Meal delivery services are a great way to save you time and money, but the costs vary wildly. There are some budget-friendly options out there, but you’ll want to make sure you’re not sacrificing taste or variety.
I've been researching and validating the best and cheapest ones to save you hassle, time, and, ultimately, money. There definitely are affordable services out there that deliver top-quality meals that are nutritious and tasty – and some are practically as cheap as buying your own groceries.
My number-one pick is Dinnerly. Not only is it overall the most affordable, but subscribers can choose from a wide range of recipes, including No Chop! and One Pot options for ultimate convenience, plus a good selection of diet-friendly dishes, such as vegetarian, low-calorie, and dairy-free.
That said, Dinnerly won’t work for every household, so read on to find out which other budget-friendly meal delivery services made the cut.
Dinnerly – Best overall cheap meal delivery service
EveryPlate – Best budget meals for families
Blue Apron – Best for affordable gourmet meals
HelloFresh – Best cheap meals for novice cooks
Home Chef – Best customizable meal delivery
Easy-to-follow, 6-step recipes
50+ recipes on the menu every week
Dietary options include vegetarian, low-calorie, dairy-free, and more
Current deal: Save 60% off 1st order + 15% off next 5 orders
Dinnerly offers a great deal of variety for its modest price tag of $2.12 per serving. The menu largely comprises family-friendly takes on American classics (like the Buffalo Fried Chicken Tacos pictured), plus plenty of No Chop!, One Pan, and other low-prep meals. This makes Dinnerly convenient on top of being affordable.
The ingredients are also top-quality for the price. You can expect antibiotic-free chicken and other top-tier proteins in every box, plus some organic produce where possible. The company also works with small, family-run producers to source its ingredients.
Dinnerly also allows you to shop a variety of affordable add-ons each week, including sides, desserts, breakfasts, and even some prepared meals and family bundles. From Loaded Bacon Cheese Fries to Roasted Garlic Parmesan Broccoli, PB&J Overnight Oats to Cinnamon Rice Pudding (one of my faves!), there are a ton of crowd-pleasing extras to choose from.
Our reviewer took a closer look at the full menu, of which there are more than 100 dishes (including all the sides and add-ons) each week. This is a huge amount of choice for a weekly menu.
You can order between 3 and 6 recipes each week for either 2 or 4 people. As with most meal delivery services, the more meals and servings you order, the cheaper the price will be per serving, making Dinnerly a great option for bigger households and families in particular.
Don’t expect your box to contain tons of packaging, either. Part of the reason Dinnerly is able to stay so affordable is that it chooses to keep much of the produce loose in the box, while any sauces, meats, and other items will be housed in #1 and #4 recyclable plastics. While this means you’ll have to organize the ingredients yourself when unboxing, it’s certainly a more earth-friendly choice compared to many other meal delivery services out there.
Simple recipes and hearty portions
25 dishes to choose from each week
Some vegetarian and low-calorie options
Current deal: $1.49/meal on your 1st box + 20% off next 2 boxes!
With prices from $1.49 per serving, EveryPlate is Dinnerly’s closest competitor and a subsidiary of the better-known (and slightly more expensive) HelloFresh. That HelloFresh level of quality comes through in the ingredients used – in fact, you might even find HelloFresh branded ingredients in your EveryPlate box, as I discovered when I gave this service a go for myself at home.
The reason EveryPlate is able to keep its prices so low is because it streamlines its menu with no-frills sides and proteins, as well as cutting down on things like printed recipe cards and fancy packaging. It doesn’t have quite as much variety as Dinnerly, with around 25 recipes on the menu each week, but that’s still a solid number.
EveryPlate is not the best service for dietary accommodations, although it does have some great vegetarian and family-friendly options. But you won’t find any keto, gluten-free, paleo, low-carb, or plant-based options. That said, every recipe I’ve had from EveryPlate has been tasty, satisfying, and easy to prepare. The simple side dishes can get repetitive (expect lots of carrots and potatoes), but the option of Premium recipes delivers more variety.
It also has an impressive assortment of sides, snacks, and add-ons. These include dishes for breakfast as well. Look out for items like Turkey Sausage & Cheddar Egg Bites, Garlic Bread, Sweet Kale Salad Kits, and extra proteins like shrimp, salmon, ground beef, and chicken breasts.
Like Dinnerly, the minimum order is 3 meals per week for either 2 or 4 people, and you can order up to 6 recipes at a time. Set your preferences when you sign up (Meat & Veggie, Veggie, Family Friendly, Quick & Easy, and more), and EveryPlate will suggest recipes that fit the brief every week – though you’ll still have access to the wider menu.
