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Dinnerly Review 2021 - Does ‘Cheap’ Mean Lower Quality?

www.dinnerly.com
VegetarianGluten-freeClassic
Our Score:
9.0
User Score:
  • Prep & Cook Time:

    30-minute meal kits

  • Type Of Food Options:

    Vegetarian,Gluten-free,Classic

  • Recipes Per Week:

    16

  • Free Delivery

    No

  • Written by: Felicity Kay on Feb 16th, 2021

    Dinnerly in a Nutshell

    A great low-cost option for non-fussy eaters on a budget – but don't expect anything exotic or fancy. 

    What I Liked

    • One of the cheapest meal delivery kits on the market, starting at $4.69 per serving

    • Large range of recipes to choose from each week

    • Easy-to-follow recipes and cooking instructions

    What I Didn’t Like 

    • Limited range of delivery days depending on location

    • Limited delivery areas

    • Shipping is $8.99 per week

    Dinnerly Overview

    If it were up to me, I’d never spend another evening hungrily looking through the cupboard hoping for inspiration to strike, I’d never enter another grocery store, and I’d never wake up to a sink full of dirty dishes. Instead, I’d live off meal delivery kits and eat healthily and creatively every day of the week. 

    Unfortunately, many meal delivery kit services don’t exactly fall into the budget category. My attempts at getting out of the mealtime slump have left my taste buds satisfied, but a sinking feeling in my stomach after looking at my bank balance. 

    So, when I heard about Dinnerly, which has a price point that puts it at the cheaper end of the market, I was excited to see how it lived up to the more expensive options out there. Read on to find out what I thought and whether affordability meant sacrificing quality.

    How Dinnerly Works

    Dinnerly is a classic example of a basic meal delivery service. 

    What Dinnerly lacks in options for specific diets, like vegan or keto, it makes up for in affordability and simplicity. You pick the meals you want to make from a menu of 20 different recipes, which rotate weekly. All of the recipes take five steps and about half an hour to prepare.

    Dinnerly’s sign-up process is slightly different from most other meal kit delivery services I’ve come across. First, it asks you which plan you'd like:  

    It also offers you the choice of three, four, five, or six meals. This is one of the first times any meal delivery service I’ve reviewed (other than EveryPlate) has given me the option to choose an odd number of meals. I liked it! 

    Another thing I liked? The price per portion went down the more meals I ordered – admittedly by only a few cents in some cases, but, as they say, every cent counts! This is the same approach as other companies like Sunbasket and Blue Apron...although Blue Apron also adds in free delivery once you choose three meals or more a week. 

    For some reason, the “make your box vegetarian” option became grayed out and unclickable once I added the five meals, which was a bit annoying. 

    After I inputted my zip code and email address, it was time to choose my delivery day. I had three to choose from, but that’s going to vary depending on where you live.

    Once you've confirmed your address and personal details and your payment method (credit card or PayPal), it's time to choose your meals. 

    Dinnerly Prices

    Dinnerly prides itself on being “The cheapest meal kit delivery service in the US,” and I agree – it’s the cheapest I’ve seen, with meals starting from just $4.69 per serving. 

    That price is for the Family Plan for four people eating six times a week. The most expensive option is the Couples Plan for two people eating three meals a week, when the price per portion increases to $5.29 (plus $8.99 shipping regardless of the number of people or meals a week). 

    This is still a LOT cheaper than many other meal kit delivery services on the market. It’s much cheaper than Marley Spoon, for example, and the same price as EveryPlate. And EveryPlate doesn't decrease the per-serving cost the more you order.

    Dinnerly Menu

    Once you’ve signed up to Dinnerly, you’re given pre-selected options for your delivery box. If you don’t like what you see, you can edit these by clicking on your taste profile. 

    In the taste profile itself, there's nothing too out of the ordinary – except for one option that I was pretty impressed with:

    “I like spicy food?” Genius! This is the first time I’ve seen this option on any of the meal kit delivery services I’ve reviewed. 

    I was even more impressed when I decided to edit the recipes in my box. I was given a whopping 16 recipe choices. For a low-cost meal kit delivery service, this is practically unheard of – the closest competitor, EveryPlate, only gives you six or so recipes to choose from each week! Other providers like Home Chef give you 20+ choices, but most companies only give you around 10 or so. 

    Even better – there was a nice mix of meat and veggie options

    The recipes on offer are pretty standard American fare. Dinnerly isn't for you if you’re looking for exotic or international dishes, but everything looked appetizing, and the recipe images came with helpful tags to help you decide at a glance if it’s right for you:

    One small thing: while the tags were useful, there was no way to filter the type of recipes I wanted to see (for great filtering, try Sunbasket instead).

    Here’s an easy overview of what Dinnerly offers and how much it costs:

    Starting price

    From $4.69 per portion 

    Foods served

    Balanced, vegetarian, pescatarian

    Availability 

    Almost 98% of the continental US

    Shipping cost

    $8.99 per week

    Dinnerly Delivery 

    Dinnerly is a bit vague about when it delivers and says it depends on your location. After playing around with zip codes, that seems to be the case. In Beverly Hills, for example – you can get delivery four days a week. 

    My New York address scored me delivery three days a week, while Chicago (hardly the back of beyond) had two delivery days available.   

    Dinnerly does a good job of making sure the food is fresh, even if you’re not there to receive it. My food was still cool when I found it on my doorstep on a Tuesday at 7 pm. 

    If you’re looking for more delivery options, Blue Apron offers Saturday deliveries – and even EveryPlate offers at least three days a week for deliveries. 

