Dinnerly and Blue Apron are super popular meal kits for American families, and both are on the affordable side. However, Dinnerly is known for being the cheapest meal kit out there, while Blue Apron tries to offer the most quality while maintaining a decent price.
I’ve done extensive research on both companies to see how the balance between price and quality works out. My analysis also takes into account convenience, menu variety, number of choices, customer support, and more.
I chose Blue Apron as my top choice because I think the upgrade in quality and ingredient variety is worth the small price difference. I think Blue Apron is closer to a premium experience with only a fraction of the usual cost.
However, if your budget is extra tight or if you have more mouths to feed, Dinnerly can be a better choice for you. Take a look at my breakdown of both services below to see exactly what I mean.
Blue Apron and Dinnerly have extensive menus that amount to 45 or more weekly options. If we’re speaking entrees only, Dinnerly has around double the number of recipes available each week.
Both services help you reduce time in the kitchen with meals averaging around 30 minutes and are easy to cook even for novices. That’s because with both Blue Apron and Dinnerly you get the best of both worlds: meal kits as well as prepared meals. Not only that, but both services feature an impressive array of extras.
When it comes to the prepared options, both services have meals that are ready to heat in the microwave and eat, so under five minutes total to prepare. Blue Apron has around three prepared options per week, while Dinnerly has around five.
However, Blue Apron has more variety when it comes to the type of recipes and ingredients. I’ll explain in a minute.
Since Dinnerly’s approach to eating is to be as unfussy as possible to maintain costs low, the recipes can be a bit bland compared to Blue Apron’s more complex flavors and exotic ingredients. After all, Blue Apron takes flavor profiles very seriously and even has its own spice blends you can order separately.
That’s not to say that Dinnerly doesn’t offer a wide array of flavorful meals inspired by different cuisines. Plus, by keeping things more basic, Dinnerly’s menu can be great for picky eaters, especially families with small kids.
Speaking of cuisines, you’ll usually see a lot of Italian on Blue Apron’s menu, followed by American, Mexican, and Asian.
With Dinnerly, the American (especially Southern) and Mexican flavors occupy most of the menu, with Italian the next most popular, plus a few scattered Asian-inspired dishes.
So, if you’re a more adventurous eater and prefer more adventurous flavors, Blue Apron is a safer bet for you. But if you prefer to stay in your comfort zone, Dinnerly’s menu can make it easier to try some exotic things once in a while without making them its whole deal.
Blue Apron’s plans are accompanied by multiple add-ons, like breakfasts, desserts, and a la carte proteins.
Dinnerly has similar extras too, including sports-themed meals for tailgate parties. These extras count as full meals in your plan, so they’re not really add-ons, but rather special recipes you can order as part of your meal plan.
The real add-ons are the items from Dinnerly’s Market section that’ll be available to you from your account after your first order. There, you can add grocery items and things like seasonal produce and special desserts.
Meanwhile, Blue Apron offers more than just food. The Market section lets you order proprietary spice blends, kitchen utensils, and meal bundles, including holiday bundles that can feed up to eight people.
And then there’s the wine subscription: that’s right, you can get nice bottles of wine to accompany your meals from Blue Apron. Or you can get wine bundles for special occasions (they go well with the holiday meal kits, too).
All in all, Blue Apron is trying to provide experiences for the best value possible, from quality ingredients to interesting spice blends.
On the other hand, Dinnerly tries to see how much a recipe can be simplified and still be good and enjoyable for the whole family. So, in the end, it’s a matter of what you’re looking for in a meal plan.
Winner: Blue Apron
Blue Apron is the only one of these two meal delivery services that lets you actually customize the meals.
For some recipes, you can change the type of protein, like the type of fish in a seafood dish. For others, you can make the meal vegetarian by swapping meat for a plant-based alternative. Or, conversely, you can turn meals from the vegetarian menu into an omnivore bite by adding meat.
While you can’t do that for every recipe, I think it’s nice to have more options if a meal isn’t exactly to your taste.
