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Written by: Mike Pawlik on Nov 22nd, 2022

Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh 2023: Meal Kits or Heat-and-Eat?

Deciding who wins the battle of Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh isn’t the easiest of tasks. Sunbasket offers a variety of meal kits for various cooking abilities and prepared meals, and HelloFresh offers meal kits only. There are many other aspects too that differentiate them enough to definitively choose one over the other.

My team and I have spent tremendous time validating and researching each option. I’ve come up with a list of features each service brings to the table to help you make a much more informed decision. Whether you’re looking for a specific diet, to avoid certain allergens, or want specific cuisines, this article will help you find it.

Overall, I’ve found that Sunbasket is the best option since it offers prepared meals along with meal kits. On top of that, you’ll also get USDA-certified organic ingredients, more dietary plans than HelloFresh, and more meal types like breakfast, lunch, sides, snacks, and market items. Read on to find out more.

At a Glance: Who Won Each Category?

💲 Price:

Sunbasket (Price: Missing Product sunbasket per serving)

🍔 Menu Variety:

Sunbasket (100+ weekly options of meals, sides, snacks, and more)

⏰ Prep Time:

Sunbasket (2 to 50 minutes)

🍴 Customization:

Sunbasket (8 dietary options)

👍 Ordering and Delivery:

Tie

🙋 Customer Support:

Tie

Menu Variety

Winner: Sunbasket

Not only does Sunbasket completely annihilate HelloFresh’s menu variety, it mostly obliterates most other competitors, too. It offers over 100 different menu options at any given time across any meal type you could ever imagine.

With Sunbasket, you’ll get roughly 20 meal kit dinners and around 14 prepared meals. You’ll also get a ton of other options including around 11 Small Bites, eight Festive Mains, eight Seasonal Treats, 14 breakfast category items like Eggs, Oatmeal & Granola, Breads & Spreads, Grab & Go Bars, Juices, Smoothies, Coffee, and more. There’s a good mixture of Pre-Prepped meal kits so you don’t have to chop or slice anything, and Classic meal kits that require more prep.

You’re also offered fresh organic produce, responsibly raised meats free from antibiotics and hormones, and wild-caught, sustainably-raised seafood that follows the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program guidelines.

What really makes Sunbasket stand out is the astonishing array of extras you can add to your order. These include ready-to-eat proteins like organic pulled white chicken meat and sliced prosciutto, Pizzas & Empanadas, Grain & Noodle Bowls, Soups & Broths, and Tortillas & Breads.

But that’s not even it. Choose from additional foods including deli items like Chicken Tikka Naan Toasties and Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps, Fresh Pastas, premade pasta sauces, seafood add-ons like lobster, barramundi, and pollock, Poultry, Beef and Lamb, Pork and Sausage, Plant-Based, and Cooked and Cured add-ons, cheeses, Bars and Bites, and Sweet Treats.

In terms of menu variety, Sunbasket offers a number of international cuisines like Italian, classic American, Thai, Korean, Mediterranean, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and more. There’s a good variety of cuisines for meal kits and prepared meals. I would call about half the recipes pretty exotic, and not super family-friendly, and the other half less exotic, spicy, and much more family-friendly.

There truly is something for everyone here. Cooking times for Sunbasket’s meal kits are between 10 and 50 minutes with most meals requiring a beginner or intermediate skill level. In my experience, I wouldn’t get discouraged as all of the instructions are in-depth and detailed. An example of a super fast and easy meal kit I like is the Thai Green Curry Chicken. It only takes about 20-25 minutes and requires just a few simple steps.

The prepared meals are microwave- and oven-ready, and can be ready to eat in three to 45 minutes, depending on the strength of your heating appliances. Ovens will generally take longer to heat your meals, of course.

sunbasket menu, thai green curry chicken

Try out Sunbasket's tasty Thai Green Curry Chicken

HelloFresh simply can’t keep up with all of these choices. Sunbasket outpaces HelloFresh at pretty much every turn, but that’s not to say that HelloFresh isn’t a viable, or even great meal delivery service. It still offers around 50+ fresh recipes every week, most of which are family-friendly and easy to prepare. You just won’t find any prepared meals here.

