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 Kenaz Filan
Kenaz Filan Writer
Updated on May 10th, 2024
Fact checked by Deborah Leigh

How Much Does Meal Delivery Cost in 2024: Complete Guide

Deciding between meal delivery and traditional grocery shopping can be daunting. I've poured countless hours into reviewing and researching various services, keeping an eagle eye on pricing structures to offer you the most accurate insights.

The average serving cost for meal deliveries ranges from $5 to $20. Of all the services I've explored, Dinnerly consistently emerges as the most budget-friendly option. But remember, prices aren't static. They can differ based on factors such as the volume of your order, the chosen service, and the inclusion of any premium or gourmet selections.

Factor is my top recommended meal delivery service this year. Boasting a weekly rotation of 30+ prepared dishes, you can effortlessly warm them up in just 2 to 3 minutes. While it doesn't clinch the title for the most affordable, the pricing becomes more attractive the more servings you purchase at once.

Are Meal Delivery Services Worth the Cost?

Pros

Cons

Saves time on grocery shopping

Can be more expensive than cooking

Meals often have portion control

Potential for packaging waste

Diverse menu options weekly

Limited customization options

Meal Delivery Price Comparison

There are several excellent meal delivery services out there nowadays. However, each has unique pricing. For example, Factor is my favorite prepared meal delivery service, and Green Chef is my top-rated meal kit delivery service this year. On the other hand, Dinnerly is another of my favorites because of its low price per serving.

Average Cost of Meal Kit Delivery Services

Service

Average Cost per Serving (4 Meals for a Family of 4)

Green Chef

$11.99

HelloFresh

$9.99

Blue Apron 

$8.99

Home Chef 

$9.99

Marley Spoon 

$9.99

Purple Carrot 

$11.00 (3 meals for a family of 4)

Dinnerly

$3.73

Average Cost of Prepared Meals

Prepared meals offer a level of convenience unmatched by any grocery store. Simply order your meals, store them in the fridge or freezer, and heat them up in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes when ready to eat. However, Pricing can vary quite wildly with prepared meal delivery services. Let’s talk about my top recommendations and how they stack up.

Service

Average Cost per Serving (4 Meals per Week)

Factor

$13.49 (6 meals per week)

Blue Apron

$9.99

Home Chef

$10.99

BistroMD

$9.15 (7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 6 dinners)

Marley Spoon

$8.99

Purple Carrot

$13.00

Best Price Meal Delivery Service 

There are tons of different meal kit and prepared meal delivery services, so prices vary widely. For instance, Dinnerly and EveryPlate are our most affordable options, but only offer meal kits. There are more convenient options out there like Factor, but its pricing isn’t quite as affordable. Check out our list of the cheapest meal delivery services.

Are Meal Kits Cheaper than Grocery Shopping?

Yes and no. Meal kits and grocery shopping serve different purposes, and their relative cost-effectiveness can depend on a range of factors. They’re tailored for convenience and specific culinary experiences.

Beef Enchiladas with corn, Southwest crema, toasted pepitas by Green Chef

They provide pre-measured ingredients for designated recipes, which can help reduce food waste. However, this convenience typically comes at a premium. Many meal kit services charge a substantial amount for curated recipes, packaging, and delivery services. 

Furthermore, meal kits often have higher costs because of the additional packaging and the logistics of delivering perishable items directly to consumers' doors. However, there are some highly attractive, convenient, and affordable meal kit delivery services out there, like Green Chef.

Are Prepared Meals Cheaper than Takeout?

Prepared meals can offer cost savings over time. You'll often find that these are made in bulk or batches. Because of economies of scale, suppliers can often produce these meals at a lower cost per serving than many takeout options. This savings is sometimes passed on to you, especially if you're buying a larger quantity or subscribing to a regular delivery service.

Homestyle Ground Beef & Chive Potato Mash by Factor

Takeout often comes with additional costs (especially factoring in delivery charges). While that takeout dish might seem reasonably priced at first glance, remember that there are often added expenses. 

