We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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Author Jessica White
Jessica White
Updated on Apr 9th, 2024
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

Are Meal Delivery Services Worth It? Full 2024 Guide

Meal kit delivery services have recently become increasingly popular. They offer busy individuals and families pre-measured ingredients, diverse recipes, and the convenience of home delivery. 

As a professional reviewer in this sector, I bring extensive expertise. I’ve evaluated dozens of services on ingredient quality, recipe variety, packaging sustainability, and value. My analysis provides clear, informative insights for those new to meal delivery services. 

Among these, Factor is my top choice. This is due to its perfect blend of convenience, flavor, and nutritional content. Factor's chef-prepared, ready-to-eat meals meet a range of dietary needs, making it an ideal choice if you prioritize ease and quality in your meals.

Pros and Cons of Meal Delivery

Pros

Cons

Save time and effort

Can be expensive

Save money on eating out

Small portion sizes

Eat healthier meals

Meal kits require cooking skills

10 Benefits of Meal Delivery Services

1. Save Time and Effort

Meal delivery services cut down time spent on meal planning and grocery shopping. This makes them ideal for busy lifestyles. They eliminate the need for store visits and tedious meal preparation, freeing up valuable time to spend on more important things in life. Image of a stack of Factor's prepared meals in color-coded boxes

They streamline cooking by delivering pre-portioned, ready-to-cook ingredients or fully prepared meals. This convenience is perfect for those wanting to cook fresh meals quickly, without the hassle of detailed meal prep. And there’s no more wondering what to eat when your menu is already planned for you.

2. Save Money on Eating Out

Frequent dining out, particularly if you aren’t very keen on cooking, can lead to substantial expenses, especially for families. While it does offer the convenience of no cleanup, the cumulative cost of eating out can significantly strain the budget.

Meal delivery services provide a practical solution with their range of prepared and low-preparation meal options. These services offer the luxury of restaurant-quality meals without the hassle and high costs associated with dining out.

3. Eat Healthier Meals

Meal delivery services offer healthier alternatives to takeout, focusing on balanced meals made with fresh, high-quality ingredients. They provide the convenience of easily accessible nutritional information, along with options like low-calorie and low-carb meals.

For those on weight-loss diets, these services are particularly beneficial. For example, Factor caters to specific dietary needs, like Keto and low-calorie diets, helping you stay on track with your health goals. This approach ensures a nutritious diet without compromising on taste or variety.

4. Use Quality Ingredients

Meal delivery services often emphasize the use of high-quality, frequently organic, ingredients in their offerings. This commitment to quality ensures that the meals delivered are fresh and packed with nutritional value.

Many services often source their ingredients from trusted suppliers and local farms, ensuring that what arrives at your doorstep is of the highest standard. This focus on quality ingredients is reflected in the taste and health benefits of the meals, offering a superior dining experience compared to typical store-bought or processed foods.

5. Discover New Cuisines

Meal kits open up a world of culinary exploration, offering a diverse range of meals and cuisines. They allow you to try new recipes and exotic flavors without the burden of finding and buying individual, often obscure, ingredients. Image of HelloFresh's Yucatan Citrus Turkey Bowls dish

This is especially advantageous if you are looking to expand your palate. Many meal kits include unique ingredients not typically found in home pantries, eliminating the need to hunt for these items in various stores.

6. Waste Less Food

Meal delivery services reduce food waste through pre-portioned ingredients, preventing excess and spoilage in the fridge. This controlled portioning is not only healthier but also environmentally friendly.

They can also curb the tendency to overbuy ingredients. This is a common problem when shopping for specific recipes. This helps minimize waste and promotes sustainable cooking practices.

7. Customize To Your Needs

Meal delivery services offer various options to accommodate different dietary needs, from vegan to gluten-free choices. This ensures easy access to meals that fit specific dietary requirements or allergies. Screenshot of Green Chef's 8 plans

You can also customize your menu in terms of taste, portion size, and calorie content. This flexibility caters to individual health and dietary goals, making meal delivery suitable for a wide range of preferences.

8. Learn New Skills

Meal kits are an excellent resource for kitchen novices, offering an accessible way to acquire cooking skills. These kits simplify the learning process by providing step-by-step instructions and pre-measured ingredients, making the task of cooking less daunting for beginners.