Dinnerly, on the other hand, doesn’t let you modify any of the recipes. You can, however, substitute or add ingredients at home as you wish. In fact, many of the digital recipe cards have an extra step at the end with suggestions of how you can improve the meal if you have the means to add certain ingredients.
When it comes to allergens, Blue Apron doesn’t cater to any special requirements like gluten-free or soy-free. To see if your desired meals are suited for you, you need to check the nutritional information for each recipe. The most common allergens are usually mentioned under the complete ingredient list, but it’s best to check that thoroughly as well.
There are many dairy-free choices on Dinnerly’s menu, signaled with a tag below each meal for convenience. A lot of them have the No added gluten tag as well. However, just like in Blue Apron’s case, the kitchen isn’t specifically free of milk or gluten, so if you have a serious allergy the meals might not be suited for you. Again, it’s best to check the ingredient lists.
When you take a look at the menu, Dinnerly’s can be a bit confusing at first, as you can’t sort the meals or use filters. Plus, the add-ons are on the same page as the meals, albeit at the bottom of it.
But after you get accustomed to it, it’s actually nice how many tags each meal has. I managed to use them to my advantage to sort the meals myself using the Find in page function of my browser. It feels a bit improvised, but you can use this trick to easily find what you’re looking for.
Like this, you can filter the low-carb and low-calorie meals, as well as the dairy-free or vegetarian ones (tagged “veggie”). The veggie meals amount to around 13 recipes per week, while the low-carb meals are around eight. The kid-friendly meals have a tag of their own, although I would argue that most of the menu is suitable for kids.
Blue Apron is more helpful and organized when it comes to the menu. You can clearly see and access the different plans: the Signature for 2 and Signature for 4 omnivore plans, as well as the special Wellness and Vegetarian plans. The add-ons have their own separate page.
The Vegetarian plan usually includes four or five recipes per week, the Wellness menu three recipes per week, and the Signature reunites around 19 recipes (and the Signature for 4 around 15 recipes).
Blue Apron's Wellness plan is focused on a holistic approach to health and includes meals that are recommended by WW (formerly Weight Watchers), as well as diabetes-friendly meals. They’re mostly low-calorie and low-carb meals that work on a points system developed by the WW. You can also see tips from the WW on how to make the meals even healthier.
Apart from this categorization, Blue Apron also has tags on its meals that are easy to spot and give you more info on the type of meal. For example, you can see if it’s a Fast & Easy Meal, a Family-Friendly meal, or a Premium dish.
Let’s dig into this category more. Each week, there’s a Premium offering on Blue Apron’s menu that’s more expensive and uses fancier ingredients. Dinnerly also has premium dishes available, called PremiYUM, like the Sirloin Steak and Creamy Cajun Shrimp with Sautéed Spinach and Mashed Yukon Potatoes pictured above.
I would say that Dinnerly’s PremiYUM meals are comparable with Blue Apron’s regular dishes in terms of quality, while Dinnerly’s regular dishes are more basic.
A great thing about both Dinnerly and Blue Apron is that the plans aren’t set in stone. You select your subscription box by the number of meals and servings you want to receive, not the type of diet you prefer. Those are just for menu suggestions. At the end of the day, you can mix and match meals from the whole menu as you wish.
The ordering process from both Dinnerly and Blue Apron is super straightforward. I also like that you can see the menu for the current week as well as three upcoming weeks, so it’s easy to plan ahead.
First, you need to choose your plan. As I mentioned earlier, this translates to how many meals you want to order per week and for how many people, not the type of meals or diet. For Blue Apron, the minimum is two meals for two people, while the maximum is four meals for four people.
For Dinnerly, you can order a minimum of three meals for two people and a maximum of six meals for four people. So, with eight more portions per week available in the biggest box, Dinnerly is a better choice if you have more mouths to feed.