You can also get what’s known as market add-ons from HelloFresh which are basically grocery and market-style items you can add to your order. You can get items from different categories like Quick Meals, Quick Breakfast, Sides & Compliments, Desserts & Treats, Protein add-ons, Fresh Produce, and HelloFresh Flavors (which is a selection of condiments and spices).

In terms of the actual menu, HelloFresh offers a good selection of different dietary and plan options like Meat & Veggies, Veggie, Family-Friendly, Fit & Wholesome, Quick and Easy, and Pescatarian.

Cuisines you can choose from include classic American, Latin American, Italian, and Mediterranean, but most tend to be pretty Americanized. This means that most of the meals are kid-friendly as well.

Cooking times for HelloFresh meals range from about 15 to 45 minutes, but most tend to fall right around the 30-minute mark. For you, this means less time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, even though you can only get meal kits from HelloFresh. One of the fastest, most kid-friendly meal options I’ve found, in my experience, is the Turkey and Corn Queso Blanco Burritos.

hellofresh menu, Turkey & Corn Queso Blanco Burritos

You could try the kid-friendly Turkey & Corn Queso Blanco Burritos from HelloFresh

Overall, I’ve found that Sunbasket definitively wins the meal variety category just because of the sheer colossal size of its menu. HelloFresh’s staple is providing easy, family-friendly, and fast meal kits that don’t demand a lot of your time or a high degree of culinary prowess.

Meal Customization

Winner: Sunbasket

Again, Sunbasket completely obliterates HelloFresh’s meal customization options, so it gets the win. It lets you tailor the menu to your exact dietary preferences. In terms of special diet accommodations, allergies, and intolerances, Sunbasket really shines. You can get Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, Diabetes-Friendly, Carb-Conscious, and Keto-Friendly meals.

Keep in mind, though, that its gluten-free recipes are prepared in the same facility as its other meals, and may not be suitable if you have a severe gluten intolerance or celiac disease. It could work for you, though, if you have mild allergies or simply prefer to avoid these ingredients for personal reasons.

One thing I really like about Sunbasket is that you can filter the menu to only show meals that accommodate your preferences. For example, the menu easily lets you select your dietary preferences like Vegan, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, and Diabetes-Friendly.

sunbasket menu filtering

Easily filter down the sunbasket menu using the options in the top right

You don’t just get the option to filter the menu down by your preferences. Another example is on the signup page. Before even beginning your journey of selecting meals and placing an order, Sunbasket lets you choose your dietary options before it shows you anything. You’ll be able to select a whole host of options to get exactly what you want.

These include dietary options like Keto-Friendly, Paleo, High Protein, and Mediterranean as well as ingredient avoidances such as shellfish, dairy, beef, and a whole lot more. Keep in mind that, with Sunbasket, you can only select one dietary option at one time like Mediterranean, Paleo, or Keto-Friendly, but you can choose as many of the “ingredients you want to avoid or include” at the same time. You can still access the full menu even if you do select any dietary preferences.

sunbasket, signup options

Sunbasket offers extremely granular customization options for you to choose from

On the other hand, HelloFresh offers a pretty respectable customizable menu. It offers its regular meal plans – Meat & Veggies, Veggie, Family-Friendly, Fit & Wholesome, Quick and Easy, and Pescatarian – and you can select any combination of any of those for your personal menu. You’ll always have access to the full menu.

If you have any allergies, HelloFresh recommends you review each recipe on the site carefully as it doesn’t currently offer the option to tailor your plan for specific allergies. HelloFresh kitchens handle all common allergens so just like with Sunbasket if you have severe allergies then this may not be the best service for you.