Optional wine delivery service
Good range of dietary accommodations
Sustainable, non-GMO ingredients and recyclable packaging
Current deal: Enjoy $180 off across your first 6 orders
For a small bump in price, Blue Apron’s jump in quality is exponential. As well as a broad range of meal kits, Ready-to-Cook meals, and prepared dishes, you also get access to exciting, global-inspired recipes and high-end ingredients.
The meal kits take anywhere from 25 to 50 minutes to make, but I’ve found that most take around 30 minutes, on average. This depends on your efficiency and skill level, too, of course. Thankfully, Blue Apron’s step-by-step recipes are easy to follow – even for novice cooks – and there are video tutorials that can be found online and via the app.
The prepared meals take 5 minutes or less in the microwave, while the Ready-to-Cook options just need to be assembled in the accompanying aluminum tray and popped in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes.
Our foodie reviewer loved the variety that Blue Apron offers. With Signature, Wellness, and Vegetarian plans, you can find meals that are diabetes-friendly, Mediterranean-inspired, and even meals that comply with the WW program.
Look out for dishes like Spicy Honey-Soy Chicken and Broccoli with Rice, Peanuts, and Seasame Seeds, or One-Pot Tomato and Parmesan Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto – many of which can be made vegetarian, too. You certainly won’t get bored or find yourself ordering the same thing week after week.
All of these meals can be complemented with Blue Apron’s optional wine pairing subscription service (with bottles perfectly sized for 2 people) and its wide range of add-ons like breakfast, desserts, sides, and proteins. In the Market, you’ll find seasonal celebration bundles and even kitchen utensils.
The best price is $5.74 per serving, but you’ll need to order the maximum number of meals per week (4 recipes for 4 people). However, even the minimum order of 2 meals for 2 is reasonable when you take into account the high quality and healthy balance of dishes.
Seasonal produce and sustainable proteins
50+ tried-and-tested recipes per week
Dietary options include vegetarian, pescatarian, and low-calorie
HelloFresh is one of the most popular meal kit delivery services on the market. This comes as no surprise when you consider just how effortless its meals are, how much variety it offers, and how affordable it is at just $3.32 per serving.
Each HelloFresh recipe is extensively tested, which means even beginner cooks can have fun getting creative in the kitchen, which is exactly what happened when our reviewer tried HelloFresh for themselves.
You’ll find lots of returning meals on the menu that are considered Customer Favorites, as well as recipes that sit within the Family Friendly, Pescatarian, and Fit & Wholesome categories. There’s even a Quick & Easy plan, which comprises a selection of meal kits that take around 25 minutes or less to make.
No matter which plan you choose, you’ll always have access to the full menu, and can even make customizations on some dishes, with the option to swap the protein or side dish. HelloFresh has also introduced more plant-based dishes on its menu recently, which is great news for vegans.
The variety you get with HelloFresh is huge. The cuisines on offer include everything from Italian-inspired to classic American, Mediterranean to Middle Eastern, with Premium Picks (meals with higher-end ingredients such as truffle, shrimp, and steak), Easy Prep options, and even 10-minute lunches (Prosciutto and Italian Cheese Roll-Up, anyone?).
The service is also environmentally conscious and promises high-quality, farm-fresh ingredients that are seasonal, sustainable, and ethically sourced. Everything comes perfectly portioned and with clear, concise recipes to reduce food waste.
The minimum order is 2 recipes for 2 people per week, but you can order up to 4 recipes for 6 people at a time for the lowest price per serving.
Swap, upgrade, or double-up on protein
Dozens of low-prep options for busy folk
30+ dishes to choose from each week
Home Chef delivers an unparalleled level of customization. If you don’t like the protein choice available in a particular recipe, you’re free to replace it with something else. For example, if you don’t fancy the pork in your Tortilla Pork Chop with Squash and Lime Crema (pictured), you could replace it with chicken or steak.
You can also choose between a wide range of meal kits or prepared meals. The meal kits come in various formats, including what Home Chef calls Fresh and Easy meals. This is a collection of quick, 15-minute meal kits, entreé salads that come with pre-cooked proteins, and grill-, and oven-ready dishes that just need to be assembled and cooked.
The regular meal kits take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes to prepare, but most can be ready in around 30. If you’re looking for the quickest meal kits, look out for those tagged Express, Express Plus, or Oven Ready.
The Culinary Collection dishes are more complex recipes with premium cuts of meat and higher-end ingredients. These come at a premium price, so are best avoided if you’re on a budget, but it’s nice to know you have the option to splurge for a special occasion.
Home Chef’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t cater well to vegetarian diets – or any special dietary accommodations for that matter. Our tester goes into more detail in this in-depth review.
It’s easy to avoid some ingredients when you sign up. There’s a basic list to choose from that includes pork, beef, mushrooms, poultry, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and more. Plus you can look out for calorie- and carb-conscious options, too, just don’t expect meals that are gluten-free or plant-based, for example.
