When I first heard about the revolution of meal prep services, I was bouncing in my seat. College students are some of the busiest people in the world — who wouldn't want a mouth-watering, healthy, ready-to-cook meal sent to their doorstep? The idea of not having to chop a bunch of vegetables was a dream to me.
This enthusiasm came to a screeching halt after I visited a few of the meal prep service websites. These companies can charge up to $574 per week for their kits — if you don't believe me, check out Sakara Life.
While Sakara Life is definitely an extreme on the spectrum of meal service costs, a number of these services will charge high prices and only deliver a few meals for the week. If I'm carefully budgeting, I can spend the same amount that some companies charge per week — or less — and have three meals per day plus snacks for an entire week.
So are any of these services worth it? Depending on how much you're able to spend on food per week, maybe. Determined by cost per serving, the following meal prep services are the cheapest on the market.
Price per serving: starting at $3.90 / Delivery: Most of the US, excluding Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Alaska, and Hawaii
GreenBlender is the perfect meal plan for any smoothie or juicing fanatic. Each week, you receive five smoothie recipes, making a total of 10 smoothies. Using organic produce and a variety of superfoods, each recipe promises to "nourish your body and mind."
The smoothie boxes available to order change each week, but this week's choices include Antioxidant-Powered Smoothies, Smoothies for an Active Life, and Low Sugar Smoothies. Sample flavors include Tangerine Dream, Pineapple Coconut, and Green Apple Limeade.
Price per serving: starting at $4.95 / Delivery: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)
A meal prep service that also changes their menus each week, Home Chef features 10 dinners, a variety of breakfasts, one smoothie recipe, and a fruit basket. According to their website, each meal should take no more than 30 minutes to prepare.
Current meals include Soho Steak, Burrata Pizza Margherita, and Thyme & Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin. One perk of Home Chef is that you can order meals up to five weeks ahead of time, as menus are released in advance.
Price per serving: starting at $5 / Delivery: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)
A company that prides itself on having something for everyone, Chef'd has several meal plans, including the Atkins plan, the American Diabetes Association plan, and the Spoon University plan, among several others. While each differs, there are certain plans that include meals, snacks, drinks, and a variety of fresh fruit.
If you're a bigger fan of customizing your diet, you can choose meals a la carte-style as well. Meals range from Maple Mustard Glazed Salmon to Beef & Chipotle Chili. A great feature of the a la carte choosing is that you can mix and match meals from different plans, which makes getting your customized plan more fun — each night becomes a taste test to find out which you enjoy most.
Price per serving: starting at $5.99 / Delivery: Nationwide
Veestro is a great service for people interested in a plant-based diet. Instead of sending individually wrapped, prepped ingredients, Veestro fully cooks each meal and sends it frozen, making "ready to cook" as literal as possible.
Meal options include Veggie Lasagna, Chick'n Quesadillas, and Mushroom Risotto. Veestro also has a juice cleanse containing 6 juices, sold at $6.99 per bottle.
Although meals come ready to throw in the pan, each meal is shipped with dry ice, which can be harmful if you touch it. It's designed to disappear shortly before the box reaches you, but time has a mind of its own, so be careful.
Price per serving: starting at $6.74 / Delivery: Nationwide
BistroMD is a meal prep service that specializes in weight loss. They promise a "nutritionally balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner delivered to your door," which, depending on the plan you choose, could include seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and six dinners — all for $134.96.
A few of their advertised meals are Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Compote, Chipotle Pineapple Smoked Pork Street Tacos, and Grilled Salmon with Lemon Dijon Dressing. If you're looking to incorporate a healthy eating routine but you're not trying to break the bank, this one could be for you.
Price per serving: starting at $6.99 / Delivery: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)
If you're someone who is almost constantly run-out-the-door busy or you just really like smoothies and soup, Daily Harvest was made for you. All smoothies arrive ready to blend, and all soups arrive ready to heat.
Jammed with healthy, organic ingredients, Daily Harvest's smoothies include Strawberry & Peach, Chocolate & Blueberry, and Mango & Papaya. Soups include: Mushroom & Miso, Carrot & Coconut, and Zucchini & Black Garlic.
Price per serving: starting at $7 / Delivery: Nationwide
If you're an adventurous eater and you love to try culturally diverse foods, Takeout Kit is 100% for you. Specializing in "global meal kits," this company strives to make cooking an adventure. They also aim to reduce the stress of planning dinner as much as possible by creating meals that all have a two-month shelf life. Say goodbye to the anxiety of cooking before your food expires.
Each meal kit provided by Takeout Kit feeds three to four people. Meals include Thai Crab Curry with Jasmine Rice, Spanish Paella with Chorizo and Artichokes, and Argentine Empanadas and Sofrito.
Price per serving: starting at $8.74 / Delivery: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)
A huge focus of Blue Apron is to make sure their customers have a wonderful, engaged cooking experience. The company is also very committed to sustainability, noting on their website that they help reduce food waste by 62%. Bonus: they even have the option to have six bottles of wine delivered per month at $10 per bottle.
Blue Apron's menu changes weekly, which ensures that clients never get bored of the same meal choices. At the moment, some of their meals include Fontina Stuffed Pork Chops with Potatoes, Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Creamy Fettuccine, and Kung Pao Broccoli.
Price per serving: starting at $8.75 / Delivery: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), as well as a number of other areas including Germany, Canada, the UK, and Australia
The goal of Hello Fresh is essentially to provide "skinny" (healthier and cleaner) meals to their customers. This meal prep service also rotates their menu, featuring 10 new recipes each week. Hello Fresh carries three plans: the classic plan, the veggie plan, and the family plan. While you can choose three to five recipes from the 10 available, there is no a la cart ordering.
Hello Fresh's menu at the moment includes Creamy Mushroom Pork Chops, Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken, and Kale Chip Quinoa Bowl.
Price per serving: starting at $10.49 / Delivery: Nationwide (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)
GreenChef is another meal prep service that offers a diverse range of kits: vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, carnivore, gluten-free, and paleo. If you aren't committed to a strict diet, trying the different plans with your significant other or roommates could be a fun and new way to spend time with people closest to you.
Like many other services, GreenChef changes their menu weekly. Current meals include: Blackened Shrimp Salad, Maple BBQ Chicken, and Spaghetti Squash Pasta.
If you can afford to order kits from meal prep services every week, it could be a great stress reliever and time saver for you. Even if you can't afford to order weekly, it's still a fun idea for a once a month splurge to have weekly dinner dates with your friends or significant other.
In any case, the next time you're considering switching from the grocery store to a meal prep service, this guide will be a staple in discovering the right match for you. Happy cooking, friends.