You can practice basic cooking techniques but also discover a variety of recipes and learn about different culinary styles. This approach is ideal if you want to expand your cooking repertoire without the intimidation or complexity of starting from scratch.

9. Plan Your Meals Easily

Meal delivery services provide the convenience of easy meal planning with their flexible subscription models. You have the ability to pause, skip, or cancel your subscriptions as needed, adapting to your ever-changing schedule or lifestyle demands. Image of 2 mobile screens showing Factor's app. One displays Factor's delivery and the other shows the nutrition details for a dish

This flexibility is particularly beneficial if you have an unpredictable or busy life. It ensures that meal planning and preparation can seamlessly fit into various routines without the commitment or stress of traditional meal planning and grocery shopping.

10. Reduce Stress

Meal kits offer a stress-free solution when you find cooking challenging or have limited access to grocery stores. By simplifying meal preparation, these kits can significantly enhance the quality of life, making the process more accessible and enjoyable.

The convenience of meal kits also alleviates the stress of menu planning, which is a particularly useful feature for those catering to picky eaters. This aspect ensures a variety of meal options that can satisfy different tastes without the added pressure of brainstorming and organizing daily menus.

5 Cons of Meal Delivery Services

1. Can Be Expensive

While meal delivery services offer convenience, they can be costly. However, budget-friendly options like Dinnerly are available. Using new customer discount codes on your first order can help assess their value. Plus, these services can still be cost-effective compared to frequent dining out or takeout.

2. Small Portion Sizes

Some meal delivery services, especially those focusing on health, might offer smaller portion sizes. To counter this, consider HelloFresh for more generous portions or order larger quantities. Meal delivery services often provide better value for bigger orders.

3. Meal Kits Require Cooking Skills

Meal kits typically require some basic cooking skills and time investment. For complete beginners, Fresh and Easy offers easy-prep options. Alternatively, opt for services like Purple Carrot that offer a mix of prepared and cook-yourself meals to gradually build your cooking skills. Image of the Blackened Salmon Pasta dish from Fresh and Easy

4. Excess Packaging Materials

The packaging in meal kits is often recyclable and sustainable, aimed at reducing environmental impact and maintaining ingredient freshness and safety. Despite concerns about excess packaging, these kits can actually help lower food waste and support environmental sustainability. Also, Marley Spoon’s shipping and delivery service is 100% carbon neutral. 

5. Allergy Considerations

For those with serious allergies, cross-contamination can be a concern with meal delivery services. It’s important to research and select a service that is known for being allergy-friendly to ensure safety and peace of mind. Check out our top allergy-friendly meal delivery services to find out which one suits your needs.

Are Meal Kits Cheaper Than Groceries?

Meal kits vs. the grocery store

When directly compared to grocery shopping, meal kits might have a higher price tag, but they provide value in other ways. They save time spent planning and shopping, and the pre-portioned ingredients mean no excess buying. This can be more beneficial for individuals or small households where buying diverse ingredients in bulk isn’t practical.

Meal kits vs. dining out

Compared to dining out, meal kits are generally more affordable. Restaurants often charge a premium for service and ambiance, while meal kits focus on the food itself. If you are accustomed to frequent restaurant visits, switching to meal kits can lead to significant savings without sacrificing the enjoyment of varied, high-quality meals.

Meal kits vs. take out

Meal kits typically offer a more economical option compared to regular takeout orders. While takeout provides immediate convenience, it often comes at a higher cost and with less nutritional control. Meal kits offer the convenience of pre-planned meals with the added benefit of healthy balanced meals

An Expert’s Guide To Using Meal Delivery Services

I’ve learned the best ways to get the most value out of meal delivery services. Here are my top suggestions for maximizing the benefits and enjoyment of these convenient culinary options.

Take Advantage of Signup Offers

I've found that taking advantage of signup offers is a smart way to save money. Many providers, like those in our top 10 meal delivery services list, offer significant discounts for new customers. This is a great opportunity to try different services at a lower cost, with the flexibility to cancel if they don't meet your expectations. are-meal-delivery-services-worth-it

Order More Servings for The Best Value

Ordering more servings typically offers better value, as the cost per serving often decreases with larger orders. This approach is especially beneficial for families. Even if you're cooking for one, you can save leftovers for another day or freeze them, capitalizing on the more economical price per meal.