The variety of cuisines is excellent – choose from Mediterranean, French, classic American, Italian, Korean, Cajun, Greek, and more each week. The menu and customization options change each week, so you’ll never find yourself getting bored.
It has a minimum order of 2 recipes for 2 people per week and a maximum of 6, and its starting price of $7.99 per serving is often used as a guide only. If sticking to a budget is important to you, note that each meal is priced individually and customizations and add-ons will bump up the cost.
Plant-based meal kits and prepared meals
16+ dishes to choose from each week, plus extras
Dietary options include high-protein, gluten-free, soy-free, and more
Purple Carrot is the cheapest option out there for vegans at $8.50 per serving. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or new to plant-based eating, I’ve found Purple Carrot’s meals to be the best way to cram more veggies into your diet. It offers tons of inspiration and introduces you to a wide range of new and exciting ingredients.
Choose from around 16 recipes each week, 8 of which are kits, another 8 of which are microwaveable prepared meals that take just 2 to 3 minutes to cook. Look out for meal kits that are tagged Less Prep, too. These include prepared sauces and seasonings, pre-chopped vegetables, and recipes that require fewer pots and pans.
You can also pick up extras to add to your box. These include breakfast and lunch dishes (think pancakes, smoothies, and protein power bowls), and Plantry items like cookies, vegan cheese, black bean burgers, and pasta. Prices start from around $4.49 for extras.
My colleague gave Purple Carrot a go at home and loved the variety, claiming the service would satisfy “even the fussiest of omnivores.” They also loved that Purple Carrot avoids imitation meats, instead focusing on how vegetables can be the star of the show in each dish.
Purple Carrot caters well to other dietary accommodations, too, offering meals that are high in protein, lower calorie (less than 600 calories per serving), soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and more.
The minimum order is 3 meal kits per week for 2 people – or 6 single-serving prepared meals. The maximum order of 10 single-serving prepared meals makes Purple Carrot a great option if you want to stock up your fridge or freezer with easy-to-cook veggie dishes. Shipping is $8 but you won’t be charged on orders over $85 so it might be worth stocking up.
Great range of family-friendly dishes
Pick from more than 100 meals, sides, and extras
Dietary options include veggie, no added gluten, and more
Marley Spoon allows you to bring Martha Stewart’s tried-and-tested meals into your home – at a great price point of $2.99 per serving. The meals are varied and really high quality. Alongside a wide range of meal kits, you’ll find a limited selection of prepared dishes, plus tons of extras like sides, breakfasts, and ready-to-bake desserts.
When I reviewed Marley Spoon, I was impressed with all the international flavors on the menu. Look out for tasty-sounding meals such as Martha’s Classic One-Skillet Tomato Pasta, Sheet Pan Ranch Pork with Veggies, and Vegan Chili with Jasmine Rice. It caters brilliantly to dietary needs, too, with everything from plant-based options to dairy-free dishes.
Most of the meal kits take between 30 to 60 minutes to prepare, which means you can choose dishes that suit your schedule week after week. If you find you’re in a rush, keep an eye out for those tagged Under 30 Minutes on the menu.
Marley Spoon was the first meal delivery service to go carbon neutral and is committed to the environment. As well as working on green projects with various accredited climate partners, it promises to use only recyclable packaging and has a ton of information on the website about how to dispose of it effectively.
The minimum order is 2 meals for 2 people per week, but you can order up to 6 recipes for households of 4 – another reason why Marley Spoon is a fab, sustainable option for families.
Grocery delivery that transforms into easy recipes
Dietary options include gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, and more
Cook dishes in as little as 10 minutes
Hungryroot is a unique meal delivery service that is part meal kit, part grocery delivery. This model can save you money and reduce food waste by providing you with recipes to use up all the groceries you order each week.
You can choose from a huge range of chef-prepared recipes and fresh groceries, with the flexibility to change your order size from one week to the next. As my colleague discovered in their in-depth Hungryroot review, most of the groceries are Hungryroot’s own label. There are still, however, many items from familiar grocery brands available to you that you may already be used to and prefer.
The aim of Hungryroot is to make healthy, balanced recipes more accessible, so most of the dishes can be cooked within 10 to 15 minutes – think salads, grain bowls, pasta dishes, tacos, wraps, sandwiches, and more. Many of the ingredients come pre-cooked or prepared to make that happen.
There’s no shortage of dietary options, either. You can find recipes and groceries that are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, tree nut-free, peanut-free, egg-free, and shellfish-free.
Hungryroot’s minimum order requirement is 2 dinner servings and 4 lunch servings per week. However, you can add a combination of up to 16 servings per week, plus extras such as fruit and vegetables. The various plans and packages make it easy to spend as little or as much as you need in one order.