You can also customize and replace the protein and side options with some of its meals. For example, some recipes allow you to replace veggies with potatoes, steak with chicken, or shrimp with chicken. HelloFresh calls this the “HelloCustom” feature which is pretty new.

hellofresh customization options

HelloFresh's plans can be mixed and matched to your heart's content

The diet options and plans you’ll find at HelloFresh are impressive – it just doesn’t offer the same level of granularity in terms of menu filtration as Sunbasket does. You can still take a look at the regular menu as each meal has specific tags that denote what it may contain. That way, you’ll still be able to avoid any ingredients you don’t want. It’s just not as streamlined as Sunbasket’s menu system.

Ordering, Delivery, Unboxing

Winner: Tie

Though Sunbasket wins most other categories, it’s a tie here since the ordering, delivery, and unboxing experience is pretty much identical. Ordering from either Sunbasket or HelloFresh is as simple as it gets. Both websites let you get started with one simple click. On the Sunbasket site, you can click on Get Started on the top right-hand side of the homepage. The HelloFresh site lets you get started by clicking Our Plans on the top left-hand side of its homepage.

Alternatively, you’re welcome to check out each competitor's menu first to get an idea of what’s available. Sunbasket lets you see what’s available this week and for the next two weeks – and HelloFresh lets you check out this week’s menu and the next five weeks after that.

The minimum order for Sunbasket’s meal kits is two dinners for two people per week. You can order up to five meal kits for four people per week. In terms of Fresh & Ready prepared meals, you can order as few as four per week, up to a maximum of 10 per week. Each prepared meal is a single serving.

HelloFresh’s minimum order requirement is two meal kits for two people per week, which is the exact same as Sunbasket. You can order up to a maximum of six recipes for four people per week. Though the ordering experience is virtually identical, both Sunbasket and HelloFresh differ when it comes to delivery.

Sunbasket customers can choose deliveries between Sunday and Thursday to most of the contiguous states (deliveries aren’t possible to AK, HI, MT, ND, and parts of NM), but the exact delivery dates may vary by your location. If you need to change your delivery date or make any other changes to your order, you can do so by the weekly cutoff date which is Wednesday before your delivery by 12 noon PST, or 3 pm EST.

Making changes to your account is super easy on the desktop website, or using the Sunbasket app which is available for iOS and Android. Everything can be done from within your account portal, and without needing to speak to someone directly.

sunbasket app

With the Sunbasket app, you can easily manage your order or change your delivery date

With the Sunbasket app, you can easily manage your order or change your delivery date

On the other hand, HelloFresh offers delivery any day of the week (Monday to Sunday) to anywhere in the US minus AK and HI. Changes to your delivery including the date can be made before the weekly cutoff date which is 11:59 pm PST five days prior to your next scheduled delivery. Again, this is really simple to do on the desktop website or using the HelloFresh app available for iOS or Android devices. Talking to a customer service agent isn’t required.

hellofresh app

The HelloFresh app lets you easily manage your subscription and delivery date

In terms of unboxing, the experience is fairly similar with both Sunbasket and HelloFresh, especially with the meal kits. Of course, since Sunbasket also offers prepared meals, those will look different in the box.

Both competitors offer neatly packaged, clearly labeled ingredients that are all packed separately for easy recognition. The storage instructions you’ll need are also included in each delivery box.

Sunbasket recommends that you immediately refrigerate the ingredients to prevent them from spoiling. Additionally, it’s recommended that you consume any meals with fresh seafood first, then any Fresh & Ready meals. Sunbasket also recommends eating any of its Pre-Prepped Meal Kits before Classic Meal Kits.

Some Fresh & Ready meals can be frozen for cooking later. The cooking instructions will tell you which ones are freezable and include other storage instructions, if pertinent. You’ll need some staples including olive oil, grapeseed or sunflower oil, plus salt and freshly ground pepper. Occasionally, a recipe might also call for wine or butter as an optional recipe item.

HelloFresh’s storage instructions are in the site’s FAQ section and are also included in the box. HelloFresh recommends keeping all proteins frozen until you’re ready to cook them. At that point, take them out a few hours before you wish to cook so they have time to thaw. Make sure to use up the meats within five days once they’re thawed, and the seafood within two days.

