of the recipes called for minced garlic, but neither said how much of this garlic I was supposed to be using. When I opened the shrimp there was a lot of liquid in the package, which is generally not best for storing seafood. I thought the packaging of the food could have been handled a lot better.
The first meal I had was the Spicy Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry, it tasted just like take out (and I mean that in the best way possible I love take out). However the bok choy was really dirty and I would have preferred if they could have diced the chicken, I hate dealing with raw poultry. My boyfriend said the hoisin sauce was delicious, unfortunately it wasn’t gluten free so I had to just use my gf soy sauce. I feel like I missed out on the main component which was disappointing. Next I had the Paprika Shrimp and Cheddar grits. While tasty it was way too much food! What two people are eating a 4 cups of grits in one serving? And because the recipe had you add lemon zest to the grits it was hard to reuse the leftover grits for breakfast or anything else.
Lastly, I had the BBQ Sloppy Joes, the one I was most excited for. I have always loved sloppy joes. I idolized all famous red heads growing up Shirley Temple, Ginny Wesley, and of course the little girl in the Manwich commercial. Of the three meals, this was the tastiest, however the method was odd to me. At the end it had me add a cup of water to the sauce, and then I had to cook the sauce until the water evaporated. That’s just a waste of time for me. It also only came with two small buns, yet made so much meat. Luckily, I was using my own gluten free bread otherwise I think we would have been disappointed that the bread to meat ratio was so drastically off.
Overall, I would say that if you’re looking for a quick dinner fix, Blue Apron is not for you. If you enjoy cooking and want some inspiration and have time to spend making some new dishes, then yes check them out! There were so many dishes involved in each meal I spent twice as long cleaning than I do on an average night, and that just doesn’t work for me!
2nd Hello Fresh
Hello Fresh won me over from the start, on the top of the box was a free apron. I love free stuff, and it got me excited to get cooking. All the ingredients for the three dinners where in three separate boxes that fit perfectly in the fridge. Each night I could just pull out that dinner I wanted to make and everything was ready to go. That was a huge plus for me.
I thought the Spice Rubbed Chicken with sweet potatoes and peppers was delicious. I loved the combination of the sweet potatoes with lime and feta cheese, it was an usual combo and I was pleasantly surprised. However, I think it could have just have easily been a one pan dinner; I would have greatly preferred that as opposed to cooking the chicken and veggies separate. Next was the Toasted Rice Bowl with shrimp and corn. While very tasty it was a comically too much food. After eating dinner we have 2 quarts of left overs, eight cups too much! Although I did combine some with my tomato braised shortribs for an amazing surf and turf burrito, most got thrown away because it was just too much.
The last meal we had was my boyfriend’s favorite of all four meal plans; Italian meat loaf with green beans and mashed potatoes. I love meatloaf, but have never had one with sun dried tomatoes! While if I have been craving my mom’s meatloaf it wouldn’t have satisfied that craving; it was such a flavorful dinner. I think the portions on this one were too large as well, but it was so tasty we definitely ate all of the meatloaf.
I was really satisfied with the overall Hello Fresh experience. All of the meals were delicious and there were considerably less dishes than with Blue Apron. However, for me, it was still more dishes than a normal night. I think if you’re looking to spice up your dinner routine Hello Fresh is a good option. Toasting the rice and added sun dried tomatoes to the meatloaf were things I wouldn’t have done, I love that it had me trying new things.
1st Terra’s Kitchen
Terra’s Kitchen hands down was by far my favorite of all the services. Their website has a wide variety of options with new ones being added each week. One of the best parts of Terra’s Kitchen is the selection of add-ons. Generally, when I meal prep I cut up from fruits and veggies for the week. However, when uses these services I wasn’t meal prepping so I didn’t have my healthy snacks around. I loved that I could add these on with Terra’s in addition to my dinners I also got some juicy pineapple slices and green juice, that makes me a happy camper.
The first meal I tried was the Chicken and Green Beans with Bacon Sweet and Sour Sauce. There was so much flavor in this meal it was unreal! This was another aspect I loved about Terra’s Kitchen, it had me making sauces to make the dinners so much more flavorful than the other plans. The next meal was the Turkey and Spinach Meatballs with Sunday Gravy. This was by far my favorite meal of all, I saved the recipe to be able to make it again! The only thing is I wish it could have come with some crusty bread, not that I could have eaten it. I just used some gluten free bread we had, but my boyfriend had to use a bagel to sop up all his sauce. The picture does not do it justice, this simple dish was bursting with flavor.
I finished my Terra’s Kitchen experience with the Fajita Bowls. They were so easy to make and so flavorful. I think it only took about 15 minutes to make this delicious meal. After the disappointing fajitas with Sun Basket, I was so happy to have a tasty fajita experience. Though I will say the avocado was not ripe at all so I couldn’t use it. Besides that the meal was delicious, my boyfriend said this was his second favorite meal and even had seconds.
The one thing that sets Terra’s Kitchen way above the other options is that they prep the veggies for you. All the Terra’s meal were so much faster and had less dishes because of this. I know it sounds lazy, but isn’t that why people are buying these meals? For convenience? Well, Terra’s Kitchen definitely brings that and some delicious food!
Best Packaging: Hello Fresh
Portion Size: Everyone’s portions were way too big
Best for Ease of Operation: Terra’s Kitchen
Best for Taste: Terra’s Kitchen
Testing all these meal kits was a lot of fun for me. However, keep in mind, I LOVE to cook. While yes, they save you the trouble of going to the grocery store. I still spend just as much time, sometimes more, cooking dinner. Also, none of these were one pan meals; always lots of dishes. These dinners are typically $20-$30 a night, while cheaper than going out, much more expensive than my typical dinner. Also, the meals don’t get delivered until 1-2 weeks after you order them so you need to be able to plan ahead for them. Another thing that should be noted is the amount of paper and plastic waste. With all of these companies I found the trash can filling up a lot faster than usual.
If you don’t have to time or just hate going to the grocery store, then these meals might be a good option for you. Also, if you just want to add to fun new dishes to your dinner routine this is a fun way to do it. While I can’t see myself using these services on a regular basis, I think they would be prefect for after a long vacation. I could see myself setting one up for the day I get home. I always crave home cooked food after a long trip, but rarely feel like shopping right away. It would be nice to go home with food already there so you can focus on unpacking and laundry instead.
Have you tried any of these plans? I’d love to hear what your opinions were as well!
Disclosure: I was provided free product for this review, all opinions are my own.