After choosing your desired plan, you have to sign up so you can choose your favorite meals from the menu and then checkout. Dinnerly also asks for your zip code so it can make sure it delivers to your area. Depending on your location, you can choose what delivery day works best for you from the available options.
Both Dinnerly and Blue Apron deliver meals to all contiguous US states. If you order wines from Blue Apron, it all depends on your state, as local laws can be a bit tricky when it comes to alcohol.
To make ordering even easier, both companies have mobile apps available on both Android and iOS. You can use the apps to manage your account, change account settings, and see upcoming recipes – or even recipes from the archive, in Dinnerly’s case.
If you have to reschedule a delivery, for example, Blue Apron makes it very easy to do on the mobile app (as long as you do it before your cutoff date, which appears in your account). Simply select a new date from a list of available times to reschedule. It takes only a few clicks and you don’t have to involve customer support. The same goes for Dinnerly, but you have to do it on the website.
When it comes to what’s in your box, Dinnerly is as minimalistic as possible. While Blue Apron’s meal kits come with printed recipe cards, Dinnerly skips those and instead only provides digital recipe cards.
While this cuts down on both costs and waste, I feel like it’s more convenient to have the instructions physically when you’re in the kitchen. Handling my phone with dirty fingers is a no-no for me.
Another difference between Blue Apron and Dinnerly is how the ingredients are organized in the box. Dinnerly uses minimal packaging, so the ingredients are basically dumped together and you have to sort them yourself. Some of them are wrapped, but many, like some veggies, come as is. While this is great for the planet because it reduces waste, it can be a bit inconvenient when you’re in a hurry.
Meanwhile, Blue Apron’s ingredients are all individually wrapped and you know instantly which belongs to which recipe from the label. This creates more waste, but it can be a real time-saver.
You’ll also find information about how to store the food in your Blue Apron box. All ingredients should go into the fridge as quickly as possible upon arrival and should stay fresh for seven days. There’s also a whole page on optimal food storage on Blue Apron’s website.
For Dinnerly, you need to check the FAQ to find out how to properly store the ingredients in the fridge. There, you’ll also find the recommended order for cooking your meals: seafood first (on the first or second day after arrival), ground meat and chicken next, and then everything else (within five days).
When it comes to eco-friendliness, Dinnerly has less packaging and all of it’s recyclable. If you don’t have a facility near you to take care of the cotton liner, the good news is that it’s biodegradable, so you can compost it or simply throw it in the bin.
Blue Apron’s packaging is only 85% recyclable (by weight) but the company takes its carbon footprint very seriously. In fact, Blue Apron is carbon-neutral at the moment. This is thanks to the efforts to balance out its emissions by funding offset actions, which shows great care for the environment.
Both Dinnerly and Blue Apron are renowned for their easy meal kits, so from this point of view both services are quite similar. Most kits are indeed easy, but you can find some medium ones that require a bit more skill. Nothing you can’t handle as a beginner, though, as you have detailed instructions – Blue Apron even has pictures with every step.
For extra convenience, the sauces, spreads, and spice blends from Blue Apron come premade, and even some of the ingredients come prepped. For example, the parmesan comes grated and some of the veggies sliced – or picked if the recipe calls.
Dinnerly similarly sends you many no-prep ingredients, like premade guacamole, shredded cheese, or premade seasonings and sauces. The veggies, however, you need to chop yourself, but don’t worry – it’s no hard work.
The meals from Blue Apron can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the recipe. It’s worth noting that the more time-consuming meals usually spend most of that time in the oven, so you won’t have to actually stay in the kitchen that long.
Each Blue Apron meal has its time stamp on the menu, so you can easily sort through them. Most take around half an hour, which is the norm for a meal kit.
Dinnerly’s meal kits are in the same time range, but I think it’s a bit annoying that you can’t see from a quick look at the menu how much time each meal takes to be ready.
Most of the Dinnerly meal kits are in the 20-30 minute or 30-40 minute range, but some of them need only 10-15 minutes to prepare. Again, the ones requiring an oven can take longer than 40 minutes.