Every single piece of packaging material that Sunbasket provides to you will be recyclable, depending on your local area’s rules. This specifically applies to the plastic covers on some items which some jurisdictions call #4 plastics. You’ll need to check the rules in your location to find out if these can be recycled or not.

Like Sunbasket, HelloFresh’s packaging is mostly recyclable, barring the contents of the gel packs. Your delivery box, insulating layers, and outer gel pack shells can be recycled – but it does recommend that you cut the gel packs open and throw away the gel into your trash. Do not dispose of the gel by throwing it in your sink as this could cause a blockage and necessitate repairs.

Meal Prep

Winner: Sunbasket

Meal prep is similar for both competitors in terms of meal kits. Of course, Sunbasket offers prepared meals, so that’s why it wins this category. Each competitor’s meal kits can be prepared in anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, and Sunbasket’s prepared meals can be heated in as few as three minutes.

Depending on your skill level, you have a few options if you want to keep your meal kit prep times as low as possible. For example, Sunbasket offers a massive variety of <15-minute meal kits for those nights you’re in a hurry. HelloFresh does offer lots of 15-minute meal kits, but I found that nearly half (if not more) of its kits take around 30 minutes to prepare. I still find that to be very reasonable for a fresh home-cooked meal.

Both companies provide you with meal kit ingredients that have never been frozen. This is why it’s imperative to either use the ingredients in the recommended time frame or freeze them for later. Some of the ingredients you get from Sunbasket are pre-chopped and ready to cook so you don’t have to spend time cooking, and some require you to do more of the prep. If you want the kits that require no chopping or peeling, have a look at the Pre-Prepped meal kits.

HelloFresh provides you with pre-measured ingredients you need to make each meal. It also offers several Easy Prep, Easy Cleanup, and One-Pot recipes if you’d rather not have to deal with spending tons of time on prep or cleanup. While you’re browsing the menu, each recipe card will tell you which category it falls under so you know exactly how long it will take, and what you can expect.

Customer Support

Winner: Tie

When it comes to customer support, it’s my experience that it’s a very close call. HelloFresh does come out on top by a slim margin, though. It’s not necessarily because of the quality of customer support, but more because you get an in-depth FAQ section that’s searchable, and longer hours of operation for the phone line and live chat feature.

Sunbasket’s FAQ section isn’t searchable, so you’ll have to manually locate whatever question you might have. This may seem nitpicky, so make of that what you will. Keep in mind that both sites’ FAQ sections are very in-depth – so either way, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

In terms of the actual customer service, each one is stellar in my experience. Each offers support via live chat, phone, and an FAQ section. I tried out the live chat feature on both competitors’ sites and found the agents to be extremely professional, courteous, friendly, knowledgeable, kind, and, most importantly, very willing to go above and beyond my expectations.

If you need to cancel your subscription, it’s easy to do so on both companies’ websites. You just have to log into your account dashboard and go through the steps there.

With Sunbasket, make sure to do so before the weekly cutoff on Wednesdays at 12 pm PT (3 pm EST). HelloFresh requires you to cancel your subscription before its weekly cutoff which is by 11:59 pm PST, five days before your next scheduled delivery.

sunbasket, customer support live chat

Expect a high level of courtesy, friendliness, and professionalism from Sunbasket's live chat

For hours of availability, Sunbasket’s support chat and phone line are open from Monday to Friday from 6 am to 8 pm, and on weekends from 6 am to 1 pm PST. I found that connecting with an agent via live chat during business hours only took about 15-20 seconds which is pretty remarkable.

On the other hand, HelloFresh’s live chat agent confirmed with me that it offers 24/7 phone and live chat support (since it’s not stated on the website). That’s pretty crazy if you think about it as virtually no other meal delivery service offers that. It’s great to see that you can call or chat with HelloFresh at any time of day with any questions or concerns you might have, whether you’re already a customer or not.

hellofresh, live chat support

HelloFresh's live chat support provides stellar professional and courteous support as well

Pricing

Winner: Sunbasket

With Sunbasket, you’ll get free shipping on your first order. Other than your first order, you’re looking at around $9.99 for shipping no matter where you are. Prices start at around Price: Missing Product sunbasket per serving for prepared meals and a little higher for meal kits. HelloFresh pricing starts at roughly $3.32 per serving. Shipping for HelloFresh costs $10.99 anywhere in the US.

