Recent years have seen the explosion of meal delivery services—companies that deliver the ingredients of meals, but leave the cooking to you and your loved ones. Staking out a new space between delivery and traditional cooking, these companies try to eliminate some inconveniences from the culinary experience while keeping the joys of cooking alive.
The most popular among these services is Blue Apron, the leader in the space, but there have been a number of other entrants into the field, focused different preparation commitments, healthy eating, special diets like veganism, and more. The result is a lot of choice if you’re looking to get what you cook at home delivered to your home. Here is a round-up of these services to help you decide which one is best for you.
With Blue Apron, each week you pick three out of six suggested meals, and the ingredients are delivered to your door step. The variety of the meals keeps things interesting, as the menus fluctuate across the globe, providing East Asian- and Mediterranean-infused dishes alongside fun twists on old favorites, like chicken breasts and pizza. With just enough difficulty to push the beginner’s culinary comfort zone but not enough to stress you out, it’s easy to see why Blue Apron has become the industry standard.
Plated is probably the most direct competitor to Blue Apron out of these services. It offers a similar range of foods at a similar price point. Plated offers a couple extras: desserts, premium “chef’s special” options, and a wider weekly selection. While the company offers variety in terms of options, users report that Blue Apron’s meals tend to be more adventurous, introducing them to a wider palate of new foods. Overall, it seems that the choice between Plated and Blue Apron is simply a matter or personal preference.
With more ordering flexibility and a decidedly specific palate of meals, Peach Dish stands out from the rest of these services. Rather than choosing a fixed number of meals, you can sign up for between two and 12 at a time and re-up whenever you like. This also allows Peach Dish to court larger families as customers more than most other services. The cuisine is aimed at a down-home American style, so if you are someone who likes chicken and dumplings and shrimp and grits this might be the right choice for you.
It’s tough to eat vegan, so this service will be welcome relief for many herbivores. Purple Carrot has many satisfied customers who offer some consistent caveats. This service calls for a little more culinary skill than its competitors. For example, some recipes require a food processor. This means that prep time can be a little longer than with the competition. Purple Carrot clearly has a vision for a service that shows how great veganism can be, even if it takes a little bit of time to prove.
Like Plated, Home Chef is trying to take the Blue Apron model and make it a bit more customizable. Not only does Home Chef allow you to add breakfasts, smoothies, or fruit baskets to your order, but this service also caters a bit more readily to those with dietary restrictions. Home Chef offers more flexibility in terms of the number of meals you want to order per week, too. Like with Plated, users report less exotic ingredients than Blue Apron, but the trade-off might be worth it to ensure that you always get meals you can eat.
When you sign up for Hello Fresh, you get to choose between an omnivorous and vegetarian profile, so if Purple Carrot is a bit adventurous for you, Hello Fresh might be a good alternative. Users report that the service offers a little less choice than other services, the meals tend not to be as healthy, and the kitchen work can be a bit more demanding than competitors. On the plus side, Hello Fresh offers a discount for families (four-person orders), and the meals skew more toward the standard American family meal. Hello Fresh might be a great option for the family on the go, more so than for the D.I.N.K. bohemian couple.
If you’re looking for ease, Gobble is the way to go. The Gobble guarantee is that you’ll be able to cook all of your meals in 10 minutes or less, and with one pan. They do this by giving you ingredients that have already been prepared, except for the crucial “put it together and heat it up” step. Even the chopping is already done for you. In terms of variety and flexibility, the plan is similar the most other meal plans. If Blue Apron and Plated feel like too much hassle, then Gobble might be for you.