If your cooking has lost its luster, your dinner repertoire is on auto-loop or you’re dying to trade up from Trader Joe’s, step up your culinary game with crowd-pleasing care packages.
Food subscription boxes deliver gourmet goodies right to your door. Many even are registered dietitian-blessed.
“The variety in subscription meal kits is surprising,” says Michelle Jozwiak, MS, RD, LD, inpatient and outpatient dietitian in Nutrition Therapy at Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital. “No one box fits all—some kits cater to those that are health-focused, time-focused, chef-focused, ingredient-focused, and some seem to combine many of these aspects.”
If your cooking has lost its luster, step up your culinary game with crowd-pleasing care packages.
The following are among the best in their categories for speedy, easy or gourmet-quality meals and healthy treats.
Best For the Foodies and Finicky Eaters: Sun Basket
What You Get: “Sun Basket caters to many dietary preferences while having a nutrition focus,” Jozwiak says. Dishes are organic, fish is wild caught and meats are antibiotic and hormone-free. Between 500-800 calories per person, each meal meets USDA dietary guidelines, and one recipe per week is American Heart Association-certified. Justine Kelly, former head chef of the James Beard, award–winning The Slanted Door, creates the recipes, which are registered dietitian-blessed. The menu changes weekly. Even the packaging – recyclable and compostable – is guilt-free.
Pros/Cons: This plan costs more per person than some others, but offers 18 recipe choices and the ability to choose paleo, vegan, gluten-free or pescatarian diets. The family plan offers only six kid-friendly recipes, including chef’s choice or vegetarian.
Prep Time: 30 minutes, though you can choose 20-minute, one-pan meals.
Serving Size: “Classic” meals serve two to four people per recipe. “Family” meals serve four.
Subscription Options: Monthly.
Prices: The “Classic” costs $12 per serving. “Family” costs $11 per serving. There’s also a $7 delivery surcharge per order.
Best For the Budding Cooks: Hello Fresh
What You Get: Hello Fresh offers a wide selection of speedy meals are chef- and RD-endorsed without seeming overly virtuous. “Hello Fresh is a good intro to home cooking. You’re given a difficulty scale and many quick meal options,” Jozwiak says. The family plan promises prep under 30 minutes, two-pots max, with kid-appealing yet nutritious meals.
Pros/Cons: Menus change weekly, recipe difficulty is provided and meals comply with USDA Dietary Guidelines, with a full nutrition label with recipes of the week. Two to four recipes weekly with three versions: classic, family and vegetarian. The veggie plan provides no choices. The other plans do. Recipe cards tell you what pans and tools are needed.
Prep Time: 30 minutes.
Serving Size: Two to four per dish.
Subscription: You choose the day for weekly deliveries.
Prices: Meals cost between $8.74 and $10 per serving. Orders over $50 are shipped free, otherwise shipping is $8.
Best For the Time-Crunched: Gooble
What You Get: Speed and choice. Gobble offers 10 new recipes weekly from which to choose. Some are low-carb, or nut- dairy- meat- or gluten-free. So take time to study the menu!
Pros/Cons: Gobble pre-assigns choices based on your past orders, unless you take an extra step online. Also, calorie counts are at best guesstimated.
Prep Time: 15 minutes or less, one-pan only.
Serving Size: 700-900 calories.
Subscription Options: Weekly, with auto-renewal unless you cancel at least a week in advance. You also can skip weeks by checking into your delivery schedule at least a week prior.
Prices: Costs range from $12 to $14 per serving, depending on how many kits and how many people will be served. Shipping is free.
Best For the Gluten-Intolerant: Green Chef
What You Get: It’s reassuring to know the company strives for at least 90 percent certified organic ingredients. If an ingredient is not organic, it will be clearly labeled. Green Chef is the first meal kit company to receive Gluten-Free Certification through the Gluten Intolerance Group’s Gluten-Free Food Service. Meats and dairy also are antibiotic-free and growth hormone-free. Ingredients are pre-measured and pre-chopped veggies, with already-made sauces for easy to master recipes. Boxes are recyclable/compostable.
Pros/Cons: You can choose between omnivore (meat, seafood and vegetarian), carnivore (meat and seafood), vegan, vegetarian, Keto (low-carb, dairy free) or produce-plentiful Paleo (“eat like an epicurean caveman”) for the “two-person” plan. The “family” plan with four servings is either omnivore or carnivore. Menus change weekly but are limited – at most three options for two people and two for families.
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes.
Serving Size: Two people (three meals that each serve two) or family plans ( two meals that serve four).
Subscription Options: Biweekly or monthly, and you can skip a week with more than a week’s notice.
Prices: Two-person plans start at $10.50 per serving and family at $12 per serving, with delivery costing $9 per order.
Best For Aspiring Chefs: Blue Apron
What You Get: Hormone-free meat, fresh vegetables and sustainably-sourced seafood. Nutritional information is only online, and food this fabulous is unlikely to meet USDA dietary guidelines. The grandmother of food subscription boxes was born a mere six years ago – and it’s easy to understand how so many try to follow in her footsteps. It’s epic for epicureans.
Pros/Cons: Menus change weekly and recipes never repeat in a year.
Prep Time: Supposedly 30 minutes. In reality: over an hour.
Serving Size: Generous for two to four people.
Subscription Options: Up to you. You can skip weeks or cancel before the weekly cut-off. The wine plan offers six bottles monthly, at about $10 each, plus shipping.
Prices: Meals are $9 per serving and up.
You’re the ultimate arbiter, says Michelle. “A trial run is the best way to test if these meal kits can work into your lifestyle.”
Information provided should not be used in place of medical direction from a physician. Speaking and regularly scheduled visits with your doctor is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.