With HelloFresh, though, your overall price will reduce the more you order at one time. Prices range from about $8 to $12, depending on how much you order. Sunbasket’s pricing seems to be the same no matter how much you order, but its prices can vary depending on the exact meal kit you order. HelloFresh’s meal kits are all the same price so it’s a much simpler pricing model.

HelloFresh doesn’t offer any snacks or add-ons, so you don’t have to worry about a bunch of different prices depending on what you order. What you see is what you get in terms of its actual meal kits since that’s all it provides.

Sunbasket works a bit differently, though. Since it offers a staggering number of choices, pricing can also vary greatly. The prices I’ve outlined just above are for its prepared meals, but snacks and add-ons are a different story.

Since there are so many options, it would be impossible for me to tell you how much each one is. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to see the individual prices for the sides, snacks, add-ons, and anything else.

Features Comparison: Sunbasket vs. HelloFresh


Sunbasket

HelloFresh

Best for

Menu variety

Fast meal kits

Starting price

Price: Missing Product sunbasket per serving

$3.32 per serving

Shipping cost

$9.99

$10.99

Minimum order

Two meals for two people per week / four prepared meals

Two meals for two people per week

Menu variety

100+ choices per week

50+ choices per week

Prep time

2 to 45 minutes

15 to 45 minutes

Low-prep options

(e.g.) Oven-ready, microwave-ready, grill-ready

(e.g.) Easy Prep, Easy Cleanup, One Pot

Allergies catered to

Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free

Beef-free, pork-free, seafood-free

Special diets

Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, pescatarian, Mediterranean, diabetes-friendly, carb-conscious, low-calorie, keto-friendly

Vegetarian, pescatarian

Customer support

Live chat and phone from Monday to Friday from 6 am to 8 pm, and on weekends from 6 am to 1 pm PST

24/7 phone and live chat support

Promotions

$90 off Plus a Free Gift!

Get 25 free meals + free shipping + 3 surprise gifts

And The Winner Is: Sunbasket

With over a hundred weekly options spanning across tons of meal types like breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, add-ons, sides, and more, it’s clear to see that Sunbasket comes out on top. You’ll also get free shipping on your first order here as well along with prepared meals which is something HelloFresh doesn’t offer.

But that’s not to say that HelloFresh isn’t a force to be reckoned with and a worthy competitor. It offers tons of quick-to-prepare meal kits and still offers very reasonable pricing. It only costs a very nominal amount more than Sunbasket, especially when you compare meal kits.

FAQ

How much does Sunbasket cost per week?

Sunbasket costs around Price: Missing Product sunbasket per serving. Your weekly cost will depend on how many meal kits or prepared meals you decide to purchase. The minimum number of prepared meals you can buy is four single-serving meals per week, and the minimum number of meal kits is two meal kits for two people per week. The more you buy at a time, the cheaper your price will be.

Are Sunbasket meals premade?

Yes, Sunbasket offers prepared (premade) meals. It does also offer meal kits – so it’s completely up to you what you want to do. For those nights that you’re busy, you can grab the prepared meals, and if you ever feel like getting a bit more adventurous, you’re welcome to order some of the meal kits as well.

What are the disadvantages of HelloFresh?

Compared to Sunbasket, HelloFresh’s main disadvantage is that it doesn’t offer prepared meals. It also doesn’t offer the same number of dietary accommodations like paleo or gluten free or as extensive an array of meal types as Sunbasket like breakfast, lunch, sides, snacks, add-ons, and more. However, it offers a large selection of meal kits – some of which take as few as 15 minutes to prepare. It’s completely up to you to decide if this works for your needs.

About The Author

Mike Pawlik
Contributing Writer, Delivery Rank
Mike is a writer based in Calgary. Though he's written about technology, fitness, and lifestyle, as a seasoned cook, food remains one of his top passions
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