What I think really sets Blue Apron and Dinnerly apart when it comes to meal prep isn’t time, but rather convenience. Many of Dinnerly’s recipes are very simple and have few ingredients, so this can make them easier (and sometimes quicker) to make. However, this can also be rather inconvenient. Let me explain.
Meal kit delivery services usually expect you to have some pantry essentials at home. These usually include salt, pepper, and oil. And apart from these, Blue Apron sends you everything you need. Most of the time you won’t even need salt and pepper, as the spice blends provided will be enough.
And when I say everything you need, I really mean everything. Like how you receive an oven-safe, single-use aluminum tray for your Ready-to-Cook casserole recipes. I really like how complete Blue Apron’s service feels down to little details like this.
In contrast, to cut down on costs, Dinnerly sometimes requires you to have other ingredients at home as well, like garlic, butter, mayo, or even eggs. While Dinnerly communicates this in advance so you know you need to go grocery shopping, I think doing something extra on your part can take away from the experience of ordering a meal kit.
But, if you don’t mind having to supplement some of the ingredients in Dinnerly’s kits, I think both services do a great job of cutting down on meal prep in any household.
First, the FAQ sections on both Dinnerly’s and Blue Apron’s websites are very large and comprehensive. I really like how easy it was to find answers even to less frequent questions, as I always appreciate it when I don’t have to make phone calls to find out something simple.
However, when it comes to talking to real people on the phone, I feel like Blue Apron is more transparent. You can call on the phone Monday through Friday 10 am – 9 pm ET or 11 am – 6 pm ET on the weekends (except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, when it’s closed). Dinnerly also has a phone number you can call, but it’s unclear what times the team is available.
There’s also the option to submit requests to the customer support team on both Dinnerly’s and Blue Apron’s websites, complete with attachment files. This means you can ask questions even before deciding to subscribe.
However, my experience with Dinnerly’s form isn’t the best, as I sent a request and didn’t get an answer. I got an email a week later with an apology and a voucher, so that was nice, but I didn’t get an actual answer this way. If you need something urgently, I think calling is a better option.
Or, if you have a bit of patience, you can use Dinnerly’s live chat option. It’s a bit tricky to use, but after you make the connection to an actual agent I think it’s very useful. That’s because when you first send a message on the chat, you’ll talk to an automated machine.
When I used it, the machine didn’t understand my questions and repeated the same information back at me. After a while, I gave up and asked to talk to a real person. The connection was quick and I was able to get my answer (at last!) from a customer support agent that was very polite and understanding. All of this without me having a subscription.
Now let’s talk about what happens if you are a paying customer and you want to pause or cancel your subscription. For both services, you can cancel directly in the app, no need to call customer service. Log into your account, click a few buttons, and complete the survey. That’s it.
If you want a step-by-step guide to see how easy it is to cancel a Blue Apron subscription, my colleague’s article goes into more detail about the entire process.
Just remember that you need to make any changes to your order before your cutoff date. For Blue Apron, it’s the “Changeable before” time you can see on your Upcoming page or Account Settings. For Dinnerly, it depends on your state and it’s usually five to seven days before your next delivery day.
Dinnerly’s key selling point is the super low cost per serving, so it’s no surprise that it wins this category. Servings start at $2.12 per serving for the six-person Family Box. This price increases the fewer recipes you order, and certain dishes cost more.
For example, the PremiYUM meals can cost up to $9.99 per portion, so even more than some of Blue Apron’s meal kits. Since the PremiYUM meals are comparable to Blue Apron’s regular meals, Dinnerly isn’t cheaper if you want to get the same quality. You only get a better deal if you stick to the basic meal kits.
However, Dinnerly doesn’t make this pricing difference obvious on the menu page. You have to create an account and enter your payment information before you can access the detailed prices of those special meals. I find this very inconvenient and a bit shady.