Try The Most Popular Recipes

Experimenting with the most popular recipes from your meal service can lead to delightful culinary experiences. Services like HelloFresh and Factor highlight their customer favorites, such as "Hall of Fame" or "Top-Rated" meals. These dishes come highly recommended and are likely to be some of the tastiest options available.

Plan Which Recipes To Cook First

I advise prioritizing salad and seafood-based meals to ensure freshness. Check the dates on packaging upon arrival and organize your meals in the order they should be cooked. This strategy minimizes waste and ensures you enjoy each meal at its freshest. image of Green Chef’s Sizzling Harissa Steak with Mint Crema dish

Choose Meals Wisely

For the best value, opt for meals with steak or seafood. These ingredients are often more affordable through meal services compared to buying them at a store. Conversely, avoid simple dishes like pasta and sauce or soup, which you could easily and more cheaply make at home.

Have Fun and Learn New Skills

Turn cooking into a fun and educational experience. Involve the family, especially kids, and try recipes that are more complex than your usual fare. Meal kits come with all the necessary ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes, making the cooking process simpler and ensuring successful outcomes.

My Top 3 recommended Meal Delivery Services

1. Factor – Best for Healthy Prepared Meals

Image of Factor's Shredded Chicken & Loaded Mashed Potatoes dish

Factor stands out for its chef-prepared meals, tailored to a variety of dietary needs. Whether you're looking for keto, paleo, or just health-conscious options, Factor offers a convenient solution with a focus on nutrition and taste. Its ready-to-eat meals are a boon for anyone looking to save time without sacrificing dietary preferences.

2. Green Chef – Best for Organic Ingredients

Image of Green Chef's The Teriyaki Sweet Potato Rice Bowls dish

Green Chef is my go-to for healthy, organic meal options. What sets it apart is the ability to mix and match from different meal plans, offering flexibility that's rare in meal delivery services. If you're keen on a sustainable, organic diet with a variety of choices, Green Chef is an excellent pick.

3. HelloFresh – Best for Families

HelloFresh is ideal for families, offering a diverse range of cuisines to cater to different tastes. Its recipes are designed to be family-friendly, both in portion size and flavor profiles, making them a great choice for households with varied palates. If you're looking for culinary variety and meals that appeal to all ages, HelloFresh is a strong contender.

FAQ

Do meal kits really save you money?

Meal kits can save you money, particularly with signup offers. Services like HelloFresh often provide introductory discounts, making initial purchases more economical compared to regular grocery shopping. These offers are an excellent way for you to try diverse cuisines and ingredients at a lower cost.

What are the benefits of meal delivery services? 

The primary benefits of meal delivery services are time and effort savings. With options like HelloFresh, you get pre-portioned ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes, reducing the time spent on meal planning and grocery shopping. This convenience is ideal if you have a busy schedule or lack confidence in the kitchen.

Is it worth buying pre-made meals? 

Pre-made meals from services like Factor are worth considering for their convenience and health benefits. Factor focuses on nutritious, chef-prepared meals that cater to various dietary preferences. This option eliminates cooking time, making it ideal if you're often busy or lack the inclination to cook.  

Are meal kits cheaper than groceries? 

Meal kits are not always cheaper than groceries, but they offer value in other ways. Green Chef provides organic, pre-measured ingredients, which reduce waste and save time, potentially offsetting the higher cost compared to traditional grocery shopping.

What’s the best cheap meal delivery service? 

Dinnerly stands out as a cost-effective meal delivery service. Known for its budget-friendly options, it offers simpler recipes with fewer ingredients, which keeps the costs lower than many competitors. This service is ideal if you're seeking the convenience of a meal kit while being mindful of expenses.

What is the downside to meal delivery services? 

Meal delivery services do come with a couple of downsides, including higher costs and packaging waste. However, I've gathered some top tips to help you get the best value from your meal delivery service, helping you to balance convenience with cost and sustainability.

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We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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