Think about delivery fees, tips for drivers, and potentially higher prices for individual dishes due to packaging and convenience factors. Over time, these can add up, making takeout a pricier option compared to some prepared meals.

However, in my professional experience and opinion, value isn't just about price. When deciding between prepared meals and takeout, I'd advise considering factors beyond just the cost. Takeout might offer a broader range of cuisines and freshly made dishes, while prepared meals might focus on nutrition and consistency. Always evaluate based on your priorities.

How to Get the Best Value Meal Delivery Service

Everyone aims to get the best value for their buck when it comes to meal delivery services. I'm here to guide you through making the most cost-effective decisions without compromising on convenience, variety, or taste.

Saucy Mushroom Stroganoff by Dinnerly

Firstly, consider the size of your order. Often, you'll find that the larger the order, the cheaper the price per serving becomes. This is similar to buying in bulk at the grocery store. If you have the freezer space and enjoy the meals, committing to bigger orders can save you significantly. Factor, for instance, offers great discounts the more you order.

Next, evaluate the balance between cost and convenience. Sure, these services might seem pricier than if you were to cook everything from scratch. But remember, you're paying for more than just food. You're freeing up the hours you'd otherwise spend planning, shopping, and cooking. 

That time saved can be invaluable, especially on busy days. Consider a service like Dinnerly, for instance. It’s way more convenient than shopping yourself, and even offers really affordable prices that start at just $2.12 per serving. Check out our Dinnerly review to find out how it’s the most affordable meal delivery service.

Another important factor is the variety these services offer. You might be paying a bit more, but in return, you receive dishes from multiple cuisines that would be costly and time-consuming to prepare from scratch. Think about how much it would cost to purchase ingredients for a Japanese dish 1 night and an Italian dish the next from a grocery store. 

Instead, that global dining experience is brought right to your door without the shopping hassle. To me, this is absolutely worth the extra few bucks I may spend. After all, time is money, and time saved is money saved.

Then there's the choice between subscriptions and 1-off orders. Subscriptions often come at a discounted rate compared to single orders. If you find a service you love, I'd suggest opting for a subscription. It's usually more budget-friendly, and you can always pause or adjust it according to your needs. Check out our list of the best meal delivery services for this year.

Lastly, always keep an eye on shipping prices. Some services include shipping in the meal price, while others charge separately. Factor in these costs when comparing overall prices, as they can sometimes make a seemingly affordable service a less economical choice. For instance, Green Chef charges $9.99 for shipping – so I recommend buying in bulk.

It's all about weighing the benefits and understanding what you value most. The world of meal delivery services offers flexibility, convenience, and variety. With these tips in mind, you're set to make informed decisions that cater to your palate and your wallet.

FAQ

What is the cheapest prepared meal delivery service?

Dinnerly. Its prices start at just $2.12 per serving, which is virtually unmatched by any other service today.

Is food meal delivery worth it?

For some people, yes, and for others, no. If you value your time and energy over saving a few bucks, yes. For me, for instance, avoiding planning, grocery shopping, and excessive cleanup after dinner is worth more than paying a few bucks extra per meal. You can always go with a slightly more affordable meal delivery service like HelloFresh to save a few bucks.

Do meal delivery services actually save you money?

Yes and no. Meal delivery services can offer convenience and variety, but they aren't always cost-effective compared to home-cooked meals. While they save time and planning, costs can be higher than grocery shopping and cooking yourself. Savings depend on individual habits and local grocery prices. 

If you value your time over saving money, I recommend Green Chef. It provides tons of meal kits across a variety of cuisines that don’t take much longer than around 30 to 40 minutes to make, on average. Prices start at just $9.99 per serving.

How much do HelloFresh meals cost?

HelloFresh’s meals start at just $3.32 per serving. I find this to be quite reasonable considering many other meal delivery services can be significantly more expensive than that.

Best Meal Delivery Services in 2024 — Final Score

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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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