Which Meal Delivery Service Is Right For You?


If you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably had tantalizing pictures from one of those ubiquitous meal delivery services pop up in your feed—either posted by the company themselves, or by a friend who’s trying out one of their meals. They look delicious, don’t they? We think so, too. But with so many choices out there, it can be hard to decide which one will be right for you. So we did a little homework to help you compare some of the most popular meal delivery services…and hopefully, find your perfect meal-prep match!

Blue Apron is one of the most popular meal delivery services on the market, and with good reason. Fresh ingredients and flavorful recipes abound, with a wide selection of recipes to suit a variety of different palates. Recipes can vary dramatically in difficulty and caloric count, and are categorized by trending, customer favorite and prep time—many meals can be made in 30 minutes, which is a strong selling point.

Other things we like: for visual thinkers, there are step-by-step instructions for each recipe on the website; you can also download a PDF of the recipe if you want to make it again on your own. There are even wine pairing suggestions, if you’re so inclined. Conclusion: if you’re not launching a New Year’s diet, and you’re not overly concerned that your ingredients are 100% organic, Blue Apron is a solid option.

Plated comes at the meal delivery offering from a sustainability angle. The company works with local partners to ensure that the produce (organic, whenever possible), seafood (sustainably caught), pork/poultry (antibiotic free) and beef (hormone free) are always fresh and seasonal. Artisanal ingredients are another part of the Plated angle, with small-batch and handcrafted specialty items included in many meals.

Each week, there are 20 unique recipes to choose from, with options for vegetarian, gluten-free, low-calorie and low-carb diets. In general, the recipes cater to a relatively sophisticated palate; even the more straightforward recipes, like Chicken Burrito Bowls, have an interesting twist—quinoa instead of rice or lime-infused crema instead of plain sour cream. Verdict: great for special diets and clean-eating aficionados.

With a menu developed in part by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, (in collaboration with an on-staff registered dietician) HelloFresh has options that range from 20–60 minutes in prep time and meal plans that cater to vegetarians and families. Many options are dairy free, and most are nut free as well.

We especially like the fact that some of the recipes come with suggestions (and supplies) for consuming any leftovers in creative ways—like the Chorizo and Beef Chili Dinner that becomes a Chili Burrito for lunch the next day. Verdict: a great option for folks who want to maximize their dollar.

Freshly, by contrast, caters especially to the time-starved crowd. Meals are pre-cooked and delivered to you in a special refrigerated container; just pop them in the fridge until it’s time to heat and eat. In order to accommodate dangerous allergies, ALL Freshly meals are natural peanut and gluten-free.

Freshly menus are collaborations between chefs and nutritionists, so they contain balanced portions of protein, vegetables, dairy and non-GMO grains. Complete nutrition information is available on the website, so it’s easy for those with dietary restrictions to see what they’re getting. Conclusion: perfect for busy families.

BistroMD meal plans are geared specifically towards weight loss. Founded by a married couple—affectionately known to fans as “the foodie and the M.D.”—this innovative company brings a customized, home-cooked and family-run approach to the otherwise relatively bland world of prepared weight loss foods.

Like Freshly, meals are pre-cooked and delivered in a cooled container for you to heat and eat. There are special programs for diabetics and gluten-free eaters, as well as menus just for menopausal or “silver” dieters. Each dietician-developed meal is crafted with long-term weight loss and healthy habits in mind. 

Tim Stanley