Blue Apron, on the other hand, is very transparent with its prices. The meal kits start at $5.74 per portion for the four-serving menu of four meals per week and go up from there for smaller orders.
A detail that I think is very important is that even though Blue Apron’s meals cost more per serving, there are no added costs like having to buy butter, garlic, or eggs to complete the recipe. So, even though Dinnerly is technically cheaper, for some recipes the price might actually be more similar than they appear.
Speaking of transparency, every Blue Apron add-on and premium meal has a clear price tag.
For example, a very exquisite Miso-Glazed Pork Belly recipe shows you need to pay $11 more per serving, without any discounts. While this is quite a lot, I think it’s very important that if you want to order it for a special occasion you know exactly what to expect beforehand. Plus, there’s usually an ongoing coupon going on to sweeten the deal, like our special discount: Enjoy $130 off across your first 6 orders.
The same goes for prepared meals. You can see on the menu that a portion costs one dollar more than the meal kits, while Dinnerly locks the price tag away under the PremiYUM category once again.
Blue Apron’s add-ons, bundles, and market items can be a great way to stock up on essentials and get quality kitchenware for very decent prices. You can get a la carte protein, both meat- and plant-based, for as little as $3.48 per serving.
Desserts such as a nine-serving Pear and Chocolate Bread Pudding can go for as little as $1.66 per portion. Spice blends are $9.99, but you can stock your pantry with a 10-jar bundle for just $84.99.
The wine bottles from Blue Apron go for around $11 per bottle for subscriptions, but you can get wine bundles from the Market section as well.
For both companies, you have to pay $9.99 each week for shipping, so this aspect is the same. Still, you have to take it into account when you make your order, as it can add up in time.
Some good news: if you’re part of one of the following groups – Military & Veterans, Students, Teachers, Seniors, Medical Staff, or First Responders – you can get extra offers and discounts from both Dinnerly and Blue Apron. That’s a really nice gesture.
Tight budgets, families with picky eaters
Premium quality & recipes
$2.12 per serving
$5.74 per serving
3 meals for 2 people per week
2 meals for 2 people per week
45+ choices per week
19+ choices per week
3 minutes for prepared meals, 10-40 minutes for meal kits
3 minutes for prepared meals, 20-55 minutes for meal kits
Prepared meals, oven-ready meals, quick meal kits
Prepared meals, oven-ready meals, quick meal kits
Allergies catered to
Dairy-Free, No Added Gluten
Dairy-Free, Honey, Eggs
Vegetarian, Vegan, Low-Carb, Low-Calorie
Vegetarian, Low-Carb, Low-Calorie
Online form, phone, live chat
Online form, email, phone
All things considered, Blue Apron is my top choice because it offers more complex dishes and doesn’t try to cut corners when it comes to quality.
If you’re simply looking for the most affordable option and you don’t mind the simpler recipes, Dinnerly can be an excellent choice as well. Families with kids can especially benefit from the big boxes and no-fuss recipes.
So, depending on what you’re looking for, both Blue Apron and Dinnerly can provide great menus for your needs. Personally, I don’t mind paying a bit extra for more sophisticated meals, but I don’t have any picky eaters at home.
If you want to check out more options first, you can take a look at our list of the best meal delivery services in 2023 and see what speaks to you best.
If we compare the price per serving, Dinnerly is a more affordable choice than Blue Apron (and almost all other meal kits). With meals starting at $2.12 per serving, you can easily feed a family of four for a full week.
Both Dinnerly and Blue Apron have low-calorie and low-carb meals that are suited for weight loss. You can read more about Blue Apron’s Wellness Plan which has been designed in collaboration with WW (known before as Weight Watchers) to keep you fit and healthy.
Both Dinnerly and Blue Apron have prepared meals that require zero prep on your side. When it comes to meal kits, it depends on what you’re looking for. On one hand, Dinnerly has meal kits with very few ingredients, so, naturally, less prep. But Blue Apron has kits that are ready to pop in the oven and even come with a single-use tray.