Meal kit delivery services don't come cheap, but then again - neither do restaurants or take out meals.
With all three - meal delivery kits, restaurants and take out - someone else does all the hard work of sourcing and preparing the ingredients and then delivering them straight to your door.
But at least, with meal delivery services you save hours on a supermarket trip, or brainpower thinking about what to cook, and how to cook it. With meal kit delivery services, you get easy to make food with hand-picked, pre-portioned ingredients. In fact, it might even be a cheaper option, if you plan correctly.
Blue Apron: Best overall budget for 2 people and 3 meals
Hello Fresh: Best cheapest option for 4 people and 4 meals
Home Chef: Best for individually-priced meal options
Sunbasket: Best for 2 people and 2 meals a week
Bonus: Fresh and Easy: Best cheapest option for people with no time
When it comes to choosing the best cheapest meal delivery service for your needs, you need to remember that shipping may or may not be included. In my overview below, I’ve clearly expressed whether or not shipping is included, and if not, how much you can expect to pay.
Otherwise, I’ve tried and tested over 10 of the best cheapest meal delivery services on the market: here’s what I’ve discovered.
To learn more about choosing the right cheap meal delivery kit for you, click here.
Cheapest meal delivery service I’ve tested
Free shipping on 3 meals+ a week
Good range of delicious recipes on offer
Shipping is $7.99 a week for 2 meals
Blue Apron might look a little pricey from its plans’ page - but actually, when you do the math, you’ll realize that it's one of the best cheapest meal delivery services out there, especially for 2 people and 3 servings per week.
While there’s no free shipping on plans with 2 servings a week, and for which you'll be looking at a weekly $7.99 shipping fee, for 3 servings and up, there’s free shipping.
That works out to $59.94 a week for 3 meals for 2 people - and that’s the cheapest I’ve seen.
That and, Blue Apron is a pretty great meal delivery service: there is always a solid range of delicious-looking choices weekly, and it's super easy to switch your plan if you feel like going vegetarian for a week - I tried out Blue Apron myself and was super impressed with the results.
Best cheapest option for families I’ve tested
Family-friendly and low-calorie plans available
Shipping is $6.99 a week, regardless of how many meals or people you order for
At $120 a week, Hello Fresh has the best, cheapest meal delivery service option for families. More than that: it even has a family-friendly plan, and on each recipe card has suggestions for how to get the kids involved with food preparation.
Beyond that, Hello Fresh has tasty, fresh ingredients and interesting, creative recipes that will get your family’s mouths watering. Just a word of warning: some of the instructions on the recipe cards can be a bit vague, so Hello Fresh might not be the meal kit delivery service for you if you're a total novice in the kitchen, like me. You can see what culinary disasters I’m talking about and my thoughts on Hello Fresh here.
Widest range of meal options of any meal delivery service I tested
Free shipping on orders of over $45
Excellent customization options for most meals
Shipping is $10 a week for orders under $45
Home Chef is the only meal kit delivery service on my list that has a range of price points.
While other meal kit delivery services mentioned on this list have a set rate per person and number of meals per week, Home Chef does things differently: you choose how many servings and people you're catering for, and then you individually purchase each meal.
Meals start from $6.99 for salads, but most meals end up being around $9.99 per portion, with an extra few dollars for any meal upgrades or customizations. There are also some more expensive gourmet options, where you could be looking at anything from $15-20 for a serving. You can take a look at these fancier options and the many recipe choices on offer in my in-depth review of Home Chef.
Still, this is one of the best, cheapest meal delivery services, as, if you're into salads, those $6.99 options are some of the cheapest on the market.
Prices per serving decrease as more meals are ordered
Exciting range of non-standard meals offered every week
Two plans to choose from: Classic Menu and Family Menu
Shipping is $5.99 a week for each plan
With a huge range of delicious recipes to choose from on the Classic Menu, and different options to choose from on the Family Menu, there’s a lot of choice at Sun Basket.