    Dinnerly Unboxing

    As a low-cost meal kit delivery service, Dinnerly doesn’t like to embellish anything, whether that’s the recipes on offer or the packaging it's sent in. 

    I really liked this approach, as it meant there was no more plastic than I would have gotten from a trip to the supermarket. In some cases, I found the produce – tomatoes, garlic, and cucumbers – were placed straight into the box (and not separately wrapped in plastic, like Blue Apron did when I tried it and wrote about it in this review). 

    I appreciated how easily recyclable most things were. There were a few plastic clamshells (for yogurts and other liquids), as well as some plastic wrapping (for leaves and other leafy vegetables), which I understood the need for. In some places, these might even be recyclable, but in my area, they weren't. 

    Still, I appreciated the lack of wastefulness and plastic in the box. 

    Favorite Dinnerly Meals

    I chose the Better-Than-Takeout Pulled Pork Shawarma:

    The Shrimp & Rice Noodle Stir-Fry:

    And the Two Cheese Veggie Calzone, also from the Better-Than-Takeout options. 

    The meals were pretty simple to cook and the steps easy to follow:

    I would have liked real-life pictures to follow. However, I understand this is part of the attempt to keep the price down, so I made sure I read the recipe a number of times and double checked which step I was on.

    I really appreciated the breakdown of what ingredients I would need to provide myself and what cookware I would use:

    The prep work took around 5-10 minutes per recipe, and I was eating the food I’d made within 30-40 minutes of starting to prep. I liked that simple, easy approach. After all, some meal kit delivery services, such as HelloFresh, have some pretty complicated steps, and food that can take up to an hour to prepare. 

    I'd say that if you're looking for exotic, international tastes, Dinnerly might not be for you. Instead, try something a little more high-end like Blue Apron

    Dinnerly Customer Service

    As a low-cost meal kit delivery service, I didn’t have the highest of hopes for the customer support options. I figured there wouldn't be the awesome live chat of HelloFresh or the Martha Stewart-taped greeting of Marley Spoon, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the range of options to get in touch:

    I decided to call. This was where I was unimpressed: I had apparently called “outside of Dinnerly’s business hours” and was invited to send an email. Then they hung up the phone. 

    Dinnerly’s support team could have told me the business hours and I would have called back….or they could have offered to ring me back (like Home Chef), but no. I couldn't even find the business hours on the Contact Us page above. That’s not cool, Dinnerly. 

    I decided to give it one more shot and I got through within 10 seconds of calling. I was on the phone for under a minute and was very impressed with the way the customer service agent handled my request – she did so professionally, in a friendly way, and seemed genuinely happy I had called. 

    Alternatives to Dinnerly

    On a budget, but Dinnerly not quite doing it for you? It might be time to give EveryPlate a go. Meals start at an affordable $4.99 per serving, no matter how many you order or how many people you want to feed, which makes it easy to know how much you’ll be paying. 

    Like Dinnerly, EveryPlate doesn’t have the extensive choices of some of the other meal delivery services and certainly doesn’t cater for specific diets.

    Another meal delivery service that won’t break the bank is Home Chef. Rather than tying you in to a specific plan, it lets you choose how many people you want to feed and how many servings you need. 

    It also has a large range of recipe options and the ability to customize each meal, so you should find exactly what you’re looking for – even if you’re trying to please fussy eaters!

    The Bottom Line

    Dinnerly does a really nice line in cheap, varied meals. As long as you don't have any dietary restrictions, it's ideal for those looking for some kitchen inspiration on a budget. 

    What meal plans does Dinnerly offer?

    Dinnerly has a number of plans to choose from. The two-person box serves two people 3-6 times a week. The family box serves four people 3-6 times a week. Dinnerly also offers occasional extras such as brunch and dessert on special occasions, such as Easter and Thanksgiving. 

    If you’re looking for more menu options for special occasions, take a peek at Home Chef. Along with its regular, extensive meal selection, it offers premium dishes from the Culinary Collection menu (which cost around $11-$15). 

    Home Chef also offers protein packs, which include a selection of chicken breasts, sirloin steaks, ground beef, and salmon fillets.

    How much is Dinnerly per week?

    Dinnerly is among the cheapest meal delivery services on the market, with individual meals starting at just $4.69 a portion. It manages to keep its prices so low by cutting out some of the extras you get with other companies, such as digital recipe cards, fewer ingredients per dish, simple packaging, and no fancy marketing campaigns. 

    If price is your main concern, EveryPlate offers similarly priced, but still delicious meals. Home Chef is also pretty affordable and offers a good selection of great value meals, including oven- and grill-ready items that you heat and enjoy and easy-to-make meal kits when you feel like spending more time in the kitchen.

    How do I cancel my Dinnerly account?

    Dinnerly makes it really easy to cancel your account and you can do it directly from your account settings on the website. If you don’t want to receive meals every week, you can also switch weeks on and off up to two months in advance. No matter which plan you opt for, shipping costs $8.99 per delivery. 

    If you’re still in the market for a meal delivery service, EveryPlate is similarly priced to Dinnerly, with meals at $4.99 per portion. If you’re looking for value for money, and don’t mind paying a little extra, Blue Apron offers a load of options like the diabetes-friendly and Wellness meals.

    About The Author

    Felicity Kay

    Staff Writer, Delivery Rank

    Felicity loves and lives for food, and new culinary experiences in general.
    When shes not out walking her dogs, shes trying out the coolest new restaurants and take out in the local area - one day she might even learn to cook!

    Felicity loves and lives for food, and new culinary experiences in general.
    When shes not out walking her dogs, shes trying out the coolest new restaurants and take out in the local area - one day she might even learn to cook!

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