Dedicated weight-loss plans for men and women
150+ convenient, calorie-controlled meals and snacks
Number of budget-friendly packages to choose from
Nutrisystem is aimed at those who want to lose weight, but it’s also one of the cheapest meal delivery services out there on a per-serving level, with prices starting at $8.54.
Convenience is undoubtedly the key here: having just the right number of calorie-controlled meals and snacks delivered to your door to keep you on track with your health goals is what appeals to most people about this service.
You can choose from a selection of pre-packaged snacks that include shelf-stable meal bars, shakes, and muffins, to pizza, grilled chicken sandwiches, and ready-to-cook mac and cheese. However, depending on the program you choose, you might need to do a little grocery shopping of your own for things like fresh fruit and vegetables, so it’s important to factor that into your budget, too.
Most of the foods are shelf stable and designed to be eaten on the go, so our reviewer found that they aren’t the tastiest – but they’ll certainly keep you full as they’re packed with dietary fiber.
Just keep in mind that processed foods like this aren’t necessarily the healthiest option, so it’s best to use Nutrisystem’s plans as an easy and affordable way to kickstart your health goals, rather than as a long-term solution. If you’re into clean eating, keep an eye out for the service’s wholefood-based meals – though these meals are frozen and only available on the more expensive plans.
The minimum order for this service is breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 5 days. If you want meals for the full 7 days a week, you could order the Uniquely Yours Max+ meal plan.
Meatless prepared meals ready in minutes
Single-serving dishes and family-sized portions
Dietary options include sugar-free, nut-free, and more
Mosaic Foods aims to make eating hearty, veggie meals simple, so its meals come flash-frozen for long-term storage and convenience. It’s personally something that has never bothered me too much, but it’s up to you to decide if you would prefer chilled dishes.
Each meal is prepared, which means no prep, cooking, or cleanup. You can expect every dish to contain somewhere between 10g and 20g of protein – and sometimes even more. The items on offer include veggie bowls, family-sized meals, pizzas, smoothies, soups, and high-protein oat bowls, which are great for breakfast. Crowd-pleasing dinner options like Italian “Sausage” and Pumpkin Lasagne or Enchilada Verda Bake will ensure these meals go down a treat with kids, too.
It also offers Mosaic+, which is essentially a collection of single-serving, chef-designed dishes that can be heated in the microwave. These plant-based meals include North African Veggies and Couscous, Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Ndambe, Vegan Penne Vodka, and more.
Prices start from $4.99 per serving, depending on the meals that you order. The minimum order is 6 meals, but you can get up to 18 items in your box. My colleague’s review goes into more detail about Mosiac Foods’ prices and plans.
If you’re on a budget, bulk buying could be the best option here since the company offers bigger discounts on larger orders – just make sure you have enough space in your freezer!
$2.12 Per Serving
$1.49 Per Serving
$5.74 Per Serving
$3.32 Per Serving
$7.99 Per Serving
$8.50 Per Serving
$2.99 Per Serving
$8.99 Per Serving
$8.54 Per Serving
$4.99 Per Serving
3 meals for 2 people
3 meals for 2 people
2 meals for 2 people
2 meals for 2 people
2 meals for 2 people
3 meal kits for 2 people/6 prepared meals
2 meals for 2 people
3 meals for 2 people
6 meals for 4 days
30-minute meal kits
30-minute meal kits
20 - 60 min. meal kits
20 - 30 min. meal kits
Kits, speedy kits, oven-ready, prepared
Meal kits, prepared meals
30 min. meal kits
Groceries, meal kits
Prepared meals, shelf-stable, and frozen food
Cheap can be good, but when it comes to the food we eat, it’s about more than just the cost. Here are some other factors to consider when choosing the right meal delivery service:
Dinnerly is the cheapest meal delivery service on my list, with prices starting at $2.12 per serving. For your money, Dinnerly offers a wide selection of simple-to-cook and tasty recipes that cater to a good variety of dietary needs.
Yes, HelloFresh offers a diverse and adventurous menu at a good price. If you’re looking for something more exciting and forward-thinking than reliable comfort food, and if good customer service and sustainability are important to you, you may well find HelloFresh worth the money.
Yes, EveryPlate is one of the most affordable meal delivery services on my list. Its meals start at just $1.49 per serving. And even though it’s considered a “cheaper” service, you’re not sacrificing quality. It still offers lots of weekly choices, top-tier ingredients, and plenty of international, family-friendly meals.
Yes, but it depends on what you order, as each meal is priced individually and add-ons cost extra. However its varied menu and Customize It feature means you have a lot of flexibility, which is why it made my list.
If you choose one of my top affordable services, then yes, they can be. You might be able to purchase ingredients for slightly less at your local grocery store, but meal delivery services help you save more overall by sticking to a budget, cutting down on food waste, and resisting the urge to impulse-buy at the grocery store or on takeout.