Unfortunately, there’s also a $5.99 delivery fee for each weekly order...but still, I found Sun Basket to be one of the cheapest options for a 2 person, 2 meal order.
Although it works out at $12.99 per serving, your grand total will come to $51.96… which is just a little cheaper than Blue Apron’s 2 person/3 meal plan I mentioned above.
There are some really exciting meal choices at Sun Basket too meaning you can’t go wrong. It's one of the best, cheapest meal delivery services out there for 2 people.
Ingredients come pre-chopped, with a pan for easy, oven-ready meals
All meals prepared in 30 mins or less, with very little effort
Same individual pricing structure as Home Chef: pay different amounts per serving
Slightly pricier than Home Chef
Fresh and Easy, from parent company Home Chef, is the perfect solution for busy people, or people who just don't want to cook (or don’t know how to).
Simply choose the number of meals and people you're serving, pick your meals, and they will all arrive at your doorstep, pre-chopped and with an easy heatable pan thrown in.
But, as with most things, you have to pay for ease and convenience, and Fresh and Easy doesn't come cheap. Like with Home Chef, there’s free shipping (over $49), and you get a nice discount on your first order.
But, once that’s over, things can get pricey: 2 meals for 2 people will cost you $50 (with free shipping) minimum unless you'd like to add customizations, while 2 people with 3 meals each will cost you $60.
It’s not the cheapest, so why am I mentioning it in this list? Because it’s not the most expensive either. It’s definitely worth a mention as it is a fantastic solution for very busy people (or reluctant cooks). It may not save you loads of money, but it could save you lots of time and effort… which may be even better for some people. It definitely saved me a lot of hassle when I tried it out. Time is money and all that.
Firstly, it will always be cheaper to go to the supermarket yourself and buy your own ingredients. There’s no denying that.
Whether you're lacking imagination in the kitchen, or just don't know how to cook, you're paying a premium to have someone else portion out your ingredients, and sometimes cut them up for you and deliver it to your door.
That’s why the best cheapest meal delivery services won't ever really be that cheap: but the list I’ve compiled above surely makes for one of the cheapest range of meal delivery services on the market today.
Other than convenience and ease of use, cheap meal delivery kits can really help you out in other ways:
Save you time: who has time to go all the way to the supermarket, park and run around the aisles, looking for ingredients? Not many people! With cheap meal delivery kits you receive everything you need for your recipe, delivered straight to your door so there’s no need for multiple trips to buy groceries.
Cutting down on wasted food: by having the exact ingredients and exact portion sizes you need per meal, there’ll be no more buying random food items and leaving them to rot in your fridge. This means there’ll be no leftovers, and no wasted food. In effect, you’ll be saving yourself money by cutting down on wasted produce.
Enjoy healthy, fresh food: you’ll no longer need to use up leftovers or eat food just because it's about to go bad: with a weekly, pre-planned set of meals, you’ll know exactly what to expect from your food, you’ll get new and interesting meals each week, and you’ll know to eat it before your next delivery comes!
All of the above reasons can actually help you save money, making cheap meal delivery kits a valid option if you’re on a budget!
While in some cases, you really get what you pay for, when it comes to using a cheap meal delivery kit, you can rest assured that you're getting value.
Despite the lower price tag compared to other services, you’ll be enjoying the same quality, fresh ingredients as other meal kit delivery services do. With cheaper meal delivery services, you’re probably going to experience slightly simpler recipes (which is never a bad thing) - you’ll still enjoy good portion sizes and delicious recipes… just ones that cost slightly less to prepare, meaning you get to save.
I really recommend trying at least two cheap meal delivery kits at first, to see which works better for your budget and lifestyle.
I'd recommend checking out the following:
The range of meals and recipes on offer
The types of ingredients in each of these recipes
Ther nutritional content of the meal
The flexibility of the subscription, as well as the sort of plans available
How easy the recipe instructions are to follow
Still not made a decision? See our list of the best meal delivery services in 2020.